Real Estate Information Archive


Displaying blog entries 1-10 of 14

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 to Make Your House Sell!!!

by Pat Wattam

Sellers always want to know what they have to do to make their home sell.  First off, real  estate is very local.  What works for Baton Rouge Real Estate might not work for Los Angeles real estate.  Our Market was very hot last spring and early summer but has cooled off significantly.  As I have mentioned before, the homes that flooded that are being rehabbed and flipped are gorgeous.  Most have been converted to more open floor plans, and everything is new - flooring, cabinets, counters, lights, etc.  It's very hard for a home that did not flood to compete with these unless the buyer is dead set against purchasing a home that flooded once in it's entire history.  But if the buyer has a choice between a beautiful flooded home and and updated home that did not flood, which one do you think they will select?

So here are my observations if you want to make your house sell:

1.  Roof - buyer and their insurer want a roof that has good life left it in and that it is in good condition.  Sometimes a few repairs are all that's necessary.  A roof near the end of it's life is a turn off for a buyer.  They will move on to another house.

2.  HVAC - again, the buyer is going to want a new unit if yours is at the end of it's life, even if it is in good working condition.  They know it's going to go out at some time.  You can always put a Home Warranty on it, especially if you have it serviced and it's shown to be in good working condition.  BTW, adding freon every so often is not GOOD working condition.  Let's face it.  Most of us live with small issues with our homes all the time.  But when it comes time to sell, the buyer doesn't want your small issues.  They want things to work properly and they don't want to be facing any additional expense, especially the first year they own the house.

3.  Wallpaper is really a matter of personal taste and those big cabbage roses on wallpaper from the 80's do nothing for young people today.  Wallpaper has to go.  Paint a neutral color but not white.

4.  Speaking of color, a little paint will go a long way to update a house.  Get a decorator to help you select what's current.  Make your house look it's best.

5.  No WALL OF FAME (hall with all those family photos) and DECLUTTER.  This means to depersonalize the house (don't take down ALL your family photos but don't have them in the buyers face either) and make the house as sparce as possible so the buyer can visualize their 'stuff' in your house.  Take a photo of a room with your phone camera.  Most people shop on their phone so look at the photo you took and see how cluttered a room looks or what is the first thing you see.  If the first thing you see is beautiful furniture, then that does not sell the house.  You are selling the 'purpose' of a room such as - is the bedroom large enough for a bed and whatever.  

6.  Furniture.  Yes, your old outdated furniture can affect the price you get for the house and can affect it selling at all.  The young person looking at your house will think it is really old if you have your 30 year old worn furniture.  Try to update it.  Sometimes the right throw pillow can do the trick.  Or the right bed covering.

7.  Curb appeal.  You have to get the buyer to want to see inside the house so the outside needs to be inviting.  Fresh landscaping can really make a house 'pop'.

8.  Outdoor kitchens are the rage these days along with deep covered backporches, expanded patios and pergolas.  If you don't have this, then set your backyard up with some patio furniture you will like at your next house and an outdoor grill of somekind.  Make the backyard inviting where people can see themselves enjoying their friends and family.

9.  Updated kitchens - especially countertops and appliances.

10.  Sparkling clean and good smell throughout.  Nothing like the smell of fresh paint and carpet.

11.  Speaking of carpet - I know you don't want to change the carpet because the next buyer might not like it.  They won't like you old stained carpet either.  Unless you have small children or pets, change the carpet.  If you do have small children and pets, then get a sample of the carpet you are going to change it to and leave it for the buyer to see.

12.  No bugs in the light fixtures!!  No dust on the fan blades.  Pay attention to the AC register vents - make sure there is no mold or mildew.  AND the intake register should be really clean plus a new filter.

13.  What makes your house special?  Each house has something very unique or cool that will make it memorable to the buyer.  Make your house STANDOUT from the comeptition!

14.  Price it to sell.  If you want a higher price, just show us the 3 houses the appraiser will have to use to justify the price.

15.  Seller the right REALTOR!


Want more tips?  Just look through the blog at  or give us a call at the Pat Wattam Team at RE/MAX First.  225-298-6900!!

The Right Marketing will Make My House Sell, Won't It?

by Pat Wattam

How many times have I met with a seller whose listing (of their home for sale) has expired with their current REALTOR and  when I ask why they (the seller) think their house did not sell, they typically say that their REALTOR did not do enough marketing.  And, sometimes that is the case.  One of the big things we bring to the table is our ability to Market the house to more people than an average person can, so that more people know about the house and you have the best opportunity to find the right buyer.  But when I also ask the seller how many showings they have had over the past 6 months and their answer is 30 then I know the house has been marketed properly.  Then my question is, 'why didn't any of those people make an offer on the house?  What kind of feedback did you receive?"  And then there is the typical response; "my agent didn't advertise it enough".   I already know at this point that PRICE is the issue.  Location and Price will attract a buyer.  PRICE and CONDITION will sell the house.

People always want to find someone else to blame for things not going their way.  Sometimes you have to ask yourself if you REALLY want to sell and are you ready to do what it takes to make that happen.  I have some clients who don't have the financial means to do the updates or their mortgage balance is too high and they don't have the cash available to pay the shortfall.  I also have other clients in the exact same position and they really want to make the house sell, so they borrow the money so they can move ahead with their life.  Other people don't have that option and just have to wait out the market or save up the money.  Life is short so if selling a house gets you to the next phase in your life, don't let anything stop you.  MAKE IT HAPPEN!!!

Is My House Ready For It's Closeup? -In Baton Rouge

by Pat Wattam

One of the first questions my sellers ask in the greater Baton Rouge Real Estate Market is "Is My Home Ready For Pictures"?  Here's a quick tip so that you know if your home is ready or not.  Remember, the marjority of buyers use their smart phones to look at houses.  That means, on a small screen, your house needs to look inviting.  Take a photo of each room with your cell phone camera and what jumps out at you?  You will quickly see how cluttered the house looks - even after you have removed most of the clutter!  What's the first thing you notice - BE HONEST!  Can you see the purpose of the room - or is all I can see in the guest bedroom is your furniture?  The buyers need to see how big the room is.  Are all your collectibles taking up the room?  The buyer doesn't want to see your but wants to be able to visualize theirs.  What about the color - is it something that would appeal to most people?  

I think if you are honest with yourself you will see what needs to be removed and changed to make the home inviting.  And by the way, if you have a beautiful outside, be sure not to block the view from the window!  If you have a nice big patio but not furniture, borrow some, rent some, buy something used - stage this area to make it inviting.  

Call on any of us at the Pat Wattam Team anytime and we'll be happy to look at your house and give you tips on getting it ready for us to sell!

5 Things To Make Your House Sell Faster - Baton Rouge

by Pat Wattam

Here are the 5 things you can do to make your home sell faster and for more money:


1.  Kitchens and bathrooms sell homes.  Make sure both your kitchen and your bathrooms are as up-to-date as your budget will allow.  If you only have a small budget, this pays big dividends when selling.


2.  Paint freshens up a home in amazing ways.  It can make a worn, live-in home look almost brand new.  Repainting your rooms will do wonders to making prospects love your home.


3.  Make sure your carpets are completely clean and stain-free ... or replace them with new ones.  If you have hard wood floors, make sure they look dynamite.


4.  Fix everything.  Prospects notice the smallest things, and it's usually the small things that kill a sale.  Leave nothing to chance:  replace all burned out bulbs, screw in all handles and knobs, repair cracks in tiles or in your driveway, etc.


5.  Get rid of the clutter.  Prospects want a big, spacious home to put their stuff.  So get rid of "stuff" in your house so the rooms look bigger and more spacious.

Unsure of where to start? I have a set of free videos available for you to watch.  Or give us a call at the Pat Wattam Team and we'll help you sort out what needs to be done and in what order!

Why Didn't They Buy My House - Baton Rouge

by Pat Wattam

Why didn't they by my house?  This is a common lament of many sellers who are getting lots of showings on their home but no one's making an offer.  How disheartening that can be when you are taking the time to make your home spotless and sparkling clean.  You may had made some updates throughout the house but the buyers still say your house needs updating.

The first question I have myself when I see this happening with one of my Listings is : Are there any homes pending in the sellers price range, area, and sq ft.   If the answer is yes, then my job is to take a look at those homes and see what they had that my sellers' house doesn't have. If those homes have the slab granite in the kitchen and the bathrooms, fresh paint, and new carpet AND their list price on the their house is the same or lower than yours, that's why they sold and not you did not.   

If the homes that are pending our floor pricing your house then that's the issue.  But what if no homes are pending that are similar to your house,  what do you do then?   It depends on the time of the year.  There is some seasons that are just very slow in general such as when school gets out or when school starts back up or during the holidays.

But the real answer is - if your home is getting  many showings and you have no offers something has to change. When I have between 10 and 15 buyers come to see a home the house should have an offer on it. If you're getting no offers,  including lowball offers, then you have priced yourself out of the Market or your condition does not support your price.  Make a change and make the house sell!

Your REALTOR is  your best guide to help you determine what needs to be done to get your house sold.   Many sellers don't want to believe that price and condition are that important.  They think with the right marketing we can drive in the buyers and one will make an offer. Part of that is true.  Our marketing does drive in the buyers but marketing cannot make a buyer want to buy your house.  Once they see the house, the house and the price have to sell it.  

So, if your house is getting lots of showings and no offers, update the condition or lower the price! Check out our videos on the subject then give us a call!   

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!  

5 Steps To Closing a House

by Pat Wattam

I have simplied the closing process to 5 steps - each one must be met before a house can go to closing.  As a Buyer, you can see why sellers are so nervous and dont' want to give occupancy until after the house closes.  Take a look.

1.  Purchase agreement - all parties have agreed to a price.  Pretty cut and dried.

2.  Inspection:  house must pass inspection with buyer and seller agreeing on any repairs.  This is the first time the sale can potentially fall through.  If the buyer waits until the end of the inspection period or asks for a long inspeciton period, the house is off the Market for this time.  On a typical 10 day inspection, if the seller gets the reponse on day 10, then they havea 3 days to respond to the request, and the buyer then has another 3 days to respond, we are 16 days into the contract - and it can fall apart then.  

3.  Appraisal - many buyers are waiting until the inspeciton is completed before ordering the appraisal (which, by the way, is not the intent of the contract - appraisal should be ordered at loan application).  An appraisal typically takes 2 weeks.  Now we are at 30 days!!!

4.  Buyer Approval - many times the buyer doesn't get approval until the day of closing, or finds out the day before closing that their closing will be bumbed for a couple of weeks because the lender is bogged down, appraisal not in, buyer has to clear up some items.  And if the seller has packed up expecting to close on time......

5.  CLOSING!  Yea!  Sort of.  If the lender decides that day to pull this file and re verify with the buyer's employer that the buyer still has a job, the closing can be delayed - especially if the person they need to verify with is on vacation.

So, just be aware of all of these steps in the process!!!  It explains why so many people get frustrated.  A good REALTOR and a good LENDER can help move these issues along so that none of the parties are inconvenienced.


Some Tips to help:

As a seller - get your home PRE-INSPECTED!!! At the least, have the HVAC system cleaned and serviced.  Have a roofer check out the roof for hail damage - especially with all these storms.

As a buyer - get PRE-APPROVED!  Address any issues up front so that you can make an offer as a strong buyer!  Comes in handy when you get into a multiple offer situation!!!

Now, we have happy home buyers and sellers and a smooth transaction ahead!

After the Closing, What to Do?

by Pat Wattam

You've closed on the house, depleted some of your savings so what do you do next?  Try these tips to build your money back up.

1.  Don't Splurge!  It's tempting to buy all kinds of new stuff for the house, but only spend what you have budgeted for it.  Make a list of what you want to do, then as you rebuild your savings, you know what you will want to purchase next!

2.  Rebuild your emergency savings!  This is more important than redecorating!  This should be your first priority.  If you dipped into your reserves to buy the house, then you need to build it back up as quickly as possible to offset any unexpected expenses.

3.  Automate your payments.  Late payments are now even more damaging than ever before.  Automating them insures that your payments are timely and that helps your credit score!

4.  Keep good records.  You'll need receipts and other documents at tax time.

5.  If you home value drops, don't forget to appeal your tax rate.  You can sign up for automated monthly updates on your general location with Market Snapshot.

Using these steps will help get your homeownership off on the right foot.

If you have any questions, or need further information, please contact me, Debbie Morvant, 225-252-0425.

Make the Most Out of Open House

by Pat Wattam

Top 5 Ways to Maximize Your Open House

If your home is currently on the Market, you may be considering whether or not to work with your real estate agent to host an open house. You may have heard that open houses are ineffective or "old-fashioned" in today's world of online marketing.  Open houses do not work on every house, in fact, we know statistically that very few homes actually sell from having an open house. BUT, an open house can create some buzz for your house - if you do it right!

As most REALTORS know first-hand, it takes a combination of different marketing strategies to sell your home quickly and for the best possible price. While online marketing and mobile technology are certainly critical parts of the equation, an open house can have a tremendous impact on a successful sale -- when done correctly, that is. Here are our Top 5 tactics for a successful open house. Make sure your agent is incorporating all — or at least some — of these strategies for your home's open house:

  1. Staging well in advance - Don't bother having an open house if your home is not properly staged both inside and outside. Now is the time to work with a professional landscaper because curb appeal will never be more important -- prospective buyers won't bother coming in if they don't like what they see from the outside.
  2. Proper advertising - These days, people are so inundated by life and media that unless your open house is promoted far and wide — and frequently — they will never even know about. Your agent should be: advertising in newspapers; using social media to promote your open house; networking with other agents in the area to make them aware; circulating direct mail to neighbors and nearby communities; and personally inviting key prospects.
  3. Enlist the neighbors - Start polling your neighbors on what they like best about your neighborhood: the schools, the convenience, the community services, the people, etc. Compile this into a handout for your agent to distribute at your open house. After all, what better testimonial could you ask for than the next-door neighbor?
  4. Consider a theme - Some of our fellow members in the Top 5 Network have hosted some unbelievably creative open houses. Consider inviting local restaurants to set up food stations so visitors can experience a "taste" of the community; ask a local antiques shop to stage the home with their showcase items; invite a local gallery to create an art exhibit throughout the home; or highlight something of interest about your home. One Top 5 member, for example, listed the home of an antique car collector and put all the owner’s cars on display and invited car enthusiasts.
  5. Have the right materials on hand - Your open house will be for naught if you don't have the proper materials on hand, such as: a guest directory that asks for names and e-mails (find a creative incentive for guests to leave their e-mail addresses, such as entry into a drawing for a local restaurant gift certificate); professionally done photo brochures of your home or even a DVD of a video tour; payment and financing information.

Be sure to ask your agent how he or she intends to follow up with open house visitors -- this is the most important factor of all. Without a quick and effective follow-up system in place, you could very well pass over a potential buyer.

Displaying blog entries 1-10 of 14




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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