Feb. 19, 2013 05:28 PM

Could 2013 be a banner year for Lafayette Parish home sales?

Once again, we're reminded that it's a damn good time to be living in Lafayette.

From 2011 to 2012 the number of Lafayette Parish home sales reported to the Realtor Association of Acadiana Multiple Listing Service increased by almost 23 percent. New construction was up more than 30 percent, while sales of previously owned homes rose 19 percent. Although sales did not reach post-Katrina/Rita years of 2006 -2007, according to Van Eaton and Romero CEO Bill Bacqué, a second place finish is indeed something to write home about.

Enter 2013. You certainly can't predict what might happen using one month's data (December's sales were actually down slightly from December 2011), Bacque cautions, but he's ready to predict 2013 may end up a banner year for residential sales.

Photo by Robin May
Van Eaton & Romero's Charlie Baudoin

Consider this, says Bacqué: The number of Lafayette Parish closed home sales reported to the MLS in January, 199, is 43 percent more than the 139 in January 2012. New construction sales rose 41 percent, while resales were up 4 percent. "The closed sales reported this January was an all-time record breaker," he says. "The closest past January number reported was in January 2007 when 173 sales were reported to the MLS."

It's safe to say no one predicted the kind of year Lafayette Parish's residential market would have in 2012, but Bacqué says he wasn't surprised.

"I have always maintained that, with very few exceptions, the strength or weakness of a particular area's housing market is in direct correlation to that area's overall economic conditions," he says. "I have always been surprised how powerful our economic engine is.

This is especially true over the past six years wherein our national economy has suffered the greatest recession since the 1930s that has had some negative impact on most every area of our country. Lafayette was no exception, but the negative fallout came late to our area, had less of an impact, and we began to recover much quicker than most other parts of the nation. Our housing market mirrored that same scenario."

If anyone is banking on a good year in the residential real estate market, it's Charlie Baudoin. The longtime top-perfoming Van Eaton & Romero agent has two daughters getting married within seven months of each other, one in May and the other in January. "It better be a good year," Baudoin says.

Baudoin says the oil and gas and medical fields, which drive Lafayette's economy, are high-income producing - and he sees more people wanting to put their money into real estate. It's a solid investment because real estate in the parish has shown that it not only holds its value but continues to grow. He also believes the luxury home market is poised for a big year. Baudoin tracked at least four homes above $850,000 that have already sold this year and believes another non-MLS home in the $3 million range recently closed.

"Lafayette is a prosperous town. It's a hub," he says, noting a wealthy New Iberia client is now looking to relocate to Lafayette. "They're willing to pay that kind of money because they want to live here."

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