Area home sales up despite EBR drop

Ascension, Livingston remain strong

Home sales in metro Baton Rouge were up in November, thanks to continued strong sales in Ascension and Livingston parishes.

There were 577 home sales that closed in November in the nine-parish area, according to figures from the Greater Baton Rouge Association of Realtors. That compares with 557 closed sales in November 2012.

Sales in Ascension were up by 42 percent, from 76 to 108 over the year. Livingston had a similar strong increase, going from 86 closed sales in November 2012 to 119 last month, a 38 percent increase. That was enough to offset the drop in East Baton Rouge Parish, the biggest local market. There were 291 sales in East Baton Rouge last month, compared with 343 in 2012, a 15 percent drop.

November was the 15th consecutive month there was a local year-to-year increase in home sales.

As of the end of last month there were 7,963 homes sold in metro Baton Rouge, a 14.6 percent increase over the 6,946 sales through November 2012.

Lonnie Roussel, vice chair of the Ascension Council of Realtors, said the November figures were affected by October’s 16-day federal government shutdown.

“For three weeks, the government was not open, and that affected the processing of the rural development loans,” Roussel said. “All of those loans were pushed back until November.”

The rural development program allows buyers to borrow up to 100 percent of a home’s price. All of Ascension and Livingston parishes are eligible for rural development loans, as long as a property meets base flood elevation standards.

The billions in industrial construction projects slated for Ascension are also helping to boost home sales in the parish, said Roussel, an agent with Keller Williams in Prairieville. “If a house is in good condition and priced well, it is not taking long to sell at all,” he said.

Year-to-date, sales in Ascension are up 18 percent, 17.3 percent in Livingston and 13.5 percent in East Baton Rouge.

Pending sales in the metro area were up 21 percent over 2012, from 540 to 654.

The median sales price in the area was virtually unchanged, from $172,900 in 2012 to $174,000 last month.

Homes in the metro area continued to come off the market at a faster pace.

The average number of days a home was on the market in November was 86, down from 90 the year before. The inventory of homes continued to shrink, thanks to the bustling market. There were 4,103 homes listed in November, down 5.2 percent from the year before. The supply in months was 5.7, compared with 6.7 in 2012.