LAFAYETTE — Home sales in Lafayette Parish have set a new record in a market that real-estate experts say is driven in part by low interest rates, good prices and a booming oil-and-gas economy.
Sales through November of this year climbed above total sales for 2007, the most recent peak year for the parish, according an analysis by Van Eaton & Romero Chief Executive Officer Bill Bacqué that was based on sales reported to the Realtor Association of Acadiana.
“We are already in record territory for 2013,” Bacqué said.
The dollar volume of sales is also into record territory, up to $642 million as of Friday compared with $548 million for all of 2007, said Coldwell Banker Pelican Real Estate Chief Operating Officer Steven Hebert.
“One hundred million over the previous high mark is remarkable,” Hebert said.
The market has slipped a bit in the last quarter of this year, with monthly sales for October and November dipping just below 2012 levels, according to Bacqué’s analysis.
Bacqué does not see the dip as a sign of trouble and said housing sales are generally slow from Thanksgiving through Christmas because it’s not a time when people generally want to be in the middle of a move.
“We are still at a cumulative number above the old record,” he said.
Total home sales in Lafayette Parish from January through November are at 2,945, up 20 percent from the same period in 2012 and up 18 percent from the banner year of 2007.
The market had cooled from 2008 to 2011 during the national housing crisis and economic downturn and began picking up steam last year.
Bacqué and Hebert, who manage firms that collectively handle the majority of residential listings in Lafayette Parish, attributed the hot market to modest prices, good selection, mortgage interest rates that remain at historical lows despite a recent rise, and a robust local economy that shows no signs of slowing.
“When the oil business is on fire, the real-estate business is on fire,” Hebert said.
He said the main factors in divining what the market might do next year are oil-and-gas activity, a possible rise in mortgage interest rates and the health of the overall economy.
“As of right now, you would have to say there would be no reason to change,” Hebert said.
One challenge could be finding enough homes to meet demand, Bacqué said.
The supply of homes on the market in November is not considered enough to last for six months in several price ranges, Bacqué said.
He said a six-month supply is considered the sweet spot for a healthy market, and falling too far below that mark could lead to a situation where buyers stop looking for a home for want of choices.
“At some point when you get to a low amount of inventory relative to demand, then it can suppress demand,” Bacqué said. “I believe the battle in 2014 is to go out and get inventory.”
Hebert said he had warned of the opposite problem at the start of 2013, when he feared there might have been more new construction hitting the market than needed.
“I was very concerned earlier in the year about new construction betting overbuilt,” he said. “I’m having to eat those words. This market just has a lot of demand.”
New construction sales through November of this year were up 18 percent from the same period in 2012, according to Bacqué’s report.
Phil Melancon, owner of Greatwood Homes in Lafayette and president of the Acadian Home Builders Association, said the market began to pick up in 2012 and experienced what he characterized as a “burst” this year.