Right now, $350,000 can buy a five-bedroom, four 4 1/2 -bathroom home in Swansea.
The 4,800-square-foot house has three levels with a washer and dryer unit on each floor. It sits on a cul-de-sac near a private lake.
Belleville Realtor Sue Fizer, of Coldwell Banker Brown Realtors, is listing the palatial property and said she has seen more demand for up-scale homes. She said one reason is that the prices of the upper-end houses have recently fallen to a level that is piquing buyers' interest.
"They're all coming down," Fizer said. "It's kind of like it has helped it come down right now. I don't see them dropping any lower than they were, and I just think that the market is holding right now."
According to MLS stats, six properties sold through mid-November for more than $500,000 in St. Clair County, including one in Millstadt that sold for more than $1 million. In Madison County, 16 houses have been sold for more than half a million dollars so far this year. Fifteen of those homes are in Edwardsville and the other one is in Glen Carbon.
Statistics from Multiple Listing Service provided by the Greater Gateway Association of Realtors in Glen Carbon, reveals increases in sales over the past year. In Madison County, homes sold between Jan. 1 and Nov. 13, 2011, 35 homes were for $300,000 to $349,000. This year, in that same span, 52 homes were sold. In St. Clair County, 28 homes valued at $300,000 to $349,000 were sold between Jan. 1 and Nov. 13, 2011. This year, 33 were sold in that time frame.
In Edwardsville, Coldwell Banker Brown Realtors Managing Broker Chris Seniker said has witnessed the rise in high-end home sales. Last year, Coldwell Banker Brown sold 25 homes in Edwardsville and Glen Carbon ranging from $300,000 and $500,000 with an average stay on the market of 247 days. So far this year, the agency has sold 41 homes in that price range, which have averaged 192 days on the market.
"There definitely has been an increase there," Seniker said.
He also said with interest rates still falling beyond historic lows, sellers are more willing to adjust their asking prices.
"This time, people are pricing their homes what they need to be," he said. "I think with low interest rates, the people are understanding that if they want to move up to the next house, this is the time to do it. I think that's why you're seeing activity."
A metro-east commercial developer expanding into a local growing real estate market. As president of Johnson Properties Inc. in Fairview Heights, Terry Johnson has 27 years of experience operating on the commercial end of the industry and has also co-operated a property management company called the Plummer Johnson Group with RP Lumber and RLP Development President Robert Plummer since April 2009.
By next month, Johnson plans to launch Prestigious Homes LLC in Fairview Heights, a residential real estate business that will focus on the high-end home buyer. After doing some extensive research, Johnson said that homes selling for $350,000 and more are witnessing a resurgence in the metro-east market. He also noticed that very few residential brokers are in this market. So Johnson started by developing a 12-part marketing plan with more direct attention with buyers and sellers within a separate company staffed by its own brokers.
"What people don't think about is there are 700,000 people in Southwestern Illinois," Johnson said. "Out of those 700,000, we have about over 1,000 homes selling for at least $350,000, but there is not one company out other that specifically targets these listings and sells to that market. So this is a specialized company that most communities of our size have. I was frankly shocked that no one has ever targeted this market on our side of the river."
But Fizer said the high-end housing market has not outpaced lower-priced home sales in the metro-east because the east side of the metro area does not have as many homes available for over $350,000.
"I think is the fastest growing segment of sales around here is above $150,000 and below $300,000," she said. "I think that over the weekend we sold two houses at $170,000."
According to the National Association of Realtors, total existing-home sales rose 2.1 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.79 million in October. That was up from 4.69 million in September and 10.9 percent above the 4.32 million-unit level in October 2011.
Those selling these homes are not witnessing any quicker turn around. John Schlect said it took 18 months to sell his house, which is located between Belleville and Freeburg. The house sold for $375,000. The couple relocated to a $185,000 house near Stonewolf Golf Club in Fairview Heights.
"We wanted to downsize," Schlecht said. "We had it on market for a year-and-a-half. Then one day, it just happened."
As far as new home construction, Seniker said that market has not returned, yet. He said there is still too much inventory to re-ignite new home building at this point. However, he believes the market will pick up by next year.
"We really haven't had any new construction in the last three to five years," he said. "It will come to a point where buyers will demand new construction and inventory will shrink to where they can't find what they want and they will go to find new construction."
Seniker said this year has been a better year than last year and believes 2013 will be even stronger.
"We're moving on the right track," he said. "It takes a long time to get the inventory off the market. But I think eventually we are heading in the right direction."
Contact reporter Will Buss at firstname.lastname@example.org or 239-2526.