June home sales jump 13.5% in Capital Region

From the Baton Rouge Business Report:

Halfway through 2012, home sales in the eight-parish region tracked by the Greater Baton Rouge Association of Realtors were up 19% over sales recorded six months into 2011. Year-to-date figures were aided by another strong sales month in June, during which 776 homes were sold, a 13.5% increase over the month last year, according to the GBRAR’s latest tally. Sales numbers have been up every month this year, with a total of 3,739 through last month, compared to 3,142 through June 2011. East Baton Rouge Parish has led the sales increases in 2012, up 19.9% with 2,059, compared to 1,717 last year. Ascension Parish’s rate of increase isn’t far behind, up 19.1% with 710 sales, compared to 596 last year. Livingston Parish sales this year are up 15% to 638, from 555 through June 2011. Sales in the five other parishes lumped into GBRAR’s “other” statistical category—West Baton Rouge, Iberville, East Feliciana, West Feliciana and Pointe Coupee parishes—are up 22.2% at 332, from 274. Total year-to-date volume of homes sold in the entire eight-parish region was $706.5 million through June, up 17% over the $603.4 million sold in the same period last year. See the GBRAR’s complete sales report here.

Still a Buyer’s Market

From the Baton Rouge Business Report:

Real estate pros have been saying for years that the market isn’t as weak as we’ve been hearing, that the bad stuff was only happening in other places, and that the recovery from the non-slump was right around the corner. ?    So when Don Stern of Realty Executives South Louisiana, who helped compile the Greater Baton Rouge Association of Realtors’ yearly report on Baton Rouge-area real estate trends, says, “The bleeding has stopped,” it’s easy to be cynical and note that we’ve heard that before.

But in fact, people who sell homes for a living can point to a few encouraging factors. According to the annual Trends report, the number of home sales in the Capital Region increased in 2011, although the uptick was small enough that the report’s authors still say the market is in a “plateau.”

And in April 2012, sales were up 21% over the same month last year, although much of the action consisted of sales of homes sold for less than $250,000.

Stern says when there’s less than 5½ months’ worth of inventory available, it’s considered a seller’s market. Between 5½ and 6½ is a neutral market; more than 6½ is a buyer’s market.

“Overall, we’re in a buyer’s market right now,” he says. “But [inventory] has dropped over the past few months.”

In fact, he says Ascension and Livingston parishes are trending toward a neutral or even a seller’s market. East Baton Rouge Parish still has an oversupply of housing, he says, although the average number of days on market is beginning to decrease. (The vast majority of home sales in the Baton Rouge area are concentrated in Ascension, Livingston and East Baton Rouge parishes.)

Even though the total number of sales was up last year, the average sale price was down slightly. The apparent culprit was the higher-than-average percentage of real estate-owned or REO sales, which typically are lender-owned foreclosures. In East Baton Rouge, for example, about one in four home resales was an REO.

Still, the number of foreclosures does not appear to be skyrocketing  and certainly is not approaching the levels seen in Florida, Nevada and other hard-hit states. Unless there’s a large hidden inventory of homes destined for foreclosure, Stern says, the number of REO sales isn’t a major concern.

“We’re working through the foreclosure inventory,” Stern says. “If one just looks at average [price], foreclosures have a chilling effect. But if you take the foreclosures out, people [on average] haven’t lost value in their homes.”

Sales of attached single-family homes­—that is, condos and townhouses—continue to decrease, as do sales of homes worth more than $400,000. In general, resales are up, while new construction is down.

Real estate recap: Louisiana home sales jump 17% in first quarter … Groundbreaking ceremony for LSU Olinde Career Center set for Thursday … April U.S. housing scorecard shows mixed outlook

From the Baton Rouge Business Report

A strong start: The number of homes sold throughout Louisiana in the first quarter of 2012 was up sharply from a year ago, according to the latest Louisiana Realtors Real Estate Trends Report. Residential sales jumped 17.2% compared to the same period in 2011, with total sales volume increasing 15.3%. The average sales price, however, dipped 1.6% from the first quarter of last year to $171,684. The average listed home stayed on the market just a little longer, too: 113 days, compared to 111 days last year. All eight of the state’s metro areas posted an increase in home sales on the quarter. The Greater Baton Rouge area continued its strong upward sales trend with 17.5% more homes sold on the quarter and a 16.2% increase in total sales volume. Baton Rouge’s average sales price of $190,499 was the highest in the state, though down 1.1% from the same period last year. You can see the complete first-quarter report here.

Going up: A groundbreaking ceremony for the new LSU Olinde Career Center, the future home of LSU Career Services, will be held at 10 a.m. Thursday in the LSU Student Union’s Live Oak Lounge on campus. The LSU Olinde Career Center will bring together Career Services’ two current locations in a new state-of-the-art environment that LSU says is “better suited to prepare LSU students and alumni for their careers.” Scheduled speakers include LSU Chancellor Mike Martin, LSU Vice Chancellor for Student Life & Enrollment Services Kurt Keppler, Director of LSU Career Services Mary Feduccia, Secretary of Louisiana Economic Development Stephen Moret, and LSU Student Body President Taylor Cox. For more information on the project, click here.

Incomplete: The April edition of the housing scorecard recently released by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the U.S. Department of the Treasury shows some promising signs of stability, but the overall outlook remains mixed. Mortgage delinquencies have declined for four consecutive months and remain substantially below levels seen a year ago, and sales of existing homes in the first quarter were also 5.3% higher than a year ago. Data on home prices remains soft in many mortgage markets. The full report is available online here.
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