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Property Flips In St Louis Down Over 50 Percent From Year Ago

Property “flips” in St Louis slowed during the 3rd quarter of this year to just 234 properties flipped in the St Louis MSA during the quarter making up 2.6% of overall home sales for the quarter, a decline of 20% from the quarter before and a decline of 55% from the third quarter of 2013, according to data just released by RealtyTrac.  Property flipping is a term that has been loosely applied to a variety of real estate transactions but, for the purpose of this report, was considered to be when a single family home sold in during the third quarter had been sold within the previous 12 months.

Back in 1979, when I entered the real estate business, my focus was on buying property to resell and a “flip” at that time referred to a property I had under contract to buy that I managed to sell, or “flip” to someone else (often a competitor) with the closing of both my purchase and my sale taking place on the same day, hence a “flip”.  So, in the last 35 years a flip has went from being a property bought and sold on the same day to one bought and sold within a year…hmm…

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Property Flips In St Louis- 3rd Quater 2014 -

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Will The Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act of 2007 Be Extended?

The Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act of 2007 provided relief for homeowners that receive forgiveness on some of their mortgage debt (such as is the case on a short-sale) in the form of removing their obligation to pay income tax on the amount of their debt that was forgiven by their lender.  Originally, the Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act, was to expire at the end of 2012 but was later extended through the end of 2013 and on April 3rd of this year the Senate Finance Committee approved a bill that, if passed, would reinstate a bunch of tax provisions that expired at the end of 2013, including the Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act of 2007 , through December 31, 2015.  Thus far, the bill has not passed and now many are concerned that it may not which will leave all the people that did short sales this year, or had debt relieved in some other manner, possibly owing income tax on the forgiven debt.

The National Association of REALTORS (NAR) have issued a call to action to it’s 1 million plus members asking them to urge their Member of Congress and Senators to act on “The Mortgage Forgiveness Tax Relief Act” before the end of 2014.  Apparently, the stumbling block to getting this extended has been politics…shocker, right?  The Democratic Majority Leader of the Senate, Harry Reid, according to the NAR website, “refused to allow an open amendment process” which then, in turn, the Republicans “exercised their rights to prevent the bill from moving to a vote.”

Should the Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act of 2007 be extended?  

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New Home Construction Slows In The Midwest

New Home Construction in the Midwest Region of the U.S. slowed in October with new home building permits being used at a seasonally-adjusted annual rate of 102,000 homes, a decline of 3.8% from September but a 4.1% increase from October 2014, according to data released today by the U.S. Census Bureau and HUD.  Year to date for 2014, through October, there have been 89,100 permits issued for new homes, down very slightly from the same time last year when there had been 89,400 new home permits issued.

New Home Starts Fall Dramatically In The Midwest In October-

Construction began on new homes in the midwest in October at a seasonally-adjusted annual rate of 94,000 homes, down 21% from September and down 7.8% from October 2013.

New Home Completions Decline In The Midwest In October-

New homes were completed in the midwest region in October at a seasonally-adjusted annual rate of 99,000 homes, down 6.6% from the month before and down 2% from October 2013.

On a national level, new home permits were issued in October at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 640,000 homes, an increase of 1.4% from the month before and an increase of 2.4% from October 2013.    Year to date for 2014, there have been 541,300 building permits issued for new single-family homes nationwide, an increase of 1.4% from the same time last year.

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Effect Of School Districts On St Louis Home Prices

I think most people know that good schools benefit the housing market and home prices in that district by creating more demand for homes in the district.  This demand contributes to a healthy market and, the ultimate hope of most home owners, appreciating home prices that yield a good return on the investment over time.  Conversely, the opposite is generally believed to be true as well that a poor school district has a negative effect on the housing market and home prices within that district.

How much effect does a school district have on home prices, whether a good district or bad?  

To address this, I first went to SchoolDigger.com to find school district rankings for St Louis area districts.  I then chose the five districts that were ranked highest and the five ranked the lowest, which are:

  • Highest Ranked-
    • Lindbergh (3)
    • Clayton (6)
    • Brentwood (11)
    • Kirkwood (12)
    • Rockwood (14)
  • Lowest Ranked-
    • Riverview (502)
    • St Louis City (497)
    • Normandy (495)
    • Ferguson-Florissant (464)
    • Ritenour (458)

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St Louis’ 15 Top Buyer’s Market Neighborhoods

Over two-thirds of the 68 St Louis neighborhoods that we track favor sellers, according to our Market Action IndexTM, leaving 20 St Louis neighborhoods (32%) that are currently buyer’s markets.  As the table below shows, the  top buyers market in the St Louis area as of today is Saint Albans with a Market Action Index of 20, followed by House Springs with a 24.  Our Market Action IndexTM looks at supply, demand and inventory for an area and then applies an index value to it based upon 30 begin a balanced market not favoring buyers or sellers.  The farther the index goes below a “30” (down to a low of 0) the colder the market is and the more it favors buyers .

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St Louis Foreclosure Activity Increases In October But Down Overall

St Louis Foreclosure Activity was on the rise during the month of October with a big spike in foreclosure activity from the month before in St Charles and Franklin Counties as well as the St Louis MSA as a whole, according to newly released data from RealtyTrac.  As the table below shows, St Charles County saw an increase of over 3,000% in foreclosure activity during the month of October from September, and over a 400% increase in activity from October 2013, however, this is the result of a large influx of REO property in October.  When you look at the second table below, showing year-to-date foreclosure activity, you will see that St Charles County foreclosure activity is actually down 13.6% in 2014 from the same time period in 2013.

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Missouri Supreme Court Strikes Down St Louis County Foreclosure Mediation Ordinance

Yesterday, the Missouri Supreme Court handed down it’s decision in the case “Missouri Bankers Association, Inc., and Jonesburg State Bank v. St. Louis County, Missouri, and Charlie A. Dooley” ruling in favor of the Appellants (Missouri Bankers Association and Jonesburg State Bank) and against the Respondents (St Louis County and Charlie A. Dooley) by reversing an lower courts decision that ruled the Banker’s suit was moot.  The original suit was filed after St Louis county enacted its “Mortgage Foreclosure Intervention Code” which, among other things, required mediation prior to a bank or other lender proceeding with a foreclosure on a deed a trust.

In it’s decision, the Missouri Supreme Court ruled that the ordinance passed by St Louis County known as the “Mortgage Foreclosure Intervention Code” was “void and unenforceable” because the county exceeded its charter authority when enacting the ordinance.

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St Louis’ Most Expensive Neighborhoods

Huntleigh is at the top of the list of St Louis’ Most Expensive Neighborhoods with homes selling in the past year at a median price of $1,375,000 followed by Ladue with a median sale price of $797,000, according to MORE, REALTORS.  The chart below depicts median sale prices in blue for the 10 most expensive cities in the St Louis area and the median list prices in orange.

In terms of median list price, Huntleigh is also number 1 on the list with a median price of $2,350,000 for homes currently listed for sale followed by Westwood with a median price of $1,250,000 for listed homes.

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How To Sell Your Home For The Highest Price In The Shortest Time

Would you like to know how to sell your home for the highest price in the shortest time?  If so, perhaps the best place to find the answer is from prior sellers that have been successful in doing just that.  This, and much more information gathered from home owners that sold a home in the past year, was just released in the National Association of REALTORS 2014 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers.  This gives some great insight into what worked for sellers as well as what did not.

Highlights from the NAR 2014 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers:

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

St Louis home prices have increased in the past year while home sales are lagging a little behind last years pace largely due to a lack of inventory of homes for sale.  Get more details on this, as well as a complete update on St Louis home sales, St Louis home prices as well as the St Louis Real Estate market in general in our new, 5-minute, market video update below.

There are neighborhoods throughout St Louis that are low on inventory and high on demand creating a seller’s market!  If you have considered selling your home, 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 Sales and Prices Market Update VIDEO-November 2014

Brinkmann Constructor’s Founders’ St Albans La Charette Estate Hit’s Market

Robert G. Brinkmann, founder and CEO of Brinkmann Constructors, has listed for sale his 12,000 square foot
St Albans estate home  for $8.5 million.  The Brinkmann estate, named “La Charette”, sits on 15.7 acres overlooking the Missouri river valley and claims to have “the most beautiful views in St Louis“.  I was pondering the name given the estate, “La Charette”, and did a little research to try to find a connection between the name and Brinmann, who built the home 12 years ago.  I looked first at the french definition of the word which is basically a “cart”, sort of like a chariot or wagon which at first made no sense to me until I discovered this type of French cart was often used to transport drawings.  However, the other definition I found of it, which seems perhaps even more fitting, is (from Merriam’s) “the intense final effort made by architectural students to complete their solutions to a given architectural problem in an allotted time or the period in which such an effort is made.”

This is not the first time on the market for La Charette as it spent a year on the market from May 2013 through May 2014 at a  price of $8.9 million.  Whether or not the $400,000 price reduction will be enough to motivate a buyer in what has been a rather stagnant market in St Albans is hard to say but it is safe to say the St Albans housing market has been soft for a while.  As the chart below shows, the price per foot for homes in St Albans peaked around 2009 and the fell to a low around 2011 pretty much like the rest of the St Louis market however, different than most markets in this area, after spending a year or so gaining back some lost ground in home prices, has taken another dip and now reached a point even lower than the bottom in 2011.

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St Louis Area Cash Home Sales On The Decline

Cash home sales’ percentage of overall home sales declined during the 3rd quarter of this year from the 2nd quarter in the city of St Louis as well as St Louis and St Charles County, according to data just released by RealtyTrac.  As the table below shows, the counties of Jefferson and Franklin saw cash sales take a bigger share of their home sales during the same period.

Purchases of homes by institutional investors increased during the 3rd quarter from the quarter before in Franklin and Jefferson County as well as the City of St Louis and declined in St Charles and St Louis county.

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St Louis Cash Home Sales Percentage of Overall Home Sales 3rd Quarter 2014

Source: RealtyTrac

Top Real Estate Exec’s Thoughts On The Housing Market

Broker-owners and top executives of leading real estate firms across the U.S., responsible for nearly half of all the home sales in the U.S., were surveyed in October 2013 and then again last month, about their confidence in the housing market as well as their outlook for the housing market.  The survey, commissioned by Imprev, revealed that real estate execs are not as optimistic now about the outlook for the housing market as they were a year ago.

Survey results are shown on the info graphics below:

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Who Are The Home Buyers Today?

As the look, size, price and location of homes we live in has changed over the years so the typical buyer of these homes.  The best way to find out what the typical home buyer is like and what they are looking for in a home is to turn to the National Association of REALTORS (NAR) annual survey of Home Buyers and Sellers.  Annually, NAR produces the results of the massive survey they conduct and just today they released the 2014 survey results which I will highlight below.

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Who are the home buyers today?

  • 33% were first- time buyers which is down significantly from the historical norm of 40% showing younger people (the millennial’s in particular) are not as interested in home ownership as their parents were at their age.
  • The typical first-time buyer was 31-years-old, while the typical repeat buyer was 53.
  • The median income of first-time buyers was $68,300, $84,500 for all buyers and $95,000 for repeat home buyers.
  • Almost two-thirds (65%) were married couples.
  • 24% bought a home because they had a desire to own a home, 9% purchased due to job relocation or move and 8% bought due to change in family situation or to be in a better area.

What are home buyers today buying?

  • 16% bought a new home.
  • The typical home purchased was 20 years old, had 1,870 square feet with 3 bedrooms and 2 baths.
  • 79% of the homes purchased were detached single-family homes.
  • 13% of the people over 50 years of age bought a home in a senior housing development

How are buyers finding the homes they buy?

  • 43% looked online for homes for sale as the first step in the process
  • 92% used the internet in some way in their home search process
  • 50% used a mobile website or app in their home search
  • 98% used a real estate agent in their home search process
  • The typical buyer viewed 10 homes over a 10 week period
  • 86% bought  a home through a real estate agent or broker.

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St Louis New Home Building Permits Increase In September

St Louis new home building permits issued in September increased by 6 percent from a year ago for the 5-county core area of St Louis (city of St Louis and counties of St Louis, St Charles, Jefferson and Franklin), according to data just released by the Home Builders Association of St. Louis & Eastern Missouri.  On a year to date basis, as the table below shows, the city of St Louis is up 13 percent from the same period last year, St Louis county is up 2 percent and the rest of the counties are running behind last years numbers.

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St Louis Building Permits - September 2014 - St Louis New Home Permits

Ballwin Makes List Of Top 50 Suburbs In America

Business Insider just produced it’s list of “The 50 Best Suburbs in America” and Ballwin made the list coming in at number 46.  Ballwin was the only Missouri suburb on the list.  To compile the top 50 list, Business Insider considered suburbs with populations between 5,000 and 100,000 within about 25 miles of the nearest metro area and then ranked the suburb on commute times, median household income, crime and poverty rates, housing affordability and school rankings.

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Ballwin, MO one of top 50 towns in America to live

This is not Ballwin’s first time in the spot light as Money Magazine named Ballwin as one of America’s best places to live 3 times, most recently in 2013 when Ballwin came in at number 40 on the list.

Zombies Are Becoming Scarce In St Louis

Halloween may be just two days away however zombies are getting harder to find in St Louis, or at least “foreclosure zombies“. That’s right, according to the latest data from RealtyTrac, during the 3rd quarter of this year St Louis had 481 zombie foreclosures (homes in the foreclosure process, not yet foreclosed upon and the owner has vacated) or about 33 percent of the St Louis foreclosures.  This is down 40 percent from the quarter before and down 70 percent from a year ago.

This is good news as zombie foreclosures quickly become a nuisance as well as an eyesore for the neighborhood as the owner has left and is no longer maintaining the property however, the lender has not yet foreclosed and therefore is typically not maintaining the property either.  The zombie ends up kind of in “no man’s land” until the foreclosure is finally complete and the lender’s asset manager takes control.

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St Louis Distressed Home Sales Continue To Decline

Distressed home sales in St Louis accounted for 7.97 percent of all home sales during the 3rd quarter, down from 9.84 percent the quarter before and down a whopping 40 percent from a year ago when distressed sales accounted for 13.6 percent of all homes sold in the St Louis MSA, according to the latest data from RealtyTrac.  State-wide for Missouri, distressed home sales made up 7.12 percent of home sales during 3rd quarter, lower than the rate for St Louis however, at the other side of our state, in Kansas City, distressed home sales share of home sales was 9.2% for 3rd quarter, about 15% higher than St Louis.  The table below shows the breakdown of distressed sales by short sales, REO’s and foreclosure auction.

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St Louis Distressed Home Sales 3rd Quarter 2014 - Missouri Distressed Home Sales

St Louis Pending Home Sales In September Increase From Last Year

St Louis pending home sales increased in September to 2,285 for the 5-county core St Louis housing market (St Louis city and the counties of St Louis, St Charles, Jefferson and Franklin) from 2,203 in September 2013, an increase of 3.7%, according to the latest MLS data.  Year to date, the number of pending home sales for 2014 is running about 3.3% behind last year however.

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St Louis New Home Sales In September Increase Slightly From Last Year

St. Louis new home sales in September 2014 increased 3.26% from September 2013 while the average St Louis new home sales price increased 10.97% during the same period, according to the latest data from Maris.

On a national level, new home sales in September 2014 were up 17% from September 2013 and in the Midwest region sales were up 6.7% during the same period.  The average new home sales price in the U.S. in September 2014 was $259,000, a 4% decline from a year ago when the average price was $269,800, according to the U.S. Census Bureaiu.

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Over Half Of Ferguson Homeowners Have Negative Equity

Over half of the homeowners in Ferguson are in a negative-equity position meaning their current mortgage loan balance exceeds the current value of their home, according to data from RealtyTrac.  According to the latest data available, 51% of the homeowners in Ferguson with a mortgage are seriously underwater on their mortgages with balances that are equal to or higher than 125% of the value of their homes.  Another 14% of Ferguson homeowners have mortgage balances of between 90% and 110% of the value of their homes.

Ferguson Serious Underwater Rate More Than Double Rate for St Louis MSA…

As the table below shows, Ferguson’s seriously underwater rate, at 51%, is more than double the rate for the St Louis MSA as a whole (21%) and is nearly double the rate for St Louis county of 27%.  At the other end of the spectrum, only 6% of Ferguson homeowners have mortgages equal to 50%, or less, of the value of their homes, exactly half the rate for St Louis County and less than half the rate for the St Louis MSA.

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Almost half of St Louis County Homeowners With Mortgage Are Underwater or Nearly Underwater

Over 80,000 homeowners, or 27% of all homeowners with a mortgage,  in St Louis County are seriously underwater on their mortgage meaning the total balance of their mortgages represents 125% or more of the current value of their home.  In addition, there are 53,548 homeowners, or 18% of all homeowners with a mortgage,  in St Louis County that have mortgage balances between 90% and 110% of the value of their home, according to data just released by RealtyTrac.

As the table below shows, for the St Louis MSA, 21% of homeowners with a mortgage are underwater and 19% have “resurfacing equity” (mortgage balances equal 90% – 110% of the value of their home).  Of the 5-county core St Louis market, St Charles County has the lowest percentage of seriously underwater homeowners at 10% and St Louis County has the highest at 27%.

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Where The Real Estate Market Is Headed In 2015

Around this time of year every year, people start asking me “Where is the real estate Market headed next year?”  The real estate market is affected by so many factors that predictions on what the market will do are hard, however there are some basic fundamentals that can be looked at to make a good educated guess.  One of the industry experts out there that I think does a good job at this and, offers a somewhat less biased look at the market than some, is Frank Nothaft, Chief Economist at Freddie Mac.   Below are highlights of his most recent report on the outlook of the housing market along with my comments relating his projection to our St Louis market:

Home Sales:

  • 5.31 million total homes (new and existing) sold in 2014, a 3.6% decrease from 2013.  Projection for 2015 is an increase of 5.5% to 5.6 million homes sold.
  • For St Louis (the 5-county core market), I am projecting that home sales will be down roughly the same as above, maybe just slightly higher, perhaps 4%, for 2014 from 2013.  I would also project an increase in home sales in St Louis in 2015 at a rate close to the rate projected by Mr. Nothaft for the market as a whole.

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Federal Fair Housing Laws and Real Estate Advertising

Some property owners elect to sell or lease out a home or condo without engaging the services of a professional real estate agent or broker without fully understanding all the risk they are taking on.  Granted, being a licensed real estate broker, I’m a little partial here, but I can honestly say that, given all the laws, rules and regulations that pertain to the sale or leasing of residential real estate, as well as the hefty fines, or even criminal charges, that can result in non-compliance, for most owners I would not suggest to go it alone.  One of the more significant risks an owner faces is to violate Title VIII of the Civil Rights Act of 1968 or, as it is more commonly known, the Fair Housing Act.

The Fair Housing Act, as originally passed, prohibited discrimination in the sale, rental and financing of dwellings based on race, color, religion, sex or national origin.  In 1989, it was amended to also  prohibit discrimination based  on disability or on familial status.  While I believe the number of people that deliberately violate this act is small, I see many “accidental” or unintentional violations of it on a regular basis not only by private home owners or landlords but even by licensed real estate professionals.  The most common form of violation I see has to do with advertising a residential property for sale or lease and then often as a result of a choice of words.

The reason so many violations occur in advertising I believe is that it is easy to make an honest mistake in this area without realizing you are violating the Fair Housing Act.  For example, if your home has a large, level rear yard that is fenced, has a large sand box and one of those fancy monster-sized playground sets, you do NOT have a “good yard for kids” or at least you cannot advertise it that way as it could be taken to be a preference with regard to familial status.  Get the picture?  Yes, it’s like a minefield out there and all I’m talking about here is advertising.  This is such an easy area to make an innocent, but still potentially costly, mistake in that I made a short, 2 minute video for real estate agents with “Do’s and Don’ts” of advertising under the Fair Housing Act.  The video is below for all you owners that decide you want to try it on your own or, perhaps, want a better understanding of why your agent cannot promote or advertise your home in a particular way that you feel is significant, such as by telling everyone about the great yard for kids or the parish you are in, that your home is within a short walk to a temple, etc.

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St Louis Home Sales and Prices Increase in September From Year Ago

St Louis Home Sales increased 2.66 percent in September 2014 from a year ago and St Louis home prices increased 3.19 percent during the same period, according the latest data available from MORE, REALTORS.

As the table below shows,  three of the five counties that make up the St Louis core market, saw an increase in home sales in September 2014 from a year ago and four of the five saw an increase in home prices during the same period.

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Top 15 Buyers Markets In St Louis

In spite of the fact that the St Louis housing market is improving, there are still St Louis neighborhoods that favor buyers or are buyers markets.  The 15 top buyers markets in St. Louis can be found in a variety of neighborhoods throughout the area including within the city of St Louis as well as in the counties of St Louis, St Charles, Jefferson and Franklin.  As the table below shows, the hottest buyers market in St Louis as of today is Gray Summit with a Market Action Index of 20, according to the latest data available from MORE, REALTORS.  The list below is based upon MORE’S Market Action IndexTM which, among other things, looks at supply, demand and inventory for an area and then applies an index value to it based upon 30 begin a balanced market not favoring buyers or sellers.  The farther the index goes below a “30” (down to a low of 0) the colder the market is and the more it favors buyers .

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St Louis Area Foreclosures Plummet In 3rd Quarter Except in Franklin County

Foreclosures in the St Louis area fell dramatically during the 3rd quarter of this year with 1,529 total foreclosure actions on property in the St Louis MSA, a decline of 28.05 percent from the prior quarter and a decline of 53.04 percent from the same quarter a year ago, according to the latest data from RealtyTrac.  As our table below shows, during the 3rd quarter of this year all the counties in the core area of the St Louis market saw double digit declines in foreclosure activity from both the quarter before as well as the same period a year ago with the exception of Franklin County.  Franklin County saw foreclosure activity increase over 300 percent from the quarter before and almost 50 percent (48%) from a year ago.

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Should I Buy A Home Directly From The Listing Agent?

One of the most frequent questions I have been asked over the years by home buyers is “Should I Buy A Home Directly From The Listing Agent?”  While no answer is correct for every situation, I would say that, in most cases, the answer to this question is “no”, you should not buy a home directly from the listing agent.  You may be thinking though “won’t I get a better deal by cutting out the middle man?”  In reality by going to the listing agent you are in fact NOT cutting out the “middle man”  because in 99.99%* of the listings in the MLS the Seller will pay the SAME commission regardless of who sells their home, therefore, there is NO savings to the seller when you buy from the Listing Agent, just MORE COMMISSION to the Listing Agent.

Think of buying a home without a buyer’s agent representing you like going to court without an attorney….when the other side has an attorney.  That’s basically what you are doing when you buy a home without being represented by a buyer’s agent…the “other side” (the seller) has professional representation  and someone that has a legal obligation to represent them and get the best deal possible for them (the listing agent) and you have no one with a legal obligation to make sure you get the best deal possible.

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(*a search on 10/11/14 of the MLS (MARIS) revealed 18,218 residential listings and of those, only 25 had a “variable rate” commission meaning the seller would save money if the listing agent sold the home)

The Fastest Selling Neighborhoods in St Louis

The fastest selling neighborhoods in St Louis are found in St Louis county with the bulk of them in West St Louis County and the exceptions in Mid-County, according to the latest data available from MORE, REALTORS.  As the table below shows, the fastest selling neighborhood in St Louis as of today is Rock Hill where homes on the market have been for sale an average of 41 days.

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

St Louis home sales are failing to maintain the pace of last years home sales but still remain fairly strong, especially when you take into account the small inventory of homes for sale compared with last year.  St Louis home prices have increased in the past year which, along with other market signs, support that our housing market recovery in St Louis continues, albeit at a rather slow pace.

There are neighborhoods throughout St Louis that are low on inventory and high on demand creating a seller’s market!  If you have considered selling your home, 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 Sales and Prices Market Update VIDEO-October 2014