BR-area home sales rise 16% in March

Home sales in the Baton Rouge metro area rose 16 percent in March, according to figures compiled by the Greater Baton Rouge Association of Realtors.

Realtors in the eight-parish area sold 765 homes in March compared with 658 that month last year. Dollar volume rose 24 percent to $149.2 million.

Sandy Daly, manager of C.J. Brown’s Sherwood office, said homes in good condition with curb appeal are going quickly.

“In the last 30 days, we have seen homes come on the market one day and have multiple offers the next day, and in all price ranges,” she said.

She said that is likely a combination of buyers coming off the fence and sellers pricing their homes more realistically.

According to the data, the average current days on market continues to shrink, at 118 days in March compared with 134 days a year earlier.

Inventory has moved solidly into a balanced market, with a slight lean toward sellers with just over five months worth of inventory in March compared with almost seven months a year earlier.

“Everything just seems to be falling into place,” Daly said. “Some people would say it’s a seller’s market, but I think it is a good, balanced market.”

Daly said C.J. Brown is “actually seeing a lot of full-price offers coming in, and that’s been an oddity. But again, it goes back to sellers pricing their homes to reflect current market value.”

March capped off a healthy first quarter. In the first three months of the year, home sales are up 11 percent, with 1,784 homes sold compared with 1,605. Dollar volume for the first three months of the year was $339.1 million, an increase of 15 percent.

While interest rates were historically low even during the sluggish market of a couple years ago, agents credit rates with helping the stronger sales of the past two years.

Daly said Essential Mortgage recently wrote a 30-year fixed loan at a rate of 2.875 percent. The buyer had great credit and put in a 20 percent down payment, but Daly said it shows how low mortgage rates can go, even on a conventional loan right now.

“That is just phenomenal,” she said.

Taking a closer look at the numbers for March:

  • East Baton Rouge Parish saw 422 homes sold, up 15 percent from 367. Dollar volume rose 26 percent to $88.2 million.

For the year, East Baton Rouge is up 15 percent to 971 homes sold and up 21 percent to $197.5 million in dollar volume.

  • Ascension saw 140 homes sold, up 9 percent from 129, while dollar volume rose 10 percent to $27.4 million.

For the year, Ascension is up 7 percent to 351 homes sold and up 4 percent to $67.2 million in dollar volume.

  • Livingston saw 140 homes sold, up 37 percent from 102, and dollar volume rose 55 percent to $22.7 million.

For the year, Livingston is up 9 percent to 308 homes sold and up 19 percent to $48.3 million in dollar volume.

Daly said C.J. Brown has seen a major spike in its Denham Springs office, with pending sales up 31 percent.

“I don’t know what happened,” she said. “It was just a great closing month, one of our best in a long time.”

  • The “other” parishes category, which is made up of West Baton Rouge, Iberville, East and West Feliciana, and Pointe Coupee, was flat — 63 homes sold compared with 60 — and volume was flat as well — $10.8 million compared with $10.6 million.

The story is the same for the first-quarter figures as well. Realtors sold 154 homes compared with 151, though dollar volume slipped slightly, at $26.1 million compared with $26.5 million.