Home sales down in Baton Rouge area, but demand still exists

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The coronavirus pandemic took a toll on the Baton Rouge, La., area housing market in April, with sales dropping 12.6% compared to last year, but prices are holding up.

While there were fewer transactions because the pandemic made it more difficult to show houses, median sale prices rose and the average number of days a home was on the market went down, showing that buyer demand still exists.

Even with April's downturn, there were 3,221 MLS home sales through the first four months of the year in metro Baton Rouge, up 0.3% from the 3,211 sold during the same period a year ago with Livingston Parish leading the way.

There were 864 homes sold in metro Baton Rouge during April, according to figures released Friday by the Greater Baton Rouge Association of Realtors' Multiple Listing Service. That's down from 991 in April 2019.

While home sales were down dramatically in East Baton Rouge and Ascension parishes, Livingston Parish had a notable gain. There were 191 listing service sales in Livingston during April, a 9.1% increase over the 175 sales a year before.

Ascension had a 22.9% drop in sales from 188 to 145. East Baton Rouge, which makes up the biggest share of the market, was down by 14.1% from 518 to 445.

Because it usually takes 30 to 60 days for home sales to close, much of April's activity started before school and business closings were imposed to control the spread of the pandemic. Realtors said social-distancing requirements were also making it a little more difficult for sales transactions to occur, adding extra days or even weeks to the process.

As a result, pending sales, a sign of future activity, were down 25.9% from 1,097 to 813. New listings dropped 33% from 1,493 to 1,000. Fewer people wanting to open their homes to the public during a pandemic might have been a factor.

With the drop in new listings, inventory was down 7.8% from 4,432 to 4,088 houses. The month's supply dropped 10% from 5 months to 4.5 months, meaning that at the current pace it would take that long to sell all of the homes on the market.

The median sale price for a home in metro Baton Rouge in April was $215,000, up 7.5% from $200,000 the year before. That means half of the homes in the market sold for more than that amount; half sold for less.

The number of days a home was on the market before it sold was 75 in April, down from 78 in April 2019.

Year-to-date, Livingston is the only parish to see an increase in home sales, going from 602 at the end of April 2019 to 689, a 14.5% increase. Home sales are down in East Baton Rouge from 1,672 to 1,669, a 0.2% drop. Ascension is down from 615 to 560, an 8.9% decrease.

Tribune Content Agency