Dawn Griffin

Saint Louis City-Focused Broker/Salesperson
GRI, e-Pro, Licensed REALTOR®

dawn@dawngriffin.com / 314.413.7086

Dawn Griffin

Live Near the Awarding Winning Tower Grove Park: 3411 Halliday $298,000

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3411 Halliday is a beautiful 5 bedroom, 2.5 bath home is located in the Tower Grove East neighborhood. This home is only a 6 minute walk to the beautiful Tower Grove Park.  Whether its jogging or relaxing this park has everything you are looking for: a wading pool, playgrounds, tennis courts, ball fields, picnic tables and pavilions perfect for BBQ’s, and myriad shade trees great for napping under.

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You can move into the neighborhood just in time for Food Truck Friday, which kicks off May 8th.

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3411 Halliday is also within walking distance of many amazing restaurants, for example, The Shaved Duck , featured on the Food Network, is just around the corner.

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Feel free to reach out to me to learn more: 314-413-7086

Live Near the Loop: 7426 Lynn Avenue, $99,000

This little gem is close to the Delmar Loop, UMSL and the airport. 7426 Lynn has everything you need under $100,000 starting with the romantic Craftsman curb appeal.

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With warmer weather quickly approaching, now is the perfect time to get out and explore the city, and what better area to spend an afternoon than University City? This area is most notably known for being the home to the Delmar Loop, but this city has so much more to offer. Here are just a few of the yearly events University City holds each year:

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Forest Park is another part aspect of University City that everyone enjoys. Forest Park has something for everyone, from the Muny, to the Art and History museum, to the Zoo there is never a dull moment.

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University City is known as home to the Loop. The Loop has something for everyone to enjoy, every day of the week. Whether you are looking to enjoy some BBQ at Salt and Smoke, catch Chuck Berry preform at Blueberry Hill, or to catch a movie at the Tivoli Theatre you are sure to have a great time.

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Ready to call University City your new home? Then we have the perfect home for you! Located at 7426 Lynn Ave., this home offers 2 bedrooms, 1 bath. Contact me for more information about this home.

Moving To St Louis For Med School: 5351 Pershing: Adjustable Rate Financing

Guest Post Courtesy of:
Mark Anderson NMLS # 374393
Vice President Direct Lending Division
Cornerstone Mortgage, Inc. NMLS 223109
Phone/Text # 314-599-0511
www.markandersonmortgage.com

How long do you plan to own your new home?  This is one of the first questions I ask clients to help determine their mortgage needs.  Most folks throw out a vague number of years, not really knowing for sure.  Others are adamant they will be in the home forever.  However, some people have a very definitive answer and can tell me right off the bat.  For example, I have found in particular that medical students, fellows, residents, etc. often know exactly how long they want to stay. For these buyers, adjustable-rate mortgages (ARMs for short) are a great option, allowing them to save thousands of dollars effortlessly.

Turning Jargon into English: The first thing to understand about ARMs is that most of them are not true adjustable-rate mortgages at all!  In fact, in my 10 years as a mortgage banker, I have never closed a true ARM.  The kind of ARMs I am going to discuss here are technically referred to as “Fixed-Adjustable Hybrid Mortgages” (I guess we could call them FAHM’s, but that doesn’t have a very nice ring to it.)  The word ‘fixed’ is the aspect we’re interested in here.  In a true ARM your interest rate would adjust on a monthly or yearly basis, subjecting you to a high degree of risk.  In the fixed-adjustable hybrid version, your rate starts out FIXED for a predetermined amount of time.

When looking at these types of ARMs you will see two numbers and a slash – for example, 5/1 or 7/1.  The number before the slash refers to the number of years the rate will be fixed.  The number after the slash refers to how often that rate will adjust once the fixed period is over.  So, in the case of a 10/1 ARM, the initial loan rate will stay fixed for 10 years.  After 10 years, it will adjust once per year.  I could go on to explain how the adjustments work, but for the purposes of this conversation we are assuming the loan never goes into adjustment because you would sell the property before the adjustable period is over.

Reasons to consider an ARM:  Assuming you know how long you are going to own the property and that you choose a fixed period that matches up properly, you should seriously consider an ARM because it will save you tons of money versus a traditional 30-Year Fixed mortgage – it is that simple.

Example: To help demonstrate these numbers, I wanted to use a real, live example of a property that is for sale right now!  Dawn Griffin has currently listed 5351 Pershing Ave. St. Louis, MO 63112 at $299,000.  We chose this property for this example as it is in an area near Washington University Medical School, which means there are many prospective buyers that could benefit from an ARM versus a fixed rate loan.

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Assumptions: I am going to assume a 20% down payment, though technically you could put much less down.  In addition, I am going to assume a 740 or higher credit score.  Finally, as a legal caveat, I have to explain that the rates mentioned below are subject to change without notice but that they are valid rates for the day I am writing this (3/3/2015).

30 Year Conventional Fixed Rate: Current rate would be 3.75% (3.799% APR).  If you stayed for in the home for 5 years you would spend $42,731 in interest. Over 7 years, you would pay $58,507. And if you lived there 10 years, you would make $80,576 in interest.

10/1 ARM, current rate would be 3.5% (3.277% APR).  Over 10 years you would spend $74,899 in interest – a savings of $5,677 versus the fixed rate program.  Over 7 years, you would spend $54,452 in interest – a savings of $4,055.  Over 5 years, you would spend $39,802 in interest – a $2,929 savings.

7/1 ARM current rate would be 3.125%.  Over 7 years, you would pay $48,403 in interest – a $10,104 savings versus the 30-year fixed loan.  Over 5 years, your total interest spent would be $35,426 – a $5,672 savings.

5/1 ARM current rate would drop to the quite enviable 2.875% interest rate (2.956% APR).  Your total interest payment over 5 years would be $32,521 which is a savings of $10,210 compared to the 30-year fixed.

Make no mistake, while these savings are fantastic, they have the potential to evaporate quickly if rates shoot up after the fixed period is over*.  One option to consider is to give yourself a buffer.  If you only plan to be in the home for 5 years, you might consider taking the 7/1 ARM or even the 10/1 ARM.  The savings are still significant and you will have some additional peace of mind.

In closing, let me share a quick observation.  I took a look at my purchase clients that closed in 2008.  By my records and best efforts to interpret them accurately, a full 50% of the clients that took 30-year fixed rate loans have already sold the property or refinanced.  That means that every single one of these clients could have saved significant money by using a 10/1 ARM.  Is the product right for everyone?  Absolutely not, but they can be a great way to save money when used in the right circumstances.

New Listing: 27 Crosswinds Drive: Open House March 1st

Our newest listing at 27 Crosswinds Dr. has something to please everyone. Located in the Ladue School District, this beautiful mid-century modern home features 4 bedrooms, 2.5 baths, 2 fire places, a pool, and so much more.

Here is a quick overview of everything this home has to offer:

The Ladue School District has been honored with many awards, including:

  • The Distinction in Performance Award granted by the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) every year the award has been given since 2001
  • Five schools have received six Blue Ribbon School Awards from the United States Department of Education.
  • Three schools have received five Gold Star Schools from DESE.
  • And, for the past 20 years, approximately 10 percent of high school seniors have been recognized by the National Merit Program as a finalist, semifinalist or commended student.

In addition to the many awards, the students who attend Ladue School District, on average, scored higher on their ACT and SAT test scores in 2014.

Ladue School

 

While Ladue is located outside of St. Louis City, it is only an 11min. drive to the beautiful Forest Park.

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This home’s fourth bedroom, being used as a den, has a gorgeous built-in bookshelves surrounding a fireplace, perfect for cozy nights in.

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The recently updated Ikea kitchen is a dream come true for any cook.

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Interested? Stop by our open house this Sunday, March 1st, from 1-3pm for more information.

Please visit 27Crosswinds.com or feel free to reach out to me with any questions to learn more.

How To Sell Your Home and Buy Another at the Same Time

Buying and Selling Simultaneously is a tricky process, but people literally do it everyday. I met with three home sellers last week who were just beginning to parse out this puzzle.

Here is a great article from Realtor.com that lays it out pretty succinctly. The article outlines three basic ways to make the move when you already own a home.

Option 1: Sell First then Buy

Advantages: You have a clear financial picture and know what your buying power is. You do not have to worry about interim financing. You do not have to write a contract contingent on the sale of your home. This option gives you a better negotiating position when you are on the purchasing side and allows you have a longer period to look for your next home.

Disadvantages: You have to find short-term interim housing and you have to move twice.

Scenario: I recently had a client who KNEW he wanted to the live in the Shaw neighborhood. Shaw is the current IT city neighborhood and it is definitely a seller’s market. Based on his price range and required criteria, we knew that he would need to submit a clean offer. Financially, he was unable to carry two mortgages considering the price range he needed to be in to get what he really wanted. The best option for him was to sell first. While it was a huge hassle to move twice, it was worth it to him because he was not interested in comprising on his location or required criteria. Because the neighborhood was so competitive, the seller of his home received multiple offers. He was able to win the bid by submitting a clean offer not contingent on the sale of his existing home.

Option 2: Buy First Then Sell

Advantages: You only have to move one time. This option gives you time to prepare your new house while still living in your current home. Once you have moved, you will have more time to prepare your old home for market and you will be able to keep it show ready at a moment’s notice.

Disadvantages: You will need to be prepared to carry two mortgages for at least a couple months. There is also the possibility that your current home will not sell. It decreases your buying power on the next home because the debt on the first home counts against you.

Scenario: In December of 2013, my clients bought a home that needed a gut rehab. Using construction financing, they worked on it for 6 months with a general contractor. The original plan was to put the home on market about 6 weeks prior to the completion date of the second home. However, they had two toddlers, so keeping the home show ready proved to be a true challenge. Ultimately they decided to wait until the rehab was complete. They moved out of the existing home and into the rehab. Once they were out, they spent a week with contractors getting the home ready to sell. With the kiddos out of the way, the small amount of work they put in a made a huge difference in the presentation which made all the difference. They ended up with a full price offer (on a list price that was higher than they originally anticipated) the first weekend on the market.

Option 3: Buy and Sell Simultaneously

Advantages: Does not require multiple moves. Allows you to use your full buying power and does not require you to carry multiple mortgage payments.

Disadvantages: Requires you to make offers contingent on the sale and closing of your home which reduces your negotiating power on the purchase price. Or requires that you wait until your home is under contract before shopping for the new home which gives you a very short window of time to find your next home.

Scenario: While complicated, this is surprisingly the most common. I recently had a listing in St. Louis Hills where the owner had lived in the house nearly her entire life. She was ready for a change. Not a small change but a big one. She no longer wanted a small postage stamp lot and walkable lifestyle. She wanted acreage. Buying acreage requires funds. The existing home had an enormous amount of equity in it. But rather than do multiple financial transaction to get to that equity, she decided to sell and buy simultaneously. On the day of closing the equity in the existing home was cashed out and she used the proceeds from the sale to buy/finance the next purchase.

Step One: List the house. Step One and a Half:  Research the available inventory for the purchase (without getting to attached to any single home).
Step Two: Accept a Contract to Sell the Existing House. Ideally, negotiate an extended close date.
Step Three: Shop for the next house. Include language in the purchase contract to protect you if the sale of the existing home does not close.
Step Four: Micromanage each transaction and prepare for a whirlwind closing day.

This is just a primer. If you are thinking about moving and are wondering how to sell your house and buy the next one at the same time, call an agent (me!) and schedule some time to talk this through. There are so many scenarios to discuss. Figuring out which of these may be the best avenues for you requires a lengthy and meaty discussion.

 

 

 

 

 

Comparing $400,000 Condos in St. Louis

3281 Gustine in the Capistrano Building is currently on the market. Because it is bank owned, the price has been radically reduced. It is being offered at only $89/sqft. Compared to other condos currently listed between $350,000-$450,000 that’s about $100 less per square foot than the average price per square foot for a traditional resale. At such a discount you might think the unit was lacking in some way. But check out the side-by-side comparison below and you will see that it offers much, much more than the average condo.

 

History: Check the PBS St. Louis Home Builders’ Assn. Rebuilding St. Louis Project to see the renovation in progress.

 

3 Up Comparison: Before looking at the details of each condo, check this side by side comparison of prices, fees and amenities.
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3281 Gustine: Castle-like residence with its own private entrance, full basement for storage and 3 spaces in the underground garage. Feels more like a townhome than a condo, but offers a luxury and maintenance-free lifestyle. Added bonus is the partially finished lower level with walk-out. Could make a great in-law suite, office or AirBnB Rental.
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4554 Laclede: This unit in the Wexford offers a very traditional condo experience with a communal entry. The unit has a fireplace and den. Pool access and underground parking.
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5256 Waterman: This unit in Portland Court offers the maintenance free lifestyle of a condo with more of a townhome experience.
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How To Make Your Offer Stand Out in a Multiple Offer Scenario

2015 is going to another great season for the home-seller. Inventory still seems to be low. Rates are still absurdly low and FHA just announced that annual insurance premiums will be reduced which will give Buyers more buying power.*

For buyers, this will mean more competition for the available homes. And therefore it is likely that as a Buyer in the 2015 Spring market you may find yourself in a multiple offer situation. (This is when a seller receives more than one offer on a the home at the same time).

Here are some tips on how to make your offer stand-out in a multiple-offer situation:

1. Make sure you are FULLY pre-approved and not just pre-qualified. This requires that you find an excellent lender who will do the work for you ahead of time. Most lenders will not submit your file to underwriting until you have a contract on a home. Other lenders will make sure your file is complete with the exception of the contract and appraisal. This means that when you submit an offer to the seller, the seller is assured of  your ability to deliver the funds on the day of the closing and offers the seller peace of mind when accepting your contract.

2. If you are serious about buying a home, you will likely have saved a decent down payment and you should have funds in reserve. The contract asks that you submit an Earnest Money deposit at signing. This money shows the seller that you are serious. The Earnest Money is your money. If you fulfill the contract, it is credited back to you at closing. The contract also allows you several contingencies to terminate after doing your due diligence.  If inspections reveal serious structural issues or if the home does appraise for the agreed price, the buyer is within their rights to terminate the contract with Earnest Money returned to the buyer. Therefore the Earnest Money is only in jeopardy if the buyer defaults on the contract. So, if you are serious, show the seller your are serious with a larger Earnest Money deposit.

3. Do not write an offer contingent on the sale of your home. (This topic deserves its own blog post)

4. Be ready to pay your own closing costs. In the past, many sellers were willing to credit a portion of the sale price back to the buyer to pay for the buyer’s closing costs which includes lender fees, title fees and pre-paids. In this market and especially in a competing offer situation, the seller wants to see the cleanest offer possible. Talk with your lender ahead of time to see how much cash you need to have ready to cover your down payment and your own closing costs.

5. Be flexible with your closing date. Some sellers want to close as quickly as possible. Others have to wait for their next home to be available. If you can be flexible on timing, the seller may pick your offer over a different higher offer. The more flexible you can make yourself, the easier your purchase will be.

6. Add an escalation clause. I.E (I will pay $1057.00 more than the highest offer not to exceed $X). Talk to your agent about how to structure this so that all your bases are covered.

7. Write a note to the seller. I recently helped a seller sort through FIVE competing offers for her house. Two of the contracts had very similar offer prices and terms. Both used an escalation clause. Both were willing to pay more than the highest written offer on the table. One of the buyers wrote a note of introduction. In that case, the letter was the tipping point in helping the seller choose which offer to accept.

*Note: This means that borrowers will have more buying power. For a $120,000 borrowers, the reduction in annual premium will save them $50/month. Instead of paying $50 a month to mortgage insurance, that $50/month can go to a larger loan amount giving the borrower at the $120,000 about $12,000-$15,000 cushion in their price point.

 

Tower Grove South Spring 2013 Compared to Spring 2014

The 2015 Spring market is upon us. And every home seller that I meet with is asking: Will Spring 2015 be like Spring  2014?

Last year’s Spring market felt frenzied. For the homeowners who were selling and receiving multiple offers that was fantastic! For those looking to buy homes in the neighborhood that was extremely frustrating. (See: Tips on How to Make Your Offer Stand Out in a Multiple Offer Scenario).

So was last Spring a fluke? Or, are we likely to see similar market conditions in 2015. Here is a snapshot of 2013 Spring compared to 2014 Spring. I always like to see what happened in the past to help give me a glimpse into what might happen next.

The screenshots below show a specific mapped section of TGS (this is not the entirety of the neighborhood). To be included as one of these data points, the home had to be priced above $125,000 with at least 3 bedrooms. Respective dates: January 1, 2013-July 31, 2013 and January 1, 2014-July 31,2014.

SOLD Data for TGS in 2013:
Price range:  $125-$462,000
Total Sold: 39
Average Days on Market: 61
Average List Price to Sale Price Ratio: 96.18
Number of houses receiving 100% or more of asking: 11

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SOLD Data for TGS in 2014:
Prices ranged from $130-$470,000
Total Sold: 46
Average Days on Market: 63
Average List Price to Sale Price Ratio: 97.98
Number of houses receiving 100% or more of asking: 15

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Take aways: Prices seemed to have creeped up between 2013 and 2014. I was surprised to see that the average days on market was higher in 2014 than 2013. I looked a little closer at the CDOM and saw that there were two outliers in 2014 that racked up 248 days and 348 days on market. Removing those brought the CDOM for 2014 down to 52. There were more homes listed and sold in 2014 than 2013 but there were also more homes that sold ABOVE asking in 2014.

Predictions for Spring 2015: There will be fewer homes listed for sale. Many of the homes listed will be NEW rehabs not previously lived in by anyone else. Those homes matching the magic formula (3+beds, 2.5baths with Master Suite and 2 car garage) will sell for over $300,000+. That will keep resale prices on the higher end as well.

Caution:
Sellers
should not over-estimate what their home is worth. If sellers price according to market data, they are likely to receive multiple offers with good terms. If sellers try to out-perfom the market based on the low inventory, the buyers will move on. The home noted in 2014 that took 348 to sell was a great house. The ultimate buyer probably got it for 15k less than its nearst sold comp though. By the time the seller came to grips with the market data, the home was stigmatized. Had that seller priced at $239,900 out of the gate instead of $289,900, he would have received more than $215,000.

Buyers need to get their ducks in row now. Do your research. Get a good idea of what your price point buys in different areas. Make sure you are fully pre-approved and talk with your Buyer’s Agent about a strategy for submitting a contract in multiple offer situations. When you find the right house, be ready to make a good offer.

List Your Home for Sale During the Holidays

Homes sell every month of the year. Here are 7 reasons why you should list your home today rather than wait for Spring

1. People tromping around in the snow are serious buyers
2. Serious winter time buyers have fewer homes to choose from during the holidays and less competition = a higher sale price.
3. Buyers are more emotional about “getting into a place before Christmas”
4. Houses show better when decorated for the holidays
5. Many relocation buyers have to move before their new job begins. They cannot wait until Spring to buy.
6. Some people must buy before the end of the year for tax reasons.
7. If your home is not on the market, it won’t sell. You can still restrict showing access to conform to your holiday schedule.

When selecting agents to interview to sell your home THIS YEAR, here are 3 reasons to call me first.

1. Average list price to sale price ratio is 97%
2. Average days on the market from list date to sale date is 58
3. Superior marketing program ensures that your home stands out from the pack.

 

 

 

Homes Near Wash U’s School of Medicine within Walking Distance of a Park or Playground

Case Study:
We have a 2 year old and another on the way. We are looking for 3-4 bedrooms and 2 baths. Our price range is between $300,000 and $400,000. We would love to educate ourselves on and to visit some of the many charming neighborhoods of St. Louis, preferably with some walkability and retail/restaurant components. We would love to look at a few houses to see what our price range can afford us in which neighborhoods and to better understand the local market and we need to be close to Washington University’s School of Medicine.
It is a bit overwhelming to look into all of the different neighborhoods (switching between a map to conceptualize, google directions to understand distance to WashU medical center, and blog/website urls to get a sense of the each vibe), but I want to maximize my exploration time in St. Louis…In addition to the TGE and South neighborhoods, do you have any other neighborhoods on which I should do some research and/or look into exploring on my own time …would love suggestions on maybe neighborhoods/locations that would be nice to check out and grab breakfast/coffee or dinner (and to take a 2 year old to).
Homes around Tower Grove Park (neighborhoods: TGE, TGS and Shaw)
Click the following link to view the Listings:
http://www.marismatrix.com/DE.asp?k=608752XMZTC&p=DE-20557288-667
Lunch at the New Rooster Crepe Sandwich Cafe
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Homes around Lafayette Park (neighborhoods Lafayette Square and McKinley Heights)
Click the following link to view the Listings:
http://www.marismatrix.com/DE.asp?k=608752XMZTC&p=DE-20557360-629
Afternoon Snack at Park Avenue Coffee
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Homes around Benton Park (neighborhood: Benton Park)
Click the following link to view the Listings:
http://www.marismatrix.com/DE.asp?k=608752XMZTC&p=DE-20557461-791
Dinner at Sidney Street Cafe 
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Homes around Forest Park (neighborhood Skinker DeBaliviere)
Click the following link to view the Listings:
http://www.marismatrix.com/DE.asp?k=608752XMZTC&p=DE-20557514-731
Coffee at Kayak’s Coffee
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Homes around Tilles Park (neighborhood Lindenwood Park)
Click the following link to view the Listings:
http://www.marismatrix.com/Matrix/Public/Portal.aspx?k=608752XMZTC&p=DE-20557595-714
Picnic basket from Salume Beddu
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Homes around Lindenwood Park (neighborhood Lindenwood Park)
Click the following link to view the Listings:
http://www.marismatrix.com/DE.asp?k=608752XMZTC&p=DE-20557781-470
Dine at Stellina Pasta
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Homes around Francis Park ( neighborhood: St Louis Hills)
Click the following link to view the Listings:
http://www.marismatrix.com/DE.asp?k=608752XMZTC&p=DE-20557838-156
Ice Cream at Ted Drewes
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University City
Homes around Flynn Park
Click the following link to view the Listing:
http://www.marismatrix.com/DE.asp?k=608752XMZTC&p=DE-20557857-507
Brunch at Winslow’s Home
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Homes around Lewis Park
Click the following link to view the Listings:
http://www.marismatrix.com/DE.asp?k=608752XMZTC&p=DE-20557894-483
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