Does it Make Sense to Turn your Long-term Rental into a Vacation Rental?

Author: Trevor Tune

It comes as no surprise that investing in real estate can produce great returns. When home prices are rising, merely owning a home can be a worthwhile investment in itself; however, there are other ways to monetize real estate outside of price appreciation. At Clever Real Estate, a platform connecting homeowners with flat fee real estate agents, we work with many income-seeking real estate investors faced with a tough decision. Is a vacation rental or long-term rental right for me?

While this question may not seem complicated, (after all, both properties produce income for the property owner) there are characteristics of both that might fit better for certain personalities or circumstances.

To decide which is right for you, we’ve highlighted the main differences between short-term and long-term rentals along with 5 factors to consider.

What is the Difference Between Short-Term and Long-Term Rentals?

Before diving into the considerations, it’s important for readers to understand at a high level the differences between short-term and long-term rentals.

Short-term rentals, also known as vacation rentals, are furnished properties that are leased to renters looking for short-term stays. Depending on the owner, the rental’s location, and a number of other factors, these properties are rented anywhere from a few days to a few weeks.

Long-term rentals typically refer to properties that leased to tenants for three months or longer. Rather than pa y on an as-needed basis, long-term tenants enter lengthier agreements where they pay homeowner each month.

5 Factors to Consider Whether Short-term or Long-term Rental a Better Fit Financially

1. Are you risk-averse or comfortable with uncertainty?

When it comes to vacation rentals, the income an investor can expect is highly variable due to the short-term nature of the contracts between the homeowner and the lessor. With short-term rentals, many bookings might come at the last minute. For the popular short-term lodging website Airbnb, it is not uncommon for guests to book a few days in advance. While the rates can be adjusted to fluctuate with demand, the bookings are not always guaranteed.

Conversely, long-term rentals have a monthly cash flow that’s established for the length of the lease, usually 12 months. Predictability, in the form of a lease, can be more easily leveraged and used as income proof on a property – allowing the owner to refinance more easily. If you are using the property as a short-term rental, you are going to have to show how the property rents, which usually means building a history; allowing a financial institution to judge creditworthiness. This is usually a 2-year timeframe.

2. Do you have time to run a successful rental?

Short-term rentals tend to be more time-intensive both to get started and for continued management. To get a property up and running can take up to 40 hours for decorating, furnishing, and performing maintenance. Between each new stay, there are plenty of responsibilities to keep you occupied such as marketing the property, dealing with maintenance and repairs, and communicating with the guest.

While being a landlord of any type will require an investment of time, generally speaking, the time commitment is less for long-term rentals. With good tenants and properties, there are seldom issues other than the occasional late payment or repair, especially when an experienced property management company is taking care of the process.

3. Do you want a property for investment only or as a mixed-use vacation home?

Many owners of vacation rentals view their properties as a way to turn a personal enjoyment or hobby into a financially performing asset. Vacation rentals can turn dreams of a mountain getaway or beachside hut a reality when the rent collected from fellow travelers helps pay the monthly bills.

In the world of long-term rentals, don’t expect to be using your property anytime soon. If you have a tenant that treats your property as their home, you can’t ask them to leave for your convenience, even for celebrations or holidays.

4. Are you a property owner in a high-demand area?

Location and seasonality have the most extensive impact on temporary rentals. Why? Because home prices and rental contracts are based on supply and demand. With higher demand, the odds of short-term guests visiting your property will also increase along with the ability to charge higher prices for your unit. In high demand cities, like San Francisco or New York City, Airbnb rentals can be much more profitable, while cities with less demand to visit will be riskier for short-term rentals.

Long-term locations are different in this regard because long-term tenants are making a different set of core decisions. Tenants that decide to stay in the same rental for 12-months will typically view that place as their home and in a location where they prefer to live, whether that’s in a suburb, in the Midwest or the East Coast, or in a region a chilling winter.

5. Do you prefer a hands-on or hands-off approach?

For short-term rentals, owners should expect to bring a more hands-on approach to deal with the constant change of guests. With the opportunity to meet a new guest every few day, outgoing personalities who enjoy interacting with new people might find this particularly enjoyable and lead to higher ratings and more future visitors. In fact, the most successful vacation rental owners are regularly thinking of ways to improve the renter’s experience.

Contrast this with long-term rentals where prospective renters will stay for a long time. Because of this dynamic, once the lease is signed, the long-term tenant agrees that the property is adequate for their needs. As long as there are no major issues, owners don’t need to always be worrying about a great experience or frequently marketing the property. The owner knows how long to expect the renter to stay and will only worry about filling the house when the tenant plans on vacating.

The Key Ingredient to the Success of Long-Term and Short-Term Rentals

By now, you hopefully have a better understanding of which rental style is right for you. In either situation, remember that excellent property management is the key to success, and technology solutions have made property management a seamless process. Now more than ever, working with top tier property managers like Radius Realty, a property management firm that leverages technology for long-term rentals, or Hostfully, a system designed exclusively for Airbnb and vacation rentals, can increase investment returns and allow property owners to get one step closer towards financial success

Should I Restore an Old House or Build a New One?

Interested in buying a historic home? We’ll help you decide whether to restore it, or tear it down and rebuild.

By Leigh Maibes

Interested in buying a historic home? We’ll help you decide whether to restore it, or tear it down and rebuild.

The proud history of St. Louis is reflected in its architecture. Every neighborhood seems lined with historic buildings, from elegant Greek Revival mansions to Modernist masterpieces. No matter where you go, you can’t walk through the city without feeling as though you’re journeying into the past.

As appealing as the aesthetic of an older home may be, these properties can present some challenges to 21st-century owners. Most historic houses lack the modern conveniences of newer construction, and they may need extensive remodeling to meet the expectations of today’s homeowners. In some cases, would-be renovators must abide by strict historic building codes, making the prospect of buying an older home even more daunting.

St. Louis’ row houses and family mansions add significant historical value to our community, but it’s clear that prospective owners need to find the right balance between preservation and modernization. In some cases, it might even make sense to demolish the home and rebuild. If you’re considering buying a historic home in the city, here’s what you should consider before making a decision:

Can You Afford to Restore or Remodel?

As with any home purchase, the first question you need to ask yourself is: “what can I afford?” Buyers of old homes will need to calculate the costs of restoration or renovation, add them to the final sale price, and determine whether the potential return on investment outweighs the initial expense. Restoring an old house can save you money — but only if things go according to plan.

If you’re planning to live in your home long-term, it may make sense to tear down the old home and build a new one. After all, a 20-year-old house will be more appealing to most buyers than a 50-year-old house. Building a new home also gives you a clean slate, eliminating the chance of finding “surprises” — a broken pipe, mold in the attic, or a sinking foundation — that may cost you dearly later on.

But if you’re on a budget or planning on selling in five years or fewer, restoration over time might be more appealing. Over time, you can make necessary repairs or upgrades that improve your quality of life and increase the property’s value.

What Historical Limitations are in Place?

Even if you can afford to upgrade a historic home, the city may not allow you to make certain changes. Many older homes are protected by local zoning laws and exempted from portions of the current building codes. Legal recognition of historical significance can add appeal and value to a home, but prospective buyers need to accept the limitations that come with that status.

Seventeen neighborhoods in St. Louis are recognized as City Historic Districts and “ha[ve] a unique set of rehabilitation and design standards that were developed by neighborhood residents.” As a result, any proposed alterations to a building within these districts must be approved by the Cultural Resources Office or the Preservation Board. Any buyers searching for homes in these neighborhoods will need to abide by their rules when planning renovations.

Will You Be Happy with Your Older Home?

Lastly, you should ask yourself honestly if an older home will suit your lifestyle and aesthetic preferences. If you have or are planning to have children, can you childproof your historic home? Can you handle the compromises on space, light, and insulation that often come with older properties? Do you appreciate the older, often custom details that come with historic homes, or do you prefer a modern style? There’s nothing wrong with wanting a newer home, but if you choose renovation or restoration, make sure you’ll truly be happy with the final outcome.

If you’re looking to restore an older home, it helps to work with a team of experienced professionals who understand your needs. At Radius Realty, we’ve sold and renovated properties in protected neighborhoods across St. Louis, from Lafayette Square to McKinley Heights. We’d be happy to apply our expertise to your future home!

The Delmar Divide Is in Our Head

delmar divide

By Leigh Maibes

Delmar Boulevard divides North and South St. Louis by more than just geography. We think this real estate strategy can dissolve the divide.

When city planners first built Delmar Boulevard, I don’t think they ever anticipated what it would eventually represent. Countless articles have been written about the Delmar Divide, the invisible line separating North St. Louis from the rest of the city, that roughly follows this relatively ordinary road. The thesis of those articles is largely the same: On one side of the street, neat row houses line quiet residential streets. On the other, dilapidated — or literally collapsing — buildings and few signs of economic activity.

This narrative has followed Delmar Boulevard for years, and like most stories, it’s based in truth. Decades of discriminatory housing statues and rising prices have driven most of St. Louis’ African-American population north of the divide, while the neighborhoods below are overwhelmingly white. The divide is financial as well as racial; the average price of a home south of Delmar is $310,000, while a home to the north is only worth $78,000.

The dramatic difference in these numbers have historically excluded North St. Louis from reaping the benefits of modern real estate development. But with the right development strategy, we can dissolve the Delmar Divide and allow everyone to share the wealth.

A Missed Opportunity

North St. Louis presents an interesting and complex development challenge. The area desperately needs investment, but it has to be done thoughtfully and with consideration for the needs of its current residents. Towering luxury apartment complexes are neither appropriate for North St. Louis inhabitants nor financially sustainable for developers. Instead, we need to think about smarter ways to develop the area north of Delmar on a smaller, more manageable scale.

Socially conscious development begins with socially conscious developers who see the opportunities that North St. Louis has to offer. Building affordable single and multi-family units — and managing them well — can provide steady sources of income while uplifting the city’s most vulnerable residents and, by extension, the economic health of St. Louis at large.

New Forms of Ethical Investment

At Radius, we’re committed to a number of promising projects north of Delmar Boulevard. In the past few months, we’ve worked with the Land Reauthorization Authority (LRA) to redevelop abandoned properties into affordable housing for low-income families. We’ve already invested over $200,000 in our largest project, a four-family plot with options for expansion to the lot next door. Our initial tours of these kinds of properties have generated the most interest of any unit we’ve ever showed, demonstrating the economic viability of this strategy.

We’re just as interested in this project for its civic benefits as for its economic potential. We’re not looking to gentrify the area or displace its residents; our goal is sustained growth and development that brings the existing community with it. While we don’t expect to solve the Delmar Divide ourselves, we’re confident that we can make it more permeable.

St. Louis’ economic growth requires investment in all areas of the city, not just the neighborhoods south of Delmar. As developers, we must remember that the Divide is more or less a social construct, an enduring prejudice that dissuades us from enjoying a vital and historic region of our city. We’re hoping to dispel some of those stereotypes with our projects in North St. Louis and help make the city whole in the process.

3 Top Real Estate Trends to Watch in 2018

by Chris Long

Thinking of buying, selling, or managing a property in 2018? Pay attention to these top three trends for the following year.

As 2017 draws to a close, real estate professionals are starting to look forward to the coming year. A volatile political environment, a housing shortage, and fear of another economic bubble will certainly make for an interesting real estate landscape next year, but new technology will increase productivity — and affordability.

Whether you’re an established realtor or a curious homebuyer, here are the top three real estate trends you should look for next year:

New Innovation in Manufacturing and Construction

From virtual reality to property management platforms, new technologies emerged in 2017 that made it easier to buy, sell, and manage real estate. The popularity of these tools will continue to grow in 2018, but not necessarily for the sake of modernization. As more millennials start shopping for their first homes, developers will need to cut costs to keep new properties in alignment with what younger buyers can afford. Therefore, the industry will turn to technologies that can increase productivity and minimize expenses during construction.

Some of this transformative tech has already wound its way into commercial construction projects. Drones and sensors keep track of progress across an entire site, feeding updates into digital workflow platforms that anyone involved with the project can access. These changes improve communication between workers on the ground and managers in the office, saving time and money across all aspects of a project.

But in 2018, new tech will begin to hit the processes of manufacturing and construction. Automated technologies like 3D printing, robotics, and componentization will appear at the fringes of the industry, creating test cases for augmented human labor and modular construction. Though a future where we build homes “out-of-the-box” may be far off, 2018 will give us valuable insight into whether such a model is sustainable.

Continued Challenges with Affordable Housing

The cost of housing has risen dramatically in recent years, with nearly every major city affected by a shortage of affordable homes. Single-family residences are becoming especially scarce as developers look to turn the valuable land they sit on into affordable — and profitable — multifamily and apartment buildings.

This trend has already crept into St. Louis — the city’s housing inventory has been consistently dropping since the Great Recession and hit a low point in March. While the local economy has improved dramatically in recent years, most homes only stay on the market a couple of days before receiving multiple offers. In the coming year, developers will need to balance the incessant demand for single-family properties with affordability and scale.

The Rise of Secondary Markets

As major coastal cities become more crowded — and expensive — homebuyers are increasingly turning to secondary markets. St. Louis has reaped some of the benefits of this trend, largely as a product of economic growth that’s attracted younger buyers to the city. Our burgeoning tech industry, combined with a low cost of living, make St. Louis a highly appealing market for investors and developers.

In 2018, millennial buyers will continue to flock to secondary markets, and those markets stand to reap the benefits. However, smaller cities like St. Louis will have to work to educate investors about potential opportunities and prove that their economic development can be sustained over time. Fortunately, the swell of tech investment into downtown St. Louis should continue to bring real estate investment our way.

St. Louis’ real estate market is in store for significant changes over the coming year, but I’m confident that we’re prepared to meet them. With all that’s on the horizon, we look forward to seeing what 2018 will bring.

What Really Makes Millennial Buyers Different From Their Parents

by Chris Long

Working with a younger clientele these days? By adapting to these generational traits, you’ll be ready for the influx of millennial buyers.

Though they may be late bloomers compared to their parents, millennials now buy more homes than any other demographic, accounting for 32% of buyers and 68% of first-time homeowners. Like earlier generations, however, they approach real estate with unique needs and expectations, and realtors need to adapt to them to better appeal to this increasingly important demographic. Here are four key traits of today’s millennial home buyers:

Independent Researchers

Millennials are more likely than any other generation to do their own research before contacting a real estate agent. With smartphones, laptops, and tablets at their disposal, millennials can quickly narrow down what they want in a home — or a real estate agent — by researching local options online. Millennials want to engage with attractive, user-friendly websites, preferably one that allows them to search through available properties before they ever contact an agent.

Digital Natives

It goes without saying that millennials live online, and especially on social media, but you might not know that they also search for real estate there. In addition to traditional channels, young buyers regularly browse Facebook and Instagram to find new listings. A strong social media presence — complete with professional-quality images — can help you attract clients you might not otherwise reach.

Realtors also need to hop on the video bandwagon as soon as they can; 80% of millennials use video to inform a purchase, and homes are no different. Offering video tours or 3D walkthroughs of your property will generate more interest than photos alone.

On-the-Go Buyers

Older buyers may prefer to communicate with realtors over the phone, but millennials expect to interface with streamlined, mobile-first solutions. Agents and brokerages should focus on digitizing listings, paperwork, and payments to ensure that the process is as seamless as possible from initial research to escrow.

Real estate professionals must also ensure that their websites are mobile-friendly. More than half of younger buyers use their mobile phone to search for their home, and 31 percent of millennials found it there. Make sure that you also list on major real estate apps like Trulia to take advantage of the migration to mobile and capture buyers at a number of touchpoints.

Eager for Professional Advice

For all their differences, millennials — like every generation before them — value the opinion of an experienced real estate professional when it comes down to the nuts and bolts of negotiation. They factor honesty and trustworthiness highly in their assessment of a real estate agent, and will often work with the same agent multiple times if they had a positive experience. If you take time to understand young buyers’ needs and answer their questions, you’ll build trust and hopefully a long-term partnership.

Though millennials may be changing the tools of the trade, the core of the realtor-client relationship remains the same. Connecting with younger buyers and understanding their needs can make all the difference as they search for their next home.

St. Louis Rebuilds After Brick Rustling

Thanks to public and private investment, St. Louis is beginning to counter decades of architectural damage — but the fight isn’t over yet.

If you want to see history of St. Louis, look no further than its architecture. St. Louis brick has defined the character of the city and has been used to construct some of the city’s most striking structures, including the Wainwright Building and the Sheldon Concert Hall. These bricks reflect a strength and elegance that continues to shine forth today.

Unfortunately, the very qualities that attract so many people to St. Louis’ bricks have also encouraged theft. A history of brick theft, or “rustling” has left swaths of the city in a state of decay. It raises the question: how did brick rustling become so widespread, and how will St. Louis rebuild?

Supply to Meet Demand

St. Louis brick has long been admired for its beauty, quality, and durability. After the fire of 1849, city officials passed an ordinance prohibiting flammable wood frames. Since stone was too expensive, St. Louis turned to its rich clay deposits and its brick industry flourished. Demand for St. Louis’ striking red brick soon grew outside the Midwest, and manufacturers regularly exported to Southern states including Texas, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Louisiana. At its peak, St. Louis had more than 100 brick factories.

But by the 1960s, a mass exodus from St. Louis was set in motion and many of the city’s graceful brick buildings were abandoned. Migration hit North St. Louis especially hard, leaving thousands of lots across the region vacant. The issue was exacerbated in 2003, when a developer purchased hundreds of parcels of land — including more than 150 historic buildings — and simply left them empty. By 2010, St. Louis had more than 8,000 abandoned properties and over 11,000 vacant lots.

These vacant — and often neglected — buildings soon became targets for theft, especially after the Great Recession. Rather than steal copper or other metals, brick thieves, or “rustlers,” pillage abandoned properties and sell the bricks for up to $260 per pallet to brickyards, who then send them down south to meet the ever-present demand. Brick rustlers have resorted to extreme tactics to harvest brick, even setting buildings on fire to loosen the mortar.

While rustling has become less common as the economy’s recovered, North St. Louis still suffers from its consequences. Constant vandalism has defaced some houses, left others uninhabitable, and even reduced certain properties to rubble. Over a short period of time, whole buildings disappeared, razed to their foundations. Many of these structures could have been renovated and restored, but they’re now irreparably damaged.

The Vanishing City Returns

Though it’s tempting to blame the loss of these buildings on brick rustlers or the brickyards that resell stolen materials, the core of the problem runs deeper than that. As architectural historian Michael Allen notes, “[brick rustlers] are taking advantage of a condition that already exists. They don’t create the abandonment.”

Thankfully, large-scale brick rustling has all but dried up. Until recently, the only penalty a rustler risked was a small fine for attempted demolition without a permit. In recent years, however, St. Louis has begun to crack down on brickyards that sell illegal material, denying rustlers their primary revenue source. Some of the city’s aldermen have proposed legislative solutions ranging from heavier fines to restricting the hours that brickyards can operate. But the damage from brick rustling has already been done — neighborhood residents and developers must now decide how to revitalize areas that are missing large swaths of their architectural fabric.

In many cases, St. Louisans have taken it upon themselves to restore their communities. In Old North St. Louis, for example, the Old North Restoration Group has worked since 1981 to repair the area’s historic structures, investing millions to restore historic brick homes instead of replacing them. Their work was recognized by the EPA in 2011, when the organization won National Award for Smart Growth Achievement.

Enough people have taken our city’s bricks — it’s up to developers and community members to reclaim these buildings as our own. With more restoration projects that combine grassroots efforts, private investment, and public support, St. Louis could soon find itself with a wealth of beautiful buildings to house the next generation of residents.

Virtual Realty: 5 Reasons to View Properties with VR

Samsung Gear VR

CC image courtesy of Maurizio Pesce on Flickr

by Chris Long

VR isn’t a far-off future in real estate — it’s happening now. Our top five reasons to choose a brokerage that offers VR listings:

First time homebuyers don’t often associate real estate transactions with speed or efficiency. Dozens of steps — from research to showings to financial evaluations — separate a prospective buyer from their offer.

Buying a home will always take time, but new technology is beginning to condense the overwhelming property vetting process. Virtual reality, or VR, can play an important role in the early stages of research, helping buyers narrow down their list of properties and eliminating unnecessary in-person visits. A brokerage that uses VR can also spend less time at showings and more time with their clients.

Need more reasons to love VR? We have five:

1. View properties anytime, anywhere.

Finding the right home or investment property can be exhausting. Weeks of showings — often at far-flung corners of a city or state — can easily wear even the most enthusiastic buyer down. Virtual reality provides an attractive alternative to this grueling process. With 3D walkthroughs, you can view properties from the comfort of your home or office, on your own terms. You can even view homes or apartments from your mobile phone or tablet.

2. An efficient buying — and selling — experience

There’s nothing quite like viewing a home in person, but some tours just feel like a waste of time. VR drastically reduces the amount of legwork by helping you spot immediate deal-breakers in the properties you’re considering. When you don’t have to visit every single house on your list, you can quickly identify a few top choices. VR also helps your broker by reducing the number of properties they have to physically show, giving them more time to find you the perfect property.

3. Get the full picture.

In the early stages of any real estate transaction, buyers and renters come across spaces that don’t quite live up to the beautiful wide-angle photographs posted online. Certain attributes of a space — like the depth of a room or the layout of an apartment — can be hard to convey through still images. VR provides a dynamic tour experience where true-to-life renderings or panoramic photographs are woven into a cohesive floor plan. Better yet, you can zoom in and out of the 3D images to get a sense of what a unit really looks like. Some VR platforms even allow you to view a 3D floor plan from above.

4. Make a house feel like a home

An empty room is a blank canvas, but the right virtual staging technology — and an eye for design — can completely recontextualize a space. Realtors can either pre-stage a virtual rendering of a home or apartment, or you can do it yourself by taking photos and using apps to overlay furniture. You may discover during staging that the living room you loved so much falls flat when you add furniture, or that the questionable breakfast nook is actually the highlight of a home. Virtual staging can also replace staging in the actual unit; even if you tour an empty apartment, you’ll have a mental picture of its furnished state.

5. The potential for greatness

The best reason to view properties with VR? The technology will only get better with time. Some companies now create 3D “model homes” of units that haven’t been finished yet, allowing investors to get a taste of what a finished property will look like before construction even begins.

The industry is also excited about the potential for virtual commerce. Those handy staging applications? They may soon become furniture stores where you can choose custom pieces for your new home. Buyers can also look forward to choosing upgrades — like granite counters or hardwood floors — within a virtual tour before they break ground on their new home.

In an industry that’s slow to adopt new technology, VR is a giant leap forward for real estate. A brokerage that offers 3D renderings of their listings can lead you to your dream home or apartment while saving you time, money, and energy during the buying process.

Technology and Property Management: Here’s What Brokers Need to Know

by Chris Long

Real estate isn’t a paper-driven industry anymore — new virtual solutions are changing the way that smart brokerages do business.

New developments in real estate technology bode well for the industry as a whole. A thoughtful approach to innovation can cut costs, improve efficiency, and increase profitability across a brokerage. New tech also appeals to millennial buyers and investors, who have grown up communicating, managing their finances, and strengthening social ties over their laptops and smartphones. Whether your company is just dipping its toes into technology, or works on the cutting edge, you should ensure that you’re taking advantage of the best that the real estate industry has to offer.

New Technology for a New Generation

Virtual Reality
Virtual reality technology has reached the point where it can be distributed to potential buyers across the globe, even without a headset. With 3-D renderings of their properties easily available online, brokers can give clients a better view into a unit or property without losing valuable time traveling from showing to showing. Investors can determine and pay more attention to the properties they’re interested in, and quickly move on from those that don’t meet their needs. Families can even begin to imagine what their lives might look like inside a home or apartment by arranging furniture within the virtual space.

Digital Payments
Though a majority of brokerages use digital payment technology to facilitate purchases, many still opt to collect paper rent checks from tenants every month. Modern brokerages should consider online payment portals for renters, which speed up the payment process, offer powerful security protocols, and eliminate costly check processing fees. Most importantly, they allow renters to pay their rent from anywhere they like at anytime by simply opening an app on their phone, making it easier than ever to connect with management and greatly reducing the risk of late rent and delinquency.

Cloud-Based Management Platforms
Real estate has historically required hours worth of manual data entry for each transaction, but thankfully that’s no longer necessary. Cloud-based property management software allows managers to handle everything from unit vacancies to maintenance within a single intuitive interface that’s compatible with any computer or smartphone. Whether you manage one or multiple property types, these platforms can accommodate your needs. The result? Less time spent on administrative work and more time spent on client relationships.

Although brokers and property managers should be excited and inspired by these advances, they must consider a number of factors when it comes to implementation. The real estate industry is slow to change, and solutions will need to appeal to all generations and all locations, domestic and international. Additionally, brokers will have to determine the appropriate balance between technology and human interaction.

Investing in Universal Solutions

As technology becomes more prevalent in the property management and leasing space, brokers need to consider whether the solutions they choose benefit a broad spectrum of users. Most millennials entered the working world with mobile and cloud-based software as a given, and they expect that the companies they work with will have those technologies available.

But for older buyers and agents — who must adapt to a major cultural shift within their industry — new technology can inspire resistance, confusion, or even fear. To accommodate this gap in knowledge and experience, brokers must prioritize ease-of-use when evaluating new platforms.

Finding the technology that works for your business and your clientele takes time and effort. Don’t be tempted to automatically choose the first solution that crosses your desk. Instead, survey your employees and your clients to assess their needs, then pick the option that works best. Some millennial clients may engage with your interface exclusively through phones or tablets, so it’s crucial that your programs are optimized for mobile performance. Technology that can’t run well on mobile could deter buyers and tenants looking for a seamless experience on their devices.

Once you’ve chosen your technology, make sure to invest in training programs so that your agents know what tools are available to them and how these tools apply to their business. Remember that innovation is a cycle, and that better options may arise as you scale your business or as new technology comes onto the market.

Augmenting Human Capability

Nearly all service industries are experiencing a shift toward automation, which inevitably raises the uneasy question of whether workers will be replaced. In the case of real estate, I bet not. Technology may take over data entry, but no machine can navigate the subtleties of negotiating a purchase or investment. As with accounting or law, real estate requires highly specific expertise that only comes with decades of working in this business.

But real estate agents also serve another purpose: navigating the emotional consequences of investment. No matter how much machines facilitate it, a real estate transaction is between people who each have hopes and goals for the outcome. Only a human agent can assure a buyer that they’re making the right choice, or console a client if they don’t make a sale.

Interpersonal relationships are the cornerstone of real estate, and technology should never replace human interaction. But we don’t have to fear its growing role in the industry either — these solutions help us appeal to a new generation of buyers and do our jobs more efficiently. When implemented properly, new technology simplifies day-to-day administrative tasks and fosters better relationships between agents, managers, and clients.

In Our Radius: Touring Tower Grove

By Arcanophile – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,


by Leigh Maibes

For those looking to buy a home, this historic community in southwest St. Louis combines natural beauty with some of the city’s best restaurants and cultural events.

The Tower Grove neighborhood in St. Louis is one of the city’s most vibrant and diverse communities. Though the Tower Grove area is technically split into two neighborhoods — Tower Grove South and Tower Grove East — they share a thriving commercial district along South Grand Boulevard. The area has lots to offer first-time buyers who want proximity to nature without sacrificing culture or convenience.


A Tasty, Multicultural Food Scene

Tower Grove’s food offerings, specifically on South Grand, are unparalleled by anything else in the city. In fact, the area was recently named St. Louis’ best restaurant neighborhood after nine of its restaurants topped the St. Louis Dispatch’s list of the city’s 100 greatest eateries. Residents can indulge in a Flying Pig — slow-roasted pork shoulder with egg, fried garlic, and plenty of Sriracha — from Guerrilla Street Food or savory lentils with spongy injera bread at Meskerem Ethiopian. Ever-changing but always delicious, Tower Grove’s food is a reflection of the neighborhood’s diverse inhabitants.


Tower Grove Park

Tower Grove Park was looking especially lovely this morning 📷@emkewl5

A post shared by Tower Grove Park (@towergrovepark) on

At the center of this bustling neighborhood is Tower Grove Park. Dedicated in 1868, the park is nearly as old as the city itself and is now an integral aspect of life in Tower Grove. The park serves as a recreational space for locals, as well as a refuge from the urban frenzy; visitors can take their pick of trails, meadows, flowerbeds, playgrounds, tennis courts, and athletic fields to visit and use.

Additionally, the park hosts educational and cultural activities throughout the year, including the Summer Children’s Concert Series, lectures, art exhibits, and even a dog parade for charity called Strut Your Mutt. The variety and frequency of these events means that locals and visitors alike will surely find something that interests them.


Tower Grove Farmer’s Market

Every Saturday from mid-April through November, dozens of farmers and other vendors from across Missouri and Illinois gather in Tower Grove Park for its Farmer’s Market. Residents can choose from local produce, meats, cheeses, baked goods, and more! The market also provides an opportunity for local craftspeople to show off their work, and shoppers can browse everything from candles to compost. A full list of vendors is available on the market website, so you can even scope out the stalls you’d like to visit in advance.


Stray Dog Theater

It's band day! #straydogspringawakening @kevpin_schneider @martylmusic @gofitgolden @jenbuchheit

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A centerpiece of Tower Grove is the Stray Dog Theatre, a theater company dedicated to the performing arts and community service. The unusual name hearkens back to a Russian café where great artists and thinkers gathered to share their work and enjoy entertainment, and Stray Dog works to carry on that spirit in its performances today. The group hosts six shows per season in the historic Tower Grove Abbey, a hundred-year-old church with striking stained glass windows and resonant acoustics. In addition to professional-caliber productions, the company runs youth classes year-round and regularly participates in community-focused fundraising events.


Tower Grove East Historic District

Love the colors!

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Architecture buffs will enjoy the Tower Grove East Historic District, which provides a glimpse into St. Louis’ past. Though most buildings in the area were constructed between 1890 and 1920, a select few predate the CIvil War. The neighborhood is a prime example of a “streetcar suburb,” featuring commercial buildings with cast-iron storefronts and plate-glass windows. Residential properties range from smaller “shotgun houses” to elaborate Italianate and Second Empire mansions. The district’s significance was formally acknowledged in 2013, when it joined the National Register of Historic Places. Thanks to this designation, the neighborhood will continue to marvel those who visit during a Saturday stroll.


International District

Whip it . . #photography #festivalofnations #festivalofnationsstl #dance #mexico #festival #festivalfashion #color

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South Grand, Tower Grove’s main shopping street, has rightfully earned its other moniker: the St. Louis International District. Since 2001, the South Grand Cultural Alliance has worked to foster relationships between local businesses and the arts. This has culminated in a number of annual cultural events, held in nearby Ritz Park. But the street’s largest celebration of diversity is the Festival of Nations, a multicultural event that features more than 40 ethnic food stalls, dancing, music, and arts and crafts. Attendees can also shop the World Bazaar, which features a wide array of global gifts.


Missouri Botanical Garden

TFW you can’t decide which is prettier: the plant or the pollinator. #inbloom 📷: Lisa DeLorenzo Hager

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Though not technically within the bounds of Tower Grove, the Missouri Botanical Garden lies adjacent to Tower Grove Park and must not be missed. Founded nearly 160 years ago, the 79-acre Garden acts a research site, education center, and event space for the St. Louis community, as well as a prime tourist attraction. Notable highlights include the orchid collection — one of the largest and finest in the United States — and the Climatron®, the first geodesic dome to be used as a greenhouse. The Garden regularly updates its exhibits and holds a number of events throughout the year, so there’s always something new to see!

Tower Grove offers delicious food, tranquil escapes, and a rich cultural history. If this sounds up your alley, get in touch with one of our agents for a tour.

In Our Radius: A Walk Down Cherokee Street

By Leigh Maibes

Cherokee Street

An eclectic mix of St. Louis’ past and present, Cherokee Street is home to the city’s artistic renaissance.

Cherokee Street has been a busy shopping district since the 19th century, but scores of artists, writers, and other creators have set up shop in this historic neighborhood over the past ten years. The result: a community that strikes a winning balance between tradition and innovation, where the minds sculpting St. Louis’ future reside amongst reminders of the street’s rich history.

Renters or buyers looking to immerse themselves in a creative culture should strongly consider Cherokee Street as an option. Need convincing? Learn more about this unique neighborhood:


A Mexican Cultural Mecca

Hoy es día de mini tacos: de barbacoa, pollo y pastor!

Posted by Taqueria El Torito – Authentic Mexican Food on Thursday, August 31, 2017


Cherokee Street is revered all over town for its authentically delicious Mexican restaurants. In fact, a section of the street was recently dedicated as “Calle Cherokee” to recognize Latino residents’ contributions to the area since the 1980s.

Stop by Chaparritos for Torta Tuesdays, where you can enjoy a classic Mexican sandwich for just $5. Larger groups may prefer Taqueria El Torito, celebrated for its vibrant dining room, spacious patio, and delectable dishes.


Cinco de Mayo

In keeping with tradition, Cherokee Street’s Latino community stages a spirited festival every Cinco de Mayo to celebrate their heritage, as well as the neighborhood’s diverse and talented artistic community. Attendees enjoy featured performances that reflect the multicultural backgrounds of the area’s artists and residents while partaking in authentic Mexican food and drink. Cinco de Mayo coincides with the People’s Joy Parade, a celebration of spring weather and the prevailing sense of creativity that makes Cherokee Street unique.


Cherokee Antique Row

Lined with graceful mansions, vintage clothing stores, and cozy restaurants, Cherokee Antique Row offers a charming slice of St. Louis’ past. Though this six-block stretch of Cherokee Street is well-known for antiques, locals and tourists alike also visit to check out the specialty shops full of local goods, as well as the historic architecture.

Consider taking a tour of the Chatillon-DeMenil Mansion, one of the finest examples of Greek Revival architecture in the entire city, before enjoying a meal and a cool drink at one of the Row’s many cafes. The annual Cherokee-Lemp History Walk features free historical tours of the street, trolley rides, and book signings by local authors.

“We do our best to connect our community with the city’s French and Spanish heritage,” says Ted Atwood, the Chatillon-DeMenil Mansion’s board president. “We incentivise local residents to visit and hold events in our space, in part to demonstrate that this history belongs to them, too.”


Cherokee Street Jazz Crawl

#nevermore2014 #cherokeestreetjazzcrawl #melt #lindyhop

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The Cherokee Street Jazz Crawl is the neighborhood’s contribution to the Nevermore Jazz Ball, St. Louis’ annual celebration of jazz. In the midst of four days of live music, the street’s bars and restaurants host performances, community dance lessons, and local business showcases. Unlike the Nevermore ball, the Crawl is free and open to the public, so residents and visitors can easily jump in, hear some music, or take a class.


Earthbound Beer

New digs, new beers! More taps! We totally opened in our new place today! 🎊

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This adventurous local brewery regularly offers eight to ten beers on tap, and their names — like “Tax Evader Double IPA” and “Chicken and Waffles Blonde” — vary as much as their flavor profiles. Though the company started small, the team realized after three months that they quickly needed to grow.

Owners Stuart Keating, Rebecca Schranz, and Jeff Siddons took it upon themselves to transform the old Cherokee Brewery stock house into a modern, multi-story brewery and taproom. The new facility, which opened in September 2017, combines historic architecture with delicious beer and eats.


The Luminary

A incubator for local talent, the Luminary is committed to exhibiting St. Louis’ most original and thought-provoking artists. The organization describes itself as “a physical site that opens onto a larger cultural and conceptual space,” a gallery that challenges visitors’ (and fellow artists’) ideas and expectations of art with groundbreaking projects. The Luminary has much to offer for local artists looking to be pushed by other creative minds.


STL Style House

Founded by brothers Jeff and Randy Vines in 2001, this local t-shirt shop has grown from a basement operation to a cornerstone of Cherokee Street. The store offers unique print-to-order tees featuring St. Louis neighborhoods and landmarks in a variety of styles. Buyers can also order custom merchandise by submitting orders through their website.


Mesa Home

A Mesa Home #tbt …the night we opened… 📷: @agile1 #mesahome #thrift #cherokeestreet #stl

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Offering customers everything from necklaces to cat toys, this small retailer defines itself by its commitment to local vendors. While it takes its inventory from fair-trade partners throughout the world, it frequently hosts pop-ups featuring handcrafted products from local jewelers and designers. Its warm environment and friendly staff make it the perfect place to find something special for your new home.


Vista Ramen

Since its opening in 2016, Vista Ramen has become, as the Riverfront Times puts it, “one of St. Louis’ most exciting new restaurants.“ Chef Chris Bork’s unique interpretation of ramen transcends the humble origins of this staple Japanese dish; he pulls flavors from a number of other cuisines to create something memorable. The restaurant offers many other dishes besides ramen, including a standout smoked scallop plate with pickled beets. Housed in a sleekly modern space, Vista Ramen dares residents to expand their palates and their perceptions of what ramen can be.

Cherokee Street offers a rich cultural experience like nowhere else in St. Louis. To learn more about this neighborhood, contact one of our expert agents today.