The number of homes sold from January to March in Lafayette Parish is up from the same time frame last year, but homes are being sold, on average, for slightly less. 

Preliminary first-quarter numbers show 723 homes sold for an average price of $219,388 compared to 705 homes sold for an average price of $220,865 during the same time frame last year, according to the Lafayette Parish Multiple Listing Service.

Local industry leaders say fluctuations like this are to be expected and aren't indicative of something greater.

"Our economy doesn't have the fast-moving speculation that other economies have," said Walter Campbell of Keller Williams who serves as president of the Realtor Association of Acadiana. "Our shifts are going to be more minor in nature and shorter in length. If you look historically, our housing market has grown steadily 3 to 4 percent. In other areas, they're up and down 20 percent. Their swings are much wider."

But after a record-breaking 2018, Lafayette Parish's residential real estate numbers in January did surprise local realtors.

The number of home sales in January was the lowest in at least six years at 171, and the average sale price of those homes was $215,550, which is lower than January average sale prices from 2018, 2016 and 2015.

"If you just look at January, you'd think the sky is falling," said Bill Bacque, former president of Van Eaton & Romero who worked for 45 years in the industry. "You look at February and things are looking up but not great. Then, you go to the March numbers, and we're actually ahead of where we were last year."

A record 239 homes were sold in February, but the average sale price of $212,630 remained lower than February average prices from 2018, 2016 and 2015.

Preliminary March numbers show a record number of homes sold with the second-highest average sale price in recent years.

About 312 residential units were sold in Lafayette Parish in March for an average price of $226,689, according to preliminary MLS data. The previous March record for volume was set just last year at 285. The current March record for average home price was set in 2014 at $229,074.

March's strong showing brings first quarter residential retail sales — both in volume and average price — up to par with recent years.

Things are looking even better ahead of the industry's busy summer months.

"We're seeing a definite increase in activity," said Lori McCarthy, managing broker for Southern Lifestyle Realty. "Our projected sales for the next few months are almost double what we saw for the first quarter."

Affordable homes, especially those in established neighborhoods, are selling, but newly constructed homes and higher-end homes stay on the market for longer, according to local realtors.

"Although we've seen some uptick in the marketplace in Lafayette Parish, it's still a predominately under $300,000 market," said Troy Hebert, president of Van Eaton & Romero. "That's been the trend. Last year, 80 to 82 percent of the market was under $300,000."

There was about a 7.7-month supply of homes in Lafayette Parish at the beginning of March, according to MLS data, but inventory varies greatly by price and neighborhood.

Industry experts use the months of supply — essentially the total number of homes for sale divided by the total number of homes that sold in a given month — to determine the health of a real estate market.

A 6-month supply of homes is considered to be ideal.

When the supply is less than 6 months, it's considered a seller's market because home prices generally increase because of greater demand. When the supply is greater than 6 months, it's considered a buyer's market because home prices generally decrease with the lower demand.

There was about a 5-to 6-month supply of homes in the $170,000 to $225,000 price range in early March compared to about a 32-month supply of homes in the $500,000 to $550,000 range, according to MLS data.

Local realtors say it's still a buyer's market, but that could change in the coming months.

"We have a lot of supply out there, and the demand is catching up to the supply," said Jim Keaty, owner of Keaty Real Estate and president-elect of the Real Estate Association of Acadiana. "I'm predicting that by the end of the year, we'll sell just as much, if not more, than last year."

Number of homes sold in Lafayette Parish

January

  • 2014: 194
  • 2015: 196
  • 2016: 197
  • 2017: 238
  • 2018: 191
  • 2019: 171

February

  • 2014: 222
  • 2015: 232
  • 2016: 195
  • 2017: 212
  • 2018: 229
  • 2019: 239

March

  • 2014: 228
  • 2015: 267
  • 2016: 262
  • 2017: 276
  • 2018: 285
  • 2019: 312*

Data compiled by Jim Keaty, president-elect of the Realtor Association of Acadiana, using the Multiple Listing Service. *March 2019 numbers are not final.

Average home sale prices in Lafayette Parish

January

  • 2014: $203,363
  • 2015: $222,096
  • 2016: $216,382
  • 2017: $201,584
  • 2018: $223,157
  • 2019: $215,550

February

  • 2014: $209,112
  • 2015: $222,447
  • 2016: $219,834
  • 2017: $201,389
  • 2018: $230,473
  • 2019: $212,630

March

  • 2014: $229,074
  • 2015: $220,569
  • 2016: $211,403
  • 2017: $216,995
  • 2018: $211,524
  • 2019: $226,689*

Data compiled by Jim Keaty, president-elect of the Realtor Association of Acadiana, using the Multiple Listing Service. *March 2019 numbers are not final.

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Follow Megan Wyatt on Twitter, @MeganWyattACA.