Kacie Barnes (Galbraith)
If you were a real estate agent with nearly 8,000 properties for sale, what would you do?

You might be thinking, “Well, duh. I would sell them. Cha-ching!” Seems really simple, but the St. Louis Land Reutilization Authority (LRA) does not appear to have that same mindset.

When I met with Michael Allen, founder of the Preservation Research Office (a private historic preservation and architectural research organization) he remarked at how little advertising the LRA does for its properties. Compared to real estate agencies, LRA advertisement is practically non-existent.

Shouldn’t the LRA function in the same way as real estate agents if its goal is to sell property?

According to Janet McAfee Real Estate's Marketing Director Chuck Roper, the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) is the primary source of real estate listing information for approved brokers in Saint Louis. LRA-owned properties, however, are very rarely listed in the MLS.

Besides the MLS, there are a variety of other ways to make information available about properties. Newspaper and magazine ads, online ads, listings on real estate websites, social media, direct mail…you get the picture. The LRA does none of these things. You could drive by an LRA property that is for sale and have absolutely no idea. Two LRA staff members gave me different replies about whether they post "For Sale" signs. One said they are put up on "selected properties." But the other simply said, "Nope, we don't do that."

With the LRA, the onus is all on you, the potential buyer, to figure out the entire process to purchase a home. You have to know that the LRA exists, what it does, find its list of properties, set up your own inspection of the house, and then begin the application process.

Every year that goes by, the city pays more and more to maintain these properties. They sit vacant, collecting no property tax. With 8,000 vacant properties, the LRA cannot afford to have the attitude that these properties can sell themselves. Any real estate agent will tell you that couldn’t be further from the truth.

About the Author

Kacie Barnes (Galbraith)