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What Every Home Buyer Needs to Know

by Pat Wattam

Buying a home, whether it's your first or your fifth, can be a daunting task.  It is one of your biggest financial investments.  With all the news the past 5 years about the housing bubble, and so many people losing money on their home, buying a home may not sound like a good financial investment.  But guess what?  Those people who bought at the top of the Market and did not HAVE to sell the past 5 years, they are now starting to be in a position to be able sell in many areas and not lose money.  Owning a house is more secure than owning stocks.  Why?  Because a house is something tangible - you can touch it, you can improve it, you can live in it and enjoy your life - or you can use it as a rental vehicle to create wealth for you - it doesn't just do ONE thing.   

One of the main questions we are asked is how to minimize risk when purchasing a home.  Here in the Greater Baton Rouge Real Estate market we have a long history in our Multiple List tools which allows us, as REALTORS,  to look at the history of a subdivision or an area.  Some areas did not lose any value during the past 5 years, some gained value, and others did lose.  When the Pat Wattam Team does a buyer consultation, we explore where you want to buy a home and why that area is important to you.  We can show you statistics on how that area has performed so that you can make a good buying decision.  I own a beach condo in Orange Beach, AL.  I bought it at the top of the market.  It is now worth less than half of what I paid for it.  But does that matter to me.  Well, of course it does!  But seriously, my note on the mortgage is what I agreed to.  I love going there to visit and it brings me great joy.  Nothing has changed for me, except that if I wanted to sell or refinance, the value has declined.  Owning a home, as I said, is more than just a financial investment.  It truly is a way of life - how you want to live everyday.  What it the ONE thing a house MUST have in order for you to purchase it?  I'll bet it has nothing to do with price per sq ft but more with how you want to live.  

So, here are my tips on buying a house:

1.  Choose an agent who has your best interests at heart.  That doesn't mean getting you a home at a fantastic price but someone who helps you find a home that fits in with your vision of your life in a home.

2.  Get fully approved prior to purchasing.  This can save you thousands of dollars during negotiation.  Every buyer typically gets 'pre-approved' but we all know that means nothing.  The lender has to actually verify your credit, your job, your assets, your tax returns - then you KNOW that your approval letter will mean something to a seller and they may be willing to give a little more knowing that your loan is definitely going to close.  CHOOSE you lender carefully.  You are much better off working with a local institution who will see you as a persona and help you through the process.  We know lots of very reliable lenders and we're happy to share their names with you.  Just give us a call.

3.  When picking out a house, if you only plan to be in it in a couple of years, you need to buy what is traditional for the area.  Don't buy the largest house or smallest house in the subdivision, don't buy one that has a different style than the others - all this will help you maintain your equity.  If you plan to stay 10 or rmore years, buy whatever you want!

4.  When you find a home and you are ready to make an offer, make a serious offer with a serious deposit. Show the seller that you have money and that you are ready to go.  Make the seller an attractive offer with a strong approval letter and see if you can get them to accept!

5.  Have the home inspected by a licensed professional inspector.  They can find things that your dad, or brother, uncle, or cousin may or may not be able to find.  And remember, a home inspection is not a laundry list to the seller to make the home just like a brand new one; rather, it is to address issues that you could not see with your eye - cracked heat exchangers, bad roof, broken rafter, termites, etc.

6.  Plan ahead for the move and start getting ready by boxing things in each room, clearly labeled.  If you are making a local move and hiring local movers, they charge by the house.  Plan ahead of time on where you want them to place your furniture.  There is nothing worse than letting the clock keep ticking and you try to decide where they should unload the boxes or the furniture!

7.  ENJOY your new home!

I am sure that many of you have some other suggestions for buyers.  Please make the comments here to share with everybody!

Baton Rouge Symphony Orchestra this Thursday Feb. 21st!

by Pat Wattam

 

Clear your calendars this Thursday evening. You won’t want to miss the Baton Rouge Symphony Orchestra playing the works of Webern, Beethoven and Mozart.

Pat will be there, so should you!

The program includes:

Webern - Symphony (Opus 21)

Beethoven - Symphony No. 8

     Timothy Muffet, Music Director

Mozart - Requiem

    Featuring the Baton Rouge Symphony Chorus 

    David Shaler, Chorus Master

Staging a Home to SELL

by Pat Wattam

I know that pictures say it better than words so I am going to show you an example of a house I sold with before and after photos.  The house had been on the Market for a while and did not sell.  I was hired to come in and make it happen - get the house sold.  It was a beautiful house, well cared for and very cheery with a lot of yellow walls with blue accent colors in pillows and fabrics.  But, as I explained to the seller, when you are selling, your house has to appeal to a lot of different people with different color pallets of their furniture and belongings.  We went with a warmer neutral color - the blues still popped but now it appeals to a broader population.

Please note how we had the seller remove quite a few items from these book cases and regroup them in a more interesting manner.  Looks much better, don't you think?

After changing the walls colors, the house sold almost immediately.  Another thing we did to make the house more attractive from the outside was to change the angle we shot of the front of the house - making sure we had a pretty day - even though it was winter - the shadows from the tree in the front yard show some depth and makes the traditional ranch view a little more interesting.

 

I hope these visuals give you an idea on how you can neutralize your house and yet still keep it charming and interesting to a buyer.  One of the things the Pat Wattam Team offers our sellers is help in deciding what to do to the house to maximize the appeal to a buyer.  We also offer a variety of videos to help you prepare to sell.  Call us today!

Ready for the Spring Real Estate Market?

by Pat Wattam

AS we leave the dreary days of winter, flowers start blooming, grass turn green, and as the weather gets warmer our thoughts turn to summer when the kids are out of school. There is a reason we have the majority of real estate closings in the summer - it's when children are out of school and moving is easier! For you sellers to get ready to capitalize on this, there are 3 main things you need to do to get your house ready for the spring Market.

1. Have the home pre-inspected.  You want a professional to look at your house objectively. All of us live with little quirky things in our house, but the next buyer doesn't want your problems.  The main areas to concentrate on include the air and heat, foundation, roof, and mechanicals including plumbing and appliances.  It's better to find out the issues before you negotiate a price with a buyer and THEN they have a home inspection and you now have to spend thousands of dollars on things that should have been taken care of earlier! I have seen this more often than not!  Once this is complete you can move on to the more fun items!

2.  Next, time to de-clutter and de-personalize the house.   Remember, you don't need to show the buyers all your special, personal 'stuff'. You want them to be able to visualize themselves and their stuff in your home.  Be brutal. Get rid of all that stuff!  Once I had a decorator at my home tell me that I didn't really need to display ALL the little knick knacks I bought on vacations!  In fact, in staging we call anything smaller than a bowling ball 'house dandruff'!!!! I have a LOT of dandruff in my home!!!  So that special group of collections you have - whether it's snow village or all those family photos - all of that needs to be put away.  Counter tops need to be cleared off, 90% of the stuff in the bookshelves needs to be boxed up and put away. And those closets! If yours looks like mine, then box it up, move it to climate controlled storage until it's time to bring it to the new house.  Once you have de-cluttered and cleaned take a photo of each room with your cell phone.  Take a hard look. This is how your house will look on the internet.  Does it still look cluttered?  Do you need to remove some more furniture, take more things off the wall?  If not, move on to the next, really fun step!

3.  Now it's time to stage the house from outside to in. The outside has to be inviting to lure a buyer inside. Fresh mulch and flowers can make the front of the house fresh - as will power washing or freshening up the paint with current colors (Please, no mauve, pink, blue, etc).   Then, with the help of a stager or professional decorator you can make decisions on color.  I have beautiful red walls in part of my house but my house isn't for sale!  No weird or bight colors. You can't go wrong with warm neutral wall colors.  You just have one shot a hooking a buyer so make sure that everything is ready before going on the market.  Your house needs to be prettier than the competition.  The neutral colors will help the buyer see their own furniture and decoration in the house and generate an offer for you!  You want to make the buyer feel compelled to make an offer before they let it slip away!  And give yourself a time frame and a budget to get the house ready.

The Pat Wattam Team is here to help you make your dreams come true.   Let us come take a look at your house with you and give you some tips and suggestions. We can show you what the other homes for sale look like so that you can decide how much of the house needs to be redone in order to sell.  Give us a call and take advantage of the spring market!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Difference Between a Realtor® and a Real Estate Agent

by Pat Wattam

 

Often people refer to a REALTOR® and a real estate agent as the same thing. This is a common mistake. REALTOR® is a trademark designation for someone who is a member of the National Association of REALTORS®. Members of NAR can include property managers, brokers, appraisers, developers, and real estate professionals all of which can be a REALTOR®. Although both real estate agents and REALTORS® are licensed to sell real estate and are both held to the same legal standards, what sets REALTORS® apart are the Realtor Code of Ethics. The Code of Ethics is a pledge by REALTORS® to show trustworthy conduct during the transaction process.

NAR’s Code of Ethics is has 17 articles that require the REALTOR® to conduct business with the highest level of integrity and professionalism.  Working with a REALTOR® insures your best interest will be looked out. All REALTORS® are required to complete the Code of Ethics Training every for four years.

REALTORS® Code of Ethics - Pledge of Performance and Service

-Duties to Clients and Customers

Article 1: REALTORS® protect and promote their clients’ interest while treating all parties honestly.

Article 2: REALTORS® refrain from exaggeration, misrepresentation, or concealment of pertinent facts related to property or transactions.

Article 3: REALTORS® cooperate with other real estate professionals to advance their clients’ best interests.

Article 4: When buying or selling on their own account or for their families or firms,

REALTORS® make their true position or interest known.

Article 5: REALTORS® do not provide professional services where they have any present or

contemplated interest in property without disclosing that interest to all affected parties.

Article 6: REALTORS® disclose any fee or financial benefit they may receive from recommending related real estate products or services.

Article 7: REALTORS® receive compensation from one party, except where they make full

disclosure and receive informed consent from their client.

Article 8: REALTORS® keep entrusted funds of clients and customers in a separate escrow account.

Article 9: REALTORS® make sure that contract details are spelled out in writing and that parties receive copies.

-Duties to the Public

Article 10: REALTORS® give equal professional service to all clients and customers irrespective of race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status, or national origin

Article 11: REALTORS® are knowledgeable and competent in the fields of practice in which

they engage or they get assistance from a knowledgeable professional, or disclose any

lack of expertise to their client.

Article 12: REALTORS® paint a true picture in their advertising and in other public representations.

Article 13: REALTORS® do not engage in the unauthorized practice of law.

Article 14: REALTORS® willingly participate in ethics investigations and enforcement actions.

-Duties to REALTORS®

Article 15: REALTORS® make only truthful, objective comments about other real estate professionals.

Article 16: Respect the exclusive representation or exclusive brokerage relationship agreements

that other REALTORS® have with their clients.

Article 17: REALTORS® arbitrate financial disagreements with other REALTORS®

and with their clients.

[Source: The National Board of Realtors®]

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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