Although St. Louis is home to lots of vacant housing stock (which I detail extensively in a prior story), COVID-19 has made St. Louis’ housing market hotter than it has ever been.
As a REALTOR and current buyer, the market has created an extraordinary environment that we’re not quite used to in this city. With the virus, new listings are down significantly versus where they were last year, with sellers not looking for extra foot traffic in their homes or investment properties.
And yet, despite the economic fallout, there are many, many buyers still looking for homes and investment properties in a market with substantially less inventory.
St. Louis was already in a real estate renaissance, with over $8 billion in investment in its central corridor neighborhoods, changing the landscape of a city long reeling from its post-industrial past. And today, prices are finally being pushed up as demand exceeds supply, in a market that has not seen a similar dynamic for decades.
One of my first buyers looked for a duplex rental property starting in February, and within days, we had toured about a dozen or more properties. Sellers were not yet avoiding showings, and inventory was everywhere the proverbial eye could see. We never made an offer near list price, and were almost always able to at least see counteroffers or go under contract outright. However, due to poor inspections, he was forced to keep looking into late April. By then, each offer was entered into a bidding war, and the only hope was to use an escalation clause. Not only were the offers higher, but they came in fast, with properties going under contract before we could ever step foot inside.
Unsurprisingly, the situation has become more and more difficult since then. For sellers willing to take the risk, the current economic situation is a dream come true. As my fiance and I looked for our first rental property, starting in April, we knew we were entering a market that was catering to the opposite party. However, when you’re ready to invest, you shouldn’t look away, there’s never a perfect time.
We never would have expected, even with prior experience, the difficulty we faced finding our first property and getting it under contract. Nothing new was listed, with dead weeks in the neighborhoods we loved. As soon as one came on market, it was instantly given a bidding war. For those in the area, I’m talking Compton Heights, Forest Park Southeast, Skinker-Debaliviere, etc. The most desirable neighborhoods had a glut of demand that, despite the times, had receded far less than supply.
We finally found one we love and have it under contract, post-inspection, set for closing in July in a great neighborhood. The catch? It’s a for-sale-by-owner, allowing us to avoid some of the competition we faced. We were forced into a new market altogether, with the MLS void of what we were looking for.
Sellers: Now’s the time. There are proper protocols to keep your home safe, and if you’re willing to sell, this is perhaps the best chance we’ve seen in STL for decades.