Monday, March 31, 2008

Buyer Incentives in St. Charles

To the anonymous poster who asked about buyer incentives in St. Charles: The answer is yes - there are incentives to first time buyers. St. Charles County offers first time homebuyers up to $10,000 in grant money for down payment and/or closing costs. Of course, there are maximum income limitations per household. If you'd like to talk to my preferred lending partner, they can tell you if you would qualify through a pre-approval process. Feel free to contact me to find out!

Saturday, March 29, 2008


Another of the questions in response to my post was from Teresa, who asked if adding a fence would aid in resale vaule of her home. In a word, yes. You see value a couple different ways. First, in terms of hard numbers, you will gain back about 80 to 85% of your investment. Second, a potential Buyer can see two houses - one with a fence, and one without. Nine out of ten Buyers will see the house without the fence as the house that needs a fence, and adds it to his list of cons for that house. Third, anyone with a dog generally wants a fence.

Adding a fence frames your property nicely, and lends to the curb appeal - which is vital, because if you are selling your house, you have to get them in the house first! I have many clients who will pull up to a house and not even go in because the outside lacks curb appeal.

The first thing I did when we moved into our new house? I added a fence. And, the single most important thing about a fence - if it's wood - stain it each of the first two years, and every other year after. I'm astonished by the amount of people that invest a nice chunk of change in a cedar fence, only to never stain it, and let it gray, and rot.

Adding value through remodeling

Blog reader Yara asked a great question - how much value do you add to your house, through certain remodeling projects. Unfortunately, there isn't a correct answer to this. If you put 10 real estate agents, and 10 appraisers in the same house, chances are that all of them will give you a different value.

I think it is extremely important to define value though. Pricing a home or determining the value of a home is always a source of disagreement and tension. The number one thing to remember is that a home is only worth what someone is willing to pay for it. You can compare all you want, but if no one is willing to pay that price for it, then it is a moot point.

Now, in terms of adding value through remodeling, and specifically, Yara's case. Yara bought in June 2007, and gutted the bathroom, removed carpet and refinished the hardwood floors, and put up 6-panel doors.

From a value adding standpoint, Yara absolutely added value by redoing the bathroom. Bathrooms and kitchens are always the best for the buck in terms of getting your money back when you sell. The hardwood floors are a preference - but, just as our parents were enamored with wall to wall carpeting (over all of that beautiful hardwood!) people are obsessed with hardwood floors in today's market. As for the 6-panel doors - they obviously look, and show better, but are more of an item that appeal to a Buyer with an attention to detail.

Now, will Yara see her money realized when selling? There's no right answer. There are a number of factors to consider when contemplating this. First - how much of the work was done by a contractor, and how much by Yara, the actual homeowner? Second - what are market conditions like? Yara mentioned that in comparing her house to others in her area, the others are way lower. Prices are obviously down, so that is playing a role, and as she said, they aren't as updated. So naturally they will be lower. Third - how long are you planning on staying in the house? If you are going to be there for awhile, then natural appreciation of your house should cover and costs to be recouped. In terms of hard numbers, it's generally said with a bathroom remodel, you recoup 90-95% of your money spent. Of course, that number can go up or down depending on how long you stay in the house. And, if you stay too long, that bathroom you remodeled 10 years ago needs to be remodeled again!

So, should Yara continue to remodel? My answer is always yes. You are always adding value no matter what you do - however, that value isn't set by any one person. You set the value by picking what you do, and creating a space that YOU love.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Going Green: Earth Hour

Earth Hour, was started last year in Sydney, Australia with the intention of curbing Global Warming. By turning off non-essential lighting, Sydney's energy consumption was reduced by up to 10.2% for one hour. That is the equivalent effect of taking 48,000 cards off the road for an entire year!

This year, Earth Hour has gone global, and Geile/Leon is bringing the initiative to St. Louis in the form of a Power Hour. It's a rally that will be held annually to bring everyone together to celebrate Earth Hour. The first annual will be at J.Buck's in downtown Saint Louis from 7 to 10pm on Saturday March, 29, 2008. For more information about the event, click here.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

What do YOU want to know about?

To the three people that are reading this: is there anything you are curious about? Anything you have been dying to know? Got a question you want answered? Ask ME. If I don't know the answer, I will find out - I love learning new stuff. If you have a question about real estate, remodeling, a building you saw for sale, an empty plot of land - ANYTHING. Shoot me an email or drop me a comment!

Lemay named to list of 100 Best Places to Live and Launch

Lemay, just outside of the city limits, was named to Fortune's list of the 100 Best Places to Live and Launch. It made the list because, according to Fortune, it's going to really wake up in the next few years with a new casino going in, as well as having excellent resources for entrepreneurs.

I have fond memories of Lemay - The St. Louis University High School played their home baseball games at Heine Meine field when I went to school there.

You can check out the article about Lemay or, see the entire list of the 100 Best Places to Live and Launch.

I think only my female readers will find this information interesting...

As most of you know, Nordstrom is opening a store at the Saint Louis Galleria. Demolition recently started on the Lord and Taylor building, where Nordstrom will be going, as they did not want to re-use the space, but instead wanted something built to their own specs. It looks like a real mess is taking place on that parking lot...and Nordstrom isn't slated to open up until the Spring of 2010.

That area is going to look absolutely phenomenal once Highway 40 is done, and the completion of the east side of Brentwood is complete.

Fun fact: Nordstrom is apparently such a sought after anchor tenant, that it often doesn't pay to lease the space they are in...

GE's Appliance Tip of the Month

I personally do not like GE products, as I haven't had the best of luck with them. My obsession for appliances right now is LG. However, this is a handy tip to have:

Refrigerator/Freezer - Power Outages

If power is lost to the refrigerator or freezer, follow these steps:

-It is not necessary to unplug the refrigerator.
-Keep the freezer door closed. Food in a full freezer will keep for about 24 hours with no door openings. If the freezer is half full, the food will keep for about 15 hours. Spoil time in the fresh food section varies. For more information on food spoilage, call the Agriculture Hot Line at 1-800-535-4555.
-If it is anticipated that the refrigerator will be out of power for a lengthy time, dry ice may be used to keep the food cold. It is usually sold in blocks and can be placed in a cooler with fresh food items.
-Keep the frozen food in the freezer with bags of ice.
-If dry ice is not available, move the food to a frozen food locker until the power is restored.
Warning: Handling dry ice can cause freeze burns. Wear gloves or some other form of protection. Dry ice is commonly listed in the yellow pages under "Carbon Dioxide." The supplier should be able to recommend the proper amount of dry ice depending on the size of the refrigerator.

Statements from Mayor Slay and Centene

Here are the official statements from both Mayor Slay, as well as Centene Corp. regarding their decision to pull out.

Statement of Mayor Francis Slay:

I am very disappointed that Centene and the Ballpark Village Partners could not come to an agreement. Meeting the needs, obligations, legal requirements, and goals of both parties was extremely difficult, complicated, and frustrating.

I want to thank Michael Neidorff for the opportunity to bring his company to Ballpark Village. He gave the City a chance because he understands how important Downtown is to the future of the region. I also believe Bill DeWitt, Jr. and Bill DeWitt, III tried very hard to work through the many complications that this deal presented.

I also want to thank my staff who worked many nights, weekends, and holidays to find a way to forge an agreement between these two parties.

I still support Ballpark Village. Because of changes in the composition of Ballpark Village proposed by the developer, a new redevelopment agreement will have to be negotiated. The project will only move forward on terms that are fair to the taxpayers.

Statement of Centene

Ballpark Village was unable to accommodate Centene’s plans for our world headquarters which we deeply regret and are disappointed to announce. Since our announcement in September 2007 , we have been working closely with representatives of Ballpark Village to finalize details for this project. Despite the best efforts of everyone involved, we could not bring our plans to fruition. We were committed and excited to move our headquarters downtown, as we recognize that Ballpark Village will help strengthen the region and we wanted to be part of this. We wish the Cardinals and the developers of Ballpark Village nothing but the best in their efforts to complete this important retail and mixed-use development.

We are currently resuming the evaluation of other potential options for the location of our corporate headquarters, both in and out of the region. We very much appreciate the commitment that leaders of this community, especially Mayor Francis Slay and his staff, have shown throughout this unusually long and public process. We remain hopeful that we can work together with local leaders to keep our growing company in the St. Louis region, if not downtown.

We will keep you updated as our search progresses.

Centene pulls out of Ballpark Village

If you have been following the development, or lack thereof, of Ballpark Village, you surely know that Centene Corp. had announced plans for their world headquarters in the development that is slated for the spot where Old Busch was. It was announced amid much hoopla after the company decided to pass on their plans to build in Clayton.

The rumors have been swirling for a couple months that they were going to pull out of the development, and they made it official today, releasing a statement that read, "Ballpark Village was unable to accommodate Centene's plans for our world headquarters, which we deeply regret and are disappointed to announce."

It's not a surprise given the fact that it was rumored, but it just reinforces my belief that Ballpark Village is a LONG way from reality. What most people don't know is that members of the Cardinals ownership group did the exact same thing in Texas...

You can read the Post-Dispatch article here.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Home Sales Up!

The National Association of Realtors reported Monday that resales of homes and condos in the U.S. rose by 2.9% in February - the first raise in 7 months. While it's good news in terms of the overall view of of the real estate market, the Saint Louis and Metro area markets are a lot different in that we haven't been as affected. Of course the media wouldn't have you believe that, with them sensationalizing every single detail regarding real estate...and everything else for that matter.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Innovate + Real Estate: Rubber Mulch

I am obsessed with landscaping. Whether it's cutting the grass, or raking all of the leaves, or planting shrubs, I love to do it, and I love the end result. Most people don't share this same passion. However, landscaping is the most important component to curb appeal.

One of the major complaints I have about mulch is that it looks great for a month, but then just seems to get shoddy and needs fresh mulch added to it along with being "ground up" if you will.

While rubber mulch has been around awhile, a lot of people still aren't aware of its existence. It's a fabulous alternative to the traditional, distinctive smelling mulch we all usually use.

Rubber mulch is basically the byproduct of old tires having their steel bands removed, and then being ground up. Rubber mulch provides several advantages over plant material based mulches. Because it is recycled, it is environmentally-friendly. For landscaping and gardening purposes rubber mulch insulates soil from heat, allowing a 2 or 3 degrees F higher soil temperature difference over wood mulches. Rubber mulch is beneficial for soil moisture as rubber is non-porous and does not absorb water on its way through to the soil. It also reduces fungus growth, and becomes a weed barrier as weed seeds dehydrate in the mulch before reaching the soil.

The cost? About three times the cost of regular mulch. BUT, if you think about how much mulch you buy over the course of a few summers, your initial, higher investment with rubber mulch might just pay off.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Town and Country development "gets it"

Town and Country Crossing, which opens in June and is anchored by Target and Whole Foods, is shaping up as an extremly unique development. I'm often critical of large scale developments because they seem to be just a strip mall with some big box stores thrown in. Town and Country Cross is rare in that it will have a heavy emphasis on the outdoors. A three-acre lake, 1200 trees, and 5000 shrubs are all a part of the master plan.

While TCC won't be a "lifestyle center" (think the Boulevard in Brentwood) it will be rare in that there will be a courtyard, and stand alone buildings. The buildings will have a brick facade, and five of them will face the three-acre lake.

One can only hope that other developers will follow suit and create similar developments instead of applying the same features and characteristics over and over (yes, I'm talking to you Kirkwood Commons, Maplewood Commons, and Arnold Commons).

Friday, March 21, 2008

(Not So) Fun Fact: Big Debt

The total value of home mortgage debt (including home equity loans) held by American has increased 53% in the last 4 years. The amount owed nationwide is $10.5 trillion.

New Posts to Resume

I apologize I have been MIA lately...unfortunately, I was dealing with my newer puppy who had gone in for neuter surgery, then stopped breathing after surgery. He was on life support, but started declining rapidly, and we sadly had to put him down. He was a great little puppy and will be surely missed. He was just starting to dig in the yard - ahhh, holes in the yard - great for property values :)

RIP Gordon

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Art House: Infill Housing in Grand Center

I'm extremely excited about this project, and hope that it isn't another deal that ends up stalling out. The project is slated to bring 7 contemporary, green-certified townhomes to Grand Center. This is the kind of project that Grand Center has needed for years.

I do wonder about the price tag - with the houses apparently selling at $480,000. Construction will begin on the first three homes once two are under contract. The Post-Dispatch had an article this past weekend about the project, which you can read here.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Why Fed rate cuts don't always equal lower mortgage rates

There seems to be the common misconception that when the Federal Reserve cuts rates, that mortgage rates will then drop. Clients will call me on the day of the cut and say they should ramp up their home search since the "rate is going to drop" and they want to "lock it in." Obviously I want all of my clients to get the lowest rate possible, but just because the rate is cut, it doesn't necessarily mean that mortgage rates will follow suit. Matt McHugh, of the Private Bank, had a great piece in his weekend update from an article by an interest rate expert featured on CNBC.

The Federal Reserve has been on a rate cutting spree once more. Many mortgage applicants are calling their mortgage representative and expecting a lower interest rate. Others who have been waiting to refinance are puzzled as to why mortgage rates
have not moved lower during the recent five Fed rate cuts. This is difficult to explain to consumers who have watched a 2.25% reduction by the Fed with very little benefit in mortgage rates.

Is a Fed rate cut really good news for mortgage rates? The facts may be surprising. The Fed can only control the Discount Rate and the Fed Funds Rate. This is very different from mortgage rates. A mortgage rate can be in effect for 30-years while a rate set by the Fed can change from one day to another. It is often said history repeats itself. And if history is any teacher, we can learn from what happened to mortgage rates the last time the Federal Reserve was in a rate-cutting cycle.

The last time the Fed was in a lengthy rate cutting cycle was back in 2001 from January 3, 2001 to December 11, 2001. In the span of 11 months, they cut the Fed Funds rate 11 times with eight of those cuts by 50bp. This resulted in a total of 475bp or 4.75% in short-term interest rate cuts taking the Fed Funds Rate from 6.00% down to 1.75%. Now most uninformed people would naturally think because the Fed cut rates by so much during this time that mortgage rates would follow suit and trend
lower as well. Not so. Mortgage rates actually moved higher during this time of significant rate cuts because inflation, the arch enemy of bonds, gradually rose.

Now let’s take a look at what happened with the Fed’s most recent cutting cycle, the first since 2001. On September 18, 2007 the Fed cut the Fed Funds Rate by 50bp. The mortgage bond market briefly enjoyed a “knee-jerk” reaction to the Fed move by
closing higher that day, but lost 140bp over the following two sessions. Then on October 31, 2007 the Fed lowered the Fed Funds rate by 25bp. The mortgage bond market responded by losing 78bp over the following five trading days. On December
11, 2007 the Fed once again lowered rates by 25bp and the mortgage bond market lost 88bp in the next three days. So far this year, the Fed delivered a surprise 75bp rate cut on January 22, 2008 and mortgage bonds lost a whopping 144bp in just 2 days.
Eight days later and as widely expected, the Fed cut rates by 50bp. Within 13 days from that 50bp cut, mortgage bonds lost 269bp.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

No progress on proposed Iron Works project

The Iron Works project, which has been in the developing stages for almost two years, is still showing no signs of progress according to a Suburban Journal article. The area to be redeveloped is roughly 40 acres, and is, according to Pace Properties, "a 330,000 square foot retail center with a mix of 'big box', 'junior box', and typical neighborhood retail establishments. Strategically located at the corner of I-55 and Weber Road with 1600 feet of frontage on I-55, this Center will conveniently serve Lemay residents, South County residents and those living in South City. The project will also include several outlots for fast food restaurants, financial institutions and other freestanding retailers."

It's an interesting project, but I'm curious to see who the tenants will actually be. Rumor has it that Wal-Mart will be the anchor, and while I'm sure it would serve the area well, do we really need another Wal-Mart?

Also important to note is that if progress isn't made, the residents that have their homes under contract, and are being paid 2.5 times the value for their home, could end up with eminent domain taking their house because a lot of the contracts are apparently set to expire.

Interestingly enough, the land developed sits directly across from City Limits. Rumor has it that the developer approached Alderman Villa about including the City side in a larger development plan, but Villa got so blasted over the Loughborough Commons eminent domain fiasco, he didn't wish to get incolved with another shopping center. It's unfortunate for the city, because they lose out on tax revenue that the county will be gaining.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Congratulations to Krissy!

Krissy closed on an awesome loft at The Ventana Lofts today. As with all of the lofts, there is a monthly fee, but it covers things a lot of them don't - cable and internet, along with maintenance of the rooftop pool and clubhouse, indoor heated parking garage, water, sewer, trash, and use of an electric smart car. The Ventana is an awesome building and I recommend it to anyone looking at the lofts downtown.
The Ventana is located at 1635 Washington, and are a Jacob Development project.

New FHA Loan Limits

I know I am a little late to the party, but for those of you who don't know, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has raised their FHA loan limits as required by the Economic Stimulus Act that was signed be President Bush on February 13th. FHA loans are an awesome loan product for first time buyers and buyers with less than perfect credit.

You can read the article here.

What's happening with Skyhouse?

About a year ago, it was announced that Chicago-based Metropolitan Development Enterprises was planning to build a $67 million, 22-story condo tower right in the heart of the loft district at 14th and Washington. It is the largest new-construction residential building proposed for downtown.
The project was met with much fanfare, and the development had essentially everything you could ask for - a doorman, swimming pool, hot tub - even a dog run. Over the past several months, there have been all sorts of rumors - from the declaration that the project was dead to the simple explanation that they simply needed to pre-sell more units in order to secure financing for the project.

At present, the lot that housed Erlich Cleaners sits empty, and as of a week ago, the big sign and renderings had disappeared. The St. Louis Business Journal had an article in their February 29th edition that said The Skyhouse, along with The Arcade, and a new Westin across from Galleria were all up in the air. The article stated they are "still planning to build the high-rise, but Chief Executive Paul Hardej said sales have slowed in recent months, and the developer has pulled back on its marketing budget for the project." It goes on to say that 30 of the 166 planned units have sold, which doesn't meet the lender's requirement of 40% - which would equal 66 condos.

It can't be just me that finds it odd that when you need to pre-sell 36 more condos, you pull back marketing. Wouldn't it behoove the developer to ramp up marketing and get the remaining units sold so they can start construction? It also can't make people who have already purchased units there very happy. Surely news like that will cause some Buyers to jump ship, which will push their number down even further.

I think it's a great project, and I'd love to see it come to fruition, but something seems a little fishy...

Monday, March 10, 2008

Featured Property: 1445 Whispering Creek Drive

This is my new listing at 1445 Whispering Creek Drive. It's a beautiful condo complex that boasts a wonderful swimming pool, clubhouse, and covered parking. This ground level condo has been meticulously maintained and is more than ready for someone to move in and call it home.

The living room is extremely spacious and is adorned with crown moulding that flows throughout the unit. The gas fireplace will keep one nice and toasty on those cold Saint Louis days.
The kitchen flows nicely from the hallway and into the formal dining room. Newer cabinets and appliances give the kitchen a pristine look.

The spacious master suite includes a huge walk-in closet & an inviting master bath. A huge walk in closet off the master bedroom gives the condo one feature you don't see in other similar units. Add a private walk-out patio, ample closet space, and additional full bathroom, and this condo is a must see.

If you, are anyone you know is interested in this immaculate condo, priced at $139,900, feel free to contact me!

Clayton may get new 30-story tower

The Post-Dispatch has reported that a new 30-story tower has been proposed for Clayton. If built, it could surpass the height of the current tallest building in Clayton. Considering Clayton is around 16,000 people in terms of the population, and just 2.5 square miles, it boasts quite an impressive skyline. Sure, it is the county seat, but I think you would be hard-pressed to find something similar. It will be interesting to see how the plan develops, and artist renderings of the building.

Nobody asked me but....

After stumbling upon an article published in 2002 by the USA Today - "Merger will pump up city's stats," it got the wheels in my head going. The article talks about Louisville merging with its county, which increased the popupation by almost 450,000, and made it the nation's sixteenth largest city in terms of population. The article is over five years old, but will never lose its relevance.

The population of Saint Louis City in July 2006 was estimated at 353,837, while the Saint Louis County clocked in at 1,000,510. If Saint Louis City and County were to merge, we'd create a population of roughly 1,350,000 people, making it the 6th largest city in the U.S.

Obviously such an endeavor would create quite an undertaking, with votes having to be cast, as well as legal issues and technicalities. The problems would most likely be abundant with the insane amont of municipalities throughout the Metro area. It's an intriguing thought, nonetheless, and it would put an end to the City vs. County debate once and for all...which would allow everyone to focus soley on the 'where did you go to high school' dicussion.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

MSD sells its former headquarters - secretly...

I came across a very interesting article in the Post-Dispatch today. Sure, I'm a few days late, but Sunday is my day to catch up on reading the newspaper. Apparently, MSD has sold its former headquarters, which sits right at Highway 44 and Hampton.

The 2.93 acre site is apparently to become part of 26-acre shopping center and office complex. To give you an idea of how big that is, you can compare to the fairly new "Loughborough Commons" at Loughborough and 55, which is 30 acres, and houses Schnuks, Lowes, Qdoba, and Starbucks, among others.

The Post-Dispatch article says that the city hopes to seek proposals for developing the site by the end of the year, and that Rodney Crim, executive director of St. Louis Development Corp. said "the city needs a shopping center so residents can shop in St. Louis rather than go to St. Louis County."

It's certainly an ideal location with both highways being so close, as well has having the Hampton corridor. One can only hope that competent planning goes into whatever development is chose and we don't end up a half empty complex like the struggling Southtown Centre at Kingshighway and Chippewa in south St. Louis city. There's also the rumor that IKEA has been wanting the perfect space to put a location at - and one of their main criteria is visibility from the highway. Hmm....

Sick of spending money on gas?

If you are like me, you cringe everytime you hear that "click" and see the amount you just paid at the pump. Since I am constantly driving all over the area, I feel like all I ever do is fill up the tank.

Enterprise has sought to alleviate that pesky pump frustration by launching a car-sharing program. It started about a month ago in downtown St. Louis and it really is a cool idea. It allows residents of downtown to rent hybrid cars by the hour for $10 an hour. There is a $35 membership fee, and members can book anytime online and then choose one of nine vehicles parked at various spots in the city.

I absolutely love the idea, but do think there are many potential problems. It's obviously in its infancy though, and I will be interested to see how it works out. It has apparently really caught on in cities such as Chicago, Seattle and Boston.
You can read the St. Louis Business Journal article, or check out WeCar's website.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Countrywide reportedly being investigated by the FBI...

According to, Countrywide, the nation's largest home lender, is being investigated for fraudulent lending practices. The probe will apparently examine underwriting and mortgage origination practices, and whether the company misrepresented losses related to subprime loans.

You can read the entire article here.

I HATE the bathroom, Matt. What's with the colors?

If I had a dollar for everytime I heard that, I wouldn't be writing this blog right now. It's a phrase I have become very accustomed to hearing, especially when touring older homes. For some reason, in the late 1950s and 1960s, the design of St. Louis took a disasterous turn, and someone's spastic designs exploded all over St. Louis bathrooms. It's the Pastel bathroom, and it comes in all colors - Salmon, Pink, Yellow, Baby Blue, and more. The bathrooms all share a common theme - the floor tile, wall tile, toilet, sink, and tub, are all whatever lovely pastel color was chosen as the template for the bathroom.

These bathrooms seem to have built with a bomb shelter mentality - the tile walls are laid in indestructible wire mesh, and the tubs are solid cast iron. The tile floors were laid very uniquely - the laborers would throw bags of concrete in between the floor joists, cut them open, spray them with water, and then lay the tile.

I have had the (dis)pleasure of ripping out several bathrooms like this. The floors comes up as if you are taking a sledge hammer to a sidewalk, and the walls come down in sheets of nasty wire that require three people to carry it.

If you hate your pastel bathroom, and you have the determination to rip everything out, that's certainly an option. However, one awesome, and inexpensive way to do it is by reglazing the tile. You can pick any color you want, and a company will come in and spray the tile - and tub, and leave you with a fresh, crisp bathroom that can be spruced up with paint colors - instead of colored tile.

I rehabbed a home not too long ago, and, because we were adding two brand new bathrooms, we chose to reglaze the tile and the tub, and lucked out as the sink and toilet had already been replaced. We laid the new floor right over the old floor, which is perfectly fine as long as your material isn't too heavy on top of the existing floor.

For less than $1500, we took the oddly, bumble bee colored bathroom from this:

To this - a more modern and contemporary look that most Buyers are looking for:

We chose to reglaze the tile and tub to white because it creates a nice bright space, and can be spiced up through paint colors and bathroom accesories.
Of course everything is personal preference and opinion, and some people absolutely love the retro bathrooms and their colors. But, if you are looking to remodel your bathroom but don't want to break the bank, or if you liked that house quite a bit but hated the bathroom, this is a perfect alternative for you!

Innovate + Real Estate: Radiant Heat

I will often times take clients through homes and at the first sight of a radiator, hear, "I don't like radiant heat." More times than not, they don't have a good answer for why they don't. Other times they say it's because the radiators are ugly.

I can't argue with them in terms of the aesthetics. Radiators aren't the prettiest things in the world, and are usually big and bulky. However, they really are a great source of heat, as the heat isn't as dry as forced air.

However, as all things do in home improvement - times are changing. Runtal makes some fantastic radiators - both hot water and steam. They have some awesome hot water radiators that double as a warm towel rack for the bathroom, and while bigger, provides for a nice alternative to the standard towel rack.

The Neptune model is very contemporary and would go great in any bathroom that has chrome accessories. The hot water towel bar radiators are great, because you are creating more space in your bathroom, and have the ability to keep your towels nice and toasty - something that everyone in St. Louis can appreciate!

The above, from Runtal's sister company shows what an attractive alternative you can have instead of traditional steam radiators. It removes the radiator from the floor, giving the illusion of more space. You can check out all of the various options at Runtal's Website.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Housing: Best time to buy in four years

Matt McHugh, of the Private Bank, had the following in his Weekend Update today:

It may be the best time to buy a house in four years. Home prices have dropped so quickly, and so far, that valuations - the difference between what a home should cost and its actual price - are the lowest they have been since 2004, according to a report.

The Cleveland-based National City Corp. (NCC), together with financial analysis firm Global Insight, revealed Tuesday that more than 88% of 330 housing markets survey showed price declines and improved affordability during the last three months of 2007.

"Housing valuations are almost back to long term norms," said National City's chief economist, Richard DeKaser. He called affordability the "best in the past four years."

One thing that I feel is extremely important to point out is DeKaser's quote. He mentions that that they "are almost back to long term norms." It's important to understand that the pricing now is fairly normal, but previous years saw a boom in housing and pricing that were simply inflated.

The good news? As a whole, prices are up in the St. Louis Metro area, and I myself have certainly noticed that sales are picking up, having two clients that lost out on homes they wanted because they were "waiting," a luxury Buyers have had the past 18 months...that seems to be, and hopefully, coming to an end.

The Submersion...

It's appropriate that my first post on a blog focusing on a broad range of real estate issues is on a day when I am working simultaneously to set up showings for one client and to find rehab financing for another.

As you can conclude from my title, I am immersed in all things surrounding Real Estate in the 'Lou. It's my passion. Whether that means advising a couple in selling their home, assisting a buyer in choosing new tile for her dream home, or giving my two cents on the layout of a rehab, I love it all.

I know that there's more to real estate than the transaction. It's about your life and your dreams. It's not just room dimensions, paint colors, or light fixtures. It's about the pride of ownership and the success of selling. It's about solid investments, and bringing a broken down home back to life.

I work with each of my clients individually, taking the time to understand their unique needs and lifestyles. I love the satisfaction of matching my clients with the homes they have always imagined themselves in, or of showing them the number they desire when it's time to sell. It's incredibly fulfilling to know I am helping people open a new chapter in their lives.

I hope that this blog can serve as a comprehensive resource to help you in whatever stage of the investment game that you find yourself. Please feel free to contact me with any questions or comments – I am happy to help!