Most Fridays I put together a list of open houses, but this time of year there are simply less open houses to write about. That’s ok, because there’s something else to get you out and about and enjoying this great city and region: Holiday Lights! I’ve found a couple of great hints around the internet to share here, but your best bet is to get out and about and go on a light hunting adventure of your own.
StLouis.About.com tells us, “Go a little wild this holiday season with Wild Lights at the St. Louis Zoo. If you’ve never been to the zoo on a winter evening, this is a real treat. Walk through the exhibits as they come alive with more than 500,000 lights (see pictures of the display). Kids can hear holiday stories and adults can do a little shopping at the Holiday Zootique. Wild Lights is open from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Tickets are $4 for Zoo members and $5 for non-members. Children under two get in free. There is also free parking at the Zoo’s South Lot.” Open daily now through Dec 30!
Again, StLouis.About.com writes, “For 27 years, employees with the St. Louis County Parks Department have turned Tilles Park into a Winter Wonderland. You can drive through the display, but the best way to see the lights is by horse-drawn carriage. Winter Wonderland is open daily from 5:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m., except for Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve. Cars are welcome Sunday through Friday, but Saturdays are reserved for carriage rides. Admission is $10 per car. Tickets for carriage rides are available through MetroTix, and vary depending on the size of the carriage.”
An RFT article from last year wrote of the 6500 block of Murdoch, also known as Candy Cane lane, ” it’s expected that if you live on the street, you decorate your house for Christmas. This year  only two homeowners on the block are playing the role of Scrooge, their darkened houses standing out like shuttered casinos on the Las Vegas strip.” The same article quoted a neighborhood resident as saying one can expect bumper to bumper traffic from dusk until 10:30pm on a Friday evening – so plan to take a warm drink and some holiday cookies while you crawl along candy cane lane!
Although this isn’t an open house blog, the moral of the story is the same – get out and get to know this terrific community called St Louis. There’s beauty everywhere in this town – you just have to get out and look!
You don’t have to go far to find a place to escape the summer heat of the city – in fact, you may not have to leave the city at all! I’ve polled some friends and reflected on some of my own favorite hikes and hunted around on the internet to find 12 great hikes to share! Most of these are very close to St Louis City while a handful are a couple of hours out – each makes for a great trip that will let you forget the hustle and bustle of city life!
Eastern Missouri and Southern Illinois are marked by 3 great geological characteristics: Cliffs, Caves, and Bodies of Water. All of these lead to and/or are a result of water ultimately trickling towards the central vein of the region – the Mississippi River. You’ll see one of more of these characteristics at each of these parks/recreation areas!
Forest Park (see park map) - Forest park has a great network of trails - perhaps most notable is the nearly 6 mile loop that traverses the park’s perimeter. Part gravel and part paved, this trail is designed to appeal to walkers, joggers, strollers (both the people kind and the kind that carry babies), roller bladers, and bikers. In addition to this perimeter trail, you can choose from 1 of 5 self guided audio tours through some of the parks most scenic spots including the Steinberg Savannah Trail. Or, just meander through the Kennedy Forest on the park’s Southwest corner.
Shaw Nature Preserve (see park map) – Can’t go wrong here, this is a classic “Choose your own adventure” spot to spend anywhere from 30 minutes to a whole day! About.com has a great little summary of the preserve:
“Hike Through Six Unique Natural Habitats:
Plan to spend a day or an afternoon just wandering the grounds. The Wetland Complex can be exceptionally tranquil, and visitors often see ducks, kingfishers and herons working their way through the lily pads. Or, take a hike through the reserve’s upland forests, keeping an eye out for deer and wild turkey. Hidden within the forests are quite a few naturally occurring glades, wide open areas that bloom with native wildflowers through spring and summer.
Overall the reserve has more than 14 miles of trails, cutting through a wide variety of native habitats, including tallgrass prairies, pine meadows and bottomland forests. A number of trails also lead to a peaceful section of the Meramec River, where hikers can cool their feet in summer months.”
Mastodon State Historic Site (see park map)- There are three short trails to choose from at this cute little park which used to be the site of a large limestone quary where bones of Mastadons have been discovered and excavated. The trails are short enough that you can easily hike more than one! You’ll work up the biggest sweat on the Limestone Hill Trail but there are plenty of spots to stop and catch your breath and, if the foliage isnt too thick, you might even be able to marvel at one of the vistas from atop the giant boulders that this shady trail circles. After your hike, get lost in nearby, sleepy little Kimmswick which features a historic shopping center and ongoing sales, events, and community activities.
Emmenegger Nature Park (see park map) - located in Kirkwood, MO near the intersection of I-44 and I-270 and the Meremac river, this park is a short jaunt away from the city and features a short trail both paved (.5 mile) and unpaved (1 mile) and strolls along bluffs lining the Meremac river! Folks who have visited the park give it rave reviews for evening hikes to cap off long summer days.
Coiuver River State Park (see park map & use with trail descriptions). Coiuver River is one of Cooper’s favorite places. The trail around the lake is very manageable, not too many steps only a few inclines, some nice rocks lake side for sitting and dangling your feet. At a good clip you can make the loop in about an hour and half. But if there’s no hurry you can linger for hours. Pack a good picnic and cop a squat!
Castlewood State Park (see park map)- is known to many St Louisans as a great place to hike, bike, or even relax in the waters of the Meremac river. But did you know that this was once the site of great prohibition era parties?! While the parties may have been tamed over the last 80 years, good times are still enjoyed by folks of all ages. In particular, you should check out the River Scene Trail, which “follows the edge of the bluffs for about a mile past overlooks that provide stunning panoramic views of the Meramec River valley 200 feet below.” There are 8 trails to choose from at this great park that’s just outside of I-270 – so you can stay for a few minutes or make a whole day of your visit!
Green’s Cave Bushwhack (Hamilton Hollow Route – see Meremac State Park Map)- this hike through Meramec State Park follows Hamilton Creek and offers no formal trail to follow – so make sure to bring your compass and a good topographical map! Along the way you can see “an old iron smelter, Hamilton Cave, two springs, and an abandoned homestead,” writes Steve Henry in the book 60 Hikes within 60 miles of St Louis. He recommends taking this hike in cooler months, as the growth along the creek can become overwhelming and difficult to navigate. The cave that Jesse James once used as a hideout is now fenced off to protect the bat population, but the vistas and variety of sights to behold are said to be fantastic for those willing to blaze their own trail!
For a more thorough, online description of this bushwack, read this youngster’s blog from his site called, Ben’s Hikes. Alternatively, if you’ve got about 12 minutes and like classic, mostly southern, rock – check out this video of Green’s cave and some of it’s neighbors to get a feel for the area – and some of its visitors.
Cliff Cave County Park (see park map)- Located just South of I-255 along the Mississippi, Cliff Cave County Park, has three trails to enjoy – one paved and two with packed dirt. The trails are open to horses, bikes, and hikes – so keep your eyes out for surprises! This is a great place to see historic bluffs as well as the mighty Mississippi! The cave – formerly known as “Indian Cave” is also closed to the general public in the interest of endangered bats, but there may be a chance to get inside St Louis County’s 2nd largest cave if you call the county parks department for a reservation: 314-615-4FUN.
Pere Marquette State Park (see park map)- GreatRiverRoad.com writes, “Hikers will find a variety of hiking opportunities at the park with 10 trails that total approximately 12 miles. The trails’ ratings range from easy to difficult and travel through a variety of habitats. There are 9 scenic overlooks along the trails that provide the hiker with a panorama of the countryside. The trails are color-coded and are clearly marked with paint on the trees and signposts.” The Goat Cliff Trail comes highly recommended because of it’s vistas of 3 bodies of water and its sampling of the park’s natural treasures. Want to make a night of it? This park has great camping facilities too!
Pickle Springs (see park map)- AllTrails.com tells us that, “Trail through time was designated a National Natural Landmark in 1974. It features unique rock outcroppings wet weather creekcrossings, seasonal waterfalls, bluff overlooks and shallow caves.” The park includes a double arch & rocks to climb on, too!
Silver Mine Recreation Area (see recreation area map)- “The St. Francis River thunders through a rugged canyon cut through granite bluffs overlooking its course through the St. Francois Mountains,” writes Trails.com. Be prepared to walk through ditch weed and the like so bring long pants – but you can be rewarded by cool water to dip your feet in along your way. If that’s not cool enough, seek out “the air conditioner,” aka the Einstien Mines, who give the park its name.
Ozark Trail – Finally, you may have heard of the Appalachian Trail and Missouri is on its way to having a continuous trail of its own. Hop over to their website and explore all the great options throughout the show-me state’s unique geological landscape! http://www.ozarktrail.com/
Finally, Castor Shut-ins Johnson’s Shut-ins are notable for great hikes, too, but I’ll save those for my next blog project, which will share the best swimming holes in the area! Until then, happy hiking!
Today (October 3, 2011) there are over 45 Active listings in the 63116 zip code for 2 bedroom homes priced between 75-100K. For a first time home buyer, this can be extremely overwhelming. In an effort to help my clients save time, we start by sorting online with a personalized MLS portal. The portal allows my clients to view ALL the inventory in their price range and stated area that matches their criteria. From the original list they can save or reject specific properties and keep on eye on certain homes to see when they go under contract or if their price is reduced.
Looking at 45 homes is a possibility but really isn’t reasonable. Ten is a much more manageable number to view. Viewing 10 homes will take about 3.5 hours so could be accomplished in the morning or afternoon. But to get from 45-10 will take a some strategic “eliminating”
My goal is to eliminate 35 of these options and bring the ten best options to the forefront. Part of my job as a buyer’s agent to keep my clients focused and help them save time. Who wants to spend an entire Saturday looking at houses that just won’t be a fit.
This particular client wants a brick home, so we can eliminate all house with siding. She would prefer a pitched roof to a flat roof and hardwood floors are a must. By using this simple criteria we can reduce the 45 original options to 21
21 is still too many. A garage was not a “must have” but it was a preference. By eliminating homes that did not have at least one covered garage space, I was able to reduce the number of possibilities to 15.
That is still too many to look at in one afternoon. One suggestion would be to consider square footage. But I really don’t trust the tax records. It is often just wrong but even if it is technically correct it might not accurately the true sense of the space. This is why you will often see “0″ as the recorded square footage in the MLS. The incorrect number has been deleted. House with “0″ or smaller square footage need to be viewed. Space is tricky and places that measure “small” can feel plenty big. Space is something that needs to experienced.
CDOM stands for Continuous Days On Market. In my opinion this is an indication of price or condition. Average days on market for this batch of homes is 173. The highest is 599. The least is 31. If time is of the essence, we really want to see the newer properties first. If a house has been on the market for almost two years, what are the chances it is going to fly off the shelves before my client and I get a chance to schedule a second tour. For our first tour, I really want to choose the best possible house or at least those that I think will actually be fit. A property that is priced well and in good condition is likely to sell quickly. So we want to make sure to get into those first. Choosing all the properties that have been on for less 150 days brings that total down to 9.
I have some clients now who are on the fence. They don’t know if they should buy or rent. Initially they wanted to rent but were having some trouble finding what they wanted. They have a dog and want a yard but can’t find an acceptable rental that allows pets. They are looking for a larger space, preferably a single family home with at least 1.5 baths. And they want it to be nice. Apartment grade finishes just aren’t doing it for them. They are absolutely qualified to buy but just don’t know how long they will be in St. Louis which is why renting seemed more appealing at first. They will definitely be here two years and possibly five but not longer than ten. And that’s why this is a tough choice. They could buy something right now that meets their needs and suits their style for less than would spend on monthly rent. With a purchase there is down payment required and closing cost to pay when they sell. But with a rental it is possible they may have to move every year for as long as they remain in St. Louis. In the end it is really difficult to figure out which is the most economical choice.
Here is an example of their options. One to rent. Another to buy.
Here are some shots of a “private alley house”for rent on CraigsList. It is a 2 bedroom 1.5 bath home listed for $1495/month.
2927 Henrietta is home that is currently listed for $139,900. With just 3.5% down, they could move in and pay less than $1000/month.
Everybody has an opinion about locations and neighborhoods in St Louis. If I had a dollar for every time I heard the “State Street” myth, I’d be one rich Realtor. Some people believe you can’t live east of Kingshighway, some say its east of Grand. These over-generalizations used to make me crazy. But now it just makes me laugh. It’s silliness that stems from being unfamiliar.
So let’s get a little more familiar:
2926 Missouri: $392,500, 4 beds, 3.5 baths with over 3000 square feet. Amazing finish!
2624 Louisiana: $435,000, 3 beds 2.5 baths with a LARGE family room on the first floor and GOURMET kitchen. Completely renovated with a 2 car garage. Historic renovation with all the modern conveniences
2709 Indiana: $229,900, 3 beds, 2.5 baths. Historic home renovated with an architect’s eye for detail. Beautiful wood floors, updated kitchen with high-end finishes.
6015 Tennessee: $159,900, 3 beds, 1.5 baths. Less than 3 blocks from Carondelet Park and the new YMCA. This home has wood floors throughout, all new window, new roof, h-e furnace and 2 car garage. Unbeatable for the price. Fantastic location, beautiful block!
3214 Indiana in Benton Park is now available. The home has 3 bedrooms, 2 full baths, 2 car parking pad, 2nd floor family room and 2nd floor laundry along with wood floors and many historic details. It is less than one block from Benton Park is MOVE-IN READY and is listed at $199,900.
In addition to the location, one of the best features of the home is the FLOOR PLAN. The first floor has the traditional Living Room, Dining Room, Kitchen arrangement, but it also has a large bedroom and full bath. This makes the PERFECT space for out of town guests or a private office. Additionally there is a large screened-in porch off the back (accessible both from the kitchen and bedroom) which overlooks the landscaped and private backyard. Upstairs there are two more large bedrooms, a second floor FAMILY ROOM and huge master bath with separate tub and shower. And conveniently located on the 2nd FLOOR is a FULL SIDE BY SIDE LAUNDRY inside the HUGE Utility Room. The layout, flow and natural light in this home can’t be beat.
The best thing about 3214 Indiana is that it is a real VALUE. Priced at $199,900, at current interest rates, the monthly mortgage payment with taxes and insurance could be as low as $922/month. (Figured at $199,900 purchase price, 20% down payment and 4% interest rate with insurance estimated at $900 and taxes estimated at $1000 annually). The CMA below shows that the average price/SQFT for other 3 bedroom homes sold within the last year in the same neighborhood was $101.51. At the current price, 3214 Indiana is listed at $89.72/SQ FT.
I read an article yesterday that found a silver lining for those who are thinking of buying but missed the deadline for the $8000 tax credit. Three points to consider were lower interest rates, builder incentives for new construction and the decreasing of list price by home sellers.
On that note, I did a quick search of our MLS to see what happened to the price of homes in a couple St. Louis City neighborhoods. I performed a general search of the zip codes 63116, 63118 and 63104 for homes that are currently listed between $150,000-$300,000.
I found 178 ACTIVE listings in this price range. Next I went through the data and separated the homes by days on market. The deadline for contract acceptance to receive the tax credit was April 30,2010. So I looked for homes that had been on the market for at least 68 days. Of the 178 current actives, 113 of those have been on the market for at least 68 days. Of the 113 that have been on since before the end of the tax credit, 80 have had price reductions, 32 have remained at the original list price and one price actually increased.
Of the 113 that have been on the market longer than 68 days and have reduced their sale prices, I picked four that I have already walked through to highlight below. The four that I picked were ones that were in the top running for some my clients.
2215 Sidney was $215,000 when I looked at it with some of my clients. The couple I was with loved this house and it was their top choice until they found another home that had a two car garage. The home they ultimately bought was listed at $238,000. At the current list price of $189,000, I think 2215 Sidney is a great house for the price.
2647 Russell When I looked at this house, I was impressed with its size, location and two car garage. Now that the listing price has dropped by $20,000, I think it is a steal! Currently listed for $225,000 its a good find in Fox Park. Close to highways and walkable to Lafayette Square.
2012 James was listed at $235 when I walked through it. Since then it has decreased to $225,000. James is a short street tucked into the Benton Park neighborhood and walkable to the new Bittersweet Bakery on Gravois and Blues Cit Deli. The finish quality of the rehab is outstanding and the home has just enough space, a private yard and one car garage.
2745 Accomac This is an amazing rehab! The quality of the construction in this home and high level finish is really hard to find. Before the tax credit the home was listed for $253,000 and it is currently listed for $249,900.
Last summer I was hired to help some Shaw residents sell their house. They had moved here for graduate school. It was time to put the house on the market and move on to the next phase of their lives. My clients LOVED that house and were sad to go, but with the feature on HGTV, they will have a memento that most sellers would die to have.
Here is the lead in from HGTVs website: Kathleen has finally convinced her fiance, Dan, to move from the suburbs of St. Louis to the city center. They’re on a time crunch and need a new home before their wedding. Kathleen wants a historic home and Dan wants modern upgrades and a parking spot. The first house they see is a Victorian, and has the historic charm Kathleen craves but there’s too much city noise outside. The second home is an historic duplex converted to a single-family home. It’s near Kat’s favorite park but, on the downside, it has with two front doors that Dan thinks look strange. The third home is another classic, but it’s also the smallest. On the upside, it has an updated kitchen and the two-car garage Dan’s been waiting for.
The episode aired last night 28 January and is due to air again 14 February 2010 at 8 and 11PM
Can’t wait to see which house the buyers choose ; )
This Saturday is the Old North Saint Louis House Tour. If you have not been to Old North or just have not been to Old North in awhile you should definitely come on up and check it out. This year there will be 10 historic homes on the tour. Tickets are $10 in advance and $12 the day of and include a free ice-cream from Crown Candy Kitchen. Much has been going on in Old North since last year’s tour.
Old North was featured on the NRDC website in a write-up by Kaid Benfeild where he called it “one of the country’s best revitalization stories” in its “thoughtful, inclusive, diverse, grasrootsy sort of way”. The April issue of St. Louis Magazine named Old North one of the best places to live in the city and this little urban village also got a spot on KETC, Living St. Louis. See the clip here.
Construction on Crown Square and the 14th Street Mall has been moving forward steadily. This piece from KMOV says that five business have committed to the Square. Crown Village Gallery is almost complete and the new coffee shop on 14th at the Urban Studio should be opening soon.
Sounds like a great place, yes? 35 million dollar retail development, local farmer’s market, arch view, coffee, ice-cream, art gallery and neighborhood gardens and educated and active neighbors. Well, you can live here too!
1412 Hebert is on the market and the residents, reluctant to move, indeed must sell. The home has 3 bedrooms and 2 full baths, a massive yard and yes, an arch view. It’s for sale and open this Saturday from 10AM-4PM!
It’s proving to be a pretty exciting and jam-packed spring so far. First of all, I now have a new site and blog! I wanted to simplify the content overall and it’s now a bit easier for me to update the site. My old site had been up almost as long as I have been a Realtor, so it’s time for a change. Special thanks to Geoff who spent a Saturday afternoon taking pictures for the site… and let me use his front porch for the set. Up next, look for some local advertising as well as some updates to the individual property pages, which I set up for every new listing.
Speaking of which, I have many new listings I’m pretty excited about. They’re all in awesome locations and each one has something great and unique about them. See my listings page for more information.
And of course, pardon the dust while there’s some clean up and tweaking happening to the site in the coming week or so.
Dawn Griffin Real Estate Blog
I’m an experienced Saint Louis Realtor specializing in St. Louis City as well as neighborhoods like Webster Groves, Maplewood, Clayton, University City and Ladue. With an undergraduate degree in Education and Master's in Urban Planning and Real Estate Development — I have the heart of teacher.
I have been immersed in Residential Real Estate, helping home buyers and sellers understand the market, manage the ambiguities and negotiate the best terms for themselves. I am consistently voted a 5-Star Agent by clients and featured as one of St. Louis' Best Agents in Saint Louis Magazine.