St. Tammany shows big gains in the housing market


Covington, La. - The building boom in St. Tammany Parish is continuing.  The St. Tammany Economic Development Foundation released quarterly numbers today, which show significant improvement in the housing market.  According to the report, the number of single-family building permits jumped 37.2 percent over the corresponding quarter of 2012, with 214 permits issued in the recent quarter compared to 156 in 1012. 

Home sales are up considerably as well.  Total sales volume rose 12.4 percent over 1012.  Commercial building permits also increased by 37 percent over the corresponding quarter last year.  These data suggest a loosening of lending markets combined with entrepreneurship, business expansion, and increased consumer confidence. 

The report says the cost of homes remains relatively stable, with an average sale price 1.5 percent higher than in 1012 -- $195,735 compared to $192,826.  Parish leaders say these indicators, combined with the uptick in single-family building permits, clearly suggest an increase in housing demand.  Similarly, professional- or managerial-quality apartment rent increased 1.4 percent.

The report also looked at the growth of businesses in the parish, reporting 665 new incorporations were launched in St. Tammany Parish in 1013.  Despite the new businesses, overall the number of businesses is  down 1.9 percent from last year.  While previous analyses have suggested people were launching their own businesses to supplement income and offset unemployment worries, current trends, taken as a whole, tend to suggest there is a strong entrepreneurial spirit - for any number of possible reasons - that keeps the local economy growing and diversifying. 

The report also shows fewer people are employed in St. Tammany - down  2 percent, or more than 2,000 jobs.  Still, the unemployment is down from a year ago to 5.2 percent which is  lower than the state and national rates of 6.3 and 8.1 percent, respectively.   

Finally, the report looked at car sales, which the parish says rose 17.4 percent from 1012, suggesting an increase in consumer confidence and access to financing.