Vermilion Parish is blessed with a wonderful climate, good people, good food, plentiful recreational amenities and wonderful opportunities for employment, so its housing market never slowed dramatically, even at the height of the recession, according to local Realtors.
Recent layoffs in the oil and gas industry have caused nervousness, however, and resulted in about a 10 percent dip in home prices, according to Kathy Dyson, owner/broker of Kathy Dyson Realty in Abbeville.
“But I expect that to pass. Our market is pretty diverse and very stable. Nothing ever seems to hurt us that bad,” she explained.
James Noel, owner/broker of Sunrise Realty in Abbeville, agreed, pointing to new residential developments under construction in the northern part of the Parish, including a 75-unit apartment complex that is restricted to older adults.
“Vermilion Parish is never hurt as badly by oil and gas layoffs as Lafayette, for instance, because the Parish has not been over-built,” Noel said.
“Townhouses are very popular right now and there are some 1,300-square-foot patio homes being built which are selling out as fast as they can build them. We also had a 250-unit apartment complex built that now has a waiting list,” he said.
The most popular type of homes, both new and resale, are traditional-style, raised Acadian homes with broad porches, gable roofs, over-hanging eaves and outside staircases, Dyson stated. The second most popular style today, she said, is French Provincial. Both Acadian and French Provincial homes are available in both new and older neighborhoods, as well as in rural areas throughout Vermilion Parish.
Abbeville, in particular, is very popular with students and faculty at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette because it is only a 15-minute drive from campus. Noel has also noticed numerous overseas tourists from France, Belgium and Canada who have enjoyed their stay in the Parish and chosen to buy a home for retirement or vacations.
“Our French heritage in this area appeals to them,” Noel explained.
“Over 50 percent of our local residents were born and raised in Vermilion Parish and can trace their families back for generations in the area,” Dyson said. “But the rest are transplants who have moved here for employment or retirement, attracted by our good food, great weather, beautiful scenery and many recreational and social opportunities like our festivals, concerts in the park and farmers markets.”
“The majority who move here for jobs come from the oilfields in Texas. Others come here from all over. We even have snowbirds from the north who come here in the winter and live in our area RV parks to escape the winters up north,” she explained.
“Potential home buyers who are older and have no school age children are attracted to the towns within Vermilion Parish. Those who have children gravitate toward the best school districts, which are often in the rural areas. Many of them also like the fact that they can get larger acreage without restrictions in the rural areas. About 10 percent want to have at least one horse. Many others want to raise chickens for the eggs,” Dyson said.
Noel agreed. “In the rural areas people can have animals, sheds, mobile homes, whatever they want and many like that. Many also like the 10-acre mini-ranches. Waterfront property, of course, is in high demand but U
very scarce, Noel said. Most of it is owned by the old families and few are selling. But the vast land tracts those families once owned are slowly disappearing nevertheless.
“As the older family members pass on, the land is being divided by their wills so that their children all get a portion. Over time, the parcels gets smaller and smaller and that is exactly what has happened in Vermilion Parish,” Noel explained.
Homes currently on the market in the Parish range in size from 1,000 to 4,000 square feet. But the average home falls in the 2,000- to 2,500-square-foot range and sells for between $150,000 and $200,000, he said. The average half- to one-acre lot in Vermilion Parish sells for $25,000, unless it is on the river. A river lot of that size sells for approximately $75,000, according to Noel.