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March 26, 2007

The Turn-key buyer

I had an interesting conversation with a fellow real estate colleage the other day about trends in our current market. We both began describing a trend that seems to be reappearing these days with buyers we encounter in the market, which is quite a bit different from the buyers we've come to know (and love) circa 2004-2006.

For the lack of a better term, I'm going to coin this buyer the "turn key buyer".

What is the Turn Key buyer? Well, it's more of a mindset or an attitude of a buyer, than the buyer itself. Going WAY back to the era of 2004-2005, I seemed to have nothing short of a running list of buyers who were looking for "that next great deal" in real estate. Wanting to find something that was in the "next up-coming neighborhood" that "needed a little work" or fixing-up. Their expectations weren't high, but their dreams were. Actually, their expectations usually matched their pocket books and mortgage pre-approval amounts (surprise!).

But today, there seems to be this new mixed-signal attitude from buyers. Even those that say "Christopher, I would consider a home that needs some fixing up, or some cosmetic improvements" don't ultimately mean it at the end of the day. Perhaps I'm slacking a bit on my job by not asking them to "clearly define" what their idea of cosmetic improvements is, so perhaps there is a disjoint in the levels of expectations right from the begininng. But, there are SO MANY great opportunities still out there!

The turn-key buyer is this new buyer who doesn't even want to paint a wall. If the house is perfect (meaning that it meets at least 85% of their major criteria in the price point they're shopping in) and has a wallpaper border going around the dining room that they wholeheartedly dislike, it's immediately rejected as an option. Carpet in a couple rooms that is worn or a color that doesn't go with their current bedspread causes them to run screaming from a well-priced home.

Why is that? Has the media beat into the minds of the public the idea of it being a "buyers market" to the point that buyers come to expect perfection? There truly is no such thing as the perfect turn-key house, yet it seems that is all that most people are out shopping for.

I guess my bottom line in this rant and rave is this: don't be afraid of a paint brush, don't fear peeling wallpaper, don't shy away form replacing tile or refinishing a hardwood floor or two. See these as OPPORTUNITY!

The Urban Advantage

Urban Advantage (http://www.urban-advantage.com)

I continually find myself going back to this site for inspiration. While the City of Saint Louis has progressed leaps-and-bounds from where it was even just 7 years ago when I decided to become a full-time resident, I still dream of the day when every major street corner such as the intersection of
Kingshighway and Chippewa oozes of the true urban spirit like one might see in Chicago: walkable features, wide sidewalks, pedestrian-friendly features, mature trees and street landscaping, bike-friendly features, vertical (rather than horizontal) development.

The site at Urban Advantage (http://www.urban-advantage.com) really gets my blood going. The question I ask over and over when I watch these animated suggestions of creating "urban" spaces is -- why is this considered unique? It makes, to me, so much common sense. Yet day after day, we see buildings being razed and tracts of land reproportioned for wide, sprawling 1-story horizontal strip-mall type develoepments. Is it just so outlandishly more expensive to build UP than build ACROSS? Not to mention the sea of lovely asphault that is created in a horizontal development.

I am not really as "brick-hugging" as I think at times I might consider myself. I am totally of the mindset that development is better than decay. But development for the sake of a quick dollar and no forthought into the future? That's not better than decay in my opinion. We live in such a disposable world. So much of what I often see appears "disposable". One 'dead' strip mall next to the brand new one (example: the north and south side of Chippewa just east of Kingshighway). Why do something "fast and dirty" when, with a little forethought, you could create something that could be a legacy.


March 24, 2007

RenovateSTL: Saint Louis Renovation Education

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Many folks I run into have an inkling to do some sort of renovation to the wonderful, historic housing stock we have available in the City of Saint Louis. Often times, buyers say they'd "like a house that needs a little cosmetic fixing" or even perhaps go so far as saying they want to find a "gut rehab project".

While the meaning of those terms can range greatly from one person to another, even the experienced developer can use a little education on the process. A fellow city dweller and resident of the Tower Grove South neighborhood has put together a wonderful educative online resource for helping those with just these interests.

Visit http://www.RenovateSTL.com when you have a chance.

Also be sure to check out the essay I've contributed to the website, which discussed rehabbing from the selling standpoint: what to avoid, who to consult, how to make decisions, etc.

Happy Rehabbing!

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New City Home Listing for Sale in Benton Park: 1955 Withnell, 63118


Vintage melded with Modern...


Circa 1910, this historic Benton Park home blends modern convenience and updates with vintage turn-of-the-century elements, all at a very palatable price!

With Benton Park nearly in your backyard, this 4 bed/2 bath renovated single family home (converted duplex) features over 2,000 sq ft w/hardwood floors, original moldings/trim, 2 pocket doors, tall 9’ ceilings & LARGE ROOMS with lots of light.

The dining room oozes old-world charm with plate moldings/paneling, built-in display cabinets with glass-front doors, boxed ceiling with rosette lighting & wooden columns.

The updated kitchen is large and features ceramic tile, maple cabinets, dishwasher, disposal & newer appliances. Find 4 spacious bedrooms and another full bath on the 2nd level. Outside find two decks, NEW 2-CAR GARAGE, privacy fencing & nice landscaping.

The “guts” are well-updated too, incl: newer white membrane roof, newer thermal windows, zoned HVAC, 50 gal water heater, 200 amp electric, copper plumbing and PVC stacks. Hurry, PRICED TO SELL.

PRICED IN MOVE-IN READY CONDITION, so you'll want to HURRY and call this 'home'!

Contact me for more information today, view MLS data sheet, or to schedule a private showing of this property!


March 21, 2007

Building "Up" in Saint Louis City


Seeing signs of a city that is "maturing" is very exciting to me. A recent post on the Rehabbers Club list-serv pointed out this adaptive reuse of a single-story flat-roof bungalow in the Tower Grove Heights neighborhood.

A good friend of mine, one who always has great visionery ideas, once proposed to me this idea of taking a 1-story flat roof bungalow and adding on top of it. In my somtimes overly-conservative ways, I shrugged it off as "nope - not doable. Not gonna happen." And then this photo surfaces and proves me wrong--and boy am I glad it did!

I think this is wonderful. While the TGH neighborhood doesn't have particularly large numbers (if any) of the mansard-style 2-story homes, I think it's a great new addition that truly pays homage to the architectural history and make-up of the surrounding area, while keeping and re-using ina modern way the century-old structure that perahps was a bit unusable, being a 3-room, 1 bed/1 bath shot-gun style home. I'm anxious to see them continue and see what materials they use to finish out the space.

New City Home Listing in Dogtown: 1557 Louisville, 63139


Check out this great new city home listing for sale in Dogtown


On a premier all-brick block in the heart of Dogtown, this 2 bed / 1 bath well-adorned full-brick bungalow boasts larger-than-average rooms for over 1,100+ sq ft of living space.

Hardwood floors, arched doorways, wood-burning fireplace, expansive front porch w/swing, stained glass & built-insoozing with classic city character. Add to that recessed lighting, an updated kitchen (island + stools stay), newer appliances (all included w/a full price offer), walk-in master closet, full bsmt, off-street parking (driveway) and great move-in-ready decor.

Plenty of system updates, with newer roof, gutters, facia & flashing in 2004, copper plumbing, some PVC, newer front storm door, and seller to offer 1-year AHS home warranty plan for peace of mind to the lucky new owner. This home sparkles so hurry for the chance to call 1557 Louisville home!

Video Tour: Click here

Virtual Tour: Click here

Email me about this listing