Sunday, June 28, 2009

O’Fallon Is Weathering Recession and is a “Great Place to Raise Children”

While not recession-proof, the Midwest and more specifically the St. Charles County region, has escaped the recent economic woes and mortgage crisis better than most. O’Fallon is a case in point. The St. Charles County Association of Realtors notes that in May, 102 single-family properties in O’Fallon were sold. That’s a 21 percent increase over the 84 houses sold in April. At the national level, home sales rose 2.4 percent from April to May (National Association of Realtors). On the flip side, the average sale price was down 7 percent from a year ago.

Even considering the lower sale price, the movement of homes with a SOLD sign in the front lawn indicates a slow but steady return to housing normality. The total transformation is a long way away, no doubt about it, but the economic news is more positive.

Yet all of the statistics, projections and analysis really don’t tell the story of why O’Fallon has remained a stable community. Recently the St. Louis Beacon, an online newspaper, featured O’Fallon in a series of community profiles. One mantra, repeated over and over, is that O’Fallon is a great place to raise children. This attitude attracts middle class families who want suburban living, good schools and close proximity to metropolitan St. Louis’ features, such as the Art Museum, the Zoo, theater, baseball and restaurants.

The current median household income is $74,426, while 67 percent of the population have household incomes between $50,000 and $150,000. Home prices are affordable, with 39.3 percent of the population living in homes that cost between $200,000 and $299,999, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

During the past 20 years, O’Fallon was part of the westward surge to build more homes and attract businesses across the Missouri River. Now that expansion has slowed, giving the community a breather and time to assess future growth.

With a business and industry mix that includes large corporations such as Citigroup, MasterCard and MEMC Electrical Materials, balanced with smaller employers, restaurants and retail, O’Fallon just might be a model for emerging in good shape from a weak economy.

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