High New Orleans Prices Leads Home Buyers to the Suburbs

With rising home prices in New Orleans, many potential homebuyers have been priced out of the market. Many consumers are looking in areas that have not had such dramatic jumps in prices. One of these areas is Marrero, Louisiana.

After moving out of New Orleans due to Hurricane Katrina, Janine Lewis moved back to New Orleans in 2010. Around a year ago she decided to buy a home instead of renting. Hollygrove is where Janine grew up and after renting her whole life she decided to purchase a home in the New Orleans area.

The search for a home close to the area she grew up turned out to be disheartening for her. Home prices in Metairie, her old neighborhood around West Napoleon and Cleary Avenues, are rising at a steady rate. The house prices per square foot on average for the first six months of 2019 was $171.

“I didn’t like the West Bank since I was little,” Lewis said. “At first I was looking in Kenner and parts of Metairie, and I didn’t mind a little fixer-upper. But when I started to look at new-builds in the West Bank, it was actually cheaper than the old houses in Metairie that I was looking at.”

Marrero, located on the West Bank, has an average price for single-family homes at just $107 per square foot. Janine was able to purchase a new three-bedroom, two-bathroom home in Brentwood, a 100-unit subdivision in Marrero, where homes have sold from $236,900 to $247,900.

Lewis’ story is the same for many other metro area residents. Steed “Steedie” Ubas Jr. who was born and raised in Marrero, purchased a home in the area. He chose to purchase in Marrero over New Orleans where he works as a welder for Textron because of the lower home prices. Proximity to work was not as  important to the cost of living for Steedie.

Steedie now is the proud homeowner of a three-bedroom, two-bathroom home in a brand new community called Pelican Bay in Marrero. His new home, in the 218 unit neighborhood, only cost him $190,000.

“I bought in Pelican Bay because it’s close enough to the city and it’s close to the swamp, to Lafitte (National Historical Park), right in the middle of everything,” Ubas said.

Morrero is seeing a big push in new homeowners in the area according to Nell Francipane, a sales representative for DSLD Homes, which built both Brentwood and Pelican Bay.

“Some are single and in their 20s, others in their 30s, 40s, 50s,” Francipane said. “We have had first-time home buyers and some might be on their fourth property. There are teachers, nurses, firemen, police officers, retirees, empty-nesters. Really, from all walks of life.”

This trend has been seen around many suburbs in the metro area. Jefferson Parish had more house sales than Orleans Parish in the first half of the year. St. Tammany Parish was the busiest of the eight metro parishes with the most home sales according to the Realtors Association.

Single-family homes rose 2.4% across the eight-parish metro area in the first half of 2019 according to the New Orleans Metropolitan Association of Realtors and the Gulf South Real Estate Information Network.

“There has been a lightening-up period in terms of (price) appreciation,” said real estate consultant Wade Ragas, who compiled the data. “Orleans Parish had been taking all the air out of the room, but about a year ago it started to shift and suburban parishes started to have more increases.”

The trend is reflected by the percentage of increases seen throughout the metro area. Jefferson parish only rose 4.7%, St. Tammany Parish saw a 2.1% increase, St. Charles rose 6.2%, St. John the Baptist Parish prices rose by 2.7% and the Belle Chasse area of Plaquemines Parish saw a 5.7% increase.

The Greater New Orleans area sees the most sales in the $200,000 – $400,000 range. According to local Brokers, golf communities in St. Tammany are doing the best. The first half of the year this area saw an 8% increase in home prices.

This trend will still run strong for the time being as the priciest home in the 70130 area code sold at $286 per square foot. The rising land cost will also keep pushing the large developers farther out from areas closer to the Lower Garden District, the CBD and the French Quarter.

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