Thinking of buying a home in the St. Croix Valley? You had better set up an e-mail alert for the home you want, or you might miss out.

That’s according to broker Mike LaBelle of LaBelle Real Estate Group in Oakdale. LaBelle, who’s been selling real estate in the area for about 20 years, says homes that are priced and staged well are moving quickly.

Formed by the St. Croix River, which separates Minnesota and Wisconsin, the valley varies from tourist attractions to working farms. It is also home to thousands who work in the Twin Cities.

The areas that border the St. Croix River draw home buyers for plenty of reasons, including:

• An easy commute via I-94 to downtown St. Paul.

• Strong public schools.

• The availability of single-family homes and condominiums, and boat slips in local marinas.

• Shopping, dining, recreation — and, of course, spectacular river views.

The main streets of Stillwater, Minn., and Hudson, Wis., draw locals and tourists alike. Both downtowns feature waterfront parks, antiques shops, boutiques, restaurants and bars. Victorian homes add to each city’s charm. Areas outside the downtowns offer newer homes, larger lots and suburban shopping.

Municipalities on or near the river on the Minnesota side include Afton, Hastings, Lake St. Croix Beach, Lakeland, West Lakeland, Bayport, Oak Park Heights, Marine on St. Croix, St. Marys Point, Stillwater and Taylors Falls. On the Wisconsin side, there’s Danbury, Grantsburg, Hammond, Hudson, New Richmond, Osceola, Prescott, River Falls, Somerset and St. Croix Falls.

LaBelle attributed the increased listings and sales to improved property values recently.

“That is giving sellers some breathing room. They finally have their heads above water and that opens us up to the move-up market,” LaBelle said. “We didn’t have a move-up market for several years. “

Homes listed for sale in the more rural areas on the Wisconsin side of the river are less expensive, but also less plentiful, according to Jay McGrath, an agent for ReMax Results in Ellsworth, Wis. The houses are priced well are selling quickly, he added.

“There’s a lot of people looking for homes in the country, but the inventory just isn’t there,” McGrath said. “People just can’t find what they want in their price range.”

McGrath’s advice: “Just gotta wait. Patience.”