BY CHAD CALDER
Advocate business writer
July 21, 2012
Homes sales in the Baton Rouge metro area rose 13 percent in June and are up 19 percent for the first half of the year, according to figures compiled by the Greater Baton Rouge Association of Realtors.
Realtors sold 775 homes in June compared with 684 that month last year. The dollar volume of homes sold rose 11 percent to $148.4 million last month.
Through midyear, Realtors have sold 3,740 homes compared with 3,142 at mid-2011. The dollar volume for the first half of the year is up 17 percent to $706.6 million.
The figures compiled by MLS account for roughly 90 percent of the eight-parish market.
David McKey, broker/owner of Coldwell Banker One, said Baton Rouge is seeing pent-up demand start to break free against a backdrop of low mortgage rates.
“We’re pretty excited about the way sales are going in 2012, particularly the last several months,” he said. “People are finally making the decision to go out and purchase a piece of property.”
McKey said buyers seem to feel better about the future of the real estate market and the economy.
“I think people are more comfortable with the market and feeling like we may have bottomed out from the recession,” he said.
Mortgage rates have been absurdly low for years, though that on its own wasn’t enough to spur buying during much of the last few years. But when paired with a first-time homebuyer tax credit, as it was in 2010, or the current thawing of consumer confidence, low rates play a part.
“We’ve not seen these (rates) historically and I think that’s a critical factor in people out searching for a home,” McKey said.
McKey said the activity is helping to spur move-ups.
“We’re having first-time homebuyers looking and purchasing and that’s giving present homeowners the opportunity to move to another location,” he said.
“We’re hopeful property values will start moving in the right direction.”
Inventory continues to look better than it did a year ago.
There were 4,416 homes on the market in June compared with 5,083 that month last year, according to MLS data.
Average current days on market fell to 116 days in June compared with 130 days 12 months earlier.
Taking a closer look at the numbers for June:
EAST BATON ROUGE PARISH: It saw 436 homes sold, up 16 percent from 377. Dollar volume rose 9 percent to $86.9 million.
For the year, East Baton Rouge is up 20 percent to 2,059 homes sold and up 15 percent to $406.3 million in dollar volume.
ASCENSION: It saw 141 homes sold last month, up 7 percent from 132, while dollar volume rose 10 percent to $28.8 million.
For the year, Ascension is up 19 percent to 710 homes sold and up 22 percent to $143.7 million in dollar volume.
LIVINGSTON: It saw 134 homes sold, up 22 percent last month from 110, and dollar volume rose 21 percent to $21.6 million.
For the year, Livingston is up 15 percent to 638 homes sold and up 13 percent to $96.7 million in dollar volume.
OTHER PARISHES: Made up of West Baton Rouge, Iberville, East and West Feliciana and Pointe Coupee, the category was flat in June — 64 homes sold compared with 65 — though volume was up 9 percent to $11.2 million.
For the year, the “other” category is up 22 percent to 333 in homes sold and up 28 percent to $60.0 million in dollar volume.