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Housing Market in SWLA: Rebound or Retreat?
7/1/2020 1:00:00 PM
Housing Rebound or Retreat

Although COVID-related challenges remain and are unpredictable, realty industry experts are saying the nation’s home-buying market likely hit its low point in mid-April as new listings and median prices began to recover at the end of May (the last month for which data is available), according to a new report from Realtor.com.

The real estate industry faced some very challenging circumstances over the last several months, but according to the report, there are marked signs of improvement and growth. With historically low interest rates, even with the pandemic, the pent-up demand to purchase a home was unleashed and the supply of previously-owned homes remained quite limited, continuing the sellers’ market. Sellers may be more apprehensive about the state of the economy than buyers, but even before the pandemic, the nation’s low housing inventory made it a tight market, even for eager buyers. This is good news for home builders, since they have a captive audience of people looking to buy who are finding few options amid existing homes.

In Southwest Louisiana, the news – at this point – appears to be even better. "The local housing market was well-positioned to weather this crisis due to the ongoing economic growth in the region, even though no one could have predicted this type of event,” says Tobie Hodgkins, Associate Broker/Owner with Century 21 Bessette Realty, Inc. "Our office numbers have held fairly steady and compared to April, our pending sales are up 40% for May, with June numbers even higher.” 

Inventory of single-family homes currently listed in Southwest Louisiana have stayed virtually the same, not just from April to May, but more importantly, when compared to inventory counts last year. Median sales prices are also consistent over the same time period.  

"Our agents have stayed extremely busy during the COVID crisis,” says Hodgkins. "We had to adjust our business model slightly, but we had the technology in place to make that a seamless process. Communication between us and our agents, and our agents with their clients, was critical during this time. We were fortunate to already be using a great deal of online technology in our day-to-day operations, so it was not a difficult transition. These include secure e-signature, digital documents, virtual tours and more. We switched our weekly sales meetings to online Zoom meetings and we all worked hard to stay connected.”

She says another factor key to success over the past few months were the changes made by lending and title companies in the region. "The companies we work with for our clients made changes for online processing and even ‘drive-up’ closings so contracted properties were able to close while still following COVID-related business operation guidelines.” 

According to Hodgkins, reports from the National Association of Realtors’ economist when all this started indicated that nationwide, there was a growing demand for housing resulting from lower interest rates, and the expectation was that the market would re-bound quickly. "From all indications so far, this appears to be the case in our area. With our inventory levels staying steady and our pending sales rapidly increasing, we feel our local real estate market is going to get back to pre-COVID levels sooner, rather than later. While we don’t believe we will hit the overall numbers we saw last year, we still believe the year will end up strong.” 

Call Century 21 Bessette Realty Inc., at (337-474-2185 for more information about home buying or selling or visit www.century21-bessette.com

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