Baton Rouge-area home sales rose 6.1 percent in February compared to the year before, snapping a streak of decreasing year-to-year sales activity.

There were 746 homes sold in metro Baton Rouge during February, according to figures released Thursday by the Greater Baton Rouge Association of Realtors' Multiple Listing Service. That compares with 703 Multiple Listing Service sales in the nine-parish region during February 2018. The last time there was a year-to-year increase in the number of homes sold was July.

A big jump in sales in Ascension Parish helped power the year-to-year increase. There were 165 MLS sales in February, a 34.1 percent jump over the 123 sales the year before.

Pat Anderson, broker/owner for RE/MAX Plus in Prairieville, said around the end of January, the amount of calls and internet inquiries at her office went up by "at least 30 percent." 

Anderson said she thinks several factors caused potential homebuyers to perk up, including a recent dip in interest rates and increased hiring at local petrochemical plants. “Families are starting to look at where they want to be next fall,” she said.

National mortgage buyer Freddie Mac said Thursday the average rate on the 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage declined to 4.31 percent from 4.41 percent the previous week and is at its lowest level since February 2018 when it stood at 4.44 percent. Mortgage rates climbed for much of 2018 and peaked at nearly 5 percent in early November.

Livingston Parish had a 2.2 percent increase in home sales during February to 142 from 139 in 2018.

East Baton Rouge had a modest drop in sales to 370 from 371.

The median sale price for a home in metro Baton Rouge was $195,000, unchanged from the year before. That means half the homes sold for below that price, half for above that price. The average sale price rose by 1.7 percent to $222,919 from $219,187. The average sale price can be affected by luxury home sales.

Pending sales, an indicator of future activity, rose by 0.6 percent in February to 895 from 890. New listings were down by 6.8 percent to 1,241 from 1,331.

There were 4,168 homes for sale in metro Baton Rouge during February, an 11.3 percent increase from the year before. The supply increased from 4.2 months to 4.7 months. Six months is considered a healthy supply of homes. The number of days a house was on the market before it sold was up to 78 from 69.

For the first two months of the year, the number of homes sold in metro Baton Rouge was down 1.3 percent compared to the start of 2018. There were 1,311 MLS sales as of the end of February, compared to 1,328. Sales were up 13.6 percent for the first two months of the year in Ascension to 268 from 236. Livingston had a 2.4 percent sales decrease to 248 from 254, while East Baton Rouge was down 4 percent to 675 from 705.

NOTE: This story has been changed since it was first published to correct the name of Pat Anderson's business to RE/MAX Plus.

Follow Timothy Boone on Twitter, @TCB_TheAdvocate.