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, 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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  • Ted Yemm

    While I currently live in a “soulless box” in Crestwood (63126), I do plan on renovating this house because the school district is excellent (Lindbergh), and we like our neighbors. Shifting the “slums” from the city to the inner ring may make some city residents happy, but does nothing for the region as a whole. I think that tracking numbers like these is interesting and somewhat helpful, but my advice to the inner ring would be maintain investment in your school district to stabilize your home values.

    • onecity

      Shifting the slums does a lot for the region. If you get a better pool of residents in the city, they will leverage the social proximity of the city to create a much stronger economy for the entire region. Think of all the time you waste in the ‘burbs getting from place to place – time that could be spent talking to interesting people about Big Ideas. The compounding effect of impromptu social intereactions is why cities are better. Balancing the region’s distribution of poverty among all participants is one way to put all our skin in the game.

  • RyleyinSTL

    ” Will homes built from 1950-1970 be attractive to rehabbers”

    This is a key point for me. With so much historic home stock in the city (and in some suburban towns) ready for renovation, why would a rehabber choose a soulless box from the post war period?

    Mark my words, the suburbs will become or new slums.

    • Alex Ihnen

      They’re already well on the way, yes? Sure, people are ignoring this, but it’s here and will be a big problem soon.

    • my theory is people ether want the historic charm of the city or the “newness” of st Charles so the county is out of luck. The suburbs from my own experience are becoming slums since I currently live in a postwar metro east suburb (hopefully after college I could move to saint louis city) , and looking back at photos to the time I was in kindergarten in 98 things had changed but not for the better. And as for saint louis city is rising values is that ever a bad thing?

    • sean601

      Webster Groves and Kirkwood are soulless boxes? Apparently you don’t get around St. Louis county much. The post war period homes are well built and they vary greatly in style and size. The County has the proximity to downtown (10-20 minutes) but you can have some land, better schools and low crime. That Said I hope St. Louis City’s prices continue to rise, a rising tide raises all ships. Actually the City and county need to merge, but that’s another topic.

      St. Charles is not part of St. Louis. It is its own soulless city full of poorly built stick homes.

      • Alex Ihnen

        There’s a lot to love in the County regarding homes – there’s a lot of historic homes and well-built newer homes, but the “soulless” boxes are everywhere – Kirkwood, north U-City, St. Ann… It’s the 1,200 sq ft 2-3 BR 1950-1970 homes that may not age well. Of course they may become popular rehabs, but that lack the inherent appeal of the historic homes in the city – and those in many older suburbs.

  • JPCosgrove

    Looks like the average in the City is even higher than St. Charles County. That’s definitely encouraging.