New Real Estate Search Engine

Searching for a home can be difficult.

st louis real estate

Visit 4SaleStLouis.com 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 Realtor.com which are really just advertising company sites anyway.
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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.

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.

Difference between Ads & Service

homes for sale in st louis moThe tech stock world is ablaze today with the initial stock offering (IPO) of the real estate website Zillow. Exceeding the pricing expectations anticipated, the investment world is watching.

First thing monday I missed a call from one of my pals at Zillow. Every other month or so, a sales person from Zillow contacts me about their latest “whiz bang” program for agents. As an agent, I see Zillow for what it really is; an ADVERTISING COMPANY!

There are lots of other advertising company’s out there…Trulia, HomeGain, and more. Then there’s the local paper & their websites. All funded and supported by ads.

While these can all be decent sites to check out, they have major limitation. The best source for information on the real estate market is still the MLS (multiple listing service). Instead of a cross section of homes, it has everything on the market. Instead of being updated daily, weekly or monthly; its updated in ‘real time’ and instead of homes that are “under contract” and just awaiting their closing date, the MLS updates those homes too.

The only seeming drawback of the MLS is that a person has to contact an industry professional to have access. Is that really a problem? No obligation or fees to have a professional with experience in finding, inspecting, insuring, buying, negotiating, writing contracts on homes, with a rolodex full of other resources. Not a bad deal!
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.

Buyer Beware!

buyers agent st louisHome buyers are often nervous.

They should be. There’s a lot of factors involved and often times an overwhelming amount of details to consider.

A good professional buyer’s agent with relevant experience can make a huge difference in the end result.

That begs a question: how much should a buyer pay for this service?

Historically, the buyer’s agent has been paid by the seller. Commission to sell the home covers the listing agent and the buyer’s agent, split based on the listing agreement and published in the MLS.

Some of the giant real estate corporations are starting to break away from what has been a successful system for Realtor compensation. These corporations, often housing less experienced agents, are charging fees to the buyer at closing.

Last month, I experienced this for the first time. An agent with absolutely no experience in the given market charged her buyer’s an extra $500 on top of the commission paid by the seller. What was most frustrating for our agents was that the buyer’s agent had to be ‘baby-sat’ throughout the entire transaction. We work with many agents that are astute and competent, seeing them charge extra wouldn’t be nearly as hard to swallow.

The interesting thing is that many prospective home buyers don’t even know how a buyer’s agent is compensated, so seeing the ‘big corporate bonus’ isn’t as much of a suprise as it is to the agents.

Big corporations are a relatively new phenomenon in the real estate world. These corporations are building themselves up by adding income streams to the traditional real estate model to add to their bottom lines. Charging large fees to new agents and selling signs and other materials for a profit are things that typically don’t happen with smaller “boutique” REALTORS.
Word to the buyer: stick with the tradition and look for an agent with plenty of experience in your market BEFORE you pay a fee!

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.

Great Reasons to Buy in the Fall Winter

Home for Sale in St Louis

Our First Home

Last week this article in the Wall Street Joural really caught my attention. “10 Reasons to Buy a Home” was a pretty good response to Time Magazines yellow journalism in last months article decrying home ownership. The Wall Street Journal article points out they had a very different tone when home prices were peaking back in 2005-6. What comes to mind is Warren Buffet’s statement “Be fearful when others are greedy and be greedy when others are fearful.” When everyone was ridiculously excited about real estate, we now know that it wasn’t the best time to buy. Now that prices are low and interest rates are extremely low and other buyers are hestitant, its a GREAT TIME to BUY. History constantly shows that many people won’t be excited until prices start climbing again, and by that time, the deals won’t be nearly as good as now.

My thoughts go to my first home buying experience. Not that we did everything right, but our apartment lease was coming due in 6 months and I was itching to buy a house. My new bride and I were at odds about location, but we both liked Kirkwood and Webster Groves area. I wanted to buy in the City, she wasn’t familiar enough. We looked and looked. One day my mother called and told me that we should look in the subdivision just north of hers in the City of Manchester. There were was a place selling in our range, we called our Realtor to take a look.

The house was in dire shape, but it was winter, and there weren’t many other buyers in the market. It was an estate home (owned by heirs of the prior owner) and they were getting desperate. We got an analysis of the neighborhood sales from our agent and discussed strategies on how to make an offer. We end up getting the home for a great price and had many happy years there.

Ever since then, I’ve experienced some really great reasons to buy a home during the off peak months of fall and winter. A few are listed below:

1. Seller’s are at a psychological disadvantage. Many sellers are anxious about the lower amount of traffic from summer. Offers are taken more seriously as there is less certainty that another offer will come along.

2. Realtors have more time. When I work with buyers in the fall and winter, most realtors have more time to spend because they aren’t working with as many other clients.

3. Prices have dropped on many of the homes that were listed in the spring and summer, sellers are more motivated.

4. Homes don’t show as well in bad weather and less tidy landscaping, and it gives buyers more leverage.

5. Buyer’s are less likely to encounter “multiple offers” which tilts negotiations in the sellers favor.

6. The average days on market is usually longer (fewer seller’s try to sell in the fall / winter) so the homes that are on the market have been ‘sitting’.

7. Other services, like mortgage brokers, inspectors and title companies aren’t as busy and have more time to work with a buyer’ schedule.

Buyer’s can have great experiences in their efforts all year long. If getting the most for your money and being able to thoroughly explore areas with the full assistance of a Realtor is important to you, then fall / winter buying might be the best alternative for you. Happy Home buying!

St Louis real estate is our specialty! Visit us online at 4SaleStLouis.comIf 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

Still Some Free Money (for Some)

home for sale in st louis moThe Missouri Housing Development Corporation (MHDC) has a tax credit that DIDN’T expire on April 30th and Funds are still plentiful! As reported in today’s Post Dispatch, the credit isn’t being used as much as expected. The credit is $1250 for the HOPE tax credit with an additional $500 for the HOPE Energy Credit, for a possible credit of $1750.

MHDC has been a source of assistance for home buyers for a long time (starting in about 1969). The type of assistance has varied. A few years back, they offered a program for first time home buyer downpayment assistance. This hears “HOPE Program” has taken the place of the down payment plans and has shifted the responsibility from the lenders directly to the home buyer or their accountants.

Information on the HOPE Program can be found online HERE. Anyone wanting to take advantage of this plan better hurry though. While it doesn’t expire on July 1st like the federal tax credit, this credit only applies for homes purchased before 8/31/ 2010 with the forms being due by September 30, 2010

Your First Reality Show!

first time home buyer on tvLast week a production assistant with the show “My First Place” called to let us know that the show is recording episodes this summer and fall in ST LOUIS! She found us online and wanted us to pick out some of our buyer’s to apply for the show.

For some, buying their first home is an exciting but very personal event. For many, a little attention doesn’t hurt.

What they are looking for is an energetic person or couple buying their first place to work with the show to produce a mini-documentary about the buying process. Its a really cool show, although it really tends to oversimplify the process. Not that its bad. Condensing the home buying process to 30 minutes-less commercial break time-just isn’t realistic. Some first time buyer’s look for months, then take another few months to get throught he rest of the process. Making it into a TV show requires a lot of editing.

Either way, if you’re considering buying your first home in St Louis Missouri and would like to be on the HGTV show “My First Place”, contact us online and we’ll get you all the details.

The process of finding a home for the first time can be a variety of different experiences combined into one. Having a good Realtor in St Louis to guide you through the process is what the show wants to capture. The interesting thing I’ve noticed since I’ve been in the real estate business is that people love to tell the stories about their home buying process. The thought of having a TV show made about your home buying process seems like the PERFECT closing gift to have after the fact to show friends and family and make the process easier and more fun!

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

Balancing Opinions

home buyer advice
Buying a home for just about everyone is a unique experience. Something that is done for most folks so rarely calls for some guidance and direction. Where do we get our direction? People seek different levels and types of direction when it comes to buying a home and as a real estate practitioner, its an interesting look at human behavior.

The Internet Crusader
If you’re reading this blog post, theres a chance that you have a bit of the internet crusader in you. In years of working in real estate, the internet continues to grow in its significance as a tool for the real estate consumer and within the industry. The interesting thing is that while there is a great deal of information online that is useful, there is also a great deal of misinformation and a great deal of information that is reliable in another state and city besides St. Louis Missouri. Laws and customs vary, so use the internet as a resource, but not as a guide.

The Jury Foreman
Many buyers like to talk with their friends and colleagues about what they are trying to do. You’re a jury foreman if you like to present scenarios to various individuals to see what they would do, then tally the results and make your decisions democratically. If that’s a basis for your decision making, it could help, but it could be trouble. Problems that sometimes occur to jury foreman is when the ‘members of the jury’ don’t know or care about the subject matter. Jury members can also get only a portion of the scenario, and miss a crucial element to the decision.

The Loyal Child–The Loyal Friend
To a large extent, its normal to be a loyal child or loyal friend. Most people have trusted advisors in their life that they include in big decisions. In any case, its interesting to observe the extent to which the “Trusted Parent” or “Trusted Advisor” feels comfortable in participating in this role. Some “trusted advisors” really have difficulty with the individual consulting with a professional such as a Realtor and others are the exact opposite, saying “I don’t know, what’s your Realtor think?” In any case, its good to have a Realtor that has enough humility and understanding to encourage participation in discussions and gently share experiences and ideas without turning an exciting process into a power struggle. One concern with the loyal child or loyal friend can occur because the real estate field is dynamic. Someone with a few experiences spread out over a few decades and possibly several different locations can be giving advice based on an entirely different market conditions or out of date factors.

The Groupie
In this day and age, “brand loyalty” can really be a refreshing break from the norm. The Groupie takes it to the next level. The groupie is someone with complete faith in a specific home builder or Realtor, who seems more concerned about pleasing their chosen professional rather than making the right decision. Some might think that this is the ideal situation for a Realtor. That’s probably not so, for just as the groupie would give lots of credit to their mentor, they are equally as quick in placing blame if things don’t go as well. As a Realtors, lots of people want our opinion about neighborhoods, school districts, and all sorts of other matters. We’re usually happy to share them too! As with all the other types of buyer’s, its important for the buyer to keep THEMSELVES and THEIR PRIORITIES front and center throughout the process.

The bottom line: when buying a home, the amount of advice and ideas on “how things are done” can be OVERWHELMING and not always reliable. Working through the process and sorting out different ideas is the most crucial element in making a sound decision. Having good professionals means the help that process, not hinder.

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