St. Louis Home Sales Drop 25% in Latest 12-Month Review Compared to Previous Year

There were 31,960 homes sold in the St. Louis metro area during the 12-month period ending March 31, 2024, as the chart below from MORE, REALTORS® exclusively illustrates. This represents a 25% decline from the number of sales for the same period a year ago. While this is a slight increase from the 12-month sales low of 31,775 homes for the period ending December 31, 2023, it’s the lowest sales volume for this period since March 2015. Based on the chart, it appears that the trend of declining home sales has ended, as it has remained fairly flat over the last 8 months.

During the most recent 12-month period, homes in the St. Louis metro area sold for a median price of $170 per foot, marking an increase of about 7.5% from the same period a year ago.

St Louis MSA 12-Month Home Sales and Price Trend – Past 15 Years (Chart)

(click on chart for live, interactive chart)

St Louis MSA 12-Month Home Sales and Price Trend - Past 15 Years (Chart)


Luxury Living In St Louis: The Top 10 Cities with Highest Home Prices

The real estate market in St. Louis is notably diverse, featuring homes that are, on average, quite affordable. However, this affordability doesn’t preclude the existence of luxury markets within the city. Presented below is an exclusive list from MORE, REALTORS® detailing the top 10 cities in the St. Louis MSA where homes command the highest average selling prices.

Key takeaways from this list include:

  • Huntleigh dominates with the highest average sale price of $2,097,249 and impressively quick transactions, with homes spending an average of just 20 days on the market. It’s important to note that these figures are based on a limited sample of only four home sales.
  • Frontenac and Town and Country are not far behind, boasting substantial average prices of $1,436,364 and $1,389,021, respectively. The volume of sales in these areas—46 and 68 homes sold—points to a healthy and active market.
  • Clayton and Ladue marry luxury with lively market activity, seeing 103 and 148 homes sold at steep average prices of $1,372,398 and $1,330,002, respectively.

Additional cities such as Westwood, Josephville, Town and Country, and Clarkson Valley also feature on the list, each contributing unique market traits but collectively underscoring the strong demand for high-end residential properties in the area.


St Louis MSA’s Most Expensive Cities-Avg Price-Homes Sold In Past Year

(click on list for current, complete list)

St Louis MSA's Most Expensive Cities-Avg Price-Homes Sold In Past Year

 

Refinance Activity Surges Despite Rising Mortgage Rates – Purchase Applications Fall

Last week, the interest rates for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages climbed past the 7 percent mark. Despite this increase, as the chart below illustrates, there was a significant 10 percent increase in refinancing applications. This is in sharp contrast to a 5 percent decline in purchase applications. The growth in the refinancing segment is notable, representing 33.3 percent of the total application volume, up from 30.3 percent the previous week. This surge in refinancing interest is particularly intriguing, given the highest reported 30-year mortgage rates in over a month, at 7.01 percent.

Joel Kan, MBA’s Vice President and Deputy Chief Economist, attributed the rising rates to the Federal Reserve’s cautious stance on adjusting policy amidst persistent inflation and resilient economic indicators, including strong employment data. Despite the unfavorable rate environment, the demand for refinancing, especially VA refinancing, remained robust.

Other notable trends include a decrease in average loan sizes, with purchase loan sizes—often viewed as a proxy for home prices—dropping to $449,400 from $453,000. Additionally, there was a shift in the composition of mortgage applications, with increases in FHA and VA loan shares.

So, what explains the rising number of homeowners refinancing their mortgages even with rising mortgage interest rates? There are numerous reports indicating that many homeowners across the country are becoming cash-strapped and having a difficult time paying bills, thus resorting to pulling out equity from their homes, even if it means accepting a higher interest rate. I’ve also observed reports indicating that consumer credit card debt is at historically high levels, with interest rates on this debt being astronomical. This situation is prompting people to refinance their home loans again, even at higher rates, because even though their mortgage may be at a higher rate, it still appears to be a bargain compared to the 27 or 28% on a credit card. I haven’t seen enough verifiable data to confirm if either of these situations is true, but both are plausible.


Refinance Index vs 30 Yr Fixed Mortgage Chart

(click on image for live, interactive chart)

Refinance Index vs 30 Yr Fixed Mortgage ChartHous

Interest Rate Insights: Traci Everman Unveils the Latest Shifts

The ebb and flow of St. Louis’s real estate market are linked to the broader economic currents, and recent weeks have witnessed a significant uptick in mortgage interest rates.  In the video below, Traci Everman, Senior Mortgage Banker with Flat Branch Home Loans, does a fantastic job of explaining what is happening and why.  Below the video are some highlights and a recap.


Here are are few highlights of what Traci’s covers in the video:

Recent Economic Impacts on Mortgage Rates:

  • Economic reports released over the past day have precipitated a downturn in the bond market and a subsequent rise in interest rates. This movement stems from inflationary pressures, which erode the value of long-term investments like mortgage-backed securities.

Analyzing PCE Inflation and Jobs Reports:

  • Key economic indicators such as the PCE report, which reflects inflation sans food and energy costs, revealed a 0.3% increase, signaling a direction contrary to the market’s desires. Furthermore, the employment data, despite being a bearer of good tidings on job creations, did not spell out positive news for the bond market.

Current State of Mortgage-Backed Securities:

  • Currently, the mortgage-backed securities market is taking a hit, down 88 basis points, leading to a predicted quarter percent increase in interest rates between yesterday and today. This fluctuation reminds us of the volatility that peaked in October 2023.

How Recent Trends May Affect Future Rates:

  • The Federal Reserve’s stance and upcoming meetings are pivotal. While rate cuts were anticipated, the outcome was status quo, leaving predictions for future rate cuts in 2024 uncertain. Inflation, driven by rising oil prices and other factors such as soaring auto insurance premiums, continues to play a crucial role.

Conclusion: Staying Informed on Market Changes:
As Traci Everman sums up the market update, it’s clear that keeping a close eye on inflation and Fed decisions is crucial for anyone involved in real estate. With potential rate cuts on the horizon, the coming quarters could be crucial for buyers and sellers in St. Louis.

For a more detailed dive into what this means for your home buying or selling decisions, stay connected with St. Louis Real Estate News.  Stay informed.

St. Louis Area Residential Real Estate Market Report For March 2024

The St. Louis MSA residential real estate market is experiencing a phase of transformation. While the sales volume has seen a downturn, median sale prices have held steady, indicating a resilient market underpinned by solid demand.  The complete STL Market Reports for the entire metro area as a whole, as well as the major counties, are available exclusively from MORE, REALTORS® and are below.

Key Findings:

  • Sales Volume Decline: The St. Louis MSA experienced a 9.30% decrease in the number of homes sold during the 12-month period ending March 31, 2024, compared to the previous year.
  • Median Sold Price Growth: Despite decreased sales, median sold prices rose by 2.40% from $248,000 to $253,950 during the same period.
  • Price Per Square Foot (PPSF):  The PPSF of current listings is 3.74% than the PPSF of homes that sold during the prior 12-months. This suggests an adjustment in the market with current listings being priced lower than what was sold in the past year.
  • Inventory and Supply:  There is currently a 1.07 months supply of homes for sale, indicating a tight inventory reflective of a seller’s market.
  • Median days on the market: The median time on the market of current listings is just 22 days, showing homes are selling relatively quickly.

County Highlights:

  • St. Louis City and St Louis County:
    • A decrease of -5.14% in homes sold year-over-year.
    • A reduction in median sold price by -1.21%.
    • A significant drop in PPSF for current listings by -15.93% compared to the last 12 months.
  • St. Charles County:
    • The number of homes sold dropped by -14.64%.
    • Median sold prices increased by 5.97%.
    • PPSF for current listings increased by 12.61%, signaling strong market growth.
  • Franklin County:
    • A decrease of -9.72% in homes sold year-over-year.
    • Median sold prices increased by 9.09%.
    • PPSF for current listings rose by 8.86%.
  • Jefferson County:
    • The number of homes sold decreased by -16.63%.
    • An increase in median sold prices by 4.02%.
    • A substantial increase in PPSF for current listings by 12.63%.

Market Implications:

The St. Louis MSA real estate market is currently defined by a decrease in the number of homes sold but a general uptrend in prices. The PPSF analysis reveals a market correction, yet the trend suggests prices might increase shortly.

  • For Sellers: The current market presents an opportunity due to low inventory levels and a consequent seller’s market, indicated by the low months’ supply.
  • For Buyers:  The decreased competition and market adjustment could benefit buyers, yet they should be mindful of the resilient pricing trends.

The real estate landscape in the St. Louis metro requires careful navigation, with sellers possibly leveraging the low supply and buyers staying cautious of the potential for increasing prices. Stay informed with St. Louis Real Estate News for ongoing analysis and insights into local market trends.

Continue reading “St. Louis Area Residential Real Estate Market Report For March 2024

St Louis Area New Home Building Permits Decline In All Counties Except St Charles

During the 12-month period ending February 29, 2024, there were 3,993 building permits issued for new single-family homes in the St. Louis area. This figure marks a 4.29% decrease from the previous 12-month period, which saw 4,172 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 St Charles County, with three of them experiencing double-digit declines.

  

St Louis New Home Building Permits – February 2024

(click on table below for page with live charts showing additional permit data)St Louis New Home Building Permits - February 2024

 

Will MLS Access Be Untethered from REALTOR Membership?

In the wake of recent legal developments, including a proposed settlement by the National Association of Realtors (NAR) in March addressing buyer agent commissions, the real estate industry finds itself at another critical juncture. This time, attention turns to a lawsuit spotlighted in my article from a week ago, “New Lawsuit Against NAR Spotlights Tying of MLS Access to Realtor Membership in Ongoing Commission Debate“, which challenges the longstanding practice of tying MLS access to Realtor association membership. Unlike the NAR settlement that focused on commission structures, this new legal action delves into the exclusivity of market information access, a matter that has long spurred debate and litigation.

A Recurring Theme in Real Estate Litigation

The intertwining of Realtor association membership and MLS access has been a contentious issue, sparking several lawsuits over the years. This relationship, critics argue, creates barriers to competition and innovation in the real estate market.

Significant Legal Precedents

A pivotal moment in this ongoing discourse was the “Thompson v. Metropolitan Multi-List, Inc. Lawsuit,” where the 11th Federal Circuit Court of Appeals in 1991 ruled against restricting MLS access to Realtor members in Georgia. This case set a significant precedent, affirming that such practices could violate federal antitrust laws if the MLS wielded “market power” in the relevant geographic market.

Further complicating the landscape, California courts in the late 1970s found similar restrictions in violation of state antitrust statutes, thereby requiring Realtor associations in the state to open their MLS to non-members.

Looking Ahead

As the real estate industry continues to evolve, the relationship between REALTOR® associations and MLS access remains a focal point for legal scrutiny and industry reform. The implications of these legal battles extend beyond the courtroom, potentially shaping the future of real estate transactions, market competition, and consumer choice.

While the NAR settlement and recent lawsuits highlight different facets of the industry’s challenges, they collectively underscore a broader call for transparency, fairness, and innovation in real estate practices.

Conclusion

The dialogue surrounding MLS access and REALTOR® association membership is far from concluded. As legal actions continue to unfold, stakeholders across the real estate spectrum must remain vigilant and adaptable to the changing regulatory and business environment.  At MORE, REALTORS®, we’re keenly aware of these potential shifts and are proactively strategizing to ensure our agents are well-positioned to navigate any changes that may arise. Our focus remains steadfast on providing exceptional service to our clients, irrespective of the evolving industry dynamics. As always, we’re committed to transparency, adaptability, and unwavering professionalism.

 

DOJ Delivers Regulatory Blow to NAR: Court Reopens Antitrust Investigation

In a significant turn of events that has captured the attention of homebuyers, homesellers, and real estate professionals nationwide, the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit has delivered a landmark judgment that underscores the intricate balance between regulatory oversight and the operational freedoms of real estate associations. This case, National Association of Realtors (NAR) versus United States of America, et al., centers on the alleged anticompetitive practices within the real estate industry, specifically scrutinizing the policies implemented by NAR.

The Department of Justice (DOJ), through its Antitrust Division, initiated an investigation into NAR’s policies, which culminated in a settlement in November 2020. This settlement aimed to address four out of six policies identified by the DOJ as potentially anticompetitive. Crucially, it also included the issuance of a closing letter by the DOJ, indicating the closure of its investigation into two key NAR policies: the “Clear Cooperation Policy” and the “Participation Rule.” These policies relate to the operation of multiple-listing services (MLSs) and the commission structure within real estate transactions, respectively.

However, in a dramatic shift, the DOJ reopened its investigation into these policies in July 2021, leading to a legal challenge by NAR. NAR argued that the DOJ’s action breached the settlement agreement, which, in their view, included an implicit assurance against reopening the investigation into the specified policies.

The Appeals Court, in its decision, highlighted the legal nuances of the settlement agreement and the scope of the DOJ’s commitments. The court concluded that the settlement did not preclude the DOJ from reopening its investigation. This decision not only emphasizes the DOJ’s ongoing authority to regulate and scrutinize industry practices for anticompetitive behavior but also signals to real estate professionals the importance of adaptive compliance with evolving regulatory landscapes.

This ruling carries profound implications for the real estate industry, reinforcing the principle that regulatory oversight is a dynamic process, subject to revision and reassessment in light of new information or changing circumstances. For homebuyers and homesellers, the decision underscores the government’s commitment to ensuring fair and competitive practices within the real estate market, aiming to protect consumer interests and promote market transparency.


 

United States Court of Appeals Judgement –  NAR vs United States of America

(click on image below to access entire judgment) 

United States Court of Appeals Judgement -  NAR vs United States of America

New Lawsuit Against NAR Spotlights Tying of MLS Access to Realtor Membership in Ongoing Commission Debate

In the evolving landscape of real estate litigation, a fresh lawsuit filed by homeowner Hao Zhe Wang against the National Association of Realtors (NAR) and several major real estate brokerage firms introduces a nuanced critique of industry practices. Distinguishing itself from prior actions, this case zeroes in on the contentious policy requiring real estate agents to be NAR members in order to access Multiple Listing Services (MLS), a stipulation the plaintiff contends unfairly influences commission structures and inflates transaction costs.

The Core Allegations:

At the heart of Wang’s lawsuit is an objection to how MLS access — a critical tool for buying and selling properties — is tied to membership in the NAR. This arrangement, according to the lawsuit, perpetuates a non-competitive environment where commission rates are kept uniformly high due to lack of market-driven pricing. This system, the plaintiff argues, indirectly forces buyers to absorb the cost of buyer’s agent commissions, which are embedded in home purchase prices, in violation of antitrust laws.

Legal Objectives:

  • Seeking Class Action: The lawsuit aims to achieve class action status, offering representation to a broad swath of home buyers potentially affected by the described practices.
  • Injunctive Relief and Damages: Beyond seeking damages for alleged overpayments, the complaint calls for judicial intervention to prohibit the continuation of tying MLS access to NAR membership, alongside the existing commission practices.

Industry Implications:

This lawsuit adds another layer to the ongoing discourse on real estate commission models, specifically targeting the structures that underpin agent access to essential market information. By challenging the linkage of MLS access to NAR membership, the case prompts a reevaluation of how such policies impact competition, pricing, and ultimately, consumer choice.

Reflecting on the Bigger Picture:

From an insider perspective, this case illuminates the complex interplay between professional associations, access to market information, and how commissions are structured. It calls into question whether current practices best serve the market’s needs or if they inadvertently constrain competition and innovation. As the real estate industry continues to grapple with these issues, the outcome of this lawsuit could have significant repercussions, potentially catalyzing shifts towards more transparent and consumer-friendly practices.


Hao Zhe Wang v The National Association of REALTORS®

(click below to view the entire complaint)

Fastest Selling Zip Codes in the St. Louis Metro Area

The St. Louis Metro area (MSA), which spans parts of Missouri and Illinois, has a diverse real estate market with some zip codes seeing properties sell much faster than others. Based upon the report below, available exclusively from MORE, REALTORS®
, the fastest selling zip code in the area is 63070 in Jefferson County, Missouri where the current average days on market for active listings is just 12 days. Close behind in second place is 63040 in St. Louis County with 9 listings averaging 15 DOM. Rounding out the top five are 63134 (St. Louis County, 16 DOM), 63038 (St. Louis County, 17 DOM), and 63052 (Jefferson County, 20 DOM). The City of St. Louis makes its first appearance at #9 with 63021 and its 17 listings averaging 27 DOM.

Notably, 8 of the top 10 fastest-selling zips are located in Missouri counties, with just two from the Illinois side of the MSA – 62254 in St. Clair County at #14 and 62035 in Madison County at #15.


 

Fastest Selling Zip Codes in St Louis

(click on table for complete list with current data)

St. Louis 2024 Housing Market: First Quarter Update

As we close the first quarter of 2024, it’s an opportune moment to revisit the forecasts I made at the end of last year regarding the St. Louis real estate market. With the data from January through March now available, we can assess the accuracy of the initial predictions and adjust our outlook for the remainder of the year.

Scorecard on December Predictions:

  • 2024 Home Sales Forecast: I projected a slight decrease in the annual sales volume to about 22,400 homes. The data from the first quarter shows a varied trend with the 12-month home sales at the end of each month being:
    • January: 22,702 sales
    • February: 22,836 sales
    • March: 22,690 sales

These numbers suggest a relatively stable market, albeit with a slight variance from the predicted downward trend. The sales in February exceeded expectations, hinting at a possibly more dynamic market than initially forecasted.

  • 2024 Home Prices Forecast: I anticipated a modest increase in home prices to peak around $196/foot in the summer, followed by a leveling off to approximately $184/foot by year-end. The first quarter showed median prices per foot as follows:
    • January: $175/foot
    • February: $178/foot
    • March: $186/foot

The March figure aligns closely with the expected summer peak. This rapid ascent in prices suggests a stronger upward momentum in the housing market than forecasted, possibly reflecting tighter inventory or increased demand.

Updated Forecast for 2024:
Given the trends observed in the first quarter, I am revising my forecast for the St. Louis real estate market in 2024 as follows:

  • Home Sales: The initial months of 2024 demonstrate a robustness that might offset the predicted decline. While the fluctuation in monthly sales advises caution, the overall stability could mean ending the year closer to 22,700 home sales, slightly above the early prediction.
  • Home Prices: The quicker than anticipated rise in median prices per foot, particularly the jump in March, prompts an upward revision in the price forecast. Should this trend persist, we might see the peak prices approaching $200/foot by mid-year, with a less pronounced decline towards year-end, potentially stabilizing around $190/foot.

A Word of Caution:
As always, this forecast is contingent on prevailing economic conditions, including interest rates and inflation trends. Significant deviations in these or other macroeconomic factors could impact the market differently than expected.

In summary, the St. Louis housing market is showing signs of robust activity and price growth in the first quarter of 2024. Buyers and sellers should stay informed and agile, ready to adjust to the dynamic market conditions.


St Louis 5-County 12-Month Home Sales and Price Trend

(click on chart for live, interactive chart)

St Louis 5-County 12-Month Home Sales and Price Trend

Court Battle Pits Consumer Savings Against DOJ Objections

The Council of Multiple Listing Services (CMLS), representing over 200 Multiple Listing Services nationwide, has filed a brief supporting the settlement reached between the parties in the lawsuit against MLS Property Information Network (MLS PIN). While this is not the settlement announced last week by the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR), it involves one of the several lawsuits tied to the NAR settlement.

CMLS filed their brief in response to the one filed by the Department of Justice (DOJ) in February, which opposed the MLS PIN settlement, arguing that it did not go far enough to change existing practices to lower commissions and increase competition. In their brief, CMLS points to data showing that a similar rule change adopted by the Northwest Multiple Listing Service (NWMLS) in 2019 saved homebuyers an average of $1,000 per transaction by reducing buyer agent commissions.

The DOJ has opposed the MLS PIN settlement, asserting that it would not meaningfully benefit consumers. CMLS contends that the DOJ’s analysis is flawed and that its preferred solution – an outright ban on buyer agent compensation – could disrupt the real estate market and harm consumers.

It is doubtful that the judge will make a ruling in the MLS PIN case while the NAR settlement is pending. However, the briefs filed by the DOJ and CMLS in the MLS PIN lawsuit may have an impact on the decision regarding the NAR settlement.


CMLS Amicus Brief

(click to view entire brief)

CMLS Amicus Brief

NAR and MBA Seek Assurance from Fannie Mae and HUD on Commission Practices to Protect Homebuyers

One of the issues receiving significant attention following the announcement of the REALTOR® commission suit settlement is the topic of buyer commissions, specifically regarding whether a buyer has to pay them and how lenders will treat the commissions.

In a recent letter to the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA), Federal Housing Administration (FHA), Fannie Mae, and Freddie Mac, NAR and MBA sought confirmation on the treatment of buyer agent commissions following a proposed settlement agreement in the Burnett et al and Moehrl et al cases.

What does this mean for homebuyers? Under the settlement, cooperative commissions will no longer be displayed on Multiple Listing Services (MLS), but listing brokers and sellers will still be able to offer compensation for buyer broker services through other means. Additionally, the settlement does not prohibit home sellers from paying buyer agent commissions directly.

NAR and MBA believe that FHA and Government-Sponsored Enterprise (GSE) policies should continue to exclude seller or listing agent payments of buyer agents’ commissions from Interested Party Contributions (IPCs). IPCs are concessions from the seller to the buyer for items traditionally paid by the buyer, such as loan closing costs or rate buy-downs. Maintaining this practice is essential to ensure that the flow of mortgage capital to homebuyers remains uninterrupted.

As a homeowner or potential buyer, it’s important to stay informed about these developments and how they may impact your buying or selling process. NAR and MBA have requested confirmation from the FHFA, FHA, Fannie Mae, and Freddie Mac as soon as possible to prevent any confusion and potential disruptions that may cost you money or even jeopardize your home purchase.


 

The MBA and NAR Letter

(click to view entire letter)

The MBA and NAR Letter 

St. Louis Metro Real Estate Market: Interpreting the Current Trends

The St. Louis Metro residential real estate market in 2024 is showcasing diverse trends, indicating an evolving landscape for buyers, sellers, and industry professionals. The latest data, detailed in the STL Market Report exclusively from MORE, REALTORS®, offers a snapshot of these dynamics.

Contrasting Sales Trends:

  • There’s a notable decrease in home sales volume by 16.11% in the past year, with figures declining from 38,173 to 32,022 homes sold.

Home Value Resilience:

  • Despite the lower sales volume, median sold prices in the metro area nudged upward by 2.44%, moving from $246,000 to $252,000 year-over-year.

Price Per Square Foot (PPSF) Analysis:

  • The average PPSF for homes sold over the last 12 months stands at $173.85. Listings this month are somewhat lower at $163.46 PPSF.
  • Active listings for the month are quoted at a PPSF of $165.00, indicating a tentative increase in asking prices.

Signs of Market Adjustment:

  • A reduction in PPSF by 5.09% for current listings compared to the PPSF of homes sold in the past year hints at a market adjustment.
  • The current price trend arrow points upwards, suggesting that prices might be starting to rise again despite the recent cooling off.

Inventory and Supply Dynamics:

  • With 2,498 listings currently for sale and 2,051 homes sold last month, inventory levels are tight.
  • The months’ supply of inventory is low at 1.22, indicative of a seller’s market.
  • Homes are selling relatively swiftly, with the median number of days on the market being 27.

The St. Louis Metro real estate market’s recent performance, detailed in the report shown below, reveals a complex picture. Sales volume is down, yet home values are resilient, even with the lower PPSF for current listings. This discrepancy suggests that, although the pace of sales has slowed, the demand remains robust enough to support current price levels.

Sellers might see this as an opportunity, given the scarcity of inventory and the seller’s market indicated by the low months’ supply. However, buyers may benefit from less competition, even as they face persistent price strength. It’s a pivotal time for the market, and those involved will need to navigate these mixed signals with strategic planning and sound advice from experienced real estate professionals.

Stay tuned to St. Louis Real Estate News for detailed analyses and updates on our local market trends.


STL Market Report

(click on report below for live, current report)STL Market Report - St Louis Metro Area Home Prices and Sale


Important Alert for St. Louis Home Sellers: Are You Eligible for a Settlement Claim in the Recent NAR Antitrust Litigation?

Previously, I wrote about the settlement reached by the National Association of Realtors (NAR) aiming to resolve litigation concerning alleged anticompetitive practices, potentially leading to financial compensation for certain home sellers in St. Louis and beyond. This litigation, which centers on claims of inflated commission rates, could see a transformative resolution pending court approval expected by summer. If approved by the court, this settlement, alongside those reached with other corporate defendants like RE/MAX, Keller Williams, Realogy, and Compass, would provide eligible home sellers a pathway to claim financial redress for the commissions paid during the specified periods.

Eligibility Criteria and Key Details:

Moehrl v. NAR Eligibility:

  • Sold a home between March 6, 2015, and December 31, 2020.
  • Utilized a real estate agent or broker affiliated with specific defendants, including Keller Williams, RE/MAX, and Anywhere Real Estate, among others.
  • Paid a commission for the sale listed on a covered Multiple Listing Service (MLS) in certain areas.
  • Filing Deadline: The deadline to submit a claim is May 9, 2025.

Burnett et al. v. NAR Eligibility:

  • Sold a home within the eligible date range specified in the Long Form Notices.
  • Listed the sold home on an MLS in any part of the United States.
  • Paid a commission to any real estate brokerage in connection with the sale.
  • Not restricted to homes sold using agents from Anywhere, RE/MAX, or Keller Williams.
  • Filing Deadline: The deadline to submit a claim is May 9, 2025.

Next Steps for Eligible Home Sellers:

  • Verify Eligibility: Sellers should review the detailed eligibility criteria on the settlement websites to determine if their home sale qualifies.
  • Submit a Claim: To be considered for a payment, eligible sellers must file a claim by the May 9, 2025 deadline. Claim forms are accessible by clicking the links below:
  • Consider Opting Out or Objecting: If you wish to opt out of the settlement, the deadline to opt-out or object to the settlements is April 13, 2024.


NAR’s $418 Million Antitrust Settlement: Will It Face the Same DOJ Scrutiny as MLS PIN Deal?

NAR Sitzet Moerhl Commission SettlementLast week, I wrote an article about the settlement reached by the National Association of REALTORS® in pending litigation concerning buyer agency compensation. This includes the “Sitzer” (now Burnett), “Moehrl,” and “MLS PIN” suits, among others. As mentioned, this is an early stage in the process; the settlement agreement, although agreed upon by the parties involved, has not yet been filed with the court. Given these are large class action lawsuits alleging antitrust violations, numerous hurdles must be overcome. These could necessitate changes to the settlement terms on the path to court approval—if the court approves it at all.

Hurdles include the court holding a fairness hearing to assess if the proposed settlement is fair, reasonable, and adequate for class members. This hearing allows class members to express objections and concerns. Moreover, antitrust class action lawsuits like this one, which impact market competition and consumer protection, prompt the court to consider broader public interest implications when approving settlements. This attention often draws input from professional associations, consumer organizations, and, as seen in the MLS PIN suit, the United States, giving their opinion on the settlement’s sufficiency.

Ultimately, the decision rests with the judge, who will consider all these aspects.

I should have led with this, but I am not an attorney, and this is not legal advice. As a real estate broker with over four decades in the residential real estate industry, I have a keen interest in the legal facets of our business and the issues at hand, closely following these cases since 2019. I’m a staunch advocate for transparency and education for real estate professionals, clients, and everyone involved. The more accurate knowledge consumers have about buying and selling a home, the better choices they can make. This is especially true when selecting a real estate agent, as not all are created equal.

Back to the matter at hand.

What will the DOJ say about the NAR Settlement?

Assuming the Department of Justice files an amicus brief in this case, as they did with MLS PIN—a safe assumption, in my view—it’s intriguing to speculate on their comments regarding this settlement. While I lack a crystal ball or insider information, considering the DOJ’s Statement of Interest filed on February 15, 2024, in Nosalek V. MLS Property Information Network (MLS PIN), and assuming their opinion hasn’t shifted in the last five weeks, offers a logical foundation for analysis.

I sought an objective analysis from my trusty AI Assistant, which, for the sake of this discussion, is an outstanding attorney specializing in antitrust law (or at least that is what I’ve told it to think of itself as). Applying the DOJ’s recent statement to this settlement, here’s what it suggests the DOJ might say:

  • Inadequate Address of Core Antitrust Concerns: The settlement’s proposed rule changes fail to resolve the fundamental antitrust issues raised in the complaint fully. While allowing $0 cooperative compensation offers and requiring commission negotiation disclosures, the continued practice of blanket unilateral compensation offers to buyer brokers by sellers and listing brokers could perpetuate steering risks and obstruct genuine price competition.
  • Broad Release of Potential Antitrust Claims: The extensive release of antitrust claims against a wide range of parties, including NAR, REALTOR® associations, MLSs, and individual brokers and agents, is concerning. Given the settlement’s limited injunctive relief, this broad release might inadequately serve class members.
  • Insufficient Monetary Relief: The $418 million settlement fund, potentially inadequate for the damages at issue, may not ensure compensation for class members after litigation expenses and attorney’s fees. The settlement lacks a clear mechanism for maximizing class member payouts.
  • Potential Chilling Effect on Future Antitrust Challenges: The settlement could deter or complicate future anticompetitive practice challenges by immunizing modified rules from further scrutiny, making subsequent lawsuits more difficult.
  • Comparison to MLS PIN Settlement: Despite more extensive practice changes than the MLS PIN agreement, the settlement doesn’t effectively address core antitrust concerns, marginally improving over the MLS PIN agreement.

In conclusion, despite offering more monetary relief and practice changes than the MLS PIN agreement, the settlement inadequately addresses fundamental antitrust issues. The court must weigh whether the settlement’s limited benefits justify the broad release of claims and the potential chilling effect on future antitrust enforcement. As in the MLS PIN case, a more effective remedy might prohibit the seller-paid buyer broker commission model, fostering genuine market competition.

This is all based on publicly available information. We must wait to see the DOJ’s stance and whether the judge deems the settlement adequate.

Could the REALTOR Settlement Bring More Transparency to St. Louis Real Estate?

Yesterday, I reported on the groundbreaking settlement proposed by the National Association of Realtors (NAR) to resolve the ongoing litigation surrounding broker commissions. Today, I want to dive deeper into the specifics of this settlement agreement and what it means for homeowners and real estate professionals here in the St. Louis area.

Key Points of the NAR Settlement Agreement

  • Broad Coverage: The settlement class is expansive, including home sellers who listed properties on MLSs anywhere in the U.S. during specified date ranges and paid a commission to any brokerage. For the St. Louis region, sellers are covered if they sold homes between October 31, 2018, and the date of the official Class Notice.
  • Released Parties: The settlement releases a wide range of parties from future claims related to broker commissions, including NAR, REALTOR associations, and MLSs that adhere to the required practice changes. Brokerages with 2022 transaction volumes under $2 billion are also released if they comply with the new rules.
  • Practice Changes: The agreement mandates significant shifts in industry practices, including:
    • “eliminate and prohibit any requirement by the National Association of REALTORS®, REALTOR® MLS, or Member Boards that listing brokers or sellers must make offers of compensation to buyer brokers or other buyer representatives (either directly or through buyers), and eliminate and prohibit any requirement that such offers, if made, must be blanket, unconditional, or unilateral;”
    • “prohibit REALTOR® MLS Participants, subscribers, other real estate brokers, other real estate agents, and their sellers from (a) making offers of compensation on the MLS to buyer brokers or other buyer representatives (either directly or through buyers) or (b) requiring that offers of compensation be made on the MLS to buyer brokers or other buyer representatives (either directly or through buyers);”
    • “require that REALTOR® MLS Participants who work with buyers enter into written agreements with their buyer clients that specify the broker compensation and how it will be paid, including if it will be paid by the buyer;”
    • “require that REALTOR® MLSs and REALTOR® MLS Participants provide, with any MLS listings that include a listing broker’s offer of compensation to a buyer broker or other buyer representative (either directly or through buyers), (i) disclosure as to the amount of that offer of compensation and (ii) a searchable field that displays buyer broker compensation offers;”
    • “prohibit REALTOR® MLSs, REALTOR® MLS Participants, and REALTOR® Member Boards from taking any adverse action against any Person making offers of compensation to buyer brokers at any price, or no price, either on or off the MLS;”
  • Financial Payout: NAR will pay a total of $418 million over four years to resolve the claims, with the first payment of $5 million due within 30 days of preliminary approval of the settlement. What This Means for St. Louis

What This Means for St. Louis
For homeowners in the St. Louis area, this settlement could bring more transparency to the commission structure when selling a home. By removing the requirement for listing brokers to offer buyer broker compensation through the MLS, the agreement aims to give sellers more control over how commissions are negotiated and paid.

Real estate agents and brokerages in our region will need to adapt to these changes, focusing on educating clients about compensation options and ensuring compliance with the new rules. At MORE, REALTORS®, we’ve been preparing for these shifts and are ready to guide our clients through the evolving landscape.

The full text of the NAR settlement agreement can be found below. As always, I’ll continue to keep you informed about how these developments impact our local market.


The Proposed NAR Settlement Agreement

(click on image to view entire agreement)

The Proposed NAR Settlement Agreement

NAR to Settle Nationwide Litigation on Broker Commissions, Introduces Industry-Wide Changes

Kevin Sears, NAR President

Kevin Sears, NAR President

This morning, Kevin Sears, President of the National Association of Realtors (NAR), unveiled a proposed settlement designed to bring to a close the contentious litigation surrounding broker commissions, a move that could significantly alter the landscape of the real estate industry. This development comes on the heels of the Sitzer-Burnett verdict, which cast the traditional practices of real estate professionals, particularly those concerning hiring and compensation methods, into the spotlight, sparking a series of lawsuits and raising questions about the future of the industry.

A Closer Look at the Proposed Settlement

The core aim of the proposed settlement is to resolve the ongoing litigation against NAR, its members, and associated real estate entities by addressing the claims related to broker commissions. Key components of the settlement include:

  • Liability Release: More than one million NAR members, along with various real estate entities, will be absolved from liability for claims akin to those highlighted in the lawsuits.
  • Compensation Offers: A pivotal change involves the elimination of compensation offers from MLS listings, a rule set to take effect in mid-July 2024.
  • Written Agreements: Starting mid-July 2024, MLS participants working with buyers will be required to engage through written representation agreements.
  • Financial Implications: NAR has committed to paying $418 million over a four-year span, a significant financial undertaking that will not result in an increase in the 2024 membership dues according to the release. (Noted is the fact they didn’t commit to no increases as a result beyond 2024)

Kevin Sears Weighs In

Sears articulated the objectives of the settlement, stating, “This proposed settlement achieves our goals to reduce strain on our members and chart a path forward for the industry.” He further emphasized the industry’s resilience and adaptability, expressing confidence that the agreement “allows us to move forward, preserving the right to real property for all.”

MORE, REALTORS® Prepared for the Future

Yes, this might come off as a shameless plug, but it would be a disservice not to mention how myself, alongside our brokerage’s leadership team, brokers, and agents, have been proactively preparing for the anticipated changes. We’ve delved deep into the issues raised by these lawsuits, identifying practices in need of rectification, regardless of the legal outcomes. Thus, while the shift away from MLS compensation offerings may catch many off guard, our team stands ready. We’re equipped to demystify the compensation process for our clients transparently, dedicating our focus to their needs. Discover more about our exceptional team at MORERealtors.com.

The Proposed NAR Settlement Agreement

(click on image to view entire agreement)

The Proposed NAR Settlement Agreement

Controversy Surrounds Cash for 40-Year Listing Rights Contracts in St. Louis Real Estate Market

Attorney General Andrew Bailey vs MV RealtyMV Realty Holdings, LLC, a Florida-based real estate company, has recently come under scrutiny for alleged wrongdoing and is currently facing bankruptcy proceedings. The company, which offers homeowners cash in exchange for exclusive rights to list their properties for sale for purportedly a period that lasts forty (40) years, has been accused of deceptive practices and unfair treatment of its clients, including homeowners in Missouri and the St. Louis area.

Here in Missouri, MV Realty has faced legal action from Missouri State Attorney General, Andrew Bailey who, earlier this year, filed suit against MV Realty “for its deceptive practices in marketing its services to Missouri homeowners.”  In a press release about this suit, Attorney General Bailey stated “I will enforce the laws as written and defend innocent Missourians from being ripped off” and the he was “proud of the work done by our Consumer Protection Unit to obtain justice for victims in this case.”

The suit filed by Attorney General Bailey alleges that “MV Realty, in violation of Missouri law, paid homeowners a tiny percentage of the value of their homes in exchange for a promise that the homeowner would use MV Realty as their brokers when they sold their homes.”  Attorney General Bailey’s statement about the suit filed goes on to to state that “the petition further alleges that MV Realty failed to tell the homeowners that the contract would be enforceable against their heirs after their death, that the contract bound them for 40 years, and that it would result in a lien being placed on their homes. In some instances, MV Realty falsely told homeowners that MV Realty would not place a lien on their homes, and that they would never have to pay the money back.”

Attorney General Bailey is asking the court to order that the liens be removed, that the agreements are void and unenforceable and to provide restitution to consumers who have been charged unlawful cancellation penalties and then finally to order that MV Realty pay fines and penalties, including $213 million in penalties for calling homeowners on the No Call list.

MV Realty operated in several states and appears to have complaints mounting in many of them from various parties.  In late 2022 the Florida Attorney General’s Office filed a lawsuit against MV Realty, accusing the company of violating the state’s Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act. The lawsuit sought to enjoin MV Realty from engaging in further deceptive practices and to obtain restitution for affected homeowners.

As legal challenges and claims against MV Realty accumulated, MV Realty Holdings and approximately two dozen affiliated companies sought Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in September 2023. This move automatically initiates a “stay” on existing lawsuits and claims, effectively pausing them. These actions remain on hold until the bankruptcy court either grants relief from the stay or the bankruptcy case concludes through dismissal or discharge. Currently, with the bankruptcy cases still active, proceedings are largely at a standstill. However, indications suggest the bankruptcy court may soon make further developments or progress.

Homeowners, including those in the St. Louis area, who entered agreements with MV Realty, face uncertainty regarding their property liens and seek clarity on their standing as the legal and bankruptcy proceedings progress.

The purpose of sharing this information is to educate homeowners on the importance of thoroughly understanding any agreements concerning their homes, advocating for informed decision-making with the support of qualified professionals. In our real estate practice at MORE, REALTORS®, we emphasize education and leverage a network of trusted professionals to guide homeowners, reflecting our commitment to looking out for our clients best interest and to equipping our clients to make informed decisions.

St. Louis Metro Area Shrinks as Residents Flee Urban Core

The St. Louis Metro Area saw a continued population decline according to the latest U.S. Census Bureau estimates, which show the region’s population decreasing from 2,820,285 in April 2020 to 2,796,999 as of July 2023. This represents a loss of 23,286 residents, or a 0.83% decrease over the three-year period.  Looking at the one-year change, the St. Louis MSA population fell by 3,246, or 0.12%, from 2,800,245 in July 2022 to 2,796,999 in July 2023. Despite these decreases, St. Louis maintained its position as the 21st largest MSA nationally from 2020 to 2023.

Drilling down to the county level reveals that the population decline was not evenly distributed across the MSA. St. Louis County, the most populous county in the metro area, saw its population drop from 1,004,305 in April 2020 to 987,059 in July 2023, a loss of 17,246 residents or a 1.72% decrease. The City of St. Louis experienced an even sharper decline, falling from 301,565 to 281,754 over the same period, a decrease of 19,811 or 6.57%.

In contrast, some outlying counties in the MSA saw population growth. St. Charles County, the second most populous county in the region, grew from 405,271 in April 2020 to 416,659 in July 2023, an increase of 11,388 or 2.81%. Jefferson County’s population also increased, albeit more modestly, from 226,569 to 231,230, a gain of 4,661 or 2.06%.

Other Missouri counties in the MSA saw mixed results. Franklin County’s population rose from 104,689 to 106,404, an increase of 1,715 or 1.64%, while Lincoln County saw strong growth, increasing from 59,578 to 64,699, a gain of 5,121 or 8.59%. However, Warren County had a more moderate increase from 35,528 to 37,806, a growth of 2,278 or 6.41%.

In Illinois, the counties included in the St. Louis MSA also experienced population declines. Madison County’s population fell from 269,484 to 266,368, a loss of 3,116 or 1.16%, while St. Clair County saw a decline from 259,686 to 253,292, a decrease of 6,394 or 2.46%. Monroe County, however, remained relatively stable, with a slight increase of 4 residents or 0.02%, from 34,962 to 34,966.

The data shows that the St. Louis MSA’s overall population decline of 0.83% from 2020 to 2023 was driven largely by significant decreases in the core city of St. Louis (-6.57%) and St. Louis County (-1.72%), as well as declines in the Illinois counties of Madison (-1.16%) and St. Clair (-2.46%). While some suburban and exurban counties experienced population growth, such as Lincoln County (8.59%) and St. Charles County (2.81%), it was not enough to offset the losses in the urban core and Illinois portion of the MSA. This pattern of population shifts from urban to suburban/exurban areas within metro areas has been observed in many other regions across the country in recent years.


St Louis MSA Population Change 2020-2023 By County

County 2020 Population 2023 Population Change % Change
St. Louis County, MO 1,004,305 987,059 -17,246 -1.72%
St. Charles County, MO 405,271 416,659 11,388 2.81%
St. Louis City, MO 301,565 281,754 -19,811 -6.57%
Madison County, IL 269,484 266,368 -3,116 -1.16%
St. Clair County, IL 259,686 253,292 -6,394 -2.46%
Jefferson County, MO 226,569 231,230 4,661 2.06%
Franklin County, MO 104,689 106,404 1,715 1.64%
Lincoln County, MO 59,578 64,699 5,121 8.59%
Warren County, MO 35,528 37,806 2,278 6.41%
Monroe County, IL 34,962 34,966 4 0.02%

 

St Louis MSA Population – 1970-Present

(click on chart for live, interactive chart)

St Louis MSA Population - 1970-Present

 

Zip Codes in the St Louis Metro Area Where Homes Are Selling the Fastest

The St. Louis Metropolitan Area continues to enjoy a fairly fast-paced sellers real estate market, with certain zip codes standing out for selling even faster than the current norm.  According to the report below, available exclusively from MORE, REALTORS®, homes in the top 30 zip codes are selling at an impressive rate, with average days on market ranging from just 2 to 24 days.
Leading the pack is zip code 63049 in Jefferson and St. Louis Counties, Missouri, where homes spend an average of only 2 days on the market. Close behind are zip codes in St. Clair County, Illinois (62258) and Madison County, Illinois (62010), with average selling times of 6 and 7 days, respectively.

Other notable fast-selling areas include zip codes in Warren County, Missouri (63380), St. Louis City, Missouri (63141, 63109, 63147, 63139), and St. Charles County, Missouri (63304, 63385, 63367, 63376). These areas demonstrate the high demand and quick turnover that characterize the St. Louis real estate market.

For buyers, this data highlights the need to act quickly when a desirable property becomes available. Sellers, on the other hand, can take advantage of the fast-paced market to sell their homes efficiently and potentially secure a favorable price.

Understanding the dynamics of these fast-selling zip codes is crucial for anyone navigating the St. Louis real estate landscape. By staying informed and working with experienced professionals, both buyers and sellers can make the most of the opportunities presented by this thriving market.  Want to meet some of St Louis’ finest agents?  Then check them out here.


Fastest Selling Zip Codes In The St Louis MSA

(Click on table below to see current, live and complete list)

Fastest Selling Zip Codes In The St Louis MSA

City Commons: St. Louis’s Emerging Neighborhood Identity

In downtown St. Louis, a significant transformation is taking place, not just in the physical landscape but in the very identity of a burgeoning neighborhood. An ambitious initiative led by a consortium of developers aims to rebrand a key area surrounding the new CityPark, home of the St. Louis City SC, as “City Commons.” This endeavor seeks to establish a distinct identity for the neighborhood, distinguishing it from the broader downtown area. CityPark, a $460 million stadium, along with over $1 billion in surrounding developments, serves as the catalyst for this rebranding effort. The objective is to create a vibrant live-work-play district that encapsulates the essence of community and innovation.

The push to designate this area as City Commons reflects a strategic effort to brand and market the neighborhood as a unique destination within St. Louis. Recognizing the city’s residents’ attachment to neighborhood identities, the developers are harnessing this cultural trait to foster a sense of belonging and pride among locals and visitors. The naming initiative represents more than just a cosmetic change; it’s about crafting a narrative that resonates with the vibrancy and diversity of St. Louis itself. By reimagining the neighborhood as City Commons, the developers are not only aiming to attract investment and development but also to create a cohesive community identity that reflects the area’s renewed purpose and potential.


The Risks of Split Closings in St. Louis: What Buyers and Sellers Need to Know

In the St. Louis real estate market, ‘split closings’—where buyers and sellers close at different title companies—are a common practice. This is in contrast to most parts of the country, where a single title insurance company manages the closing for both parties. Although rare nationally, split closings have become a hallmark of the St. Louis real estate scene.

In a split closing, each title company plays a distinct role. The buyer’s title company is typically responsible for producing the title insurance commitment, ordering buyer-related items (like surveys), and coordinating with the new lender on figures and requirements. Conversely, the seller’s title company takes the commitment from the buyer’s title company and assists the seller in clearing any liens, checking for assessments and specials, and verifying commission and earnest money. Each company then prepares a closing statement for their side, and the two companies reconcile the figures.

Despite being the norm in St. Louis, split closings come with their share of risks and inconveniences. To gain a deeper understanding of these challenges, I consulted Greg Miller, Manager at M&I Title, LLC. He outlined the most common risks and inconveniences stemming from split closings:


Risks and Inconveniences of Split Closings

  • Potential Miscommunication: The division of responsibilities between two title companies can result in crucial information getting lost or misinterpreted. For example, discrepancies in settlement figures or misunderstanding regarding the readiness of documents can cause significant delays.
  • Difficulty in Resolving Issues: On the day of closing, last-minute hurdles such as undiscovered liens, discrepancies in documents, or issues arising from the final walkthrough can be more cumbersome. Each title company may have different procedures for handling these issues, complicating coordination and resolution efforts.
  • Delayed Seller Proceeds: For sellers, this delay means that the proceeds from the sale may not be available on the day of closing. This is particularly problematic for sellers who are relying on these funds to purchase another home simultaneously. The absence of timely proceeds can disrupt the entire chain of transactions, potentially leading to breaches of contract or the need for temporary, and often costly, financial arrangements.
  • Buyer Possession Issues: Buyers, on the other hand, may face delays in gaining possession of their new home. Since a real estate transaction is not considered closed until it is fully funded and the deed has been delivered to the buyer, any delay in these processes means the buyer technically does not own the home. This could result in the buyer being unable to move into their new home as planned, leading to additional costs or complications, especially if they have already vacated their previous residence.
  • Increased Costs: Sellers may face additional fees for closing services, courier charges for document transfers, and possibly higher coordination fees due to the involvement of an additional title company. These costs can vary widely and may also impact buyers if contractually passed on.
  • Wire Fraud Vulnerability: The exchange of sensitive financial information between multiple parties increases the risk of interception by cybercriminals. The complexity of communication can make it easier for fraudulent wire transfer instructions to go unnoticed until too late.

Additional Considerations

  • Privacy Concerns: With two title companies involved, sensitive personal and financial information is shared more broadly, increasing the risk of data breaches or unauthorized access.
  • Complex Coordination for Agents and Lenders: Real estate agents and lenders must navigate communication between two companies, adding complexity to their roles and potentially straining relationships with clients due to unforeseen delays or issues.
  • Risk of Non-Compliance: Each title company may interpret regulatory requirements slightly differently. This divergence can lead to compliance issues, affecting the legality of the closing process and potentially exposing all parties to legal risks.
  • Customer Service Variability: With two companies involved, the level of customer service can vary, potentially leading to a disjointed experience for both buyer and seller. Inconsistent communication or service levels can increase stress and dissatisfaction with the process.

By understanding these expanded issues and additional considerations, professionals and clients in the St. Louis real estate market can better prepare for the complexities of split closings. Strategies such as enhanced communication protocols, clearer contractual agreements regarding responsibilities and fees, and increased vigilance against fraud can mitigate some of these challenges.


 

St Louis New Home Constructions Begins 2024 Down From a Year Ago

In the 12-month period ended January 31, 2024 the St. Louis area saw the issuance of 3,996 building permits for new single-family homes. This represents a decline of 3.64% compared to the previous 12-month period, which had 4,147 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, with two counties reporting double-digit decreases.


  

St Louis New Home Building Permits – January 2024

(click on table below for page with live charts showing additional permit data)St Louis New Home Building Permits - January 2024

 

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