Two St Louis Areas were the most profitable zips in the U.S. for flipping property in 4th quarter

Two zip codes in the city of St Louis made RealtyTrac’s list of “Zips with the highest gross returns (from flipping property)” for 4th quarter, 2014.  The 63139 zip code, which includes the Dog Town area of St Louis, came in number 2 on the list with an average gross return on investment of 163.9% and the 63116 zip code, which includes Tower Grove South, Holly Hills, Dutchtown South and Bevo, came in 9th on the list with an average gross return on investment of 127.7%.

To be eligible to be considered for the list, there had to be at least 10 single family homes “flips” completed during the 4th quarter of 2014.  In the 63139 area of St Louis, there were  18 such home flips during the quarter with an average purchase price of $9,000 and an average gross profit of $14,750 from the flip.  In the 63116 zip area, there were 21 flips during the quarter with an average purchase price of $27,721 and an average gross profit of $35,407.   The table below shows the data for all 10 top gross returns from flipping property zips in the U.S.

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St Louis Homeowners with Negative Equity Improves by Over 20 Percent in 4th Quarter of 2014

There were 119,936 St Louis homeowners with negative equity, or in a seriously underwater condition on their mortgage meaning they owe more than the current value of their home, in the St Louis MSA during the 4th quarter of 2014 which is a 21% improvement from the prior quarter when there were 152,025 St Louis homeowners seriously underwater, according to a report just released today by RealtyTrac.

As the table below shows, for the immediate St Louis, MO area, the city and county of St Louis had the highest percentage of underwater homeowners at 22% and St Charles county had the lowest percentage at 6%.

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Program To Help Short Sellers and Foreclosed Owners Buy Again

As a result of the real estate market crash in 2008 and the subsequent downturn in the economy, many homeowners with prior stellar payment records on their mortgages ended up losing their homes in foreclosure or being forced to do a short sale to get out from under it.  Most of these former homeowners then became renters but have the desire to buy a home again once back on their feet.  However, depending upon just how severely their credit was impacted as well as whether they had a foreclosure, short sale or bankruptcy, they may have to wait as long as 7 years to obtain a home loan again.  However, thanks to an FHA program called “Back to Work”,  which, surprisingly,  has received little attention, there is hope for these homeowners including the opportunity to obtain a home loan again without the normal waiting period if their problems were related to a job loss and they meet certain criteria.

The Back to Work program allows borrowers that may be otherwise ineligible for an FHA-insured mortgage due to FHA’s waiting period for bankruptcies, foreclosures, deeds-in-lieu, and short sales, as well as delinquencies and/or indications of derogatory credit, including collections and judgments, to be eligible for an FHA-insured mortgage if the borrower meets certain guidelines, which include:

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St Louis Distressed Home Sales Drop Thirty Percent In November From Year Ago

St Louis Distressed Home Sales ticked up slightly in November 2014 rom October but declined over thirty percent (30.8%) from November 2013, according to data just released by RealtyTrac.   As the table below shows, all the counties in the St Louis core market except one saw an increase in distressed home sales in November from the month before and all saw a decline in November from a year ago.

On a national level, distressed home sales in November 2014 accounted for 12.6% of all home sales, down from 13.7% in October and from 14.8% in November 2013.

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Copyright 2014 – St Louis Real Estate News – Data Source: RealtyTrac

 

St Louis New Home Sales Up Over 12 Percent In November From Year Ago

St Louis New Home Sales in November 2014 increased 12.5% from November 2013 and, as would be expected given the time of year, decreased about 8% from the month before.  New home sales in St Louis out performed new home sales in the Midwest Region as a whole as the region saw 4,000 new home sales in November 2014, the same as a year ago, and a decrease of 20% from the month before, according to the latest data available from the U.S. Census Bureau and HUD.

The median price of new homes sold in November 2014 was $235,900, an increase of 15% from the month before when the median price was $205,000, and was up about 1% from November 2013 when the median new home sale price was $237,450.

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St Louis Distressed Home Sales Down Dramatically In Past Year

St Louis Distressed Home Sales continue to have less impact on the St Louis real estate market paving the way for sustainable home appreciation, according to the latest data available from RealtyTrac.  According to the chart below, short sales in St Louis accounted for just 1% of the overall home sales last month, a 10% decrease from the month before and a decrease of almost 68% from a year ago.  Nationally, short sales accounted for 5% of all home sales last month.

St Louis REO’s (bank-owned properties obtained through foreclosure) declined slightly in October from the month before and dropped over 30% from a year ago.

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St Louis Distressed Home Sales - St Louis Foreclosures - St Louis Short Sales - October 2014 vs October 2013

Will The Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act of 2007 Be Extended?

UPDATE December 17, 2014 – Congress has passed an extension of the Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act of 2007 through December 31, 2014 – It is part of a bill that has been sent to President Obama for his approval.  This falls short of the two year extension the National Association of REALTORS (NAR), among other groups, was pushing for which would have covered next year as well, but is at least some relief for those affected this year.

The Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act of 2007 provided relief for homeowners that receive forgiveness on some of their mortgage debt (such as is the case on a short-sale) in the form of removing their obligation to pay income tax on the amount of their debt that was forgiven by their lender.  Originally, the Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act, was to expire at the end of 2012 but was later extended through the end of 2013 and on April 3rd of this year the Senate Finance Committee approved a bill that, if passed, would reinstate a bunch of tax provisions that expired at the end of 2013, including the Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act of 2007 , through December 31, 2015.  Thus far, the bill has not passed and now many are concerned that it may not which will leave all the people that did short sales this year, or had debt relieved in some other manner, possibly owing income tax on the forgiven debt.

The National Association of REALTORS (NAR) have issued a call to action to it’s 1 million plus members asking them to urge their Member of Congress and Senators to act on “The Mortgage Forgiveness Tax Relief Act” before the end of 2014.  Apparently, the stumbling block to getting this extended has been politics…shocker, right?  The Democratic Majority Leader of the Senate, Harry Reid, according to the NAR website, “refused to allow an open amendment process” which then, in turn, the Republicans “exercised their rights to prevent the bill from moving to a vote.”

Should the Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act of 2007 be extended?  

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St Louis Distressed Home Sales Continue To Decline

Distressed home sales in St Louis accounted for 7.97 percent of all home sales during the 3rd quarter, down from 9.84 percent the quarter before and down a whopping 40 percent from a year ago when distressed sales accounted for 13.6 percent of all homes sold in the St Louis MSA, according to the latest data from RealtyTrac.  State-wide for Missouri, distressed home sales made up 7.12 percent of home sales during 3rd quarter, lower than the rate for St Louis however, at the other side of our state, in Kansas City, distressed home sales share of home sales was 9.2% for 3rd quarter, about 15% higher than St Louis.  The table below shows the breakdown of distressed sales by short sales, REO’s and foreclosure auction.

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St Louis Distressed Home Sales 3rd Quarter 2014 - Missouri Distressed Home Sales

HUD Releases Fair Market Rent Amounts for 2015 For Missouri

Today, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) released it’s Fair Market Rent amounts for 2015 which are used for several purposes including computation of section 8 rents in a given area.  The table below shows the fair market rents for 2015 for all Missouri Counties as well as Missouri Metropolitan Areas.

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St Louis Short Sales

St Louis short sales are definitely fewer and farther between than they were a couple of years back however, they are still out there and still often offer a great opportunity to a buyer.  A short sale is where a home is being sold by it’s owner at a price less than the current mortgage on it in the hope that the lender will agree to accept the proceeds from the sale and release the loan since the equity is simply not there to sell the home and pay off the loan.  Of course, there has to be some hardship with it as well and the owners have to prove they are in no position to pay the loan off in full otherwise it would not make sense for the lender to accept less than the full balance of the loan.

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Home Builders Optimism Regarding New Home Market Hits Highest Level In Almost 9 Years

The new home market is improving and home builders indicate they have more confidence in the new home market now than they have had since November 2005, according to the National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index (HMI) released today.  According to the HMI, home builders confidence is presently at 59, the highest level the index has been at since November 2005.

The HMI is comprised of several components including builder’s opinions of current sale conditions, buyer traffic and future sales.  The response from builders indicate they feel optimistic about current sale conditions and very optimistic about future sales, but not as pleased with current buyer traffic through their displays.

Looking at results of the survey on a regional basis, the Midwest region registered the highest on the index with a 59, followed by the West with a 58, South at 56 and Northeast at 41.

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A Look At The Ferguson Real Estate Market

One month ago yesterday, officer Darren Wilson shot Michael Brown and suddenly Ferguson, the little city where I grew up and began my career in real estate in 1979, became the focus of national news and headlines for days and weeks ahead.  Unfortunately, the coverage of the shooting has cast Ferguson in a very negative light and no doubt will hurt the progress the city has made over the past several years to revitalize its city and make it an attractive place to live, work and start a business.  This website is about real estate, so while I think this is a tragic event and have prayed for the Michael Brown family, Darren Wilson and his family as well as the community as a whole, and continue to pray that all the facts are revealed so justice will prevail, the focus of this article is the Ferguson real estate market and the impact this has had, and will have, on it.

Ferguson Home Prices Have Been Recovering From The Trough…

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Property Flipping In St Louis Trending Downward

Property flipping, which is basically buying a property and then reselling it immediately, or shortly thereafter, is occurring less frequently now in St Louis than it was, according to a report released today by RealtyTrac.  According to the report, there were 289 houses flipped in the St Louis metro area during the 2nd quarter, down 44% from the first quarter and down 17% from the 2nd quarter of 2013.  During the 2nd quarter of this year, 3.3% of all St Louis home sales were “flip” deals which, for the purpose of this report, were homes that were bought, then resold within a 12 month period.

The average gross profit on the properties flipped during the 2nd quarter of 2014 was $20,122, down significantly from the same period a year ago when the average gross profit was $36,858.  Before you get too excited, I should point out, this is just the gross margin, the difference between the initial price paid and the resale price and does not take into account any repairs, improvements or other expenses related to that property or the transaction.

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St Louis Foreclosures and Short Sales Fall By Over 25 Percent

St Louis Foreclosures, and short sales, in May 2014 accounted for just 8.5% of all home sales in the St Louis core market (city of St Louis and the counties of St Louis, St Charles, Jefferson and Franklin), according to data released just this morning from RealtyTrac.  This is a decline of 26.7% from May 2013 when foreclosures and short sales in St Louis accounted for 11.6% of all home sales.

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St Louis Inventory of Homes For Sale Drying Up In Many Areas

The inventory of homes for sale in several St Louis neighborhoods is down to the lowest level we have seen in years.  It would be great if that was the result of skyrocketing home sales however, it’s really a combination of home sales and a lack of sellers.  While there are many different reasons people are not choosing to sell right now, I believe it is a lack of equity that is  holding back many homeowners from selling, particularly in the lower price ranges.  Last month I did an article about the fact that 40 percent of St Louis homeowners in the bottom 1/4 of the market were underwater, and, overall, 44% of St Louis homeowners had too little equity to sell their homes, hence the lack of inventory.

As the table below shows, the top 3 St Louis neighborhoods all have just a 1 month inventory of homes for sale, and the rest of the areas making up the top ten list just have 2 months.  For homeowners in these areas that have thought about selling, and have the equity to do so, now would be the time to hit the market!

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New Home Construction Needs to Increase to Match Job Growth According to REALTORS®

New home construction is not keeping up with demand in most of the U.S. and could even lead to “persistent housing shortages and affordability issues unless housing starts increase to match up with local job creation”, according to a newly released analysis by the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR).

Lawrence Yun, NAR’s chief economist, discussed in the report the relationship between new jobs and increased demand for housing saying  “Historically, there’s one new home construction for every one-and-a-half new jobs,”.  Yun goes on to say “Our analysis found that a majority of states are constructing too few homes in relation to local job market conditions. This lack of construction has hamstrung supply and slowed home sales.”

Missouri is not one of the states the NAR report cites as having the biggest disparity between job creation and new homes, instead listing Florida, Utah, California, Montana and Indiana as the states where this issue is most prevalent, but I think we are going to see this, on a reduced scale, in St Louis as well.

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Distressed Home Sales in St Louis Metro Area Fall Almost 30 Percent From A Year Ago

Distressed home sales in St Louis accounted for just under eleven percent (10.7%) of all home sales in the St Louis MSA in April 2014, according to data released just this morning from RealtyTrac.  This is a decline of 29.1% from April 2013 when distressed home sales in St Louis were responsible for 15.1% of all home sales.  Distressed home sales include short-sales (when sellers sell for less than they owe with the agreement of their lender), REO’s (bank-owned real estate acquired through foreclosure and now being resold) and foreclosure auction sales (when homes are actually sold at foreclosure).

Since a big chunk of the St Louis MSA lies across the Mississippi river in Illinois, I like to focus on the 5-county area that makes up the bulk of the St Louis real estate market on the Missouri side of the river.  These counties include St Louis, St Charles, Jefferson, Franklin as well as the city of St Louis.  As the table below shows, distressed home sales in April 2014 were down from a year ago in all of the counties.  For the 5 county core as a whole, on median, 10.1% of all home sales in April 2014 were distressed home sales, down 41.4% from a year ago when distressed sales accounted for 14.7% of the goal home sales in the 5-county core St Louis market.

Distressed home sales put a lot of downward pressure on home prices in St Louis, so this continued trend of fewer distressed sales is very much a positive for the St Louis housing market and should help the St Louis market sustain home prices as well as support home price increases when supported by market demand.

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Over 40 Percent Of St Louis Homeowners In Bottom Price Tier Underwater

While the St Louis housing market is improving, unfortunately the homeowners that can afford it the least are the ones that are still the hardest hit with 41.5% of all homeowners with a mortgage on a home in the bottom price tier (the 25% lowest valued homes in St Louis) being underwater on their mortgage, meaning they owe more than their homes are worth.  This is according to the newly released Zillow Negative Equity report which shows that, at the opposite end of the spectrum, in the top tier, only 11% of St Louis homeowners are underwater, or in a negative equity position, on their homes.

For the overall market, 22.9% of St Louis homeowners are underwater on their mortgage as of the first quarter of 2014 and 44% are in a “effective” negative equity position, meaning while they are not technically “underwater” they don’t have enough equity to pay the normal cost of selling their home and are therefore locked into their home unless they have cash to bring to the closing table.  For the nation as a whole, 18.8% of homeowners with a mortgage were in a negative equity position during the 1st quarter of 2014 and 36.9% were in an “effective” negative equity position.

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St Louis Distressed Home Sales Down From a Year Ago

St Louis distressed home sales declined during the first quarter of this year with distressed  home sales (foreclosures, REO’s and short sales)  in the 5-county core St Louis market (city of St Louis and counties of St Louis, St Charles, Jefferson and Franklin) accounting for 15.0% of all home sales,  This is down 18.5% from the first quarter of 2013 when St Louis distressed home sales accounted for 18.4% of all home sales, according to newly released data from RealtyTrac. As the table below shows, all the counties that make up the core of the St Louis real estate market (on the Missouri side of the river) saw short sales and REO’s decrease in the first quarter of 2014 from a year ago with the exception of REO sales in St Charles that increased 5% during the period.  All counties saw an increase in foreclosure auction activity from the first quarter of 2013 to the first quarter of 2014.

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Investment Property Sales Fall in 2013

Real Estate InvestorInvestment property sales in 2013 fell to 1,104,000 properties, down 8.5 percent from 2012 when there were 1,2o7,000 investment properties sold, according to a report just released by the National Association of REALTORS.  The median sale price of investment homes purchased during 2013 was $130,000, a 13% increase from 2012 when the median price was $115,000.

Who is the typical real estate investor?

According to the NAR report, the typical home investor in 2013 was a median age of 42 years, had a median household income of $111,400 and more than half (59%) were in a two income household.

What type of property do investors buy?

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Are Distressed Home Sales Gone From St Louis?

Not long ago distressed home sales (foreclosures, short sales, REO’s, etc) were a dominant force in the St Louis real estate market, accounting for a good portion of St Louis area home sales.  Today,  however, with a few exceptions, they have all but left the St Louis real estate market.  As far as the St Louis housing market is concerned, this is a good thing, for home buyers and investors looking for what are often bargain prices as a result, they may have different thoughts.

As the table below for the five St Louis counties that make up the bulk of our market,  short sales, REO’s (foreclosed homes being sold by banks) and foreclosure sales percentage of St Louis home sales was very slight in January 2014, and down significantly from a year ago.  In fact, there were virtually no short sales or foreclosure auction sales in January and REO’s accounted for just over 5% of all St Louis home sales for the month.  The only year-over-year increase seen in any of these sales was in REO sales in St Charles county that increased from 5.7% of home sales in January 2013 to 8% of home sales in January 2014.

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St Louis Housing Market Bubble to Burst

St Louis Distressed Home Sales - St Louis Realtor

The St Louis housing market bubble of 2006 was followed by the bursting of the bubble shortly thereafter and, even though many of us tried to convince ourselves it would not happen, reality set back in.  The reality was, when it came to home prices, the “greater fool theory” would only work so long until the reality of the underlying fundamentals of what makes up the value of a home would rear it’s ugly head and bring everyone down from their real estate high.

So, now that several years have passed, and many market prognosticators (including yours truly) say the St Louis housing market is in a recovery, I thought I would take a look at which St Louis area county (of the 5 county core market I frequently talk about) is recovering the best from the housing market bubble burst.  As the table below shows, St Louis County has recovered the best, with a median home sales price of $156,000 during the bubble year of 2006 and a median home price of $151,500 in 2013 for a decline of only 2.88%.

 

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St. Louis Distressed Home Sales Fall Sharply

St Louis Distressed Home Sales - St Louis Realtor

St Louis distressed home sales continue to fall, according to a report published by MORE, REALTORS based upon data released by RealtyTrac.  This report supports other market data that indicates the St Louis real estate market is recovering from the devastation brought on it when the real estate market bubble burst back in 2008.

The market crash brought many institutional buyers into the market, buying up homes as prices fell, but the recovery of the St Louis real estate market has slowed this activity as well.  Home sales fueled by institutional investors fell 23.6% in December 2013 from the year before, according to the report.

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St Louis Home Sales Increase In Past Year; Buck National Trend

St Louis homes sales (the 5-county core market*) for the 12 month period ending November 30, 2013 increased 4 percent from the same period a year ago,  in contrast to national home sales which are down 1.2 percent from a year ago.  As the table below shows, St Louis distressed home sales (foreclosures, bank-owned and short sales) have declined by more than a third and are currently responsible for just 5 percent of the overall home sales.

St Louis home prices are increasing too with the median home price for the past year coming in at $149,600, an increase of 10.81 percent from a year ago when the median price was $135,000.  St Louis home prices have increased more than the national rate of of 9.4 percent for the past year.

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St Louis Short-Sales Dwindling

St Louis RealtorShort-sale” is a term that was relatively unknown until the real estate market bubble burst in 2008.  After the bubble burst the term quickly became a common topic of conversation among homeowners that found themselves “underwater” in their homes, meaning they owed more on their homes than they were worth, and also among potential home buyers and investors looking to snag a good deal.

If you are one of those buyers wanting to snag a deal, you may have missed the boat as the volume of short sales in St Louis has fallen dramatically.  While, overall, this is good news as it indicates the health of the real estate market is improving and will help to stabilize prices, it does remove some of the opportunities for bargains to buyers willing to go through the short-sale process.  As the chart below shows, the number of short sale listings in St Louis hitting the market peaked around January 2012,  when around 230 new short sale listings came on the market, and then the trend has been downward ever since.  The blue line on the chart shows the number of short sale listings sold which peaked in July 2012 around 90 sales for the month and has fallen to less than 25 a month for the past couple of months.

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St Louis Short Sales Plummet While REO’s on the Rise

St. Louis short sales accounted for just 1 percent of the overall home sales activity during October in the core market of St. Louis (the city of St Louis and counties of St Louis, St Charles, Jefferson and Franklin), according to the latest data from RealtyTrac.  As the table below shows, Jefferson County had the largest percentage of short sales in October at 7% and St Charles and Franklin both the lowest at 0%.  REO sales (prior foreclosures that are now bank owned) on the other hand, made up 7 percent of St Louis area home sales in October, an increase of 33.3% from a year ago.

St Louis has historically not seen much in the way of institutional investors buying homes in the area, however this has changed of late and, in fact, made up 10% of the overall area home sales a year ago.  In St Charles County, 25% of home sales in October 2012 were sales involving institutional investors but this has fallen to 13% last month, a decline of almost 50%.

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St Louis Home Sales Increase Slightly In October…Distressed Sales Share Drops By Third In Past Year

St Louis homes sales (the 5-county core market*) increased slightly in October 2013 to 2,211 sales from 2,207 sales the month before.  However, as the table below shows, a couple of key things worth noting are that October home sales increased 6.76 percent from October 2012 and, in October 2013, distressed sales (foreclosures, short sales, REO’s) accounted for just a little over 20% of total home sales, down from almost 31% a year ago.

St Louis home prices, as the chart below shows, have steadily risen in the past year from a median price of $130,000 in October 2012 to $148,000 in October 2013.  The median price for distressed sales was much lower at $52,914.

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Cash Home Buyers In St Louis Account For Half of Home Sales In September

St Louis RealtorCash Home Buyers in St Louis were responsible for 50 percent of the home sales in September 2013 in the St Louis Metro area, according to a new report just released today by RealtyTrac.  The report showed that state-wide, cash buyers accounted for 48 percent of home sales in Missouri during the month.  As the table below shows (a St Louis Real Estate News Exclusive), in the city of St Louis 69 percent of the home sales in September were cash sales.

Cash sales are often associated with investors and, as the table shows, there is no lack of investor activity in the St. Louis metro area.  In fact, institutional sales in September were over 50 percent higher in  the St Louis metro area than for the state of Missouri as a whole.

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St Louis Distress Home Sales Data, Cash Home Sales, REO Sales, Short Sales

 

The Dual Agency Dual

Dennis Norman, St Louis Realtor of the Year 2013

Agency relationships between a buyer or seller of a home and the real estate agent are probably one of the most confusing aspects of the real estate transaction for consumers and for many real estate agents as well for that matter.  Dual agency takes the confusion to a whole new level though for the parties involved as the issue gets quite complex.  At the very basic level, dual agency exists when the same real estate agent represents both the buyer and seller in the same real estate transaction (a bad idea in my humble opinion).  At a more complicated level, state law states that dual agency also exists if the agent representing the buyer is with the same firm as the agent representing the seller then dual agency exists as well.

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Over 123,000 St Louis Homeowners Are Seriously Underwater

Dennis Norman, St Louis REALTOR

Nearly one of every 4 St Louis homeowners with a mortgage are seriously underwater, meaning their mortgage exceeds the current value of their home by 25 percent or more, according to a report just released by RealtyTrac.  As the table below shows, the city of St. Louis has the highest percentage of seriously underwater homeowners at 31 percent and Franklin county the lowest at 14 percent.  In addition, there are another 104,000 St Louis homeowners in a “near-equity” or “resurfacing equity” position, meaning their loan equals 90 to 110 percent of the current value of their home.  As long as home prices continue to rise, these homeowners will hopefully come out of their negative equity position soon.

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