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by Pat Wattam


Here is the Real Estate Market Report for East Baton Rouge Parish for the month of October 2017.  

This snapshot gives you an idea about how the real estate market is doing as we

head into the holiday season.  Want more info?  Just email me at pat@patwattam.com!

 

East Baton Rouge Parish October 2017 Market Report

South_East_Baton_Rouge - Available vs Pending Listings
South_East_Baton_Rouge - Sold vs Expired Listings
South_East_Baton_Rouge - Sold vs Active DOM
South_East_Baton_Rouge - Median Sold Prices (last 6 mos.)
South_East_Baton_Rouge - Median Sold DOM (last 6 mos.)

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Fall Fun at the LSU Ag Center at Bruden

by Pat Wattam

Fall is finally in the air and one of the fun places to go in Baton Rouge this time of year is the LSU Ag Center at Burden on Essen Lane.  Walking paths and the museum are always available, but this time of year is the most fun with the CORN MAZE.  Corn Maze Saturdays at the LSU AgCenter Botanic Gardens, Oct 10, 17 and 24, 10 a.m.-6 p.m. feature hay mountain climb, corn maze, hayride, giant slingshot and plenty of concessions to enjoy. Visitors may purchase corn dogs, popcorn and drinks from Burden Horticulture Society volunteers. Admission $7 per person, including concession tickets; children 3 and under free.

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!

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 http://www.BatonRougeRealEstate.com/blog  or give us a call at the Pat Wattam Team at RE/MAX First.  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.  

Real Estate Market Report through July 2017

by Pat Wattam

Our real estate Market reports are in for July and the first half of the year.

The East Baton Rouge Parish report concludes that although the days on market have gotten longer, the absorption rate is 2.8 months - which means we only have a supply of homes for that length of time.  Of course, that number is always moving and is shortest in our summer months.  For the full report click here:  https://www.realmarketreports.com/widgetcode/LA05005_HTMLCode.zip

For Ascension Parish, for the past 6 months, we see the same absorption rate, which is typical of that area most summers.  For the full report on Ascension click here:  

http://www.realmarketreports.com/reports/LA05005_Ascension_Parish.pdf
The one common thing we are seeing across the board is that whether a house flooded or not, the buyers want the updated homes so they don't have to spend their cash on updates or repairing items.  I have a lot of sellers who want to sell their house 'as is' with no repairs but they take a pretty big hit on the sales price as buyers always think it costs much more to do updates or repairs that it actually has to - plus, they want more off just because they have the hassel of dealing with it.
If you can't decide what you should do, give us a call and we'll be happy to look at your house and give you our best advice so that you can make an educated decision!!  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!!!

Do ALL Sellers WIN in a Sellers Market?

by Pat Wattam

Much of the country is experiencing a shortage of available Listings in their real estate Market - a shortage of homes for the buyers to choose from - and each home may receive multiple offers!  I discussed in my last blog how a buyer can structure their offer to WIN in a multiple offer situation.  Remember. all real estate is local so I can only really give advice for my area in the Greater Baton Rouge and surrounding parishes.

So, to the answer to the question - Do All Sellers Win in a Sellers Market in the Baton Rouge Real Estate area - the short answer is NO!  

Don't be too surprised. As I stated earlier, real estate is hyper local.  There are price ranges where the inventory is very low and I am receiving offers on these homes in the first 2 days - multiple offers.  But all of these homes were  in Tip Top condition, staged well, no clutter.  I have seen homes in these same price ranges languish for weeks because they were really not ready for the market and the market responded with a 'NO" to that house.  

I have homes in higher price ranges where there are plenty of homes and the buyers can be very picky as they have ample inventory to select from.  These homes cannot afford to not be in PERFECT condition.  Yes, the buyer wants new carpet and NO, they do not want an allowance.  They want to see and smell that new carpet when they walk in the door.  They don't want WALL PAPER!  You can price your house lower to accomodate some updates but honestly, most buyers don't have the time, or extra cash, to do the updating the house has needed for years.  And due to the flood it is hard for them to even consider getting a contractor to help them.  Of course, there are always exceptions.  If you have dogs, then the buyer would rather you put in carpet after you have moved - and this is when an allowance would probably work!

When contemplating selling your home, talk with an expert first.  Someone who can guide you through the process.  Of course, I prefer if you call on us, the Pat Wattam Team at RE/MAX First!!  We'lre here to help!

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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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