Actual “Cost” Of St Louis Home Today Over 7 Percent Lower Than Year Ago

Thanks to a strong economy and low-interest rates, the actual cost of a home today in St Louis is lower than it was a year ago, in spite of the fact that the median price of homes sold in St Louis has increased by 5.64% in the past year.   Most people buying a typical home in St Louis finance nearly all of the purchase price, therefore, the cost of financing plays a significant role in the true cost of a home.  Buyers decide what they can afford (as do lenders) based upon the house payment, not the price of the home.

The cost of a home today in St Louis versus a year ago…

As our STL Market Chart below shows, the median price of a home sold in the St Louis 5-County core market in October of this year was $200,000, 5.3% higher than last October when the median price of homes sold was $189,900.  However, as our mortgage interest rate chart below shows, the rate for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage is currently 3.78%, over a full percentage point less than October 2018 when the rate was 4.83%.

If we do a little math and use our mortgage payment calculator, we find that if someone bought a median-priced home in St Louis in October of 2018 at $189,900 and financed 100% of the purchase at the current rate at the time (4.83%), their payment would have been $1,027 per month.  If a person were to buy a median-priced home in St Louis today at $200,000 and finance 100% of the purchase at the current rate of 3.78%, their payment would be $958.  So, even though the price of the home increased over 5%, the payment on the home (at current prices) actually dropped by 7.2% showing just how much impact interest rates have on the cost of a home.

What are buyers waiting for?

We are entering the “slow season” for real estate, winter, a time when, year after year, home prices typically decrease until hitting a low around January and then start to increase as the weather warms.  Therefore, we are in the period when home prices will be the lowest they will be for the year, interest rates are near the lowest they have been, so, if I were considering buying a home, I would jump into action as I just don’t see how it’s going to get better than this anytime soon.

How Many Real Estate Agents Are There And How To Fine a Good One?

According to the latest estimates by the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR), there are approximately 2 million licensed real estate agents in the United States.  Last year, according to the NAR, there were a total of 5.341 million existing homes sold which equates to one agent for every 2.67 homes sold during the year in the U.S.  Wow, talk about competition!  Granted, not all licensed agents sell residential real estate as many focus us on commercial real estate, including industrial, retail, office, multi-family, and land, and others focus on farms, large tracts of land, recreational property, etc.  Nonetheless, there is still a lot of competition in the real estate industry.

As of last month, there are 1,327,880 real estate agents that are members of the National Associaton of REALTORS® (NAR) and, according to a survey done by NAR of its membership, 70% of their members (929,516) list residential real estate brokerage and their primary field of practice.

How to choose a good real estate agent….

One question that is frequently asked by people interested in buying or selling a home is how should they choose a real estate agent?  You can find extensive information on how to choose a good agent at AvoidBadAgents.com, but below is a list of questions to consider asking an agent you are considering working with:

  • Are you a full-time real estate agent?
  • Are you a REALTOR®?
  • How long have you been an agent?
  • What professional designations and industry awards have you received?
  • How do they communicate?
  • Do they know technology and does their firm use it for your benefit?
  • Ask to be walked through the sales transaction.

Falling Interest Rates Make St Louis Homes Even More Affordable

Mortgage interest rates have been falling since last Thursday when the referendum passed for the United Kingdom to exit the European Union.  As the chart below shows, interest rates on a 30 year fixed-rate mortgage today averaged 3.44%, a new 52-week low and a decline of nearly 3/4 of 1 percent from a year ago when they were 4.20%.  The payment on a $160,000 home loan at today’s rates would be $713 (principal and interest), a decline of nearly 9 percent from a year ago when the payment on the same loan amount would have been $782.
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Continue reading “Falling Interest Rates Make St Louis Homes Even More Affordable

Real Estate Recovery "On Its Way"

real estate recovery

Tyler Frank,
Paramount Mortgage
NMLS ID 942420

“The (real estate) recovery has been much more like the tortoise than the hare,” said Stephen Blank, a senior resident fellow of the Washington-based Urban Land Institute. “We’ve become used to slow relief. But we have finally turned the corner.”

Real estate markets on both coasts in places like; New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Boston were the first to emerge from recession and will pick up their pace of recovery through 2013, said Blank, a principal researcher for Emerging Trends. He was the main speaker at the annual outlook presented by ULI’s St. Louis chapter.

Big investors scared away by the high prices in coastal cities will look more closely at properties in secondary markets, including St. Louis, experts predict. David Griege, executive vice president at Paramount Mortgage, believes home sales will be much stronger this spring and summer than in past years. Continue reading “Real Estate Recovery "On Its Way"

One in Five Housing Units in City of St Louis is Vacant

Saint Louis Realtor, Dennis Normanst-louis-real-estate-realtor-dennis-normanThe city of St. Louis has experienced a decline in the number of residents since hitting it’s peak population back around 1950.  The most recent disappointment came in the 2010 census results showing, in spite of optimism on the part of the city for better numbers, the population of the city of St Louis had declined by nearly another 1o percent during the decade, falling from 348,189 people in 2000 to 319,294 in 2010.  During that same decade there were efforts to revitalize the city and bring new life to it as developers built new and fun living spaces by converting warehouses and other “non-residential” buildings to loft condos and apartments, rehabbing historic homes as well as through the construction of new homes in existing neighborhoods.

Through the strong lobbying efforts of REALTORS, Builders and other groups promoting redevelopment of the city, there were enormous amounts of money thrown at much of this development in the city by way of tax credits and other incentives along the way.  Unfortunately, the old adage “build it and they will come” did not prove to be true in the case of the city because, as the census data showed, the city continued to lose residents at a serious rate.  The crash of the real estate market certainly didn’t help and in fact stalled the momentum that had begun.

So what’s the result of all of this?  Well, the latest data estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau shows that almost one in five housing units (19 percent) in the city of St. Louis was vacant in 2011.   As you can see from the table below, this is twice as high as the next highest county in the area.

st-louis-area-percentage-of-housing-that-is-vacant-2011

Vacant buildings are problematic to a community in many ways:  They many times fall into a state of disrepair or suffer from a serious amount of deferred maintenance, they invite crime and bring down surrounding property values.  For the city itself they can become a financial burden if the owner does not maintain the property forcing the city to come in and maintain it or correct issues that pose a threat to the public.  Unfortunatley, unless the city can do something to change the trend of the population shift, it will probably be many years before the excess inventory of housing stock in the city of St Louis has depleted.

A Look at the Change in Home Ownership by Race from 2000 to 2011

dennis-norman-realtorThe American Dream” is a phrase we often apply to home ownership although the historian that made this expression popular, James Truslow Adams, defined it differently in his 1931 book Epic of America. According to Wikipedia, in his book Adams defined “The American Dream” as a better and richer life for every man through social order and not material possessions. Regardless of it’s original definition, home ownership became a part of the American dream in the 20th century. In spite of the fact that we are on the tail-end of a five-year housing slump, the “American Dream” appears to be hanging on as, according to 2011 Census Data, 66.1 percent of Americans own a home and, while this is no doubt a fairly significant decline from the peak of home ownership around the middle part of the decade, it is down only slightly from 2000 when 66.2 percent owned a home. Continue reading “A Look at the Change in Home Ownership by Race from 2000 to 2011

Cap on Mortgage Interest Deduction Expected Soon

dennis-norman-st-louis-realtor-Charlie Cook, of the Cook Report, a well-known and respected political commentator, cautioned REALTORS at their annual national convention to be prepared for changes to the mortgage interest deduction.  According to an article in REALTOR magazine, Cook said he did not expect the mortgage interest deduction (MID) to specifically come under attack but that, as Congress looks at cuts to address the deficit, the MID “unlikely to escape unscathed.  Cook went on to say that he felt the change would most likely be in the form of a cap, whether it be a dollar amount or a percent allowed for itemized deductions, but one way or another, it was going to change.

Is there a 3.8 percent house sale tax in the health-care legislation?

dennis-norman-st-louis-realtor-In the past few months I have received dozens of emails being forwarded around the internet warning of a new “3.8 percent real estate tax” or “tax on home sale” coming as a result of Obamacare. Given there seem to be many misconceptions out there about this topic I decided to address it this morning. For starters, there is not a 3.8 percent house sale tax in the health care legislation per se. There is, however, a 3.8 percent on unearned income for high-income individuals and couples that could end up being applied to the sale of one’s home. Continue reading “Is there a 3.8 percent house sale tax in the health-care legislation?

St. Louis home prices falling;  St Louis rents on the rise

dennis-norman-st-louis-realtor-A report just released by Trulia today which is based on the for-sale homes and rentals listed on Trulia, shows that asking prices for Saint Louis homes for sale decreased 2.4 percent from a year ago however Saint Louis rental rates increased 3.2 percent during the same period.

Nationally, home prices increased 0.3 percent in June from a year ago and rents were 5.4 percent higher in June than a year ago. Continue reading “St. Louis home prices falling;  St Louis rents on the rise

What to do about a low appraisal?;  St. Louis Mortgage rate update

The sale price for a house is $200,000, but the appraisal comes back at $190,000. Should the borrower still try to purchase this property or just leave it be? This is not unusual circumstance common in today’s real estate market; appraisals are coming in conservatively.

What action should the borrower take when there is a mismatch between the seller’s asking price and the home’s appraised value? Remember, the maximum loan amount is based upon the lower of the sale price or the appraised value, whichever is less. Continue reading “What to do about a low appraisal?;  St. Louis Mortgage rate update

Mortgage Delinquencies Fall to Three-Year Low

The percentage of first-lien mortgages that were current and performing at the end of the first quarter of 2012 increased to the highest levels in three years, according to a report published today by the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency. Continue reading “Mortgage Delinquencies Fall to Three-Year Low

Should I Rent or Buy a Home?

dennis-norman-st-louis-realtor-Lately the $64 question for many people is whether to rent or buy a home. I think by now everyone knows that, as a result of the collapse in home prices and dirt-cheap interest rates, buying a home is now more affordable than ever, but for a lot of people there are still doubts or concerns that need to be addressed before making the decision whether or not to buy. Many of these issues stem around financing including; how much down payment will be necessary, what can I afford, etc. The American’s Banker Association (ABA)came out with five questions every potential buyer should ask when deciding to buy or rent a home that, along with the helpful online calculators they offer, I think may be very helpful: Continue reading “Should I Rent or Buy a Home?

Mortgage delinquencies increase for second-consecutive month

st-louis-realtor-dennis-norman-mortgage-delinquency-foreclosure-rate

The mortgage delinquency rate (the percentage of home loans 30 or more days past due) increased in May 1.1 percent from the month before according to the latest “First Watch Report” from Lenders Processing Services (LPS). While it’s a modest increase, this marks the second consecutive month we’ve seen an increase in mortgage delinquency rates reversing the downward trend for the 9 months prior which is not good. Since delinquent mortgages are the precursor to forelcosures and foreclosures have wreaked havoc on home prices, this is something we definitely want to keep an eye on. Continue reading “Mortgage delinquencies increase for second-consecutive month

Mortgage defaults fall to lowest level in 5 years

According to a report just released by S&P Experian, the first mortgage default rate fell by more than a quarter of a percent (26 basis points) in May compared to April and is the lowest rate since May 2007. The second mortgage rate also fell during the month, by 5 basis points, and is at a seven year low.

Mortgage defaults and delinquencies are the pre-cursor to foreclosures and foreclosures are the enemy of home prices so this is good news and a trend that, if it continues, should point the way to a housing recovery.

Looking for a bargain vacation home near the beach?

dennis-norman-st-louis-realtor-My family is definitely a beach-loving family! Most of the trips and vacations our family has been on over the years have included beaches and both of our children’s first trips as infants were to the beach. So, I guess it is safe to say our family loves beaches and we are not alone! There is always demand for homes in beach communities even during the real estate bust. Some areas, like Sarasota, Florida, are already seeing prices increase on homes located on or near the beach. Did you wait too late to buy that second home or vacation home in a beach community? Well, according to a report just released by RealtyTrac, there are still some bargains to be found out there! Where? Well, read on….. Continue reading “Looking for a bargain vacation home near the beach?

Despite Home Value Gains, Underwater Homeowners Owe $1.2 Trillion More than Homes’ Worth

But Negative Equity is a Paper Loss for Most, As 90% of Underwater Homeowners Pay Mortgage on Time

Nearly one-third (31.4 percent) of U.S. homeowners with mortgages – or 15.7 million – were underwater on their mortgage in the first quarter of 2012, despite rising home values, according to the first quarter Zillow® Negative Equity Report[1]. Collectively, underwater homeowners owed $1.2 trillion more than their homes were worth. Negative equity rose slightly from 31.1 percent in the fourth quarter, and declined from 32.4 percent one year ago.

Continue reading “Despite Home Value Gains, Underwater Homeowners Owe $1.2 Trillion More than Homes’ Worth

Weather, not jobs, motivating long-distance house hunters

dennis-norman-st-louis-realtor-According to Trulia’s “Metro Movers Report” when people search long-distance for a new home their motivation for the move is warmer weather, not a job. Wow, I can relate to that….. In fact, according to the report, most long distance house hunters are looking in markets with higher unemployment and slower job growth than where they currently live. For example 3 times as many people in Minneaplolis – St Paul (with 6.2 percent unemployment) are looking for homes in Phoenix (where unemployment is 8.5) than vice versa. Continue reading “Weather, not jobs, motivating long-distance house hunters

St Louis home sales outperforms U.S. market in March

dennis-norman-st-louis-realtor-existing-home-salesToday’s existing home sales report from the National Association of REALTORS® shows U.S. existing home sales in March decreased 2.6 percent from the month before but the Midwest region saw sales activity remain steady coming in at the same rate as the month before.  Here in St Louis the story is even better as home sales for the St Louis five-county core (City of St Louis and counties of St Louis, St Charles, Jefferson and Franklin) increased 22.5 percent from the month before and increased 12.4 percent from a year ago. (not seasonally adjusted – see chart below).

Continue reading “St Louis home sales outperforms U.S. market in March

Vacation home sales hit four-year high

  • st-louis-realtor-dennis-norman-vacation-homesAccording to a report just released by Homeaway, sales of vacation homes in 2011 reached a four-year high, fueled by the lowest median sales price in eight years, cheap mortgage rates, and the desire for a family retreat. The research found 33 percent of vacation home buyers purchased a vacation property last year primarily because of low real estate prices, while another 30 percent cited the desire for a family retreat. According to data from a National Association of REALTORS survey, the median sales prices for vacation properties at $121,300, putting ownership within greater reach of more consumers. Continue reading “Vacation home sales hit four-year high

New home construction activity picking up

New construction dn-3

The U.S. Census Bureau and US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) issued their report on New Residential Construction for January 2012 showing an increase in single-family home building permits from the month before of 0.9 percent and a 1.0 percent decrease in new home starts compared to the month before. Continue reading “New home construction activity picking up

REALTORS tell President Obama his budget proposal will harm housing and homeowners

st-louis-realtor-dennis-norman-real-estateToday, Moe Veissi, President of the National Association of REALTORS, issued the following statement in response to President Obama’s budget proposal: “As the leading advocate for housing and homeownership, NAR is strongly opposed to elements of President Obama’s budget proposal that would limit itemized deductions, including the mortgage interest deduction, for thousands of families.”
Continue reading “REALTORS tell President Obama his budget proposal will harm housing and homeowners

Foreclosures in 2011 down 24 percent from 2010

dennis-norman-foreclosures1.4 Million Homes in the Foreclosure Inventory at the End of 2011

According to a report just released by CoreLogic, there were 830,000 foreclosures completed during the year in 2011, a 24 percent decrease from 2010 when there were 1.1 million. For the month of December, there were 55,000 foreclosures, down 3.5 percent from November when there were 57,000 and down 17.9 percent from December 2010 when there were 67,000 foreclosures completed. Continue reading “Foreclosures in 2011 down 24 percent from 2010

Mortgage Delinquences Increase in December but are Down over 25 percent from a year ago

Dennis Norman, St Louis REALTOR - mortgage delinquency ratesMortgage delinquencies in December increased to 2.24 percent of all mortgages, a slight increase from the month before when delinquencies were at 2.22 percent but a decrease of over 25 percent from a year ago when the rate was 3.01 percent. The mortgage delinquency rate is something I pay close attention to because it is the “leading indicator” of foreclosures and foreclosures and REO’s are one of the major hurdles to a recovery in the housing market. Declining delinquency rates are our first clue that the housing market is headed to a recovery. Continue reading “Mortgage Delinquences Increase in December but are Down over 25 percent from a year ago

New home construction in November inches up;  Curent pace slightly ahead of record-low

New construction dn-3

The last couple of months I have said that, “unless something changes dramatically, 2011 will hit a new record low of new home starts. Well, the actual numbers this year will still most likely be a record low, but at least the rate of new home starts for November has now inched above the record low New home starts in November were up 2.3 percent from the prior month with the seasonally adjusted annual rate inching its way up to 447,000 homes, just slightly above the all-time low of 445,200 new home starts in 2009. Continue reading “New home construction in November inches up;  Curent pace slightly ahead of record-low

Poll shows housing market second only to jobs in voter influence in 2012

Dennis Norman, St Louis Realtor - housing market 2012 electionsA recent survey by Houselogic.com, a consumer website from the National Association of REALTORS, shows that jobs will be the most important issue for voters in the 2012 election, followed next by housing. Over half the respondents said jobs would be the top issue as they head to the polls next November and almost a third cited the housing market as the most important issue. Continue reading “Poll shows housing market second only to jobs in voter influence in 2012

Clayton Developer Guilty of Fraud in the Development of the East St. Louis Bowman Estates Project

A Clayton developer pled guilty in U.S. District Court on October 27, 2011, for his role in the failed Bowman Estates construction project, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of Illinois, Stephen R. Wigginton, announced today. Harold Rosen, age 80, was indicted by a federal grand jury on January 21, 2011, for attempting to obtain more than $1.9 million of public financing under false pretenses. Continue reading “Clayton Developer Guilty of Fraud in the Development of the East St. Louis Bowman Estates Project

Home sales fall in September; third consecutive month of decline

Dennis Norman

The National Association of REALTORS Pending Home Sales Index for September shows a decrease of 4.6 percent in the index from the month before (seasonally adjusted), and a 6.4 percent increase from a year ago. This is the third consecutive month the index has decreased from the month before and, and the year over year numbers continue to show decline in the rate of improvement from last year. Continue reading “Home sales fall in September; third consecutive month of decline

Housing is cheap and can be an extremely attractive investment opportunity!

Dennis Norman, St Louis REALTOR - Investing in Real EstateBetween interest rates falling to record lows and home prices falling back to levels from 8 years ago, the housing market is starting to look like a very attractive investment opportunity.

One of my favorite companies that produce a home price index and monitor the market is RadarLogic and their RPX Composite Price Index. They published some data to illustrate just how attractive housing has become as an investment (granted, they are trying to stir up interest in their new RPX Futures you can invest in, but the data I think supports investing in residential real estate as well.)
Continue reading “Housing is cheap and can be an extremely attractive investment opportunity!

Home sales and prices decline in September

Dennis NormanToday’s existing home sales report from the National Association of REALTORS® shows existing home sales in September were at at a seasonally adjusted-annual rate of 4.91 million units which is a decrease of 3.0 percent from the month before, an increase of 11.3 percent from a year ago and is the second highest rate of home sales since March 2011 when it was 5.09 million. Continue reading “Home sales and prices decline in September

Mortgage delinquencies on the rise but down significantly from a year ago

Dennis Norman, St Louis REALTOR - mortgage delinquency ratesMortgage delinquencies in September increased to 2.10 percent of all mortgages, a 2.9 percent increase from the month before when delinquencies were at 2.04 percent but a decrease of over 33 percent from a year ago when the rate was 3.14 percent. The mortgage delinquency rate is something I pay close attention to because it is the “leading indicator” of foreclosures and foreclosures and REO’s are one of the major hurdles to a recovery in the housing market. Once we see delinquency rates decline, we’ll see the impact of foreclosures and REO’s lessen on the housing market and give it a chance to move into a recovery. Continue reading “Mortgage delinquencies on the rise but down significantly from a year ago