Sunday, February 28, 2010

St. Charles Calendar

Through March 28
2010 Orchid Show
Missouri Botanical Garden
9 a.m.-5 p.m.
Annual orchid show features more than 800 orchids from the Garden’s world-class collection in a lush garden of French-inspired design. Winding streets lead to a French bistro beneath the shadow of the Eiffel Tower.
$5 plus garden admission
Free for member

Friday, March 5
Star Parties
St. Louis Science Center Planetarium
6:45 p.m.
Visitors are treated to viewing the night sky through telescopes at the Planetarium. Members of the St. Louis Astronomical Society will be on hand to answer questions. Included is a viewing of “The Sky Tonight” in the Orthwein Starbay. For night sky updates, call 314-289-4453

Saturday, March 6
St. Louis Moolah Shrine Parade
N. Riverside Dr.
The 68th annual Shrine Circus Parade will be held in historic St. Charles, beginning on N. Riverside Dr. and ending in the parking area at the Lewis & Clark Boat House and Nature Center. More than 100 parade units will entertain parade viewers. Also, the Moolah little cars, national grand champion marching bands, the Wehrenberg Calliope and the Schnucks giant shopping cart.

Thursday, March 11-Sunday, March 14
Missouri Valley Conference Women’s Basketball Tournament
Family Arena
The 15th annual women’s tourney features 10 league schools with opening round action beginning at 5 p.m. on Thursday and the championship game on Sunday. For details go to the Missouri Valley Conference website.

Thursday, March 11
Caregiving: What to do in emergencies
1-2:30 p.m.
Barnes-Jewish St. Peters Hospital
Learn what you can do to prepare for an emergency and do what’s best for your loved one to minimize stress. Call 636.928.9355 to register.

Thursday, March 18-Sunday, March 21
St. Louis Moolah Shrine Circus
Family Arena
Thurs., March 18, 7:00 p.m.; Fri., March 19, 10:30 a.m., 7:30 p.m.
Sat., March 20, 10:00 a.m., 2:30 p.m., 7:30 pm
Sun., March 21, 1:30 p.m., 6:00 p.m.
Hearing Impaired Performance: Sun., March 21, 1:30 p.m.
Shrine Circus comes to town with trapeze artists, clowns, tigers, elephants and carnival food and much more. Attendees can ride elephants and ponies at this family-centered event. For ticket info, go to the Moolah Shrine Circus website.

Friday, March 26
Lewis, Clark and Sacagawea in Missouri
10 a.m. – noon
St. Charles Community College
Dianne Moran, folklorist/naturalist and Chautauqua scholar will portray the story of Sacagawea, a Plains Indian woman, and how she helped Meriwether Lewis and William Clark secure their place in history as great explorers. Sacagawea visited St. Louis in 1809.
Fee: $15

Sunday, March 28
Spring Concert
Lindenwood University Cultural Center
2 p.m.
The St. Charles Municipal Band & Community Big (Jazz) Band present their annual spring concert. The Municipal Band, under the direction of Nancy Garza, will open its 140th season with a concert of contemporary American music. An Intermission will feature complimentary cookies & refreshments. The Big (Jazz) Band with vocalist concludes the afternoon's performance with swing and contemporary jazz.

Tuesday, March 30
New Trail-Dardene Creek
9:30 a.m.
Explore the back woods of St. Peters. Approximately 3-5 miles, mostly flat, partially paved trail. Meet at the St. Peters Rec-Plex, 5200 Mexico Road, St Peters, MO, near trailhead.

St. Charles County Real Estate

Written by Myra Vandersall

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Foreclosures dip in St. Louis region; HUD relaxes rules for quick resale

HUD’s actions will help speed foreclosure sales and protect against predatory flippers.

With the housing industry still facing recovery challenges in 2010, there is some good news in the St. Louis area. Foreclosure activity from December to January declined by five percent, according to RealtyTrac. This is the second straight month that action on foreclosed property decreased here. Nationally 23 percent of homeowners owe more than their house is worth, while in our area that total is 15 percent.

Considering the continued foreclosure crisis, neighborhood stabilization and access to affordable housing is on HUD’s fast track. The agency has expanded access to FHA mortgage insurance and allow for quick resale. This change is a temporary one but will give buyers the ability to resell the home within 90 days.

HUD secretary Shaun Donovan emphasized the new policy has very strict boundaries to make certain that predatory practices such as reselling at inflated prices to unsuspecting borrowers won’t happen. “The FHA has an opportunity to fulfill its mission by helping many homebuyers find affordable housing and contribute to neighborhood stabilization,” he says.

The criteria is limited to these general factors:
  • All transactions must be arms-length, with no identity of interest between the buyer and seller or other parties participating in the sales transaction.
  • In cases in which the sales price of the property is 20 percent or more above the seller’s acquisition cost, the waiver will only apply if the lender meets specific conditions.
  • The waiver is limited to forward mortgages, and does not apply to the Home Equity Conversion Mortgage for purchase program.

Learn more about this opportunity. Contact your St. Charles County Real Estate SCHNEIDER agent and visit the HUD website for detailed information.

Written by Myra Vandersall

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Going green with remodeling projects increases your home’s saleability

Earth friendly flooring, wallboard, insulation and roofs can bring in more potential buyers and do some good for the earth we live on.

As the selling season comes into sight, plans should be underway to spruce up your home with some remodeling projects. Last time we talked about small projects that have the best return dollar-for-dollar, such as changing out the tile in the kitchen and bath, re-facing cabinets and installing energy efficient appliances.

Making those improvements with earth-friendly materials will take your results to a higher level. Green materials have both financial and safety advantages.

Insulation is a must and most homes are under insulated. Natural based insulation is very popular now, such as recycled newspaper or cotton fiber, including recycled denim pieces. This insulation is soft, easy to handle and is treated to be fire resistant. There is no formaldehyde or other chemicals added to the product.

Wallboard can be a mold magnet, but by using gypsum, which has a moisture-resistant core, mold is no longer a problem. And, gypsum wallboard helps to maintain healthy air inside.

Heat rises–to the roof. In addition to quality insulation on the inside, a cool metal roof on the outside can save up to 30 percent on cooling bills. The metal roof lasts twice as long a conventional roof, and is resistant to fire, wind and hail.

Going green with flooring is another important factor in home remodeling. Linoleum is an excellent choice now. Yes, linoleum, but this product is far different than the linos in the 1950s kitchens of the past. The new linoleum is made from linseed oil, rosin, wood flour cork flour and limestone, all renewable resources and by-products of other manufacturing processes. This flooring is beautiful, designer-friendly and requires no major cleaning techniques.

To learn more about ways to live a greener life, check out the EarthWays Living the Green Life at the Missouri Botanical Garden. This interactive exhibit, which runs through March 14, is included in the Garden admission.

Written by Myra Vandersall

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Get help before you go into FORECLOSURE


I know that financial situations can be difficult to discuss. We have many resources and answers that might help prevent you going into foreclosure.

On the news and signs surrounding our neighborhoods, we are reminded that many of or friends, family, and neighbors are financially struggling. Among the daily headlines, I read about the economy, gas, and real estate - especially foreclosure and families in need of help.

In my business, helping family matters. St. Charles is a great place to work and live, and has continued to grow despite reports of a lagging economy. Regardless, people you and I know have been hit hard by rising gas prices, grocery expenses, and other economy factors.

We have experts trained in:
- Short sales
-Network of credit counselors and mortgage professionals

I want you to call me if you need assistance making decisions about your
home. The Grant Hickman Team is helping families right now in difficult
situations, avoid foreclosure and bankruptcies. Give me a call direct at (314) 265-1531 or share our services with a friend, neighbor, or family member.


Tuesday, February 9, 2010

St. Charles County Residential Sales by Price

Kitchen, bath remodeling projects add resale value

Whether you’re moving on or staying put, minor face-lifts will freshen a home.

Here’s a true story. Our friend Dan was getting his house ready to sell. The screen in the front door had a hole for, oh, three years running. He took the screen to the hardware store, had it fixed and reinstalled it that afternoon. Looking at his new screen door, Dan wondered why he didn’t do this easy fix three years ago.

Most of us have those little, nagging projects that we’ll take care of next weekend, but the weekends fly away and all of a sudden, if you decide to sell your house, they add up. Even if you’ll stay put for a while, projects big and small will have a financial impact for eventual resale.

Kitchen and bath upgrades still have good returns, according to Remodeling magazine’s latest cost vs. value analysis. A kitchen remodel has the potential to recoup 78.3 percent on the initial remodel investment. However, this return is based on minor upgrades, not a total kitchen renovation. Upgrades include energy efficient appliances, cabinet re-facing, new countertops, resilient flooring and a quality sink and faucet. These types of changes present the kitchen as fresh and well cared for.

Bathrooms also bring a good 71 percent return. Again, it’s freshening up what you already have, not necessarily going the addition route. Buyers like jetted tubs, stylish countertops with upgraded sinks and faucets, and new tile. Even re-grouting, sealing and caulking the existing tile will go a long way to impress a potential buyer.

Some of these projects might fall under the do-it-yourself category, but hiring a contractor to do the work efficiently and according to code is a smart idea. So, where to start? Personal references are very reliable and you can see the final work. Check with the local professional homeowners and builders associations, plus the Better Business Bureau for any complaints.

When you have selected a contractor, ask for documentation that the contractor has the required licenses, insurance, lien protection and workers’ compensation. You also want to know who will do the work and if the contractor is subcontracting some of the project.

Whether you are considering selling or staying, do the projects for yourself so that you may enjoy your home’s fresh new look.

Next time we’ll explore ways to go green for the face-lift project. Green makes sense and cost-effective now and in the future.

Check out our remodeling returns information.

Written by Myra Vandersall

Monday, February 8, 2010

Borrowers will assume more costs as a result of FHA changes

The move is designed to generate additional income to ensure FHA solvency.

Borrowers who choose Federal Housing Authority (FHA) programs will see increased costs involved with that agency’s mortgage insurance and will have to have higher FICO scores. The move provides more financial stability for the FHA as rising defaults dipped below required reserves. Right now one in six FHA borrowers is behind on payments.

David Stevens, FHA commissioner, says “the FHA has a responsibility to be fiscally sound and to protect homeowners who trust the FHA to give them financing that will allow them to live in their homes for the long term.”

Up-front Mortgage Insurance Premiums (MIP) will be 2.25 percent, an increase from 1.75 percent. With FDA mortgage insurance, buyers can put as little as 3.5 percent down in comparison to the traditional 20 percent most lenders expect. However, to qualify for the 3.5 percent, borrowers must have a credit score of 580; prospective buyers whose credit scores are lower will have to put down 10 percent.

Another change is the amount of seller concessions from six to three percent. This change brings the FHA more in line with traditional industry standards and gives the borrower a greater stake in their home purchase.

Created by Congress in 1934 during the Great Depression and in economic times very similar to what we are experiencing today, the FHA provides mortgage insurance on loans made by FHA-approved lenders, but does not issue the loans. The agency currently insures 5.5 million mortgages.

Written by Myra Vandersall

Monday, February 1, 2010

Calendar of Events

The Big Read
Foundry Art Centre
The 2010 BIG READ, featuring Mark Twain’s classic novel The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. Events include book discussions, live theatre, music, film screenings, concerts, an essay contest, lectures, field trips, interactive art projects and culminate with an ice cream social and raft building contest. The Big Read is sponsored by the Foundry Art Centre and St. Charles Community College Library. For a full list of events, go to the Foundry’s website and download the schedule.

Friday, February 5
Peter Martin Music: The Duo featuring Dianne Reeves
8 p.m.
The Sheldon
Peter Martin Music, a new concert series by St. Louis' own, jazz pianist Peter Martin. He brings jazz home to St. Louis with this exciting new series featuring Martin on piano along with special guests. The first in the series will be The Duo, featuring four-time Grammy® Award winner Dianne Reeves.
For info, call MetroTix at 314-534-1111 or go to The Sheldon website.

February is a month of celebration for Mardi Gras lovers, and everyone who likes a good time. Check out the family celebration in Frenchtown, and all the activities offered during the month at the St. Louis Mardi Gras.

Saturday, February 6
Frenchtown Mardi Gras Parade
3 p.m.
The Frenchtown District of St. Charles is hosting an alcohol-free, family friendly Mardi Gras parade from Sundermeier RV Park to Transit, left on 2nd Street, Left on Clark, and ending at the Foundry Art Centre.

Saturday, February 6-Thursday, February 18
Mardi Gras, St. Louis style
Various times/events
St. Louis is one of the premier Mardi Gras celebrations, second only to New Orleans. The Soulard neighborhood comes alive with spectacular events for all. The big day, Saturday, February 13, is the River City Casino Grand Parade, but there’s plenty to do before then, beginning with the Southern Comfort Taste of Soulard on February 6 and 7, the Beggin’ Pet Parade, the wiener dog derby, the Mayor’s Mardi Gras Ball and lots of music featuring St. Louis’ best, plus bands from New Orleans. For a full schedule, go to the St. Louis Mardi Gras website.

Wednesday, February 10
6-9 p.m.
Primrose Farm, St. Charles Park District
Learn how to make cheese and see each stage of the processing from whole milk to culturing, pressing and aging.
$20 per resident. Advanced reservations required. Call the St. Charles Park District at 630-513-6200 for registration details.

Friday February 19-Sunday, February 21
Working Woman’s Survival Show
Fri. 11 am-8pm, Sat., 10am-8pm, Sun, 11-5pm.
Saint Charles Convention Center
More than 350 exhibitors present products, workshops, financial tips, fashion shows and fun for a perfect girls’ day out. For detailed information go to the Working Woman’s Survival Show website.
Adults $8.50, 6-11 yrs. & 60+ $6.50, 6 & under free.

Friday, February 12
Mom and Son Pottawatomie 500
6:45-8:30 p.m.
Pottawatomie Community Center
A fun-filled race themed night for moms and sons. Dancing, games, refreshments and a special memento for each son. Look for the Daddy and Daughter event in March.
$11.50 per resident. Advanced reservations required. Call the St. Charles Park District at 630-513-6200 for registration details.

Wednesday, February 24
Music as Medicine
1-2:30 p.m.
Barnes-Jewish St. Peters Hospital
Learn about the power of music for the restoration, maintenance and improvement of mental and physical health. Offered in partnership with OASIS.

Thursday, February 25-Sunday, February 28
St. Louis Builders Home and Garden Show
Thursday-Saturday, 10 a.m.-9 p.m.
Sunday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.
America’s Center and Edward Jones Building
St. Louis
The Builders Home and Garden Show is actually 5 complete shows in one - Lawn and Garden, Pool and Spa, Kitchen & Bath, Interior Design and Building Products. Enormous feature gardens, local and national celebrity speakers and family fun areas. More than 600 exhibitors, here’s the place to get ideas for your spring home and garden projects.
Adults: $9;Children 6-12: $4; Children 5 and Under: Free

Written by Myra Vandersall