6 Tips to Avoid the Buying Frenzy

The spring selling season gets started in February, but the seller’s seem to lag behind.

As we start to see longer days and the world has accepted the results of the latest NFL season, the housing market starts to pick up. We see buyers getting caught up in the intensity, which rarely has a good ending. So we’ve included these tips to all buyers to avoid being overly rushed in the home-buying process.

While higher interest rates slowed things down in November, the market is showing signs of a strong market and its important to remember that home buying is a long term decision.

1. Begin with the end in mind

A good line from 7 Habits of Highly Effective People rings true here. Sometimes buyers get nervous too soon about finding a home by a certain date. They want to move by August, so they start getting anxious as the market picks up. We always help buyers count backward from their move date: Closing –> Contract Period –> Offer Period. Typically contract periods are 30-45 days. Getting overly anxious early in the process can force bad decisions, higher offers, and undue stress. Some buyers have no reason whatsoever to be in a rush. They’re in a month-to-month lease, or living with family / friends. While it would be nice to find something fast, jumping into the market and competing in the frenzy is costly.

2. Flexible Closings

One of the most common things buyers tell me is when their lease is up. As a landlord for 20 years and a Realtor for almost that long, I’ve seen many situations where a tenant approaches the landlord at the beginning of the process and asks for a flexible lease termination or month-to-month option. Most landlords like the advanced notice and are cooperative. Some may ask for more rent, but that’s not nearly as common.

Along the same lines, people moving from out of town usually feel the pinch of having to buy fast. Consider short-term furnished rentals and mobile storage options to give yourself some breathing room. Home buying selection is crucial. Rushing can be bad.

3. Broaden Price Criteria

Another regular occurrence is when buyers change their criteria in the middle of the search. This can be bad in many respects. Usually its based on price. Going into the process extra conservatively is fine, but don’t limit the price conservatively on your home search! More commonly than not, buyers try to thread the needle by wanting the perfect home for the perfect price. Be realistic! While a good Realtor should never encourage a buyer to spend more than they should, we find buyers REAL price range after a few trips out. If the buyer passes on listings for the first few months because of restrictive standards, then changes midstream, they might miss out on the best opportunities.

4. Broaden Search Details

Buyers typically start out pickier. The process of aligning realistically with the market we call, “getting into the saddle.” The problem with being extra picky, like being too conservative, is complex. Getting too picky when looking online or being to restrictive in search criteria can cause problems.

One of our goals is to always have the home looking fantastic, both with staging / and furnishing, along with great professional photographs. Not all Realtors do. Excluding a home because of bad photos is missing the point. Not being flexible in location and features really is costly in our current state of low housing inventory. When buyers tell us their goals, in many cases, we already know they’ll need to be more flexible. Keep an open mind!

5. Realize the Fluidity of the Market

The market is fluid, not linear. The market is ever-changing. We can’t predict how it will be, but one common trend is that the springtime (starting in middle of winter) is busy. As we hit summer, people often times slow down the search, and maybe postpone it until fall. There’s picnics, vacations, weddings and float trips; a lot of distractions from house hunting. This might be a time to seize the opportunity. Another aspect of market fluidity is Days on Market (CDOM). People are crazed to find the amazing home that was just listed, while homes that may have been overlooked are still available. Homes that are “back on market” are also great opportunities. Though the contract may fall through due to home problems or inflexible sellers, a lot of time there’s nothing wrong except the buyer may have rushed into things and changed their mind.

be fearful when others are greedy, and greedy when others are fearful.”

Warren Buffet

6. Don’t Fall in Love before the First Date!

Homes are homes. We’ve seen buyers fall in love with a house or condo, only to find something better down the road. Keep your emotions in check when looking and be open to the possibility that there are other options that may be just around the corner.

Hiring a good, experienced Realtor with an equally good team of support professionals goes a long way towards a smooth and favorable buying experience. Ask questions and decide for yourself, but allow them to share experience and ideas that have accumulated over the years. It always pays off!

St Louis real estate is our specialty! 
If you want to net the best value when you buy, anywhere in the St Louis, MO area, call us for a no obligation assessment! We work throughout the metro area, especially in Sunset Hills
Crestwood,  St Louis CitySt Louis CountyBallwinChesterfieldKirkwoodWebster GrovesSt Charles,or one of the other areas we serve, simply click the “How-To Find my buyers agent” link at the top or bottom of this page to begin the selling process nowBuying and selling, check out our home seller blog or home selling page!

Finding a Home near a STL Trail!

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Section of Trail near Creve Coeur Lake Park

In finding a place to live, there are many different things to consider. Schools, styles, lot sizes, and proximity to work being some of the biggies.

One thing that is being considered more and more is finding a home nearby recreational trails for bicycling, inline skating and walking.

Living and working nearby local trails and bicycle lanes promotes fitness, safety, environementally clean transportation and entertainment, as well as stimulates the economy of the area by attracting visitors and business to local restaurants, hotels and shops. Lastly, proximity to trails adds to the value of homes in the communities adjacent to the trails.

While trails have been in various stages of development for years, 2020 Trail construction and trail usage seem to have ‘turned the corner’ coincidentally, and due to the Coronavirus pandemic. Bicycle shops and inline skates have had a huge increase in use, and those who previously turned to other modes of fitness have spent time outside on local trails.

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Development of Trail Network Benefits Everyone!

Aside from helping St. Louis home buyer’s to find homes near trails, its important to help people throughout the area where trails are located and to keep people informed about opportunities to participate into the development of local trails and greenways. Without knowledge of these projects, area businesses and residents won’t understand the impact they can have on trails, and trails have on them.

St. Louis Trails and Homes Nearby

Click the link above to home searches near all the greenways below.

Grant’s Trail (Gravois Greenway)

Creve Coeur Lake / Page Extension Trails

Sunset Greenway Trail

River Des Peres Greenway Trail

Centennial Greenway Trail

Mississippi Greenway

North Riverfront Trail / Jefferson Barracks

Meramec Greenway

Flat Creek Trail / Route 66 Trail / Unger-Fenton-Winter Park

Deer Creek Greenway Trail

Monarch Levee Greenway Trail (Missouri River Greenway)

Katy Trail Greenway (Missouri River Greenway)

….. more coming soon!

7 Tips for Buyer’s in a Shifting Market

home buying tipsMarkets in transition are an interesting thing to deal with in real estate.  When markets shift, the rules change.  What was gospel last month is all of the sudden thrown out and new practices have to be used.

The new market is competitive and swift.  The “right” properties are out there, but only stay on the market for hours in some cases.  Check out this list and your chances for landing the perfect house will be much improved.


Real estate is a business where on the job training reigns supreme.  The only way to get that training is to be active in the current market.

2.  Work with Agents that have PAPERLESS CAPABILITY.

To beat out other buyer’s with similar desires, having an agent that can put together an offer on a tablet, get your signature, then email the offer can make the difference between getting the right house, or the runner up.

3.  Get pre-approved in advance and have a digitized copy available.

This has been an old rule for many years, but during the housing slump, it became less important.  New urgency requires the need to impress that seller once again.

4.  Know where you stand financially

Aside from getting a pre-approval, lots of buyer’s seem to be confused about what is a comfortable payment for them due to all the other bills and expenses they have.   Despite having gotten a pre-approval and working with a lender, they sometimes hesitate due to lack of awareness of things like when their lease ends, and what their home will cost with taxes and home owners insurance added.

5.  Make a ‘Community Wish List’

Most buyers have wish lists for home features, but often times looking at the type of neighborhood isn’t something that’s explored as much.  Giving your Realtor general ideas about the type of community you want to reside in can go a long way in helping find perspective homes.  It can also help to narrow down listings or decide between homes.


Most of your contract contingencies are based on the execution date of the contract and the first one is generally the inspection contingency.  In years past, getting an inspector in a few days wasn’t a problem, but in this market, inspectors are swamped.  Call them the minute you’re aware you’re contract has been accepted and get a list of good inspectors from your Realtor.

7.  Once you’ve found the right place, DON’T HESITATE!

This is a good rule any time, but particularly now when buyer’s are finding themselves in competition  more frequently.  Sometimes pausing seems like the right thing to do, but if you’ve done your home work and have used the information to make the best decision, waiting only increases the chances of loosing out.  Remember, “he who hesitates is lost!”

St Louis real estate is our specialty! If you’re looking for real estate anywhere in the St Louis, MO area, including St Louis City, St Louis County, St Charles, Ballwin, Chesterfield, Kirkwood,Webster Groves, or one of the other areas we serve, simply click the “Search St Louis Real Estate” link at the top or bottom of this page to begin your home search now.  Follow Chris Grus @

Big Sales, Little Inventory


Fast pace sales in the fall St Louis real estate market is beginning to lead to a “luxury problem” for home buyers:  lack of inventory.

Obviously this is going to vary based on what market and how narrow a buyer’s search criteria is.

Good buyer’s agents work hard in times like this to poll other local agents to find prospective listings for buyer’s to view, since good agents know about their ‘pipeline’ of listings months in advance.    Viewings can be arranged in advance of the home going on the market, and the buyer can take advantage of additional variety to choose from.  The downside to this type of prospecting is that homes “pre-listing” periods often times catch the seller when they may have less realistic pricing.  The lack of inventory gives them a sense of confidence that may not be respected by an appraiser weeks later.  Another option is to look through the expired listings.  Homes that were listed earlier in the year are often just waiting for the chance to sell.  Reaching out to them can produce a prospective home for a buyer and having already been listed unsuccessfuly, the seller may be ready to deal.

What’s a buyer to do?

Good professional consultation about the market is important.  An opinion is one of the easiest things to get:  Mom and Dad, bus drivers, homeless people, cashiers and undertakers all have opinions on what home buyer should do.  Home buyer’s should be careful that the opinion being offered is an informed, relevant, and timely idea from a local professional that is actively working in the local market a buyer wants, presently.

Lastly, a good general suggestion is to have patience.  Obviously convenience and timing are important for making transitions smooth, but buying the right home is something that a buyer will enjoy the most ESPECIALLY when its time to sell.  There are some situations where now means now, but often times the hard and fast deadline for home buyer’s is something that isn’t as hard and fast as it is presented.  Landlords will often extend leases, and temporary housing is available when the right home just isn’t there.


St Louis real estate is our specialty! If you’re looking for real estate anywhere in the St Louis, MO area, including St Louis CitySt Louis CountySt CharlesBallwinChesterfieldKirkwood,Webster Groves, or one of the other areas we serve, simply click the “Search St Louis Real Estate” link at the top or bottom of this page to begin your home search now.

St Louis Real Estate Wiki

Home buyers in St Louis looking for their questions about home buying can now look to a new resource specific to the St Louis area, the new St Louis real estate wiki.

If I was a non-real estate or legal professional, I would ask, “why does it matter? Why do we need a real estate wiki specific to St Louis?”

As real estate professionals, we’ve seen for years where information on some of the nationally known websites, newspapers and television shows describe the real estate transaction or process of buying a home that is specific to the state they are covering. Typically there’s no disclaimer saying that, but ‘all real estate is local.’ Real estate is governed by local laws, which is shaped and influenced by local customs.

One example is the sale contract. Sales contracts must be legally appropriate in the state that they are used. Going one step further, some states, like Missouri, have different local associations that provide contracts and forms that are used solely in their local area. In St Louis, Realtors mostly use contracts from the St Louis Association of Realtors, and can also use contracts provided by the Missouri Association of Realtors. Other items are laws that vary from state to state. When the general public wants information about real estate, often times they get information that isn’t accurate for the state in which they live or are buying property. This may cause confusion and problems with transactions based on relying on inaccurate information.

Another item is the difference in local market conditions and practices.

After a few years in the business, it started to register with us that some seller clients would comment about not receiving offers after open houses.  It didn’t register immediately, but one day when watching a show about amateur home remodelers, it dawned on me that seller’s view shows like that as real estate resources.  On that show, they typically show the remodeling process all the way up to the seller’s first open house.  After that, they interview the seller, which almost always refers to the offers they’ve received.   As viewers, we can only assume that the offers are received at the open house.  In reality, that probably doesn’t happen, but in areas where the home supply is much lower (like California) it may be more common.  In St Louis, most open house attendees aren’t in the market to buy a home within the next 60 days, and some are waiting more than a year.  This underscores why having a local real estate resource is desperately needed.


Preferred Lender Myths

Home Mortgage ProcessOne of the most common confusing things about buying a home is the home mortgage.

Most Realtors that work daily in the business have great lenders that they refer out.  Clients often perceive that this is because of some kickback or benefit that the lender gives out.  In reality, this is more because the headaches Realtors get from incompetent lenders and the errors they make that cost clients the homes they want.

When the Realtor refers out a a “preferred lender”, 2 things happen.  First, a lender with whom they have experience throughout an entire transaction is working on the deal.  Secondly, the client has more leverage to make sure things happen as they need to.  This is because if the lender screws up, they could lose more than just one deal,  they could potentially lose the referral stream from an agent which could cost them thousands of dollars per year.

RULE NUMBER 1:  Buyer’s should try to use the lenders referred by their agents!

St Louis real estate is our specialty! If you’re looking for real estate anywhere in the St Louis, MO area, including St Louis City, St Louis County, St Charles, Ballwin, Chesterfield, Kirkwood, Webster Groves, or one of the other areas we serve, simply click the “Search St Louis Real Estate” link at the top or bottom of this page to begin your home search now.

Ten Commandments for St Louis Home Buyers

10 Commandments for St Louis home buyersIn our world, characterized by instant gratification, many home buyers have difficulty understanding that there are several processes involved in home buying.

Looking is an exception. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that the selection process sometimes takes time. I will admit though, I’ve had buyer’s apologize to me for what they perceive as taking “too long” to find the right home. It takes what it takes.

The process of making sure the title is clear can cause confusion, but the biggest surprise to many home buyers is the fact that there’s a process to getting a home loan. Often times buyer’s think that giving a lender a few bits of information and a quick credit check (pre-approval) is all that’s required.

The process isn’t excruciating for most people, but it does take some time for the bank to review the buyer and the property and to do everything feasible to minimize the chance of loaning to a buyer that will default. Big changes in your “profile” during the review process can mean the difference between being able to buy or not.

The list below is a great list of the “do’s” and “do not’s” for buyer’s as they go through the process. This is really the domain of a good lender, but most REALTORS have experiences where something went awry as the deal was supposed to close due to actions taken by the buyer between pre-approval and closing. Its good information for any buyer getting ready to take the plunge.

1. Thou shall postpone any career moves until after your closing.
If at all possible, try not to make a career move during the time between your mortgage application and the closing on the home you
are purchasing. One of the factors mortgage companies consider is the length of the present employment; they are partial to stability.
2. Thou shalt not apply for new credit.
Why not? Because applying for new credit changes what is called “debt-to-income ratios” (the relationship of your income to your
debt). This could impact your ability to qualify for your mortgage loan and may initiate a new round of paperwork.
3. Thou shalt not incur new debt such as purchasing or leasing a new vehicle.
This should go under the general heading of “no new debt.” As with any debt, this will change your “debt-to-income ratios” and may
cause you not to qualify for your mortgage.
4. Tholl shalt not charge up your credit card balances.
5. Thou shalt not make a venJ large deposit or withdrawal from your bank account.
6. Thou shalt not change your mind after locking a rate.

7. Thou shalt not co-sign for someone else’s loan.
8. Thou shalt not spend your down payment money.
9. Keep holy thy closing date and paperwork.

Please try to schedule vacations for AFTER your closing date. If you’ve started packing for a move, remember to keep out any bank
statements, tax returns, or other important paperwork.
10. Thou shalt not file for divorce prior to closing.
Filing for divorce affects your marital status in a court of law; this change of status may sometimes complicate the process when
paperwork is being finalized.

St Louis real estate is our specialty! If you’re looking for real estate anywhere in the St Louis, MO area, including St Louis City, St Louis County, St Charles, Ballwin, Chesterfield, Kirkwood, Webster Groves, or one of the other areas we serve, simply click the “Search St Louis Real Estate” link at the top or bottom of this page to begin your home search now.

Word to the Wise: PRIORITIZE!

St Louis home buyingIn working with St Louis home buyers, there are lots of variations. Some buyers know exactly what they want, what they can pay, and where to look; they just need a REALTOR to make the connection. Other buyers in St Louis are really clueless. They have no idea what they want or where to look. They want a REALTOR to tell them where to go and what to do throughout the entire home buying process.

Question: which is better off?

Answer: Neither

Some would say that home buyer #1 is in better shape. They’ve done their homework, they are confident, they have a plan.

The problem with this type of buyer in many cases is that they make their plan BEFORE they have the benefit of working with a professional. Sometimes this type of buyer has begun the process of narrowing down their search and has ruled out homes or areas based on the direction of misinformation or the opinions or wishes of others.

Home buyer #2, some would argue, shouldn’t even buy a home. They need to know what they want before they start working with a REALTOR. This may be true in some cases. Often times this type of buyer allows a professional to get involved to assist them through the ENTIRE process, not just the final act. Often times a REALTOR can help a home buyer do a better job of considering all possibilities then methodically narrowing down the search based on realistic factors.

In ALL cases, there’s no “1 right way” to buy a home. Factors vary for everyone. The point is, that either too much preparation, or too little preparation can put a home buyer in a position where they aren’t allowing their real estate professional to help them or putting too much in their hands.

Buyer’s best bet is to take the time to make out a list of priorities about what they want in a residence. Proximity to work, proximity to family or friends, price range, type of community, type of home, and realistic idea of the duration of the residency should all be considered. Nothing is more disappointing to buyer’s agents as a call from a home buyer shortly after a purchase when they are disappointed in where or what they’ve purchased. Also a drag is when a buyer finds themselves wanting or needing to move because certain factors weren’t considered prior to the purchase.

Home buying is a PERSONAL decision, so allowing anyone to have too much influence in the factors that are personal can lead to frustration. That’s why taking a few minutes to list priorities BEFORE friends, family and strangers start the process of unsolicited counseling.

Once home buyers have that list, a REALTOR should be consulted. Often times a good buyer’s agent might think of possibilities that a home buyer may not consider just based on information on the list.

St Louis home buying is exciting! Finding a place can be exhilarating and a fantastic investment. Something to really be proud of! The right amount of preparation in advance can make a wonderful impact on the whole process.

St Louis real estate is our specialty! If you’re looking for real estate anywhere in the St Louis, MO area, including St Louis City, St Louis County, St Charles, Ballwin, Chesterfield, Kirkwood, Webster Groves, or one of the other areas we serve, simply click the “Search St Louis Real Estate” link at the top or bottom of this page to begin your home search now.