Haunted Houses? Do They Really Exist?

Recently I was out showing a home to a buyer client, not only is she a client, but has been a friend since elementary school. This is where it gets a bit hairy.

We were laughing upon entering the house and she made a comment regarding it looked like someone left in the middle of packing. I laughed because indeed it did and there was a big notice on the door to make sure you actually lock the door when you leave.

We continued on through the tour of the house and instead of going to the 2nd floor level we decided to head to the basement since that’s one of the requirements on her wish list. It needs to be livable or able to be finished without much repair.

As we’re walking through the basement, there was this one odd door. I asked if she was going to look she said no really quickly. So of course, me being the agent I decided to be the one to take the look. There was a weird like altar in the room, naturally I closed the door after she peeked and she made a beeline for the basement steps.

We were joking coming out of the basement when it felt like she got a little too close for comfort. But I looked behind me and there was space between us. We passed back through the kitchen on the way to one of the set of steps that lead upstairs. I was leading the way discussing some of the features of the house and the price was set to move the house in the current market.

I had a weird situation after the feeling on the basement steps, however I didn’t say a word about it and trooped right on. Another hairy turn/feeling? I placed my foot on the first step on the upper set of stairs, there suddenly was a large dragging and then a drop. I don’t know what but I had the urge to run and run is what I did. I turned to look and she was running right on my heels.

I slammed the front door the moment she cleared it and started putting the key into the lock. It took about 2 to 3 minutes to get the lock to click into place but she pointed out we didn’t have the box to lock the key back in (Referencing the interior box of the Supra). I suddenly got a sick feeling in my stomach that now I had to unlocked this door and go back in. Then I remembered, ha I never take the box all the way into the house, I usually place it right on the inside floor next to the door.

I opened the lock and door back up and stuck my hand in just enough to grab the box and it felt like a presence was in front of the door. I quickly snatched the box and locked the door after again a 2 to 3 minute struggle with the locks.

We’re finally backing off the front porch of this house and getting into my truck. I knew I couldn’t drive off too quickly, least we crash. I had to take a moment and compose myself, I took a look over at her and she was physically shaking all over.

She asked something then and I was terrified for real. “Do you see the window curtains are now open on the 2nd floor?” I looked up and they most certainly were, I put my truck in reverse and got the heck out of there so fast.

This by far was a showing appointment that left me feeling unprepared and shaken and I keep getting an odd feeling about the house. Enough to know I’ve never felt this feeling in my life and comparing notes afterwards with my client/friend, something was indeed in that house and it wasn’t a person just hanging out.

Do you believe that homes or buildings can be haunted or ever had a feeling that you weren’t alone?

I know it’s far from Halloween however this felt like being in one of the scary movies or books that I love so much.

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St. Louis City, County and St. Charles Condos Sold: The Market as of December 2014!

Fast Fact as of January 15, 2015 there are approximately 997 condos/coops/villas for sale on the St. Louis Market. The lowest priced unit available is listed at $11,900 and it’s 1 bedroom 1 bath in Hazelwood and just to blow your mind, the highest list price is $3,299,000 and located in the Chase Park Plaza and the Penthouse suite.

If you’re in the market for a condo, this information serves to show the list price in comparison to sold prices. In all markets just about all sales were sold for less than the list price. This makes it great for buyers wondering how contract pricing worked. It doesn’t provide all data such as repairs, closing cost paid by seller for the buyer, etc. but it does give a brief overview of how December condo sales performed.

If you are in the market for a condo, you can begin your search on my MLS connected website

Real Estate in St Louis

During the month of December 2014 approximately 227 listings were sold in St. Louis and surrounding areas in the market.

This chart represents Condos/Coops/Villas sold and closed in St. Louis County in December 2014.

This chart represents Condos/Coops/Villas sold and closed in St. Louis City in December 2014. Presented in a little different format since the dataset is smaller.

St. Louis City Condos Sold December 2014

This chart represents Condos/Coops/Villas sold and closed in St. Charles County in December 2014. Presented in a little different format since the dataset is smaller.

 

St Charles County Condos Sold December 2014

Exciting news for Potential FHA loan Borrowers From a Real Estate Agent Perspective

You may have heard recently in the media or even read it on a news, mortgage or real estate website.

HUD also known as the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development announced new lower premiums on the common fee of Mortgage Mortgage Insurance or to some often referred to as PMI.

Just a little rundown. If you take out a FHA Loan to secure the financing on your home, you have what’s referred to as MIP aka Mortgage Insurance Premium attached to your loan on a annual (it’s broken down monthly in your mortgage payments) basis and upfront fee.

Essentially, the upfront fee was 1.75% of your loan for loans issued on a 30 year note. This amount can be paid at closing by you, the borrower along with your other closing costs associated with your loan including your down-payment funds or it can be rolled into your loan (at lender discretion) instead. So to give you a rough estimate of that amount. Let’s say you are doing a loan for $100,000 and on that your down payment would be 3.5% or $3,500 on a FHA loan. With the MIP upfront fee of 1.75% (current rate prior to change effective January 26, 2015), that would leave you having to bring $1688.75 + 3500 for a total of $4,688.75 to closing and that’s before any other closing fees like appraisals, title work, home warranty, or escrow funds. And on your monthly loan payments say at a 4.75% Annual Percentage Rate, that tacks 1.35% or for the example given $108.56 on to your Principal & Interest would be $512.20, and that total doesn’t include your Taxes and Home Insurance which all comprises your mortgage payment. Those totals so far monthly would be $620.76 again not including your taxes and insurance that would be required as part of your monthly payments.

Confused much? I hope not this is just a rough estimate to show you the effect of the current 2013 MIP Upfront and MIP Annual fees on your mortgage payment each month and closing on your loan.

WHO WANTS THAT?

Now with the proposed announced change, that fee has now been changed to 0.85% on the annual MIP amounts. So for that same loan in the example above your Principal and Interest would be $512.20 but now your monthly MIP would be roughly $71. So under the proposed new changes your payment would $583.20 before taxes and insurance. That new $38 difference can mean a lot to FHA borrowers especially when you look at it over the life of the loan or on a 30 year basis. That would be essentially saving roughly $13,680 over 30 years in a fee that doesn’t apply towards the principal balance of your overall loan.

Dramatic Difference in Payments Right?

That now makes the FHA more affordable to first time home-buyers and those holding loans issued in the last 36 months. And it could result in reductions for those existing FHA borrowers serving to put money back in their pockets each month or they can take a hint and apply it to their principal each month and pay down their mortgages quicker.

Take a look at this past post I did as well regarding money and home purchases.

If you are interested in purchasing a home using the FHA low down-payment program of 3.5% down for St. Louis Real Estate email me at tamara@realestatestlouisnow.com or call me at 314.660.9709

Or use the confidential form below to reach me:

Quick Poll about your St. Louis Home Purchase Questions

Found the home of your dreams! Oh no, it needs updating?

So you’ve found that home of your dreams, except you don’t like the interior design, it’s not functional or just downright unlivable in it’s current condition.
The next big question you ask yourself is, “How do I pay for the needed updates?”

If you have the money set aside having anticipating wanting a fixer-upper. Wonderful!

But if not there is a program called the FHA 203(k) Rehab Loan.

The FHA 203(k) Rehab Loan wraps the costs of renovation, materials and labor into your mortgage or if you already own refinancing. If you want to go with a simplified name just call it a home improvement loan.

A little background first…I know I know, not the boring stuff 🙂 but I promise to keep it short and simple.

First off it’s backed by the Federal Government through the FHA insured program. Meaning essentially you would have to be within FHA limits on the final cost after renovation when the final loan amount is complied and delivered from the lender.

Your cost can be as low as $5,000 on the renovation itself but there are basic requirements such as the house itself after renovation has to meet basic energy efficiency and structural standards.Minor or cosmetic repairs by themselves are unacceptable: however, they may be added to the minimum requirement.

You could do a total rebuild if you qualify, meaning you demolish the existing house and build your own right on that land as long as the existing foundation remains in place.

I know this is a dream kitchen for most of us:

Photo courtesy of and copyright Free Range Stock

Photo courtesy of and copyright Free Range Stock

There are a few things that are definitely excluded from the renovation costs such as exterior upgrades like pools or non-essential improvements in that category.

Here is a part of the list of what can be done in your renovation (courtesy of HUD.gov):

A. Structural alterations and reconstruction (e.g., additions to the
structure, finished attics, repair of termite damage and the
treatment against termite infestation, etc.)
B. Changes for improved functions and modernization (e.g., remodeled
kitchens and bathrooms).
C. Elimination of health and safety hazards (including the
resolution of defective paint surfaces and/or lead-based paint
problems on homes built prior to 1978).
D. Changes for aesthetic appeal and elimination of obsolescence
(e.g., new exterior siding).
E. Reconditioning or replacement of plumbing (including connecting
to public water and/or sewer system), heating, air conditioning
and electrical systems.
F. Roofing, gutters and downspouts.
G. Flooring, tiling and carpeting.
H. Energy conservation improvements (e.g., new double pane windows,
insulation, solar domestic hot water systems, etc.).
I. Major landscape work and site improvement, patios and terraces
that improve the value of the property equal to the dollar amount
spent on the improvements or required to preserve the property
from erosion.
J. Improvements for accessibility to the Handicapped.
K. Related fixtures such as new cooking ranges, refrigerators and other
appurtenances, as well as general painting are also eligible, however,
it must be in addition to the $5,000 requirement.

Now that you have a better picture of how the FHA 203(k) Program could work in your favor, it might put getting the home you want within reach and at a cheaper cost than buying a completely finished, updated and upgraded home straight from the market.

If you have questions or want to know what’s on the market, click here to start your search St. Louis Real Estate

Feel free to call me Tamara Liggins @ 314.677.6104

Most importantly make sure you are choosing a lender that knows the program and can guarantee you results on financing.

To Visit an Open House or Not!

Tamara Liggins Open HouseYou may be wondering should you visit an open house just announced?

My best guess is you should and I’ll explain why! Sometimes you drive past a home that may have been on the market or just coming onto the market and you’re genuinely curious what the home has to offer.  Sure you’ve looked at the pictures online likely on several different websites, but really a picture does minimal justice for most homes. Most of us are visual by nature, so the up close and personal feel of an open house can satisfy that.
You may walk in after being greeted by the REALTOR® and immediately you’re drawn to different things or rooms that you may not have gotten a good feel for in the original pictures.
I see tons of homes through my MLS connected website Real Estate St. Louis Now and most of them leave me wanting a little bit more and plus previewing homes is a thing that let’s me know what’s on the market and what might suit a client’s needs or wants.
The first thing I find myself doing is checking to see if the home is available for an immediate viewing or if there is an upcoming open house and from there I schedule an appointment for me to view the home in person or grab my phone and put in an event reminder for the open house coming up.
Will you find your dream home visiting open houses? Likely not, but you would be more in tune with what it is you want and don’t want, floor plans such as open or walls to separate space. Let’s be frank, it takes a lifetime for some of us to find that proverbial “dream home” but you may find your next or first home.
For Sellers, an open house can open up ideals and show you just what homes your home is competing against in your neighborhood or if homes are moving quickly in a certain area and not because it’s a highly desired area, go and check out the open houses. Why? Because you will likely see remodeling, updates or renovations that the current owner has done that made the house list for a top price or  selling for a lower price, find out why. Did the owner take the time to update the bathrooms, paint, refresh the carpeting or put in new flooring or add granite countertops? These are most certainly things that would aid in knowing how to get your house sold quick and for a possibly higher sale price.
Did you know that lot’s of REALTORS® host what’s known as an Agent Open House. It gives them time to get honest feedback from their peers and often times helps the sellers know what changes to make or if an attending agent has a potential buyer already waiting for a similar home, it could very well get the home sold quickly.
Looking for an upcoming open house in and around St. Louis? Look no more, visit your next open house this week.

Home Buyer This One’s for You!

Have you or are you currently on the hunt for a new home and just couldn’t quite get to a starting point. Or maybe you are like I used to be, you grab the publications out of the grocery store entrance then come home look at them all only to discover you’re no further along in the search than when you didn’t have the publications. So your next step is, you drive around looking at homes with For Sale signs in the yard. You find one you want to see, called the number of the sign and hear “Sorry that house is under contract and we are not taking backup offers”. <<<<<<< Put's you back at square 1 all over again…(Long Sigh).

Let’s just say this is a big decision and doing it the long way will only serve to slow you down. Stop that back and forth. I am writing this to give you a surer way to start your search, make a list of must haves vs wants in your next home, what steps to take before you being that house hunt and then how that timeline will progress once you find the home you want to call your own.

As I am sitting here writing this, there are over 3000 “active” listings in just St. Louis County along, not including St. Louis City or St. Charles. What does that equate to you? Stop driving from house to house, sit down and make a list of houses you want to see, you can start on my website, Homes in St. Louis you can even set up alerts so that you know the moment the houses that meet your criteria comes onto the market.

But on to the meat and potatoes!

Here is a list of the way your path should begin:

  1. Find a Real Estate Agent
  2. Make a list of wants vs needs in your next home
  3. Obtain a Pre-Approval not a Pre-Qualification (most sellers want to know that you can obtain financing not that just your income says you can)
  4. I will give you access to view houses that are currently on the market and will setup appointments for you to view them based off your schedule
  5. You have located the “One”, now it’s time to write an offer
  6. If you offer is accepted, you will provide an Earnest Money Deposit
  7. If your offer is rejected, you may receive a Counter Offer from the Seller. You can negotiate until you both arrive at agreeable terms and have both accepted the new terms. 
  8. Here is where you will setup Inspections (termite, pest, survey, title, home), this is where things are uncovered or learned about the house. Not all of them are required but I do suggest them so that you know fully what is there with the Seller’s Disclosure  (if provided)
  9. You then progress to removing each of the contingencies that were called for in the contract or you may amend the original contract if you disagree with things learned.
  10. Start looking into Insurance, you may need Hazard and/or Flood, depending on where your house is located. You want to make sure this is all done and ready by the time you make it to the last phase, closing.
  11. On to Financing, this is where you will actually apply for the mortgage. The lender will pull your credit report, order appraisal on the house, and verify information from your application. 
  12. The mortgage application is sent through Underwriting, this is where your application is triple checked and the Lender may come back with conditions that must be met before a final loan commitment is given. (This is where you may have to explain or write letters as to what’s on your credit report, or may have to pay some things off on your credit to move forward).
  13. Once all of this is done, the Lender can reject or approve your loan. If approved, you are issued a Loan Commitment. 
  14. All information is then passed along to the escrow, title or closing agent that will handle your final closing. That means the lender will send over their information, insurance sends over theirs, Home Warranty is ordered (if seller offered or buyer purchased). Closing date is scheduled and time slot picked for closing.
  15. 24 hours to 48 hours prior to closing, you will get what is referred to as a HUD-1, this details all costs with final numbers and should be checked for possible errors or omitted costs. You can then proceed to getting your certified funds check or setting up a bank wire transfer (personal checks are not accepted).
  16. During the last 24 hours before the closing, your final walk-through will be scheduled. This is where you would go to the house, check to make sure that things that were offered in the contract were left behind and that there is no damage to the house or that it’s in the same condition as when you first viewed it (minus the seller’s personal possessions if it was occupied when you viewed it).
  17. THE FINISH LINE:  Congratulations you are at the closing, this is where you do the bulk of the work, you will be signing documents left and right. But you know that you have made it through the toughest parts.
  18. You are handed your new keys at this point and can get the moving van rolling on your possession date! (Sometimes its the same day as the closing, if you negotiated that during the contract).
Here is a Home Tour Comment Sheet to carry with you when viewing houses, it helps you sort through wants and needs and take notes on the properties that you have viewed. Print out several copies to have one for each property to sit down and reference when you’re ready to decide on the one that you want to put the contract in for.