Article Submitted by Saurage Rotenberg Commercial Real Estate

August home sales jump 43%; year-to-date figures still down from 2010

August was a hot month for home sales in the Capital Region, with a 43% increase in sales during the month compared to 2010. But according to figures from the Greater Baton Rouge Association of Realtors Multiple Listing Service, year-to-date sales through August were still off by 3.3% from a year ago. The Realtors report 683 sales in August, compared with 476 in August 2010. The average sale price was higher, however, from $196,590 in 2010 to $199,744. Ascension Parish helped drive the spike in sales, with a 70% increase; there were 139 MLS sales in the parish in August, compared with 82 in August 2010. The average sale price in Ascension was down slightly, from $213,101 in 2010 to $209,637. Livingston Parish had a 66% jump in sales, going from 59 to 98. The average sale price rose in Livingston from $154,424 to $160,761. East Baton Rouge Parish had the smallest gain, with sales increasing 27%, from 299 to 380. The average sale price in East Baton Rouge also rose, from $203,307 to $209,886. The other category, which includes MLS sales in parishes such as West Baton Rouge, Pointe Coupee and Iberville, saw sales go from 36 to 66. The average sale price increased from $172,295 to $178,399. Through the first eight months of the year, 4,438 homes were sold in the metro area, with an average sale price of $193,522. Area Realtors recorded 4,588 local MLS sales last year to date, with a slightly higher average sale price of $193,957.

Mortgage rates have reached their lowest levels in six decades, making this the best time in most Americans’ lives to buy or refinance a home. For people who qualify, today’s rates could save thousands of dollars a year. Yet most people can’t take advantage of them. Half of would-be buyers say they’ll never save enough for the 20% down payment now typically required. And shrunken home values have erased much of the equity people need to refinance. “Low rates are great, but the real issue is that the pool of people who can get a loan or refinance is small,” says Greg McBride,’s senior financial analyst.

The average rate on a 30-year fixed mortgage has fallen to about 4.1%. It’s the lowest for a 30-year fixed loan since mortgage buyer Freddie Mac began tracking rates in 1971. The last time rates were cheaper was in 1951, when most long-term home loans lasted just 20 or 25 years. The average on the 15-year fixed loan, a popular refinancing option, has fallen to 3.33%. That’s also an all-time low, according to most economists.

Record-low rates have done little to energize depressed home sales. The average rate on the 30-year fixed loan has been below 5% for all but two weeks this year. Yet sales of previously occupied homes are on pace for their weakest year since 1997.

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Saurage Rotenberg Commercial Real Estate is a member of the Baton Rouge Area Chamber of Commerce (BRAC); the West Baton Rouge Chamber of Commerce; the Baton Rouge Growth Coalition; the Baton Rouge Better Business Bureau; the Louisiana Commercial Data Base (LACDB); and the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC). Several agents, on an individual basis, are members of the Society of Industrial and Office Realtors® (SIOR), the Certified Commercial Investment Member Institute (CCIM); the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR); and the Greater Baton Rouge Association of REALTORS® Commercial Investment Division (CID).