Greater Baton Rouge Real Estate News

Aug. 26, 2021

Baton Rouge Market Update August 2021

Everybody is wondering what is going on with our real estate market so here is my Baton Rouge Market Update as of August 2021!  As you are probably aware, we have limited inventory in some price ranges which have caused the prices on those homes to increase.  The homes that sell the fastest are those that are totally updated and many times we will receive multiple offers on these homes.  

Here's a video explaining the Market as of August 2021

Looking for a home? Search Here!

As always, if you have questions about the market, selling property or buying property, just give us a call at 225-298-6900!

 

July 22, 2021

10 Financial Tips For Homebuyers

Making plans to purchase a new home or even to make a move up requires financial planning. Here are some tips:

1. Make a plan. Create a straightforward budget for the year and monitor it monthly or weekly. Each month, review your progress and revise where necessary. Make a date with yourself or your significant other each month and make it mandatory.  Come prepared with updated records.

2. Use cash. This is probably the single biggest idea to start creating wealth!  Move away from credit cards and avoid going into debt, especially for daily, routine and ongoing purchases. Write checks or use automatic bill payments for bills, and withdraw enough cash or use a debit card for other expenses. Track withdrawals diligently to avoid going into overdraft. It's hard to do but after a year you will find it very easy, and your credit cards will no longer be a drain!

3. Pay bills on time. This sounds like a 'no brainer' but in this economic climate you need as perfect credit as you can to buy a home, and just being late one time on your rent or mortgage will keep you from buying another house. The most important element of good credit is paying bills on time. Keep bills in one location and check that spot weekly. Set up online payments or write due dates on a calendar to stay on track.

4. Save and then Save some more!  Your goal should be to save 10% or more of your income, but starting with even a few dollars a week is a great way to develop the habit of saving. You can always add more to your savings at any time. For example, after you pay off a bill, add the amount you would normally pay toward the bill to your savings instead. If you get a raise, bonus, cash gift or other one-time monetary receipt, save it—or at least a portion of it. Skip eating out one day a week. 

5. Practice preventative health. Case in point: my brother knew something was wrong with his foot but just kept putting off going to the doctor - until he got really sick and was running a fever.  Come out to find, he had diabetes and ended up with a toe amputated - just because he refused to take the time to go to a doctor.  Money cannot buy good health, but in today’s world of skyrocketing medical and insurance costs, getting sick can cost you. Exercise and eat well, get enough sleep and, in these stressful times, take time to pursue relaxation practices, whether that means spiritual practices, meditation, a workout or coffee with a friend.

6. Think twice before spending. Find creative ways to cut back on expenses—take care of household maintenance, barter services or goods with friends or neighbors, and fix up old belongings rather than rushing to buy new ones. Some statistics say that people buy 30% more when shopping with a larger cart, so even a small change like avoiding the store cart when possible could save you money. Once you go to an all cash plan this is easier to control.

7. Participate in a retirement plan. Many believe now is a great time to invest for the long term. Especially if your employer matches contributions, contribute to a business retirement plan. If you are on your own for retirement savings, invest in an Individual IRA, Roth IRA and/or plan for self-employed persons.

8. Have the right insurance. Insurance protects against expenses you cannot cover yourself. Be sure you have life insurance to protect your family, auto insurance to cover your car, health insurance to provide for at least major medical incidents, and home or renter's insurance to protect possessions from theft or disaster. Remember, the insurance company doesn't want to pay you so you have to be very persistent when you are due - but don't use it unless you absolutely have to - your rates will probably be raised if you use it a lot.

9. Pay taxes on time. File your income tax return on or before April 15, with any tax due, to avoid penalties. At the same time, adjust withholding if needed to account for changes in income. That step might be especially important this year for those with lost or reduced work. If your refund was large, have fewer taxes withheld so you are not giving an interest-free loan to the government.

10. Get help if you need it. If you lose your job, file for unemployment quickly. If you are worried that you will be unable to pay rent, mortgage or other obligations, talk to your bank or a reputable debt resolution company to learn about your options.

Investing in a home one of the best ways to secure your financial well being. If you would like more information, e-mail me, and please forward these sound financial tips to your family and friends.

Leslie Green, (225) 202-7935, leslie@patwattam.com

Leslie Green head shotFive Star Team logo

July 15, 2021

Are Home Owner Associations An Important Criteria In Home Buying?

Recently at an HOA meeting in Baton Rouge, I was asked if having a strong Home Owners Association was a good thing or just one MORE thing to have to deal with. The answer is definitely YES!

 

HOA image

 

A strong home owners association will help to retain home values because a standard of maintenance is required. Yards can't become junked up, and in some cases, the kind of landscaping you put in has specific requirements that will make the neighborhood have a certain quality, which again, helps home values! One of the problems for most home owners is that they really don't see the value of paying the monthly fees required to have a strong HOA. You can't appreciate it until your subdivision has to hire an attorney to make a home owner take care of the property or prevent them from building an 'eye sore' in the back yard, which again, would affect the home values down the road!

 

Leslie Green, (225) 202-7935, leslie@patwattam.com

Leslie Green head shotFive Star Team logo

July 8, 2021

Make Your House Stand Out!?

Where do you start when it's time to sell your house? At the front, of course! A house with excellent curb appeal will bring in the buyers AND, if you have really beautiful landscaping, it can help bring in a higher offer. "Why?" you may ask.  Think about it, it's like the wrapping on a package. If you have two packages with the exact same gift inside but one with pretty wrapping and one with no wrapping, which one do you PERCEIVE to be more valuable?  It's the same with houses. 

Landscaping

Tidy flower beds with fresh mulch and some colorful plants can make a drab time of year - well, prettier! Prune the trees, edge the walks and you are ready to go. Oh, don't forget the backyard, too. It is pretty strange when you see a house with a beautifully landscaped front yard and then nothing in the back!

Now, if you have done your job well, and you have people wanting to view your home for sale, you better make sure the inside looks as good as the outside!  More about this later!

Leslie Green (225) 202-7935 - leslie@patwattam.com

Leslie Green head shotFive Star Team

May 20, 2021

What to expect: Home Inspection

Once your house has gone under contract, the buyer has the right to schedule a home inspection within the inspection period in the state of Louisiana. Buyers have the right to also have specific inspections during the inspection period, most often they might ask a licensed roofer or licensed HVAC contractor to inspect those things. The home inspection usually occurs within 7 business days after the contract is accepted.

 

Inspection

 

The buyer will schedule the inspection and his/her Realtor will confirm the day/time work for us. Most inspectors do not work evenings or weekends so usually the inspection takes place during a week day. It’s important that the home inspection occur quickly.

 

Sellers should not be present for the home inspection. Instead, it’s a time for the buyer and the buyer’s Realtor to be alone in the property with the inspector. For condos, plan to be gone for 2 hours. For single family homes, the inspection can take 3 – 4 hours depending on the size of the home. The home should look just like it did for the showings with beds made, dishes put away, pets out of the home, etc. 

 

After the inspection, the inspector will send the report to the buyer, usually within 24 hours of the inspection. Then the buyer will need to review the report and decide if there are any deficiencies for which they wish to request repairs.

 

The buyer’s Realtor will send the official Inspection and Due Diligence Response and Contingency Removal with any deficiencies and repairs the buyer is requesting. At this point the seller has a few options: agree to remedy all the items requested, agree to remedy some but not all, offer money in lieu of repairs, or simply decline to remedy any items. 

 

Repairs

 

If major problems are found during the inspection, the buyer does have the right to walk away from the deal and the deposit will be returned to him/her. Otherwise, if we’re able to come to an agreement, each party signs that they accept the other’s response and elect to proceed to the act of sale

 

Any agreed upon repairs need to be completed prior to the final walk through which occurs within 5 days before closing and receipts need to be provided to the buyer showing the required work was completed and paid for in full prior to the walk through.

 

Leslie Green (225) 202-7935 Leslie@PatWattam.com

Leslie GreenThe Pat Wattam Five Star Team

May 13, 2021

4 Drainage Related Issues

Y’all, we have to talk! Baton Rouge, Louisiana gets 63 inches of rain, on average, per year. The US average is 38 inches of rain per year. With all that rain comes the issue of DRAINAGE!

Water

Most homeowners and, unfortunately, many builders do not fully understand proper drainage. The key to good drainage is simple: water flows downhill. When it collects in a large area or flows a great distance, it has the potential to create significant problems.

Soggy, poorly graded ground is certain doom for lawns, shrubs and plants. Poorly drained runoff from roofs can flow inside your home through foundational cracks or leaks, where it can warp floorboards and turn finished rooms into mildewy messes. If it’s a raised house (pier & beam) water can collect underneath the house and cause the floors to warp and have is the perfect environment for mold & mildew!

Prospective home buyers should check out four drainage-related issues before signing on the dotted line:

1-Walk the perimeter of the house. Make sure to check and see if the dirt adjacent to the foundation slopes away from the house. If the grading of the property slopes toward the home, this could lead to damp or wet crawl spaces, structural damage and toxic mold.

2-Find the rain gutter downspouts. Do they drain directly to the ground? Has the water created a low spot for water to collect adjacent to the home? If so, there’s a good chance there is water intrusion somewhere. Take a look at the water flow through the downspouts to make sure the water moves freely away from the home, especially the foundation. Further, make sure gutter downspouts are carrying water at least 10 feet away from the home. Gutters are also a source of wood rot along the fascia boards if they are clogged with leaves.

3-Look for cracks in the exterior walls and foundation. If a quarter can slip into a crack of the foundation, it is a sign that there are settling issues. Primary culprits of major cracks are gutters and downspouts that have failed to deliver runoff water far enough away from the foundation.

4-When buying new, ask about the drainage plan. Most problems with new homes relate to drainage issues. If you are buying a newly-constructed home, make sure you understand how a property drains before you buy. If possible, during a heavy rain, visit the site and observe how the water flows. You’ll then be able to discuss any drainage concerns with the builder and get his plan for dealing with potential problems.

An important part of buying any home is investigating its potential problems and hazards. Overlooking potential drainage trouble spots could very well mean hundreds if not thousands of dollars in unexpected repairs later on.

Leslie Green (225) 202-7935 Leslie@PatWattam.com

Leslie GreenThe Pat Wattam Five Star Team logo

May 11, 2021

Tips on Buying During This Crazy Real Estate Market

So as a home buyer you are probably already aware that we have a crazy real estate market.  Limited inventory of homes for sale, homes selling for over list price, homes with multiple offers the first few hours, sellers unwilling to assist with closing costs, etc, etc, etc.  What's a home buyer to do?  

First, let me assure you that there are plenty of homes for sale in the Greater Baton Rouge Real Estate Market.  However you might have to make a compromise on what you want.  Let's start there.  Many home buyers want a 'turn key' home, meaning they don't have to do anything to the home but move in.  Guess what?  There are sellers out there who don't want to do anything to their home to get it ready for market except for the normal things like fixing damaged wood, or replacing a roof or AC as needed.  But these same sellers aren't willing to change out their counter tops, of the color of their wall, and you sure don't won't them changing out their carpet especially if they have pets - wouldn't you rather put in brand new carpet that no one else has been on?  The homes that are in TOO CONDITION in CERTAIN price ranges do sell very fast, and possibly with multiple offers that will drive up the price.  But these other sellers that are normal homes that need your PERSONAL touch are willing to NEGOTIATE with you.  Perhaps they will pay your closing costs and you can use that money to update the house.  Remember, unless you are moving walls, all the cosmetic things can be done as you can afford them.  Don't let the color of the walls, flooring, or types of counter tops discourage you from buying a home.  Just NEGOTIATE to get what you want!

But if you have to have the perfect house, then you need to arm yourself with with everything you can to put yourself in the very best light.  It's hard to win if you are competing with a cash offer.  It's hard to win if you are asking for closing costs so make sure before you start making offers you have the money to pay your own closing costs.  Another way to win an offer is to tighten up or forego the inspection.  Before you make an offer, have your REALTOR call the inspector you want to use and see how quickly they can do the inspection.  Here's a great tip that no one is thinking about it seems.  Find out the sellers time frame for moving.  Perhaps if you let them stay 30 or 60 days after closing YOU will win the offer.  And one more thing.  Those pre-qual letters your lender gives you means nothing to me UNLESS it specifically states the lender has run your file through desktop underwriting, that they have looked at your credit score and debt to income ratio AND have verified that you do have the cash necessary to close.  Using these tips will give you the best shot at winning in a multiple offer situation.  Of course, if you are working with our Five Star Team, we will guide you!  

Watch this Video as Pat Wattam Explains how all this works!

 

May 7, 2021

Find the Right Home for Your Next Stage of Life

 

Find the Right Home for Your Next Stage of Life

Imagine the first place you lived as a young adult. Now imagine trying to fit your life today into that space. Not pretty, right?

For most of us, our housing needs are cyclical.1 A newly independent adult can find freedom and flexibility in even a tiny apartment. That same space, to a growing family, would feel stifling. For empty nesters, a large home with several unused bedrooms can become impractical to heat and clean. It’s no surprise that life transitions often trigger a home purchase.

While your home-buying journey may not look like your neighbor’s or friend’s, broad trends can help you understand what to keep in mind as you house hunt. No one wants to regret their home purchase, and taking the time now to think about exactly what you need can save a lot of heartache later.

The Newly Married or Partnered Couple

The financial and legal commitment of marriage has provided a springboard to homeownership for centuries, though these days more couples are buying homes without exchanging rings. In the last few decades, changing demographics have shifted the median age of first marriage and buying a first home into the late 20s and early 30s, planting most newly married or partnered buyers firmly in the millennial generation.2,3 But no matter your age, there are some key factors that you should consider as you enter into your first home purchase together.

Affordability is Key

There’s no doubt about it—with high student loan debt and two recessions in the rearview mirror, many millennials feel that the deck is stacked against them when it comes to homeownership. And it’s not just millennials—Americans of all ages are facing both financial challenges and a tough housing market. But stepping onto the property ladder can be more doable than many realize, especially in today’s low mortgage rate environment.

While many buyers are holding out for their dream home, embracing the concept of a starter home can open a lot of doors.4 In fact, that’s the route that most first-time homebuyers take—the average home purchase for a 20-something is about 1,600 square feet. While the average size increases to around 1,900 square feet for buyers in their 30s, it’s not until buyers reach their 40s that the average size passes 2,000 square feet.5

Chosen carefully, a starter home can be a great investment as well as a launchpad for your life together. If you focus on buying a home you can afford now with strong potential for appreciation, you can build equity alongside your savings, positioning you to trade up to a larger home in the future if your needs change.6

Taking Advantage of Low Mortgage Rates

Mortgage rates are historically low, making now the perfect time to purchase your first home together. A lower interest rate can save you tens of thousands of dollars over the life of your loan, which can significantly increase the quality of home you can get for your money.

 

But what if both halves of a couple don’t have good credit? You may still have options. First, boosting a credit score can be easier than you think—simply paying your credit cards down below 30% of your limit can go a long way. But if that’s not enough to boost your score, you might consider taking out the mortgage in only the better-scoring partner’s name. The downside is that applying for a mortgage with only one income will reduce your qualification amount. And if you take that route, make sure you understand the legal and financial implications for both parties should the relationship end.

Commute and Lifestyle Considerations

Whether you’ve lived in a rental together for years or are sharing a home for the first time, you know that living together involves some compromises. But there are certain home features that can make life easier in the future if you identify them now. The number of bathrooms, availability of closet space, and even things like kitchen layout can make a big difference in your day-to-day life and relationship.

Your home’s location will also have a significant impact on your quality of life, so consider it carefully. What will commuting look like for each of you? And if you have different interests or hobbies—say, museums vs. hiking—you’ll need to find a community that meets both your needs. Need some help identifying the ideal location that fits within your budget? We can match you with some great neighborhoods that offer the perfect mix of amenities and affordability.

The Growing Family

Having kids changes things—fast. With a couple of rowdy preteens and maybe some pets in the mix, that 1,600 square foot home that felt palatial to two adults suddenly becomes a lot more cramped. Whether you’ve just had your first child or are getting to the point where your kids can’t comfortably share a bedroom any longer, there’s plenty to consider when you’re ready to size up to a home that will fit your growing family.

The Importance of School Districts

For many parents, the desire to give their kids the best education—especially once they are in middle and high school— surpasses even their desire for more breathing room. In fact, 53% of buyers with children under 18 say that school districts are a major factor in their home buying decisions.7 Of course, better funded (and often higher ranking) schools correspond to higher home prices. However, when push comes to shove, many buyers with kids prefer to sacrifice a bit of space to find a home in their desired location.

But when you’re moving to a new community, it can be tough to figure out what the local schools are actually like—and online ratings don't tell the whole story. That’s why talking to a local real estate agent can be a gamechanger. We don’t just work in this community; we know it inside and out.

Lifestyle Considerations

For many families, living space is a key priority. Once you have teenagers who want space to hang out with their friends, a finished basement or a rec room can be a huge bonus (and can help you protect some quieter living space for yourself).

A good layout can also make family life a lot easier. For example, an open plan is invaluable if you want to cook dinner while keeping an eye on your young kids playing in the living room. And if you think that you might expand your family further in the future, be sure that the home you purchase has enough bedrooms and bathrooms to accommodate that comfortably.

Functionality

Try to think about how each room will fit into your day-to-day. Are you anticipating keeping the house stocked to feed hungry teenagers? A pantry might rise to the top of the list. Dreading the loads of laundry that come with both infants and older kids (especially if they play sports)? The task can be much more bearable in a well-designed laundry room. Imagine a typical day or week of chores in the house to identify which features will have the biggest impact.

Chances are, you won’t find every nice-to-have in one home, which is why identifying the must-haves can be such a boon to the decision-making process. We can help you assess your options and give you a sense of what is realistic within your budget.

The Empty Nesters

When we talk about empty nesters, we usually think about downsizing. With kids out of the house, extra bedrooms and living space can quickly become more trouble than they’re worth. While the average buyer under 55 trades up to a larger home, buyers over 55 are more likely to purchase a smaller or similarly sized but less expensive home. Even in the highest age groups, the majority of home purchases fall in the single-family category. According to research by the National Association of Realtors, by the time buyers reach their 70s, the median home size drops to 1,750 square feet.5 But there’s plenty for empty nesters to think about besides square footage.

Maintenance and Livability

What factors are driving your decision to move? Identifying those early in the process can help you narrow down your search. For example, do you want to have space for a garden, or would you prefer to avoid dealing with lawn care altogether? What about home maintenance? In many cases, a newer home will require less maintenance than an older one and a smaller one will take less time to clean. You may also want to consider townhomes, condos, or other living situations that don’t require quite as much upkeep.

Lifestyle Considerations

Many empty nesters have retired or are nearing retirement age. This could be your chance to finally pursue hobbies and passions that were just too hard to squeeze into a 9-5. If you’re ready to move, consider how you’d like to spend your days and seek out a home that will help make that dream a reality. For some, that might mean living near a golf course or a beach. For others, being able to walk downtown for a nice dinner out is the priority. And with more time to spend as you wish, proximity to a supportive community of friends and family is priceless.

Ability to Age in Place

Let’s face it—we can’t escape aging. If you’re looking for a home to retire in, accessibility should be front-of-mind.8 This may mean a single-story home or simply having adequate spaces on the first floor to rearrange as needed. While buying a home that you plan to renovate from the start is a viable option, being forced into renovations (because of the realities of aging) a few years down the road could seriously dig into your nest egg. Location matters, too—if your family will be providing support, are they close by? Can you easily reach necessities like grocery stores and healthcare? While it’s tempting to put it out of our minds, a few careful considerations now can make staying in your home long-term much more feasible.

Finding the Right Home for Right Now

One thing is for sure—life never stands still. And your housing needs won’t, either. In the United States, the median duration of homeownership hovers around 13 years.9 That means many of us will cycle through a few very different homes as we move through different life stages. At each milestone, a careful assessment of your housing options will ensure that you are well-positioned to embrace all the changes to come.

Whatever stage you’re embarking on next, we’re here to help. Our insight into local neighborhoods, prices, and housing stock will help you hone in on exactly where you want to live and what kind of home is right for you. We’ve worked with home buyers in every stage of life, so we know exactly what questions you need to ask. Buying a home—whether it’s your first or your fifth—is a big decision, but we’re here to support you every step of the way.

We support the Fair Housing Act and equal opportunity housing.

 

Sources:

1.      Freddie Mac -
http://www.freddiemac.com/blog/homeownership/20190104_homebuying_lifecycle.page

2.      PRB -
https://www.prb.org/usdata/indicator/marriage-age-women/snapshot/

3.      Experian -
https://www.experian.com/blogs/ask-experian/research/average-age-to-buy-a-house/#:~:text=Buying%20a%20first%20home%20will,by%20real%20estate%20marketplace%20Zillow

4.      Nerdwallet -
https://www.nerdwallet.com/article/mortgages/starter-home-forever-home

5.      NAR 2020 Home Buyers and Sellers Generational Trends Report -
https://cdn.nar.realtor/sites/default/files/documents/2020-generational-trends-report-03-05-2020.pdf

6.      Investopedia -
https://www.investopedia.com/personal-finance/what-look-starter-home/

7.      NAR 2019 Moving With Kids
https://www.nar.realtor/research-and-statistics/research-reports/moving-with-kids

8.      Kaiser Health News -
https://khn.org/news/baby-boomers-aging-aging-in-place-retrofit-homes/

9.      National Association of Realtors -
https://www.nar.realtor/blogs/economists-outlook/how-long-do-homeowners-stay-in-their-homes#:~:text=As%20of%202018%2C%20the%20median,varies%20from%20area%20to%20area

Posted in Homebuyers
May 6, 2021

Getting Your Home Ready To Sell

Spring is finally here - as evidenced by the storms we’ve had recently! If you are thinking about selling your home, this is the perfect time to prepare the outside of your house. This is an area a lot of sellers skimp on but if you don't have the curb appeal to attract the buyers then they will never see what a great house you have inside! Even in our hot real estate market, buyer’s are looking for the most attractive homes. They will pass your house up if the outside isn't inviting.

Unless you have a green thumb, go to your local garden center and get advice on what flowers to buy - find some that bloom a lot and don't require a lot of maintenance!  Of course, this would be a good time to put in an inexpensive sprinkler system which would also make a good selling point. When choosing the flowers, you want to have enough to be noticed, but not so much that it looks like caring for them will be a lot of trouble to the new buyer! 

Gardening

Once you have the front looking inviting, remember, after the buyers look inside your home, one of the last places they look at is the back yard. I see so many people who have a beautiful front yard, then no landscaping in the back! That doesn't leave the kind of last impression you want! A easy way to dress up the back yard is to fill large pots with flowers. The plastic pots that look like clay are great, inexpensive. I tend to kill plants because I’m busy and forget to water them! When you have them in pots, you just throw out the old and put in some new ones (better pick inexpensive flowers if you are doing this!)!  Also, you might want to get ride of your old patio furniture and get the new stuff you will want for your new house - just get it now so that it helps make a great last impression on the buyers!

And, as always, if you need me to look at your house to help determine what needs to be done to get it ready for market, just give me a call!

Leslie Green (225) 202-7935

Leslie GreenThe Pat Wattam Five Star Team logo

April 29, 2021

Why Have A Professional Handle Your Home Inspection?

A lot of our clients have friends or family who have been home owners for quite some time or are in the repair industry for things in the house.  These are the people they want to help inspect their new home purchase - not only because they respect their opinion but also because it's FREE!  What's wrong with this?  

 

First, Louisiana Inspectors are licensed and there are specific things they are trained to inspect. Not only will they tell you what they find wrong with the house, but will give you tips on maintenance or things to keep you eyes on in the future.  No one is perfect, but an impartial 3rd party can help you make sure you aren't buying a lemon!  

 

Also, a licensed home inspector knows that the job you hire them is not to make this home into a new home again, but to alert you to items that need attention - then it's your job to determine which things need to be addressed in order for you to move forward with the sale. 

 

This is one of the most expensive purchases you will ever make.  Trust your home inspection to a licensed inspector so that you have the best chance of getting a total over all view.

 

And those of you, who, like us, have owned your house for several years, might want to have a home inspection done on your own house to see if there are items you should be aware of.  We recently had a structural engineer check out our house as I had seen some movement in the brick.  Well, what I thought was foundation issues were really termite issues - and I never saw the evidence - even though I look for that stuff all the time!  The professional recognized it immediately. Guess that's what they are the professionals!

 

If you never need a list of inspectors to call on, just let us know. We keep a list handy - just for you!

 

Leslie Green - (225) 202-7935 - Leslie@PatWattam.com

Leslie GreenPat Wattam Five Star Team logo