Friday, November 28, 2014

St. Louis Weekend Happenings: November 28 - November 30

Did everyone have a wonderful Thanksgiving celebration?  We enjoyed a lovely evening here at Casa de Nenonen with family.  If you are not a Black Friday shopper (like me), there is a LOT going on in St. Louis this long holiday weekend!  

All of it family-friendly, here are a few of the more notable happenings... enjoy!

Rock N Roll Craft Show Moves To The Luminary
Nov. 28-30

The event, showcasing unique items handcrafted from new and recycled materials by talented artisans, as well as locally and nationally acclaimed bands.  The show is set up department store-style, with 100 vendors divided into different departments such as paper goods, clothing, and housewares, and one centralized checkout. There will be live music and DJs throughout the weekend. A cash bar will be available.

Admission on Friday for “Red Carpet Black Friday,” including complimentary beverages and giveaways, is $10; admission for the other two days is $3. 

Old Courthouse: Holiday Kick Off Performance
November 28 – 29

The National Park Service kicks off the holiday season at the Old Courthouse this weekend!   Guests may enjoy cookies, hot cider and beautiful music under the rotunda festively adorned with authentic Victorian decorations and live performances.

Nov. 28: 12 pm – 1 pm: St. Louis Irish Arts
Nov. 29: 12 pm – 1 pm: St. Louis Confluence Chamber Orchestra 

Gardenland Express: A Passion for Plant
November 26 – January 4
9 a.m.–5 p.m. daily.
$5 with garden admission, free for garden members

The Missouri Botanical Garden Gardenland Express Holiday Flower and Train Show charms guests with G-scale trains that chug along 900 feet of track. The trains pass by festive scenes surrounded by holiday poinsettias and other flowers. 
Missouri Botanical Garden- 4344 Shaw

Saint Louis Zoo – US Bank Wild Lights
November 28 – January 3
5:30–8:30 p.m. Fri, Sat, and Sun. 
Free to $7.

Gaze at more than 500,000 lights, enjoy fireside stories, sip hot chocolate, and more at the Saint Louis Zoo. 

Saint Louis Zoo, 

St. Charles Christmas Traditions
November 28 through December 21
6:30–9 p.m. Fri, 11 a.m.–9 p.m. Sat, noon–5 p.m. Sun. 

This year marks the 40th anniversary of St. Charles’ holiday extravaganza, when historic downtown is transformed into a Christmas village, complete with Victorian Carolers, fife and drum corps, photo opportunities with Santa, and more.  

Historic Main Street, 
St. Charles, MO

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Thanksgiving Tablescape Inspiration

Thanksgiving is tomorrow, which means that we have switched into full-speed-ahead prep mode at my house.  We always host Thanksgiving, as both Steve and I adore the holiday. While the table is formal, the mood is always casual here in Casa de Nenonen.  For us, Thanksgiving is a day to to slow down, reflect, spend time together, and give thanks for friends, family, and the blessings in our life over a lovely meal.

In my opinion, a pretty table sets the stage and mood for the meal/day. I typically forgo a traditional centerpiece in lieu of natural elements including leaves, pumpkins, gourds, apples, pine, pomegranates, wood, nuts, cranberries, and pine cones to celebrate the Harvest time...

The photos above were my table a few years ago, when my centerpiece incorporated birch, nuts, magnolia leaves, and peacock feathers laced with the warm scent of orange, clove, and cinnamon.

Needless to say, it has been a difficult and emotional week here in St. Louis with the Ferguson riots.  As a result, holiday focus has been delayed and somewhat overlooked  for many locals, myself included,  so today I shift into full gear.  If there is ANY YEAR to pause, reflect, and count your blessings... it is 2014.

Seeking creative inspiration this morning, I reached out to the Internet.   Here is a peek at some of the lovely photos that I found online. Who wouldn't LOVE to sit at one of these tables? Gorgeous...

See my Thanksgiving Pinterest board here:   

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Hidden Gem: Polar Express Train Ride to the North Pole via Union Station

Once upon a time, I had two little train fanatics...  

When the boys were little, our days and weekends were spent exploring the train car graveyard at the Museum of Transportation, walking the abandoned tracks of Union Station, taking in the Meramec River view aboard the mini railroad, and enjoying ice cream at the Kirkwood Custard Station in hopes that an Amtrak would race by.

That is why, when I heard that this was coming to town...

... I felt compelled to share!  

Bundle your kiddies up in their fuzziest jammies and take them on a magical train journey to the North Pole via Union Station.  The classic children's book (and movie), the Polar Express, comes to life on this 6 mile holiday railroad journey around St. Louis.   Chef characters serve hot chocolate and fresh-baked cookies to all passengers onboard the trains, and lead holiday carols until the "big guy" enters the train car himself ...

A unique holiday experience that your kids are destined to remember forever.  Magical indeed!

For more information....

St. Louis Union Station 

1820 Market Street 
St. Louis, Missouri 63103 

CALL:  (314) 621-5262 

See more of my "Hidden Gems" HERE!

"Pin It" HERE.

Monday, November 17, 2014

St. Louis is TOPS in affordability according to!

St. Louis just landed high on's Home Affordability Study list results for the year...

No surprises here!  Our city has always boasted incredible affordability which is yet another reason why St. Louis is a terrific place to live and raise a family.  See the full study HERE.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Famous Barr French Onion Soup Recipe- a holiday tradition in St. Louis

Some dishes instantly evoke childhood memories.  For most locals over the age of 35, Famous Barr French Onion Soup is definitely one of them.

For decades, the Downtown location of the Famous Barr Department Store was THE holiday destination in St. Louis. Thousands of families, mine included, dressed in their holiday finest to head Downtown to visit Santa Claus, enjoy the magical automated window displays, shop until they drop, and enjoy lunch in the Famous Bar restaurant which almost always included this...

If you grew up in St. Louis, you just salivated.  If you didn't grow up here- this is simply the best french onion soup that you will ever eat!

Big thanks to my client Chelsea for emailing me this prize last night... 

While Famous Barr and the local holiday tradition is long gone, the recipe still exists!  It instantly makes me reminisce about our annual holiday trek Downtown to Famous Barr with my Grandma Dee Dee, who has sadly been gone since 2001.   So tasty, such memories. Enjoy!

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Rules of Real Estate: Timing matters. Midwest Seasonal Slowdown Advice for Sellers and Buyers.

Farewell to jack-o'lanterns and spooky stuff...

November has arrived and the holiday countdown has begun!  In the Midwest, not only does our weather have four distinct seasons... so does our real estate market.  To achieve your individual real estate goals, timing matters a lot.

While the phenomena varies dramatically across the different regions of our country, seasonal slowdown in the real estate market is pronounced here in the Midwest! During the 4th quarter(Oct/Nov/Dec), here in the middle of the country, homeowner focus and finances are traditionally spent "decking the halls" and being merry! 

We in the Midwest tend to covet our holiday season.

For this very reason, 9x out of 10, I advise my SELLER clients to avoid listing during this period and/or pull their listing off the market if it hasn't yet sold by the time that late October rolls around. As an average transaction is anywhere from 5-7 weeks from contract to close, an October contract puts a Buyer and Seller move smack in the middle of the holidays. In the Midwest, most clients prefer to avoid that scenario. As a general rule here in St. Louis, a Seller who remains listed during the 4th quarter is either especially motivated or has received not-so-great real estate advice, in my opinion.  

Midwest Sellers: if your goal is to maximize your profitability, in my 12+ years of local residential experience, I urge you to avoid listing in the 4th quarter of the year. Most of my clients will attest that this is almost ALWAYS my recommendation. During the 4th quarter, Midwest Sellers tend rack up unnecessary days on market and battle winter weather and an unusually small Buyer pool that results in numerous price reductions and inevitably a lower sales price.

For that very reason, however, 4th quarter is a FABULOUS time for Buyers! FABULOUS. While there is less inventory to choose from, deals are a plenty! There is less competition, far less rush, and far more Seller desperation. If my Buyer clients are willing to remain focused on the process during the holiday season, I STRONGLY urge them to work the 4th quarter for all it is worth! Buyers are in control during the Midwest 4th Quarter. It is an AWESOME time to buy.

As a general rule during 4th quarter in St. Louis:  

Sellers- hold off until after the New Year to list in order to be on a more even playing field.  
Buyers- frivolously scour the current inventory to see if you can find a match, as you OWN this market!

A HUGE misconception in the Midwest is that a Seller and Buyer must hold off until late March/April/May in order to benefit from the strong Spring market.  Not true.  The fact is, once the clock strikes Midnight and the New Year turns, our local real estate market is back in full force unless the weather is especially treacherous! 

1st quarter is an excellent time for both Buyers and Sellers, as it is more of an even playing field.  Sellers have a plentiful Buyer pool eager to spend their money and welcome Spring in their new home.  Buyers have a LOT of fresh inventory to choose from, but not the competition and pressure that is generally encountered during the 2nd quarter of our real estate market.  In addition, tax time often puts a little more money in a Buyer's pocket, to aid in the closing process.  1st Quarter deals tend to be more amicable and pleasant deals for all parties involved.

The 1st quarter tends to be my favorite part of my professional year.  As the days grow longer and the weather warms, clients are renewed from the holidays and excited for the process.  Their energy is contagious... I thrive on it!  If you are contemplating a late 2014 or an early 2015 move (particularly in the 1st quarter), the time to contact a Realtor is NOW!  Knowledge is power in this process, and planning and preparation is KEY to a stress-free and profitable transaction.  I have been meeting with my 2015 Sellers all month and providing them with a healthy to-do list for the cold winter months.  They will be let out of the gate and prepared to list MILES ahead of their competition as a result!

Looking for advice or an agent to work with in the St. Louis area?  I am always looking for new clients and would love to chat with you!  I have numerous references both online and upon request.  Visit my website at to learn more about me and see what my clients have to say.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Under Contract: 7 Summersweet Lane in Ballwin (Parkway West)

A terrific start to a fun holiday weekend, #7 Summersweet went under contract late last night and closes in December!  A warm thank you and congratulations to the M Family.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Just For Fun: The 2014 Trulia Housing "Scare Report"

This Fall, Trulia surveyed over 2,000 prospective buyers about what SCARES them during their October house hunt. Their findings!  Would you buy a house near a cemetery?

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

October Pinterest Fun

"Eat, drink, and be scary."
~Author Unknown

Halloween falls on a FRIDAY this year, so you better have a full "treat" bowl ready! Need a last minute costume idea or recipe? Check out my spooky October Pinsperation HERE!

Monday, October 27, 2014

Rule of Real Estate: Know your numbers. Check your credit score for FREE

Answer this question honestly:  
When was the last time that you pulled your credit reports? 

The fact is, your numbers matter!  I did the annual examination of my credit reports this AM- fast, easy, and painless.  I figured that this would be the perfect time to share the information on the blog with you!

Did you know that under the Federal Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act (FACTA), you are entitled to a free peek at your credit report once per year?  To comply with their obligations under FACTA, the three major credit reporting agencies (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion) organized the web site,  allowing consumers a way to easily exercise this right.  The website is safe and FREE TO YOU, providing all American consumers an easy mechanism to receive their three free credit reports per year.

Ok, so why don't people use this service?  After 13 years of discussing money matters with clients, I hear 4 reasons repeatedly.

1) I didn't know about the service.
2) I hate talking credit.
3) I have no plans for a big purchase, so why bother
4) By FAR, the most common- I don't want to damage my credit

Whether preparing for a large purchase (house or car) or NOT, an annual credit report check is necessary and advised to ensure that you are "moving in the right direction", that your identity has not been compromised, and to allow you the ability and adequate time to dispute any discrepancies. 

I equate the fear of facings ones' numbers to someone who refuses to go to the doctor every year.  The fact is: knowledge is power. Once you rip off the band-aid and HAVE the information in hand... you can work with it. When it comes to your finances (or your health for that matter), ignorance is NOT bliss.  If your goal is to build and maintain a healthy credit score, checking your credit report on a regular basis is a good first step. 

Just do it.  Face the music.  Take control of your finances and pull your report HERE.  You will be relieved that you did, I promise!

Per the Annual Credit Report site:  Keeping an eye out for three things can help to have a positive impact on your credit score: suspicious information, score factors and signs of identity theft. It’s a common misconception that having your credit checked will harm your score and this isn’t always the case. 

There are two types of credit inquiries

Hard Inquiries
These types of inquiries, such as when a potential lender checks your credit report to approve a loan, application, rental agreement or other contract, can show up on your credit report and damage your score to some degree. Companies will need your permission to review your credit report. 

Soft Inquiries
These inquires occur when you’ve given permission to access your credit report for things like employee background checks or when you review your own report. Soft inquires won’t affect your credit score.

Checking Your Credit Report for Signs of Identity Theft

The following issues may be indications that you’re a victim of identity theft:

  • Accounts that don’t belong to you
  • Inquiries that you haven’t authorized
  • Addresses that you can’t recognize or haven’t lived at
  • Checking for Unfamiliar Information

Sometimes information on your credit report is reported incorrectly by the company to the credit bureau. Some examples of incorrect reporting include:

  • Accounts that are open being reported as closed
  • Late payment reports that never occurred
  • Incorrect numbers that deal with credit balances or credit limits

Reviewing Your Credit Score Factors

Your next step is to take a look at your credit score factors. These detail those issues that hurt or help your credit score. 

Positive credit score factors include: punctual payment history, age of accounts and low balances. 

Negative score factors include: being been more than 30 days late, having several inquiries, and having one or more legal judgments in your credit report.