Home to the 2015 World Series Champions, the Royals, Kansas City is known for baseball, barbecue and jazz. With a metropolitan statistical area (MSA) population of slightly over 2 million that straddles two states, Missouri and Kansas, the city offers a diverse mix of living options, from downtown lofts and renovated historic homes in revitalized neighborhoods encircling downtown to vast swaths of upscale suburbs on the Kansas side. As of April 2016, Kansas City, which has emerged as a burgeoning technology hub, boasts a low unemployment rate of 4.4%.

Kansas City's low unemployment, strong job market and cultural amenities have contributed to its real estate market thawing since the late-2000s crash. As of 2016, prices are up, inventory is low and homes are selling quickly after being listed.

Market Insights

The Kansas City MSA's median home value, which stood at $135,000 in April 2011, has risen to $147,500 as of April 2016. Home values and sales prices in the area tend to rise in the summer, with more buying activity occurring during the warm months and receding in the winter. Moreover, houses listed for sale in Kansas City since 2011 have attracted buyers much faster during the summer. Looking at homes listed for sale on Zillow.com, most were active for 120 to 130 days during the winter months before being sold, while during the summer months, a sale occurred, on average, within the first 100 days.

Interestingly, while average list and sale prices in Kansas City have crept upward since 2011, the average list price per square foot has not strayed far from $100. This indicates larger and more expensive homes are being sold in 2016 compared to 2011.

Property and Transfer Taxes

A homeowner's property tax bill in Kansas City depends on several factors, perhaps most importantly whether he lives on the Missouri or the Kansas side of the city. Either way, exact property tax rates vary from neighborhood to neighborhood based on the needs of local schools, emergency responders and so forth. On the Missouri side, rates tend to hover between $7 and $8 per $100 of tax-assessed value. This value is based on 19% of a home's market value. Therefore, a $100,000 home has a tax-assessed value of $19,000. If its tax rate is $7 per $100, the owner's annual property tax bill, then, comes to $1,330.

On the Kansas side, a home's tax-assessed value represents only 11.5% of its market value. Moreover, the tax rate is calculated in mills, which is $1 in tax for every $1,000 in tax-assessed value. A home valued at $100,000 has a tax-assessed value of $11,500. If its property tax rate is 70 mills (a fairly standard rate for the area), its annual property tax bill is $805.

The state of Missouri does not levy transfer taxes, nor do most municipalities within the state, though they are not prohibited from doing so if budgetary needs demand it. Kansas does not levy a transfer tax but a mortgage fee, which amounts to 26 cents per $100. A $100,000 home sale, then, results in a mortgage fee of $260.

Most Expensive Neighborhoods

The Kansas City MSA features some of the wealthiest and most expensive neighborhoods in the United States. Nearly all of them are situated in suburban Johnson County, Kansas. These include the town of Mission Hills and the neighborhoods of Hallbrook Farms and Waterford-Leawood South in Leawood. All three neighborhoods have median household incomes in excess of $300,000 and median home prices in excess of $600,000.

In Kansas City proper, the Country Club Plaza District claims the crown for most expensive and exclusive neighborhood. Located adjacent to the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art and 15 blocks of upscale shopping and dining, the neighborhood features a mix of single-family homes, apartments and lofts, all carrying price tags prohibitive to all but the fabulously wealthy.

Top Real Estate Websites

The Internet offers several excellent resources for Kansas City home shoppers. The website of the city's largest newspaper, the Kansas City Star, features a real estate section that is found at kansascity.com/homes. There, shoppers can conduct a home search based on price, number of bedrooms and bathrooms, and property type. Visitors can also use the site to locate foreclosures and short sales or to find suitable rental housing to live in while searching for a permanent home.

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