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Baton Rouge Louisiana is a Wonderful Place To Call Home

by Pat Wattam

In light of the events one week ago today I wanted to take a moment to talk about this wonderful place we call home, Baton Rouge, Louisiana.   The senseless attack and murder of our policeman and deputies have brought this commuity together, instead of tearing it apart.  I had just sold a home in the subdivision, and across the street, from police office Matthew Gerald.  The first memorial service to him was on his street, his life celebrated by his neighbors.   In this modest neighborhood neighbors gathered together to surround his family with love and support.  

The location where the ambush occurred has become a shrine to the fallen heroes with flowers and memorials piling up.  I stopped by today and met 3 formally dressed Idaho State Police.  People were coming up to them, hugging them, and speaking with them.  I had hoped to meet a chaplin from New Jersey that had been there all week to meet and pray with people.  Unfortunately, he was not there today.

The outpouring of love for our fallen heroes can be seen as each funeral procession proceeds down the main highways lined with thousands of mourners - some who stood in the heat and then the pouring rain for hours waiting for the procession to come by so they could honor our fallen protectors.  Hundreds of officers from across the United States also came to pay their respects.

You would think this was a small town as this is what would have happened in my home town of Ozark, AR - population 3500.  But this is a huge city and people all have the same common goal - to show the solidarity of our city, to back our first responders.  We bury one more tomorrow and start the healing process. The community has come together to financially support the families as well as the one officer we have who is still struggling for his life.  What a lovely show of support.  You should see the streets lined in blue, LSU Stadium lit in blue, etc.

                       

 

  

Baton Rouge Area Home Buyers Beware!

by Debbie Hanna

10 COMMANDMENTS that HOME BUYERS MUST FOLLOW!

I hope the following items seem like common sense. But with all of the excitement surrounding your pending home purchase, you may sometimes forget the do’s and don’ts when you are “under contract”. Please don’t be like some recent Buyers, who saw their home loan turned down, all because they bought new furniture a week before closing. They couldn’t resist the great “deal” they were getting at the store. Unfortunately, that purchase changed their debt-to-income ratio & the buyers no longer qualified to purchase the home !!!!!

LESSON?  Once you get pre-approved for a loan and you are under contract, don’t do ANYTHING that might affect your credit !!!!

1. Thou shalt NOT change jobs, become self-employed or quit your job.

2. Thou shalt NOT buy a car, truck or van (or you may be living in it)!

3. Thou shalt NOT use credit cards excessively or let your accounts fall behind.

4. Thou shalt NOT spend the money you have set aside for closing.

5. Thou shalt NOT omit debts or liabilities from your loan application.

6. Thou shalt NOT buy furniture, appliances, etc.

7. Thou shalt NOT originate any inquiries into your credit.

8. Thou shalt NOT make large deposits without first checking with your loan officer.

9. Thou shalt NOT change bank accounts.

10. Thou shalt NOT co-sign a loan for anyone.

Once you are “under contract”, remember that your credit MUST NOT change or be affected in ANY WAY before signing the paperwork at closing and getting possession of your new home. Lenders will not only look into your credit when you first get pre-approved, they may check it a few more times while you are under contract.  If you want to buy new furniture, new appliances, new car, or even change jobs, the time to do any of that is after you have closed on your home!!

IF YOU ARE NOT SURE IF SOMETHING COULD AFFECT YOUR CREDIT, DON'T GUESS! CONTACT YOUR LENDER!

 

Debbie Hanna

RE/Max First

225-772-3662

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.

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!

Steps in Selling a House - Baton Rouge

by Pat Wattam

It came to my attention a couple of times this week that the sellers don't really understand the steps in the home selling process and I suspect it is because we all assume that a home seller is more knowledable than a first time buyer because they have been through the process.  And yet, if you only sell a house every 10 years or so, you really don't remember the steps.  So, here is my simplified version of what happens!

1.  Select your REALTOR

2.  With REALTORS suggestions, stage and price the house

3.  REALTOR markets house

4.  Buyers come with their REALTOR to see the house

5.  Seller receives feedback from those showings and makes changes based on comments, if necessary

6.  Sellers accepts offer on house - When this happens, the house is considered PENDING and is basically off the Market

7. Buyer makes loan application and orders inspection and lender SHOULD ORDER APPRAISAL

8.  Home inspection takes place

9.  All parties agree to repairs on home inspection and sale moves forward.  If no agreement, then sale falls through and house goes back on the market.  (On a 10 day inspection this whole process can take up to 16 days)

10.  Appraisal should take place (If you let you lender wait until AFTER the inspection process to ORDER the appraisal, the appraisal can delay your closing as it can take up to 2 weeks to get this done, especially in the summer)

11.  Final underwriting approval

12.  Closing docs avaiable 3 days prior to closing.

13.  Closing - this is where the buyer gets key and the seller gets their money

14.  Move out

It is so crucial to have a good REALTOR and a good LOCAL lender to make sure that things stay on schedule.  

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.

Many people in the Baton Rouge Real Estate Market ask me why can't they just sell their house in it's current condition - just sell it 'as is'.  You know, they have lived for years with the house in this condition and it worked fine for them.

Let me explain a couple of terms.  To sell a house in 'as is' condition in Baton Rouge real estate  typically refers to the buyer accepting the house AT CLOSING in the condition it is in, giving up their recourse against sellers for problems the seller did NOT know about.  That is customary and typical here.  What it is NOT typical is selling the house with NO REPAIRS at all - which is what most sellers think of when they think of AS IS!  

When a seller sells a house in AS IS condition, even if the condition is excellent, it sends a red flag to a buyer and they will generally pay much less for a home like this.  We will see this mainly in estate sales where the heirs are not going to come in and redo a house just to sell it.  A seller can save thousands of dollars by first of all, putting the home in good condition, and then selling it but not selling it without any repairs.  Want to know how that makes you money as a seller?  Just give me a call and I'll show you how!  I also have several videos available for you to view - all are under 18 minutes long.  

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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