The housing market in Iberia Parish is going strong as we come out of the COVID restrictions of the past year and a half, based on numbers provided by local real estate agents.

And that’s good news for the parish.

“We have a good healthy real estate market,” Cindy Herring, broker and owner of Cindy Herring Real Estate, said.

“I want people to realize this is good news for Iberia Parish,” said Lisa Duhe Lourd of Latter & Blum. “You want a brisk housing market. A brisk housing market is good for our economy. It’s a combination of the circle of life — people are downsizing, people are upsizing.”

Herring said the average sale price of homes in 2021, through October, has risen 28 percent over the 2019 numbers, and is above 2020 numbers as well.

The average sale price of a home in Iberia Parish in 2019 was $136,046, she said. That was up to $153,347 in 2020, and is up to $174,347 now.

In the past, she said, the number was around $99,000, then it crept up to about $110,000.

“(The current average) is fabulous, because (in the past) $120,000 was high,” Herring said. “It’s a good outlook for Iberia Parish that our values are going up.”

The number of houses on the market is rising as well. Typically in a year such as 2019, Herring said there would be about 150 houses on the market, or up to 175. After COVID hit, those numbers were in the 60s. Now it’s up around 90, she said.

Several factors have played into the improving market, Herring said. Interest rates are very low, meaning people can pay lower monthly notes for a bigger home.

“I think going through COVID made a lot of people realize how important a home is,” she said. “When you’re stuck there with you and your family and really there’s nowhere else to be, you really need to be in a good place. I think it’s an awareness of having a good home, or a home that fits for the families.”

Being in a home with not enough room for all their children made people aware how important it is to be in a good place, she said.

“It’s just been crazy,” she said. “If they did own a home, they’ve upgraded to larger homes, and probably their notes stayed the same because their interest rates have dropped. That makes a big difference when you can get an interest rate that cheap. You can get more value for your money.”

There’s also a difference in the people in the market for homes, she said. In 2019, a lot of the purchases were from investors so many were buying smaller, less expensive properties to fix up and use as rental houses. Now, it’s people buying homes for their families to live in that’s driving the market. Stimulus checks also may have helped with down payments, she said.

Herring expects to have the total numbers to be close to 2019’s total of 499 home sales.

“(The strong market) will definitely go into next year, because I just got back from the National Association of Realtors convention in San Diego, and all the projections are that we’re going to have a strong 2022 also,” she said.

Cumulative total sales in 2021, as reported to the Multiple Listing Service is nearly $76 million, versus $55 million in 2020.

“That’s huge,” Lourd said. “That’s almost a 37 percent increase in Iberia Parish as reported to MLS. And then that doesn’t include the people that custom build or if it’s for sale by owner and doesn’t get reported to MLS. That’s huge.”

Starting in April, the number of closed sales has been up every month of 2021 over the same month in 2020 except for September, with the first three months being slightly stronger in 2020.

Lourd says she sees a lot of people moving up, from whatever level home they have to the next level, because the low interest rates help them keep their monthly mortgage payments about the same for a home that costs more.

“They can sell their home for higher than they thought, or they can sell their home quicker than they may have last year, or the year before, and move up to the next bracket,” she said. “I mean, this is the best chance ever to move up in a home, for sure.”

Lourd said home sales typically slow down in November and December because people are focusing on family and holidays, and not on looking at homes. Generally speaking there are fewer buyers actively looking, but she said the outlook still looks pretty good. She expects more people to start looking for homes, or to sell their homes, as January unfolds.

Though there’s been some up and down movement in interest rates, but even when they tick up, it’s still lower than the industry has seen historically, Lourd said.

“We’re still in the twos — the twos and low threes,” she said. “That’s unbelievable. Those are great interest rates. I just want people to know a brisk housing market is great for New Iberia, it’s great for our economy. It means there are people moving up, it means there are people moving into those houses, it means there are first-time homebuyers getting out of rentals. It means there are flips being flipped.”

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