Area home sales increase in 2014 _lowres

 

The number of houses sold in metro Baton Rouge dropped 7.6 percent in May from a year ago, a decline that local real estate experts are blaming on tight inventory.

There were 848 homes sold in May in the nine-parish area, according to figures released Monday by the Greater Baton Rouge Association of Realtors’ Multiple Listing Service. That compares with 918 MLS sales in May 2014.

This is the second month in a row that home sales have dropped. The Realtors’ association noted Monday that this also was the second month in a row that inventory levels dropped significantly year-to-year. “It’s hard to sell what isn’t there,” the association said.

The two-month drop-off wasn’t enough to dampen gains scored during January through March.

Through the first five months of the year, there were 3,613 home sales in the metro area, compared with 3,514 through May 2014, a 2.8 percent increase.

East Baton Rouge Parish, which makes up the largest percentage of MLS sales, actually saw a minor increase in activity in May. There were 503 home sales in East Baton Rouge in May, compared with 502 the year before.

Ascension Parish, which has been hampered by a lack of inventory, saw the biggest drop in home sales, with a 13.8 percent plunge. There were 144 homes sold in the parish last month, compared with 167 sales in May 2014.

Livingston Parish had a 12 percent drop in sales during May from 158 sales in 2014 to 139 MLS transactions.

Despite the drop in sales, the local housing market remains strong, with prices rising and more pending sales though the inventory continues to tighten.

The median home sales price in the area rose by 7.9 percent in May to $190,500 from $176,500 — meaning half the houses sold for more and half for less than that price.

The number of pending sales, a sign of future activity, increased by 5.4 percent from 943 to 994. And the number of days a house stayed on the market dropped from 85 in 2014 to 80.

But the number of homes for sale was down 15.8 percent from May 2014, dropping from 4,219 to 3,554. And the number of new listings was down 3.1 percent to 1,211 from 1,250.

The supply in months was 4.4 based on the current rate of sales, compared with 5.8 in 2014. Six months is considered an ample supply.

For the first five months of the year, sales were up 9 percent in Livingston, at 675. East Baton Rouge saw a 5.3 percent increase through the same period to 1,955 closed sales. Ascension sales were down 2.9 percent to 659.

Follow Timothy Boone on Twitter, @TCB_TheAdvocate.