BR-area home sales rise 10% in May

Home sales in the Baton Rouge metro area rose 10 percent in May and are up 15 percent for the year, according to figures compiled by the Greater Baton Rouge Association of Realtors.

Realtors sold 809 homes in the eight-parish area in May compared with 737 that month last year.

The metro area’s three major markets — East Baton Rouge, Ascension and Livingston parishes — performed similarly well, with 11 percent, 12 percent and 11 percent gains, respectively.

For the year, East Baton Rouge and Ascension are up 16 percent and Livingston is up 13 percent.

Looking ahead somewhat, pending sales for the metro area were up 24 percent in May, though new listings were flat.

The median sales price inched upward, rising 3 percent to $174,900, and homes are coming off the market a little quicker. The average number of days a home was on the market in May was down 6 percent to 93 days.

As the market has picked up, inventory continued to track below levels the year before. There were 3,980 homes on the market in May, 15 percent fewer than a year earlier, and supply in months was 5.7 compared to 7.6.

Appraiser Tom Cook of Cook Moore & Associates said prices haven’t risen the way one would expect amid healthy, sustained increases in sales volume in part because the homes being built are primarily by high-volume builders at the lower end of the scale.

“Mass construction is the bulk of the market right now,” he said of builders such as DR Horton and DSLD Homes. “I think that’s part of it. There are no real high-end, expensive houses being built. The market is dominated by first-time homebuyers.”

Cook said he also thinks people are just a little slow to realize the market has been swinging away from buyers to sellers, but that it will eventually start to change and prices will come up, particularly with falling inventory.

“If the volume keeps increasing and inventory keeps going down, you can expect prices to increase,” he said.