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Will Paying A Higher Commission Rate Get Your Home Sold Faster?

During the 30+ years I have been in the real estate business I have debated this topic with my peers more times than I can possibly count and, it’s safe to say, rarely did we reach a consensus.  The topic of commissions is a very sensitive one in this industry and there are strong opinions on both sides of the fence as to whether offering a higher commission rate to the selling agent will in fact get a home sold faster.

Before I go further I should pause and give some quick background info on real estate commissions and how they work since that is a mystery to many consumers.  There is no one business model out there that everyone follows however, in general, here is the way it works:  A homeowner lists their home for sale with a listing agent and, as part of the listing agreement, agrees to pay a commission to get their home sold.  The commission is normally a percentage of the final sales price, generally in the ball park of 5% – 7%.  The listing agent then makes an offer of compensation, through the REALTOR® MLS, to other agents for selling the listing.  While the listing agent is free to offer whatever they want to the selling agent, it is common for the selling agent (agent representing buyer) to receive 45% of the total commission so, anywhere from 2.25% to 3.15%, leaving the balance for the listing agent.  The most common commission rate offered to the selling agent, by far, is 2.7%.  

Now, for the debate….Will a higher commission rate get your home sold faster? 

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St Louis Home Sales and Prices Increase From Year Ago

St Louis Home Sales as well as St Louis home prices have increased in the past year 3,179 homes sold in June 2014 in the St Louis core market (St Louis city and the counties of St Louis, St Charles, Jefferson and Franklin) an increase of 3 percent from June 2013 when there were 3,086 homes sold.  During this same period, St Louis home prices increased 5.81 percent from a median price of $155,000 in June 2013 to a median price of $164,000 in June 2014, according to the latest data available from MORE, REALTORS.

As the table below shows,  St Louis County and St Charles County both saw a decline on home sales from June 2013 to June 2014 while the other 3 counties in the core market saw an increase in home sales during the same period.  Home prices were up in all the counties in the St Louis core market with the exception of Jefferson County, and St Louis County saw the biggest increase in median home prices at 11.76%.

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The Importance Of Pricing Your Home Right From The Start

While the St Louis real estate market is recovering from the aftermath of the housing bubble hurst,  the market is still very price sensitive and therefore  I cannot over emphasize the importance of pricing your home right from the outset at the beginning of the listing.

However, many sellers fear this strategy as they think no matter what price they list at the buyer will still offer less than the asking price.  I will address this issue by saying that is simply not true.  Buyers today, in my humble opinion, are more educated and savvy than homes buyers were during the boom (not to mention cautious) and are looking for a home that meets their needs and will be a good investment.  Home buyers today realize that the good ones are selling quickly, so when a home comes on the market, is properly prepared for the market and priced correctly,  it often sells quickly at full price or above and if not, then very close to full price.    The over priced homes sit on the market, become market worn and stale by the time the seller finally gets the price down to where it should have been to start.

Oh, you don’t believe me and want proof?  No problem!  Below are statistics from MARIS, the St Louis REALTOR® MLS showing homes that sold within the first week of being listed in St Louis and St Charles County in the past 30 days sold for, on average, 100% of the list price!

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Mortgage Interest Rates Lower Today Than A Year Ago To The Surprise of Many

Mortgage interest rates, in spite of predications to the contrary by many, are actually lower today than a year ago, according to the latest date available from Fredde Mac.  According to Freddie Mac, the U.S. average interest rate for a 30 year mortgage was 4.15 percent on July 10, 2014, down significantly from July 11, 2013 when the average 30 year mortgage rate was 4.51 percent.

As the interactive chart below  from the St Louis Fed Reserve shows, mortgage interest rates have definitely risen from the historic lows we say in 2012 and part of 2013 however are still lower than 5 years ago.  So, will this trend continue and will the predictions of interest rates topping 5 percent next year not come to fruition? It’s very hard to say as a lot of it hinges upon what happens in the economy and the housing market as well.  My guess is, there is a much better chance of rates increasing over the next year than decreasing but that’s just my opinion.

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St Louis Foreclosure Activity Drops Nearly 50 Percent In Past Year

St Louis Foreclosure activity dropped in June to a rate of 1 foreclosure action on every 2,070 units, a decline of nearly 50 percent (49.58%) from June 2013, and down 13.11% from the month before, according to a report just released this morning by RealtyTrac.  The table below shows the numbers for the St Louis metro area as a whole as well as a breakdown by county and, as the table shows, all the counties in the St Louis, Missouri core market saw declines of nearly 50% or better in the past year and all, except the city of St Louis, saw double-digit declines from May 2014.

On the national level there is good news as well as foreclosure activity declined in June 2014 to the lowest level since July 2006, before the housing market meltdown.

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St Louis’ HOTTEST Real Estate Markets This Month

St Louis’ Hottest Real Estate Markets for this month has a new city at the top of the Hot Markets list, Glendale!  Glendale, with a market action index of 50 (anything above a 30 is a sellers market, 60 is the highest it can go) is number 1 on the list followed closely by last month’s #1 neighborhood, the 63021 zip of Ballwin with a 49.

In terms of inventory of homes for sale, the list is pretty much the same as June, with the top 9 slots all the same as last month and the top 3 having only a 1 month supply of homes on the market.  If you have thought about selling, or perhaps tried to sell in the past couple of years without success, and see your zip code on one of these two lists, now may be the time!  Contact me  and I’ll help you out!

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How To Buy Homes in St Louis at a Big Discount

Looking to buy a home in St Louis at a BIG Discount?

Take it from someone that has been in the business over 30 years  and during that time bought and sold over 2,000 homes; there is no silver bullet or magic formula to finding a great deal on a home or other piece of property.  I wish it were that easy.  You can however use information and resources that are available to help identify potential good deals and then, with a lot of driving and looking at homes, cull through the pile looking for the “deal”.

RealtyTrac just did some research trying to identify  common characteristics of deals on homes that sold at a big discount (25% or more) and came up with property profiles that they feel identify those homes that have the greatest potential of being sold at a big discount.

What are the four profiles of “big discount” or bargain-priced homes?

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Ten Best Buyers Markets In St Louis

The St Louis housing market continues to improve however, as I always say, real estate is very local so markets vary widely from city to city and neighborhood to neighborhood. Not that long ago, most of the neighborhoods in St Louis were buyers markets, according to our Market Action Index however, over the past year or so, many have moved into seller’s market territory. This doesn’t mean there aren’t any buyers markets left however, and in the table below I bring you the Ten Best Buyers Markets In St Louis based upon our Market Action Index.

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St Louis Home Prices and Sales Market Update VIDEO-July 2014

More than 15 neighborhoods in the St Louis area are HOT SELLERS MARKETS  while more than 15 are HOT MARKETS FOR BUYERS.  If you are a home buyer, seller or investor, wouldn’t it be good to know where these areas are?  Or, if you are a homeowner that has considered selling your home, wouldn’t it be good to know if your neighborhood is currently a sellers market?  Well, you can find out all of this and much more with just a 5 minute investment of your time by checking out our July 2014 5-Minute Market Update Video below.

Many areas of St Louis have become sellers markets due to increasing demand and lack of inventory.  If you have considered selling, or perhaps tried and failed in the past year or so, now is the time to consider it again.  Give us a call and we’ll be happy to let you know the value of your home in today’s market or, try our new online home valuation site and find your homes value in under a minute – go to StLouisHousePrices.com and find your home’s value now!

Thinking of selling and want to know if your neighborhood is a seller’s market? Contact us and we’ll  answer that question for you.

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Kitchen and Master Bedroom Most Important Features to Todays New Home Buyer

Top 3 Key Features Wanted in  HomeToday’s new home buyer’s most important features are the kitchen and master bedroom, according to a survey conducted by PulteGroup.  The kitchen was chosen as the most important feature in a new home by 29% of those surveyed, followed by the master bedroom with 22% picking that as their top feature.  So, the bottom line is, the most important thing to new home buyers is to eat and sleep!  ;)

As for kitchen features that new home buyers are looking for, 23% aid a large eat in area was the most important feature of the kitchen, followed by 22% that said an oversized island was and finally 19% that said an oversized pantry.

In the master bedroom, 31% said the top priority was his and her closets, followed by 23% that had a spa-like bath as a top priority in the master bedroom.

A nice house beats a smart kid any day…

The thing in the survey that jumped out at me was the fact that over a third of the people surveyed (35%) said they would give up better schools in order to get a home with the features important to them.  Looking at it from the “glass is half full” perspective, I’m going to say that perhaps those were just the people without school-age kids.

Size matters..

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Consumer Confidence In Housing Market Increasing But Normal Housing Market Still In The Distance

Consumers continue to gain confidence in the housing market but not enough to return us to a “normal” housing market, according to the June 2014 Fannie Mae National Housing Survey.  In the survey consumers are asked, among other things, what their expectations are with regard to home prices and, while the expectation is for home values to increase 2.4% in the next 12 months, this is slightly lower than indicated in the previous few months.  When asked about the expectation with regard to mortgage interested rates, 55% of the consumers think interest rates will rise in the next year, this is a 6 point increase from last month.

Doug Duncan, chief economist at Fannie Mae, said  “the housing recovery gained its footing” but went on to say “…we do not expect to see ‘normal’ levels of new residential construction…before the end of 2016.”

Highlights from the Fannie Mae National Housing Survey:

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St Louis County Deadline for Property Assessment Appeals Is Soon

If you are a property in St Louis county and do not agree with the value the St Louis County Assessor, the deadline for property assessment appeals to the St Louis County Board of Equalization is July 14, 2014.  You can now file online by going to St Louis County’s website here or you can download the forms by clicking here.  If you are “old school” and want to go pick up the forms you can do that at the board of equalization office at 41 South Central.
This is not a reassessment year, however you can still appeal the assessment from last year if you did not previously do so.  The property value in question will be the property value as of the last reassessment, January 1, 2013.
The board of equalization appear hearings will be held in July and August at two locations, in north county at 11130 Old St Charles Rock Road and in south county at 9059 Watson Road.
For more information:
  • Call the board of equalization office at 314.615.7195
  • Email the board of equalization at boe@stlouisco.com
  • You can request advocate services by leaving a message on the advocate hotline at 314.515.4611 or contact them by email at advocate@stlouisco.com

 

St Louis’ Most Expensive Foreclosures – Slide Show

St Louis’ Most Expensive Foreclosures currently for sale includes homes in St Louis, St Charles and Franklin counties and top out at $1,700,000 at the time of this article.  While buying a foreclosure does generally involve more risk than buying a privately owned home that is being sold under “non-distress” conditions, the added risk is usually rewarded in a much better price and therefore a better deal.  The main risks with buying a foreclosure have to do with the condition of the property both in that the property is normally being sold as is, there is not a sellers disclosure available from the former owner and, if the former owner had financial trouble it is safe to say that some maintenance and repairs needed may have been foregone.

St. Louis Most Expensive Foreclosures For Sale – $300,000+

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The Best Place In St Louis To Buy Rental Property

I’ll begin with a disclaimer. I realize this is a VERY subjective topic and there are about a hundred different criteria one may use to determine the best area to invest in rental property however, having said that, I attempted to do a broad brush analysis from 30,000 feet. I decided to look at which area, in general, offers the best return on investment when it comes to rental property. For the sake of my analysis, I looked at single family homes as rental properties since they are the most common investment by individual investors.

To determine the best rate of return I looked at the median rent for the area as well as median vacancy rate of rentals and median home price. I then determined a rent/value ratio and the area with the highest ratio determines the area with the best potential return on investment.  In computing the ratio I multiplied the median rent by 12 to get the annual rate, then reduced that amount by the vacancy rate and divided the result into the median property value.

As the table below shows, the city of St Louis came out on top with the highest rent to value ratio, 6.48% followed by St Louis County with a 5.45%.

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St Louis’ Coolest Lofts For Sale

As I wrote about recently, lofts in St Louis are making a comeback and the loft market is heating up. Lofts come in a lot of shapes and sizes and, given the challenge presented to developers to create great residential spaces in old buildings original built to be warehouses or for other commercial uses, not all are created equal. Below are 3 of what I think are the coolest loftscurrently on the market. (click the image to see all photos and complete details).

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Home Ownership By People Over 65 Years Old On The Rise

Home ownership rates have been on the decline and, in fact, reached a 19 year low the first quarto of this year when the home ownership rate in the U.S. fell to  64.8%.  However, for people 65 years and older, the rate of home ownership has been on the rise.  As the chart below shows, while the rate of home ownership declined for the U.S. overall, the rate for those persons aged 65 and over has continued to rise.  

Home Ownership Rate for 65 plus year olds Chart

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City of Florissant Offering $6,000 To Out of Town Home Buyers

The city of Florissant, through it’s “Homeownership Assistance Program” is offering home buyers up to $6,000 in matching funds for a down payment if they will buy a home in Florissant.  To be eligible the buyer does NOT have to be a first-time buyer nor meet any income requirements or restrictions as many grant programs have, but they must not currently be a homeowner in Florissant.

The matching funds will actually be a loan, however the loan will be forgiven after the buyer lives in the home 5 years.  For more information see the  Homeownership Assistance Program Website.

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Pending Home Sales Rise In May But Lagging Behind Last Year

Pending homes sales increased in May, up 6.1 percent from April, however was still 5.2 percent below the period a year ago, according to the report just released today from the National Association of REALTORS (NAR).

Lawrence Yun, the chief economist for NAR, said he expects home sales to continue improving throughout the balance of the year however still expects 2014 to see fewer home sales than 2013 due to the “ sluggish first quarter”.

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New Home Sales In Midwest Up Almost 6 Percent In May From Last Year

St Louis New Home SalesNew home sales in the midwest region during May 2014 increased 5.7 percent from a year ago, according to the latest information from the U.S. Census Bureau.  New homes sales in the midwest region of the U.S. were at a seasonally-adjusted annual rate of 74,000 homes during May.  New home sales for the month before, April 2014, were adjusted downward to an annual rate of 73,000 homes after first being reported at a rate of 84,000 homes.

The midwest region had the smallest month over month, as well as year-over-year, increase in new home sales of the four U.S. regions or the U.S. as a whole.

 

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Zombie Foreclosures In St Louis

Zombie Foreclosures, while fewer, are still quite prevalent in the St Louis area.  So, what is a zombie foreclosure?  Good question.  It’s yet another term that has come out of the real estate bubble burst of 2008 and refers to homes that are in the foreclosure process and the owner has vacated the home prior to actually losing it as the foreclosure is not complete.  These properties often become an eyesore and burden on the neighbors, and the city they are in, as they are sort of in “no man’s land” as the owner has left the property and typically does not continue to maintain it as they are losing it however, it is not yet foreclosed upon so the lender does not own it yet (and if it sells at the foreclosure to a third party won’t own it) therefore they normally do not maintain it.  Therefore, until the foreclosure is actually final, the property often sits and deteriorates without attention.

Where in St Louis can you find Zombies?

As the table below shows, zombie foreclosures are concentrated, to a large extent, in the North St Louis County area with 5 of the top ten zombie locations being in North County.  The 63136 zip, which encompasses all of Jennings as well as some areas around Jennings including part of north St Louis, is at the top of the list with 16 “zombies“, following by the 63031 zip area of Florissant with 13, and then the 63135 zip area, which is predominately Ferguson, with 11.

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St Louis Foreclosures and Short Sales Fall By Over 25 Percent

St Louis Foreclosures, and short sales, in May 2014 accounted for just 8.5% of all home sales in the St Louis core market (city of St Louis and the counties of St Louis, St Charles, Jefferson and Franklin), according to data released just this morning from RealtyTrac.  This is a decline of 26.7% from May 2013 when foreclosures and short sales in St Louis accounted for 11.6% of all home sales.

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St Louis Lofts Making Comeback

St Louis Lofts are making a comeback both in popularity and price, according to the latest data available from Mid America Regional Information Systems (MARIS), the St Louis REALTOR® MLS.  As the charts below show, loft sales in St Louis peaked in 2006 (when all real estate peaked) with sales of lofts hitting 218 for the year and the median price of lofts sold that year coming in at a record $215,700.  After 2006 however, sales fell year after year finally hitting a low in 2010 when only 67 lofts were sold, a decline of almost 70% from the peak.  Loft prices in St Louis did not hit bottom until the following year however, 2011, when the median price of a loft sold in St Louis was $152,500, a decline of almost 30% from the peak in 2006.

The comeback began last year, with St Louis loft sales hitting 1o7 in 2013, a six-year high, and the median price climbing to $173,500, a three-year high.  Thus far, it appears as though this trend will continue through 2014 with loft sales, as the one-year chart below shows so well, shooting up in May with 18 lofts sold, the most in one month in nearly 3 years (since June 2011) at a median price of $186,250, a recovery of over half the decline in loft prices from the peak in 2006.   Year to date, through May 2014, there have been 50 lofts sold in St Louis, an increase of 25% from the same period last year when 40 lofts were sold, and median loft prices increased 6.7% during the same period, rising from $174,500 in May 2013, to $186,250 in May 2014.

 

St Louis Lofts For Sale

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Sunset Hills Most Expensive Homes for Sale (Slideshow)

Sunset Hills is certainly gaining in popularity as more people discover just how convenient the location is to many areas of St. Louis.  Sunset Hills has easy access to both Interstate 270 as well as Interstate 44 making almost any St Louis destination a short trip.  We opened an office in Sunset Hills last year that I have been working out of a lot, and since working from there I have myself discover the convenience of being located at 270 and 44.

Sunset Hills real estate consists of a variety of architectural styles and settings with something for almost everyone.  The median home price in Sunset Hills is $357,600 and almost half of the homes there (40%) are free and clear of debt.

Sunset Hills Homes For Sale – $500,000+

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Piqued your interest?  If you would like more information on any of these homes or for a private viewing, click here.

Disclaimer: The information herein is believed to be accurate and timely, but no warranty whatsoever, whether expressed or implied, is given. Information from third parties is deemed reliable but not verified and should be independently verified. MORE, REALTORS does not display the entire IDX database of Mid America Regional Information Systems, Inc. (MARIS MLS) on this website.

St Louis Home Prices Increased Four Percent In Past Year on Fewer Sales

St Louis Home Prices rose 4 percent from May 2013′s median sales price of $150,000 to May 2014′s median price of $156,000 for the 5-county core St Louis housing market which consists of the City of St Louis and the counties of St Louis, St Charles, Jefferson and Franklin, according to the latest data released by MORE, REALTORS.   As the table below shows, the city of St Louis saw the biggest gain in median home prices with the median sales price increasing over 27% from May 2013 to May 2014.

St Louis Home Sales are still lagging a little behind last year with 3,133 homes sold in the St Louis 5-county core market in May 2014, a decrease of 3.3% from May 2013 when there were 3,239 homes sold.  As the table below shows, Jefferson county fared the best in this area with an increase of over 9% in home sales in May 2014 from May 2013.

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The St Louis Luxury Home Market

The St Louis Luxury Home Market is concentrated within the central corridor of the St Louis area with the highest median home prices (of homes listed) currently being found in Frontenac, with a median price of $1,326,654, followed by Ladue, Town and Country, Clayton and Creve Coeur.

Like the rest of the St Louis real estate market, The St Louis Luxury Home Market suffered when the housing bubble burst a few years ago but is it on the road to recovery like the bulk of the St Louis housing market?  To address this,  I looked at the market from several angles and analyzed the following data for the top 25% of each market (based upon price):

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New Home Building Permits Increase During May in the Midwest

New home building permits issued in the Midwest region of the U.S. in May was up 1 percent (seasonally adjusted) from a year ago and increased 7.3 percent from the month before, accordion to the latest data released by the U.S. Census Bureau.  On a national level, new home building permits issued in May were down 0.8% from the year before but were up 3.7% from April, according to the report.

As the chart below from the Fed Reserve shows, building permits issued in St Louis are definitely on the rise but are still at levels much lower than back during the real estate bubble.

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Mortgage Default Rates Fall Almost 30 Percent From Year Ago

Mortgage default rates, as tracked by the S&P/Experian Consumer Credit Default Indices, on first mortgages were at .92 in May 2014, down from 1.01 the month before and down almost 30% (29.7%) from May 2013 when the first mortgage default rate index was at 1.31.  The default rate index on second mortgages is improving as well with the index for May 2014 at .57, down from .63 in April and from .60 in May 2013, according to the report.

This is good news for the housing market and consistent with the trend we have seen lately of lower delinquencies and fewer defaults which lead to fewer foreclosures and fewer REO’s, all of which put downward, or negative, pressure on home prices.

 

 

St Louis’ Hottest Real Estate Markets In June

St Louis’ Hottest Real Estate Markets for this month looks very similar to this time last month however the 63021 area of Ballwin has now moved to the top of list of hot markets based upon our “Market Action Index” scoring a 51 out of a possible 60. Valley Park came in second, followed by the 63011 area of Ballwin,  Chesterfield and Glendale.

As the table below shows, all of the top 5 hot markets, with the exception of Valley Park, are also very low on the months supply of homes for sale with all of them just having a 2 month supply versus 5 or 6 months which would be historically closer to normal.

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St Louis Inventory of Homes For Sale Drying Up In Many Areas

The inventory of homes for sale in several St Louis neighborhoods is down to the lowest level we have seen in years.  It would be great if that was the result of skyrocketing home sales however, it’s really a combination of home sales and a lack of sellers.  While there are many different reasons people are not choosing to sell right now, I believe it is a lack of equity that is  holding back many homeowners from selling, particularly in the lower price ranges.  Last month I did an article about the fact that 40 percent of St Louis homeowners in the bottom 1/4 of the market were underwater, and, overall, 44% of St Louis homeowners had too little equity to sell their homes, hence the lack of inventory.

As the table below shows, the top 3 St Louis neighborhoods all have just a 1 month inventory of homes for sale, and the rest of the areas making up the top ten list just have 2 months.  For homeowners in these areas that have thought about selling, and have the equity to do so, now would be the time to hit the market!

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St Louis Home Prices and Sales Market Update VIDEO-June 2014

St Louis home prices have, in some areas, recovered to around 95% of home prices during the peak of the housing bubble.  Get the specifics on this as well as much more in our June 2014 5-Minute Market Update Video below.

Many areas of St Louis have become sellers markets due to increasing demand and lack of inventory.  If you have considered selling, or perhaps tried and failed in the past year or so, now is the time to consider it again.  Give us a call and we’ll be happy to let you know the value of your home in today’s market or, try our new online home valuation site and find your homes value in under a minute – go to StLouisHousePrices.com and find your home’s value now!

Thinking of selling and want to know if your neighborhood is a seller’s market? Contact us and we’ll  answer that question for you.

Continue reading St Louis Home Prices and Sales Market Update VIDEO-June 2014