Home sales dip in first quarter, but experts not worried

Home sales in Lafayette Parish were down 5 percent for the first three months of this year based on listings reported to the Realtor Association of Acadiana.

Sales dropped from 675 to 644 when compared to the first quarter of 2013, according to a market analysis prepared by Van Eaton & Romero Chief Executive Officer Bill Bacqué.

Bacqué said the dip is nothing he is overly concerned about, considering 2013 was the best year on record for the local market.

“We are benchmarking against a record year,” Bacqué said. “This is by no means any kind of Armageddon.”

Digging deeper into the numbers shows sales of new homes in the first quarter of 2014 were actually up when compared with last year, but overall sales declined because the drop in sales of existing homes pulled down the total, according to the report.

The market has still outperformed the first quarters in 2007 through 2012, according to Bacqué’s report.

Bacqué said another sign of continued strength is the dollar value of home sales in Lafayette Parish for the first quarter, which despite the dip in sales has actually risen about 2 percent.

That could be in part due to stronger sales of homes in the high end of the market and in part due to rising home prices.

The median sales price for homes in Lafayette Parish was up 8 percent when compared to the first quarter of 2013, rising from $173,900 to $187,950, according to the report.

“The overall Lafayette economy and even the Acadiana economy are still strong,” Bacqué said.

The dip in sales for Lafayette Parish was not felt throughout the region.

Homes sales actually rose in surrounding parishes by about 2.5 percent for the first quarter of this year, according to listings reported to the Realtor Association, though the rise was uneven.

Home sales were up by 18 percent or more for St. Martin, St. Landry and Vermilion parishes while sales were down in Iberia and Acadia parishes, according to the figures.

Bacqué said it’s hard to predict what the market will do based on the early figures, but he sees no sign of any significant decline because nothing major has changed in the economy, and mortgage interest rates remain at historical lows.

“I still think the fundamentals are strong,” he said.