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 Tired of Commuting? You're Not Alone!
By: Darin "Sid" Cameron, CRS
Fri, Dec 31st, 2004 12:54 pm

Over the summer, Kimberly and I combined homes. Although we looked at everything from St Louis City to Lake St Louis (Editor's note: for out-of-towners reading this, those two places aren't close), the ultimate decision on where we bought a house had to do with keeping a close proximity to the real estate office where Kimberly works. In the end, the new construction and swimming pools gave way to a 30 year old home with a 10 minute commute.

Commuting (and more to the point, NOT commuting) can be a big deal for a lot of people when buying a new home. I was reminded of this by an article I read on the South Texas Real Estate Blog. For the full story, go to: http://www.southtexasrealestate.satxweather.com/ and read the article, "Homebuyers Want a Shorter Commute, Sidewalks" written by David S. Jones.

The article discusses a National Association of Realtors' Survey which shows that a commute time of 45 minutes or less is a top priority for 79% of today's home buyers. And the trend is increasing; 87% of people looking to buy a home in the future listed a shorter commute a top priority while the large lot in the suburbs dropped to 57%.

So, what does this mean for the St. Louis area? Will 50 years of exploding suburban growth wither away while people clamor for downtown living again? It's easy to deduce that from the statistics. Unfortunately, understanding how a trend will play out is really not that simple.

Yes, St Louis City is seeing revitalization in new home construction which wasn't happening 10-20 years ago. Builders are buying up the small two bedroom homes in areas like Dogtown so they can tear them down and build 2000-3000 sq foot homes and condos in their place. Also, the long talked about loft district on Washington Street in downtown is actually taking off (if you haven't been down Washington Street in 3-4 years, you probably won't recognize it). Again, all of this was unheard of 20 years ago and is being driven by the desire of downtown workers to reduce commuting.

However, trends also tend to work in reverse. Sometimes to end long commute times it's easier to change jobs than houses- i.e. bring the job closer to you instead of you to it. St Charles County appears to understand this as well as anyone and has kept their population growth alive by wooing employers like MasterCard to follow the employees to the suburbs.

MasterCard's move is an outgrowth of the trend to shorten commute times, as is another major St. Louis news story from the past year- the Page Ave Extension Bridge over the Missouri River. The Page Bridge eased highway congestion, and significantly reduced commute times, for people living in St Charles County- which is expected to keep the suburban growth alive in St Charles until 2010 or beyond. In fact, homes in St Charles near the bridge saw an immediate increase in property value once the bridge opened because they suddenly have a shorter commute time. The rolling St Charles hillsides overlooking the bridge, which previously hadn't been built on because of long commute times to Highway 40 and I-70, are now dotted with the construction of new homes.

Another thing to remember when looking at the statistics is every city deals with commuting in different ways. East coast cities have long accepted the mass transportation solutions that Midwesterners avoid at every turn. In David Jones' article, he mentioned that the "Texas way" of reducing commute times was to add more lanes to the highways. And when we talk about jobs following the workers to the suburbs, recently I was speaking to a friend who visited downtown Detroit and he reported that empty abandoned inner city lots near downtown have actually been turned back into farmland because no one wants to build on them.

If there is a point to take away from this article, it's that you now have options to commuting. Builders recognize your desire to live close to work and are building homes in areas of St. Louis where homes haven't been built in 50 years. Employers recognize it as well and are providing options closer to where people live. If you would like to know more about either trend, give us a call!

[ Next Article: November's Record Nationwide Home Sales! ]
[ Previous Article: New Years Resolution for the Home ]


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Darin "Sid" Cameron spent 15 years working in the technology industry which in 1998 relocated him to St. Louis. In 2004 he took over web development tasks for Kimberly's real estate team and later became the full-time Marketing and Operations Director in 2005. In 2011 Sid launched two brokerages, The Realty Store, Inc. and Realty Referral Partners, Inc, while continuing to perform marketing and operations for Kimberly's team. Sid holds a real estate broker's license in Missouri, CRS certification and was the first CyberStar in the St. Louis area.
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