New home sales in Lafayette Parish, La. were down almost 18.6% in the first five months of 2016 compared with January through May 2015, from 364 homes sold during the 2016 period versus 447 sold in 2015, according to a report by Van Eaton & Romero using numbers compiled by the Realtor Association of Acadiana.

The Advocate staffer Billy Gunn reports that the economic forces keeping fewer people from buying homes come mainly from the fall of oil and gas prices that have forced thousands of people out of work in Acadiana. Although oil is up almost 100 percent since the beginning of 2016 — it sold for between $48 and $49 a barrel Tuesday afternoon — it’s still a long way from the over-$100-a-barrel level it reached in mid-June 2014

“What we have clearly seen at this point is that demand is down,” Bill Bacque, CEO of Lafayette real estate company Van Eaton & Romero, told members of the Acadian Home Builders Association.

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