Lake Charles, Louisiana is a real estate market on the rise. Located on Lake Charles, Prien Lake and Calcasieu, Lake Charles is the fifth largest city in Louisiana. It currently boasts an in-demand real estate market that has seen strong gains over the past twelve months. Increases in median sales and current list prices indicate the market is headed in the right direction. There is also great demand for real estate, as is evidenced by the increased amount of inventory and the reduced number of active listings. When all is said and done, the Lake Charles real estate market is somewhere investors want to consider looking.
As sales prices have increased, property values in the Lake Charles real estate market have also been on the rise. According to information provided by Realtor.com, the current average home price is $265,628. This exceeds the average for both the state of Louisiana, and nationally. With higher current list prices, in addition to rising values, growth appears to be sustainable; something that should benefit Lake Charles real estate investing. It also provides confidence for homebuyers, or those that are looking to take advantage of an improving market. This will continue to push the market forward and give homeowners great flexibility with their equity. If additional equity is gained in the future, it will have a positive impact on the housing market, and the overall local economy.
The local economy is stable, as it boasts growing retail, commerce, gaming, industrial and manufacturing sectors. The top two employers for the area are the Calcasieu school system and the local resort casino. In total, these two places account for more than 7,500 jobs. The current unemployment rate for the Lake Charles area is 5.6 percent, which is slightly ahead of the statewide average (6.3%), but below the national average (5.4%). The average cost of living is just over $54,000; which is 6 percent higher than the statewide average. The median household income is $36,000. In most markets, these would be areas of slight concern, but given how the market has been trending upwards, these are nothing more than minor deterrents. The area has a mix of established employers and new companies – both anchoring the economy. It also has a population that rose close to 3 percent from the previous year.
This demand for rental property has helped increase the number of multifamily properties in the market. Out of the 204 new housing permits issued in 2014, over 168 of them were from multifamily properties. Out of the 633 permits issued in 2013, a whopping 426 were for multifamily homes. This is due to the large demand for rental properties in the area. Some of this demand is created by the proximity of two area colleges: McNeese State University and Sowela Technical Community College. The average rent for a four bedroom house in the market is just under $1,200.
According to RealtyTrac, there are about 294 homes in the Lake Charles real estate market that are in some state of foreclosure (default, auction or bank-owned). At their current rate, distressed homes are 15 percent higher than they were last month, and 40 percent from this time last year. Of course, most of these properties are in a state of pre-foreclosure, meaning they are simply at risk of being foreclosed on. Their owners have failed to keep up with mortgage obligations and are at risk of losing their homes. The Lake Charles real estate investing community may be able to help owners in these particular situations, creating a win-win for everyone involved. Of course, from an investor’s perspective, these homes offer a great value.
According to Trulia, which only accounts for homes on their site, the Lake Charles real estate market has 355 resale and new homes. Trulia’s numbers, however, paint a different foreclosure picture. Trulia puts the foreclosure number at 265 homes.
The annual property turnover rate for Lake Charles is only 9 percent. The statewide average for Louisiana is 11 percent, with the national number at 18 percent. One of the reasons for this is the moderately high local median age of 39. This is higher than both the statewide number of 35 and national number of 37. With over 43 percent of homeowners in their residence over five years, inventory does not turn over at a quick pace. Most of the inventory is based on the production of new properties. Since 2011, the number of new housing permits has fluctuated every year, with a high of 808 new houses in 2011. With higher property demand and reduced inventory, home price will rise accordingly.
The Lake Charles real estate market has weathered the storm and is on the rise. With home values rising and equity increasing, it won’t be long until some of these properties hit the market. When they do, home values should surge even more than they currently are. Total days on the market have declined almost 45 percent from this time last year, hinting that Lake Charles real estate investing is in a good place. This is the strongest sign that buyers currently have an appetite to buy. With strong market fundamentals, this should be more than a fleeting trend.
Lake Charles Real Estate Market Summary:
- Current Median Home Price: $265,628
- Unemployment Rate: 5.6%
- Population: 74,024
- Median Household Income: $36,000