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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

HUD Releases Fair Market Rent Amounts for 2015 For Missouri

Today, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) released it’s Fair Market Rent amounts for 2015 which are used for several purposes including computation of section 8 rents in a given area.  The table below shows the fair market rents for 2015 for all Missouri Counties as well as Missouri Metropolitan Areas.

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Wells Fargo Agrees To $5 Million Settlement of Claim Of Discrimination of Pregnant Women & Women On Maternity Leave

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) just announced that Wells Fargo Home Mortgage has agreed to a $5 Million settlement to resolve allegations that Wells Fargo discriminated against women who were pregnant, or had recently given birth, and were on maternity leave. (Click HERE for settlement agreement)

There have been a total of 190 maternity leave discrimination complaints filed with HUD against lenders in the past 4 years and those complaints have resulted in 40 settlements for a total of $1.5 million, prior to today’s settlement with Wells Fargo.

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Millennial’s Today Racking Up Student Loans Not Home Loans

Millenial’s (people that are roughly 18 to 33 years old) are not as interested in buying homes today as their baby-boomer parents were at their age and, while there are probably some lifestyle issues that play a large part of it, the debt they are piling up in student loans may have something to do with their decision not to take on mortgage debt as well.  According to information provided by TransUnion, the percentage of Millenial’s debt that is attributed to student loans is 36.8% today, an increase of over 185% from 2005 when student loans were responsible for just 12.9% of that age groups debt.   On the hand, the percentage of the Millenial’s debt today that is for a home mortgage is 42.9%, down 32% from 2005 when it was  63.2%, according to TransUnion.

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Best College Towns For Renting and Flipping Property

If you are one of the many parents of college-bound kids that is considering investing in a property to provide housing for your college student rather than waste money or dorms or rent, then this newly released info will help.  Below is a list of the best college towns for renting property as well as the best college towns for flipping property, as compiled by RealtyTrac.  St Louis didn’t make either list, actually nothing in Missouri did, however, many of the colleges and universities listed have plenty of kids attending from this area.

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Want to find homes or condos that are available in college towns or get more detailed market information on one?   Contact us and we’ll  get you everything you need!

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St Louis Short Sales

St Louis short sales are definitely fewer and farther between than they were a couple of years back however, they are still out there and still often offer a great opportunity to a buyer.  A short sale is where a home is being sold by it’s owner at a price less than the current mortgage on it in the hope that the lender will agree to accept the proceeds from the sale and release the loan since the equity is simply not there to sell the home and pay off the loan.  Of course, there has to be some hardship with it as well and the owners have to prove they are in no position to pay the loan off in full otherwise it would not make sense for the lender to accept less than the full balance of the loan.

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Why did I get a notice that says I have to have flood insurance?

You’ve owned your home for 20 years, and you’ve never been required to have flood insurance on your property. So why did you get a notice saying that you are required to have flood insurance or else your lender is going to impose it upon you now – after all these years?

Simply stated, The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) believes that your lot is now at risk for being flooded in the event of a 100 year flood.  FEMA creates Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRMs) which depict and show where it is calculated that the water will spread in the event of a flood.  Because our communities’ landscape is constantly changing due to construction and population increase, the FIRMs become outdated and are no longer accurate.  In order to accurately depict where the flood waters will expand to, the FIRMs are updated as needed.

Interactive Online Flood Map for the U.S. Here

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St Louis Foreclosures & Serious Delinquencies Fall In Past Year

The St Louis Foreclosure rate in July 2014 was 0.78 percent, down almost 30 percent from the same time last year when the St Louis foreclosure rate was 1.08 percent, according to data just released by Corelogic.  The foreclosure rate for the state of Missouri in July 2014 was .64%, down from .89% a year ago.

On another good note, the serious mortgage delinquency rate (90+ days) for St Louis in July 2014 was 3.33%, down from 3.85% in July 2013.  On the state level, the Missouri serious mortgage delinquency rate for July 2014 was 3.06% down from 3.52% the year before.

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Pending Home Sales Down In August; Sales Pace Falling Short Of Last Year

There were 2,017 Pending Home Sales in St Louis (5-county core market) in August, down from 2,293 pending home sales in July and down 6.6% from August 2013 when there were 2,159 pending home sales,, according to MORE, REALTORS.  There have been a total of 15,998 pending home sales in St Louis year to date  through the end of August 2014 which is a decline a 4.9% from the same time last year when there were 16,829 pending home sales.

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How to Build Credit Or Fix Credit Issues

Albert Einstein once said, “Nothing happens until something moves.” Well if you are looking to buy a home, lease a car, apply for credit cards or even look for a job…nothing happens until your credit score moves and moves up!

If you are have had credit issues in the past….simply ignoring what happened does not help.  Ignoring a tooth-ache will not improve over time without treatment neither will your credit score!

If you have had credit issues in the past, it’s time you start establishing new (good) credit and start working on deleting old derogatory credit history like late payments, collections, judgments even bankruptcy or foreclosures from your credit report.  Remember, with a low credit score Banks and Lenders will be reluctant to lend you money to buy a home, car or even offer you a credit card.

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St Louis Neighborhoods Where Home Buyers Are King

There are still some St Louis neighborhoods where home buyers have the upper hand even though in many St Louis neighborhoods the seller is clearly in charge.  The table below shows St Louis buyer’s markets based upon our Market Action Index that scores a neighborhood based upon supply and demand and then determines whether the data is indicative of a seller’s market or a buyer’s market.  An index of 30 indicates a balanced market not favoring buyers or sellers and below a 30 a buyer’s market.  The lower the index goes, down to a low of 0, the colder that market is and the more it favors buyers.

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Software Developer’s $4 Million St. Albans Estate On Market

St Louis software developer and owner of Nu-Calgon, Brian Butler and his wife Kelly have listed for sale their 11,000+ square foot English Country Home which sits on over 6 acres in St Albans and overlooks the Missouri River for a price of $4,400,000.  The home, located at 508 Heron Court in the Bluffs at St. Abans was built in 1999 and was listed for sale for $3,975,000 on 4 previous occasions in 2012 and 2013 but did not sell.

To see complete details as well as all photos for this home, click here.

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Disclaimer: The information herein is believed to be accurate and timely, but no warranty whatsoever, whether expressed or implied, is given. Information from third parties is deemed reliable but not verified and should be independently verified. MORE, REALTORS does not display the entire IDX database of Mid America Regional Information Systems, Inc. (MARIS MLS) on this website.

City of St Louis Tops List of Places with Man-Made Environmental Hazards

The City of St Louis was at the top of a list that you don’t really want to be on, the “Top 50 Counties with the Highest Prevalence of Man-Made Environmental Hazards“, just released this morning by RealtyTrac. The city of St Louis scored a 87.2, more than triple the score of Philadelphia (27.8) which occupies the number 2 spot on the list.

In scoring locations for this list, RealtyTrac only looked at counties with a population of 100,000 or more and then ranked them based upon the % of bad air quality days, the number of Superfund sites on National Priority List per square mile and other environmental hazards per square mile. The City of St Louis experiences bad air quality days 7.89% of the time, about 45% higher than the national average of 5.43%, has 5.35 Superfund sites on the the National Priority list, 178 times the national average of .03 and has 13.3 other environmental hazards per square mile, 147 times the national average of .09.

This is yet another example of how the City of St Louis, by not being part of St Louis County and instead being treated as it’s own county, ends up on the short end of the stick (or perhaps exhaust stack in this case) on national statistics. Normally, a city within a metropolitan area is going to be more likely to have environmental hazards than the suburbs but the stats don’t look as bad with the cities’ data is mixed in with that of the suburbs, which is not the case here in St Louis.

Speaking of St Louis County, as the table below shows, it made the list also, coming in at #15 on the list.

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St Louis Home Sales Down From A Year Ago; Prices Up

St Louis Home Sales were down 5.21 percent in August 2014 from a year ago however St Louis home prices increased 6.44 percent during the same period, according the latest data available from MORE, REALTORS.

As the table below shows,  Franklin County and Jefferson County saw an increase in home sales during the past year however the other counties that make up the core St Louis market did not.  All of the five counties that make up the bulk of the St Louis real estate market saw an increase in home prices from last year with two of the counties in double digits.

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Mortgage Interest Rates Make Biggest One-Week Increase Of The Year

Mortgage Interest Rates rose this week to an average of 4.23 percent for a 30-year fixed rate home loan, up from 4.12 percent last week, marking the largest one-week jump in interest rates we have seen thus far this year, according to data just released by Freddie Mac.  Mortgage interest rates for fixed-rate loans have now hit the  highest level since May 1st.

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Mortgage interest rates from the Freddie Mac report:

  • 30-year fixed rate mortgages averaged 4.23%
    • Last week the rate was 4.12%
    • Last year at this time the rate was 4.5%
  • 15-year fixed rate mortgages averaged 3.37%
    • Last week the rate was  3.26.
    • Last year at this time the rate was 3.54
  • 5-year hybrid adjustable rate mortgages averaged 3.06%
    • Last week the rate was 2.99%
    • Last year at this time the rate was 3.11%
  • 1-year adjustable rate mortgages averaged 2.43%
    • Last week the rate was 2.45%
    • Last year at this time the rate was 2.65%

 

St Louis New Home Building Permits Drop In August

The number of new home building permits in St Louis dropped in August 12 percent from July and were down 2 percent from August 2013, according to the latest date from the Home Builders Association for St Louis and Eastern Missouri.   There were a total of 287 permits issued for the 5-county core market consisting of the city of St Louis and Counties of St Louis, St Charles, Jefferson and Franklin, down from 327 the month before and 292 a year ago.

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new home building permits in St Louis August 2014