Bill Bacque column sig

Bill Bacque

Last year Acadiana’s record-breaking housing sales didn’t begin with a bang. Through April of 2018, the total number of housing sales reported to the Realtor Association of Acadiana’s Multiple Listing Service from Lafayette and surrounding parishes totaled 1,540.

For the same period in 2017, total sales reported were 1,535 — an anemic 0.3% increase. What followed were three record-setting months of sales tallies that set the stage for the what would ultimately be our best housing market numbers ever tallied.

How is our 2019 housing market shaping up comparatively as of this point?

Very well.

Housing sales reported to the MLS for January-April 2019 from all Acadiana parishes was 1,703. That’s an increase of over 10.5% over the same period last year.

What’s been the catalyst for this significant increase over the first four months of this year? It’s the increase in sales reported from outside Lafayette Parish.

Through April of last year, home sales reported from outside Lafayette Parish totaled 538 as compared to 549 reported for the same period in 2017, a 2% decline. This year’s total home sales outside of Lafayette Parish reported through April stood at 681, an increase of over 26.5%.

Lafayette Parish’s home sales reported through April was 1,022, just up from the 1,002 for the same period in 2018. That’s an increase of 2%. For the first four months of last year, reported housing sales from Lafayette Parish were up by 1.6%.

So the baseline of 2019’s Acadiana reported home sales to date, both inside and outside of Lafayette Parish, as we head into last year’s strongest and record-breaking spring and summer months of May through August is fairly positive.

However, are there any indicators that we can look to in forecasting what we can expect in housing sales that will be reported over the ensuing months?

Yes.

Closed sales are not the most meaningful measure of current housing demand. Typically, closed sales lag current market activity by 45-60 days or longer.

Well before a home officially sells or closes, the buyer(s) and seller(s) negotiate and agree to the terms of the sales. When a purchase contract is formalized, the property is classified by the MLS as “pending.” During this period, the buyers do inspections, apply for financing and ultimately engage a title attorney to examine the title and prepare all closing documents.

This is where the 45-60-plus-day delay between contract and closing occurs.

It is possible to predict in the short term what the next few months of home sales numbers may look like by studying what has gone under contract or pending over the past few months.

Last year the number of pending sales reported during March, April and May all set all-time records for their respective months. This year’s pending sales notched for March and April exceeded their 2018 corresponding months by 6% and 8%, respectively.

Although not all of these pending sales will make it to the closing table and actually close, the overwhelming majority will. So I feel comfortable that the velocity of our housing market heading into our historically busiest time of the year remains not only strong but potentially record-breaking.

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