BR-area home sales up slightly in September

After six months of double-digit monthly sales increases, home sales in metro Baton Rouge eased to a 3.4 percent gain in September, the 13th month in a row there has been a year-to-year increase in transactions.

Gains in East Baton Rouge Parish were blunted by sales decreases in Ascension and Livingston parishes.

According to the Greater Baton Rouge Association of Realtors, there were 722 sales in September in the nine-parish area, compared with 698 the same month a year ago.

For the first eight months of the year, 6,712 homes were sold, a 17 percent increase over the 5,739 sales through September 2012.

Pat Wattam, president of the Greater Baton Rouge Association of Realtors, blamed the slower growth rate to tough comparisons with September 2012, when Hurricane Isaac shoved some late-August closings into the next month, and also on rising interest rates and the federal government shutdown.

“But we’re still just moving right along,” she said.

Wattam said she expects the increased sales to continue, although the ongoing government shutdown is making it more difficult to close home loans.

There aren’t enough federal workers to pull some IRS forms and close rural development loans.

“The areas close to LSU, like University Club and Highland Road, are still doing well,” said Wattam, an agent with Re/Max First in Baton Rouge. “The $225,000 to $400,000 range is where the market is.”

In East Baton Rouge Parish, the largest homebuying market, sales increased by 6.8 percent in September, to 363 closings. That compares with the 340 sales the year before.

However, sales in Ascension Parish were down 8.4 percent in September, coming in at 141. That compares with the 154 sales that happened a year before.

Livingston Parish saw a modest drop in home sales during September. There were 140 closed sales in the parish during the month, 2.1 percent fewer than the 143 sales in September 2012.

Through the first eight months of the year, sales are up 17.8 percent in East Baton Rouge and Ascension and 17.5 percent in Livingston.

In a sign of future activity, pending sales for the metro area were up 18 percent in September and new listings were up by 15.9 percent.

The median sale price was unchanged at $169,900.

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 September was 80, down from 102 in September 2012. The inventory of homes continued to shrink, thanks to the bustling market. There were 4,210 homes listed in August, down 6.2 percent from the year before. The supply in months was 5.9, compared with 7.1 in 2012.