LAFAYETTE — Home sales in Lafayette Parish were down 16 percent for the first six months of 2011 compared with the same period last year, according to a recent report based on local real estate listings.
The total number of new homes sales in the parish fell from 1,269 to 1,072 when comparing the first half of 2010 with 2011, according to a report by Van Eaton & Romero Chief Executive Officer Bill Bacqué, using figures from the Realtor Association of Acadiana.
The brunt of the fall was felt in new construction, which saw a 37 percent drop compared with a 4 percent drop for re-sales, according to the report.
Bacqué said Tuesday that a dip for the first six months of this year was expected because demand was pushed up early last year by the availability of an $8,000 federal tax credit for first-time homebuyers.
That credit was available only for homebuyers who had signed a contract for a new home by the end of April last year.
Bacqué attributed the disproportionate drop for new construction to a desire for new homes by young families who took advantage of the first-time homebuyers’ tax credit.
Despite the weak sales market for the first six months of this year, the average home price has risen to $196,216, — up 5 percent when compared with the same period last year, according to Bacqué’s analysis.
That’s stable when considering recent history but down a bit from a peak average sales price of $205,550 in the feverish local housing market of 2007, according to figures from Bacqué.
“We have come down, we just haven’t come down that substantially,” Bacqué said.
Bacqué said a bright spot is pending home sales, which were up by 24 percent in June when compared with last year.
But the rising number of new listings are largely for re-sales.
“The increases are not showing up in new construction yet,” Bacqué said.
Greg Manuel, owner of Manuel Builders in Lafayette, said he expected to see a drop in new construction sales after the expiration of the federal tax credit, but he was surprised by the size of the drop found in Bacqué’s report.
“My impression was that it wouldn’t have made as substantial a difference as it did,” Manuel said.
At the same time, Manuel said, his company, which concentrates on the entry level market, has kept busy.
“Our experience as a company has been contrary to what the market is doing,” Manuel said.
City-Parish Councilman Jay Castille, a residential real estate developer who works in the $150,000 to $200,000 market, said a lot of customers are looking, but few are “taking that next step.”
“I’m hoping this is the bottom,” he said.
Bacqué said he expects that the overall housing market for 2011 will shape up to be on par with 2010.
The ratio of new listings to home sales so far this year is about the same as last year, about 1.65 new listings for every one home that was sold, according to Bacqué’s figures.
For perspective, that’s not even close to the anemic housing market during the oil bust of the 1980s, when the listings-to-sales ratio bottomed out at six-to-one with 7,874 new listings compared with 1,306 sales, Bacqué said.