7-Step Guide for Buyers Relocating to St. Louis

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Real Estate

Relocating to St. Louis, MO, is an exhilarating yet challenging journey. I experienced it firsthand when my husband was transferred years ago. We sold our home, packed up our young daughter, and moved to St. Louis. Unfortunately, our experience with the agent assigned by the relocation company was less than ideal – she barely participated, often waiting in the car during showings, leaving us to show the house to ourselves! I understand the significance of finding the right real estate agent. 

As a seasoned real estate agent, I aim to ensure the home-buying process is as stress-free as possible, whether relocating from another state or moving across town. This guide is designed to assist you in finding an agent who can share vital information for a smooth transition to St. Louis. This article delves into the qualities to seek in a real estate agent, offers advice on securing a reliable mortgage lender, and outlines 5 crucial topics to discuss with your realtor. Whether you are a first-time homebuyer or a seasoned homeowner, these insights empower you to make well-informed decisions and successfully navigate the local real estate market. Make your move to St. Louis stress-free with this comprehensive guidance.

Step 1: Find a Reliable Real Estate Agent  

Collaborating with an experienced agent is vital when relocating to a new city. Unforeseen challenges are common. Seasoned agents help you navigate the challenges of finding your dream home in your new hometown.

Likability: Connect with the agent face to face, in person, or virtually. You'll spend considerable time together, so establishing a good rapport is crucial.

Experience and Expertise: Look for an agent with a solid track record, local real estate market expertise, and preferably experience working with buyers relocating outside St Louis.

Guidance Beyond Real Estate: Moving to a new city involves more than finding a house. Look for an agent who can act as your guide, offering insights into the local community, schools, and the general process of acclimating to your new environment.

Reputation and Reviews: Check reviews and testimonials to gauge the agent's reputation and the experiences of past clients. You can also ask the agent to provide references so that you can talk to, preferably, previous relocation clients.

Communication Skills: Effective and consistent communication is critical. An agent who is easy to reach and responsive is more likely to keep you informed throughout the buying process.

Negotiation Skills: A good real estate agent should be a skilled negotiator, advocating for your best interests. A successful negotiation requires cooperation on both sides, focusing on making the deal work rather than “winning.”

Local Market Expertise: Choose an agent who deeply understands local market trends, pricing, and neighborhood dynamics.

Availability and Commitment: Working with out-of-town clients is time-consuming; ensure the agent you choose has the time and commitment to dedicate to your needs, especially if you have specific timelines or requirements.

Step 2: Find a Reliable Mortgage Lender 

Mortgage lenders play a pivotal role in defining your home-buying budget and guiding you through the complexities of securing a loan. Since each mortgage company offers different programs, it is a good idea to talk to more than one to find the loan that works best for you. In my opinion, local lenders are your best bet. Your real estate agents should be able to provide a list of trustworthy local lenders with proven track records. Mortgage lenders have been known to drop the ball at the last minute, leaving everyone scrambling to close the transaction on time. 

Loan Pre-Approval: It is essential to obtain a letter of pre-approval from a mortgage lender before submitting an offer. While not a loan commitment, it lets the seller know that are working with a lender and how you can afford to spend on a home based on the initial information you provided. The final loan commitment letter typically comes a few weeks before closing.

Interest Rates and Terms: Mortgage lenders provide various loan products with differing interest rates and terms. Buyers can choose an option that aligns with their financial situation and preferences, whether a fixed-rate mortgage, adjustable-rate mortgage, or another specialized product.

Down Payment Options: Mortgage lenders offer various down payment options, giving buyers flexibility in determining the upfront amount and enabling buyers to customize their payment structure based on their savings and financial capabilities.

Guidance Through the Process: The mortgage process can be intricate, and lenders are crucial in guiding buyers through each step. They explain terms and conditions, ensure all necessary documents are in order, and address any questions or concerns the buyers may have.

Specific programs, such as those offered by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA), feature lower down payment requirements and more flexible credit guidelines, benefiting first-time homebuyers or individuals with lower credit scores. In the St Louis area, tailored programs like those from the Missouri Housing Development Commission (MHDC) provide down payment assistance and competitive interest rates for qualified buyers.

Discuss these 5 things with your real estate agent.     

1. Budget

With a lender in place and a clear understanding of your borrowing capacity, the next crucial step is to review your budget. It's time to decide how much you can comfortably spend while upholding your lifestyle and achieving your financial objectives. Begin by assessing your current income, expenses, and financial goals. Establish a realistic budget that covers the purchase price and considers additional costs such as property taxes, homeowners insurance, and maintenance. It's crucial to strike a balance between securing a comfortable home and maintaining financial stability. While it's tempting to stretch the budget for the dream home, don't overextend yourself financially. Budget for home maintenance, unexpected expenses, and changes in income. 

Nowadays, it’s not uncommon for sellers to receive multiple offers on a desirable property, which drives up prices and can create bidding wars. Discuss strategies to deal with multiple offers with your agent.  


2. Dream Home

Style: Homes in St. Louis come in all shapes and sizes, from historic homes oozing with charm to new construction with all the bells and whistles. What does your dream home look like? Is it a ranch-style home or a two-story? A historic stately Central West End mansion, a Webster Groves cozy bungalow, one of our mid-century modern homes, or a new house built to your specifications. You may prefer a townhome or condo where neighbors share building and landscaping maintenance. There is something for everyone.

Features: Make a list of the must-have features of your home. How many bedrooms and bathrooms? Do you need a secluded primary bedroom suite with plenty of closet space? A dedicated guest room and a dedicated home office, or could one space double as both? Do you need an open concept floorplan with a seamless flow, ideal for entertaining guests, a comfortable family area perfect for cozy movie nights, or a combination? Do you need a large yard, or would you prefer a smaller, more manageable outdoor space?

Make a wish list of features you'd like to have in a home, like a gourmet kitchen with upscale appliances. A private swimming pool in your backyard or a neighborhood pool where you can hang out with your neighbors.


3. Lifestyle

Neighborhood: What does your dream community look like? Is it walkable urban living with townhouses and high-rises with elevators and concierges? Tree-filled suburbia close to parks and shopping or a more country setting with acreage and a slower pace of life. The good news is that St. Louis has them all.

Convenience: Will you be working from home or commuting to an office? The MLS has a search feature called DriveTime that allows agents to set up searches based on commute time. Let your agent know the average amount of time you want to spend commuting so she can add that parameter to your home search. You should also discuss any amenities like parks, shopping centers, and healthcare facilities that are essential to you.


4. Schools

Even if you don't have kids, your local school district greatly impacts home values and resale. Considering the school district when buying a home is a good idea.

Public Education: Missouri's top 3 public school districts are in St Louis. Of the top 15 Missouri school districts, 12 are in the St. Louis area. Schools in Ladue, Clayton, Kirkwood, Rockwood, and Parkway (to name a few) are known for their academic excellence and community involvement. These districts often provide a variety of extracurricular activities, advanced placement courses, and comprehensive support systems. Click here to read more.

Private Schools: Missouri's top 3 private schools are in St Louis. MICDS (Mary Institute and Saint Louis Country Day School), John Burroughs School, and Thomas Jefferson School are renowned for their rigorous academic programs and emphasis on character development and are in St Louis. Families also have a variety of specialized schools, including those focused on the arts, sciences, and technology.

The diversity of educational offerings in the St. Louis area reflects a commitment to providing students with a well-rounded and enriching learning experience, catering to different learning styles and aspirations. As families consider their residential choices, the abundance of educational options ensures they can find a school environment that aligns with their educational goals and values.


5. Local Housing Trends

St. Louis is a budget-friendly market accommodating a broad spectrum of buyers. The market is experiencing steady growth, increasing demand, and historically low inventory, meaning multiple offers are common - especially for desirable homes in popular neighborhoods. I suggest discussing offer strategies with your agent as early in the process as possible.     

One of the key factors driving the market is the area's strong job market. St. Louis is home to several major corporations and industries like Centene, Emerson Electric, Reinsurance Group of America, and Edward Jones, to name a few. The steady influx of new residents has led to a surge in demand for housing, resulting in a competitive market.

In recent years, there has been a shift towards urban living, with more people choosing to live in the city. Neighborhoods like Central West End, Tower Grove, and Lafayette Square have seen a significant increase in popularity thanks to their vibrant atmosphere, diverse dining options, and proximity to entertainment venues.


I hope this article provided valuable insights and tips for your journey to finding your dream home in St. Louis. Good luck with your move. I hope you take advantage of this vibrant area's exciting things and love St. Louis as much as I do.

See you in St Louis!

Liz Mull | Realtor | 314-403-4731 | liz.mull@cbgundaker.com


Liz Mull is a distinguished real estate professional, making her mark in the dynamic St. Louis market. Having relocated to the city herself, Liz channels her personal experience into curating a tried-and-true home-buying process specifically designed for clients undergoing significant moves. Beyond her expertise in real estate transactions, Liz boasts a background in flipping houses – a journey encompassing the acquisition, renovation, and sale of homes. This unique perspective equips her with profound insights into the intricate details of property transactions, insights she generously shares with her valued clients.

Client testimonials consistently echo accolades for Liz's exceptional service, describing it as "above and beyond." Praises highlight her invaluable support, extensive knowledge of St Louis area neighborhoods, and unwavering availability. Acknowledged for her insightful advice and formidable negotiation skills, Liz's unwavering commitment to excellence resonates in every transaction. Click here for testimonials.

Whether navigating a relocation or delving into real estate opportunities, Liz Mull blends personal experience, professional acumen, and an unwavering commitment to ensure your journey is successful and a testament to a seamless and enriching real estate experience. Trust Liz to guide you with personalized insights and dedication, turning your real estate aspirations into reality in the vibrant St. Louis market.

Contact me for more information about moving to St Louis.