St. Louis MSA’s Population Dynamics Over 50 Years

As the table and charts below illustrate, the St. Louis Metropolitatn Area (MSA) has undergone significant demographic shifts over the past 50 years, marked by a stark contrast between the population trends in the City of St. Louis and its surrounding counties.

St Louis MSA and Major Counties Population 1970-2022

St Louis MSA Population 1970-Present Table

The decline in the City of St. Louis’s population sharply contrasts with the growth in surrounding counties. During the same period that St. Charles County witnessed a 345% increase and the St. Louis MSA as a whole saw nearly a 60% rise, the City of St. Louis experienced nearly a 70% drop in population.

Over the last 50 years, the St. Louis MSA has undergone significant shifts in its population, characterized by substantial declines in the City of St. Louis and remarkable growth in suburban counties. This trend can largely be attributed to a combination of factors, including urban blight, which is characterized by the deterioration and abandonment of buildings, leading to a diminished quality of life and decreased property values. The escalation of crime rates further compounded the city’s challenges, rendering it less appealing for families and individuals in search of safe, stable environments. Furthermore, governance issues, marked by inefficient public services and policies that failed to effectively address the needs of urban residents, have also contributed to the population decline. These factors, coupled with the allure of suburban living—offering more spacious living conditions, better educational facilities, and a perceived higher level of safety—have propelled the demographic shift away from the city center and towards the suburbs.

St Louis MSA and City of St Louis Population – 1970 – 2022 Chart

(click on chart for live interactive chart)

St Louis MSA and City of St Louis Population - 1970 - 2022 Chart

St Louis Major Counties Population- 1970 – 2022 Chart

(click on chart for live interactive chart)

St Louis Major Counties Population- 1970 - 2022 Chart


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Smaller, Personalized Homes Dominate 2024 Trends: Insights from NAHB Study

The dynamics of the new home market are shifting significantly as we advance into 2024, with a clear trend towards smaller, more personalized living spaces emerging nationwide. This evolution reflects a broader change in homeowner preferences and market conditions, according to the latest “What Home Buyers Really Want” study by the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB).

Recent data points to a decline in the average size of new homes, continuing a trend that began following a brief uptick in 2021. The average new home size has decreased to 2,411 square feet in 2023, marking the smallest average size in over a decade. This reduction aligns with homebuyers’ preferences, which have also shifted towards more compact living spaces. Today, the desired home size is around 2,070 square feet, significantly less than the 2,260 square feet preferred two decades ago.

Rose Quint, NAHB’s assistant vice president of survey research, identifies two main factors driving this trend: a change in homebuyer preferences and the escalating challenge of housing affordability. In response, builders are adapting their strategies, with 38% reporting a shift towards constructing smaller homes in 2023 to facilitate sales, and 26% planning to continue this approach into 2024. Efforts to address affordability concerns have led to reductions in median new home prices to $427,400 in 2023, a 7 percentage point drop from the previous year and the most significant decrease since 2009.

Beyond size, homebuyers are increasingly seeking personalized and authentic living spaces. Donald Ruthroff, AIA, of Design Story Spaces LLC, highlights a growing demand for customization, with homeowners desiring unique features that set their homes apart. This trend towards personalization is evident in the choice of home upgrades, from custom kitchen islands to premium flooring options.

The study also reveals that homebuyers’ priorities have evolved, with a focus on outdoor living, kitchen functionality, and energy efficiency. Top desired features include laundry rooms, patios, Energy Star windows, and smart home technology, such as security cameras and programmable thermostats. Additionally, preferences have expanded to include quartz countertops, outdoor kitchens, and built-in seating, underscoring a shift towards both practicality and luxury in home design.

As we move through 2024, the shift towards smaller, more personalized homes is reshaping the real estate landscape. This trend, driven by changing preferences and affordability challenges, highlights the importance of staying informed about market dynamics for both homebuyers and builders and you’re in the right place now to do that, St Louis Real Estate News.


  

 

Newly Released Consumer Report Examines Buyer Agency Contracts Citing Unfair Provisions

A report titled “Required Buyer Agency Contracts: Impacts On Home Buyers” was recently released by Stephen Brobeck, Senior Fellow with the Consumer Federation of America. In the introduction, Brobeck states, ‘This report will discuss several aspects of buyer agency contracts – important content, unfair provisions, format and timing, and recommended use by consumers.’ He suggests that state governments or the courts should prohibit certain unfair practices, such as allowing ‘buyer agents to arrange, with listing agents, additional compensation from sellers beyond what is negotiated with buyers,’ stating that such practices could ‘thwart any efforts to sufficiently separate buyer agent and listing agent commissions so that both buyers and sellers can independently negotiate the commissions of their agents.’

The Consumer Federation of America (CFA), and specifically Stephen Brobeck, have been notably critical of the National Association of Realtors (NAR) for some time, so it’s not surprising they have issued this report to sound the alarm on buyer agency agreements. While the CFA is not always critical of NAR or the real estate industry’s practices, my observations over the last few years suggest they often focus on criticizing unfair or unjust practices rather than commending good ones. After all, as a consumer watchdog, it’s likely they spend more time looking for problems to address. Despite my lifelong career in the real estate industry, I also take a hard look at it, always seeking areas for improvement.


I went through the report and here is my summary of the major issues it points out, along with my thoughts on each. My section headings match those in the report for those who want to explore further.

  • Supplemental Buyer Agent Compensation: The report criticizes situations where a listing agent offers a buyer’s agent commission higher than what the buyer’s agent negotiated with the buyer, keeping the difference. It argues this is unfair and that any excess should benefit the buyer, not the agent. In St. Louis, the standard REALTOR® buyer agency contract specifies a “minimum commission” for the buyer’s agent, usually covered by the seller through the listing agent. With upcoming changes potentially prohibiting sellers from offering compensation to buyer’s agents, this dynamic might shift, but currently, it seems less of a concern here.
  • Unreasonable Fees: The report labels “administrative” or “transaction” fees, typically ranging from $200 to $900, as “junk fees” and unjustifiable given today’s high commission rates. My view is mixed. On one hand, I prefer a single, comprehensive charge for services; on the other, a fixed transaction fee could help normalize returns from variable commissions. These fees shouldn’t be blanketly labeled as unfair; total cost for representation should provide fair value, regardless of its structure.
  • Requiring Buyer Acceptance of Dual Agency, Designated Agency, or Transaction Brokerage: The report criticizes agreements that pre-emptively commit buyers to accept a change in their agent’s role to a dual agent, designated agent, or transaction broker. I concur on dual agency and transaction brokerage concerns but not on designated agency, as it doesn’t alter the buyer’s agent role but designates them for a specific client within a firm. In our firm, MORE, REALTORS®, we advise against dual agency and switching to transaction brokerage, emphasizing consistent representation and fiduciary duty.
  • Not Explaining How Conflicts of Interest Involving Other Buyer Clients Are Resolved: The report points out the lack of clarity in most buyer’s agency contracts on how conflicts of interest with multiple buyers interested in the same property are managed. I agree and believe that with industry changes, including buyers directly paying agents, there will be demand for clearer conflict resolution strategies and perhaps exclusivity agreements, provided they are narrowly defined to prevent conflicts without overly restricting the agent’s business.

An upside to the recent litigation spotlighting the real estate industry is the emergence of reports and analyses that, though not always accurate or impartial, spotlight key issues and foster a more transparent environment for consumers. I personally view this shift toward greater transparency and consumer understanding of the real estate process as one of the major benefits of the industry’s forthcoming changes. Better-informed consumers will be equipped to more thoroughly evaluate the qualifications of the agents they choose to work with. This, in turn, will benefit dedicated and professional agents, while naturally filtering out those who lack the necessary knowledge, ethics, or comprehension to thrive in the business.

Facing New Rules: NAR and DOJ Clash Over Buyer’s Agent Commission Policies – What It Means for You

Kevin Sears,
2024 NAR President

At a real estate conference in Boston on February 1, 2024, NAR President Kevin Sears addressed a pressing issue facing the National Association of Realtors (NAR) and its members. Sears candidly discussed the aftermath of a $5.4 billion verdict against NAR, drawing parallels to a sports scenario to highlight the disappointment of a loss despite believing in the righteousness of their policy and actions. He emphasized the importance of moving forward, focusing on the legal appeals process and the ongoing challenges with the Department of Justice (DOJ), which has been a persistent adversary for NAR.

Sears detailed the history of NAR’s interactions with the DOJ, including a settled agreement in 2020, which the DOJ later contested, leading to further legal battles. He highlighted a specific case involving MLS Property Information Network (MLS PIN) in Massachusetts, which faced a “copycat lawsuit” and encountered DOJ objections to settlement agreements, underscoring the DOJ’s significant influence on the real estate industry’s operations.

Kevin Sears provided a comprehensive overview of the National Association of Realtors’ (NAR) complex and ongoing interactions with the Department of Justice (DOJ), painting a picture of an enduring legal struggle that has deep implications for the real estate industry. He began by recounting a pivotal moment in 2020 when NAR reached a settlement agreement with the DOJ, a moment that seemed to mark the beginning of a resolution to their disputes. However, this sense of resolution was short-lived as the DOJ later contested the terms of the agreement, reigniting a series of legal challenges that have since persisted.

Sears’ narrative then shifted focus to a more recent and illustrative example of these challenges: the case involving the MLS Property Information Network (MLS PIN) in Massachusetts. This particular case, described by Sears as a “copycat lawsuit,” mirrored the broader issues at stake between NAR and the DOJ. The lawsuit led to a proposed settlement agreement between MLS PIN and the plaintiff’s attorneys, which, in a turn of events characteristic of the DOJ’s recent interventions, faced objections from the DOJ. The federal department’s refusal to endorse the settlement underscored its readiness to closely scrutinize and influence the outcomes of legal disputes in the real estate sector.

Through these examples, Sears emphasized the DOJ’s significant and active role in shaping the operational landscape of the real estate industry. He highlighted the DOJ’s apparent commitment to altering traditional practices within the industry, particularly those related to the compensation of buyer’s agents through commissions offered by sellers. This ongoing legal saga between NAR, its members, and the DOJ not only reflects the complexities of antitrust law in real estate but also signals a potentially transformative period for industry practices and professional relationships.


 

Key Points Made by Kevin Sears:

  • Acknowledged the $5.4 billion verdict against NAR, emphasizing the need to move forward through legal appeals and post-trial motions.
  • Highlighted the longstanding challenges with the DOJ, including a contested settlement and ongoing legal disputes.
  • Discussed the specifics of a lawsuit involving MLS PIN in Massachusetts, illustrating the DOJ’s active role in scrutinizing industry practices and settlements.
  • Stressed the importance of adapting to changes in the real estate industry, particularly regarding how businesses operate and how realtors are compensated.
  • Urged the audience to consider the future of the industry and the necessity of embracing change, whether willingly or as a result of external pressures.

The Impact of Credit Scores on St. Louis Real Estate Decisions

Whether you’re looking to buy or rent a home, your credit score is more than just a number—it’s a gateway to your future residence. A recent survey by LendingTree has shed light on the significant role credit scores play in Americans’ access to financial products, including those crucial for securing a home. Here’s a recap of the findings and their implications for the St. Louis real estate market.

Key Findings:

  • High Denial Rates: 42% of Americans reported their credit scores prevented them from obtaining a financial product in the past year, with this figure soaring to 74% among those with poor credit. For St. Louis residents, this could mean increased challenges in securing mortgages or rental agreements.
  • Credit Cards and Personal Loans: The top products consumers were denied due to their credit scores were credit cards (25%) and personal loans (12%). While not directly related to real estate, these denials can impact one’s ability to consolidate debt or cover moving expenses, indirectly affecting home buying or renting capabilities.
  • Perception of Financial Responsibility: 40% of Americans believe their credit scores do not accurately reflect their financial responsibility. This sentiment is even higher among those with poor credit (60%), millennials (47%), and women (44%). For potential homebuyers or renters in St. Louis, this discrepancy could lead to frustration and barriers in the housing market.
  • Payment History’s Importance: Despite being the most crucial factor in credit score calculations, 50% of Americans are unaware that payment history holds the most weight. This lack of knowledge can lead to missed opportunities for improving credit scores and, by extension, securing better terms for mortgages or leases.
  • Improving Credit Scores: The survey revealed that paying off debt was the primary method for improving credit scores over the past year. For St. Louis residents, understanding and applying this knowledge can be a strategic move towards enhancing eligibility for home buying or renting.


Implications for St. Louis Real Estate:
The survey’s insights highlight a critical barrier to homeownership and renting: the impact of credit scores on financial product accessibility. For St. Louis real estate professionals and potential homebuyers or renters, this underscores the importance of credit education and management as foundational steps towards achieving housing goals.

  • Educational Opportunities: Real estate professionals, such as the Masters of Real Estate at MORE, REALTORS®, can provide valuable guidance to clients on improving credit scores, emphasizing the role of payment history and debt management.
  • Strategic Planning: Understanding the weight of credit scores in financial decisions can help potential buyers or renters in St. Louis develop strategies to improve their scores before applying for mortgages or leases.
  • Market Accessibility: For those with poor credit, exploring alternative financing options or seeking professional credit counseling could open doors to the real estate market that might otherwise remain closed.

In St. Louis, as in the rest of the country, a strong credit score is more than just a number—it’s a key that unlocks the door to future housing opportunities. The recent LendingTree survey provides a basis for understanding the challenges and strategies related to credit scores in the real estate market. By focusing on credit education and management, St. Louis residents can navigate these challenges more effectively, making the dream of buying or renting a home more attainable.

 

2024’s Top Paint Colors: Boost Your St. Louis Home’s Appeal

In 2024, the focus for homeowners is clear: refreshing interiors with colors that offer both a sense of calm and a reflection of personal style. The 2024 Paint & Color Trends Report from FIXr reveals a shift towards warm, earthy tones and nature-inspired hues, designed to transform homes into serene havens. Greens, blues, bright yellows, and deep olives are set to dominate, promising spaces that not only stand out but also provide an escape from the daily grind. This year, it’s all about bringing the tranquility of the outdoors inside, with a nod to personal expression through bold color choices.

The report, a comprehensive guide compiled with insights from top industry experts, serves as a valuable resource for anyone looking to update their home. It underscores the importance of creating environments that are not just visually appealing but also emotionally resonant. For St. Louis residents contemplating a home makeover, this guide offers a wealth of information, from the most sought-after colors to tips on enhancing home value and personal comfort. It’s an invitation to rethink your space, ensuring it reflects the latest trends while catering to your unique taste and lifestyle.

For those interested in exploring the full spectrum of 2024’s paint and color trends, the complete report is accessible below for in-depth review. It’s an essential read for homeowners aiming to infuse their spaces with the year’s most captivating and soothing colors.


2024 Paint & Color Trends Report

(click image below to access complete report in PDF form)

2024 Paint & Color Trends Report

DOJ Suggests Ending Seller-Paid Buyer Agent Commissions

Yesterday, the Department of Justice filed a Statement of Interest  concerning the Nosalek v. MLS PIN case.  In the class action lawsuit Nosalek v. MLS Property Information Network, Inc., plaintiffs allege that mandatory commission agreements for buyer-brokers on the MLS system are anticompetitive, leading to artificially inflated commission rates for sellers, in violation of antitrust laws.  Previously, a settlement was reached by the parties in the lawsuit, but the DOJ intervened, asking the court to hear the views of the United States before deciding whether to approve the settlement.  This statement of interest was what the DOJ asked the court to wait for.

In the Statement of Interest, the Department of Justice conducts a critical examination of buyer agent commissions, suggesting that a transformative approach to real estate transactions is needed. The Department critiques the current practice of seller-offered commissions to buyer brokers for maintaining artificially high fees and stifling competition. It does not think the proposed changes in the settlement go far enough, stating, “as long as sellers can make buyer-broker commission offers, they will continue to offer ‘customary’ commissions out of fear that buyer brokers will direct buyers away from listings with lower commissions.” Their alternative? The DOJ states, “the parties could propose an injunction that would prohibit sellers from making commission offers to buyer brokers at all. That injunction would promote competition by empowering buyers to negotiate directly with their own brokers.” Ah, what I’ve been predicting for some time now, that a real estate agent will only be able to be paid by their client.

While this case is in Massachusetts and does not directly impact the St. Louis real estate industry, industry leaders throughout the country have been anxiously monitoring the suit to get a better idea of what the DOJ is going to want from the industry as a whole, which I think we clearly see with this filing.


 

Statement of Interest of The United States – Nosalek v MLS PIN


St Louis Metro Area Real Estate Market Report for January 2024 with accurate data you can trust

The St. Louis Metro Area Real Estate Market Report for January 2024, presented below, provides an overview of the St Louis real estate market for each county within the St Louis MSA. This infographic is a unique offering from MORE, REALTORS, which is renowned for its expertise in St. Louis real estate market intelligence. Additionally, our brokerage prides itself on having a team of the most experienced and knowledgeable agents who are deeply committed to serving our clients throughout the St. Louis metro area.

St Louis Metro Real Estate Report for January 2024

(click on infographic for complete report including all counties in the St Louis Metro Area)St Louis Metro Real Estate Report for January 2024

Consumer Confidence in Mortgage Rates Soars, Marking a Positive Shift in Housing Sentiment for 2024

The latest release from Fannie Mae on the Home Purchase Sentiment Index® (HPSI) is particularly illuminating, showing a notable uptick in consumer optimism towards mortgage rates. For the first time since March 2022, the HPSI has climbed to 70.7, a 3.5-point increase driven largely by heightened confidence in job security and an unprecedented share of consumers expecting mortgage rates to dip in the coming year. This optimism isn’t just numbers on a page; it’s a palpable shift in the air, with 82% of respondents now feeling secure in their employment prospects, and an all-time survey high of 36% predicting lower mortgage rates ahead. Yet, despite this optimism, the stark reality remains that only 17% believe it’s a good time to buy a home, underscoring a persistent pessimism around purchasing conditions.


 

Fannie Mae Home Purchase Sentiment Index Chart

(click on chart for current, live-interactive chart)

Fannie Mae Home Purchase Sentiment Index Chart

St. Louis Housing Affordability Increases Slightly In Last Quarter of 2023

The latest figures from the NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Opportunity Index reveal that 70.8% of people in the St. Louis MSA, with a median income of $101,200, could afford to buy a median-priced home. This percentage has seen a slight increase from the 3rd quarter of 2023, when it was 69.3%. As demonstrated in the chart below, this positions St. Louis as the 31st most affordable metro area for home purchases, out of the 242 that were ranked.

  

St Louis MSA Housing Affordability & National Rank (2014-2023)

St Louis MSA Housing Affordability & National Rank (2014-2023)

Despite High Demand and Low Inventory, St. Louis New Home Permits Hit Nine-Year Low in 2023

In 2023, the St. Louis area saw the issuance of 3,891 building permits for new single-family homes. This represents a decline of 10.78% compared to the previous year, which had 4,361 permits, according to the latest figures from the Home Builders Association of St. Louis & Eastern Missouri (St. Louis HBA). This downward trend was noted across all counties with the exception of St. Charles County, where five counties reported double-digit decreases. Additionally, Warren County, which had been on a four-month streak of increased permit activity, experienced a slight drop this month. The total of 3,891 permits in 2023 is the lowest the St. Louis area has seen since 2014, when 3,843 permits were issued. Furthermore, this total is nearly 17% below the 20-year average of 4,680 permits annually and 11% below the 20-year median of 4,375 permits.


  

St Louis New Home Building Permits – December 2023

(click on table below for page with live charts showing additional permit data)

 

St. Louis Residential Rental Vacancies for 2023 Hit Highest Level in Four Years

The latest residential vacancy rate data from the U.S. Census Bureau for the St. Louis Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) shows that the rental vacancy rate for 2023 was an average of 7.73% and increase of over a percentage point from the previous year. As the chart below illustrates, the average St Louis rental vacancy rate for 2023 was the highest in four years.


  

 

St Louis MSA Rental Vacancy Rate 2015-2023

St Louis MSA Rental Vacancy Rate 2015-2023

Home Ownership Rate in St. Louis Metro Area Fell to Lowest Level in Four Years in 2023

The latest home ownership data from the U.S. Census Bureau for the St. Louis Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) reveals that the ownership rate in the 4th quarter of last year was 69.5%, a decline of over 2 full percentage points from the same quarter in the previous year. The Census Bureau reports home ownership rates on a quarterly basis, and the average rate for 2023 in the St. Louis metro area was 69.5%. This marks the lowest average homeownership rate for St. Louis since 2019, when it was 68.1%. The homeownership rate reached a recent peak in St. Louis in 2021, registering at 73.8%.

 

 

St Louis Metro Area Home Sales Fall to Lowest Level in 9 Years

As 2023 drew to a close, the St. Louis metro real estate market concluded the year with a total of 31,747 homes sold. As highlighted in the chart below, this figure represents the lowest annual home sales in the St. Louis MSA in nine years, since 2014, when the total was 31,531 homes sold.

Home prices in the St. Louis MSA have shown more resilience than sales volumes. As 2023 came to a close, the 12-month median home price per foot stood at $169, marking a 5% increase from the previous year. This trend provides a stark contrast to the sales figures. Over the past nine years, while the number of homes sold initially rose, it eventually reverted to levels seen nine years ago. In contrast, the median price per foot for homes sold has witnessed a substantial increase of over 74%, soaring from $97 per foot to $169 per foot.


12-Month Home Sales and Price Trend For the St Louis MSA For the Past 15 Years

(click on chart for live, interactive chart)

12-Month Home Sales and Price Trend For the St Louis MSA For the Past 15 Years

St. Louis Retirement Real Estate: A New Era According to Latest Report

Home in Retirement: More Freedom, New ChoicesIn the St. Louis real estate market, understanding the choices of retirees is crucial. The Merrill Lynch-Age Wave report, “Home in Retirement: More Freedom, New Choices,” offers valuable data-driven insights. It reveals a significant shift in retirees’ housing preferences, with a focus on lifestyle-driven relocation rather than just downsizing.

Key Insights:

  • Renovation Trends: Retirees are increasingly focusing on home renovations to improve comfort and safety. This trend is driven by the desire to age in place comfortably, adapting their living spaces to suit changing mobility and health needs, as well as to accommodate visits from family and friends.
  • Financial Stability through Homeownership: The report indicates that home equity is a significant aspect of retirees’ financial security. Many retirees own their homes outright, providing a stable financial base and the possibility of leveraging this equity for additional income or security in retirement.
  • Community and Location Preferences: Retirees show a growing preference for living in age-specific communities or areas with desirable amenities and climates. This shift is influenced by the desire for social interaction with peers, access to health care and recreational activities, and the appeal of living in a more comfortable and suitable environment for their lifestyle needs.

At MORE, REALTORS®, we recognize the unique real estate needs of the senior market in St. Louis. Our team includes several agents specialized in this sector, having undergone extensive training to acquire specialized designations such as Certified Senior Advisor® (CSA), Seniors Real Estate Specialist® (SRES), Certified Senior Housing Professional, and Certified Downsizing Coach. These qualifications equip us to offer tailored services and advice to retirees, ensuring they make informed decisions that align with their lifestyle, comfort, and financial goals. Our expertise positions us as a trusted partner for seniors navigating the St. Louis real estate market.

For a complete understanding of these trends, the entire report is available for review.


 

 

Exploring the 2024 Rental Affordability Report: Insights for the St. Louis Real Estate Market

Today, ATTOM released its ‘2024 Rental Affordability Report,’ presenting a comprehensive analysis of the current state of home rental and ownership in the United States. The report indicates that renting a median three-bedroom home is more affordable than owning a similarly-sized property in nearly 90% of the U.S. markets. This trend continues despite rents growing faster than home prices. A significant finding for our industry is that both renting and owning pose substantial financial burdens on average workers, consuming over a third of their wages in most county-level housing markets.

Data for St. Louis County is consistent with the report.

Since the report covered only counties with a population of 1 million people or greater, St. Louis County was the sole county from our area included.  The report highlights that in St. Louis County, MO, renting remains more affordable compared to owning. This reflects the national trend, with median three-bedroom rents requiring only 24% of average local wages compared to higher percentages for home ownership costs. It’s worth noting that the affordability gap between renting and owning in St. Louis County is much narrower than in many counties in the U.S., particularly coastal areas.

Things may change soon though based upon trends shown.

The report reveals that in 2024, median rents for three-bedroom homes have risen more than single-family home prices in a majority of counties. This indicates a shift in the rental market dynamics, emphasizing the growing challenge for renters in finding affordable housing.


Rent vs. Wage Growth

An alarming trend noted in the report is that median three-bedroom rents are increasing faster than average local wages in over half of the markets analyzed. This disparity is a crucial factor contributing to the affordability crisis, as it indicates that wage growth is not keeping pace with rising housing costs.

Buying a Home: Long-Term Certainty vs. Short-Term Instability.

For those who have been following my articles over the past few years, I hope you’ve realized that I don’t blindly advocate for homeownership. I recognize that owning a home isn’t the best choice for everyone. In many cases, renting a home or an apartment is a better fit. However, considering the details in this report, it’s clear why buying a home can be advantageous for those in a position to do so. It offers the long-term certainty of fixed costs, contrasting sharply with the volatility of the rental market. This contrast is especially pertinent in light of the report’s findings that rent increases are outstripping wage growth.

Understanding Your Real Estate Options

At MORE REALTORS®, we pride ourselves on having a team of some of the most skilled and professional real estate agents in the St. Louis area. Our agents are dedicated to providing informed guidance tailored to each individual’s needs. Whether you’re considering buying or leasing, we’re here to offer insights and assistance based on your unique situation. For more information about our agents and the services we offer, please visit morerealtors.com. Alternatively, you can contact me directly at Dennis@STLRE.com, and I’d be happy to connect you with one of our knowledgeable real estate professionals.


New Single-Family Home Permits Dip by 14.71% in St. Louis Area; Warren County Bucks the Trend

During the 12-month period ending November 30, 2023, there were 3,932 building permits issued for new single-family homes in the St. Louis area. This figure marks a 14.71% decrease from the previous 12-month period, which saw 4,515 permits issued, as per the latest data from the Home Builders Association of St. Louis & Eastern Missouri (St. Louis HBA). The downturn was observed in all counties except Warren County, with five of them experiencing double-digit declines. Warren County notably reported an increase in building permits for the fourth consecutive month.


  

St Louis New Home Building Permits – November 2023

(click on table below for page with live charts showing additional permit data)St Louis New Home Building Permits - November 2023

 

Market Overload: Report Reveals Surplus of Agents in Real Estate

In their report, “A Surfeit of Real Estate Agents: Industry and Consumer Impacts,” the Consumer Federation of America (CFA) sheds light on a pressing issue in the real estate industry: the overwhelming number of agents. This surplus, as detailed in the report, is not just a numbers game; it’s a matter of market efficiency and service quality, deeply affecting both agents and consumers in markets like St. Louis.

While I may not always agree with the Consumer Federation of America’s views, including certain aspects of this report, many of their points echo my own observations at MORE, REALTORS®. We constantly strive to enhance our agents’ education and consumer knowledge, while also improving service quality for home buyers and sellers through innovative technology. This proactive approach in real estate brokerage sets us apart, enabling us to anticipate and address potential industry issues, often identified by external observers like the CFA, before they escalate.


Some of the problems identified in the report, with each point followed by my thoughts,  are:

  • Agent Over-saturation: The influx of part-time agents has saturated the market, impacting incomes and service quality.
    • The recent strong sellers’ market created a misleading ease in real estate success, attracting numerous new agents. As the market normalizes, many realize the need for deeper knowledge and commitment to provide professional service. At MORE, we understand this isn’t just about numbers; it’s about upholding excellence.
  • Professional Development: The report emphasizes the importance of continuous professional development and specialization to differentiate full-time agents from part-timers.
    • I wholeheartedly agree with the report’s emphasis on continuous professional development. At our company, I lead weekly online coaching and training sessions, attended by our agents. We don’t just stop at a salesperson’s license in Missouri; we encourage further education, including obtaining a broker’s license and professional designations, to demonstrate our commitment to excellence.
  • Technology and Efficiency: Utilizing technology to enhance efficiency and reduce operational costs, thereby allowing full-time agents to remain competitive and profitable.
    • While the report discusses technology from an agent profitability standpoint, I view it as a tool for providing more data and resources to clients efficiently and effectively, thereby maximizing the value delivered by our agents.
  • Consumer Education: Educating consumers about the value of experienced, full-time agents to ensure better service quality and market efficiency.
    • This is a crucial area for me. For over 14 years, I’ve been actively writing articles and sharing insights on St Louis Real Estate News, aiming to educate both consumers and agents. An informed consumer base leads to better decisions, rewarding high-quality, professional agents.

In conclusion, the CFA’s report “A Surfeit of Real Estate Agents: Industry and Consumer Impacts” illuminates significant challenges in today’s market, particularly the glut of agents. At MORE, REALTORS®, we’ve been proactive in addressing these issues through continuous professional development, technological advancement, and consumer education. Our approach isn’t just about adapting to current trends; it’s about setting a higher standard in real estate service. As we navigate these industry changes, our commitment to excellence and informed service remains our guiding principle, ensuring we continue to deliver unmatched value to our clients in St. Louis.


A Surfeit of Real Estate Agents: Industry and Consumer Impacts

(click on image below to view entire report)

A Surfeit of Real Estate Agents: Industry and Consumer Impacts

St Louis Metro Area Real Estate Market Report for December 2023 with accurate data you can trust

The St. Louis Metro Area Real Estate Market Report for December 2023, presented below, provides an overview of the St Louis real estate market for each county within the St Louis MSA. This infographic is a unique offering from “MORE, REALTORS, which is renowned for its expertise in St. Louis real estate market intelligence. Additionally, our brokerage prides itself on having a team of the most experienced and knowledgeable agents who are deeply committed to serving our clients throughout the St. Louis metro area


St Louis Metro Real Estate Report for December 2023

(click on infographic for complete report including all counties in the St Louis Metro Area)St Louis Metro Real Estate Report for December 2023

St. Louis Foreclosure Filings Plummet: Find Out What’s Happening in Your County

The St. Louis MSA has seen a notable decrease in foreclosure filings in the fourth quarter of 2023, with the numbers falling to 851, a 19% reduction from the previous quarter. When we look at the year-over-year data, the decline is even more significant, showing a 46% drop from the fourth quarter of 2022. This downward trend suggests a potentially stabilizing real estate market in the St Louis metro area, with fewer properties entering foreclosure.

Within this broader picture, certain counties have experienced remarkable changes. Monroe County, for instance, recorded a sharp increase of 60% in foreclosure filings from Q3, while Madison County saw filings decrease by 7% in the same period. Saint Clair County, which had faced a high volume of foreclosures, saw a 13% decrease from Q3 2023 and a substantial 79% drop from Q4 2022, reflecting a positive shift for homeowners in the area. This data, encapsulated in the accompanying table, offers a snapshot of the current market conditions and emerging trends in the St. Louis housing landscape.


  

 

St Louis Metro Area Foreclosure Filings – 4th Quarter 2023

St Louis Metro Area Foreclosure Filings - 4th Quater 2023

© 2024 St Louis Real Estate News – Data Source:  Attom Data Research

Real Estate’s Game Changer: Decoding the Latest Twists in the Sitzer Saga

Since the suit was first filed in 2019, I’ve been following the the Sitzer v. National Association of REALTORS® case closely and sharing my thoughts on the potential impact it could have on the real estate industry, as well as on home buyers and sellers. This task has been far from dull, as the litigation has been filled with action, especially since the Missouri jury’s ruling in favor of the plaintiffs in October. The past week has seen an increase in legal activity from the defendants, making the situation even more intense. Below is a breakdown of the latest events and their implications, from my perspective (bear in mind, I’m not an attorney, just a real estate broker):


Key Motions Filed:

  • National Association of Realtors Seeks a New Trial: This motion contests the fairness of the original trial, highlighting potential procedural and evidentiary errors that might have skewed the jury’s decision.
  • Calls for Judgment as a Matter of Law: Various defendants, including Keller Williams and BHH Affiliates, have challenged the verdict based on the argument that it contradicts the evidence presented. They point to possible legal oversights, such as flawed jury instructions.
  • Questioning the Class Action Status: A notable move by BHH Affiliates and HomeServices of America, this motion disputes the class action’s suitability, arguing that individual differences overshadow commonalities crucial in such lawsuits.

Analyzing the Legal Landscape:

  • The Frequency of Post-Verdict Motions: In complex cases like this, it’s quite typical for defendants to pursue motions for a new trial or a judgment reversal. These legal steps, while common, underscore the high stakes involved, especially in a sector as impactful as real estate.
  • Prospects of These Motions: Historically, the success of such motions varies. They can occasionally lead to new trials or judgment alterations. However, overturning a jury’s decision is often a challenging hill to climb, given the U.S. legal system’s respect for jury findings. These motions are more likely precursors to an appeal.
  • Real Estate Industry at a Crossroads: The decisions on these motions are critical. Their outcomes could prompt significant changes in how real estate transactions are conducted, especially regarding agent commissions and competitive practices.

What Does This Mean for Home Buyers and Sellers?

Now, you might be wondering, “All this legal talk is great, but how does it affect me as a home buyer or seller?” Well, I have some thoughts on that as well:

  • Changes in Commission Structures: The heart of the Sitzer case is about how real estate commissions are handled. Depending on the outcome, we might see a shift in how agents are paid. This could mean more flexibility or different options when it comes to commission rates.
  • Increased Transparency: The case also touches on transparency in real estate transactions. We could be looking at a future where there’s more clarity on how agents operate, which means you, as a buyer or seller, would have a clearer picture of what you’re getting into.
  • Potential for More Competitive Pricing: If the verdict leads to changes in how commissions are structured, this could open the door for more competitive pricing in the real estate market. It could mean better deals for buyers and more options for sellers.

In short, this trial isn’t just about big real estate companies; it’s about potentially changing the playing field for everyone involved in buying or selling a home. It’s about making sure that the process is fair and transparent for you, the consumer. So, stay tuned – the decisions made in this courtroom could be game-changers for how we buy and sell homes.

Compilation of Motions Filed In The Past Week in Sitzer v NAR

(click below to access the document containing all the motions filed)

Compilation of Motions Filed In The Past Week in Sitzer v NAR


 

St. Louis Housing Market Sees Shift: Key Insights from 2023 Year-End Data

The “STL Market Report,” below exclusively available from MORE, REALTORS, provides a comprehensive look at the St. Louis residential real estate market as 2023 ended. This report outlines a mixed array of trends, highlighting a notable decline in the number of homes sold contrasted with a modest increase in median sold prices, offering in-depth knowledge for prospective buyers and sellers to navigate the market.

Decrease in Home Sales Volume
The St. Louis metro area witnessed a noticeable reduction in the volume of home sales year-over-year. A total of 31,704 homes were sold in the year ending December 2023, which marks a 13.13% decrease compared to the previous year’s figure of 36,498. This drop could signal a shift toward a buyer’s market, as fewer transactions typically indicate less competition among buyers.

Modest Rise in Home Prices
Despite the decrease in sales volume, St. Louis saw a modest increase in home prices. The median sold price for homes rose by 2.04% from $245,000 in December 2022 to $250,000 in December 2023. This growth, although not steep, suggests that home values in the region continue to appreciate, offering a silver lining for homeowners looking to sell.

Price Per Square Foot Analysis
The median price per square foot (PPSF) for sold homes remained relatively stable at $173.08 in December 2023, a slight decrease compared to the median PPSF for current listings at $171.87. However, a significant point to note is the 11.02% drop in PPSF for current listings compared to the sold listings from the past 12 months, indicating a possible adjustment in market expectations.

Inventory and Market Supply Dynamics
St. Louis’s home inventory levels also present an interesting narrative. With 2,956 listings currently up for sale and 2,348 homes sold last month, the market is experiencing a supply of approximately 1.26 months. This figure represents a brisk market that favors sellers, as a supply under 6 months typically does. However, it is important to monitor whether this inventory will rise or fall in response to changing market conditions.

Days on Market: A Consistent Pace
Homes in St. Louis are selling at a consistent pace, with the median days on market holding steady at 37 days. This indicates a stable demand for homes, with properties moving from listing to sale in just over a month on average.

What This Means for You
For sellers in the St. Louis area, the market still offers a favorable environment with steady prices and a relatively quick selling period. Buyers, on the other hand, might benefit from reduced competition, though they should be mindful of potential value appreciations.

 

STL Market Report – St Louis MSA

(click on report below for complete report)

STL Market Report - St Louis MSA

 

 

St. Louis 2024 Housing Forecast: What to Expect in Home Sales and Prices

As 2024 approaches, I conducted my customary in-depth analysis of historical St. Louis real estate market data to get my projection for St. Louis home sales and prices. Home sales in the five-county St. Louis core market appear to be gradually declining, based on statistics and trends from the previous ten years, as seen in the chart below

2024 St Louis Home Sales…

The data for the 12-month period ending December 31, 2023, will be available in a few days. I anticipate that home sales will be roughly 22,600 for the year, but there will be a slight decline by the end of 2024, bringing St Louis home sales down to about 22,400. This isn’t a huge drop (0.8%), but it is a noticeable change that could give buyers in the market a bit more leeway.

2024 St Louis Home Prices…

While home prices have been on the rise, the median price per square foot is increasing at a slower rate than in previous years. I anticipate St. Louis home prices will increase by only about 1% from their 2023 peak, reaching a peak in the summer of 2024 at approximately $196/foot, and then leveling off slightly, falling to around $184/foot by December 2024. It’s important to bear in mind that this type of fluctuation is common, whether you’re buying or selling. Prices are not falling dramatically, but they’re also not rising sharply. This follows a more consistent, dependable pattern. These are the trends to watch out for in the St. Louis market in 2024 if you’re in the game.

A little CYA…

It’s worth noting that the aforementioned estimates are based on the current economic conditions and patterns. Interest rates, inflation, and unemployment are just a few of the many factors that influence the economy, and even experts (who know a lot more than me) can’t always agree on where these trends are headed. As a result, any major shifts in these areas might significantly impact the direction of the St. Louis housing market in the upcoming year.


 

St Louis 5-County Core 12-Month Home Sale and Price Trend – Past 10 Years

(click on chart for live, interactive chart)St Louis 5-County Core 12-Month Home Sale and Price Trend - Past 10 Years

Big Brokers Hit with New Antitrust Lawsuit Over Buyer Broker Commissions

The residential real estate industry is facing yet another antitrust lawsuit targeting the long-standing practice of home sellers paying the commissions of buyer’s agents. Filed on December 27th in Missouri federal court, Daniel Umpa v. National Association of Realtors alleges the NAR and large national brokerages like Compass and Keller Williams conspired to maintain inflated buyer agent commissions through anticompetitive practices.

This latest suit comes on the heels of the Department of Justice’s ongoing investigation into potentially anti-competitive industry practices related to real estate commissions and access to MLS listings. It also follows similar buyer broker commission lawsuits brought in the past two years by home sellers against NAR and large brokerages. The new complaint alleges the defendants worked together to enact NAR policies like the ‘Buyer Broker Commission Rule’ which required listing brokers to make blanket, non-negotiable commission offers to buyer brokers. This rule allegedly discourages lower commissions and impedes market competition to the detriment of home sellers.

If successful, the plaintiff seeks injunctive relief under antitrust laws forcing changes to current industry practices, as well as damages related to overcharges paid by class members stretching back to late 2019. With the DOJ investigation ongoing and buyer broker commissions under continued legal scrutiny, pressure mounts for transparency and reform in how real estate agents are compensated. Though the industry justifies maintaining the status quo to ensure access to listing data critical for buyers and sellers, critics argue new technologies make this argument increasingly dubious. One thing is clear – more antitrust litigation is brewing which could profoundly reshape residential brokerage.


Umpa vs The National Association of REALTORS, et al

(click on image to view entire complaint)

Umpa vs The National Association of REALTORS, et al

NAR’s Tumultuous Year: Insights and Implications for St. Louis Real Estate

The National Association of Realtors (NAR) is facing unprecedented difficulties, including antitrust lawsuits and charges of sexual harassment, according to a lengthy report published in the New York Times today by Debra Kamin. The analysis by Kamin offers a perceptive look at the internal turmoil and external challenges that NAR is facing.

The customary practice of listing agents paying buyers’ agents fees is called into question by a landmark lawsuit in Missouri that resulted in a $1.8 billion verdict against NAR. The report quotes Compass’s Jason Haber as saying, “This is an extinction-level event,” highlighting the seriousness of these occurrences. The situation is made more complicated by the exit of important NAR executives, like as President Kenny Parcell, amid allegations of sexual harassment. These developments could have a big effect on the real estate market, even in our St. Louis market.

Readers of St. Louis Real Estate News are familiar with my analyses on these issues over the past years. At MORE REALTORS®, we have been proactively addressing these industry changes. Our agents are well-informed and prepared for the evolving landscape, ensuring we stay ahead in the game.

Kamin’s article serves as a reminder of the ongoing transformation in the real estate sector. As we navigate these changes, our commitment at MORE REALTORS® remains steadfast: to uphold the highest ethical standards and adapt swiftly to serve our clients best in the St. Louis area.


Is the REALTORS’ Clear Cooperation Policy Aiding Market Fairness or Fueling Legal Battles?

Recently, the real estate industry has found itself under increasing legal scrutiny, with multiple lawsuits challenging established norms. A critical point of debate is the REALTORS’ Clear Cooperation Policy. This policy mandates that within one business day of marketing a property to the public, agents must list the property on the MLS. While designed to promote transparency and cooperation among real estate professionals, it’s worth asking: Is this policy partly to blame for the industry’s legal challenges, or does it genuinely foster a fair and open market in compliance with the Sherman Antitrust Act?

The Sherman Antitrust Act, a cornerstone of U.S. antitrust law, prohibits any contract or combination that restrains trade. The Clear Cooperation Policy, by restricting agents’ freedom to market properties outside the MLS, potentially limits competition. Centralizing all listings within the MLS could be seen as creating a monopolistic environment, contrary to the principles of free trade the Sherman Act seeks to protect. On the other hand, proponents argue that the policy ensures equal access to property listings for all agents, thereby benefiting consumers by offering a comprehensive market view.

As legal battles unfold and regulatory bodies like the DOJ and FTC weigh in, the real estate industry awaits clarity. The coming months are crucial, and they will likely reveal whether the Clear Cooperation Policy aligns with the ethos of the Sherman Antitrust Act or contradicts it. As we navigate these complex legal waters, stay tuned to St Louis Real Estate News for the latest developments and insights. We’re committed to keeping you informed about how these critical issues will shape the future of real estate marketing and market fairness. Moreover, you can rely on the professional agents at MORE, REALTORS. They possess not only the knowledge and expertise to navigate through all the rules and regulations but also deliver exceptional results to their clients.


Highlights of the Clear Cooperation Policy

  • Mandatory MLS Listing: Properties must be listed on the MLS within one business day of public marketing.
  • Scope of Public Marketing: Includes flyers, yard signs, digital marketing, and more.
  • Office Exclusive Listings: Allows keeping listings off the MLS if not publicly marketed.
  • Filing Requirement: All exclusive listings must be filed with the MLS if publicly marketed.
  • Enforcement: Imposes fines and reporting mechanism for non-compliance.

Key Components of Sherman Antitrust Act Relevant to the Policy

  • Restriction on Trade: Prohibits practices that restrain trade or commerce.
  • Legal Consequences: Includes fines and imprisonment for violations.
  • Focus on Competition: Aims to maintain free and competitive markets.
  • Application to Real Estate: Includes practices affecting inter-state commerce.
  • Interpretation in Courts: Requires judicial determination on trade restraints.

St. Louis Real Estate Market Ending Year on High Note: Surge in Home Sales and Listings

In a remarkable end-of-year surge, the St. Louis real estate market has shown significant growth in both home sales and new listings, according to the latest reports below, available exclusively from MORE, REALTORS®.  The week of December 17-23, 2023, marked a notable increase in accepted contracts for home sales, jumping 26% compared to the same week in 2022. The rise was led by St. Louis County, which experienced an impressive 60% increase, indicating a robust demand in this area.

Simultaneously, new listings in the St. Louis area rose by 10%, with St. Charles County, in particular, witnessing a 31% jump in new properties hitting the market followed by Jefferson County with a 20% increase in new listings over the prior year.

This increase in listings, coupled with the growth in sales, suggests a continued good real estate environment as we head into the new year.


STL Real Estate Trends Report

New Accepted Contracts In the St Louis 5-County Core Market

(click on table for current, live data)

STL Real Estate Trends Report

STL Real Estate Trends Report

New Listings In the St Louis 5-County Core Market

(click on table for current, live data)

STL Real Estate Trends Report

NAR Aims to Dismiss Moehrl Suit: Summary Judgment Motion Marks Latest Turn in Landmark Real Estate Case

Earlier this week, on Tuesday, December 19, 2023, the Moehrl v. National Association of Realtors (NAR) lawsuit saw a flurry of activity.  Motions for summary judgment were filed by the remaining defendants, including the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR), Keller Williams Realty, Inc., BHH Affiliates, LLC, The Long & Foster Companies, Inc., HSF Affiliates, LLC and HomeServices of America, Inc. Notably, two other defendants, Realogy (now known as Anywhere) and Re/Max, had previously reached a settlement agreement with the plaintiff, which is currently pending court approval.

With the exception of Keller Williams Realty, Inc., all of the real estate brokerage defendants jointly filed a single motion for summary judgment. In contrast, Keller Williams Realty, Inc. submitted their own separate motion, which, while distinct, shares similarities with the collective motion of the other brokerages in its arguments and legal stance.

  • The National Association of Realtors defended its model rules and policies, asserting they’re not conspiratorial and are instead standard practice in the industry, aiming to facilitate transparency and efficiency in real estate transactions.
  • Keller Williams Realty, Inc. focused on their lack of involvement in the alleged conspiracy, emphasizing no direct role in NAR’s Cooperative Compensation Rule.
  • BHH Affiliates, LLC, The Long & Foster Companies, Inc., HSF Affiliates, LLC, HomeServices of America, Inc. similarly argued for their non-participation in any actions related to the NAR rule they’re accused of conspiring to adopt.

As I’ve mentioned in many previous articles, this legal battle, along with other similar cases across the country, is poised to have significant implications for the real estate industry and profession. At the heart of these challenges lies a foundational method of conducting residential real estate transactions, including the compensation of agents (particularly buyer’s agents). Regardless of the outcomes of these lawsuits, the industry is set to undergo significant changes. This is partly due to the heightened attention these cases have attracted, which will likely lead to a better understanding of the transaction process by home buyers and sellers, as well as greater transparency, especially in terms of the roles and compensation of real estate agents involved. Personally, I believe these developments are positive. They will benefit dedicated, professional agents and their clients, and may disadvantage those who are underperforming or, frankly, should not be in the business in the first place.

Find complete information on this lawsuit as well as all the other related lawsuits as well as a wealth of information on the St Louis real estate market at the MORE Resource Center by clicking this link or the button below.


Report Shows Average Wage Earner can Afford to Buy a Home In over half of the St Louis Areas Largest Counties

A report just released by ATTOM Data Research details housing affordability for the largest counties in the St. Louis metro area for the 3rd quarter of 2023. Affordability, measured by the percentage of wages needed to buy a home, shows considerable variation across counties in Illinois and Missouri. This metric is influenced by factors such as median sales prices and average wages.

For instance, in the County of St. Louis City (yes, it’s odd, but it’s a county), it only takes 17.3% of the annualized wages of an average earner to buy a median-priced home. In contrast, in St. Charles County, it takes 38.3% of annualized wages to afford a home. As the table below illustrates, in 4 of the 7 counties covered in the report, an average wage earner could afford to buy a home. Interestingly, home price appreciation is outpacing annualized wages in those counties, indicating that this affordability may soon change.


 

Percentage Of Income Needed To Buy A Home In St Louis

Percentage Of Income Needed To Buy A Home In St Louis

St Louis Housing Affordability Index By County St Louis Housing Affordability Index By County

Missouri Supreme Court Overturns Bill Criminalizing Sleeping on State Lands

Yesterday, the Missouri Supreme Court issued a ruling striking down Missouri House Bill 1606 (2022), particularly section 67.2300, which sought to criminalize unauthorized sleeping and camping on state-owned lands, making it a class C misdemeanor. The Court found this section to be in violation of the Missouri Constitution’s single subject requirement.

In the decision, the Supreme Court emphasized that the inclusion of section 67.2300 introduced an impermissible additional subject—homelessness—into the bill, which was originally focused on political subdivisions. Justice Paul C. Wilson, writing for the Court, noted that the provisions of section 67.2300 “do not fairly relate to or have a natural connection with” the subject of political subdivisions, and instead relate to the different subject of homelessness. This divergence from the bill’s original purpose led to the conclusion that TAFP HB 1606, in its entirety, violated the single subject requirement of article III section 23 of the Missouri Constitution.


Missouri Supreme Court Opinion Issued December 19, 2023

(click on image below to access full opinion)

Missouri Supreme Court Opinion Issued December 19, 2023