Capital Region 2012 home sales on pace to match ’08 figures

From the Baton Rouge Business Report, Real Estate Weekly:

Three-quarters of the way through the year, homes sales in the eight-parish  region tracked by the Greater Baton Rouge Association of Realtors are far  outpacing sales in 2011, 2010 and 2009—and are only 1.5% off the year-to-date  tally from the pre-recession 2008 sales figures. A total of 5,833 homes have  sold in the region through September. That’s a nearly 13% increase over the  5,174 sales recorded in the first three quarters of 2011, a 15% increase over  the 5,069 sold in 2010, and a roughly 11% increase over the 5,241 sold in 2009.  This year’s tally through the third quarter indicates just 86 fewer sales than  in 2008. GBRAR President-Elect Pat Wattam says she expects 2012 sales to match  or exceed 2008 levels when the year is over. “I saw the market turn the corner  last November, and what we’ve seen since is a steady continuation of that,” she  says. While sales figures are paramount, Wattam says she’s also keeping an eye  on another figure: the months of inventory for the eight-parish region. In  September, it dropped to 6.24 months. A year ago, that figure was at 7.69, and  it actually reached as high as 10 months around the start of 2012. Wattam says  declining months’ inventory is a clear sign of an improving market and that she  expects it will continue to fall. She says a healthy market is generally one  with about five to eight months of inventory. “With East Baton Rouge dropping  below the eight months supply point, that means we’re in a very, very steady  market. It’s not a buyer’s market, but it’s not a seller’s market either,” she  says. “And in Ascension Parish, that number just dropped to below six months.  That tells me it’s flipping to a seller’s market.” —Steve  Sanoski This week’s poll question: Do you  believe the Capital Region housing market has fully recovered from the  recession?

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Two more subdivisions proposed for Hoo Shoo Too Road area

From the Baton Rouge Business Report, Real Estate Weekly:

When the 90-home gated community of Mallard Park was  proposed north of Hoo Shoo Too Road in May, the city-parish Planning Commission  denied the development because the developer refused to connect it to outside  streets. The Metro Council gave Mallard Park final approval anyway, overriding  the Planning Commission. Now come proposals for 239 more homes in the same area.  Oak Ridge Estates would be a 149-lot development south of Elliott Road, a little  more than half a mile northwest of the intersection of Elliott and Hoo Shoo Too;  Mallard Trails would be a 90-lot development in the 22250 block of Hoo Shoo Too,  east of Wood Duck Drive. Both developments appear to have extra connectivity  rather than one entrance and exit, says Planning Commission spokesman Ryan  Holcomb. “I think we’ll be able to get the approval,” says Mallard Trails  developer George Robinson, declining to give details about the 56-acre  subdivision. Applicant Brandon Dodson could not be reached for comment on the  proposed 66-acre Oak Ridge Estates. Holcomb says details about both developments  could be on the Planning Commission’s website by Nov. 2. The commission could  hear the proposals Nov. 13. —Adam Pearson

New or upgraded real estate apps opening more doors

From the Baton Rouge Business Report, Real Estate Weekly:

For a while, it seemed as if the real estate  industry was rolling out an app a day, each and every one promising to  “revolutionize the way homes are bought and sold,” as their news  releases routinely and breathlessly promised. As The Los Angeles Times reports, the hyperbole has abated a bit, and the pace of introductions  seems to have slowed proportionately, but there’s still plenty of app  activity because consumers have come to expect information on demand  about homes on the market. These days, house hunters routinely hit the  streets armed with their smartphones, expecting to be able to stand in  front of a house on Elm Street and learn everything from the listing  price to the property taxes to the square footage in the powder room and more. So the apps are still coming. Click here for a complete overview of a half dozen new or updated apps—including  Zillow Rentals, RentCafe, Revestor, House Hunter, HomeSnap and  HomeFinder—that are gaining popularity.

This week’s poll question: Have you used a real estate–related app when searching for or selling a home?

Real Estate Recap: October 3, 2012

From the Baton Rouge Business Report:

Hungry for more: While Galatoire’s new restaurant in the Acadian Village Shopping Center on Perkins Road is on target to open before the end of the year as planned, owner John Georges is looking seriously at expanding the venerable New Orleans institution into the Houston market. Georges tells Daily Report he has identified two potential sites in Houston’s posh River Oaks neighborhood and that he could open what would be Galatoire’s first out-of-state restaurant as soon as next year. Read the full story here.

Industrial giants: LED is working with five industrial prospects that are looking to build projects in Louisiana that are bigger than the Nucor Steel project in St. James Parish, which could be worth as much as $3.4 billion when all is said and done, according to LED Secretary Stephen Moret. Of the five, Moret says, “one, maybe two” could be built in the Capital Region. Those projects could be part of a sustained industrial building boom that might lead to 40,000 new industrial construction jobs in three to five years, he says. Daily Report has the full story here.

On the bright side of the road: Fremin Construction has preliminary plans for luxury townhomes at 3757 Brightside Lane that will be modeled on the company’s recent development, Chatsworth Court Condominiums, on South Kenilworth Parkway. The new development is planned for a vacant 2.5-acre tract of land on the south side of Brightside Lane, between the Riverbend subdivision and River Road, but closer to the levee than the adjacent neighborhood. Get more details in the full story here.

Tiger denizen: The 287-unit Tiger Manor apartment complex at State and July streets, not far from LSU’s North Gates, has been purchased by a group of investors led by Covington-based Stirling Properties. A sales price was not disclosed. The purchase brings the number of Baton Rouge apartment complexes owned by Stirling Communities I LLC to two, consisting of 367 apartments total. The firm also owns three Lafayette apartment complexes. Stirling Properties will serve as asset manager of Tiger Manor, while Des Moines, Iowa-based BH Management will serve as the primary property manager on-site.

Real Estate Recap: September 25, 2012

From the Baton Rouge Business Report, Real Estate Weekly:

Landmark deal: Columbus, Ohio-based hotel investment firm RockBridge Capital today announced Monday its acquisition of the 290-room Hilton Baton Rouge Capitol Center downtown, and says the property will undergo a $7.1 million renovation. Prism Hotels & Resorts, which took over management of the downtown property earlier this year, will continue to run the hotel in partnership with the new owner. It was acquired from Commercial Properties Realty Trust, the for-profit arm of the Baton Rouge Area Foundation, for an undisclosed price. Daily Report has the full story here.

Estate sale: Paula Pennington de la Bretonne’s estate at 11001 Highland Road will likely set a new benchmark for residential real estate sales in Baton Rouge when it officially goes on the market next week. According to local real estate sources, the asking price for the property, which includes a main house and multiple other structures, will exceed $20 million. De la Bretonne’s daughter, Shannon Smith, is handling the listing but would not confirm the asking price or discuss the specifics of the home, which was built at de la Bretonne’s behest in the early 2000s. Read the full story from Daily Report here.

Queuing up: Smokin Aces BBQ, which is planning an Oct. 1 opening at 2504 Government St., next to Garden District Nursery, will not be Memphis-style, or Kansas City-style, or Carolina-style, or Tennessee-style. Owner Brian Medlin says it will be a little bit of everything, with some home-style flavors thrown in. “Hopefully it will be called Louisiana-style barbecue,” says Medlin, who also owns All Star Catering and recently bought the former Sweets BBQ—and its old seasoned smoker with rotisserie (“the backbone of the place,” he says)—which will become Smokin Aces. Daily Report has all the details here.

Real Estate Recap: July 31, 2012

From the Baton Rouge Business Report, Real Estate Weekly:

By the numbers: The percentage of Baton Rouge homes in foreclosure fell to 2.36% in May, according to a report from CoreLogic, down from 2.39% from the month previous and 2.47% in May 2011. The local mortgage delinquency rate—that is, the percentage of home loans three months past due or more—also fell in May to 5.39%. That’s down from 5.54% in April, and 5.59% a year ago. Daily Report has the full story here.

Game on: Pinnacle Entertainment plans to officially open the doors of its $368 million L’Auberge Casino & Hotel in Baton Rouge at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Aug. 29. Pinnacle says the grand opening will “feature memorable entertainment, dining experiences and an unveiling ceremony capped off with a stunning fireworks display.” Details on entertainment specifics were not released but are expected as the opening date nears.

No finer place for sure: U.S.-based IT services firm Ameritas Technologies plans to open an “information technology center” in the Chase Tower South downtown. Ameritas says it will begin hiring in September, plans to open by October, and hopes to have 300 employees by 2016, with the jobs paying an average of $63,000 annually, plus benefits. The company was lured to Baton Rouge with an incentives package, the full details of which you can get from Daily Report here.

This week’s poll question: If you built a new house, would you include energy-efficient and maintenance-free amenities?

B.R. ranked in the middle for affordable housing

From the Baton Rouge Business Report, Real Estate Weekly:

Of the roughly 200 U.S. metropolitan areas surveyed for the new “Paycheck to Paycheck” report on first quarter housing affordability from the National Housing Conference and the Center for Housing Police, Baton Rouge ranks No. 83 on the list of most expensive metros to buy a home. On the same report for the first quarter of 2011, Baton Rouge was ranked No. 81. The report says  the average home sale price dropped to $157,900 in the first quarter, down from $160,600 in the opening three months of 2011. New Orleans is ranked No. 91 on the list, up from No. 95 last year, with an average sale price of $147,500 in the first quarter of 2012. The Capital Region appears to be more affordable for renters, according to the report, which ranks Baton Rouge No. 128 on the list of the most expensive metros for renters. The average rent for a two-bedroom unit in Baton Rouge is pegged at $752 in the report, much lower than the national average of $949 among the largest 200 metros. New Orleans is ranked at No. 58 on the rental list, with a $948 average. You can get more details and access the complete report here.

Real Estate Recap: Zachary named among 10 best towns for families in America

From the Baton Rouge Business Report, Real Estate Weekly:

Plan on it: While recently breaking up and approving items within Mayor Kip Holden’s $11.1 million budget supplement, the Metro Council voted to approve $200,000 for the planning of Smiley Heights, marking some of the first dollars appropriated for implementing the FuturEBR master plan for land use and development. The city-parish envisions that Smiley Heights—a mixed-use development including education, retail, residential and commercial components in the Melrose East community, where Greenwell Springs Road and Ardenwood Drive intersect—will encompass 3,500 new households and create 20,000 new jobs by 2030. Read the full story from Daily Report here.

Certifiable: A 204-acre “development ready” site in Port Allen is slated for certification under LED’s Certified Sites Program. LED officials say the site—known simply as “All Star” for its ownership affiliated with the All Star Automotive Group—is located north of Interstate 10 on Court Street, about midway between La. 415 and La. 1. The site is one of three LED-certified sites in the Capital Region, including a 60-acre site at the Donaldsonville Industrial Park and a 44-acre site at the Pointe Coupee Port and Industrial Park. Daily Report has the full story here.

Like a good neighbor: Family Circle has included Zachary on its new list of the 10 best towns for families in the United States, noting the city’s relatively high median income ($65,749), low average home price ($180,000), low student/teacher ratio (21:1) and high overall schools rating (it gives it a 9 of 10). “The [school] district has been rated the best in Louisiana for the last seven years and was the only one to receive an ‘A’ rating from the state in 2011,” the magazine notes. Check out the complete list here.

Real Estate Recap: June 3, 2012

From the Baton Rouge Business Report, Real Estate Weekly:

Hammering away: With a 13% construction employment increase in May—an addition of 4,900 jobs since May of last year—the Capital Region was the 11th-best performing city among 337 U.S. metro areas tracked by the Associated General Contractors of America. Baton Rouge had a total of 43,600 people working in the construction industry as of May 31, according to the AGCA’s latest jobs report. Read the full story from Daily Report and access the complete metro rankings here.

Inch by inch: Baton Rouge’s foreclosure rate edged down 0.18 percentage points in April to 2.39%, compared to the rate in April 2011, according to a new report from CoreLogic. That’s a scant 0.02 percentage points down from the March rate. Still, Baton Rouge’s foreclosure rate remains well below the 3.41% national average and is also lower than Louisiana’s rate of 2.49% in April, which represents a decrease of 0.11 percentage points from a year ago. Get the full story from Daily Report and access a map of foreclosures by ZIP code in the Capital Region here.

Second chance: Even if you weren’t able to make the Center for Community Progress’ 2012 Reclaiming Vacant Properties Conference: Remaking America for the 21st Century, which recently wrapped up in New Orleans, you can check out most of the training seminars and presentations online. Topics range from urban blight to vacant and abandoned property and productive reuse. Check out available presentations here (click on the speaker’s name below the presentation for a PDF download).

This week’s poll question: When purchasing new appliances, lights and other electrical items for your home, do you generally choose a more energy-efficient product even if it means a higher price?

Real Estate Recap: June 19, 2012

From the Real Estate Weekly:

On file: The number of construction projects permitted in East Baton Rouge Parish in May rose by 3.24% compared to the same month last year, the city-parish Department of Public Works reports. A total of 2,041 permits were issued in May, up from 1,977 in May 2011. However, total commercial projects permitted were down on the month: 57 this year, compared to 91 in May 2011. Total residential projects were also down to 127, from 160 a year earlier. Read the full story from Daily Report here.

Ciao: Enoteca Marcello’s Wine Bar & Café at 4205 Perkins Road has been sold to the owners of Lafayette eatery Romacelli and was closed late last week for renovations, owner Gene Todaro says. “Romacelli will come in and make some changes and will be open by the end of July,” Todaro says. The nearby Marcello’s Wine Market at 4201 Perkins Road is not included in the sale, Todaro says, nor is the Marcello’s Wine Market Café in Lafayette. Todaro says the sale “was just a good opportunity for both of us. They were looking to expand into the market.” The sale price was not disclosed. To learn more about Romacelli, visit its website here.

Brand-new start: After nearly six years of sitting dormant, construction has resumed on the Bluebonnet Palms Office Park on Bluebonnet Boulevard at Jefferson Highway. Earlier this month, work crews began framing the 4,000-square-foot building that, when completed later this year, will become home to a downtown law firm. Groundbreaking is also expected in the next two weeks on a second 4,000-square-foot building that is currently under contract and will eventually house a physician’s office. Read the full story from Daily Report here.

This week’s poll question: Under current economic conditions, do you think it makes more financial sense to own a home or rent one?