BR-area home sales continue winning streak

For the 11th month in a row, home sales in metro Baton Rouge have posted an increase over the previous year.

Home sales in the eight-parish Baton Rouge area rose by 11.4 percent in July and are up 14.2 percent through the first seven months of the year, according to figures complied by the Greater Baton Rouge Association of Realtors.

Realtors sold 803 homes in the area in July, compared with 721 in the same month a year ago. The seven-month total is 5,053, compared with 4,423 in 2012.

While the sales gain in East Baton Rouge Parish, the largest local market, was 10.4 percent in July, close to the metro region average, the suburban markets were wildly different.

Sales in Livingston Parish were up by nearly 46 percent for the month, going up to 134.

Aaron Goolsby, president of the Livingston Board of Realtors, said he’s not sure why such a dramatic increase happened over July 2012. But he said the Livingston market has been strong so far this year.

“We’re seeing a lot more multiple offers for homes,” said Goolsby, an agent with Covington & Associates Real Estate in Denham Springs. “It seems there are more buyers than inventory.”

Goolsby said buyers are trying to get in with the historically low interest rates.

“If you have a home priced at $150,000 or $160,000 and it is not in a flood zone and it qualifies for a rural development home loan, it is sold,” he said.

The USDA home loan program allows people to borrow 100 percent of a home’s value, eliminating the need for a down payment.

At the same time, Ascension Parish sales were virtually unchanged from the year before, with 159 closed sales for July, compared with 160 in July 2012.

Through the first seven months of the year, sales are up 16.2 percent in East Baton Rouge, 15.2 percent in Livingston and 12.2 percent in Ascension.

In a sign of future activity, pending sales for the metro area were up 16 percent in July and new listings were up by 0.9 percent.

The median sale price was up 2.5 percent to $175,995 and 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 July was 76 days, down from 88 in July 2012. The inventory of homes continued to shrink, thanks to the bustling market. There were 4,080 homes listed in July, down 11.9 percent from the year before. The supply in months was 5.8, compared with 7.3 in 2012.