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Fun Camps in Baton Rouge

by Pat Wattam

Starting Monday 6/11/2016 there are a number of cool camps and classes starting in Baton Rouge:
1. Kid's Orchestra Summer Camp Session 1. 8 am-5 pm. M-F at Episcopal High School at 3200 Woodland Ridge Blvd. With a concert at the end of each week. $200/wk. If you miss this week, perhaps you can participate the following. call 225-922-4656 or visit www.kidsorchestra.org for more info.

2. Baton Rouge Ballet Theater Summer Dance Intensive. 9 am-4 p.m. M-F at Dancers' Workshop , 10745 Linkwood Court. Ages 11 an dup. $365 Call 225-766-8379

3. Father's Day Make and Take craft at 10 am at the River Center Library, 120 St Louis St. Kids age 3-11 can make dad a unique card.

4. Tango Classes for beginners and intermediate level. 6:30 p.m. at the Manship Theatre, 100 Lafayette St.

There you go! Have a fun week!

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

Fears of Home Buyers in Baton Rouge

by Pat Wattam

Many people are afraid to jump into the housing Market due to their fears.  As  REALTORS, we want to address your fears up front so that we can see if there are ways to manage them or over come them.  That is one of the reasons that a good REALTOR will do a Buyer Consultation with you before showing you houses.  We need to know what your concerns are so we can help you determine if home ownership is for you.  Here is a list of some fears we have encountered over the years at the Pat Wattam TeamBAton:

1.  Fear of Maintenance Costs:  This is a concern for anyone buying a house - whether you are a first time home buyer or a move up buyer.  If you have been a renter for a long time and are used to your management company handling all repairs then one of the things you need to understand from day one is now all those expenses are yours.  You need to put money away every month into a special account that you only use for home maintenance.  Another way to ease into home ownership is to own a Condo where the exterior maintenace is covered by your Home Owner Association.  But in my opinion, the best thing you can to is make sure you get a Home Owners Warranty for your new home.  These typically cover mechanical issues such as air, heat, and built-in appliances, but also some wiring and plumbing.  Each company has different offering so check them out.  Many times a seller will offer one or you can ask for it when you make an offer on their house.  One of the biggest expenses in owning a home is replacing a roof.  Because of the weather we have had since 2008 you can expect the home to have had their roof replaced at some time since then!  As a buyer, one of your costs in purchasing a home is paying for a home inspection.  This is some of the best money you can expect to spend.  The inspector will let you know if the house has any serious issues and you can then ask the seller to fix them (just remember, a home inspection request for repairs isn't going to turn an older house into a new house) and they usually let you know if there are future maintence items that you should save up for.

2.  Loss of Value:  This only comes into play when you want to move.  We own a beach condo in Alabama that is worth a little more than half of what we paid for it.  Doesn't matter.  I don't intend to sell the property.  But what if I HAD to sell?  I have some money stashed away that would covere the difference between what I owe and what I could sell it for.  And as we have found out in 2008, sometimes your mortgage company will work with you.  We can't control the economy, the world situation, terrorism, unemployment, etc.  The main thing is to buy wisely.  If you buy a typical home, in a neighborhood that historically has sold well in all markets, in a price range that is pretty average, then you have hedged your bets for any downturn.  If you don't plan to stay in the area for a long time then be very careful when purchasing.  

 3. Loss of Deposit:  Louisiana is not an Ernest Money State but a Specific Performance State.  The Purchase Agreement spells out how a buyer gets their deposit back such as: A.  Not Able to Obtain Financing  B.  House doesn't appraise and seller does not agree to reduce price to appraised value  C.  During inspection Period.  However, it does not allow for the buyer to change their mind, do something to prevent the from qualifying (remember, you will have a letter from your lender when you make your offer so there is proof that you did something that made you no longer qualify).  The Specific Performance in Louisiana says that if you default the seller can sue you to complete the sale or 10% of the value.  You would also be exposed to pay real estate commissions, etc.  Entering into a purchase agreement is a legal document.  Be very prepared to perform.

4.  Being Unable To Afford Your Mortgage Payment:  First, don't even think about buying a house until you have spoken to a lender - preferably a lender that has been recommended to you by someone you trust.  Determine upfront the cost of buying a house and what kind of payments to expect.  Then all I can say about this is to be sure you are ready to be a home owner.  One of the requirements by lenders is that you have residual money - meaning you have enough money saved to make several months of house payments.  You need to always have that in a special account that you only tap into when you are desperate. Those days of the crazy mortgages where the house note goes up every year or has a balloon payment are pretty much gone.  I tell couples to try to qualify for a house on just one income.  That really comes into play in case one of them cannot work.   The loss of a job is one of the biggest reasons why people can no longer afford their homes.  Most people wait too long to put their home up for sale when this happens, thinking things will turn around - and usually they are right.  But how many months do you wait? 3 months would be my limit.    Remember, if you are conservative in what you qualify for, if something happens you should be in good shape and still able to afford your home.

5.  Buyer's Remorse:  You are afraid you will buy the wrong house, or a better house is just around the corner.  I can tell you that a 'better' house is always just around the corner.  New homes come on the market everyday.  You will be paralysed if you think like this.  Know what the 'must haves' are for you in a home.  Make your wish list too.  Then you will love whatever home you purchase.  I tell people that anyone can make any house their home - just by bringing in your personal touches.  Try to find a home that meets your Must Haves and a few of your wish list too - then you will be happy!  Be sure to share that list with your REALTOR and they can tell you if it is realistic in our Baton Rouge Real Estate Market.  If they tell you that what you want is impossible for the price you are willing to pay, then you have two choices.  Save up more money to buy the kind of home you want or delete things from your list until you find homes in your price range.  

Homebuying should be a fun and exciting time in your life.  We want to be part of that process with you!  Start with this video on 8 Steps to Buying a Home.  Then don't hesitate to call us at the Pat Wattam Team anytime for a free consultation.  225-978-6688.

Why Do I Have To Reduce My Price? Baton Rouge

by Pat Wattam

Why do I have to lower the list price of my house?

First off, as a home seller, you do not HAVE to lower the price of your house but you may need to in order to find a buyer!  When REALTORS list a house there are many factors that are considered.  We rely most heavily on the most recent sales around the house - homes in the same subdivision, same size, and same amenities.  Many times a lot of weight is placed of the living area square footage.  Other times the seller insists that their house is better than any others that have closed so their house should be priced higher.   And sometimes the house has more amenities than the others in the subdivision so we want to give those updates some extra value.  However, in the end you just make a judgement call together based on the information you have.  BUT, by the time you have had 10-15 showings and you don't have an offer, then price becomes the issue.  Remember, Price and Location attracts buyers but once they see the house it is all about Price and Condition.   So, if you have showings and no offers you have to do something - or you will continue to get the same results!  You have to change the price to find the sweet spot where the buyers for YOUR house are shopping. 

The next possible issue is that the real estate Market starts declining and the price you started with is no longer in line with the most recent sales. That's why you have to look at the market monthly to see where the market is headed.  You want to jump ahead of a downward trend instead of chasing it down and always being behind. 

If the condition of the property is not as updated as the homes that are closing, then that might be the best option - spend a few dollars updating and make it sell! 

Keeping things the same with price and/or condition with generate the same results!  So, what's your best course of action?  Give me a call and together we will look at the market and determine the best price to start with - and if the market rejects it - then we move on to a different price to REPOSITION your house in the market.   That's how you get your house sold!  Call me anytime for a free consultation.

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!

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!!

Fine Art in Baton Rouge!

by Pat Wattam

Fine Art is Abundant in Baton Rouge and today, April 9, 2016, you will have the opportunity to view lots of art and purchase some too!  

From 4-7 p.m. the Baton Rouge Art League sponsors their spring show and reception at the Burden Rural Life Museum off of Essen Lane.  Probably 100 pieces of fine art for you to view!

Then tonight from 5-8 p.m. N the Art Space holds their spring open house which inclues the grand opening for Biletnikoff Gallery.  These are at the Settlement at Bocage on Jefferson Hwy.  This open house is in 4 buildings with over 35 artists in all different mediums.  A great place to see a lot of different art and meet the artists!

Should I Downsize Now in Baton Rouge

by Pat Wattam

How do you know when it's time to Down Size in Baton Rouge?  And what exactly is 'Downsizing'? 

It's an interesting phenomon to see.  I have clients in their 40's wanting to downsize already!  Typically, we think of downsizing when the kids are all gone and we don't need as large a home as before.  Sometimes people like the idea of buying a smaller house so they can save time cleaning and maintaining - and it's nice to sell the big house and stash away some cash!  But what I am seeing in the Greater Baton Rouge Real Estate Market is mainly downsizing the yard!  Yes, people still want a big house for the kids to come back home to and someday bring some grandchildren home too, but they just don't want the yard maintenance.  That's why subdivisions such at The Settlement at Willow Grove have become so popular.  They have all the amenities the buyers want, plus a neighborhood pool and park - lots of green space they don't have to maintain.

To recap - it's time to downsize when you no longer need as large a home as you currently have, or when you want to downsize the lawn maintenance!  If it's time for you to make that move but don't know where to start, give me a call and we'll help you find the right home and explain how to go about selling your house at the same time!!

How To Win in a Multiple Offer Situation - Baton Rouge

by Pat Wattam

What do you do, as a buyer, when you find yourself competing with another buyer for the same house?  This is a multiple offer situation.  Some buyers get scared and back out of the bidding process.  That's fine if there are plenty of other houses out there that meet your needs.  But when if the inventory is low?  Or what if this is the perfect home for you?  How can you stack the cards in your favor?  

First, you need a REALLY good REALTOR to help you.  In Baton Rouge I know that as a listing agent, one of the first things I look at is when I am presenting multiple offers to my seller is who is the agent writing the offer.  Does that agent have a track record of closing properties or do their deals typically fall through.  2nd, I look at who the lender is.  Is it a lender I have had good success with or is it a lender who gives a pre-qual letter that means nothing and I have experienced deals that fell through.  And speaking of the pre-qualifying letter, what does it say?  Has the lender verified your credit?  Your income?  Your cash available for closing?  How strong is your letter?  Has the lender run your file through desktop underwriting?  These things are important when you are in a multiple offer situation.   A strong letter from your lender can make all the difference!  

Now, the other parts of the purchase agreement that are pretty obvious are - what's your offer?  Go in with your best offer.  Don't be afraid to go above list price and, KEY WORDS, don't make the offer subject to appraisal.  That means, if the house doesn't appraised for your offer, you have to pay the difference out of pocket.  I had one the other day where the buyer had to pay $7,000 over list because the backup offer we had was willing to pay $10K over list price!!

Another place you can tighten up a purchase agreement to make a seller look favorable on you would be a short time for the inspection process.  It would be smart to call your inspector and get on his schedule before you have an acceptance so that you can have something attractive to offer a seller.

There are a few other things we have up our sleeves to help you win an offer.  Like I said, when in this situation, you need a good REALTOR to advise you!!  Call us any time!  

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

225-772-3662 

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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