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St Louis Home Sales Increase in March

As the chart below shows, there were 2,880 homes sold last month within the 5-county core St Louis market (city of St Louis and counties of St Louis, St Charles, Jefferson and Franklin) an increase of 6.5% from March 2016 when there were 2,705 homes sold. Looking at a the year over year change for a single month of home sales doesn’t usually tell the complete story, so I like to look at the prior 12 month period and compare it to the prior 122 month period to get the “big picture”.  When we do that for the 5-county core St Louis home market, as the table below shows, there were 27,437 homes sold in the 12 month period ending March 31, 2017, an increase of 6.26% from the prior 12 month period when there were 25,821 homes sold.

St Louis Home Prices Increased 6.5% in March from year ago

The chart below also reveals that the median price of homes sold last month in the St Louis core market was $166,380, an increase of 6.5% from March 2016 when the median price was $156,250.  Looking at the table for the most recent 12 months we see the median price of homes sold was $180,000 ,an increase of 5.26% from the prior 12 month period when the median price of homes sold was $171,000.

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How Much More Do Home Prices Increase In Better Neighborhoods Than The Rest?

Yesterday, I did a post on the 10 St Louis neighborhoods that made it in the Niche list of “100 Best Places to Live In America”.   This prompted a question as to how much better price appreciation have home owners seen in these neighborhoods as a result of the features they have that make them the “best places to live” verses the normal appreciation for the area?  Since it just so happens that all ten of the neighborhoods that made the list are in St Louis county, I decided to pull a chart to compare the median price per foot (the most accurate way to compare home prices) of homes sold in the top ten neighborhoods versus St Louis County as a whole.  As the chart below illustrates, here is what I found when I looked at home prices from January 1, 2012 (around the bottom of the market after the housing bubble burst in 2008) through the end of 2016:

  • St Louis County saw home prices increase 29.5% during this period, from $95/foot in 2012 to $123/foot in 2016.
  • The 10 neighborhoods included in the Best Places To Live list saw home prices increase 23.5% from $132/foot in 2012 to $163/foot in 2016

Hmm…so the best neighborhoods saw home prices increase at a lower rate than that county they are located in?  What does this mean?  I don’t know….could be the fact the median price in the better neighborhoods is roughly 50% higher to begin with so the higher priced homes may appreciate slower….or, it could be that part of what makes these neighborhoods the “best” is they offer good value so the fact that home price appreciation has been lower could be what put them on the list.  Whatever the reason, it’s just a good ice breaker for a Saturday morning.  🙂

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Ten of The Niche “100 Best Places In America To Live” Are In St Louis

Niche, a website that gives rankings and profiles of schools and neighborhoods throughout the U.S., recently released it’s list of the 100 best places to live in America, 10 of which, were in the St Louis area! Coming in at 18 on the list, and the best-ranked St Louis area, was Clayton followed by Creve Coeur at number 20.  The complete list of the St Louis neighborhoods that made the list of best places to live, along with their ranking on the list by Niche is below.

What was the criteria used by Niche to determine the best places to live?  According to the report, there were 14 different factors taken into consideration, each with their own weighting, to determine the best places to live.  At the top of the list, with a weight of 15% of the overall score is the percentage of residents with at least a Bachelor;s degree follow by cost of living grade (10%) and housing grade (10%).  The complete list of factors, and their weight in the overall score, is shown below.

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St Louis Real Estate Market Update VIDEO – April 2017

The supply of homes for sale continues to be a major impediment to the St Louis real estate market!  This month, as the video below shows, every county in the St Louis core market area has seen the inventory of homes for sale (in terms of months of supply) decline from last month and last month was already low!  In spite of the low, low inventory, home prices have remained reasonable and, in fact, we are seeing a little bit of a downward trend price-wise in some areas.  With these things in mind, along with the fact that interest rates are sure to go up, there’s no better time to buy or sell than now!

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!

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St Louis Real Estate Agents Be On Lookout For Phishing Scams Disguised As Fake Lead

Real estate agents should be on the lookout for a phishing scam disguised as a real estate lead from Realtor.com.  A phishing scam involves sending emails that look to be from a real, reputable company, but are not, in order to get the recipient to reveal personal information , such as credit card numbers, email passwords, etc so the scammer can use the information for some fraudulent purpose.  Over the past couple of years real estate agents have been a specific target of these scammers.  Real estate agents are targeted  in an effort to obtain the agents email password so the scammer can then send a phony email to the agents clients tricking them into wiring money to the fraudsters account rather than the title company for a closing.

So, how do these fraudsters obtain the password to your email account to do this?  Simple, they ask you for it and, unfortunately, many times, the unsuspecting agent falls for the scam.

Just this past week I received an email that is a great example of what I’m talking about.  The email (shown below) purported to be from Realtor.com and appeared to be a lead contacting me wanting to find a home to purchase.  The message even said the person was referred to me “by my friend Debbie”, making it all the more real-sounding and personal.  After all, with a common name like Debbie and all the people real estate agents come in contact with and meet, who doesn’t know a Debbie?

Here is how the phishing scam works…

  1. The agent receives an email like the one below purporting to be a lead interested in buying a house.  To which the agent replies to the lead (who has not given a phone number, only email address and indicated email is the preferred method of communication)..
  2. The agent receives an email from the scammer in response to the agents email (see below).  In the scammer’s response will be a link to a pre-approval letter, or some other bait, the scammer wants the agent to take.
  3. If the agent clicks on the link in the leads reply in #2 above, they will be taken to what appears to be DropBox and asked to log in using their email info.  If you fall for this, you put your email and password in and, at that point, they Gotcha!  The scammer now has your email log in information and can use that to log in as you, monitor your emails and find unsuspecting clients that are approaching their closing date.  They can then send an email that appears to be from you, and in fact IS from YOUR email account, giving them bogus wiring instructions for the balance due they owe at closing.

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St Louis Metro Area Foreclosure Rate Declines in 1st Quarter; St Charles and Franklin Counties Increase

During the first quarter of 2017, the foreclosure rate in the St Louis metro area was one in every 487 housing units, a decline of 19.59 percent from the quarter before, and a decline of 3.61 percent from a year ago, according to a report released today by Attom Data.

As the table below shows, of the 7 counties in Missouri that are part of the St Louis MSA, 6 saw a decline in foreclosure rate from the quarter before and 5 of the 7 saw a decline from a year ago.  The foreclosure rate in St Charles County during the 1st quarter increased 18.64 percent from the 1st quarter of 2016 and Franklin County saw a 43.4 percent increase in the foreclosure rate during the same period.

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Supply Of Homes For Sale In St Louis Hits Record Lows In March

The supply of homes for sale in St Louis continues to fall making it even more of a challenge for the home buyers out there while making it pretty easy on sellers.  For the past couple of years we have seen homes, that were properly priced and marketed correctly, sell often on the first day, or within the fist few days, of coming on the market for sale.  In fact, more and more it’s become common for homes to sell before actually even hitting the market officially.  Judging by the market stats, it’s probably not going to get any better for buyers anytime in the near future.

5 County Core Market Sees 2nd Lowest Supply in over 10 years…

As the chart below shows, the St Louis 5-county core market in March dropped to a 2.5 month supply of homes for sale, the 2nd lowest level in over 10 years.  Back in June, 2016, the supply of homes for sale dropped to 2.37 months.

Jefferson County supply of homes for sale drops to its lowest level in over 10 years…

As of March, there was a 3.17 month supply of homes for sale in Jefferson County, down from 5.5 months the month before and the lowest level in over 10 years.

St Louis City/County, St Charles and Franklin Counties’ supply of homes for sale all near record lows…

Franklin County, with a 4.10 month supply of homes for sale, is at it’s 2nd lowest level in over 10 years, St Louis City/County, at 2.47 months, is at the 3rd lowest level in over 10 years and St Charles, at 1.91 months, is at its 4th lowest level in over 10 years.

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Fastest Selling St Louis Neighborhoods Today Selling Nearly 50 Percent Faster Than 3 Years Ago

The St Louis real estate market has been a fast-selling seller’s market in many areas for what seems like a long time now.  Currently, the fastest selling city within the St Louis area is Warson Woods where homes for sale there have been on the market just an average of 7 days,  followed by Valley Park at 16 days.  As the table below, with the 15 fastest selling neighborhoods, shows, the “slowest” fastest-selling neighborhood on the list, Webster Groves, is at 49 days for the average time current listings have been for sale there.

Just to show how quickly we forget, I decided to dig into the archives a bit and see what the fastest selling neighborhoods list looked like from just 3 years ago, March 24,  2014 to be exact.  As the bottom table shows, the fastest-selling neighborhood on that list, Glendale, and an average time on the market of 44 days, just slightly ahead of our 15th finisher today.

15 Fastest-Selling Neighborhoods In St Louis Selling 47.8% faster than 3 years ago…

The charts show that, for the current 15 fastest selling neighborhoods, there is a median average days on market (sounds oxymoronic but it’s not) of just 35 days, 47.8% lower than in March 2014 when the median average time on market of the 15 fastest selling neighborhoods was 67 days.  My, how times have changed in such a short period of time!

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Home Affordability In St Louis Declining With Increasing Home Prices – Will Home Prices Suffer?

It seems almost crazy to even throw out the idea of an adjustment in St Louis home prices or, perhaps even, any sort of slow down in the rate of home price appreciation given that the inventory of homes for sale is so low in so many parts of the St Louis area, however, maybe it’s something to look at.  For anyone that has been reading what I have written here over the past 8+ years, you will hopefully know that I am not a “gloom and doom” guy at at all, but I do share my honest outlook on the market.  Having said that, I do feel home prices are something worth taking a look at.

What is causing the concern about home prices?

For starters, new housing affordability information was just released yesterday by ATTOM Data Solutions which shows home affordability in the St Louis area has eroded somewhat.  The table below, based upon the ATTOM data, shows what percentage of the average wages for the area are needed to make monthly house payments on a median-priced home with a 30-year fixed rate mortgage and a minimal downpayment of 3%.  It also shows how much, on a year over year basis, income has risen in that county versus how much home prices have increased.  As the table shows, it takes a pretty big chunk of pay to pay for the typical median priced home today and, in most cases, home prices are rising at higher rates  than income is rising.  Even if the year over year income/home price increase looks ok, home prices have been on the rise here for several years so if we look at a 5 year period home price growth is outpacing income growth.

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Number Of New Homes Sold In St Louis Declined Last Year After 2 Years Of Growth

New home sales in St Louis declined in 2016 after increasing during the prior two years, for both the entire St Louis MSA as a whole as well as the St Louis 5-County Core Market.  As the 10-year charts below show,  new home sales, fell steadily from 2007 for about the next 4 years as a result of the housing bubble burst and failing real estate market.  Since hitting rock bottom around 2011, new home sales have increased slightly but have not done so with any great momentum.

New home sales in St Louis 5 County Core Market are still just a fraction of what they were…

In 2007, there were 1,374 new home sales reported in the MLS in the St Louis core market, and last year there were 603 new homes sold, a decline of 56% from 2007.  Last years new home sales were down over 11 percent from the year below and are lower than the prior 4 years.  In fact, in the past 10 years, only 2011 saw fewer new homes sold with just 568 that year.

The median price of new homes sold, as the charts illustrate, dropped from $240,750 during 2007 until hitting bottom in 2010 at $211,144, and then after falling off the 2011 level in 2012, has increased every year since and hit $273,000 last year.  This represents an increase of 29% in the median price of new homes sold in the St Louis core market since 2010.

New home sales increased last year in St Louis County but fell in St Charles and Jefferson Counties…

As the individual county charts below show, St Louis county saw the number of new homes sold increase last year from the year before, increasing 34% from 127 in 2015 to 184 new homes sold in 2016.  The median price declined during this period however, from $520,000 during 2015 to $467,990 in 2016.

St Charles County saw new home sales decline nearly 23% (22.9) from 363 in 2015 to 280 during 2016 while prices increased from $221,705 to $228,424. Jefferson County followed suit with new home sales falling 22.5% from 129 during 2015 to 100 in 2016 while prices increased 14.6% during the same period from $205,000 in 2015 to $234,917 in 2016.
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Hispanic Home Ownership Rate On The Rise While Overall Rate On The Decline

As I have discussed a few times over the past couple of years, the home ownership rate in the United States has been on the decline, finally reaching an historic low in 2016 at 63.4%.  However, during the same time, the Hispanic home ownership rate increased from 45.4% in 2014 to 46% in 2016, according to the 2016 State of Hispanic Ownership Report.

Hispanic Home Ownership Rate vs Overall Home Ownership Rate

Home Ownership Rate - Hispanic Home Ownership Rate

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St Louis Home Prices Increase Over 5 Percent In Past 12 Months; Sales up over 7 percent

The median price of homes sold in the St Louis core housing market (city of St Louis and counties of St Louis, St Charles, Jefferson and Franklin) was $179,900 for the past 12 months, an increase of 5.2% from the prior 12 month period when the median price of St Louis homes sold was $171,000.  There were 27,323 homes sold during the past 12 months, an increase of 7.59% from 25,395 from the prior 12 month period.  As the table below shows, there are currently 5,180 active home listings in the St Louis core market, which, based upon current sales rates, is just a little over a 3 month supply.

Year over year home sales and prices for February

During the month of February 2017, as the chart below shows, there were 1,496 homes sold in the St Louis core market sold at a median price of $167,000.00, just a slight increase in home sales from February 2016 when there were 1,481 homes sold and an increase of 3.7% in price from the median price of $161,000.00 homes sold for in February 2016.

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St Louis Real Estate Market Update VIDEO – March 2017

There just aren’t enough homes for sale in many price ranges!  This month, like many months before, you will see that all five counties in the St Louis core market (city of St Louis and the counties of St Louis, St Charles, Jefferson and Franklin) all have less than a 6 month supply of homes for sale (a few less than half of that), so it remains a sellers market in many areas!  While the market is doing well, you will notice the trend over the past 24 months, as I describe in the video is down a little in terms of number of homes sales which is due simply the lack of homes available for sale.  There doesn’t appear to be a shortage of buyers at this point, just a shortage of sellers.

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!

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Percentage of St Louisans With Sub-Prime Credit Has Improved to Pre-Housing Bubble Levels

The percentage of people in St Louis with a sub-prime credit score (below 660) has continued to improve since peaking in most St Louis area counties around 2008, according to the latest data released by Equifax.  As the interactive map below shows, 30.63% of the people in the city of St Louis had sub-prime credit in the 4th quarter of 2016.  This is a decline from the 4th quarter of 2008 when it was 38.42% and even down from 2006, the year of the peak of the St Louis housing market, when 34.21% of people in the city of St Louis had sub-prime credit.

As the map shows, from the 5-county core St Louis market, St Charles County has the lowest percentage of sub-prime borrowers at 21.07%.  From the entire St Louis metro area, Monroe County in Illinois has the lowest percentage of sub-prime borrowers at 16.11%.  At the other end of the spectrum, the city of St Louis has the highest percentage of sub-prime borrowers from within the 5-county core St Louis market and Washington County, at 35.09%, has the highest percentage of people with sub-prime credit in the St Louis MSA.

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Midwest Home Builders Optimism About New Home Market Hits Record High in March

Happy home builders?  Wow, I remember those days, back before the real estate bubble and market collapse, boy were those the days!  Well, the good news is, while builders still have their challenges, according to the latest Housing Market Index (HMI) from the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), builders in the Midwest are more optimistic about the new home market than they have ever been! (or, at least since the beginning of the regional level index records that are published).

The NAHB Housing Market Index is based upon results of a survey done of the builders and other members of the National Association of Home Builders in which members are asked to rate market conditions in 3 ways:

  1. The sale of new homes at the present time
  2. How they feel about selling new homes over the coming six months
  3. The traffic of prospective buyers through their new home displays and developments.

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New Homes For Sale (or sold in past 12 Months) Throughout St Louis Area – Interactive Map

Are Landlords and Tenants Bad People?

My headline is a rhetorical question and I personally don’t think landlords and tenants are bad people but, after seeing so many municipalities work so hard over the past few years passing ordinances that, in many cases, in my humble opinion, tramples the property rights of landlords as well as the rights of tenants, one would have to believe that landlords and tenants must be some pretty bad people.  After all, if not, why would some municipalities work so hard to discourage them from entering their cities and work hard to chase them out?

For example, the most recent egregious example of this comes from the north-county city of Berkeley, where, last September, the city council passed an ordinance (#4320-bill can be seen at bottom)  that put a “30-percent limitation of single-family rental homes per residential block“.   Bill number 4456, which was the bill introduced that became the ordinance, gave the purpose of the new ordinance to be:

“The City (Berkeley) seeks to create a positive impact in city neighborhoods by creating an atmospher for residents to enjoy a good quality of life by creating a 30-percent limitation of single family rental homes per residential block”

Since the city of Berkeley seems to equate “a good quality of life” with a “limitation of single family rental homes‘ I think, by negative inference, we can come to the conclusion that Berkeley is saying rental homes, and I would guess either the people that own them, or the tenants that live in them, must negatively impact, or run counter to, “a good quality of life” in their neighborhoods which now brings us back to my initial question, are landlords and tenants bad people?

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The Fastest Selling Neighborhoods In St Louis

The St Louis real estate market continues to be strong and, thanks for a low inventory of homes for sale in many areas, competitive.  Accurately priced homes in popular neighborhoods often sell within a day or two of coming on the market.  Listings in the fastest selling cities in St Louis spend an average of less than 30 days on the market.  As the table below shows, the fastest selling city currently is Glendale (which has spent a lot of time at the top of this list over the last few months) with an average of just 23 days on the market for current listings, followed by Valley Park with an average listing time of 26 days.

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Downtown St Louis Loft District Offers Value Priced Lofts

The St Louis downtown loft market had a slow start back in the early 90’s and then picked up some steam later in the 90’s after Missouri launched its historic tax credit program which gave developers another tool to use to make loft projects more financially feasible.  The loft market, as the chart below illustrates, peaked in 2005, stalling out before the majority of the residential hit its peak in 2006.  The St Louis loft market saw a kind of double peak with prices rising in 2007 after dipping the year before, but then loft prices followed suit with the rest of the market and started a long slow decline until hitting bottom in 2011.

In looking at the St Louis downtown loft district market from 2002 through the end of last year, as depicted on the chart below, you can see that loft prices, while they have increased from the bottom reached after the housing bubble burst in 2008, have not recovered to pre-bubble levels, not even back to 2002 levels.  The median price of St Louis downtown loft district lofts sold in 2002 was $192,975 in 2002, rose to a peak of $236,000 during 2005, dipped down to $205,505 during 2006 however, it should be noted, that the number of lofts sold peaked during 2006, hitting 131 sales, the highest level for the entire 15 year period covered here.  St Louis loft prices then hit the second highest level in 2007 with a median price of $209,000, however, there were only 51 lofts sold that year, less than half the year before.  Loft prices then continue to tumble until hitting bottom in 2011 at $128,250 with only 34 lofts sold that year.   Last year, there were 71 lofts sold at a median price of $152,000.  To recap, for the loft market, 2016 prices were just 19% higher than the bottom reached in 2011 and 36% lower than the peak in 2005.  Loft prices in 2016 were 21% lower than the 2002 median price of $192,875.

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What Is A Villa?

An ever-increasing number of aging baby boomers are becoming empty nesters and coming to the realization they no longer need that 3, 4 or even 5 bedroom home they own.  In addition, many of them, also find themselves tired of the upkeep that comes with the big house on the large lot.  These issues, along with a desire for a lifestyle change, has led to a growing demand for alternative types of housing including condominiums and villas with the latter being the most popular.

What exactly is a “villa”?

The interesting thing is, even though the demand for villa’s has skyrocketed, StLouisVillas.com saw a 95% increase in sessions during the past 30 days from a year ago for example,  many buyers, and even real estate agents, have difficulty defining what a “villa” is.  Many buyers, and even real estate agents, assume all villa’s are condominiums, which is not so.  Most think villas are one-story with no exterior maintenance for the villa owner to worry about as the association takes care of everything and, while that may be true in some cases, that is not true in most.

When I talk with people that say they are interested in a villa and ask them what they are looking for in a “villa” what I find is that most will describe a lifestyle more than a particular architectural style of home or type of ownership.  Granted, it’s not that important that home buyers know what a villa is, as what they care about is that whatever housing they are looking at will meet their needs.  However, I do think it’s important for buyers to understand the different types of ownership villas may have as well as have an understanding of what to look for in terms of what the villa association actually takes care of or maintains.

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Moderate Priced Homes In St Louis Out Perform Luxury Home Sales

St Louis is known as an affordable place to live so it is not surprising that there is a fairly robust housing market for affordable and moderate priced homes.  When it comes to luxury homes in St Louis however ($500,000 and above for the sake of discussion here), the market is much cooler.  As the charts below for 2015 and 2016 illustrate, St Louis Luxury home prices have remained flat over the past two years, while more moderately priced homes have increased in price.

St Louis MSA Luxury Home Market…

On the chart below, the baby blue line representing the median price luxury homes sold for is flat-lined for the past two years at $650,000 while seller’s have become more realistic and the median list price fell from $674,900 in 2015 to $669,450 in 2016.  On a positive note, luxury home sales have been on the rise increasing nearly 13 percent from 1,448 homes sold in 2015 to 1,636 homes sold during 2016.

St Louis MSA Affordable/Moderate Priced Home Market…

The chart for this market paints a pretty uplifting picture with all the chart lines on the rise over the period.  As the chart below depicts, the median price of homes sold in this category increased nearly 6% from $155,000 in 2015 to $164,000 during 2016.  The number of homes sold rose over 8% from 29,445 during 2015 to 31,987 in 2016.

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St Louis Real Estate Market Off To A Good Start For 2017

Last year was a good year for the St Louis real estate market and, thus far, 2017 is off to a pretty good start in St Louis as well!  As the chart and tables below illustrates, home prices in the St Louis area have been trending upward over the past couple of years and sales are holding pretty steady.

On a year to date basis through February, compared with the same period last year, Jefferson County has seen the largest increase in the median price of homes sold at 18.5%, but also saw a 13% decline in the number of home sales which could be related to increasing prices.   St Louis city and county held steady on the number of homes sold and home prices, with a 1% and 1.3% increase respectively.  St Charles county saw a 1.5% increase in home sales and a 4.0% in crease in the median price of homes sold. Overall, for the 5-county core market, home sales are dead even with last year and prices are up 6.6%.

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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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