The number of houses sold in metro Baton Rouge was down 2 percent in January when compared with figures from the year before because of a drop in activity in Ascension Parish, due to a dwindling inventory of homes for sale in the parish.

There were 511 homes sold in January in the nine-parish area, according to figures released Tuesday by the Greater Baton Rouge Association of Realtors’ Multiple Listing Service. That compares with 523 MLS sales in January 2014.

While home sales were up for the month in East Baton Rouge and Livingston parishes, the gains were knocked down by what happened in Ascension. The number of houses sold in Ascension fell from 119 in January 2014 to 100, a 16 percent drop.

Ginger Maulden, a past president of the Ascension Council of Realtors Governing Board, said the sales decline was due to a shortage of houses available for sale.

“There’s not enough inventory,” she said. “We had a three-month supply of houses all last year. In a healthy market, there’s a six-month supply. It’s been like that for a while. If you don’t have houses, you can’t sell them.”

In the metro area, the average amount of time a home stayed on the market until being sold was 94 days in January. In Ascension, the average number of days on the market was 44 days.

Maulden, an agent with Coldwell Banker One in Prairieville, said big builders such as DSLD Homes and D.R. Horton are doing business in Ascension, which should increase the number of houses hitting the market. And Southern Lifestyle Development of Lafayette recently announced plans to buy the M.P. Evans property in Gonzales and put 930 lots on the site.

“In the next couple of months, more houses will be put on the market,” Maulden said. “A lot of people wait until spring to put their houses on the market because they want the school year to end first.”

Livingston had a 7.1 percent gain in sales, going from 85 in 2014 to 91. And East Baton Rouge, which accounts for the largest percentage of MLS sales, saw a 3.4 percent increase to 277 sales. There were 268 sales in East Baton Rouge during January 2014.

The median home price rose 5.7 percent in January to $177,000 from $167,500, a sign of the continuing strength of the market.

The number of homes for sale fell 13.6 percent to 3,585. The supply in months was 4.6, compared with 5.8 in 2014.

The number of new listings on the market was up 2.7 percent from 996 in 2014 to 1,023.

Follow Timothy Boone on Twitter, @TCB_TheAdvocate.