New Year Message to 2018 Home Buyers

New Year home buying

New Years Day has always been an interesting holiday, inherently spent reflecting on my plans, goals and aspirations for the coming year.   This years freeze outside has us inside watching “Texas Flip and Move” on the DIY network.   Watching various groups of low budget, virtually no profit developers go about planning rennovation projects of homes that have to be moved with virtually no professional assistance makes me cringe inside.  After weeks of work, profits are small.   It got me thinking about the home buying process for our normal, non-televised buyers, and what we as Realtors bring to the table.

Surveys from the National Association of Realtors tell us that the buyer perspective is that the number 1 thing buyer’s agents do is find the house.   Obviously finding the right house is important, and Realtors have tremendous resources and opportunities to find homes, but the truth is that finding the house is almost always a team effort.   The role the agent has in the process does vary depending upon how involved the buyer’s want to be, and how much they want their agent involved.   Some buyer’s, despite having help from their buyer’s agent, don’t even look at searches from the agent, but rely on mobile apps or advertising sites like, Zillow and even other agents websites.  The problem with buyer’s doing more leg-work, is that, more often than not, they find homes that are already sold, aren’t for sale, or don’t even meet their own criteria.  On many occasions, a passionate, and even ANGRY client emails me asking, “WHY HASN’T THIS HOME COME UP ON MY SEARCH ?” (from the MLS).   It takes a minute, but with one exception, it is always because the home was excluded because of the limitations the buyer’s have given me, or the home is no longer available.   One time the home was sold 5 years earlier!   After hundreds of experiences and many years in the business, there’s no shortage of stories.  With home buying and selling being such an emotional process, its alway serious business, but in retrospect can be funny too.

No transaction is ever the same, and some buyer’s need support in areas that don’t even exist with other transactions.  From my experience, I say the number 1 thing that we do to help buyer’s is ESTABLISHING A STRATEGY.   To me, this outranks several other super important things we do, like NEGOTIATIONS, house finding, etc. because meeting with a buyer’s agent before the home search process begins and establishing a well thought out BUYING STRATEGY helps the licensed professional to factor in the importance of every facet of the home buying process.   Often times, in establishing a strategy, the agent discovers some of the ideas the buyer may have that are absolutely unrealistic.  Achieving a buyer’s ideals sounds super duper important.   It is, but if they want a condominium in a city where condominiums don’t exist, or they want to build new construction, but don’t have a down-payment, they could be setting themselves up for misery down the road.

So STRATEGIZE.  That’s the deal.  What better time to talk STRATEGY than New Years Day.   

If you know a person interested in starting the buying process, most likely their idea may be to wait until spring time.    Their ideal could be to wait to contact an agent (or not contact an agent at all) until they see the PERFECT HOME at an open house.   To me, this is like showing up at a gun fight -thinking that you’ll have time to shop for a gun.   We experience this all the time.   In today’s market, that’s usually a non-starter.   When we list a property, we first let all our buyers know about it, then post it on agent only “coming soon” sites, then calling or texting our colleagues to let them know what it is and when its coming.  This is the new normal.  During the spring and summer months, we sometimes have multiple buyers lined up before the ink is dry, so at the first open house, we have buyers and agents circling like hungry sharks.   When the unrepresented buyer shows up at the end of the day starting to sheepishly ask questions, it may already be sold.

The point is that if you’re like me, and you’re sitting unprepared home buyer around reflecting on what 2018 brings, and you HAPPEN TO BE considering a home purchase, MAKE THE CALL THIS WEEK!   It doesn’t hurt anyone to plan ahead.  Share you’re ideas with an agent 3-6 months before the search to take advantage of the experience of your soon to be agent and work out a strategy that works in the world that you are buying in.  Sign an exclusive buyer’s agency agreement, so that you’re on the ‘radar’ of a real estate professional when they start hearing about homes that match your ‘perfect home’.    Interestingly, since we’ve been in the business, buyers strategies have changed many times. The market your friend, pastor, personal trainer, psychic, or parents bought in may be TOTALLY DIFFERENT than today’s market, so the strategy they give you might suck.   Don’t make the last one to find out your game plan be your Realtor!

Downpayment Assistance for St. Louis City Buyer’s


The HomeLift Program funded by Wells Fargo had 23 available downpayment assistance grants open up today and will be gone soon!   If you’re buying a home in St Louis City, take this quiz to see if you qualify!

We have the list of lenders that may be used, since the program itself is a consequence of improper lending actions, the loans don’t have to be originated by Wells Fargo.  Click here for our lenders

March 20 – Match Day for Medical Residents!

Today may be the biggest single day that hundreds of people find out at the same time that they will be living in St. Louis for the next 3-6 years.  Almost like the military giving orders or the NFL draft, new MD’s pick their favorite residency programs and locations, and likewise, the residency programs at SLU, WASH U, St. Lukes, MERCYresidency relocation to St. Louis and St. Mary’s pick their favorites.  The matching service does the rest.

This organized chaos is something we’ve helped medical residents and fellows with for several years.

Truly, a home buying process for a medical resident is nothing like the traditional home buying process.  Without a buyer’s agent that has a unique understanding of the needs fo an incoming resident, there could be problems.

Last week I showed a home in West County.  I was told by the agent that the owner was a physician that had to sell because he had purchased too far away from the hospital.  Another physician we assisted in the selling process had a buyer’s agent that put him in a community he never liked at a price he would never be able to resell in.  Lots of problems can arise if the process isn’t handled correctly.  Knowing the unique criteria and timelines that residents have, along with their special financing requirements is crucial.

We started a section on our website especially for medical residents to help them avoid the pitfalls of home buying that can take place due to their difficult and fast paced process of relocation.  Visit it or pass it on to a medical resident!

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.


New Real Estate Search Engine

Searching for a home can be difficult.

st louis real estate

Visit and search for homes like an agent!

Talking to buyers almost every day, the one thing that is most common is confusion and stress.   That’s where a good buyer’s agent comes in handy;  to simplify the process.

But aside from what a St Louis buyer’s agent can do for you, finding a great real estate home search website is a great way to kick back and begin to take baby steps towards buying a home.

The best site for St Louis real estate searches has recently gone through a complete upgrade to serve the home buyers and sellers in St Louis.  The site has hundreds of pre-built searches from buying foreclosures, buying short sales, homes in the City, Homes in the St Louis County, and Homes in St Charles, Downtown Lofts, Ladue Luxury Homes and everything in between.  You name it, and we probably have that search already set up.  If not, there’s a very nice  and simple custom search portal that will give buyer’s updated listings wherever you want to search within the St Louis Missouri area.

Visit the new and improved listing site,  fewer ads and more functional than Zillow, Trulia and even which are really just advertising company sites anyway.

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.

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.

Buying Process Simplified

st louis homes for sale

Buying a Home can be a Great Adventure

Working with first-time home buyers is always exciting. Doing anything for the first time, most people want to understand the whole process before taking the first step. In real estate buying, that’s like taking a drink off a fire hose. The reasoning is simple—there are too many different types of home buying situations, and many different ways to buy.

1. The first step is finding a good buyer’s agent. This isn’t required to buy a home, but working with a professional with experience in all facets of home buying makes the process easier and generally tips the value scale in the buyer’s favor. Your Realtor can generally provide you with the BEST resources for home loans and obtaining a pre-approval letter.

2. Explore. After discussing the ideal home with your agent, you should be looking at properties online and getting out to see the ones you like.

3. Investigation. When real possibilities pop up, its time to research. Learning as much as possible about the home, its neighborhood, and how it would “fit” your life is important!

4. MAKE OFFER! Making an offer is usually done by writing up a Residential Sale Contract that details the entire process of buying along with all the pertinent details. Price, EARNEST MONEY, Closing Date, and timelines for INSPECTIONS and TITLE WORK are written into the offer.

5. NEGOTIATIONS. Every single detail that was put into the contract is open to negotiations. Usually price, closing date, and closing costs are the key items under contention.

6. UNDER CONTRACT!!! Once the buyer and seller have agreed to terms, the home is under contract. The remainder of the buying process should be outlined in the contract. An experienced agent will usually keep track of timelines and make sure the lenders, inspectors, title agencies, the seller and you, the buyer are doing everything necessary to ensure your agreement is properly executed. While contracts vary, the normal periods are listed below:

Moving to St Louis?

Nothing like moving into YOUR OWN home!


7. CLOSING DATE. The exchange of money from the buyer (and or lender) for the DEED to the home is called CLOSING. Unlike buying a car or other personal property, the closing isn’t instantaneous. In St Louis, most closings occur at title company offices. The buyer usually comes in to sign loan documents, the HUD1 STATEMENT, and other documents to transfer ownership. The Seller comes in after the buyer is finished to finalize. Sometimes the transaction is not completed until the buyer’s bank transfers the money or the deed is sent. Sometimes closings take more than a day to complete.

Once your Realtor hands you the keys, the buying process is over—just in time for the MOVING PROCESS!

Buyer’s Envy!

home buyer envy

Buyer's Today are to be ENVIED

As I was reflecting on my own buying journey I have to say I was envious for a moment of the position the current buyer is in. I go in and out of amazing deals on a daily basis and always think if only I were in the market to purchase! Currently we have 2 four families, a commercial store front w/ an apartment, a loft downtown, and our own personal home. With all that accumulation we never had any of the incentives offered now. My incentive at the time was to purchase and watch my money grow. Interest rates were at 7%, properties were at a premium, and the buyers & investors were coming out of the wood work! Today we have untouchable 30 year fixed interest rates, Amazing Deals that have instant equity, & for first time homebuyer’s & seller’s additional bonus of $6500-$8000 from the government just for the shear action of purchasing! I don’t know about you but it is hard to save up $6500-$8000 and in this situation it is just another added bonus to buying! I think this time will be historically one of the best buying climates we will see. I believe most buyers, such as one of my current clients who purchased a home in Ballwin, MO for 130,000+ LESS than what the current owner purchased it for, are amazingly positioned well in their real-estate investment! I don’t believe the government will be extending the tax credit that is up May 1st & I think we will see an increase in the interest rates so if I have any advice is now is the time! Buy!

Celebrate Superbowl

Reading from posts from my Active Rain friends about what they are doing today has helped me put some perspective on my life and purpose on earth today. Superbowl marks a key Real Estate date

Today I’m having a Superbowl Party. It’s a workday, of course, but around 4pm, I’m winding down and having some friends over to eat, socialize, play games, and watch the Colts dismantle the Saints.

Its a celebration, really, no matter who wins.

People ask me all the time, some version of this question, “What’s the best time to sell my house?”

I always feel like a politician when I answer, because I usually end up saying there is no best time. While the largest volume of sales usually takes place in the spring, if I put my house on the market, and 10 of my neighbors do the same, its probably not the best time. Part of what keeps Realtors in business, is that home selling is not simple, and developing a strategy to sell is usually more involved than just picking a time. We work hard all year round.

Given the above, Super Sunday is a day that has been unofficially thrown around for years as being the beginning of the Spring Selling Season. Its a time when people change focus on one of the bigger priorities in life……football….. and return their focus to other matters. Its a time to look out into the yard and develop a list of things to do in the yard to establish a punch list for maximum curb appeal. Things inside that I’ve noticed, but been too busy with Holidays, Kids, and Championship Games. Its a time to look ahead to spring.

So today when I’m partying with my friends and enjoying the game, a part of me will be celebrating the start of sales season with excitement for 2010.

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