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St. Louis Real Estate Search

 

St Peters Is Hottest Sellers Market In St Louis Area with Just One Month Supply Of Homes

The St Peters real estate market is the hottest sellers market in the St Louis area, based upon the months supply of homes for sale.  As the table below shows, as of today, there are 69 active listings of homes for sale in St Peters and there were 68 homes sold which translates to a one month supply of homes for sale there today.  There are 11 St Louis area cities today with less than a two month supply of homes for sale.  What a great time to be a seller!

A six-month supply of homes for sale would be considered a “balanced” market, not favoring buyers or sellers.


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Cash Home Sales In St Louis Decline Over 9 Percent From Year Ago

During the 12 month period ended March 31, 2016, just over 1 of every 5 home sales in St Louis (21.46%) was a cash sale which is a decline of 9.2% from the prior 12-month period when nearly 1 in 4 home St Louis home sales (23.63%)was a cash sale.   The average price of homes in St Louis bought by buyers paying cash was $158,400 for the most recent 12 month period, 33.37% less than the average price paid for homes were buyers obtained financing which was $228,086 for the same period.


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St Louis Buyers Markets

Yes, believe it or not, in spite of how fast some homes, in some price ranges and neighborhoods are selling, often the first day on the market, and in spite of how many St Louis markets are currently seller’s markets, giving seller’s the upper hand in negotiations, there are some buyer’s markets in St Louis, where the buyer actually has an advantage over sellers!  To find these markets, there is no one statistic or piece of data that can identify it, but I use a couple to find those markets and will share what I feel are currently the best places in St Louis to be a home buyer today.

Top St Louis Buyer’s Markets based upon the months supply of listings:

One of the best ways to identify a buyer’s or seller’s market is to look at the month’s supply of homes for sale in a given market.  It’s basic economics 101, supply and demand.  At MORE, REALTORS, we have this data available live, online, at StLouisRealEstateSearch.com and compute it based upon data we obtain straight from the MLS.  We simply look at the number of active listings in each market, then divide that number by the number of homes sold in the past 30 days to come up with how many months supply of homes are on the market at the current sales rate.  As the table below shows, there are currently 19 St Louis neighborhoods that, based upon this data, we are calling buyer’s markets since they have over a 6 month supply of homes for sale (6 months is considered a balanced market).  At the top of the list is Sullivan, in Franklin County, with a 21 month supply of homes for sale, followed by Byrnes Mill, in Jefferson County, with a 17 month supply and then Hillsboro, also in Jefferson County, with a 14 month supply.  The first city to appear on the list from St Louis county is Jennings, with a 13 month supply.


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New Home Sales In Midwest Rise Over Ten Percent In March From Year Ago

New home sales in the midwest region of the U.S. during March rose 10.3 percent from March 2015, according to a report just released by the US Census Bureau.  In March 2016, new homes were sold in the Midwest at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 64,000 new homes, an increase of 18.5 percent from February, when the rate was 54,000 homes and a 10.3 percent increase from March 2015 when the rate of new home sales in the midwest was 58,000 homes annually.

 

On a national level, new homes sales in March were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 511,000 homes, down 1.5% from February and up just 5.4% from a year ago.

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Information On Over 1,000 St Louis Open Houses For Today

St Louis Open HousesIt’s a beautiful spring Sunday morning in St Louis and many people will spend part of the afternoon touring open houses…some looking for their next home, some to see what homes in their neighborhood are selling for and some simply to kill time, satisfy curiosity or get some decorating ideas.  Whatever your reason for seeking out St Louis open houses, the best source to find information on all the homes that are scheduled to have open houses today (with information from a database that is updated direct from the MLS!) is StLouisOpenHoues.com.  On this site, you can search open houses in a variety of ways:

As of the time I wrote this article, there are 1,188 St Louis Open Houses scheduled for today and showing on StLouisOpenHouses.com


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HUD Issues Directive Warning Refusing To Rent Based Upon Tenants Criminal History May Be Discrimination

Earlier this month, General Counsel for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) issued guidance on the “Application of Fair Housing Act Standards to the Use of Criminal Records by Providers of Housing and Real Estate-Related Transaction“.  This guidance has caused concern among many landlords as many, in an effort to assure safe housing for their tenants, do criminal background checks on prospective tenants and have a policies against renting to applicants with a criminal background, a practice that, according to this guidance, may very well be considered to be discriminatory now.

Do landlord have to rent all all convicted felons?

While the guidance does not appear to remove a landlord’s ability to establish some restrictions on who they rent to with regard to prior convictions, however does say:

“But housing providers that apply a policy or practice that excludes persons with prior convictions must still be able to prove that such policy or practice is necessary to achieve a substantial, legitimate, nondiscriminatory interest.”

The guidance goes on to make it clear that a blanket prohibition against any person with any conviction, is not going to fly:

“A housing provider that imposes a blanket prohibition on any person with any conviction record – no matter when the conviction occurred, what the underlying conduct entailed, or what the convicted person has done since then – will be unable to meet this burden.”

So, as is often the case, there is a lot of gray area here.  Below I have the entire guidance letter which goes into much more detail.


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Earth Day Housing Facts

Today is earth day, so here are some interesting housing facts from the U.S. Census Bureau, related, more or less, to earth day issues:

  • 48.8% of all homes in the U.S. have gas as a primary heat source;
  • 2.1% of all homes in the U.S. have wood as a primary heat source;
  • <1% of all homes int he U.S. have solar energy as their primary heat source;
  • 91% of the new single-family homes built in the U.S. in 2014 have air conditioning;
  • The median size of a new single-family house completed in 2014 was 2,453 square feet.
  • The median price of a new single-family house completed in 2014 was $345,800
  • There were 11,000 multi-family buildings built in the U.S. in 2014 – 63% of them have electricity for their primary heat source.

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Fastest Selling Cities And Zip Codes In St Louis

Three of the five St Louis area cities where homes are selling the fastest are in north St Louis County.  As the table below shows, which ranks St Louis area cities by the average days current listings of homes for sale have been on the market, which is a good measure of how fast homes are selling, the city of Crestwood, with an average of 29 days on the market, is number 1 on the list.  In 2nd, 3rd and 5th place respectively are the north St Louis county cities of Moline Acres, Dellwood and Black Jack.

Crestwood area zip of 63126 fastest selling zip code..

As the second table below shows, the fastest selling zip code in the St Louis area, 63126, is also in the Crestwood area, putting Crestwood at the top of both “fastest selling” lists.  When ranking by zip code, north county zips didn’t show up on the top five list.


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St Louis Home Prices Softening In Spite Of Spring Market

St Louis home prices appear to be trending downward a little even though we are in the midst of a fairly robust spring market. This is based upon the current price per foot of active listings for sale compared with what home sales that closed last month, as well as prior 12 months, sold for on a per-foot basis.  As the tables below show, the price per foot trend is down in all 6 counties we track, with the biggest downward trends showing in St Louis County and the city of St Louis, both of which have seen the median price per foot of active listings fall below what homes in those counties sold for in the prior 12 months.

Condo prices trending downward as well..

Beneath the table for home prices is a table showing condo price trends which shows St Louis condo prices trending downward as well.

Remember, real estate (and home prices) are very local…

What I have discussed thus far is at the county level, but you must remember real estate is very local and home prices, sales, etc, can vary greatly within the same county.  For example, see the chart at the bottom of home price trends by zip code – I have shown it two ways…first where the prices are trending upward and next where they are trending downward.  As the tables show, there are several zip codes in the area with definite upward trends in home prices as well as areas going the other direction as well.

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St Louis Home Sales Increase 8.6 Percent In March From Year Ago

There were 2,869 St Louis Existing Homes Sold in March, an increase of 8.6 percent from March 2015 when there were 2,640 homes sold.  The median home price of homes in the St Louis 5-county core market during March 2016 was $155,500, an increase of 3.3 percent from March 2015 when the median price of existing homes sold was $150,000.

 

Pending home sales on the rise from year ago..

At the chart below illustrates, year to date pending home sales (homes with contracts on them that have not closed yet) have increased from the same time last year.  Through the end of March, 2016, there have been 5,681 pending home sales in St Louis, an increase of 5.7 percent from the same time last year when there were 5,374 pending home sales year to date.

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New Home Construction In Midwest During March Increases Over 40 Percent From Year Ago

New home construction in the midwest region of the U.S. continued strong in March with home builders beginning construction on new homes at a seasonally-adjusted annual rate of 123,000 home, a 41.4% increase from March 2015 when the new home start rate was 87,000 homes.  March’s rate was a decline of 21.2 from February when an increase of nearly 90 percent from the year before sent the annual rate to 153,000 homes.

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“Coming Soon” Listings – Good For Sellers Or Just Listing Agents and Buyers?

It’s hard to drive through a neighborhood today and not see a “coming soon” rider on a for sale sign  in front of a house.  With the St Louis real estate market still favoring sellers in many markets due to a  low supply of homes for sale, it’s not surprising that  coming soon listings create somewhat of a fervor among would-be buyers and their agents.  However, it is not uncommon for a buyer to wait patiently for a coming soon listing to hit the market, only to find that that at the same time it comes on the market “live” in the MLS, it immediately goes to a pending sale status leaving the would be buyer out on the cold.

What’s wrong with this picture?

Assuming the seller was under the impression that, by listing their home with a REALTOR® they would get maximum exposure for their listing, through the MLS as well as the thousands of websites that receive MLS info through syndication, IDX feeds and the like, and therefore obtain the highest price the market would bear for their home (which is what you would expect from maximum exposure to the market) then the seller was short-changed.  By presenting an offer to a seller before the listing was ever taken “live” and given all the exposure the MLS has to offer, then the seller has no way of knowing that they received the highest price and/or best terms the market would bear.  All the seller knows, is that from the few people that happened to call on the coming soon sign, or that the listing agent told about the property, this was the best offer. 

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St Louis Real Estate Market Update VIDEO – April 2016

The number of months of supply of homes for sale in St Louis has increased in each of the 5 core counties, since last month, but the St Louis real estate market is still going strong!

Want to know more?  If so, then check out our just-released, 5-minute, video market update below which will go into more detail and give you a quick overview of St Louis home prices, where the sellers markets are, the buyers markets and much more!  If you are considering buying or selling a home, or are an investor or just a homeowner wanting to keep up on the market, you don’t want to miss this!

Whether you are thinking of buying or selling and would like me to look at your situation and your market to determine the best strategy, just call, or text me, at 314.332.1012 and I’ll be happy to help!

St Louis Home Price Trends By City/Municipality 
St Louis Home Price Trends By Zip Code
St Louis Sellers Markets

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 Real Estate Market Update VIDEO – April 2016

St Louis Foreclosure Activity Down In Most Areas

St Louis foreclosure activity during the first quarter of this year in the St Louis metro area was at a rate of 1 of every 469 homes, ranking St Louis 99th, in terms of foreclosure rate (a list that is good to be low on), of metropolitan areas in the U.S. with a population in excess of 200,000 people, according to a report just released by RealtyTrac.   The foreclosure rate in St Louis during the 1st quarter of 2016 declined 10.55 percent from the quarter before and declined 13.67 percent from the first quarter of 2015.

As the table below illustrates, foreclosure activity in all but two of the counties in Missouri that make up the St Louis MSA saw a decline in foreclosure activity from the prior quarter and all, but the city of St Louis, saw a decline from a year ago.

 

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What do 90 municipalities cost?

St. Louis County is entertaining the idea of adding the City of St. Louis to its list of incorporated municipalities. All legal opinions firmly show that the County will absorb NONE of the City’s nancial responsibilities. If this were to happen the City of St. Louis will be no different than municipalities such as Clayton, Ellisville, or Chester eld. It would simply be another city located in St. Louis County. I am an advocate for this move. The City needs to cease County functions and turn them over to the County. Currently, practices and city functions run at inefficient levels.

If the city were to join the St. Louis County roster then we would have about 91 municipalities in the County. It should be noted though that 23 of them have less than 1,000 in population. Why does that make sense for a few blocks of St. Louis County to incorporate? If you ask them, they want to control their neighborhood, perhaps a worthy endeavor. However, we then have 90+ City Administrations for a population of 1.3 million (City and County). Some may suggest that this is very inefficient and a misuse of funds.  But how inefficient is it really?

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St Louis Pending Home Sales Fall In February From Year Ago

There were 1,875 home pending home sales in the St Louis area (5 county core market) in February, 13.7 percent less than a year ago when there were 2,172 pending home sales.  Listings with a contract on them from a buyer, but have not closed yet, are counted as pending home sales.

On a year to date basis, for the first two months of 2016, there have been 5,251 pending home sales in St Louis, down 2.3% from the same period last year when there were 5,372 sales.  For the 12 month period ending February 29, 2016 there were 25,477 pending home sales, an increase of 8.8% from the prior 12 month period when there were 23,425 pending sales.

On a national leve, pending home sales in February reached their highest level in 7 months and were up from a year ago, according to the National Association of REALTORS.

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Home Affordability Rises In St Louis County, Falls In St Charles County

A recent article by STL Today indicated that home affordability in St Louis had fallen, specifically noting that affordability in St Louis County had fallen below historic “norms”.  As is always the case with stats, it depends upon which data you are taking into account and the accuracy of the data.  I decided to take a look at the data and see if my data showed the same result as the STL Today article.

 Affordability is UP in St Louis county, not DOWN…

As the table below shows, home affordability in St Louis county has actually increased in the past year, not decreased as reported in the aforementioned article.  For the purposes of my analysis, I used  home sales data for “non-distressed” sales only, so not including foreclosures or short sales, to get a more accurate picture of the true market.

Affordability has improved in Jefferson County as well but, as the table below shows, has declined in the past year in the city of St Louis, Franklin county and St Charles county.
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St Louis Home Sales Rise Slightly In February But At Slower Rate Than Last Year

St Louis Home Sales in February rose to 1,973 sales for the 5-county core St Louis market, an increase of 4.9 percent from January’s 1,880 sales.  February home sales (closings) in St Louis, while increasing 3 percent from a year ago, did not increase from January’s sales at the same rate as last year.  From January 2015 to February 2015, in St Louis, we saw an increase in home sale closings of over 23 percent which, coming out of the historically slowest closing month of the year (January) and headed to the biggest selling market of the year (spring), we would expect.  This year, however, we saw just a 4.9 percent increase in sales (closings) from January to February.

Don’t panic yet, it is still a strong real estate market in St Louis..

Even though this sales data could possibly indicate a cooling in the market and perhaps slower times ahead, I think when we look at the big picture, including other vital data such as inventory of homes for sale, supply, time on market, etc, it shows the reduced increase in home sale rate is probably more of a factor of limited supply than of lack of demand.

Pending home sales show increased rate…

All of the data I’ve talked about thus far is based upon closed home sales, so what has already taken place, so to speak, but for a look ahead we can looking at pending home sales, meaning homes with a contract on them from a buyer but still in the process and not yet closed, so, assuming everything goes as planned, a future closing that will reflect in home sales numbers.  Beneath the home sale chart below is a chart showing year to date pending home sales (through the end of February) for this year, for the 5-county core St Louis market, as well as for the prior 4 years.  The chart shows that year to date St Louis pending home are up about 12 percent from the same time last year which should help get the March home sales numbers up.

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St Louis Real Estate Market Update VIDEO – March 2016

Today may be the first day of spring, but the St Louis spring real estate market has been here for a while already!    Spring is always brings a better real estate market and this year, thanks no doubt partially to the mild winter we had here in St Louis, the spring market arrived early!  Homes that are priced appropriately for the market, and in areas and price ranges of moderate demand, are selling fast!

Want to know more?  If so, then check out our just-released, 5-minute, video market update below which will go into more detail and give you a quick overview of St Louis home prices, where the sellers markets are, the buyers markets and much more!  If you are considering buying or selling a home, or are an investor or just a homeowner wanting to keep up on the market, you don’t want to miss this!

Whether you are thinking of buying or selling and would like me to look at your situation and your market to determine the best strategy, just call, or text me, at 314.332.1012 and I’ll be happy to help!

St Louis Home Price Trends By City/Municipality 
St Louis Home Price Trends By Zip Code
St Louis Sellers Markets

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 Real Estate Market Update VIDEO – March 2016

Report Shows Relationship Between Registered Criminal Offenders And Home Prices

This morning RealtyTrac released a report identifying neighborhoods with higher rates of registered criminal offenders (including sex offenders, child predators, kidnappers and violent offenders) and then comparing the housing statistics for those neighborhoods to ones with lower rates of registered criminal offenders.  For the report, cities were given an index, from 0 to 100, with a higher value indicating a higher percentage of offenders, then these cities were sorted into five categories, based upon their index, from Very High Offender Rate to Very Low Offender rate.

 The findings from this report are below:

  • Cities in the U.S. at the top of the Very High offender index were Greenville, South Carolina (73 percent); Columbia, South Carolina (66 percent); Boise, Idaho (66 percent); Pensacola, Florida (60 percent); and Flint, Michigan (57 percent).
  • Cities in the U.S. where more than one-fourth of all homes were in zip codes with a Very High offender index included Detroit (39 percent), Nashville (32 percent), San Antonio (31 percent), St. Louis (31 percent), and Tampa (26 percent).
  • Cities at the top of the Very Low offender index  were Minneapolis-St. Paul (90 percent); Portland, Oregon (88 percent); Trenton, New Jersey (62 percent); New York (61 percent); and Boston (52 percent).
  • The higher the offender index, the lower the home value and amount of equity:
    •  The average home value in zip codes with a Very Low offender index is $512,841, more than three times higher than home values in zip codes with a Very High offender index which have an average value of $157,844.
    • The average home owner in zip codes with a Very Low offender index has 29 percent equity, nearly three times the average equity of just 10 percent for homeowners living in zip codes with a Very High offender index.

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New Home Construction In Midwest In February Up Nearly 89 Percent From Year Ago

Home builders began construction on new homes in the Midwest region of the U.S. in February at a pace of 153,000 new homes annually, an 88.9% increase from February 2015 when new home starts in the midwest was at an annual rate of 81,000 homes.  February’s spike in new home construction was an 18.6% increase from January’s annual rate of 129,000 homes.

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St Louis HOT Real Estate Markets

Just like the early arrival of spring temperatures in St Louis, the spring real estate market has arrived early in St Louis as well!  New listings of homes priced appropriately for the market and, in price ranges and areas of good demand, are having multiple showings the first day of hitting the market and are often under contact by day 2 or 3 of hitting the market.

Where are the HOT markets in St Louis?

There are a few ways to identify those areas of St Louis that I would consider a hot market and, below, I have listed a couple of the best ways as well as the lists of the markets identified:

Cities in St Louis where homes are selling fast!

The table below shows the ten neighborhoods in the St Louis area where homes are selling the fastest, determined by the average days on market of the current listings.

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St Louis Homeowners With Negative Equity Declines Over Eighteen Percent In Past Year

In the St Louis area there were 44,674 (7.9 percent of all residential properties) with negative equity, or underwater, during the 4th quarter of 2015, according to a report just released by Corelogic.  This is a decline of 18.6 percent from the year before when there were 54,604 St Louis homeowners in a negative equity position (9.7 percent of all residential properties) .

Wha is negative equity or being “underwater’

For homeowners considered to be in a negative equity, or underwater, position, means that the current balance of their home mortgage exceeds the current value of their home making it impossible to sell their home without bringing money to the closing table.  This takes many would-be sellers out of the market as, even though they may like to sell their home and buy another, they just don’t have the cash available to cover the shortfall on their sale as well as cover downpayment and closing costs on a new home.  Hence, one of the reasons for the low inventory of homes for sale in many parts of the St Louis area.

Near negative equity can prevent owners from selling as well…

In addition to the 44,674 St Louis homeowners that are currently in a negative equity position, there are an additional 16,720 homeowners (3.0 percent of the total in St Louis) that are in a “near-negative equity” position meaning that, while they are in a positive equity position, they are at risk of going into a negative equity position of home prices fall and most likely do not have enough equity in their home to cover the typical costs of a home sale and move to another home.

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House Flipping Activity In St Louis Last Year Same As Year Before

Flipping houses, something that went from something a few professional speculators only did years ago when I was actively buying homes for resale, became somewhat of a national pastime during the real estate boom years in the 2000 – 2007 period.  House flipping in St Louis, while being done less than 10 years ago at nearly the peak of the bubble market, is still alive and well in St Louis.  As the table below shows, during 2015 there were 2,386 homes flipped in the St Louis metro area, just about the same exact number as there were in 2014.

For the purposes of this article, a property that is sold, in an arms-length sale, for the second time within a 12-month period is considered a home flip.

St Charles County saw decline in house flipping…

As the data below illustrates, St Charles county was the only county in the St Louis core market that saw a decline in house flipping during 2015 from the year before and Franklin county saw the largest increase.

Gross profit on flips..

The second table down, shows the median gross profit, as well as return on investment (ROI) for house flips during 2015 by county.

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St Louis Pending Home Sales Slip Slightly In January – Prices Up

Pending home sales in St Louis fell slightly last month from a year ago for the 5-county core St Louis market (city of St Louis and counties of St Louis, St Charles, Jefferson and Franklin). Through the end of last month, there were 3,182 pending home sales for the area, down slightly from 3,200 during the same period a year ago.

St Louis Home Prices are up…

As the chart beneath the pending home sales chart illustrates, the average list price of homes for sale in the 5-county core St Louis market during January are up significantly from the same time last year.  Year to date through last month, the average list price was $247,076, an increase of 8.3 percent from a year ago when the average list price was $228,136.

Homes sold in St Louis in January sold for an average of $192,880, an increase of 4.9% from a year ago when the average sold price was $183,898.

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Cities In St Louis Where Home Buyers Have The Advantage

The St Louis real estate market is off to a good start for 2016 but that doesn’t mean there aren’t St Louis neighborhoods that are experiencing a buyer’s market giving home buyers an advantage over sellers, at least to an extent.  The most sure-fire way to turn an area into a buyers market is to flood it with inventory, or supply of homes for sale.  When seller’s face increased competition, typically prices suffer giving home buyer’s an opportunity to negotiate harder and more aggressively in those areas than in others, particularly those experiencing a seller’s market.

The table below shows 13 of the 21 St Louis area cities that, at the time I wrote this, were experiencing a buyers market due to a larger than normal supply of homes available for sale in that city.  If you click on the table you can see the live, real-time list of all buyer’s markets in St Louis.

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St Louis Foreclosure Activity In January Declines Over Twenty Five Percent From Year Ago

St Louis foreclosure activity in January was at the rate of 1 in every 1,533 households, which is down almost 16 percent from December and down over 25 percent (25.79%) from a year ago, according to the latest data from RealtyTrac.  As the table below shows, the county in the St Louis MSA with the lowest foreclosure rate in January 2016 was Calhoun County Illinois, with no foreclosure activity for the month, and the county with the highest rate was St Clair County Illinois with 1 of every 1,223 housing units having foreclosure activity during the month. St Louis County had the highest foreclosure rate of the Missouri counties within the St Louis MSA, with one in every 1,386 housing units having a foreclosure activity.

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Where In St Louis Have Home Prices Increased (or Decreased) The Most?

St Louis home prices have been, for the most part, increasing over the past couple of years at what most would consider from a historical basis, a “normal” rate.  However, market conditions can vary widely from neighborhood to neighborhood as illustrated by the table below which shows St Louis zip codes where homes prices (on a per square foot basis) have increased the most in the past year.  As the table shows, there are 13 zip codes in the St Louis area where home prices, on a per foot basis, increased over 10% during the 12 month period ending January 31, 2016 from the prior 12 month period. 

Four low-priced zip codes are at the top of the list with the first triple-digit price per foot area making the list being the Maplewood area (63143).  At the other end of the spectrum, shown on the second table below, are the zip codes where home prices declined during the same period.  Fortunately, there are only 3 zips on this list with the Ferguson area, 63135, at the top, followed by Bellefontaine Neighbors (63137) and DeSoto (63020).

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Traffic Tickets May Soon Cost Homeowners More Than Just A Fine

Credit reporting giant, TransUnion, did an evaluation to determine if there was any relationship between homeowners with criminal charges, including traffic violations, and their homeowner insurance claim loss ratio.  What TransUnion found was that there was a “strong correlation between violation activity (traffic and criminal violations) and homeowners insurance loss ratio performance.

TransUnion is now marketing this data to the insurance industry suggesting “homeowners insurance carriers can surcharge consumers with ratable traffic or criminal violations, or extend a discount to homeowners who are safe drivers“.  So, in addition to possible attorney fees and fines to settle that traffic ticket, you may very well be facing higher homeowners insurance premiums as well.

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4 Reasons Why You Should Buy A Home Now In St Louis

For those that have been reading my articles for a while, you know I am not a Pollyanna when it comes to the real estate market, opting instead to tell it like it is, even when the news is not so encouraging.   For that reason, as well as the data behind my opinion, I think my suggestion that now is a good time to buy a home in St Louis should be considered to be a credible opinion from an industry insider.

So, why buy a home in St Louis now?

  1. Interest rates are LOW. As the chart below shows, the current average 30 year fixed rate mortgage interest rate in the U.S. is 3.65%, almost an historic low.  Interest rates are not forecasted to remain this low.  Freddie mac, as the table below shows, is forecasting that mortgage interest rates will rise this year to 4.5% by year end and continue to rise in 2017 until hitting 5.25% by the end of 2017.  An increase from the current rate, even to just the projected rate by year-end of 4.5% increases the payment on a typical St Louis home by over 10%, therefore, the same money buys less house!
  2. Home prices are on the rise.  As the chart below shows, St Louis home prices have risen about 4% during the past year and the trend has been fairly consistent.  As the median list prices show (the blue line on the chart) list prices of homes for sale is on the rise at a greater rate than the increase in recent sold prices.  Granted, this may be the result of overly optimistic sellers that believe spring will bring increased home prices (as is the norm) but even if prices remain flat, increased interest rates will still make the home more costly.
  3. Gas prices are low and forecasted to remain the same.  As the chart below from the U.S. Energy Administration illustrates, gasoline prices this year have hit the lowest price level in about 14 years and the forecast for the rest of this year and through 2017 shows gas prices remaining low.   This, along with the other issues noted, should help the St Louis real estate market remain healthy and fairly strong in the short term which will most likely result in continued price appreciation, particularly for areas that are farther out and subject to gas prices.
  4. More affordable to buy than rent but may change soon.  There are two charts at the bottom of this article that illustrate what I’m talking about here.  The first is a chart from the St Louis Federal Reserve that shows the St Louis home price index and home rental rates from 1970 to present.  The chart illustrates that rental rates increase at a very consistent rate and home prices follow along at a similar pace.  Presently, home prices have fallen behind rental rates which, based upon history, will result in home prices increasing.  Therefore, currently, in many markets it is more expensive to rent than it is to buy but the savings of homeownership will probably shrink, and perhaps disappear, as home prices rise going forward, particularly if home price appreciation begins outpacing rental rate appreciation, which is likely the happen.  The next chart, the Housing Affordability Index from the St Louis Federal Reserve, also illustrates how affordable home ownership is presently.  Granted, not as affordable as when home prices hit bottom in 2012, the result of the housing bubble burst in 2008, but illustrating that home ownership is more affordable now than at any time prior to the housing bubble burst in 2008.

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St Louis Home Price Trends By City/Municipality 
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