Lafayette real estate market holding steady, despite fears about oil economy and possible state budget cuts _lowres


The real estate market has kept its steam this year, despite fears that weak energy prices might cool Lafayette’s oil-fueled economy.

Homes sales in Lafayette Parish for the first two months of the year totaled 423, up about 2 percent from the 416 homes sold during the same period in 2014, according to analysis released Tuesday by Van Eaton & Romero Chief Executive Officer Bill Bacqué using figures from the Realtor Association of Acadiana.

“I think all of us in the Acadiana area were entering into 2015 somewhat apprehensive,” Bacqué said.

There is cause for concern.

Besides the steep decline in oil prices, the state Legislature soon will be reviewing a proposed budget with possible cuts to higher education and health care, and the University of Louisiana at Lafayette and the state-owned University Hospital & Clinics are big regional employers.

Bacqué said just the fear of an economic downturn can affect the real estate market.

“It’s confusing, in a very positive and invigorating way,” Bacqué said. “Maybe that impact is somewhat delayed in occurring, but usually the population reacts prior to the significant event occurring.”

His analysis indicates that home prices have remained stable, with the median sales price for the first two months of the year up about 2 percent over last year — $192,280 compared with $187,650.

Prospects for the near future look good.

Pending homes sales in February were up 15 percent from January and up 6 percent when compared with February 2014.

Sales of existing homes have been driving the market, according to Bacqué’s figures.

New construction, a smaller share of the overall market, was actually down by 3 percent when comparing the first two months of 2015 to 2014, but sales of existing homes rose by 4 percent.

That trend is set to continue.

For sales reported as pending in February, existing homes were up by 15 percent when compared with last year and new construction was down by 8 percent.

Follow Richard Burgess on Twitter, @rbb100.