Maryland Heights Foreclosures Try to Find a Bottom, Experts Say
Statistics furnished by sources in the real estate industry show a mixture of promising and discouraging information.
The real estate industry in Maryland Heights and St. Louis County as a whole has weathered a long storm.
Although some signs of improvement show up here and there, statistics furnished by RealtyTrac, the St. Louis Association of REALTORS and the Mortgage Bankers' Association demonstrate that the burst of the housing bubble in 2007 continues to resonate in the local market. Foreclosed homes still make up a sizeable portion of the number of homes sold.
Coldwell Banker Gundaker agent Jim Moll has worked in the realtor firm's Maryland Heights office for 36 years, selling properties—sometimes foreclosed homes—across St. Louis and St. Charles Counties.
"Foreclosure trends in St. Louis are trying to find a bottom," Moll said. "There are more foreclosures to come."
Looking on the bright side, though, the region's industry hasn't faced as heavy of an assault as other parts of the United States.
"I think we’re very fortunate here in the St. Louis/St. Charles area," Moll said. "We haven't been as affected by the real estate recession as Arizona, California and Vegas."
Closer to home, areas in the middle corridor of St. Louis County, such as Maryland Heights, and areas stretching out to Ballwin, have been less affected than surrounding communities, Moll said.
"The farther you go out from the middle, those areas have been impacted more than the middle corridor," Moll said. "Wentzville has been impacted more."
According to a statistics sheet published by the St. Louis Association of REALTORS, the average home sale price increased from $161,133 in February 2010 to $173,312 in February of this year.
"The increase in the average sale price has a lot to do with foreclosures," said Nate Johnson, the president of the St. Louis Association of REALTORS. "What's happened is, over the last half of 2010 and certainly going into 2011, what we’ve seen is a slowdown in foreclosures coming on the market."
Johnson said a fear of litigation on the part of lending institutions contributed to the slowdown.
Although a rise in prices might seem encouraging for realtors, a drop in number of homes sold accompanied the price increase. Realtors in St. Louis County collectively sold 746 homes this February and 696 in January, compared to 867 and 702 homes sold in the same months last year.
Dwindling sales figures in the first quarter of this year may be related to a lack of home-buying tax credits for consumers, which stimulated the real estate economy in 2010, Johnson said. For many Americans, the credit put home ownership on their radar for the first time.
"There was a frenzy to go ahead and take advantage of that tax credit," Johnson said. "In some ways, it moved up some purchases of people who were going to buy homes later in the year. The second half of 2010 was abysmal, was not a pretty picture at all."
Perhaps the most striking example of year-to-year change symptomatic of the tax credit ending came in July 2010, when county realtors sold only 1,035 homes compared to 1.689 in July 2009—a 38.7-percent decrease.
When it comes to sale price, Maryland Heights falls in the middle of communities in the St. Louis Region, Johnson said. If sales don't seem too optimistic in the county as a whole, Maryland Heights itself looks to be on the rise.
"Going into March, in the Pattonville School District, you’ve got 49 homes that have gone under contract in February as opposed to 30 in February 2010," Johnson said. "17 sales took place in February 2010 compared to 27 in February 2011."
RealtyTrac collects data on home foreclosures through public records. The Irvine, CA-based subscription website aggregates figures from 2,200 counties nationwide— comprising 92 percent of all American housing units — including St. Louis County, said Daren Blomquist, RealtyTrac's director of marketing communications.
The website's activity report, provided for media use by Blomquist, tells the story of St. Louis County's real estate woes with numbers. The number of foreclosed home sales in the county spiked from a mere eight in the first quarter of 2005 to 1,079 in the first quarter of 2009.
The fourth quarter of 2010 ended with 484 foreclosed homes sold in the county, the highest number since the third quarter of 2009, when 562 were sold. The average price of sale price of foreclosed homes was $42,500—the lowest price in RealtyTrac records and a staggering 55.6-percent decrease from the first quarter of 2009. Foreclosed homes made up 16.1 percent of all homes sold.
In Maryland Heights, the number of homes in some stage of the foreclosure process—either entering foreclosure auctions or being repossessed by a bank—rose from a whopping zero in March 2007 to 13 that November, hitting 20 in January 2008 before dropping back down to six that December.
The number of homes in Maryland Heights at some stage in the foreclosure process peaked at 21 in September 2010. RealtyTrac's figure for February 2011 shows four bank-owned homes and seven homes entering the auction stage.
Among the bank-owned homes in Maryland Heights are the properties at 2 Edgeworth Ave. and 12037 Wesford Dr. See this article's image gallery for more details on these houses.
A February 2011 news release from the Mortgage Bankers' Association reported that, overall, the state of Missouri's delinquency rate for mortgage loans was 8.5 percent at the end of the fourth quarter of 2010, which represented a decrease from the third quarter.
The average national loan delinquency figure for the fourth quarter of 2010 was 8.2 percent.
In an MBA report including all 50 states and the District of Columbia, Missouri ranked 24th in delinquencies and 30th in foreclosures started, while neighboring Illinois ranked 20th in delinquencies and fifth in foreclosures started.