Is Real Estate Essential?

Need I answer?  Given the title of this site and if you have been here before you probably are aware I’ve been in the real estate business ever since graduating high school some 41 years ago, I’m going to guess you know I’m going to say “of course it is”.  On a more serious note though, my headline poses the question in light of the current Coronavirus pandemic which has resulted in a stay at home order for several counties in Missouri and, effective tomorrow night at midnight, the entire state of Missouri.

One of the exceptions in all of the stay at home orders has been for people working in “essential services” which in some of the orders is defined in detail and others in a more general fashion.  In determining whether a business is essential there are many easy ones to figure out such as anything related to the medical or health industry, public safety, sanitation, etc.  However, when it comes to other businesses such as those related to residential real estate such as agents, appraisers, home inspectors, loan officers, etc, it’s not always so clear.  Locally, within the St Louis area whle real estate may not have been named specifically as an essential service, after legal review and discussion within the industry, it has been determined that real estate activities do in fact fall within the definition of essential services.

State of Missouri Stay at Home Order allows for real estate activities…

The stay at home order issued by the State of Missouri allows an exception for essential services but instead of defining what is included in those services, it defers to the guidance issued by the U.S.Department of Homeland Security.  Included in the guidance as “essential functions” are “residential and commercial real estate services, including settlement services.”

Safety first…

Throughout the real estate industry, there has been much attention given to what functions can be safely done if CDC and other health and safety guidelines are adhered to, such as private showings of homes, and which ones should not be done such as a traditional open house with groups of people coming through.  With these practices in place, along with utilizing technology for things such as virtual showings, agents have been able to serve their buyer and seller clients and facilitate sales.

Why it’s important…

I believe the inclusion of real estate activities as essential makes sense.  For one, we are talking about a large segment of the population that is all, for the most part, small businesses as each real estate agent are their own business.  They don’t get paid if they can’t carry out their real estate business, there are no salaries for agents. In addition, it’s not just the agents, it’s all the other professions involved in the transaction, building inspectors, lenders, title companies, survey companies, warranty companies, home repair, staging, movers and so on.  So if we shut down residential real estate entirely we are shutting down a huge part of our economy and likely putting a ton of small businesses out of business.

Also, it’s more than just the livelihood of those involved.  While some buyers are going to retreat from the market for now and wait until later, there are others that have reasons they need to move and want to buy.  For example, there are still people getting married, moving into or out of town for a job, have growing families or other needs or motivations causing them to want to move now.  For sellers, some may prefer to wait but for others, particularly those suffering financially from a job loss or business closing may be under the gun to get their home sold and really can’t wait.

So, just like workers in other essential services that are there to provide those needed services to their customers and clients, real estate agents are here to do the same for those people that do need to transact business during these challenging times.



How Mortgage Forbearance Works Under CARES ACT (Video)

Yesterday, I shared information about forbearance options available to borrowers with an FHA loan that has been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.  Today, the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau released a very informative video titled “CARES Act Mortgage Forbearance: What You Need to Know” which is below.  This video contains a great explanation of what forbearance is, how it works and how to request it on your mortgage.

Foreclosure Activity Increases in February But Down 12 Percent From Year Ago

The foreclosure rate for the St Louis MSA during February increased 22.55 percent from the prior month but declined 12.0% from February 2019, according to data just released from ATTOM Data Solutions.  As the table below shows, only 3 counties in the St Louis metro area saw a decline in foreclosure activity in February from the month before but 10 of the 15 counties reported saw a decline in foreclosure activity from a year ago.  

Three counties, Madison in Illinois and St Louis and Lincoln in Missouri, saw a decline in foreclosure activity from both the month before as well as the year before.


St Louis MSA Foreclosures – February 2020

St Louis MSA Foreclosures - February 2020

HUD To Allow Homeowners Impacted by COVID-19 To Defer House Payments For Up to a Year

As a result of the COVID-19 National Emergency Servicing and Loss Mitigation Program declared by President Trump, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) sent a letter yesterday to its loan servicers making them aware of new COVID-19 National Emergency Loss Mitigation Options.  HUD told the lenders that the new options for borrowers go into effect immediately but the lender must implement them no later than April 30, 2020.

Highlights of the new forbearance plan:

  • The Mortgagee (lender)  must not deny COVID-19 National Emergency Home Retention Options to Borrowers that experience an adverse impact on their ability to make on-time Mortgage Payments due to the COVID-19 National Emergency and satisfy the loss mitigation criteria set forth in this section.
    • (A) Forbearance for Borrowers Affected by the COVID-19
      National Emergency If a Borrower is experiencing a financial hardship negatively impacting their ability to make on-time Mortgage Payments due to the COVID-19 National Emergency and makes a request for a forbearance, the Mortgagee must offer the Borrower a forbearance, which allows for one or more periods of reduced or suspended payments without specific terms of repayment.
    • The initial forbearance period may be up to 6 months. If needed, an
      additional forbearance period of up to 6 months may be requested by
      the Borrower and must be approved by the Mortgagee.
      The term of either the initial or the extended forbearance may be
      shortened at the Borrower’s request
      (B) COVID-19 National Emergency Standalone Partial Claim
      The Mortgagee must waive all Late Charges, fees, and penalties, if
      any, as long as the Borrower is on a Forbearance Plan.

For any homeowners with an FHA loan that are struggling to make their house payments, they should contact their loan servicer to see if they are eligible for relief under this plan.




Showings Of St Louis Area Listings Trending Upward

While, rightly so, health concerns remain on the minds of home buyers, sellers, and agents, with safety practices in place, the real estate market in St Louis still has activity.  Granted, as you would expect, the activity is at a reduced rate, but there are still people that want, or even need, to buy or sell a home.  In fact, the economic downturn as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic has put some additional pressure on sellers who have been negatively affected.

One of the things I’ve been watching to track activity in the market are showings of homes.  As the chart below shows, showings are down significantly from the same time last year (currently 42.8%) however, as the table below illustrates, the showing trend has increased over the past 3 days.  Showings hit bottom on March 28th when they were down 45.0% from a year ago and since then have regained some ground.  One thing to keep in mind is part of the decline is a result of “casual lookers” going by the wayside as the only people looking at homes today are serious home buyers.  In addition, alternatives to physical showings are  being developed to allow real estate transactions to continue with less physical contact between people.  For example, our firm, MORE, REALTORS, is launching a virtual open house online platform as well as a virtual showing online platform that will deliver an enjoyable, and safe, user experience for the buyer and will allow us to continue to safely serve sellers.

Showings of Listings In The St Louis MSA and Surround Area – Comparision to Last Year-Table

Showings of Listings In The St Louis MSA and Surround Area - Comparision to Last Year-Table

Showings of Listings In The St Louis MSA and Surround Area – Comparision to Last Year-Interactive Chart

(click on chart for live, up to date, interactive chart)

Showings of Listings In The St Louis MSA and Surround Area - Comparision to Last Year-Interactive Chart



Special Report (Video) – The Impact of COVID-19 (Coronavirus) on the St Louis Real Estate Market

I’ve written several articles over the past couple of weeks about the impact the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic is having on the St Louis real estate market.  Hopefully, it has been of some benefit to people that either already had their homes on the market, were in the market to buy or considering buying or selling.  Yesterday, I took all of the most recent information and updates that I think people in those situations will find useful and packed it all into a short, 4-minute, video special report on the impact of COVID-19 on the St Louis Real Estate Market.

You can watch the report below or by clicking here.Special Report (Video) The Impact of Covid-19 (Coronavirus) on the St Louis Real Estate Market


Fannie Mae Offers Mortgage Payment Deferral Plans for Eligible Homeowners

Fannie Mae, the leading source of financing for home mortgages in the U.S. (they purchase home loans from lenders), earlier this week announced some payment deferral plans to help borrowers.  Fannie Mae is authorizing it’s loan servicers to provide options to borrowers that have fallen delinquent or are having trouble making their house payments,  which is likely a result of the financial impact on them of the COVID-19 pandemic.

While it’s complicated, there are several options that Fannie Mae has made available to loan servicers to offer to borrowers that are struggling.  Complete details are in Fannie Mae Lender Letter (LL-2020-05) but the highlights are below:

  • Eligibility criteria for a Payment Deferral:
    • The mortgage loan must be a conventional first lien mortgage loan, and may be a fixed-rate, a step-rate, or an ARM.(the property may be vacant)
      • As of the date of the evaluation, the mortgage loan must be 30 or 60 days delinquent (i.e., the borrower is not past due for more than two full monthly contractual payments); and
      • such delinquency status must have remained unchanged for at least three consecutive months, including the month of the evaluation.
    • And, the loan servicer must confirm that the borrower:
      • has resolved the hardship,
      • is able to continue making the full monthly contractual payment, and
      • is unable to reinstate the mortgage loan or afford a repayment plan to cure the delinquency.

There are some other conditions as well but those are the primary ones.  Assuming the borrower meets these requirements, there are several options available to them.  There are many options the lender can offer which include:

  • Defer the past due payments (without interest accruing) until the mortgage loan matures, until the property is sold or the loan is refinanced or paid off.

If the hardship that caused the borrower to fall behind has been resolved however the borrowers do not have the ability to pay the delinquent payments, another option is for the lender to offer to increase future payments for a period of time to make up for the delinquent payments.  If the borrower cannot afford the increased payments, that is when the payment deferral plan above kicks in.  If the borrower’s hardship has not been resolved, then Fannie Mae can offer a forbearance plan.

If you are a homeowner and having problems making your payments, the best thing to do is immediately call your loan servicer to see what options are available to you. 

New Listings In St Louis During Past 7 Days Down Just 25 Percent From Year Ago

St Louis sellers appear to remain pretty confident in the St Louis real estate market in spite of the COVID-19 threat as evidenced by the number of new residential listings that hit the St Louis market in the past 7 days. During the past 7 days, there were 701 new residential listings on the St Louis 5-County Core Market (city of St Louis and counties of St Louis, St Charles, Jefferson and Franklin) this is a decline of just 25% from the same period last year when there were 943 listings.  For the St Louis MSA, there were 930 new residential listings during the past 7 days also a decline of 25% from the same period last year when there were 1,253 new listings.

While the way in which we do business is changing somewhat, such as relying more on technology with things like virtual open houses, virtual showings as well as utilizing resources like Zoom Meetings, Skype and Facetime in lieu of in-person meetings, there are still homeowners that want to sell and buyers that want to buy. 

St Louis Area New Residential Listings For March 21 Through March 27

St Louis Area New Residential Listings For March 21 Through March 27

Home Affordability In St Louis Improves In 2 Of Five Counties During 1st Quarter

Homes became more affordable in Jefferson County and St Charles County during the first quarter of this year from the 4th quarter of 2019, according to data just released by ATTOM Data Research.  As the table below shows, the affordability index for both those counties increased from the prior quarter as well as from the same quarter the prior year.  Franklin County’s affordability index was the same for the 1st quarter of 2020 as the prior quarter but improved by 5% from a year ago.  The two St Louis’s, the city and county, both saw decline in home affordability from both the prior quarter as well as the prior year.

Average wage earner can qualify to buy in 3 out of 5 Counties…

So while the city and county of St Louis saw a decline in home affordability, the average wage eaarner in those two areas can qualify to buy a home, as can an average wage earner in Franklin County.

St Louis Home Affordability – 1st Quarter 2020

St Louis Home Affordability - 1st Quarter 2020

New Sales Of Residential Listings In St Louis In Past 7 Days Down Just 14 Percent From Year Ago

As all of us continue to deal with a much different lifestyle as a result of the coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19) I am closely monitoring the St Louis real estate market to help get the most accurate information possible to our agents, clients, and consumers to help them make informed decisions about their real estate transactions.

With this in mind, I took a look at new contracts on listings for the past 7 days, so in other words, homes that actually went under contract during the period, but this time, I wanted to drill down deeper than I did a few days ago when I reported new contract activity.  This time I looked at just new sales of residential listings (homes, condos, villas, etc) rather than all property types in the MLS as other property types, such as commercial, land, and farms, for example, could be reacting differently.

As the table below shows, there were 1,142 new contracts on residential listings in the St Louis MSA during the past 7 days, a decline of just 14% from the same time period a year ago.  There were 836 new contracts on residential listings in the St Louis 5-County Core market during the same period, a decline of only 13% from the same period a year ago.

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St Louis New Contracts On Residential Listings For The Past 7 Days

St Louis New Contracts On Residential Listings For The Past 7 Days

A slower pace and different methods of selling homes…

As the data shows, COVID-19 is definitely having an effect on the St Louis real estate market in terms of a lower number of sales and, depending on how things go with containing the virus may bring sales down lower, but for now, the sales activity has been only modestly impacted.  Granted, with the threat of COVID-19  many changes are being implemented into the process but thus far everyone in the industry is working together well to take the necessary precautions to address the health concerns while still allowing people to conduct business.  For example, as much as can be done virtually or electronically is being done.

This is something our firm, MORE, REALTORS, has incorporated into our business model for well over a decade so for us and our agents, its a familiar and comfortable way for us to do business.  It has caused us to switch into high gear to complete enhancements to our DOHR™ (Digital Open House Registration, U.S. Patent Pending) which include a totally virtual open house experience, a virtual showing experience as well as a hosted virtual tour experience. These are all things that will allow us to serve our seller clients by exposing their homes to the market, showing them to potential buyers while also protecting them and their families from exposure to the COVID-19 threat.

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Showings Of Missouri Listings In Past 7 Days Down Nearly A Third From Last Year But Still Up 20 Percent From January

As the chart below from Showingtime illustrates, showings on real estate listings in Missouri were down nearly one-third (32.6%) from the same time last year.  However, as the chart depicts, for the 7 day period ending yesterday, March 22nd, the number of showings were nearly 20 percent  (19.6%) higher than during the first week of January this year.  Last year at this time, showings were up over 77 percent from the first week in January, so, as expected, we are seeing a decline in showings but, at this point, are still at a rate better than back in January.

The showing trend is downward so we’ll have to watch and see just how low it goes before it finds the bottom.

Impact of COVID-19 On Real Estate Showings In Missouri March 16 – March 22

(click on chart for live, interactive chart)

Impact of COVID-19 On Real Estate Showings In Missouri March 16 - March 22


Over Sixteen Hundred Listings Went Under Contract In Past Week In St Louis area MLS

As I mentioned in my article yesterday about the effect of the coronavirus on the St Louis real estate market, for those homebuyers in a position to buy a home, there will be some good opportunities presented. Apparently, there are buyers out there that perhaps feel the same way or, they at least are not uncomfortable with buying now as, in the past 7 days, 1,670 listings in MARIS, the regional MLS that serves the St Louis area as well as some additional areas outside the metro area, went under contract.  When pulling data from our database for this, I confirmed that prior to the listing’s status changing to Active Under Contract or Pending (both are statuses indicating they are now under contract) the prior status in the MLS was Active thereby verifying these are “new” sales.

The 1,670 sales in the past 7 days is just sligthly lower than the 1,835 listings that went under contract during the same period a year ago.

Now, if the President or the Governor put us under a “Shelter in Place” order or something similar that effectively shuts down everything, that will pretty well put a bullet in new home sales for a while.  Depending on which “latest report” you believe, that either will or won’t happen.

Stay safe and healthy!


St Louis County Judge Issues Order Stopping Evictions

Yesterday, Michael D. Burton, Presiding Judge of the Circuity Court of St Louis County, signed an order that, until further notice, directed the St Louis County Sheriff’s office to “refrain from executing any writs of restitution (eviction of a tenant), writs of replevin, writs of attachment, writs of partition and any other writs of execution that require them to come into direct contact with the general public..”.  In addition, putting a stop to evictions of tenants in St Louis County this order stops the additional actions listed as well but preventing evictions is probably the most significant part of the order.

The Effect of Coronavirus (COVID-19) On The St Louis Real Estate Market

While we deal with the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic practicing social-distancing, shutting down events, public gatherings and the like, we are still trying to go on with our lives at the same time.  A big challenge to this is the unknown; not knowing how bad things will get, how long we may have to live like this, etc.  Fortunately, for those of us in Missouri, at the time I’m writing this, we have just 41 confirmed cases putting Missouri at number 40 of the 50 states in terms of the number of cases.  Granted, once more people are tested, our position may raise, but hopefully, due to the swift action by our leaders and citizens here, it will not rise anywhere close to the levels we are seeing in some states, including our neighbor to the east, Illinois where there are 423 cases as of this morning.

What effect is the coronavirus having on St Louis real estate?  


HUD, Fannie Mae & Freddie Mac Suspend Foreclosures for at least 60 days

In response to the coronavirus pandemic, the U.S. Dept. of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), as well as the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) (which oversees Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac), directed their loan servicers to suspect foreclosures and evictions for at least 60 days to help those people affected.

In a statement, Mark Calabria, the Director of the FHFA, said that borrowers affected by the coronavirus who are having difficulty paying their mortgages should reach out to the mortgage servicers as soon as possible.

HUD Secretary Ben Carson said that “The halting of all foreclosure actions and evictions for the next 60 days will provide homeowners with some peace of mind during these trying times,”

St Louis Real Estate Market Update VIDEO – March 2020 – 2020 off to a better start than last year…so far

The St Louis real estate market is off to a great start for 2020!  Home sales year to date has outpaced sales from the same time a year ago and everything points to 2020 being a good year for real estate!  The $64 question is, however, what effect the Coronavirus may have on the market.  Only time will tell, but my thoughts are that while there will no doubt be some negative impact on the St Louis housing market as a result of Coronavirus (COVID-19) its impact will be much less than what we have seen of late in the stock market.

I don’t believe we will see any sort of significant decline in home prices but we will likely see a “pause” in sales as some buyers decide to wait and see how things go.  No doubt some of the potential buyers that will be affected are those whose jobs or income are impacted as a result of Coronavirus, such as people in the travel, hospitality, sports, and entertainment industries.

Rates jumped up last week but are still attractive. The week before last, St Louis mortgage interest rates hit an all-time low as buyers were locking in interest rates on a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage as low as 2.95%! This past week, however, that changed and the rates shot up by as much as 1% and not as a result of the stock market or coronavirus as much as from just too much demand.  Apparently the investors that purchase the loans from lenders around the country got overwhelmed as the volume set record highs so they raised rates.  Even with the increase, rates are still historically good.  

In our MORE, REALTORS, 5 Minute St Louis Real Estate Market Update video below, you can quickly and easily get the latest information on home prices, home sales, trends and more for the entire St Louis area!  

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You can now subscribe to our ITUNES Podcast Channel to receive our updated market videos via podcast automatically each week! Just click here, then click on "Subscribe Free".) St Louis Real Estate Market Update Video - St Louis Home Prices

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Payments On Typical St Charles County Home Over 13 Percent Cheaper Today Than Year Ago

The typical median-priced existing home sold for $233,000 in February 2019 and a year later, as the chart below shows, in February 2020 the typical median-priced home sold for $235,000, an increase of just under 1%.  Here’s the beauty though, thanks to interest rates dropping from an average of 4.41% a year ago to 3.29% today, even with the slight increase in price, the typical St Charles County home costs less today than a year ago!  Not just by a little either as the payment on the median price a year ago (no money down) would have been $1,178.18 at the current rates at the time, the payment today, at the higher price but lower rates would be just $1,019.15, a savings of $159.03/month or 13.5%!  Oh, and just to show the “compound effect” of this, over the life of the loan, you will save $55,249 in interest.

So, what are you waiting for?  Buy a house!

St Charles County Existing Home Sales – Past 13 Months

(click on chart for live-interactive chart)

St Charles County Existing Home Sales - Past 13 Months

Mortgage Interest Rates Hit All-Time Low!

Mortgage interest rates hit a record low this week with an average interest rate of 3.29% on a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage according to the Freddie Mac Primary Mortgage Market Survey.  As the chart below shows, interest rates came close to this level at the end of 2012 but then quickly shot up to over 4.5% shortly after.

Now is the time to buy or at least refinance!

Anyone that has been thinking of buying a home should, if able, shift into high geat and find one now to take advantage of the low rates and the increased buying power that comes with it.  The first step would be to get yourself pre-approved and, for that, I would recommend Michael McCarthy with Flat Branch Home Loans…he’s great and our firm does a lot of business with him.  You can find his info at  If you a homeowner with a mortgage and no plans to move, I would also suggest you get in touch with Mike to see how much money you can save by refinancing your existing mortgage at a lower rate.

Mortgage Interest Rates – 30 Year Fixed-Rate

(click on chart for live, interactive chart)

Mortgage Interest Rates - 30 Year Fixed-Rate


St Louis House Flips Increase In 4th Quarter of 2019

There were 737 homes “flipped” in the St Louis metro area during the fourth quarter of 2019, or 7.2% of the total number of homes sold in the St Louis metro area during the quarter, according to data just released by ATTOM Data Solutions.  This is an increase of 9% from the prior quarter and is a decrease of 6% from a year ago.  The median gross profit was 64.450 a 71% gross ROI and a significant increase from a year ago when the Gross ROI was 54.1%.

Definition of a  “flipped” home…

For the purposes of this report, a flipped home is considered to be any home or condo that was sold during the first quarter of this year in an arms-length sale that had previously had an arms-length sale within the prior 12 months.  Since homeowners don’t tend to buy a home only to turn around and resell it within a year, when this does occur it is typically the result of an investor buying a property, renovating it, then reselling it.


St Louis House Flipping – 4th Quarter 2019

St Louis House Flipping - 4th Quarter 2019© 2019 – St Louis Real Estate News, all rights reserved

Mortgage Interest Rates….How low can they go??

For quite a while now we have enjoyed the positive effects on the real estate market from low mortgage rates but it looks like it’s going to get even better!  Yesterday’s announcement by the Fed of the emergency step of lowering the benchmark U.S. interest rate by one-half of one percent, in an effort to offset the negative effect tot eh financial markets from the coronavirus will likely lead to even lower mortgage interest rates.

What’s the connection between the federal funds rate and mortgage interest rates? This is something often asked not only by homebuyers but is even within the real estate community as since the Federal Reserve doesn’t “set” mortgage rates, the connection is not always clear.  I’m not an expert in this area by no means, but I have a decent understanding of it and will share it from the perspective of the most popular home mortgage, the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage.  First, we have to understand where the money for those mortgages comes from.  It comes from investors, investors that compare an investment in 30-year mortgages to other comparable investments.  One of those comparable investments would be the 30-year treasury.

St Louis’ Fastest Selling Zip Codes

It may still be winter, which most people know is the “slow-season” for real estate, however, there are still plenty of areas in St Louis where homes are selling fast!  Below is the list of the fastest-selling zip codes (only available from MORE, REALTORS on their St Louis Real Estate Search® site, which reveals the 63144 zip code in St Louis county as the fastest-selling zip with an average time of just 21 days on the market for active listings.  The second zip on the list, and just a day behind the average for the Brentwood area of 63144, si the Jefferson County zip of 63012 which includes Pevely, Barnhart, Otto, and Imperial, MO.

St Louis’ Fastest-Selling Zip Codes

(based on the average time of market of active listings – click table for current, complete list)

St Louis' Fastest-Selling Zip Codes

Home Sales In St Louis 5-County Core Market Have Trended Upward Last 3 Years – Time To Sale Rises Sharply

Home sales in St Louis have trended upward over the past 3 years with 25,450 homes sold during 2017 (non-distressed sales only), 25,804 during 2018 and  25,962 homes during 2019.  As the chart below shows, the days on market (time to sell a home) was 19 days in 2017, declined to 17 days in 2018 and then jumped sharply to 32 days during 2019.  The bottom chart shows data for the past 12-months and, as it reveals, the time to sell a home has continued to upward during 2020 thus far with the time in January rising to 47 days.

St Louis 5-County Core Market -Home Sales and Time To Sell – 2017 – 2019

(click on chart for live, interactive chart)

St Louis 5-County Core Market -Home Sales and Time To Sell - 2017 - 2019

St Louis 5-County Core Market – Home Sales and Time To Sell – Past 12-Months

(click on chart for live, interactive chart)St Louis 5-County Core Market - Home Sales and Time To Sell - Past 12-Months (no-distressed)

Nearly One In Five Properties In 63113 Are Vacant

Of the 4,531 residential properties located within the 63113 zip code in the City of St Louis, over 18 percent of them are vacant (824), according to a report just released today by Attom Data Solutions.  As the table below shows, six of the ten zip codes in the St Louis MSA with the highest rate of vacant property are located within the City of St Louis and the remaining 4 in St Louis County.

Nine of the 10 zip codes with the highest rate of vacancy have double-digit vacancy rates.  Franklin County has the most zip codes with no vacancies at 5, followed by St Charles County with 4.

Home Ownership Rate Hits Highest Level In Six Years

During the 4th quarter of 2019 the homeownership rate in the U.S. hit 65.1%, the highest level since the 4th quarter of 2013 when the rate was 65.2%, according to the latest data available from the U.S. Census Bureau.

Homeownership by Race and Ethnicity:

As the table below shows, according to the Census Bureau data, homeownership by race and ethnicity was as follows:

  • White, Non-Hispanic – 73.7% – the highest level in 8 years.
  • Black – 44.0% – the highest level in 7 years.
  • Hispanic (of any race) – 48.1% – the highest level in just under 2 years.

Home Ownership Rate By Race and Ethnicity 1994 – Present

(click on table for complete report back to 1994)

Home Ownership Rate By Race and Ethnicity 1994 - Present

Ten Years Later…Update On The Homeowner Sentenced To Jail For Yard Art (Updated Photos Too)

Nearly ten years ago I first wrote about the owner of a property in Ballwin that was sentenced to 20 days in jail after he had refused to make changes to the art displayed in his yard that officials for the city of Ballwin had deemed to be dangerous.  The property owner, Lewis Greenberg, had decorated his home and filled his yard with a variety of items he referred to as “art” that was to make a statement about the Holocaust.

After hearing of this back in May 2010,  I decided to check out his home at 977 Morena Court, in Ballwin to see what all the excitement was about.  When I arrived I was a little surprised at the quantity of “art” on the property but, as the photos in my original article show (click here for article) it didn’t look that bad, just kind of cluttered and very colorful.

Things to consider when buying a new home

Buying a new home can be a great experience but it can also be a daunting one as well.  For homeowners that have previously only purchased an existing home, they will quickly find the process is much different.  From the number of decisions that must be made, change orders and other financial surprises along the way, it can be a little overwhelming for a buyer.  Particularly one that went into the process ill prepared or without proper representation by a buyers agent that is experienced in new construction.

What you need to know BEFORE buying a new home…

For more complete information, you can find my complete new home buying report here but I have highlights of the report below:

St Louis New Home Construction Trend Cools Slight But Activity Increases in St Charles and Jefferson County

The new home construction trend in St. Louis during January slowed just a bit with a total of 4,426 new home permits being issued for the 12-month period ended January 31, 2020, a slight decline of about 1% from a year ago when there were 4,447 permits issued, according to the latest data from the Home Builders Association of St. Louis & Eastern Missouri.

As the table below shows, 5 of the 7 counties covered in the report saw a decline in new home permits from a year ago.  Two of the three counties with the most new home activity, St Charles County and Jefferson County, both saw double-digit increases in permit activity from the prior 12-month period.


St Louis New Home Building Permits – January 2020

St Louis New Home Building Permits - January 2020


St Louis Metro Area Home Sales Increase Nearly 2 Percent In Past 12 Months

There were 35,702 homes sold in the St Louis metro area in the 12-month period ended January 31, 2020, an increase of nearly 2 percent (1.97%) from the prior 12-month period when there were 35,013 homes sold.  As MORE, RELATORS exclusive STL Market Report below shows, the median price of homes sold in St Louis during the most recent period was $195,000, an increase of 4 percent from the prior 12-month period.

Home Sales  St Louis MSA – Past 12 Months vs Prior 12 Months

(click on table for current report)

Home Sales  St Louis MSA – Past 12 Months vs Prior 12 Months

Distressed Home Sales In St Louis MSA Fall Nearly 25 Percent In Past 12 Months

Thanks to a booming economy and strong housing market, distressed home sales in the St Louis Metro Area declined by nearly 25 percent (23.42%) in the 12-month period ended January 31, 2020 from the prior 12-month period. As our exclusive, STL Market Report below shows, there were 1,887 distressed home sales (foreclosures, REO’s and short sales)in the most recent 12-month period compared with 2,464 in the prior 12-month period.  The median home price of the distressed homes sold declined 1.79% during the same period, from a median price of $56,000 in the prior period to $55,000 in the most recent period.


Distressed Home Sales  St Louis MSA

(Foreclosures-REO’s-Short Sales) – Past 12 Months vs Prior 12 Months

(click on table for current report)

Distressed Home Sales  St Louis MSA 

Bernie’s Plan For Housing Likely To Negatively Impact Investors

Let me begin with this is not a political statement and the purpose of this site is not about politics but about real estate.  Having said that, this morning I came across the plans for the housing market that Bernie Sanders is proposing if he is elected President which I had not seen before.  Upon reviewing his plan (it is on his official site) I realized that while many of the components of it sound good (like “End homelessness and ensure fair housing for all”) many of his promises in this area sound like things that would negatively impact investors and the housing market as a whole.

The following are the Key Points to the Bernie Sanders housing plan from his website (I have included the complete list):

  • End the housing crisis by investing $2.5 trillion to build nearly 10 million permanently affordable housing units.
  • Protect tenants by implementing a national rent control standard, a “just-cause” requirement for evictions, and ensuring the right to counsel in housing disputes.
  • Make rent affordable by making Section 8 vouchers available to all eligible families without a waitlist and strengthening the Fair Housing Act.
  • Combat gentrification, exclusionary zoning, segregation, and speculation.
  • End homelessness and ensure fair housing for all
  • Revitalize public housing by investing $70 billion to repair, decarbonize, and build new public housing.

Under the “When Bernie is president, he will” section are some of the things he plans to do to accomplish the above goals (this list is rather extensive on his site so I have only included a sampling of the items that appear will negatively impact investors and homeowners):

  • Enact a national cap on annual rent increases at no more than 3 percent or 1.5 times the Consumer Price Index (whichever is higher) to help prevent the exploitation of tenants at the hands of private landlords.
  • Allow states and cities to pass even stronger rent control standards.
  • Implement a “just-cause” requirement for evictions, which would allow a landlord to evict a tenant only for specific violations and prevent landlords from evicting tenants for arbitrary or retaliatory reasons.
  • Place a 25 percent House Flipping tax on speculators who sell a non-owner-occupied property, if sold for more than it was purchased within 5 years of purchase.
  • Impose a 2 percent Empty Homes tax on the property value of vacant, owned homes to bring more units into the market and curb the use of housing as speculative investment.

Again, this is not a political piece, but given the strong housing market we have enjoyed over the past several years, which has helped many Americans build equity and recover wealth lost during the housing bubble burst of 2008, I think it’s worth noting proposed plans, by any party or power, that could negatively impact the market. Also, these are just talking points from someone running for office, so whether it’s Bernie Sanders or any other candidate, or even the current President, Donald J. Trump, they can all have ideas but getting them implemented takes cooperation of Congress and that is not always so easy so it doesn’t mean any of their plans ever actually come to fruition.