In Acadiana’s residential real estate market, many buyers are
sitting on the fence waiting for lower interest rates, but if they wait
too long, they might be pushed off the fence by higher rates. Mortgage
rates are destined to come alive and jump forward again. The days of
insanely low 4 percent interest rates are just about gone, and right at
this moment there are newly constructed properties with maximum
amenities, sitting empty.
Buyers, however, are simply not taking advantage of these deals.
A cursory review of local lenders and Realtors paints this picture: “People are actually waiting for interest rates to drop another quarter percent!” Another told me, “Buyers here in Acadiana have, sort of, been sheltered. They have a misguided confidence and are playing the interest rates as if they were on a roulette wheel. You know, ‘come on, 3.75 percent!’”
Meanwhile, builders have had to adjust and cut back on the number of homes they built in 2009, as well as reduce the quality and quantity of special features. Cutbacks began early this year when new construction sales dipped. Builders quickly moved to lower price points and scrapped the higher-end design elements buyers were spoiled into expecting.
Up until now it was expected of new construction to feature deluxe kitchen appliances, including a five- or six-burner gas range, tankless hot water heaters, custom vacuum system, high-end flooring and clay tile roof caps. Buyers willingly paid top dollar for these things, and builders worked hard to out-customize each other. In fact, Lafayette garnered somewhat of a reputation in recent years for quality design and construction.
The trends in new interiors include concrete countertops, though granite is still popular and widely specified. Other trends expected in Acadiana’s moderately priced properties are: triple crown moldings, 10-foot or higher ceilings, separate tiled showers and tiled tub surrounds, outdoor living areas and long-leaf pine flooring.
Upper-end construction here generally means 11-foot or higher ceilings, two dishwashers, three-car garages, complete outdoor kitchens and living areas, walk-in (door-less) natural stone showers and a “man cave” or media room.
Future trends are destined to include more green and eco-friendly features. Builders Brian and Sylvia McLain of McLain Homes, who designed and built this year’s Acadiana Symphony Showcase Home, are raising the bar for green home building here in Acadiana. Their use of sustainable materials and construction methods set the stage. Energy efficient framing and processes, not to mention insulation, lighting and appliances, made this the kind of showcase that other contractors will emulate. It is a trend that is simmering right now, but predictions are that green will be the next hot thing in Lafayette within two years.
Talk with friends who have purchased homes in Austin, Texas, and you’ll hear them voice disappointment about fiberglass showers and no crown molding in some of that city’s high-end properties. Lafayette is not quite there yet, but these reductions may soon become the new norm.
So, the trick right now is to lay claim to these hysterically, er, historically low interest rates while purchasing some of the new construction that does still exist. A home you may have seen two years ago listed in Lafayette for $135 per square foot might enter the market today at $120 per square foot — a bargain no matter the interest rate.
The extended first-time buyer tax credit and the $6,500 “move-up” tax incentive will help sweeten the deal now through April 30, 2010, but that phantom 3.75 percent interest rate will likely never appear. Be delighted — no, ecstatic — with 4 or 5 percent. And know that, in my opinion, your dollar can find real traction in our quality housing market; the deals are out there.
Teresa Hamilton of Van Eaton & Romero has been one of Lafayette’s top agents for more than two decades. This representation is based in whole or in part on data supplied by the Realtor Association of Acadiana Multiple Listing Service. Neither the board nor its MLS guarantees or is in any way responsible for its accuracy.
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The Cane Fire Film Series screens “MaidenTrip” on Monday, March 10, at the AcA.
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The Louisiana Workforce Commission said Friday that initial claims rose to 2,125 from the previous week's total of 1,964. There were 2,887 initial claims during the comparable week in 2013.
The Board of Elementary and Secondary Education has stalled action on a $3.5 billion annual school funding formula due to state lawmakers by March 15.
The New Orleans Saints have yet to make it official as of this writing, but popular wide receiver Lance Moore has reportedly been cut by the team to free up salary-cap space on the roster.
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The agenda is shaping up to be lighter than in previous years. But Jindal is term-limited, with fewer than two years remaining in office, and he saw his last big initiative — a proposed rewrite of Louisiana tax law — collapse without getting a vote in 2013.
Sharper has been held without bail because of an arrest warrant issued by Louisiana authorities accusing him and another man of raping two women.
Here's your daily look at late-breaking national and international news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about Friday, March 07, 2014:
Two Lafayette men have been revealed by police as the infamous duo behind a caper that shook our fair city to its core.
She’s the daughter of the legendary Johnny Cash, but she’s been a gifted artist in her own right for three decades, and she’s coming to Lafayette.
The Lafayette Parish School Board has received a second letter of demand related to last year’s insurance debacle, this time from Key Benefit Administrators claiming it’s owed $93,000 from the school system.
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The Louisiana coastline is vanishing faster than mappers can keep track.
A bill that would have overridden local ordinances prohibiting public and private employers from discriminating against lesbian, gay and transgender people has been pulled within less than a week of being filed.
The panel that selects nominees for a controversial New Orleans area flood control board — a board that is suing more than 90 oil, gas and pipeline companies — is set to discuss legislation affecting its independence.
State prison officials cannot keep secret the seller and manufacturer of the two drugs purchased for executions at the Louisiana State Penitentiary, a federal judge ruled Wednesday.
State lawmakers will not appeal a judge's ruling that it was improper to use $3.7 million from a probation and parole officers' retirement fund to balance the state's operating budget.
Prepare yourselves for sun
Acadiana's nightlife guide.
Conservatives have been losing their minds over this satirical bit on the Colbert Report.
Due to the chaos of Mardi Gras and the weather, the entry deadline for this year's INDesign Awards has been extended by one week.
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The House approved legislation Tuesday night to roll back a recently enacted overhaul of the federal flood insurance program, after homeowners in flood-prone areas complained about sharp premium increases.
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The NFL has formally designated New Orleans' Jimmy Graham as a tight end for the purposes of his franchise tag value, which is now set at $7.05 million next season unless Graham and the Saints subsequently agree on a long-term deal.