St Louis’ Millennial Population Shows a Shift From City To St Charles County

The millennial generation, people born from 1981 through 1994, is predicted to outnumber the baby boomer generation sometime in 2019.  Given the size of the generation, as well as the fact many are getting married and starting families, the real estate industry is very interested in these young people.  Much time is spent trying to figure out whether they want to buy or rent, whether they will consider the suburbs or just stick to urban areas, etc.

Therefore, it does not come as a surprise that more than a third of the residents in the city of St Louis are millennials, attracted, no doubt, by the city lifestyle, a sharp contrast from the suburban upbringing many of them had with their baby boomer parents.  However, the tides may be turning though.

As the table below shows, during 2017 the millennial population in the city of St Louis dropped by 1.4% while St Charles County grew by 1.0% and St Louis and Jefferson County by 0.3% each.  As of 2017, the city of St Louis had 105,900 millennials living there, while St Charles County had 103,500, but if the trend continues, the millennial population in St Charles County will surpass the city of St Louis soon.  Who knows?  Maybe the millennials are more like us baby boomers than we thought and will end up buying homes in suburbia?

St Louis Area Millennial Population and Population Change – 2017

St Louis Area Millennial Population and Population Change - 2017

Projected Population by Generation

Projected Population by Generation

What do 90 municipalities cost?

St. Louis County is entertaining the idea of adding the City of St. Louis to its list of incorporated municipalities. All legal opinions firmly show that the County will absorb NONE of the City’s nancial responsibilities. If this were to happen the City of St. Louis will be no different than municipalities such as Clayton, Ellisville, or Chester eld. It would simply be another city located in St. Louis County. I am an advocate for this move. The City needs to cease County functions and turn them over to the County. Currently, practices and city functions run at inefficient levels.

If the city were to join the St. Louis County roster then we would have about 91 municipalities in the County. It should be noted though that 23 of them have less than 1,000 in population. Why does that make sense for a few blocks of St. Louis County to incorporate? If you ask them, they want to control their neighborhood, perhaps a worthy endeavor. However, we then have 90+ City Administrations for a population of 1.3 million (City and County). Some may suggest that this is very inefficient and a misuse of funds.  But how inefficient is it really?

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St Louis Real Estate – City of St Louis Vacant Property Bill Update

Dennis Norman

Update: March 23, 2010:  In spite of the concern of many organizations including the St. Louis Association of REALTORS, the Mortgage Bankers Association and the Title Insurance folks, the Board of Alderman passed the vacant property ordinance on March 12th – Now that lenders and title companies are aware of potential title and lien issues with this bill I have no doubt investors, and even homeowners, are going to run into some roadblocks when trying to finance property in the City of St. Louis – 2/3 of the Alderman voted in favor of the bill:

The Following Aldermen Voted FOR the Bill: Troupe, Flowers, Bosley, Ford-Griffin, Triplett, Young, Kennedy, Davis, Schmid, French, Boyd, Cohn, Williamson,Carter, Krewson and President Reed.  

Voting AGAINST the Bill and in favor of property rights were the following Aldermen:  Ortmann, Villa, Heitert, Gregali, Baringer, Vaccaro and Waterhouse.  – end of update

In about 2 hours the board of alderman for the City of St Louis will most likely vote to pass the “Vacant Property Registration” bill that I wrote about last week in a post, pointing out what I feel are serious issues the bill has.  In spite of opposition by the St. Louis Association of REALTORS(R), The Mortgage Bankers Association, as well as many other property owners, reahbbers and investors, the Board of Alderman for the City of St. Louis will most likely pass the bill this morning.  If that happens, Mayor Slay still has the opportunity to stop this bad piece of legislation by using his veto power, but, from what I hear, this won’t happen most likely, “it’s not the way city politics works”. 

In the face of yet another layer of bureaucratic red tape and fees that stand between property owners and their property I thought now may be a good time to share a story of just how ridiculous some of these things are, as well as the risk of having “criminal penalties” (such as jail time) for “civil” matters, (such as regitering a vacant property).

Back in 2005 or early 2006 I was involved in the purchase of a vacant building in the city.  The building was in bad condition, and in a neighborhood that was sort of rough, but we purchased it because we felt some nearby redevelopment may continue to spread into this area and make it cost effective to rehab and restore the building or, in the alternative, tear it down and build something new.

After we purchased it we did secure the building as required by ordinance, including boarding up windows and I think we removed a porch that was in bad condition….at one point we even put a new roof on the building to protect it and prevent further deterioration, even though by that time the real estate market was deteriorating and our hopes of rehabbing the property was no longer feasible. 

Somewhere along the line the City issued us a couple of  notices of violation on the property….one came from one arm of city governement and was a list of 9 or 10 building code violations they wanted addressed (one of which was the roof….my partner worked with the city and it was agreed that if we took care of the 5 or 6 “serious” violations then we could ignore the rest….the inspector realized at this point we were looking for a rehabber to buy the property…so, we took care of those items…..during the same time period, from another arm of the city, we received a condemnation notice on the building….it was being condemned for basically the same violations as we were dealing with the inspector on.

Now, here is where there was an error on our part, albeit an honest one, my partner who was dealing with the buidling inspector thought our “deal” with him over the violations was satisfying all issues with the city. After getting summoned to court over the violations on the condemnation notice it was evident there was something wrong.  Thinking it was a simple miscommunication between two city offices, my partner did not panic but worked to get the confusion resolved.  He was in contact with the inspector who kept assuring him everything was OK and would then tell the judge this on the next court appearance.  Unfortunately it took him a while to figure out that the building inspector had nothing to do with the condemnation notice as it was handled by a different office.  It was about this time that the judge started mentioning “Jail Time” (the ordinance provided for this, I think the wording is pretty much the same as the vacant property ordinance).

With the judge threatening jail time, we decided to abandone the idea of “saving” this building and tear down the building to comply with the condemnation order (which was a financial disaster).  We obtained a bid to demolish the building and were scrambling to get it torn down before our next court date.  The Judge had made it clear if the problem wasn’t resolved by the next court date “someone was going to jail“.  Guess what happened though?  The city would not issue a demolition permit!  It wasn’t because the building was a historic building, nor even in a historic district, it was simply because of the age of the building they thought it had “architectural significance”. 

So below is a recap of where things stood at the time:

  • The City had condemned the building and told us to bring it to code (which was financially impossible) or tear it down by a dealine or they would tear it down.
  • We applied for a demo permit and were declined by the City
  • The municipal judge was going to “throw someone in jail” (the property was in a corporation name so we weren’t sure who that “someone” would be but we didn’t want to find out.

So they city said “tear it down“….and the city said “don’t tear it Down“…

Quite a plight…

Point of the story? Over-regulation and too many overlapping ordinances can not only cause confusion and contradiction, but can really make it almost impossible for even the most responsible property owner to comply with all laws, or maybe even figure out what they are being expected to comply with. Oh yeah, and the “jail time” they put in building ordinances, like the vacant property one, that the Alderman assures you “we would never use” (which begs the question, why not take it out of the bill then) does in fact get used and you could find yourself as I did, pretty well innocently in a spot where you are facing it.

The outcome? By the Grace of God, someone surfaced that was willing to buy the building (I use the term “buy” loosely, we basically gave it to him for all intents and purposes). When we showed up at court with the sale contract the judge continued the case for a month and demanded we come back and prove the deal closed. Fortunately the buyer closed, we went back to court, proved the sale to the judge and considered ourselves lucky.


St Louis Real Estate – Vacant Property Bill and It’s Affect on Property Rights

Dennis Norman

What do sex offenders and owners of vacant property have in common?

UPDATE: March 8, 2010 – I found out today the bill that was actually perfected last Friday was a floor substitute…Unfortunately the changes made to the bill were minor- they changed the public data base so that you have to enter a property address in order to look up the owners personal information (including phone number and email address) and they changed the wording to no longer make real estate agents and property managers responsible for property they don’t own.  So basically, just a little window dressing to try to appease the REALTORS(R)…The bill is still a bad….

UPDATE: March 5, 2010In spite of opposition to the bill by the St. Louis Association of REALTORS and others, the Board of Alderman perfected the bill today by a vote of 16-7.  The next steip is for the bill to get final approval by the Board of Alderman on March 12th.  Hopefully this can still be stopped. 

Well, if Kacie Starr Triplett, Alderwoman for the 6th ward of the City of St. Louis, has her way, then both will have their private information listed in a public, online database for the whole world to see.  The big difference is one such group is made up of felons convicted of some of the most despicable crimes short of murder one could commit, and the other group is made up of  a group of property owners that own a property that has not been occupied for 6 months and could have as little as one building code violation.  Hmm…

Triplett has sponsored a bill, Board Bill No. 322, which, if passed by the board of Alderman, would establish a “St. Louis Vacant Building Online Database for public access.”  The bill states “the property owner shall provide the property owner’s street address, phone number and email address.”  So, in a nutshell, if you are a property owner in the City of St. Louis and fall into this category, your personal contact information, including your phone number and email address, will be in a public database maintained by the City of St. Louis for all to see, just like convicted sex offenders.  Oh wait, no, now that I am reviewing the sex offender registry they only reveal the address, they don’t even have to give a phone number and email address! Not to mention the sex offenders ended up in that situation after being convicted, you ended up there just by owning property (and having as little as 1 outstanding building code violation).

Thinking you’ll just say NO?

So you say “it’s none of their business and I just won’t give them the info”…..whoa, not so fast, let me quote the penalty in Tripletts bill for failure to provide this personal information:

“any person found to be in violation of provision of Section Six of this ordinance (that is the section requiring the personal info for the data base) shall be subject to a fine of not more than five hundred dollars ($500.00) or to a term of imprisonment of not more than ninety days (90) or to both a fine and imprisonment.”

Did you catch the part about prison?  Yep, refuse to give them your unlisted phone number or email address and risk 90 days in city jail…fun.  What happens if you don’t have an email address?  I’m not sure…

There’s more….Lose your property over $400

If you fail to pay the fee for registering your property, which is $200 for every six-month period it is vacant, after one-year the fee becomes a lien and the city can foreclose.  So, you could lose your property over $400, just like someone in the city did in the past two months under the current vacant property ordinance (current law does not have the public database).

There’s still more…Are you a property manager or maintenance person? Read this

Under the “Vacant Building Maintenance” heading, the bill states:

“The owner of any building that has become vacant, and any person maintaining, operating or collecting rent for any building that has been determined vacant shall, within thirty (30) days, do the following:

1. Enclose and secure the building, as defined under the St. Louis City Revised Code Chapter 25.01.030, Section 118.3.1  All doors must be properly secured and windows on all floors of the building be properly secured;

2. Maintain the building in a secure and closed condition until the building is again occupied or until repair or completion of the building has been undertaken.”

 Wanna guess what the penalty is for failure to comply with the above?  You probably guessed same penalty as for failure to give the personal information?  Close….

“any person found to be in violation of provision of Section Seven of this ordinance  shall be subject to a fine of not more than five hundred dollars ($500.00) or to a term of imprisonment of not more than ninety days (90) or to both a fine and imprisonment.

Every day that a violation continues shall constitute a seperate and distinct offense

 Did you catch the “every day” part?  So, lets just say you are a property manager, or I guess maintenance man (I guess that is what she is referring to when she names people “maintaining” the property) or an owner and you have a vacant unit and fail, for one reason or another to properly secure the building in compliance with the codes (which is rather subjective, of course) for say 30 days; what maximum penalties are you facing under this new ordinance?  Let’s do the math:

  • Fine, $500 x 30 days = $15,000 total fine
  • Imprisonment, 90 days x 30 days=2,700 days imprisonment (7.5 years)

Is it just me, or does this seem harsh?

So what’s wrong with all this?

I know my diatribe is getting lengthy so I’m going to wrap things up with what I see as issues with this ordinance in bullet points below:

  • Invitation for theft – One problem property owners face in the city, particularly with vacant buildings, is theft and vandalism.  I have had many airconditioning units stolen just for the copper coils inside, plumbing ripped out of houses for the copper as well.  What more could a theif want?  An online database that shows him every vacant buidling in the city?  Stealing copper will be almost as easy as shopping at Wal-Mart.
  • Privacy issues – I don’t think most poeple would want their phone number and email address put online for anyone to access.
  • Lack of notice/due process– I’m very concerned about the city’s ability to turn this fee into a lien and foreclose on the property. 
  • FORGET GETTING A LOAN ON AN INVESTMENT PROPERTY – In my opinion, if this bill passes, I think it will be hard, if not IMPOSSIBLE, to get financing on an investment property in the city…reason being, Tripletts bill says after fees become delinquent for a year they become a lien and subject to foreclosure “in the same manner as delinquent real property taxes“… I’m not sure how a court is going to interpret this, but in the City a sale for back property taxes wipes out ALL liens, even senior liens (such as first deeds of trust)…by the wording of her bill I think the case could be made that the foreclosure on the liens wipes out senior liens as well….if that is the case lenders are going to be very concerned about lending money on a building that may end up being subject to vacant property registration…

I need to say, I am not defending derelict buildings or irresponsible property owners, I just don’t feel this is the way to deal with them.  Ordinances like this, in my opinion, assume you are guilty and treat you that way, plus trample on your rights.

If you don’t own property in the City you may think this doesn’t affect you, but that may be temporary.  Municipalities copy what is done in other municipalities all the time.  If this ordinance passes in the City of St. Louis I promise you it will appear in other places as well.  Perhaps where you live or own property.

In addition, speaking from experience, cities don’t usually stop with just one ordinance once they have forged new territory.  If the city gets this ordinance through and deems it a success in their eyes, you can bet they will start looking at other “problem areas” they can attack in the same way.  Many cities see rental property as a problem and claim tenants cause more calls to police, create more problems than homeowners, etc.  What if tenants are the next target?  How about a public data base showing the tenants name, phone number and email address?  Think about it.  Where does it stop?

 Tripletts bill has already been through a committee and is moving forward.  If you would like to voice your opinion on it I would suggest you contact her, or your alderman if you live in the city or perhaps Lewis Reed, the President of the Board of Alderman.  Their contact information is below:

Alfred Wessels, Jr             13th Ward
Antonio French                     21st Ward            
April Ford-Griffin                   5th Ward
Charles Quincy Troupe              1st Ward
Craig Schmid                         20th Ward
Dionne Flowers                  2nd Ward
Donna Baringer                 16th Ward
Frank Williamson           26th ward
Fred Heitert                           12th Ward
Freeman Bosley, Sr.               3rd Ward
Greg Carter                             27th ward
Jeffrey Boyd                              22nd Ward
Jennifer Florida                      15th Ward
Joe Vaccaro                           23rd Ward
Joseph Roddy                          17th ward
Joseph Vollmer                    10th Ward
Kacie Starr Triplett              6th Ward
Ken Ortmann                     9th Ward
Lewis Reed                                  President
Lyda Krewson                     28th Ward
Marlene Davis                      19th Ward
Matt Villa                                     11th Ward
Phyllis Young                          7th Ward
Samuel Moore                      4th Ward
Shane Cohn                                25th Ward
Stephen Conway               8th Ward
Steve Gregali                         14th Ward
Terry Kennedy                  18th ward
William Waterhouse 24th Ward