Home sales continue to rise in Baton Rouge-area market despite lack of inventory _lowres

 

The number of houses sold in metro Baton Rouge rose 15.4 percent in September from a year ago, thanks to a big boost in activity in East Baton Rouge Parish.

There were 883 homes sold in September in the nine-parish area, according to figures released Thursday by the Greater Baton Rouge Association of Realtors’ Multiple Listing Service. That compares with 765 MLS sales in September 2014. This was the fourth month in a row sales have gone up year-to-year.

East Baton Rouge Parish, which makes up the largest share of MLS sales, had the biggest gain in closings. There were 473 homes sold in the parish during September, a 24.1 percent increase over the 381 MLS sales in September 2014.

Wynona Squires, broker/owner of Re/Max First in Baton Rouge, said indications that the Federal Reserve may raise interest rates in the near future “has put some urgency” on first-time homebuyers in the market.

“We’ve been very busy through the summer,” said Squires, a member of the Greater Baton Rouge Association of Realtors’ board of directors. “A lot of my agents have numbers that are larger than what they were last year.”

According to MLS figures provided by Squires, much of the increased sales activity was in the starter-home market. There were 99 homes sold in East Baton Rouge Parish in September in the $150,000 to $199,999 range. That was a 48 percent increase over the 67 sales in September 2014 in the same price bracket. More expensive homes were also moving, with the number of home sales in the $300,000 to $349,999 range increasing by 68 percent to 32. The number of sales in the $600,000 to $699,999 range went from two in September 2014 to seven a year later.

Livingston Parish had an 18.3 percent increase in sales during September, jumping from 153 MLS sales in 2014 to 181 sales.

Ascension Parish, which has been hampered by a lack of inventory, had a 6.5 percent increase in MLS sales. There were 163 sales in September, compared with 153 a year earlier.

The median home sales price in the area rose by 6.1 percent in September to $188,000 from $177,250 — meaning half the houses sold for more and half for less than that price.

The number of pending sales in metro Baton Rouge, a sign of future activity, decreased by 3.3 percent from 800 to 774.

The number of homes for sale dropped by 11.2 percent from 4,183 in September 2014 to 3,713. New listings were up by 15.8 percent to 1,077 in September, compared with 930 a year earlier.

Although the local housing market has performed well this year, with rising prices and increased sales activity, a lack of housing inventory has put a damper on the market.

The supply in months was 4.6, based on the current rate of sales, compared with 5.5 months in September 2014. Six months is considered an ample supply.

The number of days a house stayed on the market dropped from 83 to 67 in metro Baton Rouge.

Through the first nine months of 2015, there were 7,537 home sales in the metro area, compared with 6,915 through September 2014, a 9 percent increase.

Follow Timothy Boone on Twitter, @TCB_TheAdvocate.