Regional real estate expert expects major growth for St. John Parish

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, April 24, 2007


Editor and Publisher

LAPLACE – A regional real estate appraisal expert expects the growth for St. John, and the entire River Region, to maintain solid progress for the foreseeable future.

Henry &#8220Hank” Tatje was the guest speaker before the LaPlace Rotary Club on Tuesday, and brought interesting statistical data to show the solid real estate market in St. John and St. Charles parishes.

Tatje acknowledged a slowdown in the market late last year, and said there is a slight readjustment to come in home sale prices.

But he foresees the long term future &#8220optimistically” due to factors involving the rebuilding of New Orleans from Hurricane Katrina.

&#8220Especially after Katrina, many of the people who were going back to New Orleans have decided not to. And then there are those in the areas which have not rebounded, and once they face their decisions, I believe many others will decide not to go back. The natural place for those wanting to remain in the area is this way,” he said.

Tatje expects New Orleans to become a smaller city, since areas such as New Orleans East and the Ninth Ward may never be rebuilt to previous-Katrina form anytime soon.

&#8220As long as tourism and the port return to full strength in New Orleans, the honest truth is that many people don’t care if those areas come back,” he noted.

Tatje has been a real estate appraiser in the area for over 30 years, and has handled virtually every type of real estate business there can be. His expertise ranks among the best in the region.

In St. John, he pointed out statistics that showed 632 home sales in 2005 at an average cost per home of $142,671.

In 2006, just after Katrina had hit, the value of the market grew substantially to an average cost per home of $171,897 with 536 units sold.

And for those who thought it was just a Katrina effect, the first quarter of 2007 has shown that St. John is remaining strong with an average sale price of $178,797, and 120 homes sold so far.

Tatje said he does expect a slight readjustment to the market &#8220with a drop in sales price for some homes of up to 10 to 20 percent.”

That is because the St. John market currently has 277 listings, which is high for the area.

In St. Charles, a higher end buyer continues to lead the way with 2005 showing 596 sales at an average price per home of $187,764.

In 2006, there were 585 sales at an average price of $229,114, while 2007 has started out with only a slight decline at an average sales price of $210,887 with 102 sales in the first quarter.

&#8220A lot of people expected the market to drop substantially in 2007, but it hasn’t happened,” he added.

Tatje sees the big list of industrial expansions and additions as more reason for optimism.

&#8220When you consider things like the huge expansion at Marathon and other industries, that will create a definite need for home sales,” he said. &#8220Even as far away as Ascension Parish, you will see it create economic growth here.”

Tatje added that the $3.3 billion Marathon expansion that has just begun will also bring many &#8220spin-off businesses” to the area that will stimulate the economy.

He sees negative influences to the local market as a school system that is not as good in St. John as St. Charles, as well as problems with homeowners paying higher insurance premiums. Also, he said rising construction costs make a new home about 20 percent more expensive than a home of similar size that is older.

&#8220The biggest reason you will see more people come here is because every time some poor person is shot in New Orleans, it turns people off to going there,” he said. &#8220That’s why you will see a lot of people decide to settle here.”