Home sales on the rise in Ferguson, 2 years after shooting

FERGUSON, Mo. (AP) — Kathie Harnacker’s search for a new suburban St. Louis home took her to a three-bedroom brick ranch with a lush patio garden, an updated kitchen and neutral decor. At $112,000, she knows she’d pay twice the price if the home was in Webster Groves, Kirkwood or many other upscale suburbs.

But this one is in Ferguson. Two years after the unrest that followed the shooting death of 18-year-old Michael Brown by a police officer, Ferguson’s real estate market is on the rebound, St. Louis Public Radio (http://bit.ly/2b5eRCK ) reported.

In June, 24 homes sold in Ferguson with the median house price $66,500. That was double the number of sales from June 2015, and a steep increase in the median price of those homes, which was $39,200 in June 2015.

Brown, who was black and unarmed, was fatally shot by white officer Darren Wilson on Aug. 9, 2014, touching off months of sometimes violent protests. A grand jury and the U.S. Department of Justice declined to indict Wilson, who resigned in November 2014.

Harnacker, who wants to sell her home in south St. Louis, said she was drawn to Ferguson by affordable prices.

“They have the best deals on property right now, and the property values can only go up,” she said. “The recent incidents in Ferguson certainly do affect my decision. I think that as time goes on there will be less of a negative impact. That would be my hope. That would be my expectation.”

Real estate agents say the recovery is due in large part to the city’s quality and affordable housing stock, and to the residents of Ferguson.

“It’s a great place to live,” said Hubert Hoosman, who owns Haywood Hoosman Realty with his wife, Andreal.

Andreal Hoosman said media coverage of the protests missed a major part of the Ferguson story: the community spirit of its residents.

“They didn’t embrace how this community stood together,” she said.

Another Ferguson real estate agent, Pearce Keikirk, agreed.

“I think about all the things we’ve been through, but it’s also something that I find some real strength in,” Neikirk said. “We were tested in a way that I don’t think any other small community in the United States has been tested.”

One concern is that some of the buyers have been investors buying homes to rent out.

“When you shift from a stable residential to a larger rental community then you have problems in the long run,” Hubert Hoosman said.

Real estate agent Terry Gannon said Ferguson’s homes have always been a good deal for buyers, and that hasn’t changed.

“If you are interested in big historic Victorian houses, but you can’t afford Webster or Kirkwood, where are you going to go? Ferguson? Normandy? Florissant? You get as nice a house but not at the price you pay in other municipalities,” she said.

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