Demystifying Aluminum Wiring for Homebuyers: Insights from Industry Expert Mike Ragan

In a recent informative video, Mike Ragan, a master electrician, and owner of R&M Electric in St. Charles MO, dispels several myths surrounding aluminum wiring, a subject that often causes apprehension among prospective homebuyers in the St. Louis area. With over 18 years of experience specializing in residential wiring and troubleshooting, Ragan brings a wealth of knowledge to the discussion. He offers crucial insights for anyone considering the purchase of a home equipped with aluminum wiring, providing a fresh perspective on what has traditionally been viewed as a potential dealbreaker.

Ragan assures homebuyers, “Aluminum wiring is not necessarily a bad thing,” explaining that “if things are done correctly using the aluminum wiring, that it’s not dangerous.” He addresses the common fear surrounding aluminum wiring, which stems from its susceptibility to oxidation and the associated risks of overheating and fire hazards in older installations from the 1970s. However, he clarifies that with the correct installation and maintenance procedures in place, aluminum wiring is not inherently dangerous. Key to the safe use of aluminum wiring is the application of specific products like deoxidizing agents and the use of aluminum-rated devices, which prevent oxidation and ensure secure connections.

Moreover, Ragan highlights budget-friendly solutions for addressing aluminum wiring concerns, such as aluminum-rated connections or AlumiConn® connectors, whereby “you can significantly save money by going with the connections… less than half the cost by going through and redoing all the connections.” He strongly recommends that buyers considering a property with aluminum wiring engage a licensed electrician familiar with these issues to conduct a thorough inspection, thereby ensuring the wiring’s integrity and compliance with safety standards.

This dialogue not only educates homebuyers about the realities of aluminum wiring but also reassures them that, with proper attention and maintenance, homes equipped with aluminum wiring can be a safe, viable option. He says, “I would have no problem buying an aluminum wired house if the things we talked about were done correctly.” Ragan’s expertise offers practical guidance for navigating concerns related to aluminum wiring, empowering homebuyers to make informed decisions about their potential purchases.

Interview with St Louis Master Electrician Mike Ragan about Aluminum Wiring Concerns

Do you need a buyer’s agent when buying a home in St Louis?

Earlier this week I wrote an article addressing some of the current issues that will likely significantly impact the residential real estate business.  IIn the article, I suggested that, as a result of the various challenges to present-day practices, sellers may no longer be required to pay commissions to the buyer’s agent in the near future.  Does this mean the role of the buyer’s agent in a transaction is going away and that buyer’s agents are not needed?  The short answer is no, buyer’s agents are not going away.

So, buyer agents won’t be impacted by these changes?

Wait, I didn’t say there no impact or effect on buyer’s agents, I said, generally speaking, they are not going away. However, this doesn’t mean that there won’t be real estate agents leaving the profession as a result of not being prepared, able, or willing to deal with the changes. Some agents will leave the profession because, quite frankly, with the change in the way buyer’s agents are compensated, they will find that there are not enough people who see value in paying them to represent them. I know this sounds a little harsh, but I’ll explain what I mean in more detail below.

The bar will be raised…

While my earlier statement sounds a little harsh, I think the reality is that agents that are not committed to this profession, lack the knowledge and skills they should have and don’t deliver the level of representation and service they should to their clients, are going to find it hard to survive in the business in the near future. As transparency increases on how buyer’s agents are compensated, particularly when it becomes known that the compensation is either coming directly from their buyer client or indirectly from them, buyers are likely to be more selective about the agents they choose to work with. Some may argue that buyers may opt to forego having a buyer’s agent and deal directly with the listing agent instead to save some money. I will address that in more detail later, but for the most part, I don’t think that will be the case. Instead, good agents, those who know this business and the market and are true professionals with their clients’ interests at heart, will be rewarded.


Continue reading “Do you need a buyer’s agent when buying a home in St Louis?

National Headlines Say Homebuyers Canceling Deals At Highest Rate Since Start of Covid…Is this true in St Louis?

If you’re heard it once, you’ve likely heard it a hundred times, “all real estate is local”.  This is why you can’t put too much faith in national news or data if you are interested in buying or selling a home in St Louis.  This is also why at MORE, REALTORS®, we put so much time, effort and money into producing the best and most accurate local data we can.  We think it’s important to bring the data and information down to the local level.

Homebuyers are canceling deals at highest rate since start of COVID” was the headline earlier this week on Inman News, an online real estate industry publication read by many brokers and agents.  My usual response to news like this is “I wonder if that’s true in St Louis?” and I set out to pull the data to see.

There is not really a way to count “canceled” deals…

While I don’t know exactly what the writer of the Inman article was referencing in terms of “canceled” deals.  However, in a typical contract to purchase a home in St Louis only gives the purchase one way to “cancel” a contract and that is in the building inspection contingency where the purchaser has the right to terminate the contract for no reason.  When that happens it is not reported to the REALTOR® Multiple Listing Service (MLS) as a “canceled” listing however, it is simply put back on the market.  There are certainly other reasons contracts fail and listings come back on the market such as the buyer’s inability to get financing, appraisal issues, etc.

“Back on the market” is something we can count…

Continue reading “National Headlines Say Homebuyers Canceling Deals At Highest Rate Since Start of Covid…Is this true in St Louis?

Buyer’s Agents Aren’t Free

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

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

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

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

The Department of Justice must feel the same way…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sixty-Three Percent Of St Louis Homes Sold In Past 12 Months Sold At Or Above List Price

It’s no secret how competitive the St Louis housing market is currently.  In effort to get their offer accepted, homebuyers are waiving financing contingencies, building inspections and doing everything they can to convince the seller to take their offer.  However, in addition to those aforementioned things, while it’s not necessarily the most important thing, price is pretty close to the top of the list.

As a result of everything mentioned above, almost two-thirds of the homes sold in the St Louis 5-County core market (St Louis city and the counties of St Louis, St Charles, Jefferson and Franklin) during the past 12 months sold for the asking price or above.  As the infographic below shows (exclusively available from MORE, REALTORS®) there were 34,225 homes sold during the past 12-months in the St Louis 5-County core market with 63% of them selling at the list price or above.  One thing to remember about home prices though, and something you won’t hear from too many people reporting prices, is that not all sold prices are the “real” price.

[xyz-ips snippet=”Homes-For-Sale-and-Listings-With-Virtual-Tours”]

Continue reading “Sixty-Three Percent Of St Louis Homes Sold In Past 12 Months Sold At Or Above List Price

Control your investments with self-directed IRA investing

Jeremy Vlasich  I have a lot of people ask me about what to invest in and how.  Not every time, but often, the self-directed IRA investments can be great options for people that are in the real estate industry.  For this post, I wanted to go over the basic concept and give some actual real-life examples.  Once you read this, if you still need help or have questions, you are more than welcome to reach out.  We are here to serve and help!

What is an IRA and what does a “self-directed” IRA mean?  This is an Individual Retirement Account.  There are two options:

  • Roth IRA – contributions are post-tax and then the growth is tax-free for life
  • Traditional IRA – contributions are pre-tax and then the growth deferred

During the 2020 year, you can contribute $6k a year and add $1k if you are over 50. There are income limits for contributions for the Roth IRA and the tax-deductible traditional.  However, you can always contribute to the traditional but the income limit determines if the IRA is tax-deductible or not.  All traditional IRA’s are tax-deferred.  The Roth IRA is the only tax-free growth IRA.

[xyz-ips snippet=”Homes-For-Sale”]

Continue reading “Control your investments with self-directed IRA investing

New Listings Of St Louis Homes For Sale Trailing Sales Slightly

Yesterday, I wrote an article titled “St Louis Home Sales – No end in sight?” in which one of my caveats had to do with listing inventory, noting the obvious that no matter how many homebuyers are out there, if there is nothing for them to buy, St Louis home sales will fall. As promised, I did an analysis of new listings and inventory using proprietary software we have developed at MORE, REALTORS to enable our agents to fully comprehend the market and be able to use that knowledge to serve their clients.

The first table below is our leading indicator report for new listings that were taken in the St Louis core market during the past week compared with the same week a year ago. As the table shows, listings for this period were up 18% from a year ago, which is good news but, as I reported yesterday, new sales were up 21% so sales rose at a higher rate than listings.  The second table compares last week’s new listings with the prior week and, as yesterday’s home sales report showed, there was a decline, in the case of new listings taken they were down 5% from the prior week while yesterday I reported sales were down 10%.  The report at the bottom is another proprietary product of MORE, REALTORS and it’s a report showing the current inventory of listings for sale in every zip code in the St Louis MSA of which I showed the 20 zips with the lowest inventory.

The bottom line…

To recap, new sales contracts written on listings in the past week outpaced the number of new listings by about 8% and new sales contracts written on listings in the past two weeks outpaced the number of new listings by nearly 11%.  One thing to keep in mind is that a contract written does not equal a sold listing as a percentage of the contracts will fail to close due to building inspections, financing, appraisal issues, or other reasons so the gap is not quite as large as it may appear.  The other thing to remember is the time of the year we are in…right before Thanksgiving is not a popular time for sellers to list their homes as many will wait until after Thanksgiving and some will wait until after Christmas.  However, in today’s market, buyers don’t have that luxury…they have to be prepared to buy at any time or faced missing out in this tight market.  So, for now, I think we’re ok and I think my caveat from yesterday is covered but I’ll be watching the inventory moving forward.

[xyz-ips snippet=”Homes-For-Sale-and-Listings-With-Virtual-Tours”]

Continue reading “New Listings Of St Louis Homes For Sale Trailing Sales Slightly

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:

Continue reading “Things to consider when buying a new home

Proposed St Louis County Ordinance Would Require Landlords To Accept Section 8

A bill introduced by St Louis County Councilmember Lisa Clancy would require landlords in unincorporated St Louis County to participate in the Section 8 program as well as pretty much any other rental subsidy program.  St Louis County bill number 102 (see complete bill at bottom of article), introduced by Councilmember Clancy, if passed, would amend the existing St Louis County “Fair Housing Code” ordinance adding “lawful source of income” to the list of things that a landlord cannot discriminate based upon.

The St Louis County Fair Housing Ordinance (section 717.020) currently makes it unlawful for landlords to discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, gender, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity, or familial status.  Currently included in the protected classes under St Louis County law, which are not included in the Federal Fair Housing Act, are “sexual orientation” and “gender identity”.  In addition, St Louis County has “gender” as a class instead of “sex” as is in the Federal Fair Housing Act.  If St Louis County Council bill 102 passes and becomes an ordinance, then “lawful source of income” will be an additional protected class and will be another one that is not in the Federal Fair Housing Act.

There are other municipalities, counties, and states around the country that have passed similar legislation as well. As to be expected, legislation like this has been met with a mixed response.  

Is it discriminatory for a landlord to refuse to accept Section 8, Vouchers and the like? Continue reading “Proposed St Louis County Ordinance Would Require Landlords To Accept Section 8

Should you buy a new home directly from the builder?

Some new home buyers believe that if they buy a new home directly from the builder or the builder’s sales person, they will get a better price.  But is this true?  Do you get a better deal buying a new home directly from the builder?

First, we should address a “better deal” and what constitutes a good “deal”.  If it is strictly price, then, while I think it is somewhat short-sided on the part of the buyer and falls in that “penny-wise, dollar-foolish” category, in some instances, with some builders, the builder will save some cost by you buying from their agent.  This is the result of the builder having an agent that will get paid less commission that the builder would pay a buyer’s agent then if the builder chooses to pass that savings along to the buyer, rather than keep it, the buyer should receive a better price.  However, just like the possible savings motivated the buyer to deal directly with the builder, it is unrealistic to think that a builder is not going to feel the same and be motivated to have a better profit margin dealing directly with the buyer and instead would choose to forego the savings and give it to the buyer in the price. Plus, most builders appreciate and understand, the vital role a buyer’s agent plays in the transaction and wants to encourage agents to show and sell their homes, so they typically avoid doing things that look like they are trying to cut an agent out of a deal by dealing directly with the buyer.

Continue reading “Should you buy a new home directly from the builder?

Are iBuyers Changing The Way People Sell Their Homes?

One of the “buzz words” you hear often in the real estate industry today is “disrupter“.  To disrupt, by definition, is to “throw into turmoil or disorder, interrupt the progress of (a movement, meeting, etc) or break or split (something) apart.”  With dozens and dozens of new startups, new business models and new practices coming upon the real estate scene over the last handful of years, it seems practically everyone wants to disrupt the real estate industry.  Why not?  Afterall, there was some $70 Billion (yes, Billion with a “B”) in commissions made by residential real estate agents last year on the 5.5 million home sales that took place in 2017, so who wouldn’t want a piece of that pie?

One of the disrupters that have come along is the “iBuyer”, which refers to one of the Internet-based company’s that buys homes directly from sellers offering them an alternative to the more traditional method of listing their home, waiting for the buyer to surface and then waiting for the closing.  Some, or perhaps many, real estate agents are concerned that iBuyers may negatively impact their profession if in no other way by putting a dent in their commissions by offering sellers a way to sell their homes without an agent.  However, before agents get too worried about it and before sellers get too excited about the idea, especially in St Louis, we need to recognize a few things: According to ATTOM Data, the two biggest iBuyers, Offerpad and Opendoor combined only purchased a total of 3,992 homes in 2017 so less than 1/10 of 1% of the 5,510,000 homes sold that year, this is nothing new, and, there is a price to pay for the convenience.

[xyz-ips snippet=”Seller-Resources—Listing-Targeted”]

Continue reading “Are iBuyers Changing The Way People Sell Their Homes?

Why You Shouldn’t Use 12 p.m. As A Deadline When Making An Offer On A Home

When you make an offer on a home, it is normal to include a deadline for the seller to accept the offer by otherwise the offer dies.  Deadlines are also used when sellers and buyers make counter-offers and negotiate building inspection resolutions.  These deadlines typically include both a date and time.  Unfortunately, many real estate agents seem to like using “12 p.m.” as a deadline which, personally, I think is a bad idea and should not be done.

Why is 12 p.m. as a deadline bad to use?

For starters, I’m a big fan of trying to keep things as clear as possible and avoid the potential of conflict whenever I can.  Therefore, I like using contract terms that are clear and precise as opposed to those that are vague and ambiguous.  Given that “12 p.m.” is, at best, a confusing term that is subject to interpretation and can be interpreted to mean “noon” or “midnight” and, at worst, doesn’t refer to anything “real” at all, it sounds like something good to avoid.

Noon and 12 p.m. are the same, right?

Let’s break it down a little to answer that question and start with what the “p.m.” in 12 p.m. stands for.  P.M. is an abbreviation for post meridiemwhich is Latin for “after noon”.  So, when is noon?  That is simple, right?  It’s right after 11:59 a.m. and right before 12:01 p.m., correct?  Assuming you agree with that, then how can 12 p.m. be “12 after noon”? How can it be “after” that moment in time when it is occurring at the same time as the event it is to be after?

(We work hard on this and sure would appreciate a “Like”)[iframe 100 35 ]

What about 12 a.m. and midnight, they’re the same, right?

Basically, we run into the same issue as above, we are trying to identify a moment in time by referencing it’s relationship to that moment.  But, for the sake of this conversation, let’s break this down a bit by looking at the definition of a.m.  A.M. is an abbreviation for ante meridiem, which is Latin for “before noon”.  Now, you could argue that since midnight is 12 hours before noon that the term 12 a.m. would be the accurate time for midnight. Not so fast though, because using the same argument would mean that 12 p.m would also be the accurate term for midnight since it is 12 hours “after noon”.  See the problem?

What does the “official timekeeper” for the United States Government say on this topic?

The Time and Frequency Division of  The National Institute of Standards and Technology (part of the U.S. Department of Commerce)  maintains the standard for frequency and time interval for the United States and provides official time to the United States.  On their FAQ’s page, is the question “Are noon and midnight referred to as 12 a.m. or 12 p.m.?” Their answer is “This is a tricky question because 12 a.m. and 12 p.m. are ambiguous and should not be used.

There’s an EASY Answer!

To avoid the confusion and conflict that may come as a result of using 12:00 p.m., 12 noon, 12:00 a.m., or 12 midnight as a deadline in a contract, just simply pick a time that is clear such as anything from 12:01 p.m. through 11:59 p.m. or 12:01 a.m. through 11:59 a.m.  Then, there is no confusion and easy for all the parties to be on the same page.

Should Home Buyers Use Price Escalation Clauses?

St Louis home buyers today face stiff competition from other buyers and often find themselves in a “multiple bid” situations where a seller has several offers to consider.  This has led many buyers agents to suggest the use of “escalation clauses” by their clients in order to increase their chances of success.  However, not everyone in real estate industry agrees that this is a good practice and some think it is doesn’t serve the buyer well.  I tend to fall into the latter camp as I am not a fan of escalation clauses for buyers, however, in the right situation and when done properly, I do believe they could benefit a buyer.

What’s wrong with escalation clause use by buyers?

In the interest of brevity, which, is not my strong suit, I’m going to simply make a list of the issues:

  • If the buyer is willing to do an escalation clause, they are obviously willing to pay more than they are offering.  Given that in the scenario that would give rise to an escalation clause being considered probably means the buyer gets one shot at it, it may make more sense for the buyer to make their best offer from the start.
  • Buyer is “showing their hand” to the seller.  The escalation clause reveals to the seller the true value the buyer sees in the house and there is nothing that prevents the seller from using this to their benefit.  For example, if buyer’s offer if $205,000 but the escalation clause indicates that buyer will beat any offer by $1,000 up to a maximum of $210,000, guess what my advice to the seller will get in terms of a counter offer?  You guessed it, $210,000.
  • Seller may question buyers approach and choose to deal with a buyer that appeared more forthcoming.  This one comes straight from experience on the sellers’ side of things on some deals.  Some sellers are a little put off by buyers using escalation clauses feeling like they are willing to pay more but trying to take advantage and buy it cheaper if possible.  If there is another “clean” deal that is close in price, the seller may choose to try to make a deal with them first.  There is also some uncertainty for the seller as to whether the escalation clause buyer will actually agree to the increased price if it kicks in.

(We work hard on this and sure would appreciate a “Like”)[iframe 100 35 ]

Continue reading “Should Home Buyers Use Price Escalation Clauses?

Zillow’s “New” Instant Offer Is Nothing New

I am always marveled by great marketing and promotion therefore I must give a tip of the hat to Zillow® for their new “Instant Offer” program.   First, it’s getting them tons of attention and press, particularly within the REALTOR® community, which is probably where it is the most beneficial to them since real estate agents are, after all, Zillows’® paying customers. Courtesy of Inman News, and others, this new program has received the equivalent of thousands and thousands of dollars of free advertising, which is the type of thing I love and dream of getting this type of free publicity for my firm.

Instant Offer concept is not new…

So, why do I say it’s nothing new?  I have nothing against Zillow® (although many in the REALTOR® community are not fans as they see them as a threat) however, I really don’t see anything “new” or revolutionary about their instant offer program.  Basically, according to their website, what their program does is allows you to submit information on your home to them which then goes to a group of national investors who then submit you a cash offer for your home.  Then, an inspection is done of your home (I’m guessing the offer is subject to this inspection being favorable) and if so, then you proceed to closing.  Homes have been sold in this manner for decades, including right here in St Louis, so it’s nothing new.  When I entered the real estate business here in St Louis in 1979, there were many “speculators” in St Louis, including the broker I worked for, that would make sellers a cash, as-is, offer on their home and would offer to close as fast as 24 hours.  So, basically, the same thing as the “new” Zillow® instant offer program with a few exceptions including that our offers were typically unconditional (other than that the seller had good title), truly as-is and we were local, people the sellers could meet, talk with and establish a relationship with as they contemplated whether or not this approach to selling their home was a good decision.  Over the years, I was involved in the purchase of over 2,000 homes in this manner right here in St Louis.  Today, thanks to internet webinars, reality TV shows and just a wealth of information being readily available, there are many, many people, that, in addition to the established “professional investors”, out there trying to buy real estate in this manner.

Do you want an “instant offer” on your home?

(We work hard on this and sure would appreciate a “Like”)[iframe 100 35 ]

Search St Louis Homes For Sale HERE
See ALL Homes That Will Be Open In St Louis This Weekend
Find The Value Of Your Home In Under A Minute!

Continue reading “Zillow’s “New” Instant Offer Is Nothing New

Should You Investigate Your Home Buyer Or Seller Online?

Today, with the help of the internet, you can get information on just about anyone and usually rather easily.  From information websites, to blogs, to classified ad sites and social media, there is a plethora of information about people available with much of it (thanks to social media) coming right from the source…the people themselves.  With all this information so readily available,  it has become common for home buyers, sellers and/or their real estate agents to use the internet to try to get a leg up on the other side in a real estate transaction.  However, this has led to some issues and concerns as to whether this should be done or not.

How a home buyer can benefit from internet snooping…

(We work hard on this and sure would appreciate a “Like”)[iframe 100 35 ]

Search St Louis Homes For Sale HERE
See ALL Homes That Will Be Open In St Louis This Weekend
Find The Value Of Your Home In Under A Minute!

Continue reading “Should You Investigate Your Home Buyer Or Seller Online?

Why You Need A Private Building Inspection When Buying A New Home

As a real estate broker and former real estate developer and builder, I’m surprised how many transactions I see in which a new home buyer forgoes a private building inspection thinking,  since the home is new, an inspection is not necessary.  In my personal opinion, this couldn’t be farther from the truth.  Don’t get me wrong, this is not a condemnation of St Louis home builders as I know most of them, are friends with many, and feel that, for the most part, we have some very qualified, competent and ethical home builders in St Louis.  Having said that though, I do realize that mistakes and accidents happen.  Not to mention, given that a typical home inspection will cost less than $1,000 in most cases, that is a very small price to pay when making what is for most home buyers, the biggest investment they will make.

What could be wrong with a brand new home?
There are a myriad of things that could be wrong with a new home ranging from potential major structural issues, to issues with the systems, such as plumbing, electric, etc,  dangerously high radon levels, to items that are more minor and cosmetic in nature.  Some of the problems, if not discovered during an inspection, may surface quickly after moving in and in time to be covered by the builders warranty but others may lie dormant for a long time and not surface until a time when it may be difficult to get the builder to accept responsibility.  Having a private building inspection will help discover the issues early, before the issue becomes a nuisance to you and while not having to worry about whether it’s covered by the warranty or not as you haven’t closed on the purchase yet.

(We work hard on this and sure would appreciate a “Like”)[iframe 100 35 ]

Search St Louis Homes For Sale HERE
See ALL Homes That Will Be Open In St Louis This Weekend
Find The Value Of Your Home In Under A Minute!

Continue reading “Why You Need A Private Building Inspection When Buying A New Home

Rule Changes For HUD Home Sales Proposed By HUD

Since the real estate market bubble burst in 2008, the number of foreclosed homes that the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has had to manage and sell to investors and new home owners has increased significantly, averaging around 100,000 homes sold per year and hitting a peak of 111,416 HUD homes sold during fiscal year 2013.  As a result, HUD has proposed several changes with regard to the disposition of REO properties, or, in plain terms, how they sell HUD homes.  According to HUD, these changes “seek to provide greater efficiency in the administration of HUD’s property disposition program for REO properties….and provide flexibility in anticipation of future changes to the property disposition program for REO properties.”

Highlights of Proposed Rule Changes By HUD With Respect To The Disposition, or Sale of HUD Homes:

(We work hard on this and sure would appreciate a “Like”)[iframe 100 35 ]
Want to Learn MORE About Buying HUD Homes?

Search ALL St Louis Homes For Sale

See ALL Homes That Will Be Open In St Louis This Weekend

Continue reading “Rule Changes For HUD Home Sales Proposed By HUD

How To Buy A Home In A Hot Market Like This One

It wasn’t that long ago that sellers were practically begging buyers to purchase their home but that is not the case today.  Today, in some very sought after St Louis neighborhoods the inventory of homes is so low and demand so high that when a new listing hits the market it’s like a feeding frenzy for buyers.  This has led to frustration and disappointment for many buyers leading some to become a little too overanxious and buy a home that really is not right for them or overpay for one out of fear of “missing out”.

So, how do you get your offer accepted on the home you want?

While there is no fool-proof or guaranteed method, my 35 years experience in the business, including being the principal in the purchase of more than 2,000 properties, as well as having an excellent recent track record of my buyer and investor clients getting contracts accepted and beating out the competition, has helped me develop some methods that I know work and will stack the deck in your favor.  While not all my suggestions are right for every situation, and a plan must be custom tailored to the specific buyer and transaction, here is a list of things that have worked when right for the given situation and client:

(We work hard on this and sure would appreciate a “Like”)[iframe 100 35 ]

Search St Louis Homes For Sale HERE
See ALL Homes That Will Be Open In St Louis This Weekend
5 Key Strategies To Assure A Quick Home Sale At The Maximum Price
Continue reading “How To Buy A Home In A Hot Market Like This One

St Louis County Residential Rental Property Licensing Ordinance Tramples Property Rights

A  residential rental property licensing ordinance has been proposed in St Louis County by Councilman Michael O’Mara which would  prohibit an owner of residential property in unincorporated St. Louis County from renting or leasing their property without first paying a fee and obtaining a residential rental license.   The bill, which has been kept relatively quiet and is impossible to find on the website for the St Louis County Council other than listed on the agenda, will most likely be passed at the meeting of the St Louis County Council tomorrow evening.

While there are several municipalities in the St Louis area that currently require some sort of licensing or registration of rental property, and the issue of whether that is an infringement of property rights or not, is a topic I’m not going to address today.  Instead, I will just focus on some of the things in this proposed legislation that I feel, in my humble opinion, are egregious violations of property owner’s private property rights.  The bill, a draft of which can be read here, is bad in many ways, however below are the parts that violate private property rights the most. followed by my comments on each section: 

(We work hard on this and sure would appreciate a “Like”)
Continue reading “St Louis County Residential Rental Property Licensing Ordinance Tramples Property Rights

Common Mistakes Made By St Louis For Sale By Owners (FSBO’s)

St Louis For Sale By Owners - St Louis REALTOROver the years I have seen many “St Louis For Sale By Owners” (FSBO’s), you know those people that decide they can sell their house themselves without the help of a professional, make a variety of mistakes in the way they handle the sale of their property.  The mistakes range from minor ones that will probably just cost them some heartburn to major mistakes that could lead to serious legal troubles.

What are the most common mistakes made by FSBO’s? Continue reading “Common Mistakes Made By St Louis For Sale By Owners (FSBO’s)

Housing Boom Era Home Buying Strategies Returning

st louis mortgage refinance

Tyler Frank,
Paramount Mortgage
NMLS ID 942420

Housing Boom Era Type Home Buying Tactics Reappearing in St Louis Real Estate Market

During the home buying frenzy of the housing boom, which peaked in 2006, it was common to see home buyers, in an effort to beat out other buyers fighting for the same home, include price escalation clauses in their offers and make “naked” (contingency-free) offers.  It was also common for a seller to purposely price their home low in an effort to rein in multiple buyers and pit them against each other in a bidding war.  We are now seeing this all again as buyers compete to buy homes from an inventory of homes for sale that has shank dramatically in the past year.

Continue reading “Housing Boom Era Home Buying Strategies Returning

What To Look Out For To Avoid A Dishonest Mover

avoid dishonest moverThe thrill of buying or selling a home can quickly come to an end when you have a bad moving experience or, worse yet, get ripped off by a dishonest moving company.  How do you avoid a dishonest mover?  The U.S. Department of Transportation has published 8 “red flags” to be on the lookout for to avoid getting ripped off:

RED FLAGSto be on the lookout for: Continue reading “What To Look Out For To Avoid A Dishonest Mover

Do You Need a Building Permit for That?

St Louis Home Inspectors Gerry LoeschWhen are building permits needed?
That is the $64,000 question. First it may be good to discuss the reason for building permits.  Building codes list their intent as “ to insure public safety, health and welfare insofar as they are affected by building construction,…..” The major reason for permits is to therefore, provide safe and sanitary buildings. We have all seen where “Tommy Homeowner” thinks he can do anything and in turn creates problems for himself and any future home owner that may occupy the premises. The building permit process allows the local authority to review what work is planned, check the work is in progress before all the changes are completed to be sure that safe, sanitary and proper procedures are performed in the building/remodeling process. The second reason, albeit less important, is that it allows the governing authority to adjust you property values to be current with the value including any improvements.

Continue reading “Do You Need a Building Permit for That?

Step by Step Process of Buying a Home; St Louis Mortgage Interest Rate Update

Get pre-qualified for a loan:  talk with your mortgage banker.

St Louis Home Inspector Shares Facts Home Buyers Need to know about Mold

A Nasty Mold Problem From One of Aaron’s Inspections

Most people today know enough about mold to know that it is a potential health problem. You may envision it as a serious respiratory health concern. This mysterious enigma does not wear a skull and crossbones, but some see it as a “deal killer” just the same. Today we’ll share some facts about dealing with potential mold problems in the middle of a real estate transaction.

Why is Mold a health concern?  Mold can trigger allergic reactions, asthma, and other respiratory issues. Some people are more sensitive to molds. For these people, exposure to molds can cause nasal stuffiness, eye irritation, wheezing, or skin irritation. Some people, such as those with serious allergies to molds, may have more severe reactions. Continue reading “St Louis Home Inspector Shares Facts Home Buyers Need to know about Mold

Should I use a lease option to sell my home?


Maybe you are a seller that has found yourself faced with the reality that you can’t sell your house or condo for a price today that will yield enough to pay off your loan, and you are not a candidate for, or don’t want to do, a short-sale?  Or, maybe you are a seller with a house or condo that, for one reason or another, there is very limited demand for and, in fact, it seems that perhaps no one wants to buy what you have to sell?   If so, you may want to consider using a lease option or a lease purchase to sell your home?  After-all, there is a large demand for lease-options and lease-purchases by buyers but, there are risks you should be aware of and a lease option or lease purchase is not a sure thing.

Before considering selling your home using a lease option or selling your home on a lease purchase you should consult your attorney for advice (remember, I’m not an attorney and this article is not legal advice) as well as your CPA or tax professional (nope, I’m not a CPA either) however, from a 30+ year active broker, and an investor that has done many lease-options, below is a basic explanation of a lease option and a lease purchase as well as some pros and cons of selling your home utilizing a lease option or lease purchase as I see it: Continue reading “Should I use a lease option to sell my home?

Watering your lawn could prevent a leaky basement

St Louis Home Inspectors Gerry LoeschAt present it looks as though 2012 may again be a year to remember for foundation issues. To date, this has been a very dry year. At present, St. Louis is somewhere around 5-6 inches behind in rainfall. You can see the cracks beginning to develop in the grounds. We have also been in the growth cycle for trees during this time and the growing season was advanced due to the unusually warm March.

Basements are also more prone to leakage should we have heavy rains during or following drought spells. Since the ground has cracked due to the drought these cracks create avenues for moisture to find its way to the foundation and into the basement.  Continue reading “Watering your lawn could prevent a leaky basement

Helpful Spring Maintenance Tips for Homeowners

Spring Maintenance
It is that time of year again. Here are a few things to remember:

  1. Clean debris from the gutters and downspouts. Re-establish good slope and secure anygutters that may have sagged from ice and snow. Caulk any joints that leak. The maincause of moisture in basements is poor drainage (e.g. gutter, downspout and surface water).
  2. Continue reading “Helpful Spring Maintenance Tips for Homeowners

Houses and the human body have a lot of similarities

Have you ever thought about the similarities between houses and the human body? For example as our bodies age, things are not quite as straight, square and firm as they once were in our younger years. At one time I had a 44 inch chest and now with age it seems that chest dimension is closer to my waist line. In most cases, this aging in homes translates into floors not being totally level and windows and doors being skewed slightly or not latching. While this may create slight operational issues these conditions are quite common in older homes, some more so than others depending on the age, floor plan, design etc. While one could, in theory go through and re-level the floors, in my opinion in most cases this would be an unnecessary expense and cause additional problems. Quite frankly many look at these conditions as part of the “character” and “charm” of an older home. Continue reading “Houses and the human body have a lot of similarities

Almost half of prospective home buyers unrealistic about home value appreciation

Dennis Norman, St Louis REALTOR - Home price appreciationYou would think after what we have seen happen in the housing market during the past 5 years, especially in the area of falling home prices, that home buyers today would not have lofty expectations about a home they buy appreciating, but apparently many do. According to a recent survey Zillow, 42 percent of prospective home buyers believe home prices typically appreciate by 7 percent a year. Continue reading “Almost half of prospective home buyers unrealistic about home value appreciation