How Much Of An Impact Does Your FICO Score Have On The Cost Of A Home?

Today, thanks to many apps and access to information, all consumers have ready and easy access to their FICO (credit) score.  Anyone thinking of buying a home no doubt knows their credit score will come into play in terms of qualifying for a mortgage but just how significant is your credit score?  Is there really that much difference between a 670 and 700 credit score, or between a 700 and 741 score?  Well, when it comes to mortgage rates, it does make a difference!

A 670 FICO vs a 741 FICO will run up the typical cost of St Louis home over $17,000 over the life of your loan!

For example, as the table below illustrates, the median interest rate for a mortgage for a person in St Louis (borrowing over 80% of purchase price) with a FICO score of less than 680 is 3.962% versus an interest rate of 3.611% for someone with a FICO score above 740.  The median price of homes sold in St Louis during the past 30 days was $245,055.  So, to make it simple, if we assume that for the loan amount a person with a 679 score would be looking at a house payment of $1,153 per month (principal and interest) while someone with a 741 credit score would be looking at a payment of $1,104 or $49 per month less.  That may not sound like much, but over the 30-year life of the mortgage that means the person with the lower credit score will pay $17,640 more in interest than the borrower with the higher score.  Or, to look at it a different way, for the same payment of $1,153 that the lower score borrower will pay for a $245,055 home, the borrower with the higher score can buy a home that costs $255,823.

Mortgage-Interest Rates Hit Highest Level In Over a Year

Mortgage interest rates were at 3.667% for a 30-year fixed-rate loan as of this past Thursday, January 13, 2022.  As the chart below illustrates, after dipping slightly the week prior, the rates this most recent week hit the highest level in over a year.

Mortgage rates for an FHA mortgage also hit the highest level in over a year too with rates hitting 3.743%.

Mortgage Interest Rates – 30 Years Conforming Conventional Loan -Past 12 Months

(click on chart for live, interactive chart and other loan types)

Mortgage Interest Rates - 30 Years Conforming Conventional Loan -Past 12 Months

Mortgage Interest Rates – 30 Year FHA

(click on chart for live, interactive chart and other loan types)

Mortgage Interest Rates - 30 Year FHA

 

New Home Building Permits Increase By Double Digits in Franklin County and St Louis City In Past 12-Months

There were 4,851 building permits issued for new single-family homes in the St Louis area during the 12-month period ended November 30, 2021, an increase of 3.17% from the same period a year ago when there were 4,702 permits issued, according to the latest data from the Home Builders Association of St. Louis & Eastern Missouri (St Louis HBA).   Three of the seven counties covered in the report saw an increase in building permits from the same period a year ago, two of those, Franklin County and the City of St Louis,  a double-digit increase.


  

St Louis New Home Building Permits -November 2021

St Louis New Home Building Permits -November 2021

 

St Louis Home Sales Trend Declining

The home sales trend in St Louis is easing with 29,778 homes being sold in the St Louis 5-county core market during the 12-month period ended December 31, 2021, according to the chart below provided by MORE, REALTORS®.  This 12-month rate of St Louis home sales has declined for the 3rd month in a row after peaking at 30,225 homes sold in the 12-month period ended September 30, 2021.

Leading indicator Reports Show a Downturn in Home Sales as well…

The STL Real Estate Trends Report, below the chart, shows new contracts written on listings for the most recent week reported, compared with the same week last year.  As the report shows, contracts written during the most recent week were down 23% from the same week a year ago, with all 5 counties reported showing a double digit decline.  Franklin County saw the biggest drop at 34% followed by St Louis City witha. 31% decline.

December 2021 St Louis Real Estate Report

St Louis Real Estate Report - December 2021 - St Louis Housing Report - St Louis Realtors

St Louis Home Sales in 2021 Tops Year Before By Nearly 4 Percent – Prices Up Over 9 Percent

As the STL Market Report (available exclusively from MORE, REATLORS®) below illustrates, there were 30,197 homes sold in the St Louis 5-county core market during 2021, an increase of 3.86% from 2020 when there were 29,075 homes sold.  The median sales price of homes sold in the St Louis 5-county core market was $250,000 during 2021, an increase of 9.17% from 2020 when the median price of homes sold in St Louis was $229,000.  The 5-county core St Louis market is comprised of the city and county of St Louis, along with the counties of Jefferson, Franklin, and St Charles. The St Louis core market is responsible for over 7y0% of all homes sold in the 17-county St Louis MSA market.

Housing inventory remains low…

As the last row of the report shows, there is still just a 0.6 month supply of homes for sale in the St Louis 5-county core market and the median time on the market is 64 days.

Flipped Home Percentage of Home Sales Increases – Profit Margins Decline

There were 94,766 homes and condominiums “flipped” during the third quarter in the U.S., according to data just released by ATTOM Data Solutions.  These flips represent 5.7% of all homes sales during the 3rd quarter of 2021, an increase of nearly 12% from the prior quarter when 5.1% of all homes sold were flips.

Gross profit margins dip to the lowest point since early 2011…

According to the report, the gross profit margin (the difference between the price paid for the flipped house when purchased versus the price paid by the new buyer when flipped) was $68,847.  This represents a 32.3% gross margin, the lowest gross margin percentage since the first quarter of 2011.

  

U.S. Home Flipping Trends – Chart

U.S. Home Flipping Trends - Chart 

Foreclosure Filings In November Up 94% From Year Ago But Down 94% From 2010

Last month, there were foreclosure filings on 19,479 properties in the U.S., according to ATTOM Data’s U.S. Foreclosure Market Report.  This represents a decline of 5% from the month before but a 94% increase from a year ago, according to the report.

Let’s put it in perspective…

Data and statistics are funny things.  Even when accurately presented they can paint a picture that may sound worse, or better than the real situation behind the data.  This is why I consistently suggest that people don’t base opinions of the market, or make decisions, on one piece of data.  It takes many pieces of data to really paint the whole picture, just like in this case.  The headline that was reported by ATTOM Data (and repeatedly in many publications) is accurate, foreclosures are up 94% from a year ago.  But if there are currently 19,479 properties with a foreclosure filing, that means there were just 10,040 filings a year ago.  Granted, its bad to have anyone lose their home, but, historically speaking, these foreclosure numbers are low..very low.  For example, in April 2010, a couple of years after the housing bubble burst, there were 367,056 foreclosure filings that month.  So, last months number of 19,479 is 94% lower than April 2010.

Again, I’m not minimizing the significance of a foreclosure or the effect it has on those affected by it, I’m just trying to paint a more clear picture to show at this time, even though we’ve seen an increase, the numbers are still pretty low.

  

Inflation Has Largest One-Year Increase In Over 39 Years – Will Home Prices Suffer?

As you’ve probably heard by now, the most recent inflation news was not good.  As the chart below illustrates, the Consumer Price Index (CPI) for all products in the U.S. (city average) for November 2021 was 303.4, an increase of 6.88% from a year ago when it was 284.1.  This is the highest 12-month increase in inflation we have seen in over 39 years, since June 1982.

What effect will this record-setting increase in inflation have on home prices?

The second chart below depicts the percentage change in the inflation rate from a year ago (the blue line)  as well as the percentage change in the St Louis home price index from a year ago (the red line).  As you look at the chart and reference the marked-up one I have below it, you will see a pattern.  Historically, when inflation rates increase significantly and consistently from a year ago, lower home prices follow.   Will this happen this time as well?  It’s hard to say right now as we still have an incredibly low supply of homes on the market, which tends to fuel higher prices, and we’ll need to see if the rise in inflation is sustained over the next few months.  For the time being, I’ll make the prediction that in 2022 we will see, at a minimum, a flattening of home prices…so maybe not a decline, but a pause on the rate of increase.  Time will tell.

  

St Louis New Home Building Permits Increase Nearly 6 Percent In Past Year

There were 4,838 building permits issued for new single-family homes in the St Louis area during the 12-month period ended October 31, 2021, an increase of 2.98% from the same period a year ago when there were 4,698 permits issued, according to the latest data from the Home Builders Association of St. Louis & Eastern Missouri (St Louis HBA).   Four of the seven counties covered in the report saw an increase in building permits from the same period a year ago, three with a double-digit increase.  St Charles County continues to show a trend of a slight decline in permits with this period falling short of the 12-month period ended last month.


  

St Louis New Home Building Permits -October 2021

St Louis New Home Building Permits -October 2021

 

St Louis Home Price Appreciation Slowing

Even though you wouldn’t know it by today’s forecasted high in St Louis of 50 degrees, we are entering the winter housing market.  Every year, year after year, the St Louis winter housing market reacts pretty much the same way with home prices dropping a little and sales slowing followed by an uptick in both come spring.  With that in mind, the declines we see in home prices in the chart and report below, available exclusively from MORE, REALTORS®, could be attributed to the seasonal change but are a little early for that, and different than last year.

Sold home price per square foot declined for 2nd month in a row in November…

The price per foot a home sells for is a relatively accurate indicator of rising home prices and typically will decline in the winter months as I mentioned above.  However, if you look at the chart below, you will see the red line, which depicts the sold price per square foot of homes sold in the St Louis area, peaked in June at $172/foot, then dropped in July to $171/foot where it stayed though September before dropping to $165 in October and then remaining there in November.  The result was a 4.0% decline in the price per foot of homes sold in St Louis from the peak in June to October.

If you look at the same period last year, you will see the price per foot peaked in July at $152 than stayed at $152 until dropping to $151 in October, then up to $153 in November and back to $152 in December. So, least year, the change from the peak to November was actually a slight increase compared with this year’s decrease of 4.%.

I’m not saying last years price behavior was the norm, I’m just pointing out that this years price activity is different than last year so it may be indicative of a change in the market.

Current listing prices reflect slower price appreciation…

Below the chart is the STL Market Report for November which shows home sales in the St Louis 5-county core market were up nearly 6% for the 12-month period ended November 30th from a. year ago and prices were up over 10% during the same period.  However, if you look down to the second row of the report, you will see the price per foot homes sold at during the most recent 12-month period were sold at a price of $164.70 per foot (and in November as well) and the price per foot of homes currently listed is $168, so an increase of about 2% from the median price in the past 12-months. Granted, many of the current listings will likely sell for more than asking price, but this trend still indicates St Louis home price appreciation is slowing.

St Louis New Contracts On Listings Outpacing New Listings But By 15 Percent Less Than Last Year

New sales of listings (an accepted offer) in St Louis in November are outpacing new listings with 1.06 new sales for every 1 new listing.  As the leading indicator reports below illustrate (available exclusively from MORE, REALTORS®), for the first 3 weeks in November, there have been 2,139 new sales of listings and 2,026 new listings.  At the same time a year ago, new sales outpaced new listings at 1.24 to 1, so the current trend is down 15%.

Worth noting in the data is that new sales of St Louis homes in the first three weeks of November 2021 are up 4.5% from the same period a year ago, new listings for the same period this year are up 23% from a year ago.  This is a trend worth watching and if it continues, could help with the low inventory problem that has made the St Louis real estate market a brutal market for home buyers for the past couple of years.

Mortgage Rates Have Increased Significantly This Year

As the charts below illustrate, at the beginning of this year, mortgage interest rates for a 30-year conforming conventional loan were at 2.771%, FHA loans were at 2.703%, and VA loans were at 2.372%.  As of yesterday, those rates have increased to 3.357%, 3.468%, and 3.101% respectively.

While conforming 30-year conventional loans have seen an increase of 21% in rates (from 2.771% to 3.357%), FHA loans have seen an increase of 28% (from 2.703% to 3.468%) and VA loans have seen an increase of 30% (from 2.372% to 3.101%).

What does this mean in terms of the cost of a home?

To make the comparison simple, I’ll just base my comparison on the price of a “typical” home in the St Louis 5-county core market using the median price of homes sold in October which was $234,900.  Downpayments will vary based upon loan type from no downpayment being required on a VA loan, to a minimum of 3% on a conventional and 3.5% on an FHA but based upon a loan amount equal to the median price of $234,900, below are the differences in the monthly payment on that amount by loan type from the beginning of this year until now:

  • Conventional – $948 to $1,023
  • FHA – $939 to $1,038
  • VA –  $898 to $990

If we factor in the increase in home prices, it gets worse.

In the “to add insult to injury” category, home prices have increased significantly since January as well,  In January the median price was $215,000, so between then and October the median price of a St Louis home increased 9.2%.  With the interest rates increasing at the same time the cost of a typical St Louis home increased fairly significantly as shown below:

  • Conventional – $867 to $1,023 (+18%)
  • FHA – $859 to $1,038 (+21%)
  • VA –  $821 to $990 (+21%)

The moral of the story…don’t wait to buy.

While I certainly can’t predict the future, especially given all the uncertainty in our economy with inflation, employment issues, etc, if I were in the market to buy a home I don’t think I would wait “until things get better”.  The reason for my opinion is, as I’ve illustrated here, the true “cost” of a home (assuming you are not paying cash for it) is a combination of price and interest rate. So, even if home prices see an adjustment or the seasonal dip we often see during winter if interest rates continue to rise, is the higher cost of borrowing going to offset the lower price?  I think that is a possibility.  Or, the flip side, if interest rates go down but then prices go up, is the savings in lower rates lost?

To benefit from waiting, in terms of the cost of the home, we would need interest rates to stay the same, or decline and home prices to decline or interest rates to drop and home prices stay the same.  Right now I don’t see either of the two aforementioned scenarios likely to happen.

St Louis Beating Region On Percentage Of Homes Selling At Full Price Or Above

Last week I published an infographic in an article illustrating that 65% of the homes sold in St Louis sold at or above the list price.  As the infographic below shows, this is a significantly higher percentage than was experienced in the midwest region as a whole where 55% of the homes sold at or above full price.  

St Louis New Home Building Permits Increase Over 6 Percent In Past Year

There were 4,938 building permits issued for new single-family homes in the St Louis area during the 12-month period ended September 30, 2021, an increase of 6.38% from the same period a year ago when there were 4,642 permits issued, according to the latest data from the Home Builders Association of St. Louis & Eastern Missouri (St Louis HBA).   Five of the seven counties covered in the report saw an increase in building permits from the same period a year ago, three with a double-digit increase.  St Charles County continues to show a trend of a slight decline in permits with this period falling short of the 12-month period ended last month.


  

St Louis New Home Building Permits -September 2021

St Louis New Home Building Permits -September 2021

 

YTD St Louis Home Sales Through October Up Over 5% From Last Year

In spite of the challenges of a low-inventory market as well as the threat of inflationary pressure on the economy, St Louis home sales still remain strong.  As the infographic below shows (exclusively available from MORE, REALTORS®) year-to-date home sales through October of this year are outpacing last year by over 5% and the prior 3 years as well by an even larger margin!

The House Payment on a Typical St Louis Home has increased just over 5% in 14 years

Anyone paying even a little attention to the St Louis real estate market will likely be aware of the fact that we have been in a strong seller’s market for the past couple of years and St Louis home prices, as a result, have increased significantly.  In fact, as the infographic below shows (exclusively available from MORE, REALTORS®) the median home price for a St Louis home has increased more than 50% in the past 14 years.  However, the good news is that during that same period mortgage interest rates have fallen and remained low resulting an increase in the house payment on a typical home increase just over 5% during the same period!

Over 40% Of The Luxury Homes Sold In St Louis In October Sold At or Above List Price

Yesterday, I shared data showing that two-thirds of the homes sold in the St Louis 5-County core market (St Louis city and the counties of St Louis, St Charles, Jefferson, and Franklin) during October sold for the asking price or above.   Today, I wanted to focus on just the luxury home market to see how that compared with the overall market.  I included homes that sold for $750,000 or higher in this analysis.

As the infographic below shows (exclusively available from MORE, REALTORS®) there were 107 luxury homes sold (3.7% of all homes sold) during October in the St Louis 5-County core market with 41% of them selling at the list price or above.  Drilling down further, we see that 28% of the St Louis Luxury homes sold for greater than the list price.

Two-Thirds Of Homes Sold In St Louis Core Market In October Sold At Or Above List Price

Two-thirds of the homes sold in the St Louis 5-County core market (St Louis city and the counties of St Louis, St Charles, Jefferson, and Franklin) during October sold for the asking price or above.  As the infographic below shows (exclusively available from MORE, REALTORS®) there were 2,888 homes sold during October in the St Louis 5-County core market with 65% of them selling at the list price or above.  One thing to remember about home prices though, and something you won’t hear from too many people reporting prices, is that not all sold prices are the “real” price.

Have St Louis Home Prices Finally Increased Too Much?

For the past few years now, we’ve experienced quite the seller’s market in St Louis fueled, in part, by a low supply of homes for sale.  As a result, St Louis home prices have increased over the past few years at rates close to double the historic norm.  Of late, we’ve heard a lot from people within, and outside of, the real estate industry expressing concern that home prices have gotten too high and even some have made comparisons to 2008 when the housing market saw the bubble burst.  Being the data nerd I am, I’ve tried to keep emotion out of it and instead turn to the data to see if there were indications that perhaps St Louis home prices have increased too much and we are in for a correction.  Up until now, the data has led me to believe that St Louis home prices were ok and can be sustained.  However, based upon current data, I have a little different opinion as I write this.

So what has changed in the data to indicate home prices are too high?

For starters, I haven’t said St Louis home prices are too high yet, I’ve just said that the current data has changed my opinion.  Having said that, prices may in fact reached levels that cannot be sustained and may need a downward correction to put them back in line or they may have just peaked and will remain rather flat for a period of time to allow the market to “catch up” with the prices.  And, of course, data over the next month or two could change for the positive and show we’re not there yet and home prices can still go higher without a problem.  For now, I’m going to say that, based upon the data as well as the normal seasonal adjustments we see this time of year, I’m going to expect to see St Louis home prices to   decline somewhat during the winter months like normal, but then perhaps remain relatively flat come spring rather than increase in the spring like normal. 

My opinion is based upon several pieces of data that, collectively, are indicating a coming adjustment in home prices to me.  I have the charts below that illustrate this point and here’s my recap on them:

Mortgage Interest Rates Hit Highest Level In Six Months

Mortgage interest rates were at 2.65% for a 30-year fixed-rate loan at the beginning of this year, according to Freddie Mac’s Primary Mortgage Market Survey® and rose through the late winter months and started the spring housing season with rates hitting 3.18% on April 1st.  This rate was the highest rate since June, 2020 when rates hit 3.21% and was the highest level for interest rates in 2021.  This past week, according to the same market survey, the 30 -year fixed-rate mortgage interest rate hit 3.09%, the highest level in six-months, but still below the peak rate for the year of 3.18%.

As the chart below illustrates,  mortgage interest rates for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage have spent most of the time this year between about 2.75% and 3.0%. This is a pretty narrow fluctuation range and, even at the high of the range, or at the peak rate of 3.18% for this year, is still historically very attractive as evidence by the second chart below, one that shows mortgage interest rates for the past 10-years.

Mortgage Interest Rates – 30 Years Conforming Conventional Loan -Past 12 Months

(click on chart for live, interactive chart and other loan types)Mortgage Interest Rates - 30 Years Conforming Conventional Loan -Past 12 Months

Mortgage Interest Rates – 30 Years Conforming Conventional Loan -Past 10 Years

(click on chart for live, interactive chart and other loan types)

Mortgage Interest Rates - 30 Years Conforming Conventional Loan -Past 10 Years

 

Buyer’s Agents Aren’t Free

Like the majority of real estate companies in St Louis, our firm, MORE, REALTORS® is a member of the National Association of REALTORS®.  One of the things that go along with membership is to agree to abide by the Code of Ethics.  Within the code of ethics, is Article 12 which states, in part,  “REALTORS® shall be honest and truthful in their real estate communication and shall present a true picture in their advertising, marketing, and other representations.”  As with every article in the code of ethics, there are “standards of practice” to serve as examples of how that article should be applied.  For this article there is Standard of Practice 12-2 which states “REALTORS® may represent their services as “free” or without cost even if they expect to receive compensation from a source other than their client provided that the potential for the REALTOR® to obtain a benefit from a third party is clearly disclosed at the same time.

I have always taken exception to that standard of practice for a couple of reasons, including:

  1. I don’t believe the statement is true.
  2. I think good buyer’s agents work hard,  know the value they bring to their clients and earn what they are paid.  To think that an agent has to represent that their services are free in order to get a client to use them I feel is an insult to a professional agent.

The reason behind my first issue above is that while in a traditional home sale, the buyer may not directly pay the agent representing them (the buyer’s agent) they pay them indirectly.  Typically, when a home is listed and sold using a REALTOR®, the seller agrees to pay commission to their agent (the seller’s agent) as well as to the Buyer’s agent.  Why would a seller agree to do this?  Well, they basically have no choice as, if they want their home listed in the REALTORS® MLS system (who doesn’t?), they must offer a commission to the agent that sells the home as it’s a rule. So, like it or not, the seller is going to “agree” to pay the buyer’s agent’s commission.  To say the total commission the seller is paying does not affect the price they accept I think would be disingenuous.   So, if the commission the seller has to pay affects the price they will accept from a buyer and the commission the seller is paying includes the buyer’s agents commission, I think it’s safe to say the buyers agents services to the buyer are not “free”.

The Department of Justice must feel the same way…

Clearly, I’m not the only one out there that feels this way.  Last November the DOJ (Department of Justice) and NAR (National Association of REALTORS®) entered into a settlement agreement to end an investigation.  One of the things NAR had to agree to was to no longer permit buyers agents to advertise that their services were free.  Recently, this agreement fell apart and the DOJ and NAR are involved in legal battles now so we’ll see where that goes.

Why a good buyer’s agent is more than worth the cost…

So now I’ll get to my second point.  A good, professional buyer’s agent is worth every dollar they make on a transaction and, quite frankly, often don’t really get paid enough.  Before you roll your eyes and think I’m just another one of those people that have “drank the REALTOR® KOOL-AID®”, stick with me.  I assure you I’m not one of those, I hate KOOL-AID®, avoid sugar as much as I can, and I don’t like hypocrites.  I like to tell it like it is.  Often, I’m very supportive of the real estate industry, the people in it the practices, etc, however, there are times I am not.  But, getting back to buyer’s agents, I want to add another caveat…note the adjectives I used; “good and professional”.  I’m not in any way saying all agents are created equal nor that all agents are worth what they get paid.  However, there are a lot of great ones that are very dedicated to their profession, love serving their clients, do so in an exceptional way and more than earn the commission they make.  I feel blessed in that in our firm, MORE, REALTORS® I’m literally surrounded by agents like that.

What are you going to do for me that makes you worth the price I’m going to pay for your representation?  This is a good question to ask an agent you are considering to represent you as a buyer’s agent.  If it were me, here are some of the things I would like to hear in the response as well as be convinced that this is what past clients have experienced and what I can expect from the agent:

  • Their knowledge and experience of the local market.  They should know what the housing market is like, the prices, the trends, the inventory, etc.
  • Their knowledge of the type of real estate you are looking for.  For example, if you love older homes, such as the 80+-year-old ones that exist in Kirkwood, Webster Groves, you are going to want an agent with extensive knowledge of older homes.  This will be invaluable to you when evaluating the condition of the home, reviewing your building inspection, etc.  If you are looking for a mid-century modern, it would help to have an agent that knows what you are talking about as well as where to find that style of home.
  • Their knowledge of the process and guidance they will give you.  Today, we are very much in a seller’s market and buyers are having to compete with often a dozen or more offers on a home.  You want an agent that is detailed, knows the process, the contract, and has a great grasp on how to best prepare you so that, when the time comes, your offer is seen in the best light possible by the seller.  A good agent will not leave anything to chance in this area.
  • Their relationship and reputation in the industry.  There is a fine line on this one, as you don’t ever want to choose an agent that is more concerned with what the agent on the other side of the deal thinks of them rather than fearlessly representing your best interests.  However, you don’t want an agent that has a bad reputation in the industry or is known as someone that is impossible to work with.  I would want to find one that I’m convinced will always have MY best interest in mind, that understands their fiduciary obligation to me, and is well respected by their peers.
  • Their commitment to my best interest.  I would want an agent that is laser-focused on my interests and is going to work to do their best to get me what I want under the best terms and price.  But, at the same time, someone that is confident and professional enough to also “stand up to me” if necessary to set me on the right track or to keep me from shooting myself in the foot.

When you take the time to go through some of the things above with an agent and find one that stands out as the best and most professional to represent you, I can almost guarantee that you are more than getting your money’s worth.  I see it time and time again with our agents, where through knowledge and advice, negotiation or strategy, they save their clients not only money (and likely often more than the agent is being paid) but also time and frustration.

So, as my headline says, Buyer’s Agents AREN’T Free and as the things I point out above nor should they be.

Now it’s time for a shameless plug…do you want to be connected with a great, professional agent that is a Master of Real Estate?  Just give me a call at 314.332.1012 or email me at Dennis@stlre.com and after I understand your wants and needs, I’ll connect you with the perfect agent for you!

Has the St Louis Real Estate Market Peaked?

I’ve written a couple of articles lately addressing the news reports about the housing market cooling down.  As I’ve addressed in those articles, there has not really been much data supporting a significant cooling in the St Louis real estate market.  Additionally, I’ve noted that, due to the seasonality of the housing market, and the fact we are headed toward winter, a cooling of the market would be the seasonal norm.

So today, I decided to pick an easier question to answer, “has the St Louis real estate market peaked?”  The short answer is yes, I believe it has.  This statement, by itself, is not all bad as it would NOT be good for St Louis home prices to continue to increase at the rates they have over the past couple of years.  Not to mention, if we stay in this low-inventory market strongly favoring sellers much longer, many buyers are going to just give up and shelf the idea of buying for a while.

As usual, I’ll let the data speak for itself.  I have several charts and tables below (available exclusively from MORE, REALTORS®) that I believe support that we have probably seen the St Louis market peak.

St Louis Area Housing Market Report For September

The St Louis housing market appears to be cooling off slightly with fewer home sales last month than a year ago in 3 of the 5 St Louis area counties that make up the St Louis 5-county core real estate market.  As the charts below illustrate, the decline in the overall St Louis market was very slight, with 3,164 homes sold last month just 11 sales fewer than September last year when there were 3,715 homes sold in the St Louis5-county core market.  The charts have complete details but below is a recap of home sales and prices by county for last month versus September 2020:

  • St Louis City & County – These two counties combined are the only in the core market to see an increase in sales last month from a year ago.  Last month there were 1,710 homes sold, an increase of 4.6% from a year ago when there were 1,634 homes sold.  Last month the median price of homes sold was $247,000 and increase of nearly 7.5% from last year when it was $229,900.
  • Franklin County – Last month there were 127 homes sold, a decrease of 13.6% from a year ago when there were 147 homes sold.  Last month the median price of homes sold was $227,050 and increase of nearly 14.5% from last year when it was $198,300.
  • Jefferson County – Last month there were345 homes sold, a decrease of 6.8% from a year ago when there were 370 homes sold.  Last month the median price of homes sold was $229,000 and increase of nearly 9.0% from last year when it was $210,000.
  • St Charles County – Last month there were 617 homes sold, a decrease of 10.8% from a year ago when there were 684 homes sold.  Last month the median price of homes sold was $303,000 and increase of nearly 12.2% from last year when it was $270,000.

St Louis New Home Building Permits Increase In August In 6 of 7 Counties

There were 4,926 building permits issued for new single-family homes in the St Louis area during the 12-month period ended August 31, 2021, an increase of 6.44% from the same period a year ago when there were 4,628 permits issued, according to the latest data from the Home Builders Association of St. Louis & Eastern Missouri (St Louis HBA).   Six of the seven counties covered in the report saw an increase in building permits from the same period a year ago, half of them with a double-digit increase and the other half with a slight increase.  St Charles County saw new home permits fall by 1.18% from 1,777 permits to 1,756 permits during the period.


  

St Louis New Home Building Permits -August 2021

St Louis New Home Building Permits - August 2021

 

St Louis Home Sales Trend Remains Strong

More and more today I’m seeing reports in the media about the housing market cooling down and sales slowing which, quite frankly, I have expected and keep watching for signs of it in the St Louis real estate market.  However, in spite of a few blips on the radar, all the data I’m reviewing still shows pretty steady and consistent home sales in St Louis.  Don’t get me wrong, I fully expect us to see a cooling of the St Louis market if for no other reason, winter will be here soon and then we’ll be headed toward year-end when the market always cools down.  There are many factors that could come into play to further impact the market such as higher interest rates, a weaker economy as well as an influx of foreclosed homes hitting the market in the month ahead.  For all of this, we will have to wait and see, but for now, things are pretty steady.  Below are some charts and data that I feel support my thoughts on the market.

St Louis 5-County Core Market – Home Sales Trend

(click on chart for live, interactive chart)

St Louis 5-County Core Market - Home Sales Trend

As the chart above illustrates, the time it takes for a home to sell (days on market, represented by the brown line at the bottom) has been consistent the last four months, ranging from a low of 6 days to a high of 8 days.  The green line shows the 12-month home sales trend and it has been fairly consistent the last 4 months as well, actually increasing in June, then dipping slightly in July only to rise again in August to nearly June’s level.  Finally, the red line shows the median price per foot of the homes sold and that has also been consistent the last 4 months with a slight increase from $167/foot in May to $170 in June and then $171 in July and August.

St Louis Real Estate Trends Report

New Listings & New Sales  (click on report for live report)

St Louis Real Estate Trends Report St Louis Real Estate Trends Report

The above reports show that in the most recent week new contracts written for the sale of homes increased 29% from the week before and new listings increased 3% from the week before.  During the week there were just about the same number of new listings as new sales at 764 and 767 respectively.

St Louis Area Supply of Listing Inventory

 (click on report for live report)

St Louis Area Supply of Listing Inventory

The report above shows there is currently a 0.89 month supply of homes for sale in the St Louis 5-County market.  This is only slightly higher than it has been in past months. Of the 5-counties in the core market, St Charles County has the lowest inventory of homes for sale with an inventory of just over half a month.

Number of St Louis Distressed Home Sales Declined Over 90 Percent In Past 10 Years

There were a total of 550 home sales in the St Louis 5-County core market during the 12-month period ended August 31, 2021, a decline of over 90 percent  (90.5%) from the same period 10 years earlier.  As the chart below (available exclusively from MORE, REALTORS®) illustrates, the St Louis distressed home sales 12-month trend peaked in May 2013 with 6,078 distressed home sales in the prior 12-month period and has fallen to just 550 distressed home sales for the 12-month period ended August 31, 2021.  For the purposes of this report, distressed home sales include the sale of homes previously foreclosed on and being sold by banks or a government entity (such as FHA/VA) and short sales.  Given that there has been a foreclosure moratorium in place for several months during the past year it’s not surprising the current trend is down but as the chart shows, the trend has been steadily downward since late 2013.

  

St Louis 5-County Distressed Home Sales – 01/01/2011 – 8/31/2021

(click on chart for live, interactive chart)

St Louis 5-County Distressed Home Sales - 01/01/2011 - 8/31/2021

St Louis Home Sales Trend Slows Slightly In August

There continue to be conversations by St Louis REALTORS® as well as other industry professionals as to whether or not the market is cooling off somewhat or slowing down.  I keep watching the data closely to look for signs of a substantive change and while there are some, the market adjustments appear to be somewhat insignificant at this point. Last month, in an article about July’s market, I pointed out a slight slowing of the trend in July.  Now, I’m taking a look at August, specifically, the number of new listings that came on the St Louis real estate market during that month versus the number of new sales during the month.

More new listings in August than a year ago, fewer new sales:

As the STL Real Estate Trends Reports below show (exclusively available from MORE, REALTORS®) 3,702 new listings came on the market in the St Louis 5-County core during August, an increase in new St Louis listings of 3.2% from a year ago when there were 3,586 new listings.  Conversely, there were 3,861 new sales of homes last month, a decrease in St Louis home sales of 2.2% from a year ago when there were 3,949 new contracts written.

New contracts written exceeded listings again but not by as much margin:

During August 2020, the number of new contracts written on listings exceeded new listings in St Louis by about 10 percent (10.1%).  Last month, new sales of St Louis listings only exceed the number of new listings by just over 4 percent (4.2%).

So, as I mentioned, the change in trend is slight, but something worth keeping an eye on.

St Louis Area Home Sales Trend Slows Slightly After Setting Record in June

There has been talk of “the market slowing down” and while there hasn’t been a lot of data to support that, we did see the sales trend slow slightly in July.  As the home sales trend chart below shows, exclusively available from MORE, REALTORS®, the home sales trend for the 12-month period ending has increased every month of this year over the prior month through June. For the 12-month period ending in June, there were 30,055 homes sold marking the highest record since we’ve been tracking the data, however, for the 12-month period ending in July home sales decreased slightly to 29,974 homes.

More new listings than new sales…

A change I’ve also noticed lately is that the number of new listings hiring the St Louis market is outpacing the number of new sales, a reversal of the trend we saw until recently.  As the STL Trends Reports below show, there were 881 new listings in the most recent week and 816 new sales.  For the prior week, the trend was the same with 895 new listings and  807 new sales.

Sold Price To Listing Price Gap Narrows In July After Setting New Record in June

In June of this year the Median price of homes sold in the St Louis 5-County core market was $266,000, 6.4% higher than the median list price of $250,000 for those homes sold.  This breaks the record of 4.4% set in April and is the highest gap we’ve seen between the median sold price and listing price since we’ve been tracking it, In July the gap narrowed though, albeit slightly, with the median price of homes sold coming in at $265,000, 6.0% higher than the median list price of $250,000.  Worth noting as well is between June and July, the median list price of homes in the St Louis 5-County core market stayed the same and the median sold price decreased 0.3%..

St Louis 5-County Core – Sold Price to List Price – July 2020 – July 2021 Chart

(Click on Chart for Live Chart with current data)
St Louis 5-County Core – Sold Price to List Price – July 2020 – July 2021 Chart