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Home sales are hot, price trends warm in St. Louis

This is the best year for St. Louis residential real estate since the housing bubble burst.

Home sales through July of this year are up by double digits across the region — and up 21 percent in St. Charles County. New home construction is up 15 percent across the region.

Prices are rising, too, but at much slower pace.

Most counties are recording sales numbers last seen in the middle of the last decade, just before sales and prices went bust.

Strong sales in spring continued into the summer in most of the region.

The number of homes sold in the month of July alone was up 20 percent from July 2014 in the Missouri portion of the St. Louis area.

Although sales of existing homes are back to the pre-crash era, home values are not. Zillow, the real estate website, puts the median value of a St. Louis area home at $135,200 as of June, far from the $158,000 high of 2007, a 7 percent gap. The Federal Housing Finance Agency says that prices here last winter were still 14 percent below their peak.

Still, the trend is up. Zillow says home values in the St. Louis area rose 5.1 percent over the year ending in June. CoreLogic, a real estate data service, is bit more conservative. It says prices are up by 2.9 percent.

Trends in home values are hard to measure, because properties differ widely and prices can vary by the block. Groups such as Zillow and CoreLogic use statistical methods to adjust for that, and those methods differ.

Nick Palank and Kali Steiner saw the market from both sides, buying and selling, this summer.

Steiner sold her St. Charles condo in less than a month. “A single dad came through and really liked the place,” Palank said. He bid “a couple of thousand” under the asking price, and it was sold.

They looked for a month before finding “the perfect, move-in-ready house” in St. Charles, a three-bedroom home with a two-car garage and a yard for their two dogs.

The couple felt pressure to bid quickly. “My girlfriend said we’d better put an offer on this today. We’d better get it before someone else does. We offered pretty much the asking price.” They closed last month.

Realtors measure demand in part by the number of days it takes to sell a house. In St. Louis County, the average is down to 48, from 67 last year and 94 in 2011.

In St. Louis County, the longest wait is in the area of McCluer South High School on the Ferguson border, near the recent troubles, at 97 days. The lowest is a 28 near Rockwood Summit.

Houses in the city of St. Louis spent 55 days on the market. The number was 48 in St. Charles County and 65 days in Jefferson County.

At the current selling pace, there is a 2.5-month supply of homes on the market in the area, said Norm Polsky of Coldwell Banker Premier Realty. That makes it a strong seller’s market. A six-month supply is considered balanced, with no advantage to buyer or seller.

Laura and Roger Seiler discovered that when they went house shopping in the Lindbergh School District.

“It was not easy to find what we wanted. It was as if everybody was looking for houses at the same time.” They bid and lost on a couple of homes.

Then they heard through friends about a home that was just about to hit the market — a three-bedroom, two-and-a-half bath house in Grantwood Village.  The Seilers offered the $250,000 asking price and bought the house.

As always, sales vary widely by location. St. Charles County has the strongest market, with sales for the year through July up 21 percent to 3,385, its fastest pace in that seven-month period for at least 11 years

St. Louis County saw an 11 percent increase, its best sales growth since 2007. St. Louis saw a 12 percent rise, while sales grew 14 percent in Jefferson County, 10 percent in Madison County and 16 percent in St. Clair County.

Differences can be hard to explain town by town. For instance, sales are up 25 percent this year in the Parkway North area, but only 3 percent in Parkway South.

They rose 22 percent in Hazelwood West, but only 2 percent in Hazelwood Central. Sales are down 10 percent in Ladue, the region’s wealthiest district, but down only 6 percent in McCluer South, near the protests. (The real estate industry divides the region by school district, and sometimes by high school.)

Meanwhile, homebuilders are busy shopping for land for new developments.

“The prime targets seem to be infill locations,” said Mark McNulty, vice president at CBRE commercial realty company in Clayton. That means open fields in areas near shopping and work. His firm last month sold 88 acres in the city of St. Charles to be used for 251 homes and 180 apartments.

School area or county Sales Pct change Average price Pct change
St. Louis city 1817 12% $152,292 9%
St. Louis County, total 7327 11% $239,755 4%
North St. Louis County
Hazelwood West 278 22% $85,143 5%
McCluer North 268 28% $78,587 1%
Pattonvile 299 20% $149,394 6%
Ritenour 262 1% $58,087 6%
West St. Louis County
University City 290 13% $257,045 2%
Ladue 225 -10% $671,367 -4%
Parkway North 249 29% $268,503 0%
Parkway Central 204 25% $414,991 14%
Parkway West 272 17% $467,516 9%
Parkway South 306 3% $268,263 4%
South St. Louis County
Kirkwood 392 22% $348,037 -3%
Webster Groves 412 13% $278,648 10%
Affton 248 25% $137,160 6%
Lindbergh 396 17% $251,865 10%
Mehlville 389 6% $175,758 5%
Oakville 236 7% $222,379 3%
Eureka 225 2% $333,916 11%
Lafayette 292 25% $442,031 6%
Marquette 336 0% $347,692 7%
St. Charles County, total 3385 21% $220,523 5%
Fort Zumwalt West 288 9% $225,567 6%
Fort Zumwalt North 277 13% $208,499 16%
Fort Zumwalt South 271 30% $200,617 9%
Francis Howell 352 13% $292,330 3%
Francis Howell North 296 2% $215,109 -2%
Francis Howell Central 290 17% $194,677 9%
Wentzville Holt 389 22% $220,380 8%
Wentzville Timberland 391 14% $246,962 8%
Jefferson County, total 1756 14% $163,663 10%
Fox C-6 356 6% $175,059 7%
Northwest 324 19% $156,409 6%
Metro East
Madison County 2108 10% $144,242 9%
St. Clair County 1799 16% $137,725 6%

From The St. Louis Post-Dispatch by Jim Gallagher