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Landlords Get Best Return With Rentals In City Of St Louis

Investors that rental property may find their best returns, relative to the price of the homes they buy, in the City of St Louis, according to some county-level rental data compiled by MORE, REALTORS.  As the tables below illustrate, over the past 12 months the median price of homes sold in the City of St Louis was $106.57 per square foot and the median annualized price per foot homes lease for was $11.04 which works out to a gross annual return on investment of 10.4% in the City of St Louis, the highest of the four St Louis area counties we looked at.  The next best return is found in Jefferson County with a 9.8% return, followed by St Charles County at 9.3% and finally, St Louis County, at 9.1%.

Data limitations…

There is an excellent source of very accurate market data available with regard to prices of homes sold, that being the REALTOR MLS which is where our sold data comes from.  One of the reasons this data is so accurate is because the lions share of homes sold in St Louis are done through REALTORS and the data that is reported on those sales to the MLS is subject to strict guidelines and rules to insure accuracy.  When it comes to rental and lease data however, the data is much harder to assimilate.  This is because the majority of rentals are leased without the assistance of REALTORS and therefore the lease data does not make it’s way to the MLS and there really is no other reputable data source available for it.  When it comes to rental data for larger apartment complexes and the like, there is such data available, but not for single family homes.  Therefore, we have worked to produce rental data from the leases that are handled by REALTORS.  As you can see from the tables below, the number of leases reported in the MLS is much smaller than sales (1,283 vs 13,330 for St Louis County for example) however, there are enough reported I believe to make the data statistically significant.

We can drill it down more…

We can drill down the data to a more local level, such as at the school district, city or zip level, and do this for our investor clients, but what I’ve compiled here gives an overall view of the market at the county level.  Another thing I suggest investors evaluate as well before investing their money, is the appreciation rate of homes in that area.  This is data we also compile and, when you put the rental return rate data next to the price appreciation data you get a pretty good picture of the areas that make the most overall sense to invest in.

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Are Ranch Style Homes A Better Investment?

The ranch-style home has been around a long time with it’s origin going back to 1920’s but this style of home became extremely popular in the 1940’s carrying through the 1970’s.  Ranch-style homes are normally much wider than deep and feature open floor plans with a casual style.  Over time, as incomes increased, as did ground cost making the rather large footprint of a ranch more expensive since it needed a larger not to accommodate it, 1.5 and 2-story homes became increasingly popular.  Recently, it seems there has been somewhat of a resurgence in terms of interest in ranch-style homes by both aging baby-boomers looking for one-level living, as well as by millennial buyers looking for a more modest home.

Is a ranch style home a better investment?

With ranches having been around for so long and appealing to such a broad range of buyers, it makes you wonder as to whether a ranch-style home would be better from an investment standpoint?  With this in mind, I took at look at how ranches have appreciated versus 1.5 or 2 story homes and, as illustrated on the charts below, here is what I found:

  • Median price increase of ranch-style homes sold in St Charles County over past 5 years – 25.8% and for price per square foot – 28.3%
  • Median price increase of 1.5 and 2-story homes sold in St Charles County over past 5 years – 16.6% and for price per square foot – 23.6%
    • In St Charles County ranch style homes appreciated during the period 20.0% more than 1.5 and 2 story homes.
  • Median price increase of ranch-style homes sold in St Lous County over past 5 years – 39.5% and for price per square foot – 39.0%
  • Median price increase of 1.5 and 2-story homes sold in St Louis County over past 5 years – 7.8% and for price per square foot – 18.3%
    • In St Louis County ranch style homes appreciated during the period 113% more than 1.5 and 2 story homes.

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St Louis Zip Code Makes List Of Ten Highest For Environmental Hazard Housing Risk

According to the annual Environmental Hazard Housing Risk Index Report, the St Louis zip code of 63133 has the 7th highest Environmental Hazard Housing Risk Index in the nation.  The report, just released this morning by ATTOM Data Solutions, compiles data on homes and condos in zip codes with a high, or very high risk for at least one of four environmental hazards: Superfunds, brown fields, polluters or poor air quality.

The report indicates that, of the 68.1 million homes and condos in the 8.642 zip codes analyzed, 17.3 million, or 25 percent, were located in zip codes with high or very high risk for at least one of the aforementioned environmental hazards.

Thirty-one St Louis Area Zips Have Very High Risk Raising and 18 High Risk Rating

While 63133 was the only St Louis area zip code that made the top-10 list, there are a total lf 49 zip codes in the St Louis core market area that are in the very high or high environmental hazard housing risk index category.  The Wellston 63133 zip has an index of 291, and Valley Park, 63088, is 2nd in the area with an index of 211.   The complete list of St Louis zips is below.

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Top Ten Buyers Markets In St Louis

While the bulk of the St Louis area spent most of the past year as a sellers market, real estate is very local and very seasonal, so there are still neighborhoods where buyers markets exist!  So where are the buyers markets?  Well, they are a constantly moving target due to the fluctuations I just mentioned, however, currently, as the list below illustrates, 6 of the top ten buyers market neighborhoods are in St Louis County, with the tony town of Frontenac at the top of the list where there exists a 23 month supply of homes for sale, two are in St Charles County, two in Jefferson County and none are from Franklin County or the City of St Louis.

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Why You Need A Private Building Inspection When Buying A New Home

As a real estate broker and former real estate developer and builder, I’m surprised how many transactions I see in which a new home buyer forgoes a private building inspection thinking,  since the home is new, an inspection is not necessary.  In my personal opinion, this couldn’t be farther from the truth.  Don’t get me wrong, this is not a condemnation of St Louis home builders as I know most of them, are friends with many, and feel that, for the most part, we have some very qualified, competent and ethical home builders in St Louis.  Having said that though, I do realize that mistakes and accidents happen.  Not to mention, given that a typical home inspection will cost less than $1,000 in most cases, that is a very small price to pay when making what is for most home buyers, the biggest investment they will make.

What could be wrong with a brand new home?
There are a myriad of things that could be wrong with a new home ranging from potential major structural issues, to issues with the systems, such as plumbing, electric, etc,  dangerously high radon levels, to items that are more minor and cosmetic in nature.  Some of the problems, if not discovered during an inspection, may surface quickly after moving in and in time to be covered by the builders warranty but others may lie dormant for a long time and not surface until a time when it may be difficult to get the builder to accept responsibility.  Having a private building inspection will help discover the issues early, before the issue becomes a nuisance to you and while not having to worry about whether it’s covered by the warranty or not as you haven’t closed on the purchase yet.

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Franklin County Has Largest Increase In Both Median Home Prices And Sales In Past 12 Months

The median price of homes sold in Franklin County during the most recent 12 months was $146,000, an increase of 9.57% from the prior 12 month period when the median price was $133,250 marking the highest year over year increase of any of the St Louis area counties.  As the tables below show, Franklin County also led the way with home sales rising to 1,235 homes sold during the past 12 months, an increase of 10.86% from the prior 12 month period, again the highest increase in the St Louis area.

Jefferson County and Lincoln County saw the next highest increase in home prices with increases of 7.38% and 7.14% respectively and St Louis County the second highest increase in home sales with an increase of 7.99% from the prior 12-month period.

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St Louis Condominium Market Going Strong

The condo market in the St Louis area is doing well with condo’s that sold in the past 12 months selling in a median time of just 27 days in the 5-County St Louis Core market.  As the chart below shows, the median price for condo’s sold in the 5-county core market during this period went from $125,000 back in February 2016 to $139,500 in January 2017.  There is currently a 3.3 month supply of condominiums for sale in the this market.

Clayton Condominiums Selling Fast Than Overall Market…

As the table below shows, condominiums in Clayton that sold in the past 12 months sold in a median time of just 21 days on the market, at a median price of $205 per square foot and sold for a median of 97.26% of the current list price at the time of sale.

Chesterfield Condominiums sold in the past 12 months sold in a median time of 30 days for a median price of $146 per square foot. Not shown in the table below (however available in the complete data if you click on it) is the active listing data which shows there is currently about a 3 month supply of condos for sale in Chesterfield at a median price of $162 per square foot.

Central West End Condominiums sold in the past 12 months sold in a median time of 33 days for a median price of $180 per square foot.   Currently, there is over a 7 month supply of condo’s for sale in the Central West End, with a median asking price of $201 per square foot and the median time on market of current listings is 99 days.

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St Charles County Homes With Finished Basements Sell Faster and For More Per Foot

When considering making an improvement to their home, homeowners often look at it from both the enjoyment value it will give them and their family as well as the investment value of what they are doing.  Granted, there are few, if any improvements, you can make to a home that will give you a 100% return on investment, meaning that, for every dollar you spend, your homes value will go up by a dollar, but there are certainly some improvements that come closer than others.

A common improvement, often considered by homeowners, particularly those in areas with a younger housing stock is a finished basement.  A finished basement when done right, adds additional living space and/or recreational space to a home that sometimes may have deficiencies in those areas.  But how much value does that finished basement add to your home?  Of course, there are many variables that go into the answer to that question including the quality of the space finished, the type of space, location of the home as well as the size of the home, but we can use market data to get a general idea.  I chose to go with St Charles County for this since the housing stock there is fairly young so the basements are, for the most part, modern, poured concrete basements, usually dry and often with adequate headroom to finish.  In addition, many are walkout basements which is a plus for finishing.  To try to keep this as an “apples to apples” comparison I chose only 3 and 4 bedroom homes that sold in the past 12 months.

Homes with finished basements sold for nearly 8 percent more

As the tables below show, in my comparison, homes that had finished basements sold for a median price of $125 per foot and those with unfinished basements for $116 a foot, a difference of 7.8%.  The homes with finished basements also sold faster too, selling in a median time of 14 days, less than two-thirds the time it took to sell a home with an unfinished basement which was 22 days (granted, both sold fast!).  So, if we do the math and assume that the houses with finished basements, which had a median of 1,719 square feet without the basement (which happen to be smaller homes than those without), sold for the same price per foot as their counterparts with unfinished basements, then that would make the median sales price $199,404, or $11,596 lower, than it was.

As I mentioned above, there is a lot more that needs to be considered, but, as the data shows, there is definitely a return, both in price as well as time to sell, for having a finished basement, but certainly not enough to do it for just investment return reasons.  However, if you are going to get enough benefit from the space for an adequate amount of time, it may end up making a lot of sense in the end.

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What Are The Fastest Selling Zip Codes In St Louis?

The winter months may be the “slow” season for real estate but there are plenty of areas throughout St Louis where homes are still selling fast!  So, where are homes selling the fastest in St Louis?  As the table below shows, the 63143 zip code area which is the Maplewood area, is currently the fastest selling neighborhood with an average of just 40 days on the market for current listings.  Coming in second, with homes on the market just 1 day longer at 41 days, is the 63126 zip code area, the Crestwood area.

St Louis County Dominates The Fastest Selling Zip Code List-

Seven of the ten fastest-selling zip codes in the St Louis area are in St Louis County, with St Charles County claiming 2 of the remaining zips and the City of St Louis one zip.

 

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Homeownership Rate In U.S. Rises In 4th Quarter of 2016; Slips in Midwest Slightly

After the homeownership rate in the U.S. fell to 63.1% during the 2nd quarter of 2016, the lowest level since the U.S. Census Department began tracking this data in 1968, it rose to 63.4% during the 3rd quarter and then to 63.5% during the 4th quarter of 2016, according to data just released by the U.S. Census Bureau.

Here in the Midwest Region, the homeownership rate slipped slightly during the 4th quarter of 2016 to 68.4% from 68.6% the quarter before, hitting the lowest rate since the 4th quarter of 2015 when it was 68.1% in the Midwest.  As the bottom chart below illustrates, the Midwest Region of the U.S. continues to have a homeownership rate that is higher than the U.S. rate as well as every other region.

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Survey Shows Nearly 70 Percent of Americans Feel Housing Market This Year Will Be Better Than 2016

If you caught my 2016 Recap and 2017 Forecast then you know the housing market had a good year here in St Louis during 2016 and that my forecast for 2017 was pretty optimistic as well.  Well, according to a survey conducted by ValueInsured (a company that allows homeowners to buy insurance against a loss in value), I’m not the only one optimistic about 2017 as the survey revealed that 69 percent of Americans surveyed believe 2017 will be a better year for the housing market than 2016.

Millennial’s That Don’t Own A Home Yet Are The Most Optimistic

The biggest increase in optimism for the housing market came from millennial non-homeowners whose confidence in the housing market doing well was up 5.0 points to 61.3 from 56.3 the prior quarter.

Most Feel Trump Will Be Good For Housing Market in 2017

The survey also revealed that 52 percent of Americans believe the housing market will do better under the Trump administration.  When it comes to the millennial generation, 59 percent of that generation feel the Trump administration will be good for the housing market.

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Home Improvements That Bring The Highest Return On Sale

Where do you get the most bang for your buck when it comes to remodeling or making improvements to your home?  Homeowners make many improvements and upgrades to their home simply because they want the added enjoyment or comfort they receive as a result, however, other homeowners, particularly those contemplating a move in the future, also focus on the investment aspect of the improvement.  Under normal conditions, I don’t know of an improvement you can make to a home that, if you sell the home, will bring you 100% return on your investment, meaning if you spent $10,000 on the improvement, your home will sell for $10,000 more than had it not had the improvement.

However, there are some home improvements that bring a good return on the investment: For example, here in the west north central region, upgrading insulation, which an average project cost of $1,340 brings an 89.1% return on the investment, increasing the value of the home by $1,193, according to the Remodeling 2017 Cost vs. Value Report (www.costvsvalue.com) .  Other projects bringing the best return on investment, according to the report, are:

  • Minor Kitchen Remodel (cost $21,213, return $15,845 (74.7%)
  • Manufactured Stone Veneer  (cost $7,903, return $5,860 (74.1%)
  • Entry Door Replacement (steel) –  (cost $1,423, return $1,026 (72.1%)
  • Siding Replacement   (cost $14,948, return $10,297 (68.9%)

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Want To Buy A Foreclosure Or Short Sale? Better move quick and pay up!

When I first got in the real estate business in 1979 buying foreclosed property was something pretty well limited to speculators at the time.  People like the broker I started with, and what I became a few years later, that bought property for cash, as-is generally to fix up and resell.  Foreclosures, and how to buy them, were a mystery at the time, not only to the general public but to many in the real estate business as well.  This is what gave us speculators an edge…we knew how to get the information on foreclosures and how the process worked. Ditto for tax sales and sheriff sales and short sales were something that didn’t even exist at the time.

Today, it’s all different however.  Thanks largely to the internet and reality TV, it seems everyone knows about foreclosures, tax sales, and just about every other way of finding and buying distressed property.  While this is good for sellers and for listing agents, it’s made it tough on investors and other buyers looking to take advantage of the opportunity offered through distressed sales.  The result has been a highly competitive market and higher prices.  This was evidenced by the sales data from last year.  As the tables below show, most of the distressed homes sold during 2016 sold for a median of 100% of the current list price at the time of sale.

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St Louis Real Estate Market 2016 Recap and Outlook for 2017

St Louis home sales during 2016 hit the highest level in years! Home prices rose as well while the inventory of homes for sale remained low during the year.

So, how does the St Louis Real Estate Market look for 2017?
Will home sales and prices top last year or are we headed for a change?

The answers to the above and more can be found in our just-released video below which gives a recap for 2016, including a report on home sales, prices and inventory as well as a scorecard showing how our forecast for last year compared with what actually happened.  The video also includes our forecast for the 2017 St Louis real estate market….what we think 2017 holds in store for St Louis with regard to home sales, prices, inventory and interest rates.

St Louis Real Estate Market 2016 Recap and Forecast for 2017

St Louis Real Estate Market 2016 Recap and 2017 Forecast

Which St Louis Area County Saw Biggest Increase In Home Prices & Sales During 2016?

As I have reported over the past couple of days, the St Louis MSA as well as all of the counties that make up the St Louis, Missouri house market, saw an increase in home sales and prices during 2016 from the year before.  But which county fared the best during 2016, seeing the highest increase in the median price of homes sold as well as the biggest increase in the number of homes sold?  Well, at the top of the list is Franklin County.

During 2016, the median price of homes sold in Franklin County was $146,500, an increase of 10.98 percent from 2015 when the median home price of homes sold in the Franklin County was $132,000, according to MORE, REALTORS and depicted in the table below.  There were a total of 1,215 homes sold in Franklin County during 2016, an increase of 10.15 percent from 2015 when there were 1,103 homes sold.  As the chart below the table illustrates, St Louis home prices and sales have been trending upward at a fairly consistent rate over the past two years.

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St Louis 5-County Core Market Home Prices Increase Over 5 Percent in 2016, Sales Increase Over 8 Percent

During 2016, the median price of homes sold in the St Louis 5-County Core Market was $179,000, an increase of 5.29 percent from 2015 when the median home price of homes sold in the St Louis 5-County Core Market was $170,000, according to MORE, REALTORS and depicted in the table below.  There were a total of 27,231 homes sold in the St Louis 5-County Core Market during 2016, an increase of 8.1 percent from 2015 when there were 25,191 homes sold.  As the chart below the table illustrates, St Louis home prices and sales have been trending upward at a fairly consistent rate over the past two years.

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St Louis Median Home Prices Increase Over 5 Percent in 2016, Sales Increase Over 3 Percent

During 2016, the median price of homes sold in the St Louis MSA was $167,400, an increase of 5.68 percent from 2015 when the median home price of homes sold in the St Louis MSA was $158,400, according to MORE, REALTORS and depicted in the table below.  There were a total of 35,571 homes sold in the St Louis metro area during 2016, an increase of 3.3 percent from 2015 when there were 34,434 homes sold.  As the chart below the table illustrates, St Louis home prices and sales have been trending upward at a fairly consistent rate over the past two years.

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Number of Distressed Home Sales In St Louis Declines Nearly Forty Percent In 2016 From Two Years Ago

The number of distressed home sales in St Louis has been on the decline while distressed home prices have remained relatively flat.  For the purposes herein, a “distressed” home sale includes short sales, foreclosures, bank-owned and government-owned homes.   Thus far, as the chart below illustrates, there have been 2,170 distressed home sales in the St Louis 5-County Core market (the City of St Louis and Counties of St Louis, St Charles, Jefferson and Franklin) this year which is a decline of 23% from last year when there were 2,871 distressed homes sold and down 38.4% from 2014 when there were 3,533 distressed home sales in St Louis.  The median price of distressed homes sold in St Louis has not fluctuated much over the past 3 years however, with the median price of distressed sales in 2014 at $61,750, then decreased to $60,000 in 2015 then went up to $62,500 this year.

As the table below the chart shows, currently there are 394 active listings of distressed homes at a median list price of $64,950 which, based upon current sales trends, is a supply of just under 3 months.

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St Louis’ Fastest Selling Areas

Fastest selling areas at the end of December? Yes, it happens today, even at the end of December and as we approach what is historically the slowest home-selling month of the year, January.  No doubt the low inventory of homes for sale is playing a part in this as well as, perhaps, the recent uptick in interest rates and threat of higher rates in 2017 may be encouraging home buyers to speed up their home search.

As the table below shows, Fenton is at the top of the list with homes selling there in an average of just 20 days on the market!  Next on the list is Crestwood, with an average time to sell of 42 days.  Below the list of fastest selling neighborhoods is a chart showing home sales and prices for Fenton for the past 2 years to allow us to take a little closer look at this market.  One thing to keep in mind, contrary to what you may think, the city of Fenton is not actually that large of real estate market as many of the homes in the Fenton area, and zip code, are actually in unincorporated St Louis County.  Having said, that, from the chart and table below, we can see that the Fenton market has been a fast selling market for a while now.  The overall median time it took homes to sell, during the past two years, was just 12 days and active listings on the market currently have only been on the market for a median of 18 days.

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Merry Christmas!

The Birth of Jesus
Luke 1-20

“In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while[a] Quirinius was governor of Syria.)  And everyone went to their own town to register.

So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.

And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,

“Glory to God in the highest heaven,
and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”
When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”

So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.”

Home Affordability Falls Throughout St Louis Area

Home affordability throughout the St Louis area declined in the fourth quarter of this year from the same time last year according to a report released this morning by Attom Data Solutions.  As the table below shows, the affordability of homes in the St Louis area, as well as every major county in Missouri (with the lone exception being Platte County), declined during the current quarter meaning that it now takes a larger percentage of a persons income (based upon average wages for the county) to buy the “typical” home in that county (based upon a median-priced home).

The table shows St Louis County with a 24% decline in home affordability from a year ago, however, I should point out that Attom Data Solutions actually chose to leave this information off their report released to the public due to concern about the underlying data.  For example, their data showed a 33% increase in the median home price in St Louis County during the current quarter from the 4th quarter in 2015 however, as the two tables shows for St Louis County home prices below, there has really only been an increase of 5.7% in the price from last year.  The median price of homes sold in St Louis County during 4th quarter of 2015 was $175,000, for the current quarter it is $185,000. I’m not sure how much the correct home pricing would change Attom’s affordability index for St Louis County but, given the fact their data for the current median home price is pretty close, that makes the current data fairly accurate in that regard.  With that said, the current affordability index for St Louis County is an 89, the lowest of any of the counties in Missouri, which is not good.  An index of 100 means that home affordability is at the historic “norm”, above 100 means it’s more affordable than the historic norm, below 100 means less affordable than the historic norm.  Locally, Jefferson County has the best affordability index, with a 112, followed by St Charles County with a 109.

With affordability on the decline, and interest rates projected to increase to as high as 5% by the end of next year, if you are thinking about buying a home and, in a position to do so now, I would suggest consider buying sooner than later.

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St Louis Home Prices Increased Over 7 Percent In Past Year and Sales Up Over 8 Percent

St Louis home prices rose 7.22 percent in the past 12 months (through the end of November 2016) compared with with prior 12 months, according to newly released data by MORE, REALTORS.  As the tables below show, for the St Louis MSA, the median price of homes sold during the 12 month period ended November 30, 2016 was $169,408.  For the prior 12 month period, the median sales price of homes sold in the St Louis MSA was $158,000.  Home sales increased in the St Louis Metro Area as well during the period with 36,973 homes being sold in the 12 month period ended November 30, 2016, an increase of 8.57% from the prior 12 month period when there were 34,056 homes sold in the St Louis MSA.

Home prices and sales up at the county level as well!

As the tables below show, home prices and sales for the 12 month period ending November 30, 2016 increased from the prior 12-month period in all the counties that make up the bulk of the St Louis housing market.  The rate of increase in home prices varied from just over 3 percent for the St Louis City/County market to nearly 8 percent in Franklin County.   Home sales for the period increased for each county around the 9 percent level with the exception of Franklin County which saw home sales increase 11.5% from the prior 12-month period.

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St Louis Real Estate Market Update VIDEO – December 2016

All five counties in the St Louis core St Louis market are still “seller’s markets” all with under 6 months supply of homes for sale.  The best sellers markets in town have a one month, or less, supply of homes for sale making this a great time to sell a home in spite of the fact it’s mid-December.

 

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

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Threat Of Elimination of Mortgage Interest Deduction Not A Concern For St Louis Housing Market

This morning the National Mortgage News published an article titled “Lenders Fear Congress May Neuter Mortgage Interest Deduction” in which they caution the mortgage interest deduction (MID),  referred to as “a pillar of U.S. housing policy” in the article, may be effectively rendered pointless if Congress makes the significant changes to it that they appear ready to consider.  The article blames the House Republican Blueprint (announced on June 24, 2016) which “calls for doubling the standard deduction that tax payers receive, which would mean that most people would have no need to take the mortgage interest deduction.”

First, for clarification, lets clarify what the blueprint says.  If you turn to page 19 of it (see below) you will see it states “The Tax Reform Blueprint will consolidate the basic standard deduction, the additional standard deduction, and the personal exemptions for families and individuals. The new larger standard deduction will be $24,000 for married individuals filing jointly, $18,000 for single individuals with a child in the household, and $12,000 for other individuals. These amounts will be adjusted annually for inflation.”  So, what is proposed is taking the current standard deduction of $12,600 for a married couple and the personal exemptions ($4,000 per person in 2015) and rolling those two things into one standard deduction of $24,000 for a married couple.  So, for people without kids, or perhaps only one, they will come out ahead, for people with several kids they will be losing some of their current deduction.  For sake of this article, lets look at a family of four.  Currently, that family would have a standard deduction of $12,600 plus $4,000 personal exemption for each of the 4 in the family, $16,000, so their total deduction between the two would be $26,600.  Under the new blueprint, they would get a flat $24,000 deduction.  In addition, the tax rates would be reduced.

House Republican Blueprint, nor even elimination of the Mortgage Interest Deduction, will hurt the St Louis Housing Market..

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Mortgage Delinquency Rates Continue To Fall And Now Back To Normal

Mortgage Delinquency rates, borrowers that are 60 or more days past due, are projected to be 2.21 percent for the 4th quarter of 2016, down from 2.46% the quarter before and marking the 13th consecutive quarter mortgage delinquency rates have fallen, according to a report just released by TransUnion.  According to the report, mortgage delinquency rates peaked at 7.21 percent during the 1st quarter of 2010 and have declined for 23 of the last 26 quarters since.  TransUnion considers the current mortgage delinquency rate to be normal and is projecting the delinquency rate will fall even further next year down to 2.11% by the end of 2017.

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Ferguson vs Chesterfield – A Tale Of Two Cities

A lot has happened to affect the real estate market where I grew up in the little town of Ferguson in North County over the past decade.  First, like the rest of the country, beginning around 2000, Ferguson saw home prices increase at rates outpacing inflation until finally peaking in 2006 which then led to the housing  market bubble burst shortly thereafter.  Home prices in Ferguson, and everywhere else, then declined over the next few years until hitting bottom around the end of 2011, or beginning of 2012.  

Then, as pretty much most of the St Louis housing market was enjoying a slow and steady comeback in home prices and sales in 2014,  came the shooting of Michael Brown by Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson which resulted in riots and violent protests that unfortunately made Ferguson a household name not only around St Louis but around the country and even beyond.  Surprisingly, even though that put yet another damper on the real estate market in Ferguson, as the chart below shows, home prices continued the increase begun after hitting bottom in 2012 in spite of it.

For comparison purposes, I decided to put a 10 year chart of home prices for Ferguson next to the same for the City of Chesterfield.  Chesterfield is an affluent city in west St Louis County that has enjoyed a fairly robust housing market for a long time now and has not had anything to deal with like Ferguson did with the shooting.  When you look at the two charts (which you can click on to see a live chart with actual prices shown as you move your mouse over data points) you will see there is quite a disparity between the two cities.  For example, during 2016, the median sales price for a home in Chesterfield was $387,000, a 3.2 percent increase from 2006 when it was $375,000.  For Ferguson, the median price of homes sold during 2016 was $43,509, a decline of nearly 42 percent from 2006 when the median home price in Ferguson was $75,000.

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Mortgage Rates Hit Highest Rate In 2016 This Week

According to the Freddie Mac Primary Mortgage Market Survey (PMMS) released yesterday for the past week, interest rates on a 30-year fixed rate mortgage increased 5 basis points (1/20th of 1%) to 4.13 percent , the highest rate they have been at during 2016.  Last year at this time the PMMS showed average interest rates at 3.95 percent so, while rates have increased over the past year, the amount has been fairly small.

However, mortgage interest rates are being forecasted by many economists and industry guru’s to hit 4.5% – 5.0% during 2017.  While we’ve seen predictions like that for a couple of years in a row now, I think it’s going to come true this time therefore, if you have been thinking about buying, you may want to start looking now!

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St Louis Home Prices – Boom, Bust and Beyond

Home prices in St Louis, like most places in the country, peaked around 2007 at the height of the bubble, then, when the housing bubble burst in 2008, home prices began falling and didn’t hit the post bubble bottom until around late 2011 or early 2012 in most areas.  Since hitting bottom, home prices throughout the St Louis area have recovered not only regaining what was lost after the bubble burst, but, in most cases, rising back above the peak levels from the height of the bubble nearly 10 years ago.

Where are home prices today in relation to the bubble?

Below I have 10-year charts for the St Louis MSA, the St Louis Core Market (the 5 major Missouri counties that make up the St Louis market) as well as the 5 major St Louis area counties individually, showing home sales, listing prices and sold prices for the past 10 years.  As the charts show, home prices in all counties have fully recovered home values lost when the bubble burst and, with the exception of St Charles County and Jefferson County, all have returned to levels above the peak during the bubble in 2007.  St Charles County and Jefferson County home prices are teetering around 2007 levels.  If you click on the charts you will go to our live charts and can put your mouse over the chart to see actual home prices for each period.

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St Louis Cities Where Median Home Prices Have Increased The Most In Past Year

Which cities within the St Louis area have seen the largest increases in the median price of homes sold during the past year?  Well, the cities on the top 10 list are pretty diverse both in price range and location and some may surprise you.  As the list below shows, the city of Pacific, in Franklin County, is at the top of the list with the median price of homes sold for the 12 month period ended October 31, 2016 coming in at $175,000, a 42.86 percent increase from the prior 12 month period.  Other cities on the top 10 list include St John and Overland, both mid-St Louis County communities with entry-level homes, as well as the affluent city of Ladue.

Now, before you get too excited, you should note that the list only represents the change the median price of homes sold, but does not necessarily indicate that each home in that community has increased by the percentage shown.  The change in median price could be largely the result of a big change in distressed sales, an influx of them at one period of time and diminishing quantity at another time or a new subdivision in a different price point hitting the market during a period of time.  This is why you don’t ever want to base decisions about the market, or on the value of your home, or one you are looking to buy, on simply one data point, or source of data.

With this in mind, I have included a second table, one that I believe more accurately reflects changes in home prices, below the first.  The second table looks at the median price per foot of homes in each city, therefore more of an “apples to apples” comparison.  As you will see, there are several cities that made both top ten lists which I think would be a very good indicator home prices are definitely rising in those markets no matter how you look at it.  You can click on either list to get the complete, live list as well.

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What Exactly Is A “Coming Soon” Listing?

While it’s not a new thing, there have certainly been a lot more “coming soon” riders on for sale signs in yards over the past couple of years than in prior years.  This has created some questions among home buyers, particularly when they ask their buyer’s agent about seeing a listing are told it is not available to be shown yet, then later see the rider on the for sale sign change from “coming soon” to “sale pending”.  So, what’s the deal with “coming soon” listings?

The good and the bad of coming soon listings:

The Good – Many good listing agents use “coming soon” as a way of generating interest in their client’s (the seller) home in advance of it hitting the market, perhaps while the seller is completing repairs or tweaks suggested by the listing agent or the agent is finalizing marketing materials.  Typically, this is done for a short period, perhaps a week or two, and then the agent makes it known to everyone the date the listing will be available for viewing which, when done on a properly priced listing in a market with reasonable demand, results in multiple showings the first day or two the listing is available for viewing, which is good for the seller and often results in a quick sale at, or near, the list price.

The Bad – While it’s rare, there are some listing agents that use “coming soon” as a way of trying to keep the listing to themselves.  They use it to attempt to force potential home buyers to contact them for info and to avoid having to cooperate with another agent on the sale, thereby saving both sides of the commission for themselves.  As I said, this is rare as most agents out there take their fiduciary responsibility to the seller seriously and practice their craft in an honest and ethical manner, however, it only takes a few to spoil it for all.

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