BR home market leads; N.O. below traditional levels BR home market leads; N.O. below traditional levels Associated Press file photo -- Baton Rouge-area home sales rose 15 percent in 2012 But N.O. dips below traditional levels Advocate staff report June 17, 2014 Comments For the ninth month in a row, Baton Rouge topped an index that measures how housing and economic activity in a city compares to normal historical levels. New Orleans was the state’s only market below traditional levels. Baton Rouge was at 1.4 in the latest National Association of Home Builders/First American Leading Markets Index, meaning that the local market is 40 percent better than normal levels. That’s based on single-family home permits, house price appreciation information and employment data over the past 12 months. Lafayette had the second-best performance of any Louisiana city in the June report, coming in at 1.24, or 24 percent above historic levels. Houma-Thibodaux and Monroe both scored 1.08, Shreveport had a 1.06, Alexandria got a 1.04, Lake Charles had a 1.03 and New Orleans scored 0.99. The NAHB said the national average is 0.88, meaning that economic activity is just 88 percent of historic levels. Baton Rouge has topped the index of major metros every month since the NAHB started measuring the Leading Markets Index in October. The report looks at activity in 350 metro areas and compares them against single-family permits and home prices from where they stood in 2000 to 2003 and employment from 2007.