Real Estate Information Archive


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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.

Start of a New Year - Time to Make a Move?

by Pat Wattam

The start of a new year is a time to reflect on the past and decide where you want to be in the future.  Many times that will include making a move - either from a rental to home ownership, or moving up to a larger home or downsizing, buying a new home,  or investing in real estate.  All of these possible scenarios should start with a serious conversation with your REALTOR.  The Pat Wattam Team prides itself on taking the time to REALLY listen to what our clients needs are and help the clients really understand what THEY want to do.  Sometimes it takes an outside person asking a lot of questions to help a client figure out what they really want to accomplish.  We also have a nice selection of VIDEOS to download for free that might also help you!  

It's the start of the new year.  Why not give us a call now for a FREE consultation!  225-298-6900

The Real Estate Market Post Flood in Baton Rouge Area

by Pat Wattam

Real Estate Update Report and the August 1016 Flood

Everyone wants to know how the Market is doing since the flood in August.  Here’s a little update on what we have seen. 

1. There are some homeowners, who have gutted their houses, own them outright, have flood insurance and want to sell.  Those homes are selling for just under half what they were worth before the flood.  Those numbers actually work pretty well for the person who wants to make a move to a new home.  Investors are buying these homes to fix and flip, or maybe even rent. 

2.  There are other homeowners with no flood insurance who are getting some FEMA money.  The FEMA money is not enough to fully repair a house, but it’s a start.  Some people, again, who own their homes and have no mortgage, are still opting to sell their house, especially if they have a place they want to go.  These homes are selling just like the example above.  FEMA $$ can only be used to repair the house and if audited, you will have to provide receipts, from what we have been told.   Consult your accountant or tax attorney if you’ve opted to apply for FEMA aid and are planning to sell.

3. Some people are taking the FEMA money and fixing the house as far as the money will go and then selling it at that point in hopes of recouping the FEMA money.  Again consult a tax professional for advice.

4.  And then, some homeowners are repairing the house to live-in condition (whether with insurance or FEMA dollars) and will either sell the house or move back in.  Just depends on each individual situation.  There are also special loans available through FHA and Conventional mortgages that work much like a new construction loan and can be used to repair a house.  Rates run about a half percent higher than regular rates

5.  And the last category we are watching are the homes that were for sale before the flood and the ones coming on the market now.  We have not seen a big price increase like we saw after hurricane Katrina.  The market is a little sluggish but has started to pick back up.  As lives slowly return to normal then the real estate market will follow. 

The Pat Wattam Team at RE/MAX First has been busy meeting homeowners in various situations to help them crunch the numbers and  see what will work best for them.  No one knows what the market will look like in 6 months as these homes start to be lived in fully again, either with the homeowner, new owners, or tenants.  My outlook is that we will have neighborhoods with practically brand new homes and if the people REALLY update them, then that should get past the stigma caused by the flooding.  My thought process is that if a buyer has a choice between a 30 year old home that has not been updated and the same home, same size, and price that has been beautifully updated, I think they will pick the updated one.  Now, if the buyer’s choice is between a house that flooded and one that didn’t and they are the same price and same condition, they will buy the one that did not flood.

I believe it is crucial to really upgrade flooded homes if the sellers plan to sell in the next couple of years.   Back in 1983, when we had that big flood and so much of Old Jefferson flooded, buyers didn’t want to buy those houses for the longest time.  But then, years went by with no flooding and it once more became a very popular subdivision.  I believe the Great Flood of 2016 is a different story because it was caused by an anomaly in the weather – and, in my opinion, also man made (which can be corrected). 

If you or any of your friends or family have questions on how to proceed, please don’t hesitate to have them contact us.  Our direct line is 225-298-6900.


Pat Wattam

Debbie Hanna

Bill Arey

Blake Hanna

Erin Simoneaux

Roger Wattam

How TRID Affects Your Closing - in Baton Rouge

by Pat Wattam

When purchasing a home, the new TRID rules are supposed to make settlement statements easier to read and understand.  The closing documents need to be signed by the purchaser 3 days prior to closing.  This is all well and good EXCEPT - what do you do when you have sold your home, and are planning to purchase your new one on the same day - back to back as we say, and your buyer's CD is not ready timely.  Now you can't close until they do.  And what is happening with the seller of the house you are purchasing?  Is your seller willing to wait?  This is a question we face daily in real estate - and a prime reason you need a REALTOR when purchasing a home as we make our clients aware of the possible problems due to TRID.

The real solution to this problem is doing a lot of your homework BEFORE making an offer on a house.  If you have already met with the lender and provided them all the information they need, and the LENDER has given you the worst case scenario of how many days they need to close the loan, then you can easily write an offer and pick a closing date and be confident that you can meet that date.  If you haven't done this, then don't try to make a 30 day closing.  Select 45-60 days instead.  It isn't fair to your seller for you to select a closing date that your lender truly can't make - or will maybe just make it in time.  

AND the pittfall for you, as a buyer, in a hot real estate Market - as in some areas of the Greater Baton Rouge Real Estate Market - is you can't be sure that your seller doesn't have a better offer in a backup position.  Remember, the seller does not HAVE to extend the purchase agreement closing date just because the buyer's lender can't meet that date.  You ask for an extension to finish your loan, the seller declines and puts the back up offer in play.  AVOID THIS SITUATION by doing your homework first.  And, if you are in a multiple tier situation with buyers and sellers, make sure all buyers have done their homework up front or make sure you extend the closing date in your counter so that there is time to make all the closings coincide.

What Is a Home Buyer Consultation? Baton Rouge Real Estate

by Pat Wattam

What is a home buyer consultation and do you need one?

A Home Buyer Consultation is at the core of what we do for buyers on the Pat Wattam Team.  A home buyer consultation is the time for us to educate you about the home buying process, the real estate Market, what to expect, and how things are going to work.  It also gives you a chance to meet an agent before committing to work with them.  A good home buyer consultation will discuss a few of the legal parts of the home purchase but is mainly to share with you some personal insite the agent has into the market. Perhaps you have purchased a home before.  You know how the process works.  Do you still need a consultation?   Would you agree our real estate market today is probably different from one 10 years ago?  At the height of the aftermath of hurricane Katrina prices were high and sellers were not flexible at all. Then came the bubble of 2008 - which, incidentially, did not affect us here very much - or would not have if it had not been for the scare stories from across the country - but sellers became more flexible.  Today's market has hot spots where homes have multiple offers and you have to go above full price to win the house, and other homes that take some time to sell.  You need to know this information as a buyer because it will affect what you will have to pay for a home in each scenario.  If you need to sell your home in order to buy, we know how to orchestrate that for you and that is something we would need to also discuss in depth.  

A few other topics we cover in our home buyer consultation:

1.  How we work

2.  What's your timeline and how to determine it

3.  How to protect yourself from costly home repairs

4.  How many homes should you look at

5.  What to expect from a home inspection

6.  How to determine how much you can afford

7.  How much money you need and when you need it

8.  What type of loan is best for you

9.  What homes are available based on your criteria

10.  Realistic expectations explained regarding the market and financing

If you are ready to take the first step, give us a call at the Pat Wattam Team

to set up your FREE Home Buyer Consultation!  

225-978-6688 or 225-298-6900

Buying in a Sellers Market - Baton Rouge

by Pat Wattam

One of the questions we get from Buyers in the current Greater Baton Rouge Real Estate Market is how sound it is to purchase a home when the inventory is limited and they may have to pay over full price.  They are worried about what will happen when they are ready to sell.  The good news I learned today at the Trends Real Estate Seminar in Baton Rouge  is that with the steady appreciation we have typically experienced in our area, if a buyer holds onto their house for 4 years they should at least break even when they sell.  This is the same information I have given buyers most f my career in real estate with the exception of the 'Katrina years'.  The appreciation we have experienced in our area has typically been betwen 1-3% a year.  Right now we are exeperiencing closer to 5% appreciation. With interrst rates as low as they are this is still a great time to buy a house!!

Appraisal Issues - Baton Rouge

by Pat Wattam

Let me lead off by saying the real estate Market in general is heating up!  Many areas of the counter are experiencing low inventory and more buyers than homes available for sale.  Which can lead to appraisal issues.  Even though the real estate market in Baton Rouge is not THAT bad, we are seeing pockets where a homes are receiving multiple offers and not enough selections for the buyers.

When you buy or sell a house, the lender will order an appraisal to make sure that the price the home is sold for is what it is worth, just in case the buyer defaults and the lender ends up foreclosing on the house.  The lender wants to make sure they limit their risk.  In a normal market - not a sellers' market or a buyers' market - this usually works quite well.  There are enough homes to select so that if a home does not appraise and the seller refuses to reduce the house to the appraised value, the buyer can find another house to purchase.  The seller will eventually get the point and will either sell at the right price or take their house off the market.

However, if you are in a sellers' market - that means, there are few homes to select from - or in a rising market which means home prices are rising faster than the appraisals can document (remember, appraisers look back 6 months to find comparables - not much help when the market is heating up going forward) - then if the appraisal comes in short, typically the seller may have one or two back up offers who just want to get this house and will be willing to pay over appraised value.  They do this recognizing that the market is moving up and  figures the appraisal value of the house will soon be what they are paid for it.  If you are the buyer in this situation, unless you have the ability to get extra cash to pay the difference you may be left out of the housing market.

If you are the seller in a buyers' market - meaning there are lots of homes to select from and the buyer can be very picky - then if your appraisal comes in low, you need to just reduce to the appraised value so you can go on with your life.  Waiting for the market to come up to the value you want for your house could take years in this situation.

However, what do you do when the house you are buying or selling does not appraise and the appraiser did not give any value for items that other houses didn't have, or selects the wrong comps?  This is pretty tricky today.  The BUYER is the one that needs to protest.  The listing agent can help find comps to justify the value, or find mistakes or things left out in the appraisal.  It's up to the lender to decide if these things warrant going back to the appraiser.  When I have this issue with a buyer, I typically change lenders so that I can get a new appraisal for my buyer.  

A good REALTOR can help guide you when this issue arises.  

Loan Pre-Approval - Baton Rouge Real Estate

by Debbie Hanna

Why Should I Get Pre-Approved For A Loan?

As a home buyer, here are a few reasons you should apply for a loan and obtain approval before you begin looking at homes:

1.  You won't waste time considering homes you can't afford.

3.  You can select the best loan package and know what down payment is needed for that loan - without being under pressure.

4.  You will know in advance what your monthly payments will be

5.  Your lender will also review the approximate amount of closing costs (lender fees, title co. fees,etc.) associated with your loan.

6.  Sellers will view your offer more favorably if they know in advance your ability to secure financing.

7.  Peace of mind!

You are now on your way to purchasing your new home!  

Did you also know that there are some “upfront” fees you will encounter before you get to the closing table?  

These include payments for:

    Deposit     Appraisal    Inspection    Prepaid year of Homeowner’s Insurance

These are just a few of the things I cover with Buyers in my initial Home Buyer Consultation, in addition to a free Home Buyer Book.  One of my goals is to help educate you about the process as you purchase your new home. If you would like to learn more, give me a call!

Debbie Hanna


12 Reasons To Use a Realtor

by Blake Hanna

12 Reasons You Should Use a REALTOR

1. Determine Buying Power

2. Home Search Assistance

3. Objective Property Information

4. Price Negoatiation

5. Management of Property Evaluation

6. Identification of Qaulified Lenders and Finacing Options

7. Smooth Closing Process

8. Up-to-date Selling Information

9. Marketing Assistance

10. Connections to Selling Networks

11. Objective Evaluation of Buyer's Proposal

12. Closing Assistance

Blake Hanna, Realtor

The Pat Wattam Team

RE/MAX First


[email protected]



Things You Might Not Know About REALTORS

by Pat Wattam

In this day and age I am still amazed at the misconceptions the public has about REALTORS.  Let me try to shed some light!

1.  REALTORS are not paid a salary.  They are only paid when you use them to buy or sell a house that actually goes to closing!

2.  They pay for their own gas.

3.  They do not have a company car.

4.  Whatever the commission is, they only get part of it.  Part of it goes to their broker, to a relocation company, to a referral company.  And they pay all their expenses and marketing dollars out of that commission.  Oh yeah - and pay taxes.

5.  If a REALTOR buys you lunch, there is no company behind them paying for it.  It actually comes out of their pocket.

6.  If a REALTOR sells a lot of houses it isn't because they sell them for a low price - it's because they do a good job at marketing and negotiating.

7. We don't get kick backs for referring you to people we trust.

8.  We do have a LIFE and are not available at the drop of a hat - and come to think of it, neither is your doctor, CPA, dentist.  And just like other professionals, we will do our best to accommodate you.

9.  We truly want to make you happy because we want you to refer us to your friends.

10.  We have continuing education we must take every year (12 hours) and we have a Code of Ethics that we must adhere to.

So there you go - just a few things that I thought I should share with you today! And Remember, when you are thinking about real estate, Call the Pat Wattam Team at RE/MAX First!

Displaying blog entries 1-10 of 44




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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