The St. Louis Real Estate Market Bubble and Burst; St. Louis County hurt the worst in the area

Dennis Norman

Dennis Norman

Statistics and reports are flying at us from every direction about the real estate market nowadays.  Some reports say we have hit bottom, some even say the housing market has started a recovery others say worse times are ahead.  Since I don’t think anyone  can really tell us what the future has in store for the housing market I thought now may be a good time to look at history…at least short term history,  to see where things stand at this point.  Along the way we may see a trend or perhaps even feel like we can hazard a guess as to where things are headed in the short term, at least in the St. Louis housing market.

Since many analysts, including those at the National Association of REALTORS(R) use 2001 as a “base” year frequently for the housing market, I guess because it was a market that proceed the “boom” (or bubble, your pick) and was sort of a “normal” year in terms of market conditions.  I figured if it’s good enough for real analysts it’s good enough for me so I have used date for the St Louis real estate and housing market from 2001 in my comparison with where we stand now.

In looking at the data, I broke it out by the city of St. Louis and then St. Louis, St. Charles, Jefferson and Franklin counties since each market varies.  

St Louis median home prices 2001 vs 2009

The first thing I looked at was home prices and found that   when comparing current home prices to those from 2001 the St. Louis market overall saw an  average increase in median home prices of 16.68 percent for the period or 2.09 percent per year.  Not pretty, but at least homes have increased in value during this period.  The local market that fared the best during this period was St. Charles County with a 23.0 percent increase in median home prices for the 8-year period, followed by Franklin County with a 22.12 percent increase, St. Louis city with a 18.53 percent increase,Jefferson County with a 17.9 percent increase and finally at the bottom of the list, St. Louis County with an increase of 1.86 percent for the period.

St Louis median home prices 2001 - 2009
Chart-St Louis median home prices 2001 vs 2009
(Source of Data – MARIS)

St Louis number of homes sold 2001 vs 2009

The next thing I looked at were the number of St Louis area homes sold in 2001 versus that last 12 months and found that for the overall St Louis market there were 24,375 homes sold in 2001 and 19,758 in the past 12 months for a decrease of almost 19 percent.  The market that fared the best was the city of St Louis with a decrease in sales of only 0.27 percent, followed by Franklin County witha  decrease of 14.55 percent, Jefferson County at 18.48 percent, St. Charles County at 18.52 percent and St Louis County at 23.64 percent.  Clearly the housing market in St. Louis county is taking the biggest beating of the local market areas.

St Louis Homes sold 2001 and 2009St Louis number of homes sold 2001 vs 2009
(Source of Data – MARIS)

St Louis Average time to sell a home 2001 vs 2009

Finally, the last thing I looked at was how long it took to sell those homes.  Overall, in the St. Louis market in 2001 it took an average of 62.2 days in 2001 to sell a home and 99 days for the homes sold in the past 12 months for an increase of 59.16 percent.  For time to sell a home, Franklin County has done the best with an increase of 23.36 percent in time to sell, followed by Jefferson County at 59.02 percent, St. Charles County at 69.81 percent, the City of St. Louis at 85.11 percent and finally, once again bringing up the rear, St. Louis County with a whopping 106.98 percent increase.

 St Louis Housing Market Days on Market to sell in 2001 and 2009St Louis Average time to sell a home 2001 vs 2009
(Source of Data – MARIS)

 So what does all of this say about the St. Louis housing market? Well, I guess for starters, St. Louis as a whole has not fared too bad with regard to home appreciation during this eight-year period I reviewed, but at 16.68 percent appreciation for the period we are running a little behind the U.S. as a whole which experienced 20 percent appreciation during the period.  Within our St. Louis market St. Charles County and Franklin County both performed better than the U.S. as a whole and the City of St. Louis and Jefferson County didn’t fall too far behind.  Unfortunately for St. Louis County the same is not true as home prices in the U.S. as a whole did almost 11 times better during the period. 

The “expansion” areas, St. Charles, Jefferson and Franklin counties, all seem to have done better riding the boom up and now down than St. Louis City and particularly St. Louis County.  Perhaps it is because of newer housing stock, more development and population growth.  Ah, population growth, I think that is key (along with jobs, of course).  When looking at population growth in the St. Louis area it quickly becomes apparent that the county losing population is also the one that hasn’t done as well with regard to home prices, St.  Louis County.  From 2001 through 2008 (the latest census data available) every county I reviewed for this post had population growth, even in the double digits for St. Charles County with almost 18 percent growth) with the exception of St. Louis county which lost almost 2.5 percent of it’s population in that 7 year period.

Going forward I would think St. Louis County is going to probably lag behind the other St. Louis area counties in their recovery unless something is done to stimulate some population growth within the County.  Ditto for the city of St. Louis but, since the city has already lost significant population in the prior couple of decades, I think to a lessor extent.

St Louis Metro area population growth from 2001 to 2008St Louis Area Population Change 2001 to 2008
(Source of Data – US Census Bureau)

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