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Flipping Property in St Louis County Yields Almost 25 Percent Gross Profit On Average

Flipping property in the St Louis area has paid off for investors over the past year provided they have stayed out of the City of St Louis.  “Flipping” or a “Flip” is a term used today to describe when a property is bought and then re-sold within a short time period.  In St Louis County, the 3rd quarter of 2013 and the 3rd quarter of 2014, there were 658 properties flipped at an average gross profit of nearly 25 percent (24.56%) ,   according to a newly released report from RealtyTrac.  During the same period there were 203 properties flipped in St Charles county with an average gross profit of 17.95%.  It doesn’t look like investors in the City of St Louis fared so well though, with 184 flips during the period for an average loss of 3.85%.

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St Louis Pending Home Sales Slip In July

St Louis Pending Home Sales slipped in July falling to  a total of  2,654 pending home sales for the 5-county core area of the St Louis market, down 7.8 percent from the month before when there were 2,877 pending home sales, according to MORE, REALTORS.  Year to date through the end of July, there have been 16,789 St Louis Pending Home Sales, down 4.6 percent from the same time last year when there were 17,603 St Louis Pending Home Sales.  On a positive note, pending home sales for the month of July 2014 were slightly higher than they were for the month of July 2013.

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St Louis Pending Home Sales - July 2014
St Louis Real Estate Market Stats - July 2014

Study Shows Mortgage Interest Deduction Primarily Helps Higher Income Homeowners

The Mortgage Interest Deduction (MID) is often a topic of much debate often around whether or not it truly helps promote home ownership or is just a another tax break for higher income tax payers. The interesting thing is, the best I can tell, when the deduction for interest was first established it actually had nothing to do with promoting home ownership but instead was intended to benefit proprietors and small business owners.  Few realize that the deductibility of interest goes back to 1913 when Congress ratified the Sixteenth Amendment to the constitution which gave the government the right to  “to lay and collect taxes on incomes, from whatever source derived.”  At the time this passed, people did not obtain loans to buy homes but instead paid cash for them and the provision to allow for the deduction of interest was put in primarily to benefit businesses.

In June, there was working paper published by Jason Fichtner, Senior Research Fellow and Jacob Feldman, Research Analyst,  at Mercatus Center at George Mason University titled “Reforming the Mortgage Interest Deduction” (scroll down for charts as well as link to complete report).  In their paper, Fichtner and Feldman make several points in opposition to the mortgage interest deduction (MID) including:

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Midwest New Home Sales Slip in July

New home sales in the midwest region of the U.S. slipped in July with new home sales coming in at the seasonally-adjusted annual rate of 52,000 homes, down 8.8% from a rate of 57,000 homes the month before and down 1.9% from July 2013, according to data released today by the U.S. Census Bureau.  Year to date, through July, there have been 36,000 new homes sold (not seasonally adjusted) down 2.7% from the same time last year when there were 37,000 year to date new home sales.

On a national level, in July new home sales were at a seasonally-adjusted annual rate of 412,000 homes, down 2.4% from the month before but up 12.3% from July 2013 when new home sales were at the annual rate of 367,000 homes.  In July 2014 there was a 6 month supply of new homes for sale, an increase of 7.1% from the month before when the supply was 5.6 months and an increase in the same amount from a year ago.

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St Louis Home Sales Down In July While Prices Are Up

St Louis Home Sales were down slightly in July 2014 (2.25%) from a year ago however St Louis home prices increased 3.3%   during the same period, according the latest data available from MORE, REALTORS.

As the table below shows,  St Charles County and Franklin County both saw an increase in home sales in July 2014 from July 2014 while the other 3 counties in the core market saw a decrease in home sales during the same period.  Home prices increased in the counties of St Louis, St Charles and Jefferson and declined slightly in the City of St Louis and Franklin County.

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Property Flipping In St Louis Trending Downward

Property flipping, which is basically buying a property and then reselling it immediately, or shortly thereafter, is occurring less frequently now in St Louis than it was, according to a report released today by RealtyTrac.  According to the report, there were 289 houses flipped in the St Louis metro area during the 2nd quarter, down 44% from the first quarter and down 17% from the 2nd quarter of 2013.  During the 2nd quarter of this year, 3.3% of all St Louis home sales were “flip” deals which, for the purpose of this report, were homes that were bought, then resold within a 12 month period.

The average gross profit on the properties flipped during the 2nd quarter of 2014 was $20,122, down significantly from the same period a year ago when the average gross profit was $36,858.  Before you get too excited, I should point out, this is just the gross margin, the difference between the initial price paid and the resale price and does not take into account any repairs, improvements or other expenses related to that property or the transaction.

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Fair Housing Act Violations Cost Landlord $550,000

Today, the owners and operators of the Alger Meadows Apartments in Grand Rapids, Michigan, agreed to pay $550,000 in damages as well as terminate their property manager to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit that was filed against them by the U.S. Department of Justice.  

With the increasing popularity of rental property as an investment, there are many new investors and landlords getting into the business and they need to realize the importance of being familiar with the laws and regulations that may affect them and their business in order to avoid problems.  Even though, according to the press release issued by the DOJ, the property manager is the one that was alleged to have committed the sexual harassment, the DOJ also included the owners of the complex and alleged they were liable for the property managers actions.  So, just because you, as a landlord, may use a property manager, that does not necessarily mean that you are in the clear or not liable for what goes on in your behalf. Therefore, the better informed you are as an investor and landlord, they better off you will be!

I have bought and sold 2,000 homes and have owned and managed apartments and rental homes and enjoy using this experience to help new, as well as seasoned, investors not only find good deals to invest in, but get educated on the things they need to know about such as Federal Fair Housing Laws.  If I can help you, please contact me.

 

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Survey Shows Two-Thirds of Americans Think Now Is a Good Time to Buy a House

The Fannie Mae monthly national housing survey for July 2014 shows 67 percent of those surveyed feel now is a good time to buy a home, down from 70 percent that felt that way the month before and down from 74 percent that responded in July 2013 that it was a good time to buy.   Forty-three percent of the respondents feel now is a good time to sell a home, an increase from 40 percent the month before and up from July 2013 when 40% felt it was a good time to sell. Other Fannie Mae Housing Survey Highlights:

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St Louis Best Buyers Markets

Where are the best buyers markets in St Louis?  Can a home buyer still find a great deal in St Louis?  These are questions we hear frequently today as the St Louis real estate markets continues to improve and many neighborhoods have a shortage of homes for sale thereby creating a sellers market.  Let your heart not be troubled though, there are still some buyers markets in St Louis where the buyer has the upper hand.

What makes a neighborhood a buyers market?  For the sake of this discussion, I am using our market action index to determine where the buyers markets are in St Louis.  Our market action index looks at primarily supply and demand and then applies an index number to it.  The index goes from 0 to 60 with 30 being a blanched market not favoring buyers or sellers.  Below a 30 is a buyers market, and the lower it goes, down to a low of 0, the colder the market is and the more it favors buyers.  The higher above 30 the index goes (up to a max of 60) the hotter the market is and the more it favors sellers.  The table below shows the 13 neighborhoods in St Louis that are currently buyer’s markets, according to our Market Action Index.

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Mortgage Interest Rates Hit Lowest Level In Over A Year

Mortgage interest rates fell to an average of 4.13 percent in July on a 30-year fixed rate mortgage, marking the lowest mortgage interest rate we have seen in over a year.  The last time mortgage interest rates were this low was back in June of 2013 when the average interest rate on a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage was 4.07 percent, according to the latest data from Freddie Mac.

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Mortgage Interest rates

Source: Freddie Mac

St Louis Foreclosure Activity Down Fifty-Nine Percent In Past Year

St Louis foreclosure activity was on the decline again in July with a total of 485 foreclosure actions taking place in the St Louis MSA during the month which equates to foreclosure activity on 1 of every 2,573 housing units, according to data released this morning by RealtyTrac.  This represents a decline in St Louis foreclosure activity  of 19.57% from the month before and a decline of 59.0% from July 2013.  As the table below shows,  with the exception of Franklin County, all of the major Missouri counties of the St Louis MSA saw a decline in foreclosure activity from both the month before as well as a year ago.

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Over Half Of St Louis Foreclosures Sold Are Cash Sales

Cash sales accounted for more than 1 in 5 (21.7%) St Louis home sales in July 2014, a slight decrease from a year ago when cash sales accounted for 22.1% of home sales.  The median price of these cash home sales in July 2014 was $162,000, 3.3% higher than a year ago when the median price was $156,810.  St Louis foreclosures sold during the month of July 2014 were cash sales more than half the time (56.5%), an increase of 7.3% from a year ago when cash sales accounted for 52.7% of St Louis foreclosure sales.  The median price of cash sales on foreclosures was $36,275 in July 2014, a drop of 5.8% from a year ago when it was $38,500.

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St Louis Cash Home Sales July 2014

Source: MORE, REALTORS

St Louis Cash Foreclosure Sales

Source: MORE, REALTORS

St Louis Neighborhoods With Largest Price Gains In Past Year

The largest price gains in home prices over the past year are found in a variety of St Louis area neighborhoods however there is a concentration of them in the 40 corridor from mid-county to west county.  In compiling data for this article, I looked at what I feel is the best indicator of home price change, price per square foot, and selected neighborhoods that had at least a 10% increase in home prices during the past 12 months.

There are charts below showing the price per foot for the past year for each specific neighborhood as well as our Market Action Index (MAI) for the area as well.   The MAI indicates whether a given neighborhood is a sellers market (if the index is above a 30, up to a maximum of 60) or a buyers market (below 30, down to a low of zero).  As you will see, as the price changes in these neighborhoods so does the MAI, sometimes signaling that prices have went too high too quick causing the MAI to turn from a sellers market to a buyers market.

Wouldn’t you like to have an agent working for you that has access to data like this for neighborhoods throughout the St Louis metro area and can use the info to help you make a smart buying or selling decision?  Please contact me and let me show you how we can help do just that.

 

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

St Louis home prices have increased in the past year and you can find out by how much, as well as a ton of other useful information on the St Louis real estate market, such as where the HOT SELLERS MARKETS are in St Louis,  the GOOD BUYERS MARKETS (down to just 11 neighborhoods this month) and a whole lot more in our 5-Minute Market Update Video For August 2014  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-August 2014

How To Avoid Problems With Homeowners Insurance

Homeowners Insurance is something that most homeowners have, but many don’t necessarily understand all the nuances of their policy or, in the case of policies that may have been originally purchased years ago, not know that they don’t have sufficient coverage today. If there are problems with the policy, or with the company the policy is issued by, the problem often rears it’s ugly head after a loss is suffered and the homeowner goes through the claim process.

So, how do you avoid a bad homeowners insurance scenario?

The same as you avoid most trouble, do your homework first, get an understanding of the policy you are buying as well as investigate the reputation of the company behind the policy.  While price is certainly a factor, when it comes to something as important as the insurance on your home, you don’t want to be penny-wise and dollar foolish.

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Check out the great resources from the Department of Insurance below the Consumer Complaint Index Table below or by clicking here.

Where to find good resources to learn more about homeowners insurance and avoid problems:  

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St Charles County Makes List of Affordable Housing Markets With Jobs

Today, RealtyTrac released a new report which revealed that, as of the 2nd quarter of 2014, affordable housing is on the decline in one-third of the largest counties in the U.S.   In compiling the report, the historical average for income to price affordability percentages were analyzed and the results showed that one-third of the counties analyzed now have higher affordability percentages than their historical average now making homes in those counties less affordable now than they have been on average over the past 14 years.   On the positive side, no St Louis area counties were on that list however, St Charles County, did make a “good” list!  St Charles County was one of the 10 counties that made the list  where, as the chart below shows, the percentage of monthly income needed to make the payment on a median priced home was less than 20% and the unemployment rate in May 2014 was less than 5%.

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Villa’s Gaining In Popularity in St Louis

Villa’s are becoming increasingly popular in St Louis evidenced by the increase in online searches by home buyers searching for a Villa.  Let’s get to the question that may be going through your mind right now, what is a “Villa”, or more accurately, what type of housing in St Louis is the term “Villa” being applied to?  The term “Villa” has to be one of the most misapplied terms used in the housing industry today as it’s origin goes back to Roman times when “Villa” referred a large country estate owned by a wealthy person.  Today however, Villa refers more to a lifestyle than an architectural style.

What is the Villa lifestyle?  Generally, when someone is looking for a Villa they have in mind something modest in size, often part of an attached home development, such as duplexes, town-houses and the like, and often gives a more care-free lifestyle as a result of lawn and landscaping maintenance, and perhaps exterior maintenance, being maintained by an association rather than the homeowner.  But wait, that’s a condo, right?  Well, it could be a condo but the term “condominium” refers to a type of legal  ownership or title  and not to an architectural style.  Villa’s may be fee-simple in ownership (like a single family home where you owned a definite, and definable, chunk of dirt as  well as everything on it, or it could be a condominium, where you own a percentage of the whole.  The latter is probably the most common form of ownership for a villa.

In either event, a Villa offers the carefree and less hassle lifestyle many homeowners today, especially aging baby boomers that are becoming empty-nesters, are attracted to.  The slide show below shows all the St Louis Villas currently available.

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$1,000 Increase In New Home Price Takes Over 200,000 Buyers Out Of The Market

A new study by the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) reveals that, for each $1,000 increase in the price of a new home (median-priced new home)  ,206,000 prospective home buyers are forced out of the market.  The NAHB uses this point to illustrate the effect that building regulations can have on housing affordability  citing that every $833 increase in fees paid during the home-building process, such as permit fees, impact fees, etc, adds an additional $1,000 to the final price of the home.

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Missouri Ranks Third In Nation For Lowest Mortgage Closing Costs

Missouri, along with it’s affordable home prices, also has the 3rd lowest mortgage closing costs according to data just released today by BankRate.   According to the report, in Missouri, the average mortgage closing costs on a $200,000 home loan are $2,387.00, almost 6% less than the national average of $2,539.00.  Holden Lewis, senior mortgage analyst at Bankrate, said mortgage closing costs have risen 6 percent in the past year and says  “new mortgage regulations are the biggest reasons why closing costs went up“.

Texas, at $3,046, had the highest closing costs in the nation, followed by Alaska at $2,897 and New York, at $2,892.  Nevada had the cheapest mortgage loan closing costs in the country at $2,265 followed by Tennessee with $2,366 and then Missouri.

Find the latest St Louis Mortgage Loan Interest Rates Here.

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St Louis Condo Sales Rising At Faster Rate Than Home Sales

St Louis Condo sales have steadily grown over the past 3 years from 2,216 sales for the 12 month period ended June 30, 2011 to 3,141 sales for the 12 month period ended June 30, 2014, an increase of 41.8% in that 3 year period.  I think this is the result of actually two things; one, the recovery of the St Louis housing market which we are in the midst of, as well as greater acceptance of condominiums for a residence by St Louisan’s.

During the same period, St Louis home sales, as the chart below illustrates, have increased as well from 20,643 homes sold for the 12 month period ended June 30, 2014 to 27,113 homes sold for the period ended June 30, 2014, an increase of 31.3% during the 3 year period.  While that is a respectable increase, it’s 25% less than the increase in condo sales during the same period.

In compiling stats for both St Louis home sales as well as St Louis condo sales, data for the city of St Louis as well as the counties of St Louis, St Charles, Jefferson and Franklin were combined to present a look at the overall St Louis market.

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Rental Vacancy Rate Falls To Lowest Level In 20 Years

The rental vacancy rate in the U.S. was at 7.5% for the 2nd quarter of 2014, down from 8.3% the quarter before and at the lowest level in 20 years, according to data just released by the U.S. Census Bureau.  The U.S. rental vacancy rate has not been this low since the 4th quarter of 1994 when the rate was 7.4%.

Here in the Midwest region of the U.S., the rental vacancy rate was 7.5% during the 2nd quarter of 2014, the lowest rate in 16 years!  The last time the Midwest Region of the U.S. saw rental vacancy rates as low as this was back in the 2nd quarter of 1998 when the vacancy rate fell to 7.3%.

Perhaps it’s time to expand your rental portfolio or, begin building your portfolio?

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Home Ownership Rate In U.S. Falls To Lowest Rate in 19 Years

The home ownership rate in the use for the 2nd quarter of 2014 was 64.7 percent, a small decline from 64.8 percent in the previous quarter and the lowest rate of home ownership in the U.S. we have seen since the 2nd quarter of 1995 when the rate was the same, 64.7%, according to data just released by the U.S. Census Bureau.

Here in the Midwest region of the country, the home ownership rate in the 2nd quarter of 2014 was 69.6%, an increase from 69.3% the quarter before.  Unlike the U.S. home ownership rate which is the same now as 19 years ago, the home ownership rate for the Midwest has risen over a full percentage point in the past 19 years from 68.5% in the 2n quarter of 1995 to 69.6% for the same period in 2014.  As the chart below shows, the Midwest region of the U.S. has the highest percentage of home ownership of any region in the nation!

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Chart Showing Rate of Home Ownership in U.S.

 

St Louis Pending Home Sales Slip In June-YTD Down From Last Year

St Louis pending home sales slipped slightly in June with 2,301 pending home sales for the 5-county core St Louis market (St Louis City and the County’s of St Louis, St Charles, Jefferson and Franklin), a decline of 2 percent from the Month before when there were 2,350 pending home sales.  Pending home sales in St Louis in June were up 5.18% from June of last year, however, year-to-date pending home sales through June 30th of this year is at 11,606, down 7 percent from this time last year when there were 12,476 homes sold during the same period.

Below are tables for both the core area as a whole as well as the individual counties showing not only pending home sales data for St Louis but other information as well including ratio of listings to sales, new listings, etc.

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St Louis County Property With Delinquent Taxes To Be Sold At Tax Sale

St Louis County will hold it’s annual sale of tax delinquent property next month on August 25, 2014, beginning at 10:00 am in the County Council Chambers in the County Administration Building in Clayton.  To be eligible to bid you must register prior to bidding.  Registration will begin at 8:30 am on the tax sale day in the office of the Collector of Revenue in the County Administration Building.

A complete list of all properties available for bid, as well as complete instructions on how to participate in the tax sale, can be found online here

For more information you can contact the delinquent tax department of St Louis County at 314-615-4207.

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Areas With Highest Foreclosure Rates In St Louis

Even though, for a while now,  foreclosures have been on the decline in St Louis as well as in most parts of the country, there are still many St Louis neighborhoods that are being impacted significantly by foreclosure activity.  While after the housing bubble burst in 2008 we foreclosures appeared in most every neighborhood in St Louis from areas with the lowest values to areas with the highest, there has been a concentration of foreclosure activity in a few areas of St Louis.  The city of Florissant, for one, is an area that has had more than it’s fair share of foreclosure activity and has seen pretty severe impact on home values there as a result.

Which St Louis Neighborhoods Have The Highest Foreclosure Rates?

As I mentioned previously, Florissant has been pounded with foreclosures, however, as the table below shows, there are many areas throughout the St Louis area, including areas in St Louis City as well as the counties of St Louis, St Charles, Jefferson and Franklin, that are on the list of the 19 highest foreclosure rate areas of St Louis.  Below the table is an interactive foreclosure map for Missouri where you can find foreclosure rates for any county in Missouri or, click on the county and find foreclosure rates for any area within that county.

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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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