Real-Estate Remains Big Economic Engine

Judy Kramer
County Reporter
According to, the lowest mortgage rates ever recorded, and the work-at-home phenomenon that has people looking for bigger homes and caring less about commuting time, has brought a rising number of people into realtor offices during the pandemic. Existing home sales jumped by 25 percent, nationwide, in July, the highest sales level since 2006. 
According to West Central Association of Realtors (WCAR), Benton County sold 280 residential houses so far in 2020, compared to 260 houses during the same time period in 2019. The average listing price this year was $154,133, and the average selling price was $146,196. The average listing price in 2019 was $141,938 and selling price was $134,564. That means that in 2020, the average house sold for about $7,400 more than in 2019. House sellers were able to sell for prices that were about 94.9% of the listed price in 2020, and close to that percentage in 2019.
An article dated March 6, 2020, at reported that many of the services we receive, like schools, fire districts, roads and bridges, and libraries are helped by the real estate taxes, and the more sales, the more taxes. Lake of the Ozarks Board of Realtors data shows prices increased from 2018-2019 in all categories except vacant lots. Prices of waterfront homes increased three percent, offshore homes 11.7 percent, condos 6.6 percent, and villas increased 4.9 percent.
“Benton county existing houses have averaged 139 days on the market this year, including time for closings which took from 30 to 45 days to complete,” said Terri Hunter, Vice President of WCAR’s Board. “The average time on the market was 128 days in 2019. But, this was before the interest rates were lowered to below three percent, and closings became backlogged and started to take longer.”
ReeceNichols – Golden Key Realty, in Warsaw, reports that sales were overall very good during the summer. A representative of the realty business said that people wanted to move out of the city and some have been able to work from home, so it was easier to move. The market was reported to be up about 30 to 35 percent over last year. According to ReeceNichols, the best selling areas for houses have been those on the water and those close to a marina. It was also reported that inventory is low, but sales business has been great for realtors even though some of their related costs have risen.
Lacy Smallwood at Lincoln Realty said that lots in the country are selling faster than those in the city, and that commercial property takes a little longer than residences to sell. But, she said that Lincoln Realty had a very strong market all of this year. There was a 25% increases in house sales in the last few months.
Kristi Woods at ReMax Realty, in Warsaw, said that so many existing houses have been sold, many more than in 2019.
“A lot of people tell me that they are trying to get away from big cities after riots,” said Woods.
Advantage Real Estate in Warsaw reports that home sales are up this summer, but inventory is low since a lot of people have nowhere to go and are staying in their houses instead of listing them. More vacant lots have also been sold to people who may not want to build now, but are saving the land for later use.
Anstine Realty and Auction, in Warsaw, was contacted for information on its house sales this year, but realtors were out of the office busy showing homes.
An overall look at commercial properties by WCAR showed that in the past four years in its service area of Benton, Henry, Pettis and part of St. Clair Counties, the average time on the market lessened from 379 days in 2017 to 245 days in 2020.
Gary Smith, Board President at Forbes Park, said that 10 houses are being built at Forbes, an increase over last year, and about half a dozen queries have been made about the process to go through in order to build at the Park.
Missouri Land Company in Cole Camp has had a phenomenal year according to an assistant to company owner Mike Stone. She said that the lowest time to sell property is usually in the summer, but sales actually increased this summer. She said that the company has been running from 30 to 50 properties at a time and closed on 19 properties in the first two weeks of September. Stone told her that the company may reach $25 million in sales at the end of the year. This is also the first year that other realtors are calling Missouri Land Company to inquire about its properties that are for sale.
Hunter, at WCAR, said that location is very important when selling a house. She said that a lot of people are looking for property out of the city. She said that in Pettis County the price of a house and the time it takes to sell it are very different on the west side of Sedalia than those on the east side. She also said that there is also a big difference between the two sides of Hwy 50. 
Hunter gave a summary of the sale of houses in the WCAR service area, saying that 1,052 residences were sold this year at an average sale price of $151,024 (96.24 percent of the list price.) The average property was on the market for 120 days including closing,  The average list price of houses sold since 2018 went from $131,000 to $156,000.
According to a September 9 report at, the median price in Missouri for an existing house is $193,000. Missouri is in the top ten states with the lowest housing costs.