Thursday, May 10, 2007

STL Rising: In Search Of The $100,000 Neighborhoods...

With property values on the rise in St. Louis, it's getting harder to match first time homebuyers with quality affordable housing.

There are still homes for sale in the $90,000-$120,000 range, but the choices are getting fewer and competition for starter homes is getting tough. First time homebuyers often wind up competing with real estate investors buying homes for use as rental property.

If you were making recommendations to someone starting out in the St. Louis housing market, what would be your advice?


Anonymous said...

Allow a lot of time to look. I looked in that price range for about five months (hardcore -- I'd been vaguely looking for a lot longer than that.)

Establish firm guidelines on must-haves, will-not-dos, etc.

For me a must-have was at least a two-bedroom place. Will-not-do: anything totally lacking in character. Anything that needs a lot of work (to make it pass inspection, etc. Painting I can deal with. Not electrical problems.)

I also looked for a place where I'd feel safe as a single female.

That last one was difficult to gauge. I drove by places on several different days of the week, night and day. And not just the house, but the surrounding neighborhood.

As it turns out, I ended up falling for a house so hard that I bought it, despite the fact that the second "bedroom" is more like a dressing room and I didn't really scope the neighborhood as vigorously as I did other places. I needed this place the moment I saw it, and so I got it.

Where to look? I spent a lot of time looking southeast of Grand and Gravois (and that's were I ended up buying.)

My experience was that unless one is looking for a "handyman's special" or something microscopic and unattractive, that price range will mostly be found in areas of the city where the crime rates (or the perception thereof) are a little higher.

The tradeoff has worked out okay for me so far.

The Dutchtown South Community Corporation is eager to help people find places for sale in the greater Dutchtown area (Dutchtown, Gravois Park, Marine Villa, Mount Pleasant), and, in fact, I found my house through them:

Anonymous said...

If you want to be surrounded by homes you can't afford, consider buying a place under 1,000 square feet. Many modest one- to two-bedroom homes are still available in the low $100s, despite being doors away from $200k-plus homes.

stlmark said...

Carondelet is nice and cheap.

Kathy said...

I'm curious as to why Carondelet is cheap. I'm from and in Virginia, but lived there in St. Louis for about 10 years around Bates and Michigan. Still miss it sometimes...

Bill said...

Check out Benton Park West.

There are many options for $80-140K housing. From 2bd up to 3bds, rehabbed...but not upscale.

Many have great curb appeal, many don't. It's how the houses were built. The less attractive houses were very basic housing stock when they were built in the late 1800's and very early 1900's.

Today, just as then, if you want a lot of curb appeal (cute) and a nice sized 2bd or 3bd then don't think you can get it for less than $ 100K.

Also, the more comfortable the neighborhood the higher the housing cost. We are in America. It is a supply/demand society. If the supply is less than demand, then the cost goes up.

For the quickest way to checkout housing in Benton Park West...log on to Search for zip=63118 and subdivision=Benton Park West.

Today there are 26 properties tagged as Benton Park West. There are many others that aren't tagged as Benton Park West.

The boundaries are Cherokee on the south, roughly Gravois on the North and west, with Jefferson on the east.

Of the 26 properties on the market (under subdivision=Benton Park West), you will find a range of prices, but also range of amenities...from needing rehab, not livable, but needing completely rehabbed.

Make sure the look at all of the pages...the listings aren't sorted by price.

For any questions about Benton Park West, feel free to call the Neighborhood Office: 771-0803.

Anonymous said...

The Hill. Tiffany. Benton Park West.

Samuel said...

May I actually suggest the one place no one ever considers and look north of Delmar?

Anonymous said...

Why Carondelet is so cheap.

Anonymous said...

Let's try this again.

Why Carondelet is so cheap

I guess that happened in Dutchtown but it's the same type of problem.

Michael R. Allen said...

Fountain Park
Gravois Park

Bus Tease said...

"I also looked for a place where I'd feel safe as a single female."

I'm a single female living in Benton Park East, and I feel safe in my neighborhood...during the day. I don't care how gentrified an area becomes, or how high the cost of living is, if you are a single female, you're taking a risk.

As for housing costs, I've watched asking prices skyrocket over the past year. Sellers have it in their minds that they can buy low(ish) and sell high, but the market is saturated.

I can't tell you how many homes are vacant in a 3 block radius from mine...they've forced out people in a lower income bracket, but there are no prospective buyers left.

Anonymous said...

"I don't care how gentrified an area becomes, or how high the cost of living is, if you are a single female, you're taking a risk."

Very very true. And true of every place that I've lived.

So I did my best to try to evaluate places with what little information I had.

Here's a gauge I used: if the street was full of litter, I guessed that this wasn't a place that folks were super-interested in their surroundings, and wouldn't be keeping an eye out for their neighbors. (I know this doesn't hold true in all cases, but I had to use some measure, and this was one that I used.)

And now that I live where I live, I try to get to the litter as soon as I can in case there are other folks with "logic" like mine considering moving into the neighborhood.

I ended up in Gravois Park, by the way.

I find it surprising that someone mentioned The Hill as an affordable place to live. That's the first time I've heard that on a list of low-priced neighborhoods!

Susan said...

We bought our small but cute and rehabbed house on a double lot 5 years ago, near Cherokee St. on the northern edge of Marine Villa for $87,000. That would be hard to find today- but there are still lots of great houses in Marine Villa for around $100,000. If they call it Benton Park South they'll try to charge you more.

If I was looking now, besides for Marine Villa I'd look in Forest Park Southeast, Benton Park West, Gravois Park, Dutchtown, Mount Pleasant, or Carondelet. Or I'd look north, probably around Fountain Park or the Ville. There are so many great neighborhoods in north city that people don't even think about.