Bill Bacque column sig

Bill Bacque

When I began penning this column several months ago, I decided to title it “Your Real Real Estate Market” because of my concern that attempts by some analyst and media outlets to nationalize housing data was both irrelevant and misleading.

Housing markets, after all, are local.

A recent Wall Street Journal front page article’s opening paragraph exemplifies my concern. It read: “Home sales tumbled in December to their weakest level since 2015, ending a difficult year at a new low and offering fresh evidence that the housing market could be in for a bumpy ride in 2019.”

According to the Realtor Association of Acadiana’s Multiple Listing Service final 2018 housing sales numbers, our local housing market set new record highs in several categories. Here are our real numbers:

  • There were 5,268 home sales reported to the MLS for 2018 from all reporting parishes — a new record — besting last year’s previous high of 4,974 sales by 294 sales, or 5.9%. Home sales from outside Lafayette Parish rose by 7.6% over 2017.
  • Lafayette Parish’s 2018 reported home sales totaled 3,377 versus 3,216 reported for 2017, an increase of 161 sales, or 5%. That broke the previous record of 3,310 sales reported in 2015.
  • The dollar volume of all home sales reported to the MLS during 2018 eclipsed the $1 billion dollar mark for the first time, exceeding the previous record of $970 million set in 2015 by over $35 million and increasing over last year’s reported $937 million dollar volume by 7.3%.
  • Lafayette Parish’s reported home sales dollar volume for 2018 was $754,851,633. This also set a new record by exceeding our previous high mark set in 2015 of $753,168,080 and besting 2017’s $687 million volume by over 8%.

Not all segments of the Lafayette Parish housing market performed equally during 2018. Sales of newly constructed homes fell in 2018 for the fourth consecutive year, but the 2018 decline of less than 1% was the smallest percentage drop over that period.

In the $150,000-$299,999 price segment where over 80% of 2018 new home sales occurred, reported sales were down by 2.3% while sales in the $300,000 and up range, which made up 16% of the total new construction sales, rose by 7% resulting in an actual increase in overall new construction dollar volume of 3% for 2018 over 2017.

Sales of existing homes in Lafayette Parish were the market driver in 2018, with the number of reported sales increasing by 7% and the dollar volume of those sales up by over 10% over 2017. All price quadrants of existing home sales performed positively during 2018, though not equally.

Existing home sales priced under $150,000, which made up 32% of the reported existing home sales, increased by 1% over 2017. Sales in the $150,000-$299,999 rose by just over 7%. This price segment represented 53% of total existing home sales reported in 2018.

Lastly, sales of existing homes priced at $300,000 and up, which encompassed 15% of the sales reported, rose by nearly 21%.

As we embark on this new year, the housing sales records set this past year will become the benchmark upon which we will primarily measure this year’s performance. Our local economy in 2019 will certainly be the primary factor to watch.

Interest rates, which is a national commodity, will also bear watching. But national housing numbers, as our local numbers for 2018 prove, should be taken with a grain of salt.