For sale sign (Photo: Daniel Acker, Bloomberg)
Finding a house in Lafayette Parish could be getting harder for people looking to spend less than $300,000 thanks to a lack of new construction in the most common housing price range in the area.
A Market Scope Consulting analysis of real estate date from the Acadiana Multiple Listings Service shows a decline in availability of houses between $150,000 and $300,000, which accounted for nearly 60% of housing sales in the first four months of this year.
Market Scope President Bill Bacqué, former president of real estate company Van Eaton & Romero with more than four decades of real estate experience in Southern Louisiana, pointed out that of three major price classifications — under $150,000, $150,000 to $300,000 and $300,000 and up — only the middle range saw a decline in active listings in Lafayette over last year.
That range saw a 32% drop in new construction listings so far this year.
“In the $300,000 to $349,999 range last year, there were only 34 sales. There were 59 this year. That is where the biggest increase is, which is driving that as opposed to the high, high upper end, which is still healthy, but not as robust as that range,” Bacqué said.
“What’s happening in new construction is that middle range is where we are seeing a decline in new construction sales by 13%. Interestingly, the amount of active inventory is down by about 31.6%, so builders are not building in that price point right now.”
That change has pushed the $150,000 to $300,000 range down to a five-month supply in Lafayette Parish, according to Bacqué, down from 5.7 months last year and less than half of the 12.8-month supply of homes in the $300,000-plus range.
Bacqué said a balanced market usually has about a six-month supply, with a lower amount signifying more demand and a higher amount indicating over-supply. That can be a good thing for folks looking to sell their homes, he said, but it can also put off buyers who have the option to wait for better opportunities.
“In that middle price range, for the most part, there is more demand than supply, which can be a good thing but can also at some point become a detriment,” Bacqué said. “If a buyer doesn’t have to buy but cannot find a selection in the marketplace that meets what their desires are, then quite often they’ll just wait.”
Those who can’t or don’t want towait seem to be going outside Lafayette Parish, where the price of a home is nearly $80,000 lower on average. To Bacqué, the difference in cost and the ease of accessibility to amenities and attractions in Lafayette has prompted major growth in housing sales in surrounding parishes in the first four months of this year over the same period of time in 2018.
Lafayette Parish saw just a 1.9% increase in new and existing homes sold so far this year, compared to a 26.6% increase in sales across Acadia, Evangeline, Iberia, Jefferson Davis, St. Landry, St. Martin, St. Mary and Vermilion parishes.
“As Lafayette has grown and the cost of housing has grown, one thing that has impacted desirability in Lafayette is its infrastructure,” Bacqué said. “You now can live in south Lafayette, and if you want to get across town, it might take you 30 minutes to do that. If I live in New Iberia and I want to drive to the south side of Lafayette, it takes me about 20 minutes, so the allure of being in Lafayette Parish because it’s where all the action is, isn’t quite that much of an allure in my mind anymore.”
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