Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Calendar of Events - January

Friday, January 1
21st Annual New Year’s Day KATY Trail Ride
11 a.m.
Defiance, MO
Sponsored by Trailnet. An enthusiastic group of bicyclists have started each New Year with a bike ride on the KATY Trail. Join them this year for the 21st Annual New Year’s Day KATY Trail Ride. The group will leave from the KATY Trailhead in Defiance at 11:00 am and ride to Augusta (7 miles). They will stop for lunch upon their return to Defiance, depending on restaurant availability. Please dress in layers and wear a helmet.

Sunday, January 3
St. Louis’ Best Bridal Show
St. Charles Convention Center
Noon-4 p.m.
The bridal fashion show features elegant and popular wedding dresses, gifts, appetizers, drinks, music and wedding planners.
For more information, go to http://shows.stlouisbestbridal.com/ or call 314-744-5777

Saturday, January 9-Sunday, January 31
Eagle Days
Various locations
Events include live eagle programs, activities, exhibits, video, guides with spotting scopes and refreshments.
For details go to the Missouri Department of Conservation and download the Eagle Days brochure, or call 573/751-4115 ext. 3289

Saturday, January 9-10
Snowflake Making
The Magic House, Kirkwood, MO
Saturday, 10:00-5:00 Workshop
Sunday, 11:30-5:00 Workshop
Let it snow with artist Marion Nichols as she shares the unique art of cutting paper into intricate snowflakes. Join the blizzard of activity in the museum’s Expericenter to discover how to snip fantastic flakes of your own designs. A former preschool art teacher, Marion Nichols is renowned for transforming ordinary sheets of paper into delicate snowflake patterns, and is the author of several books on the subject.
Info at the Magic House or call 314-822-8900

Friday, January 15-Sunday, January 17
St. Charles Boat Show, Sale and Fisherman’s Expo
St. Charles Convention Center
Friday, 1-9 p.m.; Saturday, 10 a.m.-8 p.m.; Sunday, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.
Boat dealers showcase their new, non-current and pre-owned boats, plus all things fishing, including tackle, rods, reels, boating accessories. Family fun for young anglers, seminars and speakers, and boating safety by the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary.
Regular Admission - $6.00 / Ages 6-15 $3.00. 5 & Under Free
On Friday, seniors age 60 and above admitted for $3.50
Info at http://www.letsgoshows.com/

Saturday January 23
Winter Wildlife Tracking-Learn from the experts
St. Charles Park District
Pottawatomie Community Center, 8 North Ave.
9 a.m.-noon
You’ll never look at “bare” ground again after this tracking class taught by top experts in the field. Learn how to interpret tracks, tail patterns and scat to identify wildlife. Begin with an interactive indoor class with overview of local fauna and tracking techniques, the outdoors to practice what you’ve learned.
Ages 18 and over. To register, call 630-513-6200.

Saturday, January 30
Fete De Glace (Festival of Ice)
100-200 block of North Main
Watch professional ice carvers bring the art to life in a competition using chain saws, power grinders, sanders, cold chisels, hand saws, and irons from 10am-3pm. This competition is judged and juried by the crowd. Coffee and hot chocolate will be available and nearby fire pits to warm up.

January 31-February 28
The Big Read National Endowment for the Arts
The Big Read is designed to revitalize the role of reading in American public culture.
Foundry Art Centre, 520 N. Main Street
The book chosen for participation is The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain. The Foundry Art Centre and the St. Charles Community College Library sponsor the Big Read in St. Charles City/County and bring the community the power of literature.
For more info call 636-255-0270

Friday, December 18, 2009

$35 million economic development package passed at MHDC

As Chair of the Missouri Housing Development Commission, I am very excited to announce that moments ago we passed a $35 million economic development initiative. This initiative, first unveiled by Governor Jay Nixon and myself on November 24, will provide property tax relief to thousands of qualified middle- and low-income Missouri homebuyers, create and protect potentially thousands of good-paying jobs and help improve energy-efficiency in Missouri housing.

The $35 million package was approved at today's MHDC meeting, which was webcast live for the first time ever in an effort to bring increased transparency to the housing agency. The package provides:
  1. $15 million to pay the first year of property taxes for qualified homebuyers who purchase a new or existing home after January 1, 2010. This has the opportunity to help between 9,000 and 11,000 Missouri families making less than $100,000 a year.
  2. $15 million to finance and begin construction on affordable multi-family housing. This will create and save thousands of jobs at a time when Missouri unemployment is over 9% and allow us to continue to make quality affordable housing available to all Missourians.
  3. $5 million in assistance to qualified homebuyers to help with down payments and closing costs. This helps potential homebuyers overcome the obstacle of coming up with enough cash for a down payment and closing costs. MHDC has been a national leader on this front.
  4. Additional assistance to homebuyers who purchase an energy-efficient home or purchase energy-saving appliances. This is an opportunity to raise energy-efficiency standards in Missouri, making a positive impact on both the economy and the environment. It's a win-win.
This economic development package provides property tax relief to thousands of Missourians at a crucial time in our economy without spending Missouri tax dollars. This will be paid for entirely out of MHDC's reserve fund and federal recovery funds already in our possession. This comes in addition to more than $100 million in recovery funds and more than $19 million in reserves already allocated to boost Missouri's economy and put Missourians back to work.
My goal as Chair is to ensure MHDC is playing a pivotal role in Missouri's economic recovery and I believe we are doing that. The agency already offers competitive interest rates on home loans for qualified borrowers and a cash assistance loan plan for first-time homebuyers to help with down payments and closing costs. MHDC has also been a national leader in allowing Missourians to use the $8,000 federal first-time homebuyer tax credit up front for a down payment or closing costs. This program has been a success and will continue until at least April of 2010.

At a time when economic resources are scarce, it is important for you to know that I am constantly looking for new and innovative ways to get our economy moving again as well as ways to better marshal the tools and resources that are available.

One of those tools is the Missouri Linked Deposit Program, which provides low-interest loans to qualified small businesses and family farms. On November 23, I announced the largest-ever small business loan issued through the program. A small agricultural company in Marshall qualified for a $3.4 million loan, which will save the business more than $300,000 over five years compared to the cost of a regular loan. In addition, the loan will allow the company to add jobs and expand its customer base.

Thanks to changes made earlier this year to the Missouri Linked Deposit Program through my Invest in Missouri legislation, I am able to issue these kinds of loans to more small businesses with less turnaround time, allowing them to receive much-needed capital quickly.
Again, this costs Missouri taxpayers nothing. The Missouri Linked Deposit Program allows us to invest right here in Missouri to help small businesses that need it the most and who are playing a pivotal role in our economic recovery.

We have about $200 million in loans already out to small business throughout Missouri and we still have another $520 million available. To find out more about the Missouri Linked Deposit Program, click here.


Clint Zweifel
Missouri State Treasurer

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Property tax credit will help stimulate more home sales in 2010

A proposal before the Missouri Housing Development Commission would credit up to $1,250 in property taxes for qualified buyers.

Buying a home in Missouri in 2010 looks to include even more incentives for people to enter the housing market. The Missouri Housing Development Commission (MHDC) is considering a proposal to provide up to $1,250 in property tax breaks for qualified buyers. This, on top of the extended first-time buyer $8,000 tax credit and $6,500 for repeat buyers, sets up next year as one of economic stimulation for Missouri.

The property tax break is supported by Gov. Jay Nixon and State Treasurer Clint Zweifel, the MHDC chairperson. This $15 million proposal would be funded from the Commission’s reserve fund. An estimated 9,000-11,000 households could benefit. Show your environmentally friendly side and the commission will provide an extra $500 if the house is energy-efficient or if the buyer can begin energy efficient steps within 60 days of closing. This perk includes improvements like insulation, energy star rated appliances, efficient water heaters and windows.

Income limits do apply, ranging from $58,300 to $98,560.

The big day is Friday, December 18, when commission members vote on the proposal. Because of all these incentives, those thinking about buying a home next year need to set up a planning schedule and begin sprucing up your house for sale. The first step is to analyze your finances, work on getting as big a down payment as possible, and check that credit score. There may be reports on your score that are wrong or fraudulent, reducing your score and the size of loan. By checking now you’ll avoid problems when you are ready to buy.

And, investigate the MHDC to see if you qualify for more assistance. The Commission administers any number of housing programs, from purchasing a home with a First Place loan, assistance for veterans, buying property in disaster areas and home repair grants. Help is out there for homebuyers to realize property ownership.

Written by Myra Vandersall

Sunday, December 13, 2009

IRS Sets New Rules for Tax Credit

Daily Real Estate News | December 7, 2009 |

IRS Sets New Rules for Tax Credit

The IRS has spelled out guidelines for eligibility for the home buyer credit when co-borrowers purchase a property.

When a home-owning parent of an adult child co-signs for a mortgage and both names appear on the note, the IRS says that under some circumstances, the first-time home buyer can qualify for the whole amount.

The IRS says the parent doesn't qualify for any portion of the credit, but if the child hasn't owned a home during the three years preceding the current purchase and can qualify based on income, he or she can be allocated the entire $8,000 credit.

When unmarried individuals co-purchase a home and only one of them is eligible for the credit, then the full $8,000 can be allocated to the eligible buyer.

Source: Washington Post Writers Group, Kenneth R. Harney (12/04/2009)

Friday, December 11, 2009

Holiday Light Display

Holiday light displays make the season bright and glitzy
St. Charles County is one of the most lighted up communities during the holidays. Add the traditional lights in St. Louis, and families can see stars every evening. Here are a few to enjoy.

Celebration of Lights, Fort Zumwalt Park
Through December 30 (closed December 24 and 25)
This drive-through holiday light display held at Fort Zumwalt Park. Each scene is designed and funded by local organizations, churches and businesses. Started in 1991, the event attracts more than 8,000 vehicles each year and more than 5,000 individuals on walk-through night.
Sunday, Tuesday - Thursday 6:30 - 9:00 p.m.
Friday and Saturday 6:30 - 10:00 p.m.
$9/ vehicle - $15/large (15 passenger) van - $1 per person/ bus ($25 min.)
Tuesdays - $7 for cars, vans and non-commercial vehicles
$1 off any regular admission with canned food or toy donation (not valid on Tuesdays)
Closed to vehicle traffic on Mondays for train rides by advance reservation only To make a train reservation, call 636-379-5502.

Carriage rides are available too with advanced reservations. Call Carousel Farms and Carriage Company at 636-390-4403.

Sleigh rides are another way of seeing the lights. Reservations are a must. Call 636-379-5502.

After enjoying the Celebration of Lights, save your program! Presenting your program at participating O'Fallon businesses qualifies you for great discounts. For detailed information, go the Celebration of Lights website.

Holiday Night Lights
Rotary Park, Foristell
Through December 27
6:00 to 10:00 p.m.
Price: $8 per car or $1 per person per bus or van over 7 people
The City of Wentzville Parks & Recreation Department will present the 13th Annual Holiday Night Lights at Rotary Park. This one-mile drive-through display features more that 36 themed lighted displays and 500,000 lights. For detailed information go to the City of Wentzville’s website or call 636-332-9236.

Christmas Wonderland
Rock Spring Park on College Avenue, off Washington Avenue
Through December 27
Monday-Friday, 6-9 p.m.
Saturday-Sunday, 5-9 p.m.
Price-$7 for cars and small vans
$1 per person for 10+ passenger vehicles
Hear the sleigh bells jingle and see three million lights twinkle amongst a beautiful backdrop at Rock Spring Park's Christmas Wonderland. Visitors can turn off their headlights and let the holiday displays carry them through the magical scene. Or, make the night even more memorable with a horse drawn carriage ride through the park. Carriage rides are first-come, first-served on Saturdays and Sundays. Other evenings may be possible upon request. For carriage ride reservations, call Greatting Horse Farm at 618-458-6986.
For more information about the event, call 866-465-7890 or go to visitalton.com.

St. Louis County
Winter Wonderland
Tilles Park
9551 Litzsinger Road, St. Louis
Price-$9.00 Family vehicle; $10.00 Limousine; $30.00 Commercial transport van; $75.00 tour bus
Through January 3 (Closed Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve)
5:30-9:30 p.m.
Saturdays are closed to vehicular traffic and reserved for carriage rides.
St. Louis County Parks is celebrating our 24th year of Winter Wonderland! Winter Wonderland is created and designed by St. Louis County Parks employees. We hope you enjoy your drive through Winter Wonderland.

Horse drawn carriage rides are available every night except Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve. Advanced reservations are required for all carriage rides and ticket prices vary depending on type of carriage and number in party.
Purchase tickets online at MetroTix.

St. Louis
Wild Lights: St. Louis Zoo in Forest Park
December 11-13, 18-23, 26-30
5:30 to 8:30 p.m.
Price-$4 for Zoo Friends members (no passes)
$5 for general public
Free for children under two
Stroll through the Saint Louis Zoo's enchanting holiday wonderland and enjoy hundreds of thousands of colorful lights, animated light displays and seasonal sounds, including penguins in paradise, flamingo lagoon and butterfly garden, shooting stars and a gingerbread village. For more information, go to stlzoo.org or call 314-781-0900.

St. Louis City
Anheuser-Busch Brewery Christmas Lights Display

Through January 2
Location: Anheuser-Busch Brewery
After sunset
The display features over 800,000 lights that adorn a magnificent tree, the Bevo Plant, Pestalozzi Street and surrounding landscape of the nation's largest brewery. Light-tour lovers can drive or stroll on Broadway, Lynch, Arsenal, and 12th to admire the spectacular sparkle of the Christmas spirit.
For more information call: 314-577-2000

Do you know of a Light Display in the area? Please share in our comment box!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Looking forward to 2010

Hello Family and Friends!

As another year comes quickly to a close we wanted to take this opportunity to express a heartfelt THANK YOU!!!

Through your confidence in us as experts in real estate, we have had the privilege to help over 50 families buy and sell their homes this year! We consider ourselves so lucky to be involved in such and important part of your life. You inspire us to continually hone our skills and share our talents in an area that grows more and more complex every year. Motivating us to grow our services and expand our team and partners.

THANK YOU FOR CHOOSING US TO: get your home sold, help you with short sales and foreclosures, purchase/sell investment property, take advantage of the tax credit and buy your first home, move up to a bigger family-sized home, negotiate your contracts and navigate your inspections!

It has been so fulfilling for our team to watch so many of you take advantage of our knowledge of the helpful tax credit and become home owners! The Grant Hickman Team is rocking and rolling, and again, we have you to thank for it! May you, your family and friends end 2009 on an awesome note and enjoy great happiness in 2010!

THANK YOU from The Grant Hickman Team,
Grant Hickman
Lori Linhoff
Cary Knobbe

One Point West Blvd., St. Charles, MO 63301

First Time Homebuyer Tax Credit Extended

First Time Homebuyer Tax Credit Extended Into 2010!
Plus...A New Tax Credit for Certain Existing Home Owners!

It's official. President Obama has signed a bill that extends the tax credit for first-time homebuyers (FTHBs) into the first half of 2010. This program had been scheduled to expire on November 30, 2009.

In addition to extending the tax credit of up to $8,000 through June 30, 2010, the extension measure also opens up opportunities for others who are not buying a home for the first time.

So Who Gets What?
The program that has existed for FTHBs remains intact with the one exception that more people are now eligible based on an increase in the amount of income someone may now earn.

Additionally, the program now gives those who already own a residence some additional reasons to move to a new home. This incentive comes in the form of a tax credit of up to $6,500 for qualified purchasers who have owned and occupied a primary residence for a period of five consecutive years during the last eight years.

In order to qualify for the credit, all contracts need to be in effect no later than April 30, 2010 and close no later than June 30, 2010.

Higher Income Caps in Effect
The amount of income someone can earn and qualify for the full amount of the credit has been increased.

Single tax filers who earn up to $125,000 are eligible for the total credit amount. Those who earn more than this cap can receive a partial credit. However, single filers who earn $145,000 and above are ineligible.

Joint filers who earn up to $225,000 are eligible for the total credit amount. Those who earn more than this cap can receive a partial credit. However, joint filers who earn $245,000 and above are ineligible.

Maximum Purchase Price
Qualifying buyers may purchase a property with a maximum sales price of $800,000.

First-Time Homebuyer Tax Credit - Frequently Asked Questions
Here are answers to some commonly asked questions about the tax credit.

What is a tax credit?
A tax credit is a direct reduction in tax liability owed by an individual to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). In the event no taxes are owed, the IRS will issue a check for the amount of the tax credit an individual is owed. Unlike the tax credit that existed in 2008, this credit does not require repayment unless the home, at any time in the first 36 months of ownership, is no longer an individual's primary residence.

What is the tax credit for first-time homebuyers (FTHBs)?
An eligible homebuyer may request from the IRS a tax credit of up to $8,000 or 10% of the purchase price for a home. If the amount of the home purchased is $75,000, the maximum amount the credit can be is $7,500. If the amount of the home purchased is $100,000, the amount of the credit may not exceed $8,000.

Who is eligible for the FTHB tax credit?
Anyone who has not owned a primary residence in the previous 36 months, prior to closing and the transfer of title, is eligible. This applies both to single taxpayers and married couples. In the case where there is a married couple, if either spouse has owned a primary residence in the last 36 months, neither would qualify. In the case where an individual has owned property that has not been a primary residence, such as a second home or investment property, that individual would be eligible.

As mentioned above, the tax credit has been expanded so that existing homeowners who have owned and occupied a primary residence for a period of five consecutive years during the last eight years are now eligible for a tax credit of up to $6,500.

How do I claim the credit?
For those taking advantage of the tax credit in 2009, you may choose to either apply for the credit with your 2009 tax return or you may apply for the credit sooner by filing an amended 2008 tax return with Form 5405 (http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/f5405.pdf).

Can you claim the tax credit in advance of purchasing a property?
No. The IRS has recently begun prosecuting people who have claimed credits where a purchase had not taken place.

Can a taxpayer claim a credit if the property is purchased from a seller with seller financing and the seller retains title to the property?
Yes. In situations where the buyer purchases the property, even though the seller retains legal title, the taxpayer may file for the credit. Examples of this would include a land contract, contract for deed, etc. According to the IRS, factors that would demonstrate the ownership of the property would include: 1. the right of possession, 2. the right to obtain legal title upon full payment of the purchase price, 3. the right to construct improvements, 4. the obligation to pay property taxes, 5. the risk of loss, 6. the responsibility to insure the property and 7. the duty to maintain the property.

Are there other restrictions to taking the credit?
Yes. According to the IRS, if any of the following describe your situation, a credit would not be due.

  • You buy your home from a close relative. This includes your spouse, parent, grandparent, child or grandchild.
  • You do not use the home as your principal residence.
  • You sell your home before the end of the year.
  • You are a nonresident alien.
  • You are, or were, eligible to claim the District of Columbia first-time homebuyer credit for any taxable year. (This does not apply for a home purchased in 2009.)
  • Your home financing comes from tax-exempt mortgage revenue bonds. (This does not apply for a home purchased in 2009.)
  • You owned a principal residence at any time during the three years prior to the date of purchase of your new home. For example, if you bought a home on July 1, 2009, you cannot take the credit for that home if you owned, or had an ownership interest in, another principal residence at any time from July 2, 2006, through July 1, 2009.

Can you buy a home from a step-relative and be eligible for the credit?
Yes. Provided the person you are buying a home from is not a direct blood relative, the purchase would be allowed.

Can parent(s) who will not live in the property cosign for a mortgage for their child and the child that is a qualifying FTHB still be eligible for the credit?

Can a separated spouse who has not owned a home for four years qualify for the FTHB tax credit if the spouse has owned a property anytime in the last three years?
No. However, the spouse may be eligible for the repeat buyer credit. The best path to take in any situation regarding income taxes is to speak with a professional tax preparer or CPA.

If you have any questions that fall outside the situations here, give me a call and if you do not have an accountant to speak with, I can refer you to one.

Your Real Estate Expert,

Grant M. Hickman GRI, ABR, e-Pro

#1 SCHNEIDER Home Buying & Selling Team

Direct: (314) 265-1531

Spotlight on ROI Realty Partners

Q: Please introduce yourself?

A: Adam Glosier

Q: What is the name of your business?

A: ROI Realty Partners, Inc.

Q: How can someone contact you to learn more?

A: (314)598-2357 or aglosier@roirp.com

Q: Where is your business located?

A: 2850 West Clay, Suite 220 in St. Charles, MO 63301

B: 101 West Vandalia, Suite 305G in Edwardsville, IL 62025

Q: Briefly describe what you/business does?

A: We specialize in helping Landlords / Owners & Tenants / Buyers with all of their commercial real estate needs. From Lease and / or Sale negotiations to renewing existing Leases. There are tremendous opportunities in the commercial real estate market today and with the right agent working for you, there can be some real money to be made. A recession is a terrible thing to waste.

Q: How many years have you been in business?

A: 3

Q: Do you have a Website Address?

A: www.roirp.com - currently under construction

Q: What is your burning desire?

A: To travel the world guilt free.

Q: What's something not many people know about you?

A: That I am on a Sega video game, NCAA Basketball 1999.

Stop Missouri Double Taxation on real estate and say Yes to a new constitutional amendment and log on to YesToSaveHomes.com.

Let’s stop Missouri politicians from penalizing homeowners and buyers

Missouri is one of 13 states that does not levy a transfer tax on home sales, and a coalition of property owners, businesses and the Missouri Association of REALTORS™ want to keep it that way.

The group sees transfer taxes as double taxation because Missourians already pay property taxes on real estate. A petition drive and a website have been created to help homeowners and potential buyers reach lawmakers who have the power to levy such a tax.

To place a state constitutional amendment on the November 2010 ballot to prohibit Missouri lawmakers from passing the tax initiative, the group needs more than 157,000 valid signatures. To make voters more aware of this issue, a new website, www.YesToSaveHomes.com is now online to help consumers learn more about the tax, calculate the tax based on the home’s sale price, and get involved.

Here’s the simple and straightforward proposal: “Shall the Missouri Constitution be amended to prevent the state, counties and other political subdivisions from imposing any new tax, including a sales tax, on the sale or transfer of homes or any other real estate?”

As an example, here’s a calculation on a St. Charles County home sale. The home sold for $150,000 and at the St. Charles County taxation rate of 7.0750%, the amount would be an additional $10,612.50.* Jane Mendenhall, president-elect of the Missouri Association of Realtors, believes the transfer tax places undue stress on low-income Missourians who typically spend a larger percentage of income on their home.

Add the mix of Missourians who have lost their jobs, had pay cuts and have been forced to sell their homes or experienced a drop in property values, and the transfer tax just isn’t good for the recovering Missouri economy.

Legislators are looking around to fine new sources of revenue. The transfer tax is one of those sources politicians are eyeing. With the help of voters and homebuyers, the transfer tax will not be an additional burden on Missouri residents.

* This number is based on area percentages.

Written by Myra Vandersall

Monday, December 7, 2009

Your holiday cheer doesen't have to go up in smoke

Careful preparations and common sense will make this season a fire-free, happy holiday for your family.

Keeping your family safe during the holidays is top priority so that all can enjoy the lights, the glitter and the sights of the season. Seasonal fires claim more than 400 lives, 1,650 injured and more than $990 million in property damage.

Here are some simple tips that don’t take much time but will make your family fun last.

  • Make a plan. You should do this anyway, so sit down as a family and discuss who is in charge of what should you have to evacuate the house. Using a floor plan, identify two ways out of each room and agree on a place to meet once you have evacuated. The National Fire Protection Association has a great floor plan to download that you can customize for your home.
  • Choose a tree. Choose a tree that is fresh and green. Branches should be hard to pull back and the needles will not shed. Test for a sticky trunk and always have the tree lot person make a fresh cut at the bottom of the trunk. Trees are very thirsty.
  • Water your tree. A tree will absorb as much as a gallon of water or more in the 24 hours after it is cut, and one or more quarts every day after. Maintaining a steady water level prevents the needles from drying out and dropping off and the boughs from drooping. Water will also keep the tree fragrant. Do not allow the water pan to empty or go below the tree base.
  • Let there be lights. Part of the Christmas tradition is all glitter and lights. Don’t try to skimp by with old, frayed light strings or broken sockets. Should these catch on fire, you’ll be spending more than you could ever believe. LED lights are in now and use 90% less electricity than regular Christmas lights, reducing your impact on the environment. Up front, these lights are more expensive but over a period of years, they more than pay for themselves.
  • Plug ‘em in. Overloading a wall outlet is not a good idea. Purchase some surge protectors and plug your strands of lights in there first, and the surge protector into the wall. Turn the lights off when you retire for the night.
  • Candle light. The glow of candle light makes the holiday warm, but candles should be attended at all times and not left burning if you leave the house. Fireplaces are the same, and refrain from burning wrapping paper in the fireplace. Sparks could ignite and fly on to flammable materials.
  • DO have a wonderful holiday season. With just a few precautions, your family will be safe, happy and warm.
Written by Myra Vandersall

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

QuickBooks help

Joan Campbell with J Campbell CPA, has been a Certified Pro Advisor for more than 20 years. She can help get your personal or business books set-up correctly, or prepare your payroll, make sure you are tax compliant. So you don't have to crunch numbers all day.

Call The Grant Hickman Team @ (314) 558-9225 for Expert Advice!

Amend your taxes to get HOUSING TAX CREDIT NOW

Amending the tax return is to the home buyers benefit. It is better to get it down now before everyone else. Also, the IRS is constantly changing the rules. If you closed on your home after Nov. 6th, you must use the new form. Buyers need to use someone who is aware of the forever changing rules.

Call The Grant Hickman Team @ (314) 558-9225 for Expert Advice!

Calendar of Events

December 2009 Calendar of Events 11.30.09

Ongoing through Saturday, December 26
St. Charles Christmas Traditions
Christmas gets that much better with the historic celebrations on Main Street. Shops open their doors with special holiday gift ideas, Victorian carolers roam the streets singing traditional songs of the season while the Legendary Christmas Characters tell of Christmas lore past. Ice skating at Frontier Park, carriage rides and Santas abound. For full schedule, go to the St. Charles Christmas website.

Friday, December 4
VFW Fish Fry
VFW Post 2866, 66 VFW Lane
3-8 p.m.
Tired of turkey? Try the catfish, walleye, crappie, cod, fried chicken and shrimp dinners at the VFW. Sandwiches are a reasonable $5.50 and plates go for $8.00.

Fridays, December 4 and 11
Augusta’s 26th Annual Christmas Candlelight Walk
5-10 p.m.
Tour this charming river town during the holiday season for a wide variety of food, wine, live music performances, shopping and holiday experiences. Augusta will be lighted with luminaries to show the way. View an old-fashioned cedar Christmas tree hung with antique ornaments, popcorn strings, gingerbread figures. The Ebenezer United Church of Christ hosts a Christmas carol sing-a-long from 7-9p.m. For more information, go to the Augusta Chamber of Commerce website.

Saturday, December 5
Las Posadas
6 p.m.
Begins on South Main Street and ends in Frontier Park
Beautiful re-enactment of the Spanish tradition of Las Posadas (the Inns) with Mary and Joseph looking for shelter as the proceed down South Main with thousands of visitors carrying luminaries and sing carols. The Christmas story is told in Frontier Park, the Christmas trees is lit and carols are sung around the Yule log bonfire.

Saturday, December 12
St. Charles West Warrior Bands 24th Annual Arts and Crafts Fair
St. Charles West High School Drive, 3601 Droste Rd.
150 crafters, homemade cookies, attendance prizes and concession stand

Friday, December 18–Sunday, December 20
Scrooge, The Stingiest Man In Town
7 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 2 p.m. matinee Saturday and Sunday
Donald D. Shook Fine Arts Building Theater, St. Charles Community College campus,
4601 Mid Rivers Mall Dr. Cottleville
The Young People’s Theatre of St. Charles Community College presents this traditional musical production of Christmas past, present and future. Area St. Charles County youth are highlighted in this production
$7 for general admission, $6 for students/seniors.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Candlelight Concert
6 pm - 8 pm
 First Missouri Capitol State Historic Site, 200-216 S. Main Street
"Papa and Jackie Wright" will narrate and perform "The History of Christmas Music" in this candlelight concert. This warm holiday show with marimbas, drums, and various instruments will leave you with the holiday spirit. Lit entirely by candles, the concert is held in the legislative chambers.
$6. Reservations are needed
For more information call 636-940-3322

Monday, November 16, 2009

Holiday Traditions in St. Charles

St. Charles is in the news again, this time in the AAA Midwest Traveler Magazine. Our holiday festivities, Christmas Traditions, is prominently featured in the November/December issue. To read the feature story, go to http://www.ouraaa.com/traveler/mid/2009/11/tank.html
This joyous season kicks off with opening ceremonies on Friday, November 27, at 11 a.m. at Kister Park. Santa and Mrs. Santa arrive in a horse drawn carriage, escorted by the Lewis and Clark Fife and Drum Corps and the Legends of Christmas.

To learn more about our premier event, go to www.stcharleschristmas.com
SCHNEIDER Real Estate and our agents are so very proud of our volunteers, the South Main Preservation Society, the St. Charles Convention and Visitors Bureau and the St. Charles Special Business District for showcasing St. Charles as a great place to visit and live.

Written by Myra Vandersall

Monday, November 9, 2009

Tax Credit is Extended

Good news all around today–the $8,000 tax credit for first time homebuyers has been extended to June 30, 2010. This action will encourage a robust housing market in the first quarter of 2010 and affect home prices.

The legislation also includes a $6,500 tax credit for people who currently own a home and want to buy up. Qualifications are owning and occupying a home for at least five of the past eight years. Buyers must have a signed contract in hand by April 30 and close by June 30.
And, the income limit has been increased too. The ceiling for single buyer income is now $125,000 and for married couples $225,000. Increasing the income limit will stimulate more purchases of pricier properties.

Merle Schneider, co-owner/broker and vice president of operations for SCHNEIDER Real Estate, is very optimistic about the future of the St. Charles housing market. “These new tax credits will encourage potential buyers who weren’t quite ready to purchase take another look around at properties in St. Charles.

“The first tax credit, which helped more than 400,000 homebuyers, is a success and now gives confidence to more homebuyers. This comes at a great time, ready for the spring 2010 buying and selling season.”

More positive indicators were released this week. Grant Hickman, a real estate expert with SCHNEIDER, notes that existing homes sales are up 9.4% in September, and pending home sales are also up, 6.1% in September. “These findings by the National Association of Realtors are exciting,” he says.

“We are making progress toward recovery. With the tax credit extension, inclusion of current homeowners, and the income increase, more buyers will see what a bargain St. Charles County is. We have a great atmosphere, excellent services and a wide range of housing stock. This week’s government actions will serve our area very well.”

Written by Myra Vandersall

Friday, October 30, 2009

Calendar of Events

Month of November
Native American Heritage Month
St. Charles Community College celebrates Native American Heritage Month Festivities with concerts, documentary films, panel discussions, and a luncheon event, “The True Story of the First Thanksgiving.
For schedule, go to www.stchas.edu
Or call 636-922-8544 FREE

Wednesday, November 4
Medicare Update 2010
10-11 a.m.
Progress West HealthCare Center Community Room
CLAIM is a Medicare and insurance counseling program that provides free confidential and unbiased counseling. Learn changes in Medicare for 2010, how to access services, Medicare Part D. To register, call 636-344-2273.

Tuesday, November 10
Back In Time: Explore History
St. Charles :Les Petites Cotes
7 p.m.
Kathryn Linnemann Branch, St. Charles City-County Library Don and Dianna Graveman will discuss and sign their new book. In 1769, French Canadian fur trader Louis Blanchette built a cabin on the Missouri River in what is today St. Charles. He called the settlement Les Petites Côtes, or the little hills. Today St. Charles hosts many annual events to celebrate its history and transport visitors to the past.

Wednesday, November 11
Veterans Day Memorial Service
11:00 AM
At the Veterans' Memorial at Bishops Landing along the riverfront.

Wednesday, November 11
McClay Branch, St. Charles City-County Library
10:00-2:00 p.m. Honor the veterans who have served or are serving in our Armed Forces. Make a thank-you card for a veteran and enjoy coffee and doughnuts. Supported by the Friends of the Library.

November 27-December 26
St. Charles Christmas Traditions
Historic South Main Street
Opening ceremonies at 11 a.m. at the Gazebo at 400 S. Main Street (Kister Park) with Santa’s arrival and hanging of the greens.

Holiday festivities include Santa Parade every Saturday and Sunday at 1:30 p.m., carolers, special shop hours, ice skating, fife and drum corps, carriage ride

November 27-December 30
Celebration of Lights
Fort Zumwalt Park, O’Fallon
Hours: Sunday, Tuesday-Thursday 6:30pm-9pm & Friday and Saturday from 6:30pm-10pm
Holiday light display of more than 1 million lights and a 1-mile display of holiday scenes.

First-time homebuyers are looking at the real possibility of a tax credit extension into 2010

Lawmakers are also considering tax credits for repeat buyers to enhance local economies

With the first-time homebuyer $8,000 tax credit set to expire at the end of November, both the Senate and House of Representatives are busy working through agreements to extend this popular program, and keep in place the loan limit for U.S.-backed mortgages at $729,750 for two years, thereby holding down interest rates.

More than 1.4 million first-time buyers have benefited from the $8,000 tax credit and that incentive helped to increase home sales in St. Charles County by 10.6% this September, compared to a year ago. St. Louis County saw an increase of 5.8% during the same period. The median home price has declined during the same time frame, by 3.4% in St. Charles County and 0.7% in St. Louis County.

To keep the up tick in housing sales going, legislators are trying to extend the tax credit incentive through June of 2010 for homebuyers who have a contract on a house by the end of April. Also proposed is up to $6,500 in tax credits for repeat buyers who have owned their home for at least five years, and an income increase to $125,000 a year for individuals and $225,000 for couples.

The Senate is expected to look at the extended tax credits next week (it’s been bundled with legislation to extend unemployment insurance) and then the House will have it’s chance to pass the legislation.

Without a doubt, the tax credits, decreased interest rates, various home ownership program assistance have helped countless qualified buyers purchase a home, and have provided more jobs for Americans in desperate need of jobs.

No doubt, this has been a rough patch for our citizens, our economy and our state of being. With extended housing incentives, we’ll be that much further to recovery and a positive outlook.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Putting your yard “to bed” in October means less work in the spring

Taking good care of your lawn at the end of the season makes good sense

While it may not be as rewarding up front as planting new spring flowers, getting your lawn and gardens ready for winter will be a real time saver come next year. Here are some tips to help you organize a fall clean-up.

Dead-head perennials. Remove spent annuals after the first frost, but resist the urge to prune perennials to the ground as this can invite insects and fungal infections. Always wait until spring when the first new growth appears before cutting perennials back.

Dig tender plants such as canna lily, dahlia and annual geraniums right after the first frost. Air dry plants and store in a cool dry location for the winter.

Don’t forget to water trees and shrubs, especially evergreens. The general rule is one inch of water per week. So check your rain gauge.

Collect soil samples from several locations in your lawn and around your trees. Have both samples tested. If lawn samples indicate a low pH apply lime now. Fertilize trees if soil samples indicate a deficiency.

If you are planning on reseeding or over seeding your lawn be sure to do it in October.
  • Cool season grasses benefit from fall applications of fertilizer. Nurserymen recommend three applications during the fall months. Cool season grasses include bluegrass, fescue and rye grass. Warm season grasses include zoysia, buffalo and Bermuda grass.
  • Broadleaf herbicides can be applied now to control cool season weeds.
  • For those who garden organically and shy away from herbicides and petroleum based fertilizers, a lush lawn is attainable. Organic fertilizers are available. Bradfield Organics, a local company, produces organic fertilizers specifically designed for lawns. If you choose an organic use a 3-1-5 fertilizer in the fall.
  • Rake your lawn to help keep it healthy. Your grass can actually be smothered when covered by a deep layer of leaves.

By Jeanne Baker, MLA, Landscape Designer

Monday, October 19, 2009

Seniors are still buying homes and want an active lifestyle

Healthcare, cost of living, recreation and education are high on the list

Where are the most affordable places for the 55+ crowd to retire and own homes? U.S. News & World Report highlighted the top 10 places attractive for seniors to begin a second life. The cities chosen are based on a criteria of median home prices, affordable cost of living, good healthcare resources, and recreational activities.

Another very important factor is the availability of jobs and a low unemployment rate. Seniors aren’t “re-tired”; they still want an active professional life as well.

Let’s look the best affordable places for 55 plus homeowners to retire: Ann Arbor, MI, Ashville, N.C., Aurora, CO, Columbia, S.C., Columbus, OH, Eugene, OR, Fort Worth, TX, Jacksonville, FL, Kansas City, MO, and Tucson, AR.

One common theme for these locations is the presence of a college or university. The cultural, academic and sports opportunities offered by an educational institution do attract seniors who don’t settle for an inactive retirement.

St. Charles County and the St. Louis metro region have many characteristics to attract senior homebuyers too–colleges and universities, healthcare, easy access to cultural events and plenty of sports, both professional and amateur. If you are considering selling your home, what would attract a senior buyer, in addition to the regional amenities?

The good news is 90 percent of the 55+ homebuyers are moving in the same general area or from a different part of the state, according to a survey by conducted by The National Association of Home Builders and the MetLife Mature Market Institute. Smaller, single family homes are preferred by 79 percent of the respondents, and open kitchen/family rooms, a washer and dryer plus lots of storage.

The 55+ age group is tuned into technology. They was special places for computers, advanced security systems, built-in wiring for flat screens and programmable, but easy to use thermostats. Energy efficient appliances are musts for 79 percent of the respondent group while other green concepts include solar heating, a water filtering system and chemical-free building materials.

Keep these tips in mind as you consider selling your home. Remember, every size home has a potential buyer out there.

Written by Myra Vandersall

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

We Welcome Elias Trace

Elias Trace is the newest member of the Grant Hickman Team. He honed his real estate skills at Retail Realty Group, LLC, in Chesterfield, Missouri, and is excited about using his skills to help St. Charles County families buy or sell their home. Because he lives where he works, in St. Peters and St. Charles County, Elias knows this market and community. As do all the members of the Grant Hickman team, he treats his clients with dignity and integrity.

When he's not helping clients with their real estate needs, you'll find Elias cooking, woodworking and following his love of the outdoors. He's also a recent graduate of Millikin University in Decatur, Illinois, where he earned his bachelor's degree in commercial music.

Meet all of our Experts in Real Estate Services and Systems!

October planting for spring sale

October is the time to garden for now and for a spring sale
Look to the future when planning your fall garden. Putting in some extra work and planning now will pay off in ready–made spring blooms

By Jeanne Baker, MLA, Landscape Designer

Fall is officially here. The nights are cool and the trees are starting to change. There are beautiful flowers that wait to bloom until the temperature drops and the days shorten. Take advantage of this opportunity to add color by planting fall blooming perennials in containers, flower boxes or perennial beds. Containers are the perfect way to extend the growing season and bring color to your entrance. Remember to plant a mix of different species in your container and play with color. Choosing plants with contrasting color and form will stand out from a distance inviting a closer look.

Excellent container plants are chrysanthemums, asters (‘Purple Dome’), pansies, ornamental kale, purple fountain grass and Japanese blood grass. To plant, partially fill your container with potting soil or Styrofoam and insert plants still in their nursery pots. Protect your containers from an early frost by covering or moving them to an unheated garage. This will typically allow you to have beautiful plantings through Thanksgiving. Once the weather turns and an extended period of freezing temperatures is predicted, remove potted plants from their container and place pots in holes in the garden, water well and mulch heavily. Plants can over winter and be planted in a permanent home in the spring or repotted in containers.

Work now to insure a vibrant spring sale
If you want to sell your home next spring, now is the time to get a head start by planting spring flowering bulbs. The more planning you do now, the less work you’ll have come March and April. Pairing bulbs with compatible perennials will keep your beds looking neat even when after your bulbs have bloomed and their foliage have started to droop and yellow. The key is picking bulbs and perennials that require similar growing conditions, such as sunny/dry, moist or shady. Plant the bulbs with their companion perennials so that spreading plants will grow in over the spent bulbs. Suggested combinations:
  • Sunny/dry locations – pair daffodils, tulip and/or hyacinth with peony, cranesbill or lamb’s ear to cover. You can plant dianthus in front of bulbs/perennial companions.
  • Moist locations – pair Spanish bluebell, fritillaria and/or quamash with astilbe, cardinal flower or brunnera to cover. Can plant mazus and/or coral bells in front of bulbs/perennial companions.
  • Shady locations – pair wood hyacinth, windflower or toad lily with hostas, celandine poppy or ferns to cover. Can plant sweet woodruff in front of bulbs/perennial companions.
Don’t have the time or the budget to plant everything at once? Plant the bulbs this fall and fill in with the perennials in the spring. Bulbs need the cold weather in order to bloom so be sure to get them before winter.
For more on bulb/perennial companions go to: http://www.gardengatemagazine.com/extras/083/bulb_companions.php

Fall is the perfect time to plant new trees and shrubs
Give the new plants time to start acclimating to their new environment during their dormant period before spring and the demands of new growth. Be sure to follow planting instructions carefully. The top of the root ball of a B&B plant should never be below ground level. Water thoroughly and apply 3 inch layer mulch. If you haven’t yet selected a tree/shrub the Missouri Botanical Garden (MOBOT) has excellent online references to help you decide.
Try using Plants of Merit if you are looking for something different that you aren’t likely to see in everyone’s garden. Plants of Merit have all been tested by MOBOT and local horticulturalists and have proven to be reliable performers with excellent plant characteristics but are underutilized in our region.

Want to browse and look at all the trees there are to choose from that like a wet and shady location? Use Plant Finder Search. Plant Search is the garden’s most extensive plant database search engine. It allows you to search by plant type; cultural requirements, such as sun, water, and planting zone; plant characteristics, like height, width, bloom color and time; uses for plant; features of flowers, leaves and fruit.

With a bit of planning, some imagination and digging power, you can enjoy your fall garden now and potential buyers will enjoy your efforts next spring.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

A big thank you goes out to our valued clients

SCHNEIDER Real Estate ranked in the top 10 real estate companies in St. Charles through third quarter of this year. SCHNEIDER agents brought the company to the eighth slot in closed transactions in St. Charles County. SCHNEIDER's 42 agents are very proud of this accomplishment, but we are even prouder, and sincerely thankful, for the clients who trusted us with their homes to sell or purchase.

We work hard to earn your trust and in return give you the best personal service and advice. We support you, whether you are buying or selling, and try to find the very best fit for your family’s needs at the very best price.

We’ve been here since 1975, growing as the St. Charles region grows. Our family thanks you and your families for the privilege of serving your real estate needs.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Around St. Charles County

October 2009 Calendar of Events

Saturday, October 3
Augusta Bottoms Beer Festival
Noon - 5 pm
Enjoy tastings, live music, and brewery items for sale plus a commemorative glass.
$25.00 www.augustabottomsbeerfest.com

October 4-October 31
Pumpkin Fantasyland, Centennial Farms, Augusta
10-5 p.m. daily/11-5 p.m. Sunday
The farmstead is turned into "Pumpkin Fantasyland" with a whimsical collection of pumpkin figures dressed as farm folks, storybook characters and aliens. Hundreds of pumpkins, gourds, Indian corn, and other fall decorations add to the color. Also apple picking and farm market.

Wednesday, October 7
Staying Healthy This Flu Season
6:30-8 p.m.
Progress West HealthCare Center Community Room
How much do you really know about the flu bug? Discuss transmission, symptoms, treatments and who should be vaccinated. Learn the difference between epidemics and pandemics.
Call 636.344.2273 to register.

Friday, October 9 - Saturday, October 10
Fall Festival and Craft Bazzar in O'Fallon with live music, children's activities, arts, crafts, and Log Cabin Museum tours. At the Civic Park 5-9 pm. Friday, 9am - 4pm Saturday.

Friday, October 9-Sunday, October 11
Builders Home & Remodeling Show
Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m.-9 p.m.
Sunday, 11 a.m.-5 p.m.
St. Charles Convention Center
Find what you need for your home. More than 200 exhibitors and special presentations from free antique art appraisals to childrens’ activities and the Habitat for Humanity ReStore.

October 9 - October 11
Bicentennial Cultural Heritage Festival
St. Charles
Various locations throughout the city.
During the second weekend in October, St. Charles continues its Bicentennial celebration with a Cultural Heritage Festival based on a series of parties, parades and concerts in local parks. The city's official anniversary weekend will feature a wide-range of fun, free, family-friendly events as follows:
Friday, October 9 in Frontier Park, 500 S. Riverside Drive - an evening event complete with live entertainment, food & beverages will kick-off the Bicentennial along the banks of the Missouri river.
Saturday, October 10 in Blanchette Park, 1900 W. Randolph Street - the St. Charles Bicentennial parade begins at noon with an old-fashioned picnic to be held in the park from 2 pm to 6 pm.
Sunday, October 11 in Wapelhorst Park, 1875 Muegge Road - this afternoon event will have an arts and culture theme featuring local talent. Visitors will also have an opportunity to take historical tours aboard the St. Charles trolley.


For more information call 636-255-6154 or visit www.stcharlescitymo.gov

Sunday, October 11, 2009

10 am - 5 pm daily
Old Settler Days
Riverside Park, Kampsville, IL

This event on the banks of the Illinois River depicts the life and times of the early Calhoun settlers. Civil War re-enactment, carriage rides, fiddle contest, mountain-man activities, apple-butter making and other period demonstrations, food, crafts, and live entertainment.


Friday, October 16
NEW! Old Time Radio Mystery Shows
10 a.m.-12 noon
Java G’s Coffeehouse Café, 2031 Old Hwy 94S
Sponsored by the St. Charles Community College and OASIS, learn about the popular radio shows in the 1930s and 1940s, especially mystery shows. Discussion and audio examples
$9/age 50 and over

Friday, October 23 – Saturday, October 24
10 am - 4 pm
Calhoun County Communities, Brussels, IL

Take a relaxing drive through Calhoun County to see displays of beautiful quilts, exhibits and activities. Visitors can also take part in quilt demonstrations, quilt appraisals, supplies and sales. As a bonus, attendees will be able to take a driving tour of the county to see 20 barn quilts.

$8 in advance, $12 at the door
For more information call 618-576-2293

Friday, October 30
Trick or Treat on Main
3-5 p.m.
Enjoy a safe afternoon of trick or treating at various businesses for costumed children 12 years and younger. Stay for the Halloween Children's Theater in Frontier Park from 5:15-5:45pm. Main Street

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Buyers are looking for homes during the autumn season

Spring and summer may be the traditional time to buy and sell homes, but autumn and the beautiful fall palate could be your time for a successful sale.

Autumn is traditionally a season of recovery and reflection, a time to burrow in after the frantic pace of summer. For sale signs pop up on lawns during spring and summer, as families with children want to get settled before school starts.

But buyers are still out there during the fall season, looking for a good deal. And there’s more good news. A recent survey by Relocation.com found that 50 percent of those surveyed moved to improve their living situation, whether a bigger house or to a better neighborhood. A previous survey in March 2009 indicated the recession played a major part in selling and buying decisions.

Here are some tips to help you get maximum dollars for an autumn sale.

  • How your house appears during a drive-by is the first step. Trees have great appeal, especially in the fall with the brilliant red, gold, yellow and green palates showcasing your house. Continue tending to your outside upkeep. Trim back shrubs, remove dead or almost dead annuals and trim dead limbs from trees. Add color with freshly planted annuals like mums, pansies and petunias. Rake leaves, or shovel snow, making a clear path to your home and one that is not fraught with dangers.
  • Light and bright on the inside is the way to go. Let abundant sun shine in. Consider replacing heavy drapes with lighter ones to show off your house and avoid that gloomy look.
  • Give your potential buyers that cozy feeling. If you have a fireplace, make sure it’s in working order, and have a nice fire burning. The glow really sets off the richness of hardwood floors and offers the viewer an at-home feel. Temperature control is important too. Not too hot and not too cool.
  • Decorating is a nice touch, but take it easy on the holiday decorations. Potential buyers are not impressed when they have to work their way through dangling spiders, ghosts, witches and giant turkeys. Prepare you home for the season, certainly, but use some restraint.
  • Speaking of spiders, wee little critters do come in your house in the fall, and that’s normal. Be vigilant and eliminate cobwebs and insects. Check corners and closets so that a buyer doesn’t have any unpleasant surprises.
  • Be flexible. The housing market is in the recovery stage, but we’re not at the robust stage. Give serious consideration to your price and negotiable points, such as closing costs and inspections.

Monday, September 14, 2009

The FHA 203(k) loan is perfect for homebuyers who want to rescue foreclosed properties

Rehabbers can combine the loan price and improvement costs in one loan

There are homes out there, just waiting to be “adopted” by a loving family. They may be a bit on the ragged side, down on their luck, but with some tender, loving care, a qualified homebuyer and an FHA 203(k) loan, they’ll be returned to their glory.

We’re talking about foreclosed properties that aren’t in tip top shape, but deserve a chance and are manageable rehabs.

This HUD program, administered through the Federal Housing Administration (FHA), is not a new idea. More than 31 years old, the 203(k) is a loan that includes both the purchase price and the rehab price for a qualified buyer to fix up the place. Because of the amount of foreclosed properties now, this type of loan is very attractive for the buyer who sees value at the end and doesn’t mind rolling up his or her sleeves.

There are two types of 203(k) loans–the full deal for major rehabs and really big projects, and the Streamline 203(k) that tops out the rehab budget at $35,000. This is an excellent way to go for properties that need some sprucing up and energy efficient improvements. It’s amazing how far $35,000 will go to transform a home. Qualifying properties include one to four-family structures.

The loans are granted through FHA lenders. When the purchaser is approved, the down payment will be 3.5%. The potential buyer is responsible for working with an approved contractor and designing a bid for the rehab. The bid must be very detailed, including plans, materials, labor, time frame, which can be no more than six months, and an estimated completion value.

This information is necessary to assemble the package and final loan amount. When the project is approved and closed, the buyer will receive up to half the rehab amount to begin work on the house. The final payout comes after the work has been inspected to make sure it conforms to the original plans.

These loans can be more involved that a conventional loan, so it’s best to work with a SCHNEDIER real estate agent who understands the complexities and can recommend a lending institution that is approved to provide the 203(k) loans.

Just think how satisfied you’ll be to rescue a foreclosed property, make a contribution to improving a neighborhood and take part in the housing market recovery.

Check out St. Charles foreclosed homes.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Cauy Clark and the Cardinals have a big day on Sunday, October 4

SCHNEIDER Real Estate agent Robert Clark’s son Cauy, who has tuberous sclerosis complex, will help raise money for research and at cure at the Cardinals’ last regular season game.

What better way to cap off a fantastic Cardinals baseball season and send the team on to the Central Division Championships than attending the very last game of the season and supporting a wonderful cause.

Sunday, October 4 is the last game and a very special day for Cauy Clark, who has tuberous sclerosis complex (TSC), a genetic disease that causes tumors to form in many different organs. Cauy’s dad is SCHNEIDER Real Estate Agent Robert Clark, the driving force behind finding a cure for this complex and helping not only his son, but also the approximate 50,000 Americans who have TSC.

The October 4 game will be the third annual A Cure for Cauy day at the ballpark. We urge you to snap up tickets for $25.00 each, which is a great discount, join the fun at Busch Stadium and help Cauy raise money for research. This special day is in association with the Cardinals and the goal is to sell more than 1,000 tickets, which are located in the reserved outfield terrace on the third base side. A TSC kid will throw out the first pitch when the ticket goal is reached.

Robert explains that people afflicted with TSC are at risk for tumors growing in vital organs such as the brain, heart, eyes, kidneys, skin, liver and lungs. Some people with TSC can experience autism, epilepsy and kidney and heart disease.

Cauy was diagnosed around the age of three, but Robert saw a special positive spirit and can-do attitude in his son, and with that hope decided to become actively involved in raising money for treatment and a cure.

Here are the game day details. Get a group together, help Cauy and thousands like him, and send the Cardinals off to the National League Central Division Championships.

St. Louis Cardinals vs. the Milwaukee Brewers
Sunday, October 4
Game time 1:15 p.m.
Special Cure For Cauy ticket price: $25.00

To order tickets:
E-mail Robert Clark at cureforcauy@gmail.com or call him at 636.248.6329.
Or mail your ticket request and a check payable to A Cure For Cauy to:
A Cure For Cauy, C/O SCHNEIDER Real Estate, One Point West Blvd., St. Charles, MO 63301

You can be sure the SCHNEIDER real estate team will be out in full force rooting for Cauy and the Cardinals.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Spotlight on Paragon Custom Homes

Q: Please introduce yourself?
Jason Jacobs & Kyle Funk

Q: What is the name of your business?
Paragon Custom Homes

Q: Where is your business located?
Wentzville, MO but we service St Charles, Lincoln, Warren and St Louis Counties.

Q: Briefly describe what you/ your business does.
We are a custom home builder that offers quality homes and options at our cost.

Q: How many years have you been in business?
For over 1 year.

Q: What is your burning desire?
Our burning desire is to build quality custom homes for clients at the best dollar per dollar value by passing on options at our cost. We want everyone loving the home they built and knowing they received and equitable deal.

Q: What’s something not many people know about you?
One of our goals is to eventually donate homes to our church that can be used to help people get back on their feet from unfortunate life circumstances.

Q: Do you have a Website Address?

Q: What’s the best way for someone to get a hold of you if they have further questions?
I still believe in a phone call to intiate a personal meeting. We will communicate via email as well, but nothing takes the place of a real conversation. 314-780-0360 Jason or paragonpropertiesllc@yahoo.com

Monday, August 31, 2009

Around St. Charles County

Tuesday, September 15
Your Personal Economic Recovery

7-8 p.m.
Middendorf-Kredell Branch, St. Charles-St. Charles County Library District

Today's economic environment may be one of the most challenging. Take control of your financial situation - and the sooner you act, the better. Learn about the steps that can help prepare you for a potential recovery and keep your financial future on track. Presented by Gary W. Weber, Edward Jones.

Tuesday, September 15

7 pm to 9 pm

St. Charles Nonprofit Development Center, 425 Spencer Road

Open House presentation by the St. Louis Audubon Society. Refreshments will be served while you wander exhibits, pickup informational materials, and meet the folks that make it happen around the Metro Region. From birding to education to hands-on conservation activities and more.
Info call 314-599-7390

Friday, September 18-Sunday, September 20
Friday: 4 pm - 9 pm
Saturday: 11 am - 9 pm
Sunday: 11 am - 5 pm

Historic St. Charles Downtown District

Approximately 125 artists from across the country are selected to come to St. Charles to exhibit and sell their works. Mediums represented include painting, sculpture, jewelry, and many other fine arts. Other activities include A Mentor Me program, an Art for Youth gallery, and a Kids Creation Station. Food and other refreshments are available throughout the festival grounds.
For info: call 636-940-5178 or visit www.stcharlesmosaics.org

September 25 - October 25, 2009

Quilt National
Tuesday-Saturday hours are 10 am - 5 pm
Open until 9 pm on Wednesdays
Sunday hours are 12 pm-4 pm

Foundry Art Centre, 520 N. Main Stree

Quilt National is a biennial, international, juried and judged quilt art competition. Quilt National has showcases the most exciting & innovative trends in the medium and promotes quilt making as what it always has been - an art form. Jurors will select works that represent unique approaches and demonstrate the breadth & diversity of contemporary expressions. An educational lecture series will run in conjunction with the exhibition.

Tuesday, September 29
Escape To Araluen/Ranger’s Apprentice
7 p.m.
Middendorf-Kredell Branch, St. Charles City-County Library
Experience the story, live the action with the Viking Story Pirates of New York City.
Info: Register online at www.youranswerplace.org or call 636 978.7926

Wednesday, September 30
When Should Ms. Daisy Stop Driving?
3-4:30 p.m
Progress West Highway K Medical Building & Urgent Care Center
Designed for the impaired senior driver and their loved ones, this discussion separates fact from fiction on the safety of older drivers. Call 636.344.2273 to register.

Visit your St. Charles County Real Estate Expert

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Home sales up/new search options

Soaring home sales encourage confidence in the real estate market. The Grant Hickman Team’s new online housing search makes selling and buying a dream.

Good news prevails in the real estate market this week. For the first time in five years, existing home sales have increased for four months in a row, according to the monthly statistics from the National Association of Realtors®.

This increase is due in part to first time homebuyers who cashed in on the $8,000 tax credit. They accounted for 30 percent of homes purchased in July while foreclosures totaled 31 percent of transactions.

As the excitement about home ownership begins to return, the Grant Hickman Team now offers buyers and sellers an incredible online experience. We’ve made searches for all area homes, condos, rentals, open houses and foreclosures a one-stop deal. This new way of viewing real estate includes absolutely everything a potential buyer needs–you get all the property details and set up a list of favorites so you’re not bouncing back and forth between websites.

Pictures galore, of course, and you can email the listing to a friend to see what they think of the property. There’s a mortgage calculator, MapQuest directions and points of interest near the property. You can also request a private showing or contact the Schneider listing agent for more information.

As much as we love our new online search, we also believe that talking to a real person is the best way to learn about your next home. Do some searches online and call us. We’re here for you. Come look around!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Home buyers can receive up to $14,999 to purchase foreclosed property

You can give foreclosed property a new life and participate in the St. Charles region economic recovery

Another assistance program designed to help potential buyers enter the housing market is now available from the Missouri Housing Development Corporation (MHDC). Qualified buyers can receive up to $14,999 or 20% of the purchase price on foreclosed property to use for a down payment and closing costs.

This incentive will help stabilize and rebuild Missouri neighborhoods. The MHDC received $4.2 million from the Neighborhood Stabilization Program (NPS) to help consumers buy homes.

Combine this incentive with the $8,000 tax rebate for first time home buyers and there is no better time to jump into homeownership.

Here are the details:

  • Applicants can be first time home buyers or repeat buyers.
  • The loan is an FHA 30-year fixed rate at 5.75%.
  • The property must be foreclosed and unoccupied for three months.
  • The purchase price cannot exceed $258,690.
  • There are maximum income requirements set by the MHDC.
  • Buyers must use the MHDC First Place Loan program for the first mortgage while the NSP funds provided through the second mortgage and have a 0% interest rate, which is forgiven after five years of residency.
  • The purchase price must be discounted a minimum of 1% from the current appraised value.

This is your chance to give a foreclosed property new life, and for you to participant in the economic revitalization of St. Charles County.

Visit Grant Hickman for St. Charles Real Estate

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Time is running Out

  • YOU MUST Act Now!!!
  • YOU MUST close by Nov. 30th

The Qualification, Selection, Inspection and Closing Process takes considerably longer than in previous times...often from 3 to 5 months.

Contact Me today to increase your chances of hitting the target and not missing out on Your $8,000 Tax Gift!!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

My Listings!

901 Cordova St
St Louis , MO 63138
GrantHickman , 314-265-1531
view details
11820 Criterion Ave
St Louis , MO 63138
GrantHickman , 314-265-1531
view details

29 Graystone Ct
Saint Charles , MO 63303
GrantHickman , 314-265-1531
view details
1075 Rogers Ln
Florissant , MO 63033
GrantHickman , 314-265-1531
view details

Monday, August 17, 2009

Follow these tips and have a great experience with home improvement professionals

Spiffing up your home before you sell can reap financial rewards. Finding the right contractor or tradesperson to help is a crucial step.

You’ve decided to put your home up for sale and move on, or you are staying put and want a fresh look. However, a few things need to be addressed before you plant that FOR SALE sign in the front yard. Homeowners can handle small fix-it projects, but other projects may call for an expert. That means the search for a reliable, honest contractor is next on your agenda.

Word-of-mouth is one of the best ways to find a contractor or tradesperson. Ask friends and colleagues for referrals, but make sure what you need matches with who is recommended. You may need your deck resurfaced, but your friend’s wonderful painter wouldn’t be the best choice. Even if you chose a friend’s recommendation, check it out with the St. Louis Better Business Bureau. Ask the contractor for a list of recently completed projects and call the homeowner to discuss the work. Grant Hickman, SCHNEIDER Realtor, is another excellent resource for recommendations.

Once you’ve found a good fit, make sure your contractor has the proper insurance, liability and bonding, and is licensed to perform the work you want. Ask the tradesperson to show you this documentation, and obtain copies for your files.

Get it in writing. The contract stage is crucial to a successful job completion. Include every detail possible for the job in addition to an estimate. Include the start date, schedule, completion date, any variables you would anticipate and the payment schedule. If your contractor or tradesperson is reluctant to include any of this information, beware. This might not be a good match. Everyone involved in your project must have copies of all paperwork.

And finally, do you like each other. Really, personality conflicts or different work styles can mean your project could be an unsatisfying experience. When all is said and done, both you and your contractor want to show pride in the workmanship and part on good terms.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Make a big effort to sell a small house and ring up a big sale

Smaller houses are contenders in the real estate market. People who are interested in lower costs, less maintenance and an active lifestyle are prime candidates to buy.

If the past couple of years have taught us anything, Americans are realizing that the “bigger is better” theory hasn’t worked out too well. That goes for real estate as well as life. Smaller houses have a very viable place in market now, especially for buyers who are cost-conscience and want to own property but are not interested in a lot of maintenance and high taxes.

Buyers run the gamut from first-timers who are looking for a starter house, to former McMansion owners tired of the expense involved in upkeep, to seniors who still want to own property but need a low maintenance house that affords them the option to seek new adventures.

In the beginning
Sprucing up a smaller house for sale is a lot like any other house, but sellers need to add an extra wow factor. Fantastic curb appeal is a must in this situation. You want the prospective buyer to fall in love with your house right away.

Garbage bags are you best friends
Eliminate clutter right now. The more stuff you have sitting around, the smaller the house seems. You want the potential buyer to see that their stuff will fit, that there is enough space to live comfortably and not feel overwhelmed. Fill the garbage bags up with things that no longer work, you don’t want and that you take with you to your next home.

Let the sunshine in
The more light, and the cleaner the windows, the bigger the space will look and feel. Dark drapes and shadowy corners give a closed in feeling and that’s not what you want to sell.

Open up the space
Smaller homes usually come with smaller kitchens. Remove all appliances from countertops when you show the house to give the appearance of adequate cooking space. If you have a huge wrap-around sofa and a big screen television in the living room, take them out. The first view as potential buyers enter the house is crucial; a buyer wants to see and feel open spaces rather than a cramped maze.

Highlight easy maintenance
Show off any new kitchen appliances and heating or cooling upgrades. Newer means less maintenance and lower costs. How long does it take you to cut the grass? A lot less than mowing an acre, and that means more time for the buyer to enjoy life.

Keep in mind that smaller homes are jewels in the landscape. Your property will be in demand and attracts those buyers who want more out of life than home maintenance.