The New Orleans Metropolitan Association of REALTORS® (NOMAR) will once again host one of its major events in person with the 12th Annual Economic and Real Estate Forecast Symposium: Recognizing Risk In An Uncertain World, which will take place October 13 at the Jefferson Performing Arts Center.
Speakers will include experts in real estate, finance, government and academia who will offer a comprehensive mix of content. The in-person conference comes as the New Orleans real estate industry begins to see signs of stabilization after more than two years of unprecedented disruptions.
“The market has had an inflection point,” said NOMAR President David Favret. “We were in a hyper-aggressive sellers’ market where buyers were nearly desperate to secure a property. We’ve seen a shift and now we are in a much healthier market. There is still tremendous demand, but there is more inventory available. Things are moving at an appropriate pace for all sides that we did not see for the last two years.”
Favret said one key indicator of this change is an increase in the months of inventory in New Orleans residential real estate. For the past two years, that number has sometimes been as low as one month of inventory, sometimes inching higher. Today, there is about 2.9 months of inventory on the market, which Favret said indicates a healthy balance between the number of buyers and sellers.
While many residential buyers are locals who are looking for a home that better meets their needs, others have entered the market as well. Bob Bergeron, Owner of Crescent Title, LLC, said several people have relocated to New Orleans now that their jobs allow them to work fully remotely. Others are New Orleans natives who are moving back home to be closer to family. With a condo market that is more robust than some other cities, Bergeron said some people also purchase a New Orleans condo as a second home to be near family for long stretches during the year.
Regardless of the buyer’s situation, Bergeron said it is always advisable to work with local members of the industry who are up-to-date on the market.
“A lot of people look at homes online to get a feel for what is out there, and an agent can help you identify properties that might be right for you,” Bergeron said. “They may know about properties that are not officially listed yet or guide you to an area you didn’t know about. Once you find a real estate agent you can trust, they can help you find a good lender who they have worked with before and who can help you have a positive experience.”
The residential market has stabilized, yet the New Orleans commercial market is still in a bit of flux. Melissa Warren, CCIM, President of the NOMAR Commercial Investment Division, said retail is starting to recover in New Orleans while Jefferson and St. Tammany parishes remain strong and demand is growing. The New Orleans tourism and hospitality industries have seen a boost with the return of large events and are certainly driving the post pandemic economic recovery. However, Warren noted that office occupancy remains below pre-pandemic levels. That has prompted some to seek out smaller office spaces or less costly options.
Warren said the biggest changes in New Orleans now are in industrial real estate, a trend that is expected to continue through at least 2023. A new distribution facility on the West Bank and an Amazon distribution center in Slidell are in the works, which will give New Orleans an advantage amid supply chain and delivery challenges. Plus, progress continues on the Louisiana International Terminal at St. Bernard, a project led by the Port of New Orleans that is expected to have significant industry and workforce impacts in the region.
“No matter what sector you’re in, we see the cost of construction impacting lease rates every day,” Warren added. “Landlords are giving more tenant improvement allowances and long-term deals because tenants don’t want to front load their costs.”
If an investor is seeking to enter the commercial market, Warren urges them to consider what industries they would like to work with and what geographic areas most interest them. Investors should also have a diverse mix of tenants, she added. Meanwhile, tenants should ensure that they have their finances in order, especially after many have received new influxes of cash from government sources.
“We’re definitely seeing people size up their investments and make sure everything is stable,” she said. “We’ve seen investors look at properties, but they move on because they have concerns about the tenants and their credit. Everyone now is looking for that long-term stability.”
The symposium will include presentations on seeking such stability, as well as the current state of the economy, long-term sustainability and the environment and upcoming projects that could transform New Orleans.
Others will address how industry leaders must adjust to a rapidly changing world. Guy Williams, President of Gulf Coast Bank, said one area that needs to be discussed is how crime in New Orleans impacts both business and quality of life. Williams said that while the current situation is concerning, he is hopeful that there will be positive change, especially with the formation of the NOLA Coalition, a diverse group of more than 350 organizations that is working to address crime issues in the city.
“It’s a disconcerting time right now and we have a problem to solve. If we don’t solve it, people with the ability to move will do so,” Williams said. “However, it’s a problem we’ve solved before. It can happen and should happen. If you’re a seller who can afford to wait it out, that’s an option you might want to consider. It’s a tough time, but we have so many people who love this city and want to see it be the best. They’re committed to doing what they can to make that happen.”
Williams said he hopes the gathering at the October 13 symposium will serve as a catalyst to inspire even more people to do their part to help New Orleans thrive. Gulf Coast Bank is the title sponsor of the symposium.
“I always enjoy the networking and the interaction with people. It’s completely different than being virtual,” he said. “The lineup is wonderful. There’s going to be a lot of high-level information, but it’s also going to be a fun opportunity to reconnect and make new friends.”
The symposium is from 12 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. with a business networking reception upon conclusion of the presentations. All attendees must have a ticket. To purchase tickets or for more information, visit www.nomar.org.