Home sales in era of coronavirus slowing Lafayette Parish's hot start

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The hot start to home sales in Lafayette Parish, La., and elsewhere in Acadiana has slowed due to the novel coronavirus and may continue for the next two or three months.

Data from analyst Bill Bacque with Market Scope Consulting shows that home sales in March in Lafayette Parish compared to March 2019 are down 14%, dollar volume is down 12%, pending sales are down 8% and pending dollar amount is down 14%.

In Acadiana, home sales so are down 12%, dollar volume is down 15% and pending sales are down 9.25%.

Those gaps will lessen slightly once data from Monday and Tuesday are entered before month's end, Bacque said. It's the later months that will give a more true indication of the COVID-19's effect on the real estate market.

"I don't know what we should have expected with this," said Jim Keaty, owner of Keaty Real Estate and president of the Realtor Association of Acadiana. "I guess I could be a little surprised that we are still working and still putting houses under contract. But I'm more concerned about the ones we're not. Luckily we are able to still work and people are still putting their homes up for sale and some people are still buying."

The dip comes at a time of the year when sales are normally higher, Bacque said. Lafayette Parish had already started the year strong with 251 homes sold in February, up from the 240 sold in February 2019, to put the number sold so far this year at 544, up 32.3% from the 411 sold in the first two months of last year, data shows.

As expected since the stay-in-place mandate earlier this month, showings are down significantly, down 59.6% from March 2019. It's made many realtors offer virtual showings and potential buyers rely more on web listings.

For those considering putting their homes for sale, this isn't a long-term crisis, Keaty noted, and the market could bounce back relatively quickly. New listings are down 22% in Lafayette Parish and 25% in Acadiana, data shows.

"You have nothing to lose to put it on the market, but you could lose a buyer if you don't," he said. "The people who are looking out there right now are very serious and they're not looking at a bunch of houses. They're probably looking at one or two."

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