Baton Rouge-area home sales increased by 8 percent in 2015, thanks to double-digit sales increases in Livingston and East Baton Rouge parishes.
There were 9,687 homes sold in the nine-parish area during 2015, compared with 8,973 in 2014, according to figures released Monday by the Greater Baton Rouge Association of Realtors’ Multiple Listing Service.
The increased home sales primarily have to do with the economic development activity happening in metro Baton Rouge, said Rick Haase, president of Latter & Blum, the parent company of C.J. Brown Realtors.
“They’ve done a great job of bringing new jobs to the community, so the housing market is very strong,” Haase said.
Livingston had the biggest sales gain during the year, increasing by nearly 12.1 percent to 1,845 sales during 2015, compared with 1,646 a year earlier.
East Baton Rouge, which accounts for the largest share of home sales in the region, had a 10.9 percent increase in sales to 5,260, compared with 4,741 in 2014.
Ascension, which was hampered by limited inventory, saw sales go up by 1.6 percent to 1,758 from 1,731 sales in 2014.
Other measurements also showed the strength of the local housing market. The median sales price of a home in the metro area increased by 5.4 percent during 2015 to $187,500. The number of days homes were on the market slid from an average of 84 in 2014 to 78.
Tiffany Palmer, the current president of the GBRAR, said the strongest market was for homes in the $150,000 to $300,000 range. That’s a price range that covers a wide array of homes, from properties for first-time buyers, people who are moving up and families who are downsizing.
The number of new listings was up by 0.9 percent for the year to 13,056 from 12,938. In December 2014, there were 3,871 homes for sale, compared with 3,317 in December 2015. The supply of homes dropped from 5.1 months at the end of 2014 to 4. Six months is considered to be a balanced supply.
Palmer said the recent slight increases in interest rates have helped to spur home sales.
“That’s causing buyers to purchase rather than shop around,” said Palmer, who is an agent with Pro Sold Realty in Baton Rouge. “If they see something, they will buy it.”
Haase said he’s cautious about local home sales in 2016 because of the impact low oil prices could have on employment. “If the oil industry and the energy sector suffer, that sends a ripple effect,” he said. “If consumer confidence is drooping, people will be less confident about selling their home or moving up.”
Follow Timothy Boone on Twitter, @TCB_TheAdvocate.