Business is booming in the St. Louis real estate market. People are flocking to the land of gooey butter cake, toasted ravioli, and the St. Louis Cardinals – and with good reason! According to Realtor.com, the St. Louis metro area is the second hottest real estate market in the country. And with millennials making up a large percentage of the people moving to the Gateway City, the time to lease property has never been better.

Leasing is always a great way to earn some extra income when selling your property isn’t advisable. But how do you know when it is time to sell and when it is time to lease? It you’re unsure whether or not you should lease your property, read my blog post “Why Rent Out Your Home?” to help you decide if renting your home is the right choice for you.

If you’re still unsure whether or not you should sell your home, it’s always a good idea to consult a real estate agent. Can you trust a real estate agent to have your best interests in mind? Since it is hard to find a great real estate agent you can really trust, we came up with a list of the top 6 real estate agents in St. Louis.

 

Rating System
Online Presence:

Having a good website and social media presence is so important for any business, especially for real estate agents. It demonstrates whether or not they are up-to-date with current digital trends and it increases transparency. That’s why we rated each real estate agent on the quality (and quantity) of their online presence on a scale from 0 to 5 (with 5 being the best).

 

Reviews:

Customer reviews are a great way of determining whether or not a service is right for you. Obviously, the better the reviews, the greater the likelihood that you will have a similarly satisfactory experience. We rated each real estate agent on the quality and quantity of the reviews available online on a scale from 0 to 5.

 

the real estate agents

#1: Dan Brassil

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Online Presence: 5 points

  • Very professional website
  • Multiple social media channels (Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Google +)

Reviews: 5 points

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  • #1 on Yelp with a Five-Star rating

Total: 10/10 points

 

#2: Mark and Neil Gellman

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Online Presence: 5 points

  • Great website and social media presence (Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn, Google +)

Reviews: 5 points

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  • Great reviews on Zillow

Total: 10/10 points

 

#3: Ted Wight

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Online Presence: 5 points

  • Great website and social media (Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Pinterest)

Reviews: 5 points

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  • Good reviews on Zillow

Total: 10/10 points

 

#4: Karen Goodman

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Online Presence: 5 points

  • Good website and social media presence (Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn, Google +, Pinterest, Instagram)

Reviews: 4 points

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  • Good reviews on Yelp (5 stars but low number of reviews)

Total: 9/10 points

 

#5: Allen Brake

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Online Presence: 3 points

  • Good website, but no social media presence

Reviews: 5 points

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  • Great reviews on Zillow

Total: 8/10 points

 

#6: Mary Krummenacher

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Online Presence: 3 points

  • Awesome website, but only one social media channel (Facebook)

Reviews: 5 points

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  • Great reviews on Zillow

Total: 8/10 points

 

conclusion

So, you have quite an impressive pool to pick from if you want to show your property to an expert in St. Louis realty. You just need to weight which aspects are the most important to you.

Landlords Beware: Prospective Tenants and Hidden Eviction eviction beware

An eviction is arguably the most critical determinant a landlord can have in screening a prospective renter. While not always the case, an eviction can be a very big red flag that a potential tenant may present risks that should be examined.

Our country’s volatile economic climate and the national housing crisis are not limited homeowners facing foreclosure. Tenant eviction rates have also increased. For the past few years, the National Sheriff’s Association has reported a substantial jump in the number of rental evictions by law enforcement officials.

A lot of landlords assume evictions will automatically show up on prospective tenants’ credit and/or background reports. But this is erroneous. This information often doesn’t appear on these documents. Most rental applications include a space for interested renters to report prior evictions, but it’s rare for anyone to willingly admit this. Past evictions obviously are an obstacle to renting. Here’s why this specific warning sign might allude property owners:
They Only Reviewed One Report
Just checking out a credit report generally won’t work. Credit agency Experian says that its reports will not show if someone has been evicted from a property.

So failing to look at a background check in addition to the credit report will not give you a full picture of your prospective tenant. Plus credit reporting is not always 100-percent accurate. Credit reporting bureaus look at different information sources, and some may access different information than others.

 

The Type of Eviction Was Not the Kind Typically Reported

The nature of the eviction also dictates whether it shows up on your prospective tenant’s credit report at all.

If the previous landlord filed for an order of possession, but was not seeking any monetary damages associated with the eviction suit, it will not appear on the credit report. If there’s a monetary judgment, it appears in the public record section of the report. But estimates show that 75 percent of eviction filings never result in a money judgment. That is a lot of potential problem tenants flying under the radar.

A background check would have information on an eviction case without a monetary judgement. However, court clerks in smaller jurisdictions may not have the resources to post to the information quickly. If the court doesn’t get around to handling the paperwork or it slips through the cracks, you would have to physically go to the courthouse to find proof of eviction.
The Eviction Was Very Recent
It takes time for a public record or judgment to be logged and sent to reporting agencies. During this period, the prospective renter may try to get a new lease before the eviction shows up on reports. The specific time period could take as long as a few months, depending on the courthouse, thus leaving plenty of time for the renter to find another place to live without the eviction popping up. Be sure to check with the specific jurisdiction’s court system to see if there are any “pending” landlord complaints or eviction filings.
The Prospective Tenant Provided a False Identity
Renters with something to hide might be so bold as to give you false information, such as a bogus Social Security Number – “borrowed” from a family member or someone else. You can minimize the risk of this by double checking all information. Does the address on the prospective tenant’s photo ID match the previous addresses listed on his or her credit report? Do the birth dates listed on reports match the other identification provided? Information discrepancies could indicate identity theft.

 

The Current Landlord Wants Them Out

Calling a current landlord might help alleviate some of your worries. However, you might not get a 100-percent truthful answer from a current landlord — especially if your prospective renter is a problem tenant and said landlord wants them out. They might give positive feedback when in fact the tenant might have been evicted. Ultimately, calling the previous two landlords is a better strategy.
Not all renters with past evictions end up being bad tenants, but you want the choice to make that decision for yourself. Understanding these circumstances can help you better investigate a tenant’s history and make an educated decision.

 

 

WHY RENT YOUR HOME?

For Rent Real Estate Sign in Front of House

While renting your home might not seem like a great option, it is often the smartest way to go in this economy. If you’ve moved to a new home but have not been successful at selling your old one, there may be an alternative to making a mortgage payment each month on a vacant house. Renting your home probably won’t make you rich in the short term (unless you rent it out longer term), but it may allow you to cover your mortgage payment and make some money while you wait out real estate stagnation.

Sounds like an easy solution, doesn’t it? But before you get the ball rolling on renting out your home, make sure you understand the pros and cons of being a landlord.

Advantages

  • Rent can cover some or all of the mortgage payments. So you don’t have to pay the entire amount each month. It’s possible to even make a profit. You may be able to continue to build equity at the expense of the renter — especially if your particular market is not affected or minimally affected by the slowdown. If your mortgage has been in existence for a number of years, more of the payment may be being applied to principal, so every payment is eating into the amount owed at a faster clip.
  • Landlords enjoy tax advantages on top of typical mortgage interest and tax deductions.
  • Being a landlord is like managing your own business – you’re the boss!
  • Renting a property can provide an ongoing income which can be saved as a pension or for a “rainy day.”
  • If your situation changes, as long as tenant lease obligations are met, you can use the property again yourself.

Disadvantages

  • Whether or not rental property is vacant, mortgages must still be paid.
  • Expensive repairs and maintenance work cannot be delayed if tenants are inconvenienced.
  • Tenant disputes could require legal representation and legal fees.
  • It takes money to make money. As with any business, there are upfront expenses, such as renovations or repairs, and advertising. And with rental properties, there are government regulations that need to be followed – violations may result in fines.
  • You have to cut emotional ties with your property. This can be difficult if you’ve lived there a long time.

For those not in the position to keep paying their mortgage or who need to sell their property, but can’t right away, the pros of renting almost always outweigh the cons. But how do you best lasso the biggest advantage of leasing – the income? How do you determine rent?
Prospective landlords should put a lot of thought about the costs involved, says Kathy Hertzog, president of LandlordAssociation.org. “We recommend that landlords budget 25 (percent) to 30 percent of the rent to put in a reserve for maintenance, repairs or just in case something big comes up.”

That leaves 70 to 75 percent of the monthly rental income to cover the mortgage, taxes, insurance and possibly utilities if you’re going to break even. But is that a price that tenants will pay?

Figuring out how much it will cost you to rent out the home is only the first step in coming up with what to charge. The best way to tackle this complicated project is to do research – on local market conditions, rents, comps and so on. If you charge more than landlords of similar properties in your neighborhood, it will be difficult for you to find tenants. Check the newspaper listings to see what similar properties are going for, suggests Hertzog. Another option is to go to the Web site Rentometer, which provides the median rent for any address in the country.

Hiring a company to help you with all the aspects of renting will eliminate most of the headaches of finding a good tenant. Leave it to the experts, and you’ll be pleasantly surprised how smooth the process can go.