St. Louis City Stakes Claim as Hottest Housing Market in the Metro

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The Post-Dispatch recently offered a brief, but insightful look at housing prices in the St. Louis region. While judging housing markets from a snapshot in time can be notoriously misleading at worst, and overly simplistic at best, the latest measures show something incredible. Falling and rising home prices nearly track the City of St. Louis / St. Louis County line. However, it's the City that shows strength in the housing market.

According to Zillow.com, eleven of 14 Zip Codes measured in the city show year-over-year price increases of 7.58% on average. Just three show a decrease, and two of those are less than one half a percentage point. The numbers constrast sharply with the inner ring suburbs. Seventeen of 19 Zip Codes measured in the county show year-over-year price decreases of 9.9% on average. Just two show increases, and they come in at +0.8% and +0.2%

Accurately tracking home prices is difficult, and more so in older neighborhoods as square feet and number of toilets tells only a small part of a home's story. A good renovation can easily double (and more) the sale price of a home in Soulard or Old North. As the PD points out, CoreLogic attempts to examine trends by comparing resales of the same homes. According to their analysis, home prices are still 0.2% lower than July 2011. Without short sales and foreclosures, those prices were up 1%.

Other area showing relative housing strength were St. Charles County, the Wood River / Alton area in the metro east and several more suburban Zip Codes. As largely mid-century building stock and infrastructure in St. Louis County continue to age, are we seeing the looming challenge of decreasing home values? Will homes built from 1950-1970 be attractive to rehabbers and prove in-demand over the coming decades? And what is the cause of rising home prices in the city?

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