Real estate market sees increase in buyers

Realtors say now is best time to sell

With the future of the local real estate market still uncertain, local realtors say that buyers and sellers should move sooner rather than later.

Mary Bergeron, with Prudential Gardner in Destrehan, said that people who have been on the fence about buying or selling a home should make the decision soon.

“It has been a good time to buy for a while and I think it’s still a good time to buy,” Bergeron said. “The people who have been kind of waiting in the wings probably need to go ahead and make a move now because I do see a pick-up in the market.

“I think a buyer today has an excellent opportunity to get good value for their money.”

Byron Bellew, with the Kinler Bellew Team of Keller Williams Realty, said that those looking to sell their home should also take advantage of current market conditions.

“We are seeing a significant increase in the number of buyers entering the market in search of homes,” Bellew said. “Sellers should take advantage of this increase in buyers – no one can predict if and for how long this increase will last.

“If you need to buy or sell, don’t wait in hopes of things getting better – they could get worse. No one can accurately predict the future; if you are ready right now, jump in.”

Eliza Eugene, president of the Saints Board of Realtors, said that the parish has definite seasonal trends and that potential sellers should get their house on the market while it’s still early in the summer.

“Typically in real estate, the best time to sell is now because it’s during spring and summer, families are transferring from one place to the next and normally they wait until the kids get out of school to do so,” Eugene said. “The peak of real estate is now.”

Most realtors agreed that home sales on the West Bank, specifically in the Luling area, have seen the most growth recently.

“The market on the West Bank of St. Charles Parish is very strong and getting stronger,” Bergeron said. “But I have noticed increased activity on both sides of the river.”

Teresa O’Neil, with Caldwell Banker TEC Realtors in Luling, said that she has seen a lot of movement in the higher price range, especially in the Willowdale and Willowridge areas.

“Buyers are definitely looking in that market,” O’Neil said.

Bellew said that on the East Bank the Ormond area has remained popular recently, but that he has seen an improvement in the entire market since January.

Foreclosures have affected the market by bringing down neighboring home prices and being a cheaper option for buyers.

“(Foreclosures) mean increased choices to buyers, but with a foreclosure the property may not be in as good of condition, and in some instances the buyer has to assume the responsibility of putting on utilities in order to do inspections,” Bergeron said. “It’s not that buying a foreclosure can’t be done successfully – it can. But it is a bit of a different experience than if you’re buying from an owner or relocation company.”

Bellew said that although new foreclosures come on the market every few days, only about 8 percent of total listings in the parish are foreclosures compared to 50 percent or greater in other areas.

O’Neil said that one of the biggest challenges for buyers today is finding a good loan officer and getting pre-approval with a mortgage company.

“Financing can be more of a challenge than actually buying or selling a home,” O’Neil said.

O’Neil said it is very important for buyers and sellers to consult a realtor and allow the realtor to direct them to a respected and knowledgeable loan officer in the area.

The real estate market in St. Charles Parish is different from other areas because of Hurricane Katrina. But while some might think a massive hurricane would hurt the local real estate market, Bergeron said that it actually helped the market because the area did not flood as much as other areas.

“Housing prices were higher because our area didn’t flood and a lot of displaced families were looking for a place to live,” Bergeron said. “If you go back six or seven years, then prices would be comparable to today.”

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