October 9, 2019 by
Since the dawn of humanity, humans have required shelter from the elements and protection from predators in order to survive. But the methods used to secure safety for one’s family or tribe have changed greatly over the centuries.
Join us for a brief (though not at all exhaustive) history of how it’s been done in the St. Charles area and beyond.
The Evolution of Selling a Home
The overabundance of real estate and a nomadic, hunter-gatherer lifestyle means cavemen acquire and change caves at will. (Probably.)
Some humans are now staying put to cultivate and live off the land, which will ultimately lead to the practice of home ownership.
The first systems of “rent” develop in the Middle Ages, with people paying homage to a lord or king in exchange for protection from invaders or raiders. This will lead to formal rent and taxation systems, with kings spreading wealth and land to their friends, who in turn collect revenue from the peasants who live on that land.
As aristocracies are overthrown, titled lands are broken up and sold on a free market — or rather, a market where only rich merchants and the aristocrats who haven’t lost their heads can afford to buy anything.
The Industrial Revolution leads to a new distribution of wealth, allowing some peasants to move up in the world and leading banks to offer mortgages (previously reserved for the nobility) to commoners.
French Canadian fur trader Louis Blanchette begins the first permanent European settlement in the area today known as St. Charles, Mo., while settlers are building settlements across much of the eastern United States.
The National Association of Real Estate Exchanges is founded in the U.S., but anyone can call themselves a “real estate broker,” leading to some very dubious practices. You can also now buy a mail-order home from a Sears catalog.
For the first time, a home on the market is held “open for inspection” — the first open house. These early open houses often lasted weeks and gave people a chance to tour new construction with such amazing new technology as electric lighting (gasp!) and elaborate kitchen layouts.
The term “realtor” is coined by a man who proposes it as a designation to differentiate members of the National Association from “curbstoners” — dishonest, uneducated brokers.
Somebody in Indiana gets the inspired idea to “stage” homes with furniture and decorations to help prospective buyers’ imaginations. (And the concept is published in the National Real Estate Journal.)
Amidst a real estate boom and subsequent housing shortage created by soldiers returning from WWII looking to settle down, Chicago inventor Carl Strandlund created the Lustron house. These prefabricated, enameled-steel homes were designed for “modern” families that didn’t want to bother with the maintenance associated with traditional houses.
1959: Meyer Real Estate is founded, changing the industry forever. (In our humble opinion.)
Selling Homes in St. Charles: 1959 to the Present
Since Meyer Real Estate opened its doors in St. Charles, Mo., on April Fools’ Day 1959, the company and its team of realtors has been an integral part of the St. Charles community.
As Founder Don Meyer recalls, in the early years, the team would serve “anyone who walked through the doors.” They were determined to meet the needs of the St. Charles community, whatever those needs might be. And in the beginning, that meant coordinating the sale of houses, farms, empty lots, commercial spaces, rental units and even more farms.
Of course, over the decades, St. Charles changed greatly. In the 1970s, rural St. Charles County was beginning to urbanize. In the 1980s, when interest rates soared, causing some disastrous years for the national real estate market, expansion in the St. Charles area spurred Meyer to hit record sales volumes. In those days, Meyer Real Estate Co-Owner Doug Meyer says, homes sold for between one-third and one-quarter of what they sell for today. The population of St. Charles County exploded from approximately 144,000 in 1980 to over 210,000 in just a decade.
Today, St. Charles County is home to just under 400,000 people. And the company that started with one man using a box for a desk has, over the years, seen more than 100 real estate agents contribute to its success. The team has watched interest rates fluctuate between 4% and 18% and welcomed three generations of Meyers to the family business.
Moving into the Future
Through all of the changes in the sale of real estate in St. Charles, one thing hasn’t changed: Meyer Real Estate still works with people, and always will. As Doug says, “empathy and patience are the parts of the job a machine will never replace.”
From 1959 to today, Meyer Real Estate has been helping St. Charles families make smart moves, achieve their dreams and flourish. Let us help you and your family make a move.
Contact us today to get a free market analysis from a skilled Meyer Real Estate agent.
Note: Nobody knows St. Charles, or real estate, like we do! However, there are plenty of people who are better at history. Here are some of the sources we used to compile this piece: