Real Estate Information Archive


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Preparing Your House to Sell or Not!

by Pat Wattam

I found this article I wrote back in 2006 and was shocked that nothing has changed in real estate!  Buyers don't want to spend the money doing updates - they want a house ready to go.  This is a relevant today as it was 11 years ago.  Take a few minutes and read this article:

Preparing Your Home for Sale

Each spring you start your annual cleaning and then, one spring you discover that it is just time to move to a new house.  Where do you start to get your house ready for sale?  Many people think that they shouldn’t update their home because the new buyers might not like the colors they pick out….or they don’t want to do minor repairs because they think they will just knock a little off the asking price to compensate.  From my 20+ years of experience I can tell you that the home that looks the best and needs the least amount of work will be the one that sells the fastest and for the highest dollar.  So where do you start?

“Curb appeal!”  Many a house has gone begging for buyers simply because it didn’t “look good” from the street.  It doesn’t matter what’s on the inside if the buyer isn’t willing to walk in the door. What do you notice first when you drive up?  Does the landscaping set the stage for the house?  Is it overgrown or even non-existant??  This is an area where most sellers do not want to spend a lot of time or money.  Often, whatever was there when they purchased the home is still there.  Adding plants with bright colors really makes your house stand out in otherwise dreary weather conditions 

Walk around the house and look for peeling paint, loose or missing shingles, rotten fascia boards, rotten wood frame around windows.  These are items that are considered maintenance and should be done prior to putting the house on the Market.  Believe me, if you see it, the buyer’s inspector will certainly notice it and you’ll end up doing these repairs anyway.  Better to do them now!!!  … and take a quick look at your storage room/boat port/workshop.  If you can’t actually walk in the door, some serious house-cleaning is in order!  

Inside the house--You don’t have to redo the whole house to sell it, but a fresh coat of paint and new carpet with neutral colors will really brighten up your house and make it sell faster.  That wall paper you have had since the 80’s really has to go.  There are ways to cover it without expensive re-papering.  There are many little things you can do, that don’t cost a lot of money and will really make your house sparkle.  Change out light fixtures and knobs on cabinets, especially if yours are really dated.  Paint dark paneling a lighter color, and refinish the tub if it’s really looks bad – no one likes a tub that looks dirty and sometimes the finish is so far gone that you just can’t get it to look clean. Make sure all appliances work and have the HVAC cleaned and serviced – and ask the technician to look at your unit as if YOU were buying it. 

A lot of people ask me if all this is really necessary--since our market has been so strong since hurricane Katrina.  The answer is, “Yes!”  Today we have a lot more buyers who can qualify for a house but really have no available cash, which is why we see so many people getting 100% financing.  They don’t have the funds to update a house or make any repairs.  They will pass up a house that needs updating in favor of another one that is ready to go.

Let me leave you with this thought.  Even if you aren’t planning to sell your house for another year or two, wouldn’t it be great for you to enjoy the benefits of sprucing up your home?  When it’s time for spring cleaning, make a list of a few things that you would like to update and then do them.  When it’s time for you to sell, you will have much less work to do, and you will have had the chance to enjoy the updates yourself!!

Pat Wattam

RE/MAX First Realtors

How Does the New Tax Reform Affect Real Estate

by Pat Wattam

There is a lot of confusion on how the new tax reform will affect real estate and let me say this, please check with your CPA or tax preparer to see how it affect you! Meantime, this is what my take is!

With the new standard deduction almost doubled, people who itemized to take advantage of the mortgage interest tax deduction may be better off just taking the standard deduction. The new standard deduction for 2 people filing jointly is now about $24000 - double what it was last year! You need to crunch the numbers to see if itemizing or using standard deductions will be best for you.

Another item I found interesting is that the interest on a Home Equity Line of Credit is only tax deductible if the money is used to 'substantially' improve the house.

Last, this one might come into play in our area. Deductions for casualty losses are only covered if the loss was attributable to a presidentially declared disaster.

As I said, you need to consult with a tax expert to see how these changes might affect you.

Mold Testing for Flood Victims

by Pat Wattam


I received this information from Advantage Inspections Today.  Just pulling out the wet flooring and sheetrock isn't enough.
See Below from Kevin Dinkel.
Mold Testing for Flood Victims
Have Peace of Mind Knowing Your Home is Safe 
Mold and bacteria have ideal breeding grounds in the warm, damp flooding areas of Baton Rouge and surrounding parishes. Exposure to these harmful organisms may affect your and your family's health. The CDC warns that "molds can cause nasal stuffiness, throat irritation, coughing or wheezing, eye irritation, or, in some cases, skin irritation." Contact with mold and harmful bacteria may cause severe reactions for those with weaker immune systems, children, and the elderly. 

We are ready to work to bring Baton Rouge residents back to safe homes. If your home or office was impacted by flooding in the past few days, please give us a call at Advantage Services (225) 753-8114 to inspect your home for harmful bodies that may have grown while you were away. 
If you know someone in need of an inspection, please pass this information along. We would like to wish you and your loved ones a safe and speedy recovery!


Need a Vendor? We have Recommendations! Baton Rouge Real Estate

by Blake Hanna

Need someone for your A/C, electrical systems, painting, roof or something else?

We have plenty of reccomendations when  it comes to vendors. Here are few to start. If you need something else, contact us!


Able Air Conditioning and Heating 
Locally owned and operated, DeAnn Clementson have provided my customers as well as myself with great service over the years. They provide 24 hours service. For more information on sales, service and Installation of all makes and models, both residential and commercial please contact them at 225-261-2121.


McMakin Financial For full service brokerage including asset management, financial planning, estate planning, retirement planning call Wally McMakin at 225-926-9585


Todd Millett Home Remodeling  Just about any repair you need call Todd at 225-413-3565


 Advantage Services, Inc. For home inspections and verification service, call Kevin Dinkel, owner. With over 9000 inspections completed, Kevin is one of the top inspectors in Baton Rouge. Whether structural, mechanical, environmental, synthetic stucco, eifs, or drivit, call Kevin today to set up your inspection. 225-753-8114

 Michael LeBas & Associates  Structural reports from an engineer's perspective!  


Blake Hanna, Realtor

The Pat Wattam - RE/MAX First


[email protected]

Buying New Construction in Baton Rouge

by Debbie Hanna

  In the Baton Rouge area, New Home Construction is booming! Whether you are    buying a Spec home or a Custom home, there are lots of choices for Buyers in Baton  Rouge and the surrounding areas. Building a new home can be very rewarding,as  everything is new and in the initial years,you can avoid some of the maintenance &  repair issues that come with resale homes, along with having choices in design,finishes  & having an Energy efficient home.

 Where do you start, when there are so many things to know & decide upon, before  starting the process? Depending on a Spec or Custom home, those items can include  choice of location, subdivision, lot, Builder, custom home design or finite choice of  floorplans, deposit & payments, options & upgrades, warranties, contract terms,refund  policy,financing requirements, inspections, timelines, and PRICE.

 With everything that’s involved in a New Home Construction purchase, you need a  professional Realtor who will educate you on the process, help define your needs & preferences, review and explain  transaction documents & everything in between! Your Realtor will protect your interests and help keep the transaction on  target. 


Debbie Hanna,  Realtor Partner

The Pat Wattam Team

RE/MAX First


Protecting your Baton Rouge home

by Roger Watttam

Protecting your Baton Rouge Home


Ever lose those house keys, come up with a key missing, didn’t remember who you had given keys to?   The cost of having a locksmith come to your Baton Rouge home to rekey your locks can be substantial  $50-$120 for the service call, and $25-55 per lock to rekey the existing locks….and if you’re one of us who loses keys frequently...well, you know!!   Several options are available to the homeowner.


Smart Key locks.

 “Smart Key” is a registered trademark of Kwikset locks.  The technology is used extensively by residential builders as original equipment in Baton Rouge Real Estate in their Kwikset and Baldwin lock hardware.  These locks are standard hardware that replace existing equipment with little or no door modification needed.   Often, only the deadbolt cylinder and knob are all that are needed if the latch is compatible.

The “Smart Key” allows you rekey the lock yourself.  The process is simple.

  1. Insert your key and turn it ¼ turn to the right
  2. Insert the rekeying tool into the rekeying slot and then remove
  3. Pull the old key straight out without turning it
  4. Insert the new key and turn to the left ½ turn
  5. Turn the new key back to the right ¼ turn and remove

The lock is now rekeyed—takes about 15-20 seconds for each lock and the only extra cost is for the new keys. 

Similar rekey systems are available from Schlage and other lock manufacturers.

Depending on the lockset, these run from $25 to $85.

This system works well for owners of rental properties.


Keyless locks.

Eliminate the key entirely and use a 3-5 digit entry code entry code. 

Older, mechanical style locks with push pins are usually restricted to one security code, but don’t require any batteries or hard wiring.

More recent electronic styles allow for up to 30 codes at a time and are powered by batteries (9V of AA) or are hard wired into the house current and have a backup battery.   These are opened with a keypad or, in newer technologies, by cell phone via Bluetooth and will relock themselves after a few seconds.  These fall into the $100-$250 range and most have an “override” key mechanism to use when the electronics fail.

Also available are locks with fingerprint recognition ((Currently in the $500-650 range) but without an override key. 

Contact us at the Pat Wattam Team for more homeowner tips.

Common Mistakes Made By For Sale By Owner Sellers

by Bill Arey

I have found that is is fairly commonplace for "For Sale By Owner" houses to be priced higher than fair Market analysis indicates. There are several reasons for this:

1. Basing the asking price on what they want to get out of the house 

Example: The homeowners have a mortgage balance of $150,000 and have a second home equity loan for $25,000, for a total amount of $175,000. The problem is similar homes on the market are selling for around $160,000, but the homeowner is compelled to price the home at $175,000 because they need to pay off both mortgages. 

2. Basing the asking price on the cost they have in the house 

A classic mistake some homeowners make is OVER improving their home relative to the neighborhood. Most neighborhoods will have a price range. Knowing the property values in your neighborhood, including the high values, will help you make a smarter decision about how much to invest in the renovation so that when you go to sell you don’t have to price your home out of the market to pay for the improvements. Most home improvements do not return 100% of the cost of the improvement or upgrade. 

3. Basing the asking price on heresay or website "estimates"

A legitimate asking should be based on FACTUAL sold comparable information. The BEST source of accurate and local market information is the MLS - Multiple Listing Service. 

4. The Seller dosen't  compare apples to apples

The seller may  have gotten the sale price correct for John Smith’s home but does the seller know how his house compares to John Smith's?  If a seller wants "top dollar" for the home it better be in excellent condition and compare favorably on upgrades and amenities with houses that have recently sold in the area.

5. It is natural for a Seller to NOT be objective

It is only natural to think your house is as good or better than the house that sold down the street. If a seller is really interested in selling the house in a reasonable amount of time, getting a price opinion from a licensed Realtor or appraiser is a wise first step.


Bill Arey    Realtor

The Pat Wattam Team

ReMax First

Roof Damage After Storms?

by Debbie Hanna

Baton Rouge & surrounding areas have been inundated with significant storm events over the last few weeks. Those storms have produced heavy rains, winds & hail, all of which can create issues for your roof, now or in the not too distant future. If you notice missing shingles or see shingles in your yard, it's a no-brainer - call a roofer! Hail damage can also compromise a roof, but is harder to see from ground level. Hail can cause soft spots on asphalt shingles. It may cause the granules on the top layer of the shingle to loosen and crumble away (you may see evidence of this in your gutters, around downspouts, or just on the ground). Other evidence of hail damage may be on the metal parts of the roof, such as flashing & vent pipes, where you will see dents.

Many roofing companies will inspect your roof at no charge. If you think you may have storm-related damage, get a professional roofer out to your home as soon as possible to assess the damage & prevent any leaks from happening. If the roofer sees significant hail damage, which may warrant an insurance claim, make sure he meets the insurance adjuster when he/she comes out to inspect your home. Together they can do a thorough & accurate inspection to make sure no damage goes unnoticed.  

If you have questions about anything in this post, please call Debbie Hanna at 225-772-3662.  


Assessing Storm Damage

by Pat Wattam

Tips on Assessing Storm Damage


Storms are no stranger to us in Louisiana. Kevin Dinkel, from Advantage Services,  gives a quick guide on what to do in case of bad thunderstorms during the summer and how to survey for storm damage.

 1- Clean Up Your Debris 

2- Check for Roof Damage or Holes in the Roof 

3- Check Flashings Around Wind Turbines 

4- Check Your Chimney - Check the Rain Covers 

6- View External Electrical Wires Watch the video for the detailed demonstration. 

At the Pat Wattam Team we have called on Kevin many times after a hurricane to help us quickly assess what condition our vacant homes are in so that we can report back to our sellers.  These are great tips for all of us to pay attention to, since we seem to be having more thunder/hail/wind storms!  

Control Termites

by Pat Wattam


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We're the Extra Mile Team, and our goal at Advantage Services is to provide the best 
inspection and verification services to the real estate industry, including realtors, 
homeowners, buyers and sellers. Call us today for a consultation, and make us part of 
your team. 
LHI #10050 
Contact Us 
Advantage Services 
18028 Jefferson Highway, Baton 
Rouge, LA 70817 
(225) 753-8114 
(225) 753-6509 
Join Our Mailing List 
Treat Tree Stumps and Debris in Your Area to 
Control Termite Entry 
In areas of the country where termites are 
common, it is easy to find them in the ground or in 
debris near a property structure. For example, a 
tree stump that has not been treated to control or 
prevent termite entry into your home, should be 
under close watch for termite activity. 
Don't want the hassle? You can contact us today to 
implement our termite control program. 
Remember, subterranean termites nest in the 
 ground and forage for food, including cellulose and 
wood, over areas up to a half acre or more in size. 
There is a high probability that if they are detected 
close to your property they will eventually infest its 
structure - if they have not done so already. 
Beginning a treatment program will have a great 
impact on the colony or its continued search for 
new food sources. Contact our pest management 
lead, Jeff Richards, for an inspection and learn 
more about your control options. 
Inspector Tips: Assessing Storm 
Storms are no stranger to us in Louisiana. Kevin 
Dinkel gives a quick guide on what to do in case of 
bad thunderstorms during the summer and how to 
survey for storm damage. 
1- Clean Up Your Debris 
2- Check for Roof Damage or Holes in the Roof 
3- Check Flashings Around Wind Turbines 
4- Check Your Chimney 
5- Check the Rain Covers 
6- View External Electrical Wires 
Watch the video for the detailed demonstration. 
We appreciate you and your business. Again, it's 
our goal to be your trusted resource for home 
inspections and pest control in Baton Rouge and 
surrounding areas. 
The Extra Mile Team 
Advantage Services has a team of technicians with over 26 years of 
experience. Contact us today to work with some of the most trusted 
inspectors in the Baton Rouge area! 
Forward Our Info! 
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Advantage Services | 18028 Jefferson Highway | Baton Rouge | LA | 70817


Here are some great tips on controlling termites from one of my favorite companies, Advantage Services.

Treat Tree Stumps and Debris in Your Area to Control Termite Entry 

In areas of the country where termites are common, it is easy to find them in the ground or in debris near a property structure. For example, a tree stump that has not been treated to control or prevent termite entry into your home, should be under close watch for termite activity.  Remember, subterranean termites nest in the   ground and forage for food, including cellulose and wood, over areas up to a half acre or more in size. There is a high probability that if they are detected close to your property they will eventually infest its structure - if they have not done so already. Beginning a treatment program will have a great impact on the colony or its continued search for new food sources. Contact our pest management lead, Jeff Richards, for an inspection and learn more about your control options. 

The Extra Mile Team Advantage Services has a team of technicians with over 26 years of experience. Contact us today to work with some of the most trusted inspectors in the Baton Rouge area! Forward Our Info! This email was sent to [email protected] by [email protected] | Update Profile/Email Address | Rapid removal with SafeUnsubscribe™ | Privacy Policy. Advantage Services | 18028 Jefferson Highway | Baton Rouge | LA | 70817

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Contact Information

Photo of Pat Wattam Real Estate
Pat Wattam
RE/MAX First, Independently Owned and Operated
4750 Sherwood Common
Baton Rouge LA 70816
Office Direct: 225-298-6900
Office Main: 225-291-1234
Fax: 225-295-1234

RE/MAX First
Each Office Independently Owned and Operated
Main: 225-291-1234

Licensed by the Louisiana Real Estate Commission