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HEA-Wire Real Estate Update St Louis MO

Sandie Hea

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Displaying blog entries 1-10 of 77

SHUT OFF WATER BEFORE VACATION

by Sandie Hea

How many stories have you heard of a burst pipe and a flooded house when someone returned from vacation?  Every insurance adjuster has heard hundreds of these so before going on vacation, turn off the main valve.  In less than a minute, you can eliminate the most common cause of home damage. The main shutoff is typically in the basement.  If these haven't been "exercised" in awhile, you may encounter a few drips when you first turn it off.  Wait a few minutes to be sure the drips have stopped completely

2014 State of the Market and 2015 Predictions

by Sandie Hea

2014 State of the Market and 2015 Predictions

 

2014 was a good year for St Louis Metro area real estate.  Median price was up 5.8% in St Louis County during Q2-2014 (which is always the most active quarter with the highest median price) over Q2-2013.  St. Louis City saw an amazing 21.8% uptick in the same time period.  St. Charles County enjoyed a gain of 3.5% in sales price during Q2. 

Because of the downturn of 2008-2011, lenders weren’t lending so builders weren’t building and the choices were limited to resale homes, many of which didn’t sell due to negative equity. 2014 Existing Home Sales (resale) are still well below the numbers posted in 2005-2007 and New Construction Home Sales have just started their climb back up after being in the trough of 2012.

With new family formations increasing during the downturn, the demand for housing would eventually pick up, but the supply couldn’t keep up.  2014 saw many builders jump back into the market and as foreclosures and short sales dwindle, buyers are eager to find homes but disappointed with what’s available on the market in terms of resale homes.  There is currently LESS THAN 6 months inventory in these 3 counties, which means we are back to a Seller’s Market in most areas. 6 months is a Balanced Market.  Days on Market (the period from 1st day on market to pending offer) has decreased every year since 2011 to an average of 48 days in 2014.  I anticipate multiple-offers for the best homes on the market this Spring.  Do you know someone who’d like to be a seller with that “problem”?   

2014 Market Summary
Median Sales Price from 2012 to 2014
St. Louis City, St. Charles County,  St. Louis County
Single Family Homes only

 

                                                                   

We are still on the road to recovery according to the 2015 Housing Market Outlook nationwide.  Investors played a big role in the housing market in 2014 and continue to do so as they drive the market recovery with buying distressed property, renovating it and placing it back on the market at much higher prices, which is helping drive prices up.  32% of the single family and condo sales of 2014 were by Investors.  Conditions are pointing towards the trend continuing with increased mortgage rates, increased credit standards, increased home prices, greater rental options, higher student loan debt.  On the flip side, the desire to own a home in the age group of 18-34 has decreased, partially because of high student loan debt and because they want to be freed to secure a job around the country or work remotely from anywhere and not be tied down to a home.  With Millennial (ages 25-34) employment lagging behind, home ownership rates continue to fall to levels lower than in 2000.  First time homebuyers (ages 18-34) are largely absent from the recovery with only 13% of that age group purchasing a home in 2014.  Homeownership rates may continue to decline but as household formations increase, renting will be a very popular option. Home price appreciation will moderate significantly with growth being about 3-4% annually.  The lack of distressed inventory will actually slow down price increases.  We expect that most new home construction inventory will be at the high end of the market. 

If you’d like a FREE Automated Market Evaluation of your home INSTANTLY and with no obligation, go to www.StLouisHomeReport.com and plug in your address.  You will see a computer-generated value and the comparable sales around you.  Let me know if you think it’s on target and if not, I’d be happy to run one using a more detailed method. 

The Sandie Hea Team Community Moving Truck is available for your personal use as well as for your church, school, fundraiser, neighbor, family member, etc.

The highest compliment you can give me is to refer your friends, family members or co-workers who are interested in buying or selling a house (or rental property) this year.  I look forward to helping the people who are most important to you.

 

I buy houses for cash, any condition, no inspections, no repairs, no commission!

Do you know about the Middle-Class Stimulus Package?

by Sandie Hea

Do you still have an interest rate on a mortgage that is too high and not enough equity to refinance?   There’s a little-known government program called the Home Affordable Refinance Plan (HARP). This allows Americans to refinance their homes at low rates, and reduce their payments by an average of $4,100 a year.

But here's the catch -- like most government programs, this is likely temporary. Currently the program is set to expire on December 31, 2015. But the good news is, once you're in, you're in. If the thought of a lower payment or fewer years on your mortgage sounds appealing, the time to act is right now.

It's like a true middle-class stimulus package

This is unknown to many, but the Home Affordable Program is for the middle class. If your mortgage is $625,500 or less (unless you live in a high-cost area then the loan limits may be higher), you most likely qualify. Basically, the Government wants banks to cut your rates, which puts more money in your pocket (which is good for the economy). However, the banks aren't too happy about this - here's why:

 You can shop several lenders, not just your current mortgage holder.  Your home's Loan-to-value (LTV) can be 80% to 125%

You think banks like the above? Rest assured, they do not. They'd rather keep you at the higher rate you financed at years ago. That's why the pressure is on time-wise. The Middle Class seems to miss out on everything (did you ride the last stock bubble? Probably not). Thus, it's almost a no-brainer to jump on this now. You need to act fast in order to refinance your house at these current low refinance rates. You can greatly benefit:  The average monthly savings for most eligible Americans is $345. Can you use an extra $345 a month?

Many homeowners not only save every month, but depending on their current rates, they can also shorten their term.  Deferred payments - typically, one or two payments are skipped / deferred as well.  This is why it's a no-brainer - you will likely lower your payment, possibly shorten your term, AND can also get cash. This is how powerful that little word called "interest" is.

Please call me at 314-378-2387 for further information or for the name of a reputable, experienced loan officer. 

Just because the owner of the Cardinals can afford to pay $25 million a year to Adam Wainwright, does that mean they should have offered that?  The same holds true in purchasing a home.  If you show a pre-approval letter that is for full asking price or more, does that mean the house is worth it full asking price or more?  Does that mean the seller thinks his house is worth his asking price?  Of course not!  It just means you are very well qualified to make offers.  What you can afford to pay is irrelevant to the value of a house.  

Do yourself a huge favor and have your lender prepare the letter for the maximum amount you can borrow, even if you don't want to spend that much.  It shows a seller that you can afford other higher-priced homes and gives the seller peace of mind that you are not even the least bit "tight on margins".  

Here is a very typical scenario when I am the Listing Agent and a Buyer's Agent presents an offer to us let's say for 8% under our asking price:  The Pre-Approval letter is---surprise!---exactly the same amount as the offer!!  So what does the Seller think of that?  1) You are playing a game and pretending this is all you can afford or 2) You really can't afford their house so don't waste our time negotiating if you aren't even approved for the asking price.  

What ends up happening is we counter the offer asking buyer to produce a letter that is for asking price or more and all we get is another letter for the bumped-up new counteroffer.  The seller has no idea if the buyer can really afford his house even though the Buyers Agent may be saying, "they are approved for more".  Then great, just give us the correct letter to start with and let's save the back and forth counteroffers requesting a correct pre-approval amount.  

 

 

 

How to Make Your Zestimate on Zillow More Accurate

by Sandie Hea

Have you renovated your house lately? Added a bedroom, finished your basement or built a deck? If you have done anything like so to your house, you have likely increased the value. Zillow is a website where anyone can look up any house and get an estimate on how much it is worth; they call this a zestimate.  The zestimate of your house is calculated using public and user submitted data.  The key word from that sentence is USER. That is you! It is impossible for Zillow to be able to keep up with every renovation that takes place in every single house which is why they rely on users to submit information. If you are planning to sell your house, it is important that buyers know how much it is really worth. Millions of people have begun to use Zillow to look up houses before they check it out in person; so chances are, people have been looking at your house. If you have not updated your house on Zillow before, it is possible that the information on the site is not 100% accurate.

Here are the steps to follow in order to edit your information on Zillow:

  1. Go to www.zillow.com
  2. Click on the zestimate tab
  3. Type in your address
  4. When your home pops up, on the left of the right-hand window, there is a button that says “correct facts.” Click that button
  5. In order to verify you are the owner of the house, you must “claim your home.” In order to do this, select your name in the list of owners
  6. This will bring you into a window where you can update the information on your house
  7. Once you have edited the information, make sure you scroll to the bottom and click save

For additional help, go to: http://www.zillow.com/help/edit-your-home-details/

Now that you have updated your Zillow profile, you can view your house in a new window with the information that you just added. If you notice that your zestimate is still the same after you have saved, don't worry, it may still go up. Zillow updates zestimates about 3 times a week so you may not be able to see if your zestimate has changed immediately after saving your updates. If you check back in a day or two, you should be able to see the new value of your home. Happy Updating!

If you are looking for the TRUE market value of your house, because after all, a zestimate is simply an estimate, contact me at 314-378-2387.

Finding That One SPECIAL Buyer

by Sandie Hea
Occasionally, I have clients whose homes are shown again, and again, and again without an offer in sight.  They erroneously believe that they just haven't found that one special buyer.  Really?  Is that the one who lives under a rock?  The one who has no idea of market value and is willing to buy your overpriced home with the dated kitchen and bathrooms? 
 
Even when a buyer puts your house into their "top 3" favorites list, it means compared to what they have seen on the market so far, you rank pretty high.  But, why haven't they made an offer 5 days later?  Because they aren't IN LOVE with your house.  It's nice, and it's one of the better ones on the market, but the price and amenities didn't match well enough for them to snatch it up that day. 
 
Believe me, I completely understand how much money you have invested into your house.  Everyone has, you are not alone.  I hear that often.  NO ONE is getting what they paid for their house if they bought in the last 9-10 years.  Everyone sinks money into their house...everyone.  People love to spend money fixing up their house for 2 reasons:  1) They want a nicer place to enjoy and 2) they hope it will be worth more money when they sell.  Well, you have enjoyed a very nice comfortable home but you are not going to be able to recoup all the money you put into it, not even close.  No one is, I promise you.  I've been selling homes for 27 years and in the past 6 years everyone has lost money unless they bought in 2004 or earlier OR they dumped a ton of money into it. 
 
 

Should You Price Your Home Using Square Footage?

by Sandie Hea
Square footage pricing has long been overstated because it suggests that everyone used the same quality materials in their homes when they were built and that nothing has changed since then.  It may be okay when a home is brand new and all the homes in the subdivision are relatively similar tract-style housing, but even then you have some people that upgraded countertops, cabinets, flooring, lighting, crown molding, bath fixtures, etc. so you have to take those into consideration.  In one sense, it is useful for houses that are so unique for the marketplace because ultimately, a home with top quality finishes will sell for more per sq ft but a seller must not look at just that aspect of it in pricing their own home.   Remember, the infrastructure of a house  (the framing, bricks, concrete)  does not depreciate or deteriorate and the cost of materials goes up every year. But the appliances are another year older, the cabinets and countertops are another year closer to becoming passe.  And finally, land almost always appreciates.  Where you build/buy matters. 
 
I have several ways to arrive at a price range where I feel the seller will be successful.  There is no exact science to this.  I look at your home's performance in the market as if it were a share in a mutual fund....the "fund" being your neighborhood and the "share" being your home.  How did your mutual fund perform over the past xx years?   I also use the MLS Solds and speak to the listing and/or buyer's agents who sold those homes (if I didn't see the interior before it sold).  I'm listening/looking for the number of and quality of upgrades, how well the home was maintained (which you cannot tell from the photos), the seller's motivation, etc.  I look at the values that are on Realist tax records, I look at taxes for the seller's house compared to others, and finally I look at the inventory in the market and the proposed demand for houses like the subject.  I compare year over year figures of median and average prices in the zip code.  Finally, I look at the a seller's motivation for pricing it on the high end of the range because they have no pressure/deadline to be out and would like to "just try it at that price"  or at the low end because they just "want this to be over" because they have children and a dog and have to clean the house like crazy and leave every time there's a showing.
 
The best price to put on a house is the one that generates enough activity in the first 2 weeks to get offers.  The name of the game is to get showings and get offers.  You may elect to turn down every offer when they come in, but my job is to get you offers; otherwise, I've failed to price your home correctly and have done you a great disservice.  I like to use a fishing analogy:  We can have the best fishing boat, an excellent guide and all the latest equipment and we know the fish are hungry, but if our bait is too high, the lazy fish aren't going to swim up to our bait...they will wait until the bait gets lower to where they can see it and are tantalized enough to take a bite.  Once they are on the hook, it's my job to reel them into the boat for our successful catch.  I need for the bait to be at the point where they are biting.  If they aren't, then we keep lowering the bait until they bite, which would mean a written offer. 
 

Another Stunning 4 bedroom in St. Louis Hills

by Sandie Hea

Beautiful, pristine English-style 1.5 story in St. Louis Hills features lovely wood floors and original architectural features.   The large living room is highlighted by a gas fireplace and stained glass windows. Plenty of space for your largest dinner party in the separate dining room with both rooms accented by picture-frame molding on the walls and crown molding.  The eat-in kitchen features charming ice-box-style cabinetry with glass fronts and plenty of pantry space, all on a beautiful new floor and an adjoining knotty-pine 3-season room.    2 generous bedrooms with fabulous original stained woodwork and a beautiful full updated bath on the first floor. 

 

Upstairs find a flex room between the master bedroom and 4th  bedroom , both with cathedral ceiling, plus an updated full bath.  The dry basement has never been finished so you can start with a blank canvas and create additional living space.  Level fenced yard with 2 car garage, friendly neighbors on both sides, block parties & Halloween gatherings!  Walking distance to Francis Park in St. Louis Hills (with tennis, handball, baseball diamonds, playground, water garden, and an abundance of seasonal activities for residents), 7 churches, several schools & restaurants, shopping, and library.

Why Should I Clear the Clutter?

by Sandie Hea

One of the more tedious tasks of moving is the process of turning your HOME back into a HOUSE which can be marketed to a wider audience.   Remember, you are selling a commodity, not your lifestyle.  Many people are held captive by their belongings.  They stay in houses that are too big for them, carry too much insurance to protect their "things", clean, tend to and store these items, going so far as to rent a storage unit to hold all the stuff they can't part with.  Prisoners of stuff.  

I am still dismayed when I show a house that's for sale and the agent has not advised his client to remove the 8x10 photos of each child lining the stairway, or numerous picture frames covering a bookcase, mantle or table in every room!   Don't confuse photos with ART.  Photos of your loved ones and special memories are just those:  YOUR memories.  9 times out of 10 a buyer will leave a house like that and not remember what the house looked like because they were too busy checking out who lives here, or if they know anyone (this may be a St. Louis thing like the "where did you go to high school?").  Buyers want to picture themselves living in this house so the less it looks like "you" the better and the fewer distractions by personal items, the better.  

When it comes to children's bedrooms, less is more.  I know, you've probably been after your kids for years to clean up or pick up and now is the ideal time for them to take down all the posters, pack away all the trophies, pack away most of the stuffed animals and 70% of the books. Make a game of it, have a reward system, even a competition between siblings rooms.  It will be like Christmas when they unpack all of it at the new house!  Strive for "display home" show appeal. 

Just because an item doesn't take up much room doesn't mean it should stay.  Little things look like clutter in photographs.  If you look at well-decorated homes, they have large objects displayed on cocktail tables and mantles and on the dresser. 

In the kitchen, I suggest keeping countertops as cleared as possible.  Yes, your coffee maker can stay but put away the matching cannister set, the unruly set of kitchen gadgets shoved into a tubular container, and remove everything off a window sill. 

A bathroom should not speak about how many beauty products you use in a day.  Clean out that medicine cabinet, bathtub/shower and linen closet of all excess beauty and cleansing products.  Nothing should be displayed in a bathroom except towels and if you have the room, something pretty on the countertop. 

I've been successfully selling homes for 26+ years and getting phenomenal results for sellers.  It's all about first impressions.  Please contact me if you'd like to set up a meeting.  314-378-2387

 

 

 

A Tranquil Retreat in Shrewsbury, MO

by Sandie Hea

This stunning 2nd floor condo offers wonderful entertaining areas from the great room to the deck overlooking a lake with mature trees. Meticulously maintained and updated throughout with new carpeting, new hardwood floor, fresh paint, new bath fixtures and more. Step through the entry foyer & into the spacious great room w/ gas fireplace & colonial-style mantle and cathedral ceiling. Updated eat-in kitchen features plenty of cabinet & counter space,a pantry, tile floor, recessed lighting & newer appliances; natural light from sliding glass doors to covered deck for bbq & dining. Master suite features dbl closets, gorgeous newer full bath with whirlpool tub, double sinks w/granite & linen closet. 2 addtl bedrms share a main full bath. The utility room is large enough for storage & your side-by-side washer/dryer. Clubhouse, pool & tennis, plus 2 parks within 5 minutes, easy access to Hwy 44, and all kinds of shopping. Quiet dead-end street tucked away from any traffic noise.

 

Displaying blog entries 1-10 of 77