Baton Rouge area home sales rise 2.2% in 2019

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Home sales in metro Baton Rouge, La., were 2.2% higher in 2019 than the year before, thanks to a year-end push.

There were 10,923 homes sold in the nine-parish area compared with 10,688 in 2018, according to figures released Wednesday by the Greater Baton Rouge Association of Realtors' Multiple Listing Service. That's lower than sales figures for 2017, which was boosted by the tens of thousands of people who were looking to buy homes or get rid of water damaged properties after the August 2016 floods. There were 11,198 MLS sales in 2017, while in 2016 there were 10,710 MLS sales.

Livingston Parish had the biggest sales gain, going up by 7.6%. There were 2,154 sales in the parish in 2019, compared to 2,002 in 2018.

Matt Hughes, the 2019 president of the Greater Baton Rouge Association of Realtors Board of Directors, said at the start of last year he wouldn't have predicted such an uptick in Livingston Parish sales.

Hughes said Livingston Parish sales were driven by new construction from large scale builders such as DSLD, D.R. Horton and AP Dodson. He said growth in Denham Springs and Watson remains strong, in neighborhoods such as Whispering Springs.

"This movement of people buying new houses shifts the whole entire market," said Hughes, an agent with Keller Williams Realty Premier Partners. "It serves everyone."

Ascension Parish had a 3.1% gain, going from 1,961 home sales to 2,021. And East Baton Rouge Parish, which accounts for the biggest share of MLS sales, was down slightly, from 5,672 sales in 2018 to 5,667.

The median sale price of a home rose by 3.6% to $207,118 for the year. That means half of the homes sold went for below that price and half came in above that. In 2018, the median sale price was $199,900.

The number of days a house was on the market to rise from 66 to 73 in 2019. At the end of 2019, metro Baton Rouge had a 4.4-month supply of homes, compared with a 4.6-month supply in December 2018. Still inventory is tight: Six months is considered to be a balanced supply.

The number of new listings for 2019 was .2% higher at 15,555 new listings for the year, compared with 15,519 for 2018. The number of homes for sale in December was 4,088, a 3.3% decrease over the 4,227 properties for sale in December 2018.

Home sales rose by 16.4% in December, going from 712 in 2018 to 829 in 2019. Livingston had a whopping 25.6% increase in sales, jumping from 133 to 167. East Baton Rouge had a 17.6% increase from 375 sales to 441. Ascension was up 3% for the month, from 135 to 139.

Scott Saporito, president elect of the Greater Baton Rouge Association of Realtors, said the December sales spike could have been caused by the continuing low interest rates and consumer confidence in the economy. "Other than that, nothing has really changed that much," he said.

Hughes said the low interest rates and health of the local economy means that sales should be strong in 2020. "I feel positively moving into the upcoming year," he said. "Even though the average price points have moved up, it's still affordable to live in metro Baton Rouge."

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