Phone: (314) 677-1477

Record Setting Condo Sale in Royal Pines Subdivision

Record Condo SaleOn May 6, 2016 our seller closed on their Royal Pines Condo in Maryland Heights at a record price of $181,000.

This was $18,000 more than the next highest sale in the past year, or an 11% premium over the next highest sale.  Even more important, this was the highest sale in the complex since the market peak in 2007.  Similar units have sold in the complex at a much lower price over the past year.

Why did this sell for so much more than other comparable units?

Selling a home in today’s marketplace involves much more than just putting photos on the MLS and sitting back waiting for offer to roll in.  It actually takes effort and exceptional attention to detail.  We constantly evaluate every step of the listing and marketing process to stay ahead of the competition and give our sellers the advantage.

We didn’t use a professional photographer for the photos of this home, we used the BEST photographer that specializes in photographing homes and nothing else.

Any home listed in the MLS will show up on all the same sites.  The difference is HOW a home is showed on the sites.  Zillow, Realtor and Trulia are the top 3 sites responsible for about 99% of all home searches.  By having a Featured Listing on the Zillow/Trulia Network and a Showcase Listing on our client received the highest level of advertising within the search portals.  The benefits are that our client’s home showed up higher in search results, featured ALL of the listing photos vs. just a few, inquires were submitted directly to the listing agent instead of a randomly assigned agent that had not been in the home and open house information was prominently displayed.  Be careful who you work with because the listing agent, not the brokerage or listing company, are responsible for a home being “Featured” on these sites.

What did the condo offer?

This beautifully renovated West County condo in the Parkway School District features amenities galore! Custom maple cabinetry, stainless steel appliances, and Indian slate tile in the updated kitchen and bathrooms. The kitchen and dining area open into the large, inviting great room with custom lighting, stone-front wood burning fireplace, vaulted ceiling and walks out to the rear patio. Other features 6 panel doors, new exterior doors, new insulated windows, extensive crown moulding to complete the polished look throughout. The finished basement offers an additional sleeping area and a large recreation room or play area, and has newer carpet. This unit also features a 2 car garage. Other amenities include access to the condo clubhouse, pool, tennis courts, snow removal and lawn care! This is steps away from Creve Coeur Lake and is close 270 and the Page Avenue Extension for easy access to anywhere you need to go.

How can I sell my home for a record price?

The best and easiest process for you to sell your home at a record price is a 2 part process.  First, you need to have your home fully prepped and move in ready.

What does that involve?

In order to make your home inviting and appealing to potential buyers there are a number of things you can do.  Most of our buyers are looking for homes that they can move into with no work.  That means new kitchens, bathrooms, systems, etc.  While we typically don’t ask our clients to take on a costly bathroom or kitchen remodel, sometimes its necessary.  In some cases just replacing appliances and a counter top is all that is needed.  This is really judged on a case by case basis.

The next two big things are flooring and painting.  Your floors should be clean and in good shape.  If your floor tiles are cracked with dirty grout you need to repair it.  If your carpets are warn and have stains or animal odors you need to replace them.  Many sellers just want to offer a credit, but most buyers just want it done ahead of time.  Also, in our experience home buyers often drastically inflate the cost of home repairs so the credit they could ask for may be two to three times what the actual cost is.  Painting is just as crucial, especially if you have raised children in your home.  Make sure your walls are freshly painted in a neutral color and be sure to use a flat or matte finish.  Repair and nail holes, dents, scratches, etc.  Also, make sure that your ceilings are painted with a flat paint or a ceiling paint.  Be sure that all nail pops and loose drywall tape is repaired.  If you live in an older home with plaster, be sure to properly repair any cracks.

Additional items to consider inside your home are to declutter by removing excess furniture, counter top appliances, wall decor and personal items.  If you have older lighting fixtures, plumbing fixtures, cabinet hardware you should consider replacing those.  Most are simple repairs that a homeowner can do over a weekend.

Another area to focus on is to catch up on any deferred maintenance.  If you have repairs you have been meaning to do or if you have an ever growing “honey-do” list, now is the time to knock it out.  Also, if you have an old furnace, air conditioner or water heater be aware that it will be flagged in the inspection report and most buyers will want that addressed.

Moving on, the outside of the home is equally as important.  I can’t tell you how many times I have had a buyer tell me they want to see a home, but then cancel after driving by because of the lack of curb appeal.  You should have your grass cleanly cut and edged.  If your grass is a little sparse consider adding some grass seed and fertilizer.  Pull weeds, mulch beds and maybe add some flowers or a couple of bushes or shrubs depending on the season.  Make sure that cracks in the driveway and sidewalk are repaired.  If you have blacktop, put a fresh coat of sealer on it.  Also, the roof can be a big ticket item that can kill a home sale.  Did you have your roof checked out after the last hail storm?  If not, have a reputable roofing company come out and assess it.  You might need to work with your insurance company to get a replacement.

What’s the 2nd part?

The second, and equally important part is selecting the right agent.  We pride ourselves on delivering every possible advantage to our clients.  After our clients get their home ready, we have to bring as many people through the door as we can.  We start with having the highest quality photography.  Why does that matter?  Because 99% of home buyers start their search online, either on a computer or on an app on their mobile device.  As they scroll through all of the listings ours will jump off the screen compared to the others with bad photos.  Even if your agent uses a “professional” photographer are you getting the best?  We interviewed and scoured the portfolios of all the real estate photographers in St. Louis and picked the best.

Back to the online searching.  Do you know that its up to your agent to have your home featured on the major search portals like Realtor, Zillow and Trulia?  Not all agents are willing to spend the money to have this value added benefit for their clients.  By doing this, your home will show up higher in the search results than the “non featured” listings, potential buyers are put in direct contact with us instead of a random agent that doesn’t know your home, we are able to advertise your open house on, and all of your photos will be shown instead of a few.

Do you have a large home, a home on a large lot or a home in a great location?  If so, we can utilize drone photography to give you the edge.  Also, if you have a larger home we can utilize a 3D tour that allows a potential buyer to have a virtual walkthrough of your entire home from the front door.

There’s a lot more that we offer, but the best service we provide is always being available to our clients and working as hard as we can to get them the most money in their pocket as quickly as possible.

If you have made it this far, thank you for reading.  If you have questions or want to know about all the other services that we offer give Brandon Radcliff a call at 314-608-6821.


How Appraisals Are Affecting Today’s Market

Renovated South County KitchenThis is by far the most exciting Real Estate Market we have been a part of in nearly 10 years.  For a long stretch of time agents were seeing seller after seller get beat up from overpaying during the bubble, but sellers have seen appreciation and the ability to “step up” and purchase a more expensive home.  We are even seeing buyers with marginal credit have the ability to afford homes with close to 0 down by taking advantage of Beyond Housing and MHDC Programs.  Healthy housing growth leads to a healthier economy and a healthier economy leads to lower unemployment.

It’s not all fine and dandy for both side of the transaction.  Buyers and sellers are facing hurdles even though home prices are on the rise.

Sellers: What Are The Challenges Faced When Selling/Buying?

Most of the time sellers are in the driver’s seat.  What do I mean by this?  Well let’s break down a Sellers Market:

  • Inventory is low: Many of the people that have purchased from the tail end of 2008 to the first quarter of 2013 were able to lock into interest rates below 4%. Sellers fear “will I be able to get the same or a similar rate for more house”?
  • More buyers: There is a large pool of buyers these days with Millenials joining the job force, more are becoming savvy about wanting to invest their money into owning a home.
  • Borrowing Money:  Money is cheap now.  The average buyer can get a rate of 3.75-5% on a 30 year note with FHA/VA/Conventional/Jumbo Programs.  FHA Programs can offer credit scores as low as 580 middle score.
  • Low Rates = More House For The Money: What a borrower could afford 10 years ago with 6-7% interest rates gave the buyer much less buying power (less home afforability) than what can be purchased now.

Now that all of this is brought to the forefront, how do these factors influence a sale?

With low rates, motivated buyers, and a healthier workforce has lead to higher competition for housing.  Simple economics tell us when a good is in short supply and the demand outweighs the good, the price will go up.

Applying these ecomonics to housing is no different.  The majority of buyers want the shiny new renovation and the majority of sellers want top dollar for his or her home regardless of how it compares to recently sold homes in the area.

Look, many agents like to create stories of how they overcame obstacles for his or her client and look like a Real Estate God but let’s face it, that agent is just trying to look better, get you to work with them, or get a (like an overpriced) listing.  You’re not going to get it here, this is an actual example of how hiring the right agent (on either side of the transaction) can get you what you want or need.

Please give us an example!

In this particular instance, I am working for the sellers.  He and his wife purchase one or two homes a year to renovate and do so the right way…they take their time and pay attention to detail. They do not cut corners and finish the job quickly to get paid, they take the extra time and it pays off in the end.

These folks purchased a home from me in December, one that really had not been touched in 30+ years and it certainly showed; they had their work cut out for them.  After about 4 1/2 months I get a call from the seller asking me to come by to price out the home for sale, so I did.

I gave my professional opinion, we agreed, and listing contract was signed.  I knew that this home was going to generate a ton of interest due to the price, structure (it’s an all brick bungalow), location, and school district (St. Louis Area Schools are very much influential for pricing).

Yada, Yada the house went on the market, what next?

The home went on the market in early April and we had about 15 showings that day. I had numerous perspective buyers contact me off of Zillow, Trulia, and my phone and email were blowing up.

Then the agent phone calls started, is the home still available?” and “do you have any offers?”.  (As an aside, you need to know as a buyer a brand new renovation with all the bells and whistles including updated kitchen, stainless appliances, granite counter tops, hardwood floors, etc. is going to get competitive so you’d better be ready to put your best foot forward.)

That evening an offer lands into my inbox.  One that looked just about right, full list price, a LTV on the financing section on the contract, a solid dollar amount to put into escrow, and no seller concessions.  Great!

I call up the sellers tell them what I have; they’re excited.

Just as I am about to send it along another offer comes in, granted it wasn’t nearly as attractive, but it’s another offer.

This is where the I earn my stripes, where I get to sit at the Adult Table for Sunday Night Dinner and other agents get chicken fingers while sitting at a plastic Fischer Price Table.  I am nearly salivating at the chance to get this number up over the asking price.

When more than one contract comes in we are immediately in Multiple Offers.  What we are trying to do is get more money for the seller, having each buyer blindly bid against one another.

That’s exactly how it played out.  We got a pretty sizable chunk over asking price and went under contract.

Appraisal time

While under contract we went through all the same stuff, inspections, inspection notice, occupancy inspections, title, and then we waited to hear about the appraisal.

Typically agents order the appraisal right away to get the full underwriting going so that the buyer can obtain loan approval within his or her loan contingency period (usually 30 days after contract acceptance).

When you get loan commitment, the lender has done all of their diligence to lend to a buyer and allows for a clear to close.

So the appraisal was completed and the appraiser did his/her job by measuring rooms, taking extensive photographs, specifying finish levels, amenities, etc.

The appraiser then writes up the evaluation of the home by making adjustments based off of 3-5 sold homes that compare similarly to the subject home that is under contract to come up with a value.

Our value came in low, like five figures low which was disappointing but not the worst thing that could happen.  Again, this is where I am confident in myself and the product.

The agent working for the buyer sent an amendment to drop the sale price to the appraised value.  The Appraisal Rider states that the agent is required to inform the seller of the value within 2 days of receiving the appraisal.  Should they exercise this contingency the buyer is to provide a copy of the appraisal to the seller and the seller has 5 days to respond to the Buyers Agent in written format (an email is sufficient).

What did we do?  We stood pat on the price, holding our ground.

The agent working for the buyer was clearly frustrated as it certainly seemed he did not have control of his buyer and the emotions were flowing to the point where both the sellers and I could feel it.  I could also feel that they weren’t going anywhere knowing they’re never going to find a home in this price range with premium finishes.

My duty as an agent is to get the most money for the seller and that’s what I intended.  No one told the buyer to spend over asking price but we expected the buyer to honor the contract price.

This is exactly what happened.  The buyers forked over another $11,000 above the appraised value and my seller couldn’t have been happier.

So the Seller got more money, and…?

What makes this blog so powerful is that I worked for the seller at the highest level possible. Sure there are always going to be trials and headaches through any transaction, but this example shows the state of the market now and possibly in the near term.  With homes going into such competitive scenarios and the values lagging behind (somewhat), it is important as a seller to know that not every agent out there is willing to put his or her neck on the line for you.  We call this value and this seller values me and the service that The Agency provides.

-Brian Tash, Broker/Salesperson

(314) 651-9515


US existing-home sales pick up in December

WSt. Louis Home Sales Increaseashington (AFP) – US existing-home sales rebounded in December from a November slump, led by gains in the key single-family home sector, the National Association of Realtors said Friday.

Total sales of used homes rose 2.4 percent from November to an annual rate of 5.04 million in December, climbing above the five-million mark for the sixth time in seven months despite low inventory on the market, NAR said.

Total inventory at the end of December tumbled 11.1 percent to 1.85 million existing homes, a 4.4 month supply at the current sales pace, slowing from 5.1 months in November.

“A drop in housing supply in December raises some affordability concerns in the months ahead as minimal selection and the potential for faster price appreciation could offset the demand from buyers encouraged by a stronger economy and sub-4 percent interest rates,” said Lawrence Yun, NAR’s chief economist.

The median price for an existing home rose to $209,500 in December, up 6.0 percent from a year ago. Prices have risen year-over-year for 34 months in a row.

For all of 2014, existing-home sales totaled 4.93 million, down 3.1 percent from 2013. The median home price hit $208,500, the highest level since 2007 and up 5.8 percent year-over-year.

Sales of single-family homes, the largest share of the market, rose 3.5 percent in December, and were up 4.0 percent from a year ago. Condominium and co-op sales slumped 5.0 percent last month and were unchanged on an annual basis.

“The underlying path of activity looks about flat, consistent with the low and steady trend in mortgage applications. Rapid payroll growth is increasing the pool of potential homebuyers but mortgage lending conditions are still tight and we see little near-terms scope for a real revival in housing activity,” said Ian Shepherdson of Pantheon Macroeconomics.

“Homes are still selling a bit more quickly than a year ago but overall, the market is moving sideways.”