According to agent Sam Hall, St. Louis neighborhoods that embrace walkability and convenience are at the top of local home buyers’ must-have lists. Clients want to live and raise families in bustling, active communities like Clayton and Kirkwood, and the advice of an experienced agent is the key to achieving that dream, he says.

What areas of town do you see attracting young families the most?
For the last decade, Clayton has been a central focus. It’s where a lot of baby boomers are living, and their younger relatives want to be around the fringes of that area. These young families look for walkable neighborhoods in University City, Maplewood, Richmond Heights, and some of the more affordable neighborhoods in Ladue. The walkable corridors of Webster Groves and Kirkwood are hot right now, too.

What are the disadvantages of a ‘for sale by owner’ transaction?
In our market, there are a couple of options for ‘FSBO’ sellers. Some opt to simply have an agent put a home on the Multiple Listing Service for a small fee; others choose services that include the MLS listing plus digital marketing for a larger fee. The bottom line is, you hire an agent for his or her expertise in understanding the area, marketing a property and negotiating a contract. ‘FSBO’ sellers don’t have an advocate on their side. They may overestimate a home’s value, making it difficult to sell, or they may underestimate it, resulting in a quick sale that is a poor reflection of the property’s real value. Like any business transaction, a home sale can be messy if you don’t use the services of an experienced professional.

What would be your favorite place to live in St. Louis?
A neighborhood within a mile of Forest Park. I live very close to it now, in the Hi Pointe-DeMun area. We have a lovely home and the kids can walk to school and the park easily. I used to live in a great Central West End home that I restored, and I would love to return to that neighborhood as well. Portland, Westmoreland and Pershing are some of my ‘goal streets’–the homes there are one-of-a-kind.

What is the biggest hurdle you’ve had to overcome in your career?
In real estate, setting personal boundaries and carving out time for yourself are the biggest obstacles. When I was single, I used to just go unplug in places where my phone wouldn’t ring! I still do that; I’m taking a trip to South America soon. But I’ve also learned to do a better job of setting aside personal time at home. I love doing things like walking the kids to school.

What is the most expensive home you’ve sold?
I always say that the most important home is the one I’m working on today! I did sell a home that listed at $3,250,000. This year has been interesting, in fact, with some unusually high-dollar sales. The high-end listing pool in St. Louis usually is pretty small, unlike markets on the coasts where one deal easily can total many millions.