2019 Real Estate Predictions – Crystal Ball or Guess?

Categories: Real Estate Market

The question I’m asked most often this time of year is “What’s the market going to do this year?”  Will home prices rise, will it be a seller’s market, a buyer’s market, should I sell now or wait until Spring?

My answer is always prefaced with “there is no crystal ball.”  We do know that some trends will continue into 2019.  Mortgage rates most likely will rise, inventory is also on the rise and home price appreciation will continue to slow.  That’s the national rhetoric we read.  But, the forecasters leave out one overriding truth - REAL ESTATE IS INTENSELY LOCAL.  What happens in San Jose doesn’t translate to St. Louis.   For example, St. Louis County is fairly tight with 2.8 months of inventory.  If we look at luxury homes over $1 million, St. Louis County has a 9 month supply.   My best advice is to ask your Realtor for a market update that is specific to your location and your price category.

 

Janet Horlacher  

House Hunting In Clayton? Meet Larry Levy


House hunting in the Clayton area, why not look to Larry Levy’s professional experience. We sat down with him to discuss his expertise in this sought-after neighborhood.


Why choose Clayton?


Amenities play an important role in a buyer’s decision. Clayton provides a central location, a top school district, community center, dining, retail, and entertainment options, and traditional homes with tree-lined streets and sidewalks.


What types of homes are in the Clayton area?


Homes that were built starting at the turn of the 20th century through the 1960s and ‘70s. And in the 1980s, homes were built in the northern part of Clayton (Old Town Clayton) as well as the Clayton Gardens area. And then there are some intermittent buildings in the central part of Clayton—the White Elms, Clayton Hanley Corridor, etc.


What kind of updates are buyers looking for in the Clayton area when they are looking to buy?


Updated kitchen and baths are the most popular, and then having regular maintenance on the air conditioning, heating and roofing are essential.


Is there anything you suggest that sellers do before they list?


What’s most important is getting the house “show-ready.” That involves de-cluttering all the items that aren’t needed to be shown. It’s also taking care of maintenance items, repairs and painting (where possible) in neutral tones. The buyers want to come in and see the space, not the seller’s personal items.


Is staging something you recommend for sellers to do in the Clayton area?


Yes, I believe that staging is an integral part for sellers who have moved out. The staging needs to tell a story, and the story needs to blend and relate to the style of the home. For example, if it’s a traditional, Tudor-style home, you don’t want to have a lot of contemporary furniture and pictures. You might do more traditional styling with a blend of contemporary accessories to keep it modern.


Can you talk about a recent sale you’ve made and how it sold?


They’ve mostly been townhome-style residences in the Clayton Garden area. And what makes those so popular is that they are newer (less than 20 years old) and have a central location. The spaces themselves were open and big, not narrow and tight. The buyers wanted to get rid of heavy maintenance costs that they’ve had in the past, so the purchases worked out perfectly.


How do your clients typically find you or hear about you?


I’ve been doing this for nearly 20 years, so a lot of my clients come from word-of-mouth. Then there’s the combination of my marketing efforts and my own databases of people I’ve previously worked with. I was born and raised in Clayton, and my family still lives in Clayton. So it’s just been a strong commitment to relationships and creating trust.


You said you have been doing real estate for nearly 20 years. Can you talk about how long you’ve been with Janet McAfee?


I have been with Janet McAfee for a little over ten years. Before that, I worked for a luxury new home builder for a couple of years, and early in my career, I was with a web of large brokers. So it’s been in the last 11 years that I’ve learned the nuances of working with luxury clients. They are clients that are more educated, lead a sophisticated lifestyle and need for a larger home.


What is it like working at Janet McAfee?


Janet McAfee has provided me with tons of support. The management and staff are very professional, and they have the experience in luxury sales in Saint Louis. The marketing tools they offer really maximize the exposure and creates continuity in my brand, Larry Levy Luxury Homes.



Are you looking to buy or sell a home? At Janet McAfee, our real estate agents, like Larry Levy, are seasoned experts ready to assist you!

 

 

 

To List or Not to List

Categories: Home Selling Tips Seasonal Preparations

 

 


 

If you’re thinking of selling your home this season, here are some suggestions about selling in the winter to help guide you through the decision-making process.


1.       Inventory is Low = List Now.  Residential real estate is driven by supply and demand.  When supply is low, as it is now, Sellers have less competition for buyers.  When two or more buyers are competing for the same property, the price is going up.

2.    Inventory of Comparable Properties = Need More Data.  While inventory is low across the entire market, we must look at specifics.  What are inventory levels in your price range and in your neighborhood?  Your Realtor will drill down to only the areas and  price ranges, which are considered comparable.  We do have excess inventory in some categories, so you should be well informed before making the final call.

3.       Pool or outdoor amenity is an essential selling feature = Wait until Spring.   If your swimming pool or outdoor living feature is an essential reason for anyone to buy your home, you should wait until it is looking its best.   If waiting is not an option, I highly recommend providing photos which show just how lovely it looks.

4.       High lot value/possible tear down = List Now.   New home inventory is low and builders are anxiously scouring the market for good lots in good locations.  If your home could be a tear down, take advantage of current conditions and list now.

5.       Condo or Villa = List Now.  Currently, demand is strong for condos, villas and lifestyle communities.

6.       People buy homes every season of the year = List Now.  Remember, people will buy homes in every season.  Job transfers, promotions, marriages, changes in family situation happen all year.  A desirable, well priced home will sell any and every day of the year.


At Janet McAfee, our experienced real estate agents are available and ready to help you year-round. Whether you’re looking to buy or sell your house or simply in search of some more information, our agents know that real estate can involve life-changing decisions, and we pride ourselves on our commitment to intensive personal service, with your needs as our top priority.

 

For more information, you can call us at (314) 997-4800 or visit our website!

4 Reasons Homes Sell During the Holidays

Categories: Real Estate Market

It may surprise you to learn that the holidays are a good time to sell a home.  Holiday buyers are enthusiastic and emotional; they are serious buyers, less distracted by busy work schedules.  We find that buyers are motivated by the prospect of beginning a new year in a new home.  Consider these reasons:

 

#1. Year-end corporate transfers 

Corporate transferees schedule home buying trips over the holidays.  

 

#2   Buyers have time off work  

The reality is that when work commitments slow down around the holidays, buyers look online.  Holiday buyers have a sense of urgency to write an acceptable offer before the end of the year.    

 

#3   Homes look their best 

There is nothing like an abundance of lights, a fire in the hearth, the smell of fresh pine and a festive atmosphere to make a home look its best.  As long as it’s not overdone, holiday décor makes a house warm and inviting, which appeals to buyer emotions.

 

#4   Less Competition

Inventory is lower over the holidays; sellers face less competition; and serious buyers are quicker to make a strong offer.   

Attention Luxury Realtors: Perseverance Pays Off

Every day, I read an article about the duality in our real estate market and the uncertainty of luxury home sales.  Yes, it’s been true for some time that mid and lower priced homes are selling fast and furiously, while million dollar listings take longer to sell and require more marketing support.  

Just because the market may be slowing, doesn’t mean that we are slowing.  We sell homes every day of the year.  In fact, Janet McAfee sales are up significantly this year.  Perseverance is paying off.  Discipline, consistency and executing proven strategies will deliver results.  If the market gets tough, I’m up for the challenge … are you?

-Janet Horlacher

How to Sell a Historic Home

Categories: Luxury Real Estate Selling Your Home St. Louis Luxury Homes


For some unique luxury buyers and sellers, the history of a house or property plays an important role in their home search. But, finding a real estate agent who knows how to navigate the historic housing market can be equally as important—if not more. Experienced Janet McAfee luxury real estate agent, Kevin Hurley, shares his advice about how best to sell an historic luxury home.


Is there anything luxury sellers should do before deciding to list?

I think the key for anyone selling a home, and especially an historic home, is to make sure the house is in great condition. Luxury buyers are critical buyers and expect a certain level of condition and presentation.


In the end, luxury homes are significantly different from most listings in that you must make a significant time investment to document the heritage, detail amenities and updates, and address lifestyle considerations.


What are luxury buyers looking for in historic homes?

I mostly list historic homes in the Central West End near Forest Park. There, buyers looking at one-hundred-year-old homes or older are generally looking for architectural integrity. They're looking for homes that have been well-maintained, updated to a certain degree and also enjoy a good location.


The West End that has a limited amount of these unique homes which are impossible to replicate. So, it's a very special buyer—one who likes history but enjoys today’s modern amenities.


What kind of updates are luxury buyers looking for in the Central West End?

Kitchens and bathrooms. More specifically, an updated master bath is typically the first thing on the list. But for the most part, they just want a home that’s in good condition because they’re buying these homes for the historic details and often have the resources to customize the updates.


Tell us about a recent luxury sale that you have made. How did it sell?

First of all, you have to have professional photography because that's how a home is first presented to a potential buyer. Then, it’s important to have good marketing materials, brochures, etc., especially because these are very complicated, extensive listings.


Luckily, I've lived in an historic house in the West End. I’m well-aware of both what people's concerns are and what attracts people in the area. It’s important to counsel potential buyers about those considerations.


Is there anything unique about the way homes in your area sell? How do your clients find you?

I've lived in the West End for 40 years.  I have a network of agents who regularly call to ask questions about my listed homes and see if there is anything else coming up. I place print advertising in the West End Word, I promote my listings on social media and I send out postcards of newly-listed and just sold properties. This helps solidify my reputation in an area.


I have former neighbors who refer me to clients with interests in the area. I am lucky because I've been in that specific area for quite some time which helps because I can keep my eye out and reach out to people when I know something’s coming up.



Are you looking to buy or sell a luxury home? At, Janet McAfee our real estate agents are seasoned experts in selling luxury homes. From how to research the value and market your home to helping stage for specific buyers, our luxury clients truly reap the rewards of working with a Janet McAfee agent—and you can, too!

Thankful for these 5 Kitchen Luxuries

With Thanksgiving feast fast approaching, which kitchen appliances are you

most thankful for? Here are a few luxuries which would make any cook

happy.

1. Warming Drawer – With oven space at a premium, what better solution

for keeping our favorite recipes deliciously fresh and warm?

2. Wine Refrigerator – This saves me from running down to the basement

every time we need to open a new bottle.

3. Task Lighting – When guests arrive and naturally want to congregate

in the kitchen, I can dim overhead fixtures and pendants while still having

light to work.

4. Glass Washer Drawer – A true convenience eliminating long nights spent

hand washing delicate stemware.

5. Recycle Cabinets – The easiest way to separate waste from recyclables.

What’s on your wish list for best kitchen appliance?

Happy Thanksgiving to you!

-Janet

How To Choose a Luxury Real Estate Agent

Categories: Luxury Real Estate St. Louis Luxury Homes


Before deciding to buy or sell a home, finding the right real estate agent to guide you through the entire process can be the most important first step. Real estate transactions are complex and stressful. A good agent will help. Find out what Janet McAfee luxury real estate agents Julie Lane, Katie Curran and Kevin Hurley have to say about finding the perfect luxury agent for you!


How do buyers and sellers typically find a real estate agent?


KC: Referrals from satisfied clients are my best source of business. In addition to referrals, you need to be active on all marketing channels. Research shows that 95 percent of home buyers begin their search online. Having an online presence and being active on social media is crucial. I also do direct mail, promotion of my listings, and print advertising.  


What is the most important factor to consider when looking for a luxury real estate agent?


KH: You need an agent with experience selling luxury properties and knows today’s luxury market.

They need to have first-hand knowledge of the neighborhoods and the houses and know how to work with luxury sellers on how to price and market their luxury homes. These same factors are important when working with luxury buyers.


The best example is my experience with the Central West End. I have personally sold many of the homes on the private streets four to six times. This gives me a tremendous competitive advantage.


What other attributes are important in a luxury real estate agent?

 

JL: Besides experience, an agent must have strong communication skills, a verifiable record of activity and performance, and a vast social network. I work hard to be accessible to my clients 24/7 through call, text or email. I want to be communicating consistently throughout the home buying and selling process. I publish my sales history, my client profile, my geographic focus and my listing performance on my website. I also am involved with my community. I am in frequent contact with other Realtors as well as donating my time and talents to community organizations.


With that, is there a benefit to choosing Janet McAfee over other agencies?


JL: Definitely. We have a really good social media presence, but we also have a great network. The reason why I've always been with Janet McAfee is that they know everything that's happening and have their finger on the pulse of what's going on in the market. As an agent, you want to be able to give your client that competitive edge, whether they're buying or selling, so it helps to be able to know what's out there and what might be coming so that they don't miss out.


KC: We're definitely a boutique company, and our name is the best in St. Louis. From our brand to our team at Janet McAfee, everyone is a team player and incredibly knowledgeable. Anytime I turn a corner in the office, I can ask someone a question or bounce ideas and get great advice because everyone wants each other to be successful. A lot of times we do in-house deals because someone will say, “Oh my gosh, I have a buyer for that!” and we'll do what's called a ‘one-shot transaction’. That happens a lot in our office, and I love that.


In an office, lots of information is constantly going in and out, and in an area like St. Louis, everyone knows a little something about the market. Whether it’s from word-of-mouth at a country club or being on the board of a charity— we’re always in the know and constantly getting information on what’s going on in the real estate market.



Are you looking to buy or sell a luxury home? At, Janet McAfee our real estate agents are seasoned experts in selling luxury homes. From how to advertise and market your home to helping stage for specific buyers, our luxury clients truly reap the rewards of working with a Janet McAfee agent—and you can, too!

Interest in Real Estate Growing Among Affluent Consumers

Interest in Real Estate Growing Among Affluent Consumers

Luxury Portfolio’s newly released white paper Luxury Real Estate: What Matters To Today’s Global Elite reports “the population of affluent consumers continues to grow, as does their interest and emotional relationship with real estate.”

Interest in purchasing luxury real estate remains high for both financial and emotional reasons.  In most cultures, purchasing a home is a barometer of success.  Individuals consider investing in real estate to be a smart financial investment and an important path to creating wealth.   The study reveals affluent buyers seek 1) security and privacy, 2) the ability to grow as a person, 3) having personalized/customized space and 4) a place that facilitates happy memories with family and friends.   

Janet McAfee is the exclusive St. Louis member of Luxury Portfolio International.  For a copy of the whitepaper, Luxury Real Estate: What Matters Most to Today’s Global Elite, please contact jhorlacher@ janetmcafee.com. 

 

-Janet Horlacher

Luxury Homes: Hear From an Expert in Kitchen Renovations

Categories: Luxury Real Estate


Luxury kitchen design and amenities can be the true selling points of a home. For deeper insights, we talked with Chuck Schagrin, a luxury kitchen design professional and founder of Amherst Corporation, to take a look at the latest design trends and important elements for kitchens in today’s luxury market.


Can you give us a quick one-minute bio about yourself and what you do?

I’m Chuck Schagrin, and I have an masters in architecture. I don’t practice as an architect, but I apply the design skill from my masters and renovate numerous kitchens and custom projects driven by clients.


How many kitchen renovations do you do in one year?

Many of my kitchen projects are either kitchens for newly-built houses or remodels to existing homes, and I work on about four to six of these custom kitchens per year.


What defines a luxury kitchen?

Luxury is in the eye of the beholder. Typically, it involves high-end appliances and materials such as granites, marbles and even some of the new synthetic quartz materials. Luxury also includes valves, sinks and how the lighting is distributed. For example, there is a new home on Clayton Road with a beautiful luxury kitchen that has custom cabinets handmade by a carpenter and finished with a custom glaze.


How important is hiring a designer for a luxury kitchen?

I’m a firm believer that hiring a designer for a luxury kitchen truly pays off for homeowners, in multiple ways. First, the designer is in a position to take the thoughts and ideas of a client and lead that client to review options and make a final choice. Further, an interior designer or design professional is able to work with other materials and designs in the home and tie those into the kitchen so that it all comes together in a cohesive way. There is a world of choices and opportunities that the homeowner alone could never have access to—so having a designer will help immensely.


Why would someone choose to redo their kitchen?

My work is a mixture. One type that’s not in this mix is someone who wants to update their kitchen in order to sell their house. Instead, a number of my kitchens are in newly-purchased homes/condos. The other type I’ve worked on are with owners who have lived in their houses for 12+ years and want to update their kitchens because their appliances are outdated. Lastly, I do projects in new houses that are still being built.


How important is the layout in a kitchen?

The layout is critically important for several reasons. It needs to be user-friendly—both for someone who does a high-volume of cooking and someone who is a more casual kitchen user. A layout is also important because of the flow of guests and how you want to interact with them while you’re in the kitchen. Finally, it’s important to the design style. You can’t have a kitchen where the layout doesn’t complement what you’re trying to accomplish.


How do you help customers balance what is trending now vs. a more timeless look?

It comes down to the client’s personal preference—but again, a design professional is extremely important to understanding what a client wants and how to accomplish it.


What is the most common issue with kitchens in older homes?

Kitchens in older homes often have more structural restrictions. Whether it be with the lines, plumbing, etc., all of these issues can obviously be addressed, it just comes with more of a price.


What is your favorite part of designing kitchens?

Personally, my favorite part of designing is when a client comes in with a shopping list of ideas for their kitchen, and at the completion of the process, the client says: “That is exactly what I wanted.” Part of this process is giving them the information they need to understand the choices that are being made, then watching them have that ‘aha’ moment and seeing that this is exactly what they wanted.



Are you looking to buy or sell a luxury home? At, Janet McAfee our real estate agents are seasoned experts in the ins and outs of selling a luxury home. From advertising and marketing your home to staging, our luxury clients truly reap the rewards of working with a Janet McAfee agent—and you can, too!