William Street properties can be hard sells

Monday, March 19, 2007
Several homes and one business along an 11-block stretch of William Street are for sale. (Kit Doyle)

Liz Lockhart knows location can make or break a sale.

The broker for Century 21 Key Realty recently had a home listed on William Street for five months, which isn't too unusual considering residential homes are on the market for an average of three months, Lockhart said. But it was difficult to find a buyer for the William Street home.

"There was absolutely nothing wrong with the house, and it was priced significantly lower than it should have been," Lockhart said. "But every time a person decided not to buy it, their reasoning was because it was located on William Street."

"For sale" signs are posted in the front yards of at least 10 homes and one business in the 11 blocks along William Street between Sheridan Drive and Pacific Street.

The William Street homes can be difficult to market, Lockhart said.

"No one wants to back out of their driveway onto William Street," she said.

Doris Balogh, who lives in Cape Girardeau, ran into that problem about four years ago when she was selling a house at 1613 William St.

"People loved the house but said the driveway was the drawback -- it was too short and everyone thought it would be hard to back out of," she said.

Balogh said the house was in "great condition," and was on the market for about three months.

"I'd move back there in a heartbeat," she said. "Once you got used to the traffic, backing out of the driveway really wasn't a problem."

Nancy McIntyre has lived at 1533 William St. with her family since 1999. Her mother, Viola Surface, lives next door at 1529 William St. Today, both properties are for sale.

"Our homes are not for sale because of where they are located or because of William Street," McIntyre said. "We simply want to sell both the homes and buy one big house so my mother can move in with us."

McIntyre said she's had her house on the market since September, and her mother's home went up for sale in August. They have had several prospective buyers, but have yet to close the deal. But they don't think location is the problem.

"I love living on William Street," McIntyre said. "The hospital is right here, and Wal-Mart is close; you're in the center of town."

Surface said the William Street traffic isn't a problem. "You just have to watch when you are backing out of the driveway, but it's not too bad," she said.

Rental properties

Gary Turner, a broker and manager of Coldwell Banker Select, said many William Street homes have been converted into rental property over the years. "I think we'll see that trend continuing," he said.

Ward and Nelda Ireland, who live in Fruitland, own several rental properties at 1104, 1108 and 1110 William St., along with a Hanover Street property around the corner.

Last year, the couple tried to sell the four properties to one buyer, but they had no luck. Since then, they've decided to sell the homes individually and plan to place them on the market by the end of this month.

"I don't think we'll have trouble selling those houses," Nelda Ireland said. "We're going to price them lower than what they're worth."

Many of the William Street homes were built in the 1940s and 1950s, Turner said. The street was widened to five lanes in 1975.

Lockhart said many older neighborhoods go through transition phases, but she doesn't see that happening to homes on William Street.

"You see a lot of older homes being fixed up throughout town, but it's tough to have a re-birth on William Street because no one wants to back out onto the street," she said. "The normal evolution isn't happening on William."

First-time buyers

Lockhart believes many of the William Street homes will be sold to first-time home buyers, who will look for homes in the price range of those sold on the street.

In the past five years, about 30 William Street properties have been listed with local real estate agents. The homes ranged in selling prices from $30,000 to $95,000.

Those William Street homes don't include those being sold by the owner, like several currently on the market.

"People who choose to go the for sale by owner route do it because they hope to maximize the price they take away from the deal," Lockhart said. "But since 85 percent of all home buyers use a real estate agent, for sale by owner can only hope to capture a buyer from the remaining 15 percent."

jfreeze@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 246

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