BR-area homes sales jump 28% in April

The number of homes sold in the Baton Rouge metro area rose 28 percent in April, a strong gain even by recent standards in a rebounding market.

Realtors sold 783 homes in the eight-parish area, compared with 611 in April 2012, according to figures released by the Greater Baton Rouge Association of Realtors.

The median sales price was up 10 percent to $179,900. Median means half the homes sold for more and half for less than that price.

David McKey, broker/owner with Coldwell Banker One and president of the Louisiana Realtors Association, said the recent trend of sellers pricing their homes more competitively has moved more homes, creating a natural upward pressure on prices. With mortgage rates as low as they are, buyers have continued to come off the sidelines.

“As the prices have started creeping back up, it’s a prime time to go out and buy real estate,” he said.

McKey, who was in Washington, D.C., Thursday for the National Association of Realtors’ midyear conference, said the mood is similarly good among brokers from other markets hit harder by the housing downturn than Baton Rouge was.

The early signs for Baton Rouge in the months ahead look positive as well.

New listings were up 8 percent to 1,236, while pending sales were up 23 percent to 969. Pending sales have been on the rise since late last year, the MLS data show.

McKey said the only thing that could slow things down as buyers snap up more homes is lower inventories. Inventory continued to tighten in April, with 10 percent fewer homes on the market than there were 12 months before. The 3,938 homes represents 5.7 months of inventory at the current rate, compared with 7.6 months supply a year ago.

McKey said it will be up to lenders to fund new construction to go forward.

“If (credit) loosens up a little bit, I think the builders are in a position to start putting some new construction up out there,” he said.

Among the major parishes during April, sales were up 22 percent in East Baton Rouge to 420 homes sold; up 49 percent in Ascension to 162 homes; and up 27 percent in Livingston to 136 homes.

For the year, the Baton Rouge metro area is up 16 percent in closed sales and 6 percent in new listings. The median sales price is up 6 percent to $170,000.

Looking at the year so far for the metro area’s three key parishes: