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E-Recycling in Baton Rouge

by Leslie Green


As we enter the holiday season, it's important to tidy up the house in order to decorate and entertain. There is a small room in my house where things tend to collect. It's kind of like that room in the Harry Potter series, the Room of Requirement. There many interesting things, including some super-cute little cards hand-made by my children when they were little, but there are also many things I'd rather not think about, like those old laptops that still have some beloved photos.
Laptops
I started to investigate what to do with the old computer equipment, knowing it needs to be "cleaned" and then recycled somewhere. Did you know there is a non-profit computer recycling place in Baton Rouge, the Capital Area Corporate Recycling Council, known as CACRC. CACRC provides low cost refurbished computers to nonprofit, seniors, low income families, veterans and others.They also provide non-profits with electronic equipment at very low prices as well as technical support.

Here is a list of items they will accept for recycling on their website: http://www.cacrc.com/what-we-recycle/

After hurricane Katrina and the widespread devastation that followed  the price for construction materials went way up and many items were hard to come by - which is when we experienced that Chinese Drywall epidemic! With Texas and Florida now hard hit with hurricane Harvey and Irma, what can the rest of us expect?  It seemed that our roofing prices had finally come back down recently - not as low as before Katrina but certainly not as high in the years after that.  

One of my clients who has been looking at building a new house in Texas received an email from a builder - BEFORE Irma hit Florida - concerning this very topic.   His plan was to quickly stock up on lumber, roofing materials, drywall, etc. as much as possible so that he could hold his prices where he had quoted them.  But another concern was the labor force since so many people were affected in his area he wondered if would still be able to get the crews he needed to build.  We have faced that in our area since the flood of 2016.

My takeaway is this:  If you are planning to do some work on your house, go ahead and stock up on the items you will need as much as is reasonable.  And for many of you, you may wish to rethink buying new construction and look at resale homes that are just a few years old that you could update to make your own and it may end up being the less expensive way to go.  Of course, buying a house is a very emotional experience and the house you select should be the one that works best for you.  However, if the cost of materials soar, then you need to be thinking of other options that may give you the same result you are looking for.  

The Pat Wattam Team, as always, is here to help you logically think through the process to make the right financial decision.  Call on us any time for a FREE consultation!  225-298-6900!

Tips for Texas Realtors after Hurricane Harvey

by Pat Wattam

 

Houston and Baton Rouge had a similar experience after Hurricane Katrina This event with Hurricane Harvey and the massive flooding over Houston and surrounding areas may end up being more like what we went through just a year ago. In our unnamed storm last year the metro BR area received 24 inches of rain  over a large area that included several parishes resulting in over 100,000 houses being flooded.

I want to share some of my experiences from last year that might help you get through this disaster. First understand that the Market will right itself. Things will be OK for your business.

There are a few steps that real estate professionals go through in a flooding situation.  Here's a video or you can just read the text below!

https://www.facebook.com/wattam/videos/10154827453322344/

Number one is remediation of your personal property. Right now if you have a flooded property you need to find a contractor or someone who's going to help you with this and get people lined up that you know and trust. You don't want to have to worry about redoing your house and keeping your business going at the same time. Having people around you to help you will make this much easier to get through.

The second issue is finding your past clients. Who needs help and who can you help? Everyone wants to help in the recovery process. I worked with one of the local shelters close by my office to get them what they needed.

There is a third critical step as well. I started collecting money from friends and fellow Realtors across the country to just have money to hand to clients or people I met. When your house floods, typically you lose all your shoes. So people I would meet at church, particularly our elderly parishioners, I could hand them $100 and they could go buy shoes for themselves.  It's little gestures like that that mean so much people. Dropping by just to say hello and checking on your clients and bring them some money or food lets people know they are not alone and that you care. 

So, in no particular order, here are my tips to keep business going:

  1. Pick a flooded subdivision that you have sold a lot in or have a connection with in some way. 
  2. Deliver sandwiches and water to those working in houses in that subdivision.
  3. Reach out to your past clients.
  4. Call on vendors you know that you can recommend to help. See who is available.
  5. Don't be worried about what your market will do.  It will right itself.
  6. Wish I had gone door to door and met people and offered my assistance before they were taken advantage of by investors.  I thought it would be crass and would appear I was taking advantage of a bad situation. I was wrong. One of my clients was offered $50K for a home worth $225K before the flood. I asked him to let me give it a shot before he took the investors offer. I sold the house for $95K. How many others could I have made that extra money for just by being more proactive?
  7. Accept no cash offer without a deposit and proof of funds with the offer. You will get a lot of these and they always say “I’m good for it.” Some are.   Some aren’t. Time is of the essence for your seller so be demanding.
  8. Be wary of out of state buyers who say they want to buy multiple properties unless you have vetted them or their money in some way.  Yep, people came in, bought a lot of properties and could not perform.
  9. Be aware money laundering happens with some of these out of town investors. Doesn't affect your seller but, just saying, it happens.  If you go to closing and the buyer brings in 10 checks for $10K from different people, and it happens time and time again, you might want to report it.
  10. Put together promotional materials that show you care and what you can do to help people make a decision.
  11. Particularly older people who have no mortgage and have flood insurance, it really is better for them to  sell their house and move one.    When you add their flood insurance settlement to the proceeds from the sale they have plenty to go buy another house. The amount of time, energy, and frustration they will have redoing their home is overwhelming. It is better for their mental health and physical health to start fresh.
  12. If client does not have flood insurance and has a mortgage they are in a tougher spot. They may be better off fixing the house and moving back in or fixing the house and selling it. Some people will have to walk away. 
  13. The max FEMA pays out on a property with no flood insurance and not in a flood zone is $33k - not even enough to get started.  My 1300 sq. ft. rental cost over $42K to fix up nicely after the flood.
  14. Our homes that flooded have not had a stigma selling and are selling for high prices. Whole subdivisions are being revitalized as these homes all have granite, wood floors, new appliances, etc.  This will impact the non-flooded homes that are not updated. The flooded homes may sell better than the non-flooded ones because many will be practically brand new when they are rehabbed.
  15. Some cabinets can be saved. They really have to be dried out.  The amount of water in the house and the length it stayed in the house will affect this decision.
  16. Quickly partner with an inspector you respect to get guidance on what steps to tell people to take in remediating the  flooded property.  Become the ‘go to ‘ expert.  Get press if possible.
  17. Partner with an appraiser to have ongoing discussions about how the market is faring.
  18. Clients will want you to value their home Pre-flood for use on their taxes for their loss.  I did the value pre-flood and an appraiser did the flooded value for them.  It was all a guess.

Tips on Remediating Flooded Homes and What To Do

by Pat Wattam

To all our friends who are experiencing the horrible flooding from hurricane Harvey I have some tips for you from those who have experienced this before.  Last August (2016) the Baton Rouge Area received 50 inches of rain in 2 days.  A huge area flooded.  We had a rental house flood and  one of the inspectors we use also had a property flooded.

Here's a video of the interview of Kevin Dinkel and Roger Wattam discussing what they did to their properties after the flood. https://www.facebook.com/wattam/videos/10154821602582344/

My good friend and fellow Realtor, Liz Jesse, got tips from her siblings who flooded during hurricane Katrina.  They had some good tips.

And here is my interview with Liz:  https://www.facebook.com/wattam/videos/10154821647502344/

 

If you have any questions on how to proceed don't hesitate to contact us:  pat@patwattam.com or kdinkel@extramileteam.com

 

Our Prayers go out to those affected by this flood.  

Help Your Agent To Win on an Offer! Baton Rouge

by Pat Wattam

Most buyers correctly assume that their real estate agent will do a great job for them in promoting their offer to the sellers agent.  Here are a few tips to help you help your REALTOR put you in the best light for the seller and their agent to take YOUR offer seriously!  These apply mainly to Louisiana but can be relevant in other states too.

As a Listing agent, here are a few things that impress me with an offer, and in a multiple offer situation, will help move you to the head of the list!

1.  Large Deposit.  In Louisiana you don't even have to have a deposit in order to make an offer on a home.  However, as a listing agent, and recently, as a seller myself, I can tell you that the buyer who appears the most serious is the one with a serious deposit.  Some agents don't want to tie up their clients money or they worry that if the buyer does something - as in back out of the sale - then they could lose that money.  Think about it from the seller's standpoint.  You are putting up serious money because you are CONFIDENT that you qualify to purchase the home and are serious about buying it.  Your next question may be - what is a large deposit?  Well, here it's not as large as you would find in any other state!  On a $100K home I would like to see $1000 instead of $250 or $500.  On a $300K home, I would expect to see $2000.  Get the idea?

2.  Put a short deadline for the inspeciton period.  Call your inspector before you make the offer and see when you can schedule and do it then.  You can always cancel and if you cancel quickly your inspector would be o.k.  

3.  Get a true Pre-APPROVAL letter stating that the lender has looked at your credit score, run your info through desktop underwriting, has VERIFIED the information provided, and that your TAX RETURNS have been given to the lender.  These are items that impress me and the sellers out there who understand.

4.  Use a LOCAL lender.  When I see the pre-approval letter by Quicken Loans I want to run.  I have had more of these loans not close than did closes and when we had an issue, it was virtually impossible to have someone to call who could help.

5.  SHORTEN the time for closing.  Don't have a 60 day closing if you want to impress the seller.  In fact, it's a great idea for your agent to call the listing agent and ask what would work for the seller.  Maybe the seller needs time to finish the school year.  Maybe they are in the process of building a house.  Or maybe they have an offer on another house and need to close quickly.  See what they need and try to make it happen for them.  However, if the house is  vacant  and you can close quickly, you might get a better deal on the house.  In a multiple offer situation last week, the buyer who won the deal was the one who could close the fastest.

6.  Realize that when you ask the seller to pay part or all of your closing costs, even at full price, the seller looks at what your net offer is.  In a multiple offer situation the person who asks for no or little closing costs has a better chance of winning.  

7.  If you raise the sales price to cover your closing costs, be aware that if the appraisal comes in short, the seller will delete those closing costs.  By raising the price you have ELECTED to roll the closing costs into  your mortgage.  The seller wants to net whatever  you all agreed the net offer would be.  So if you offer $205,000 on a $200K house, and want $7000 closing costs, the net offer to the seller is $198K.  If the appraisal comes in at $202K then the seller is only going to give you $4000 closing and you need to have a source ready to cover any shortfall.  Some people think because the seller agreed to all those closing costs that they should still pay for them.  In a hot Market, they may have a back up offer that you are not even aware of and they will bump you off the contract.  Always have a contingency plan for your closing costs!

8.  DO NOT ASSUME that the seller will counter ALL the offers at once in a multiple offer situation.  And on a house that just came on the market, don't make a low offer or ask for a lot of closing costs.  If it is a great house, then you might not even be aware there are other offers  - especially if the other offers are significantly better than yours.  

 

I hope these ideas will help you help your agent when you are negotiating on your new home.  And if you don't have an agent to help you, we would love to be your REALTORS!!!

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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.

When Will the Cookies Go Away?!

by Pat Wattam

After the holidays I always wonder, When will the cookies go away!  If you are like me, and you love cookies, it seems they stay on my thighs forever!  BUT, that's not the kind of cookies I'm talking about!  I'm talking about cookies on your computer!  

Did you know that when you shop on line from your computer that 'cookies' are created so that your computer knows where you have been shopping.  It makes it easy for you to find what you were looking at later on, and it also is why all those ads spring up for those kind of items when you are on other web sites or even Facebook!

The Definition of this kind of cookie is :


What is a Computer Cookie

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A cookie is a small data file stored on a computer for various tracking purposes by websites and advertisers. While cookies are generally not harmful to a computer the way that spyware, viruses and other malware are, some cookies do pose a privacy concern because they track your Web surfing habits. In some cases, cookies are useful because they allow you to leave a website and then return later, easily resuming your session because your password and ID are stored in the cookie.

Definition

  • A cookie is a small text file that is placed on the user's computer hard drive by a Web page server, according to Microsoft. A cookie can't be executed as code or be used to deliver a virus. A cookie is unique to the computer that it's added to, and it can only be read by the Web server that put it there. The basic function of a cookie is to allow a website or advertiser to automatically identify a user. It stores multiple website URLs in which they are valid. When your browser sends a request to a Web server, it also sends the cookies that are related to that same website.

  • Cookies an be convenient for you when you're shopping for something, but it can also be a nuisence when you have looked at an item and decided you aren't interested in it, and then it keeps popping up everywhere.

I was told today at a tech meeting that those cookies automatically go away after 60 days.  I always thought you had to delete them so this was good to know.  I hope by understanding how cookies work you might make them work FOR you!!!
The EASIEST way to shop for a home is to contact the Pat Wattam Team at RE/MAX First and let us do the shopping for you!  Tell us what you want and we'll find it.  No cookies left on your computer either!!!  

Save Yourself Time and Money!

by Pat Wattam

There are some things our clients do that drive REALTORS a little crazy and they are the things that clients do that cost the client time and we all know that time is money! Here are a couple of  things that we find frustrating from a buyer:

1.  Not knowing where you want to live - location wise.  It is very frustrating to get a buyer who says location is no issue - "I'll look anywhere".  And your drive them up to an hour away to find the home of their dreams, only for them to then realize that they don't want to drive an hour each way, evey day to work!  Seriously!  They never even THOUGHT about that first!

 I think one of the most important discussions you can have with your REALTOR (and yourself!) is what do you want to do in your free time.  Do you like running to the movies on the weekend at the spur of a moment?  Do you like having a grocery store 5 minutes away because you are always forgetting something you need (that's me!)?  Do you have a sport you play a lot and would like to be near by?  Or, if you have children, how far do you want to drive to take them to dance, gym, music, sport practice, or even school?  There are serious questions to consider because you can not replace your time.  I had some clients who wanted to live in St Francisville.  They bought beautiful new home and pool, on a lake, with a golf course nearby - but they were driving over an hour each way to work, then on the weekends they would bring their children to Baton Rouge for their activities and would have to kill a couple of hours in town just waiting for them.  They finally decided enough was enough.  Their next house was in the heart of Baton Rouge, near all conveniences.  I have other clients who want to live on acreage and get away from it all.  When they get home for the weekend, they are home.  They enjoy working on their yard and don't mind the drive during the week so they can have the peace and quiet they require on the weekends.  SAVE YOURSELF SOME TIME by figuring out what are your HOT buttons for a location and let your REALTOR help find you the best home to match!  

2.  Having TOO BROAD of a price range.  When I have clients tell me they can buy anything from $150,000 to $350,000 and want to see it all I know they haven't thought this all the way through.  I know they are thinking if they can find a real steal at $150K they want to see it.  So do I!  The question really is  - what is important in a house to them.  A TYPICAL $150K house is smaller, or older, or doesn't have as many amenities as a $350K house.  We need to know what is important to you in the house.  How large?  How many bedrooms?  How large do those bedrooms need to be?  Are you willing to buy an older house with smaller baths and kitchen or do you want an open floor plan?  Do you like nice amenities?  These are the things we need to know - then it's easy to search any price range so that you can make a decision on how much work you want to do on a house.  Just a thought.  One of the first houses we bought needed a lot of work but we got it for a great price.  We didn't factor in the $10K (this was YEARS ago!) cash that would have to come out of our savings to do those reparis.  We could have bought a house that cost $20K more or even more if it didn't need any work and had a little higerh house note and kept our cash!!  

3.  "I want to see everything available in my price range!" Really?  Why?  I once had a client that went into the attic of every home we looked at, even the ones I knew they had NO interest in.  After I while I showed them how much time they were wasting that could be spent seriously looking at the houses that they found interesting!  While you are waiting to see everything, a great house could come on the Market and be sold by the time you get around to seeing it.  If you know what are your "HAVE TO HAVE" items are in a house, and then the things you would like to have but aren't deal killers, we can save you a LOT of time by screening out the houses we know don't have those amenities!  

Give some serious thought to what you REALLY want and need in a home from size to amenities to location to price.  Then we can really do a better job to serve you by showing you the BEST HOUSES that fit your particular needs!! Give us a call!  We want to help you find that dream home!  225-298-6900

Does the Square Footage of House Determine it's VALUE?

by Pat Wattam
What does square footage determine the value or price of a home?  In many
states the Multiple Listing Service, and Brokers  do not even publish the square footage of properties
for sale.  In fact in Alabama all they give you is a square-foot range - such as between
900-1200 sq ft living area. Ask any builder or appraiser and they will tell you that
square footage is only the starting place to price a home. Think about this.   
If you have two homes side-by-side, in the same subdivision, with exactly the same square
footage living area. One house has all hardwood floors, slab granite countertops
in the bathrooms and the kitchen, stacked crown molding in all rooms and 12'
ceilings. The other home of exactly the same size and exactly the same
floor plan has carpet and linoleum flooring,  no crown molding, 8 foot
ceilings and laminate countertops. Are both homes worth the same amount
of money? 
Another question.  If you buy a home and the house appraises for the sales price,
or maybe even more, does it matter what the square footage was? You didn't put
an offer in on a house with the price  contingent upon the house appraising at $200 a
square-foot living.  You saw the house in person.  You determined that the size fit your needs.  
You based your offer on the value of the house to you.  As long as the house appraises
then you have not overpaid or been ripped off.  Once I listed a two story house and had the house
plans to get the square footage from.  I then had an appraisal that had a significantly different sq ft!
 Another appraiser came up with an even different number!  However, the house appraised for the
sales price with no problem even with the 200 sq ft difference.  This video gives you some solid 
information on pricing homes.
So where does that leave the buyer who makes an offer on a house based on price per sq ft, 
thinking they are getting a great deal  only to find out the house is smaller than they
thought?  And the appraisal comes in fine but it's not that great deal they thought they were getting.
 The Louisiana purchase agreement does not allow for them to back out for that reason. 
In Louisiana, the purchase agreement contract specifically states that there is no warranty
concerining property measurement, square footage, room dimensions, lot size, property lines
or the suitability  or to a particular use of the property and the BUYER has or will independently
investigage all conditions and characteristics of the property WHICH ARE IMPORTANT to the BUYER.  
If the house looks like it will fit your needs, then the price per sq foot doesn't matter - the appraisal does.
If you have a particular piece of furniture that MUST fit in a house, then it is up to you to
measure the room you plan to put it in and make sure it fits.  If a garage has 600 sq ft and says
its 20 x 30, and you ASSUME your vehicle will fit, and you find out later from the appraiser that it's
only 500 sq ft and you didn't measure to make sure your vehicle will fit, you still have to buy the 
house.  (I must remind you that I am NOT an ATTORNEY and you should always consult with a 
Real Estate Attorney when questioning items in a contract).

If square-footage it is a big of a concern to you as opposed to the value of your new home
then during your  due diligence period you should have the house measured or
measure it yourself so that you're happy with what you're purchasing.
The buyer typically has 10 calendar days to make any inspections and determinations
for any concerns they want to address.  Use the time well to make sure things that are
important to you are inspected, measured, etc.  That way you will end up a happy new home owner!
We love happy home owners and education is a key to that happening!  If you are thinking
about purchasing a home in the future, then call the Pat Wattam Team for a free consultation.
We have a handbook that answers most questions buyers ask and gives you things to think about 
when buying a home that you might now have considered!  

2016 Color of the Year in Baton Rouge

by Debbie Hanna

What will the new "in" Paint Color be for 2016, in the Greater Baton Rouge Real Estate Market? Benjamin Moore's "Color of the Year" for 2016 is called "Simply White". Sherwin Williams has chosen "Alabaster".  It seems that shades of "off white" are what many paint manufacturers are predicting as a trend this year. Many new construction homes in our area have already been using this as a basis for their palette of colors. Here is a list of Benjamin Moore's "Color of the Year" choices for the last 6 years. Did you follow any of these trends?

 

  • 2015 Guilford Green
  • 2014 Breath of Fresh Air
  • 2013 Lemon Sorbet
  • 2012 Wythe Blue
  • 2011 Vintage Wine
  • 2010 Cedar Green
Debbie Hanna, Realtor
 The Pat Wattam Team
 RE/MAX First
 225-298-6899

 

 

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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