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Advocate staff photo by BILL FEIG -- Adam Smith wires a home being built at Parker Place Estates in Ascension Parish Tuesday morning June 14, 2016. Ascension Parish has had a problem with a tight inventory of homes for a couple of years now, but more properties are getting permitted. However, demand may have outstripped the ability to build houses fast enough.

BILL FEIG

A surge of home sales in Ascension Parish helped lift metro Baton Rouge's May tally by 11.7 percent.

There were 996 homes sold in the nine-parish metro area, according to figures released Wednesday by the Greater Baton Rouge Association of Realtors’ Multiple Listing Service. That compares to 892 MLS sales during May 2015.

Ascension Parish had a 30 percent increase in sales, the biggest gain of any area. There were 195 MLS sales in May, compared with 150 the year before.

Livingston Parish had an 8.6 percent gain to 164 homes sold from 151 sales a year ago.

East Baton Rouge Parish, which accounts for the largest share of home sales in the market, saw a 5.5 percent increase from May 2015. There were 552 MLS sales, compared with 523 the year before.

Along with the increased number of homes being sold, prices continued to rise in the market. The median home sale price in the metro area increased by 0.5 percent in May to $191,500 from $190,500. The median price means that half of the homes sold for less than $191,500 and half sold for more than that amount.

The association noted that the local housing market remains steady, thanks to continued strong employment in the metro area and low interest rates.

Pending sales in metro Baton Rouge, a sign of future activity, increased by 10.3 percent to 1,054 from 956 a year ago.

The inventory of homes for sale dropped by 12.5 percent from 3,818 to 3,340, a 3.9-month supply. Six months is considered an adequate inventory. New listings were up by 3.1 percent to 1,284 in May, compared with 1,245 a year earlier.

The number of days a house stayed on the market dropped from 80 to 68 in metro Baton Rouge.

Through the first five months of 2016, the number of homes sold in metro Baton Rouge totaled 4,021, a 9 percent increase over the same period in 2015. The median sales price was $187,000, unchanged from the year before. Sales are up 11.6 percent in Ascension to 749 through May, 10 percent in East Baton Rouge to 2,192 and 3.9 percent in Livingston to 717.

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