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Stephanie Villani
REALTOR®, GRI, ABR, SRS
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Community Guides | 50 Posts
Home Tips | 6 Posts
November
23

7 Tips for Selling Your Home During the Holidays

Holiday Home Selling Tips

With the winter months quickly approaching, you may wonder if it's possible to sell your home during the holiday season. Selling a home during the holidays is possible and even has a few advantages over selling at other times of the year, including less competition from other properties and homebuyers that tend to be more serious about buying a home. Our real estate agents suggest following these tips when selling your home this holiday season. 

  1. Price Your Home Competitively
    Pricing your home appropriately is one of the most effective strategies for selling your home quickly around the holiday season. Instead of pricing your home high to "test the waters" and then having to reduce the price, start with a more competitive price. 
  1. Create a Video Tour of Your Home
    A busy calendar and less free time may mean that homebuyers are less likely to venture out and explore Lafayette homes for sale. Make sure that you take the time to create a thorough video tour of your home. This allows potential buyers to explore your home's spaces and features when it's convenient for their schedule.
  1. Embrace the Coziness of the Holiday Season
    See that your home feels like a cheery, inviting haven for homebuyers. Consider lighting a fire, playing soft music, and using staging to fashion spaces that appear intimate and homey on a brisk winter day. 
  1. Focus on Curb Appeal
    Maximize your home's curb appeal so that it creates a favorable first impression with homebuyers. If buyers are deciding whether to make time for exploring Lafayette open houses, a home that looks appealing from the exterior is more likely to attract their interest. Touch up any cracked or damaged paint, clean your gutters, remove dead vegetation, and rake up your leaves. Add a doormat, wreath, and potted plant to your entryway so that it looks welcoming. 
  1. Decorate with Classic Holiday Decor
    It's fine, and even encouraged, to decorate for the holidays, but you want your decor to appeal to as many homebuyers as possible. You also want to see that your decorations enhance your home's features. If you have a gorgeous arch or lovely fireplace mantle, garland is a terrific way to highlight these features. Setting up a Christmas tree is a fast, simple way to add holiday cheer to your home's living room. Stick with classic white lights and coordinating ornaments; keep overly personal decorations in storage, as they can make it difficult for prospective buyers to envision themselves in your home. 
  1. Have a Plan for Keeping Your Home Looking Its Best
    During the busy holiday season, keeping your home ready for impromptu showings can be a little tricky. This makes it essential to have a plan for quickly tidying up your home. Consider having a plastic storage container where you can stow personal items, like shoes, coats, homework, and personal electronics so that they're out of sight. Make it a point to vacuum and sweep your home daily so you aren't trying to squeeze in a marathon cleaning session before the showing. 
  1. Work with an Experienced Real Estate Agent
    An experienced real estate agent understands the nuances of selling a home during the holidays. They'll assist you with marketing your home so that you're more likely to attract serious homebuyers who are ready to find a property. 

Following a few simple tips will make it easier and less stressful to sell your home during the holidays. Ready to list your home? Contact us to get started!

    July
    20

    Your Guide to the Closing Process

    closing process tips

    Before you officially become a homeowner, the closing process is one of the last steps in the purchase process. Our real estate agents recommend that homebuyers understand what the closing process consists of so that they know what to expect. Here's what you need to know. 

    • Closing is When the Property Officially Becomes Your New Home
      Closing is the portion of the home purchasing process where ownership of the property transfers from the seller to the buyer. After checking out Baton Rouge homes for sale, you'll make an offer to the seller. While you'll likely include earnest money with your offer to purchase the home, the home isn't officially yours until you close on the property. It usually takes between four to six weeks to close on the purchase of a home, though the process can take longer if an issue arises. For example, if the property doesn't appraise for the necessary amount, this may slow the purchase down. Or, if the home inspection returns with a lot of issues, it may take time for the buyer and seller to resolve this problem. 
    • Your Closing Date is Included in Your Home Offer
      A property's closing date is included in the home offer that the buyer and seller ultimately agree to. It's customary for the buyer to propose the initial closing date, but the seller can propose a different closing date if desired. Some sellers may prefer a quick or prolonged period before they close on the home to better suit their own homebuying needs. During Baton Rouge open houses, home sellers may advertise their willingness to agree to a fast or extended closing period. 
    • You Need to Complete Certain Tasks to Close on a Home
      Before your closing date, you need to confirm that certain tasks have been completed. Your mortgage lender will require an appraisal to confirm that they can fund the mortgage for the home. If the property's appraisal falls short, you'll need to renegotiate the deal with the seller or potentially make a larger down payment. A home inspection is highly recommended to make sure that the home doesn't have any expensive problems. Your lender will require you to submit forms verifying your assets and income to approve and fund your home loan. You'll also need to purchase homeowner's insurance for the property. Before your closing date, you'll complete a final walkthrough to confirm that the property is in the expected condition before your actual closing appointment. If you notice any issue with the home, you'll need to let your real estate agent know immediately. 
    • Closing Requires a Lot of Paperwork
      There's a lot of paperwork required to purchase a home; you can expect to sign between 50 and 100 pages during your closing session. Take the time to go through each document so that you understand what you're signing and that the forms are consistent with what you're expecting. You'll also bring money to the closing appointment (usually in the form of a certified check or a wire transfer) to cover your down payment and closing costs. About three business days before your closing appointment, you'll receive a Closing Disclosure that details your closing costs and states who is paying for each item. 

    Ready to begin your home search? Contact us today to get started!

    June
    6

    National Homeownership Month: 5 Reasons to Celebrate Homeownership

    homeownership

    National Homeownership Month, which is recognized every year in June, is the perfect time to reflect on the meaning of owning a home and the benefits of this investment. Our real estate agents appreciate the value of homeownership, and we've put together 5 reasons to celebrate homeownership this June. Whether you're shopping for New Orleans homes for sale for the first time or are transitioning to a new home, here are a couple of the many reasons to celebrate homeownership.

    1. A Valuable Long-Term Investment
      For so many homeowners, owning a home is one of the most valuable financial investments that you can make in life. While not every home follows the same template, in many cases, a home is an asset that only increases in value over time. That's true because real estate in many markets tends to increase in value over time and also because you continue to build increased equity in your home as you pay down your mortgage. Add it all up, and it's no surprise that so many homeowners are happy with the investment that they've made in their home.

    2. The Freedom to Customize Your Living Space
      When you rent from a landlord or larger company, you typically have very few options for customizing your living space. Sure, you can hang new pictures or purchase new furniture, but making any substantial changes to your living space won't be allowed. Homeownership features no such drawbacks and allows you to unlock your creativity. Whether that means building a new addition to the home to accommodate a growing family, renovating your kitchen, customizing your yard, or just changing paint colors, it's great to have the freedom to customize your home.

    3. Simplifying Your Financial Planning
      For the vast majority of homeowners, owning a home means making a monthly mortgage payment. However, when your rate is locked in, your mortgage payment is the same every month, which makes it much easier to create a consistent budget and plan for your financial future. Compare that to renting a home or apartment, when rent payments can rise at the end of every lease term. Financial planning is simplified when you don't have to factor in the ever-present possibility of increased rent costs.

    4. A Hybrid Home and Workplace
      More than ever, employees in nearly every industry are working from home or working a hybrid schedule. When you own a home, it's so much easier to create a workspace where you can be productive and enjoy your working hours. If you've always dreamed of having your own dedicated office for working from home, homeownership helps you accomplish that goal.

    5. Create Memories That Last a Lifetime
      While the financial benefits of owning a home are important, they're far from the only factor. Owning a home means having a place where you can create the sort of memories that last a lifetime, from decorating a room for your first child to the many family dinners, social gatherings, and fun experiences that follow. Think of the home you grew up in and all of the memories that are tied to that specific place. For many of us, no place holds more personal or emotional significance than home.

    Find your next home at our New Orleans open houses, or get in touch with our team to learn all of the ways that we can help you sell your current home. Contact us to buy and sell homes throughout the New Orleans, LA area.

    March
    4

    Start Your Spring Cleaning With These Tips

    Spring Cleaning

    As winter begins to fade, ushering in the vibrant spring colors, you need to ensure your home is ready for the spring. Spring cleaning is a great way to refresh your home, and if you're planning on listing it soon, a thorough cleaning helps you get it ready for the market!

    Besides showing you Houma homes for sale, our real estate agents also compiled these tips to help you prepare for spring cleaning.

    • Declutter Your Home
      Before preparing to clean your home, declutter it to get rid of things around the house that you no longer use. Decluttering makes cleaning easy as the house will be more spacious. Besides making the home appear neat, decluttering also boosts your mental health. The process of removing belongings you no longer need can be liberating. 

      As you declutter, aim to get rid of items you have not used in the past six months. Sort your items in a put-away, trash, store, or giveaway category. You should declutter every sector of your house, including your wardrobe, kitchen, children's toy section, and bookshelf.


    • Shop for Cleaning Supplies
      Once you are left with essentials in your home after decluttering, it is time to buy cleaning supplies. Write down a list of the cleaning supplies you need like mops and sponges and go shopping. After buying them, remember to keep them organized and stored together.

      Opt for all-purpose cleaners to prevent stocking a ton of supplies.


    • Thoroughly Clean Your Home Room by Room
      The best way to deep clean your home is by cleaning room by room. You can create a cleaning checklist to make the cleaning process easier and more organized. Note down any areas or stains that need extra attention during cleaning. Focus more on areas of your home that were barely cleaned over the winter and prioritize them.

      If possible, clean everything in each room, including placemats, tablecloths, pillowcases, and rugs. Before tossing everything in the washing machine, read the labels. If it can't go in the washing machine, you can clean it by hand or shake it vigorously outside to get rid of dust. 


    • Empty and Clean Your Fridge
      Do you remember the last time you cleared your freezer and thoroughly cleaned it? If you can't, now is the right time. Remove all items from your freezer or fridge. 

      To properly clean your fridge, thaw all the ice in the freezer section and deep clean each compartment using warm water. Before returning items to the refrigerator, check their expiration dates and discard any expired items. As you put each item back, organize them in an easily accessible way.


    • Involve the Household and Adopt New Cleaning Habits
      With so much cleaning to do, you need all the help you can get. Everyone in the house, including children, can be great helpers. Identify the tasks to be done and assign chores.

    Would you like to relocate to Houma? Contact us today to view potential homes for you and your family.

    December
    30

    Selling Your Home in 2022? What You'll Need to Know

    2022 Real Estate

    The housing market has been, well, pretty up and down as of late. As such, if you are thinking of selling your home in 2022, you may not be sure what to expect. The good news is that real estate analysts are ahead of the game. They're already watching the trends, crunching the numbers, and letting us know what to expect in the coming year. Here are some key points our real estate agents feel will be useful for anyone thinking of selling a home in 2022.

    • The Market Should Rebalance
      In 2020, there was an increase in the number of homebuyers. With more people working from home than ever before, many homeowners chose to upgrade. Low mortgage rates helped perpetuate the boom, too. By 2021, demand outweighed supply, which drove housing prices up in many areas. The good news is that prices are finally beginning to stabilize. Most analysts are now predicting that the market will rebalance by 2022.

    • Some Growth Is Expected
      Real estate analysts use a value called the Freddie Mac House Price Index, or FMHPI, to indicate the inflation experienced in housing prices. For comparison, the FMHPI indicates that home prices increased by more than 11% in 2020. That growth has now slowed down. In 2022, the FHMPI is predicted to be around 7%. In other words, your home will continue to slowly increase in value throughout 2022, but at a slower rate than the past few years.

    • The Seller's Market Will Continue
      Despite slower growth and rebalancing of the market, 2022 is still expected to remain a seller's market. In other words, there are expected to be more home buyers than there will be homes for sale. This means that, as a seller, you have the upper hand when it comes to negotiations. You are less likely to have to replace a roof, change the plumbing, or make other major repairs to the home before selling than you would be in a buyer's market where sellers are desperate to find buyers.

    • Virtual Tactics Will Come Into Play
      These days, so many people are working remotely. Some are relocating to a new city but maintaining their job in a different city. People are also leaving jobs and changing jobs in record numbers. As such, you may have some out-of-town buyers interested in your home. Your real estate agent will therefore want to take plenty of video footage of the home. You'll want to be open to virtual open houses and similar events.

    • Potential for Multiple Offers
      Many Houma homes for sale have multiple offers within days. In a seller's market, you hold the power. You get to consider these multiple offers and choose the one that suits you best. A good real estate agent can help guide you in this process. 

    Contact us if you're looking for a seller's agent in the New Orleans or Houma area. We'll guide you through the intricate process of selling your home.

    December
    17

    How Our Team Can Help With Your 2022 Real Estate Goals

    2022 Louisiana

    If your 2022 plans include buying a home, our real estate agents know that working with an experienced agent will make a positive difference in your buying experience.

    Here are a few of the ways our team can help with your 2022 real estate goals. 

    • We'll Negotiate a Deal with Better Terms
      We'll negotiate with the seller to get the best possible terms for your new home. Our team knows when a home isn't priced fairly, and we'll advocate on your behalf for a better price. Price isn't the only detail of your purchase. Other items that need to be negotiated include your closing date, any contingencies for your deal, and what items remain with the home. Our real estate agents will work to secure the terms that you need. 
    • Our Agents Have Access to the MLS Listings
      The MLS is a comprehensive collection of homes for sale, regardless of what realtor or agency is handling the property. It's much more efficient to use MLS listings to search for Lafayette homes for sale than trying to monitor multiple real estate businesses for potential homes. Access to MLS listings can reduce the amount of time that it takes you to find your ideal home and provide early notifications about open houses, new listings, and price reductions.
    • Our Team Knows How to Make Tactful Requests
      There's a good chance that your home inspection report will include a few items that need repairs. Some sellers balk at doing any repairs, and it can be tricky trying to save the deal. Our agents know what repairs are important and which ones aren't necessarily worth losing the home over. We can make a tactful request for the seller to complete the repairs that are necessary for you to purchase the home. Or, if there's a disagreement about what repairs should be completed, we'll help you come to a resolution with the seller. 
    • We'll Work to Get Everything Done Before Your Closing Date
      For the deal to close, there are a few things that have to be done, like an appraisal and property inspection. There is a lot of paperwork going back and forth, and it's easy for a document to be misplaced by the various companies involved in your purchase. We know how to locate missing documents and what to do if something has to be replaced. We'll also assist with scheduling the necessary appointments for your closing to happen. Or, if a problem arises (such as an issue with the title search or the home not appraising for the needed amount), we have the experience to efficiently deal with these problems. We also know when a problem is a minor roadblock and when it's a potential dealbreaker.
    • We Know A Lot About Neighborhoods and Communities
      When you're purchasing a home, you're buying more than the structure. You're also buying the neighborhood and community where the home is located. Our agents have a lot of market knowledge about potential neighborhoods and communities. We'll help you locate a home in an area that's perfect for your lifestyle and preferences.

    Ready to start working on your 2022 goals? Contact us today!

    September
    27

    How to Prepare for an Open House

    Alexandria Open House

    When you list your home for sale, an open house is a traditional activity that boosts the exposure of your home. Before you set a date for your open house, there are some preparation tasks you should know about. Our real estate agents recommend the following tasks to help your home make a lasting impression during your open house.

    1. Clean and Declutter
      An open house is a fantastic opportunity to show off your home to potential buyers, but you only have one chance to make a stellar first impression. Make sure that you've thoroughly decluttered every inch of your home and deep cleaned every room. When you clean, clean in a circle to make sure you don't miss any spaces. You should also clean from the top of the room to the bottom to ensure you don't have to clean any areas more than once. Try to remove half of the things in your home, and store them off-sight in a storage unit or friend's garage. The less stuff you have in your home, the larger it will seem. It's also easier for buyers to take in a home's features when it isn't overwhelmed with too many things. On the day of your open house, stash any personal belongings (like shoes, pocketbooks, backpacks, and coats) out of sight. Vacuum or sweep the floors, and see that all the beds are made. Don't forget the outside spaces! Use your leaf blower to quickly rid your deck, porch, and driveway of dirt and leaves. 
    1. Accomplish Any Maintenance Tasks on Your To-Do List
      Perhaps you've been meaning to refresh your living room paint or fix that noisy faucet. Any repair or maintenance tasks should be completed before your open house. Check that all your lightbulbs work and that your heating and cooling system has a fresh, dust-free air filter. If buyers notice that routine maintenance tasks are past due, they may assume that you haven't properly cared for your home. This leads them to assume that the home needs work and can result in a lower offer price. 
    1. Have a Plan for Your Pets
      Even homebuyers that adore animals tend to view homes with pets as less appealing. Individuals with allergies or high standards for cleaning are even more likely to forgo a home with pets. When it's time for your open house, get your pets out of the house until it's over. You should also remove any obvious pet gear, like litterboxes, toys, beds, and food and water dishes. 
    1. Depersonalize Your Home
      It's hard for potential buyers to envision themselves in a home when personalized items decorate a space. Remove any pictures of your family and friends, and see that you grab any piles of homework or bills lying around.
    1. Embrace the Fresh Air
      Fresh air makes any space feel more inviting. If the weather permits, open the windows to freshen the air in your home. This helps remove odors and "stale" air in rooms that you don't frequently use. 

      Want more info about selling your home and listing it among the other Alexandria homes for sale? Contact us today!

      September
      17

      What to Ask When Interviewing Real Estate Agents

      Interview Real Estate Agents

      When you're listing your home for sale, you'll have your choice of many real estate agents to do business with. Before signing a contract, take the time to interview a few, so you understand exactly what they'll be doing to sell your home and to ensure you have a good rapport with them.
        
      Our real estate agents suggest asking the following questions when you're interviewing agents:

      • What's included in your services?  
        Real estate agents typically list your home on the MLS (Multiple Listing Service), complete with an accurate listing description and appealing photos. They should also help you price your home based on a comparative market analysis of similar homes in your area. 

      • How would you market my home?
        A real estate agent should be able to explain how your home will be marketed. How will photographs and videos of your home be handled? Will other marketing strategies, like direct mail, be used?

      • What steps will be taken to prepare your home for sale?
        You'll need to know what to do to prepare your home before it goes on the market, and a real estate agent's experience and expertise should be able to guide you. They may, for example, suggest improvements that will make your home more attractive to prospective buyers. If that's the case, the agent should be able to tell you what improvements are most popular with buyers in your area and which are likely to earn the highest return on your investment.

      • What type of experience do you have?
        Ideally, an agent will have experience in selling homes that are in the same neighborhood or area as yours. They should also have experience in selling the type of home you have, such as a starter home, home with acreage, or a historic home.

      • Can you help connect me with other professionals? 
        Selling your home often requires the help of professionals such as home inspectors and title companies. And if you're making repairs and improvements to your home, you may need recommendations for painters, plumbers, and other similar tradespeople. A real estate agent should have good relationships with these contacts and be able to recommend those who perform their jobs with honesty and skill.

      • What sets you apart from other agents?  
        Marketing your home is important, but an agent also needs to be able to successfully market themselves to you. Do they pride themselves on their experience or a successful track record? Are they particularly good at being available when you need them? They should be able to answer this question in a way that makes you want to do business with them.

      • How well do you know the area?
        Although agents who are new to the area can often do a great job, it's an extra advantage to have an agent who has lived around the area for a long time. That way, they'll understand the local market, know what's important to buyers in the area, be aware of all the amenities near your home, and more.  

      Contact us today to put your home on the market with other Lafayette homes for sale or to visit homes for sale in the area. Our agents pride themselves on knowing the local market and making your real estate transaction experience an easy and pleasant one. 

      August
      18

      7 Tips for Picking the Right Real Estate Agent

      Real Estate Agent Tips

      Choosing a real estate agent is an important part of ensuring your next real estate transaction is successful and as stress-free as possible. Before you consider buying or selling a home in the area, you want to make sure you find the right person to help you every step of the way. Our real estate agents suggest these 7 tips for finding the perfect fit.

      1. Ask for Recommendations
        The best place to start is to ask for recommendations from your friends, family, neighbors, and others you know personally. It's an easy way to launch your search and it's a good way to find local, trustworthy agents with a positive track record.

      2. Look for Local Specialists
        Especially if you are buying or selling in a hot neighborhood, it's important to look for an agent who specializes in your neighborhood. This agent will be knowledgeable of sales in your neighborhood, which for a seller means a better listing and pricing. For a buyer, it means they'll be able to alert you faster to new listings.

      3. Visit Open Houses in your Area
        One of the best ways to find an agent who specializes in your area is to visit an open house in the same neighborhood. Check listings of Lafayette homes for sale close to your home or in the neighborhood where you wish to move, and find out when their open houses will be. Dropping in during the open house will give you an opportunity to chat with the agent face-to-face, so you can get a feel for their approach, their experience with your neighborhood, and how well your personalities click.

      4. Check Reviews
        It can't be overlooked that online reviews are an excellent way to research an agent. Look for reviews that provide lots of detail and feedback about things like how effectively an agent markets a home, how skilled they are at negotiation, and how easy they are to get in touch with. 

      5. Interview Multiple Agents
        Every agent isn't going to be right for you, even if they were recommended by someone you know and trust. That's why it's important to interview a number of agents before signing with one. Meeting with agents takes a lot of time, though, so do your research first and narrow your list down to three or so agents to interview.

      6. Discuss Marketing Strategy
        One of the most important things you'll want to discuss with a potential agent when you interview them is their marketing strategy. Some agents might not want to do an open house, for example, while others don't give a lot of guidance for staging your home. Use this opportunity to ask about the agent's marketing strategies, discuss your communication preferences, ask about contract terms, and mention anything else you are hoping to get from this partnership.

      7. Trust Your Instincts
        If you find yourself particularly drawn to one agent, there's probably a good reason for it. Chemistry is an important consideration when choosing a real estate agent because you're more likely to work well with someone with whom you just click. If one agent appeals to you more than the others, go with your gut!

      We understand that choosing an agent is a big decision! To set up a time to chat with one of our agents, contact us today.

      August
      2

      What to Pay Attention to When Your Neighbors Sell Their Home

      Selling Your Home

      With the current rise in real estate prices, many homeowners are putting their homes on the market to take advantage of big profits. If you're considering the same thing, our real estate agents at Latter & Blum have professional expertise that can help you get a great return on your investment.

      If you're noticing a lot of New Orleans homes for sale in your area, you may be wondering if it's time to sell while sales prices are up, inventory is down, and interest rates are at an all-time low. Before following your neighbors' actions, it's important to do some research.

      Pay Attention to the Local Market

      Before you list your home for sale, you should research local market trends that may impact your listing price. Neighborhoods often take on personalities of their own by attracting more singles, young families, or retirees. Although listing prices may play a role in demographic trends, neighborhood attractions like transportation services, shopping malls, movie theaters, schools, and parks also play a role in attracting certain types of buyers.

      If for-sale signs are popping up in your neighborhood, take a closer look at the listings through online real estates sites or talk to a real estate agent for more information. By researching available properties online, you can investigate important information about the property:

      1. Scroll through the interior and exterior photos

      2. Compare the home's total square footage

      3. Check for home upgrades and amenities

      4. Check the age of the home

      5. Find out how long the home has been on the market

      Go to Open Houses

      If your neighbor is hosting an open house, take the time to stop by. As you tour the home, make mental notes of valuable upgrades such as new flooring; new plumbing and fixtures; new kitchen cabinets and appliances; bathroom whirlpools and soaking tubs; interior and exterior lighting; property landscaping; and home security systems. If your home doesn't have all of these amenities, you likely won't get the same price as your neighbor.

      If you still want to list your home, you may need to drop your price or work out discounts for the buyer, rather than sinking money into home upgrades and repairs. Buyers who like the home and the area are more likely to work out some type of agreement with discount incentives so they don't lose the home, especially when other neighborhood listings are priced much higher or over the buyer's budget.

      Investigate the Time on the Market

      In today's real estate market, properties can sell overnight or sit on the market for months before they sell. If your neighbor's house recently sold, investigate how long it was listed on the market prior to the sale. Most online real estate listings tell you the number of days a house has been on the market. If you notice that your neighbor's house was on the market for 6 months or longer when other homes in the area sold right away, there's likely a good reason. Common reasons include:

      • Roofing with signs of damage, leaks, or mold

      • Showers, tubs, and sinks with leaks and low water pressure

      • Heating and AC systems that don't heat or cool property

      • Lack of interior upgrades or repairs

      • Lack of outdoor maintenance and sprinklers

      • No home security system

      Before you decide to list your home, contact us for professional guidance on ways to quickly sell your home for maximum profits in a seller's market.

      March
      22

      5 Ways to Make Your Home a Standout This Spring

      Lake Charles Sell Your Home

      Spring has arrived, making it the perfect time to tackle your home to-do list. Whether you have plans to contact our real estate agents and put your home on the market or just want to get your home looking its best, a few chores will help your home stand out. Here are some tasks to ensure your home is appealing to visitors and potential buyers. 

      1. Declutter Your Home
        Most likely, spring cleaning is on your to-do list. Before you get started, spend some time purging your home of items that you no longer use, need, or that just don't fit your lifestyle. The fewer items in your home, the larger it will appear when you add it to the list of Lake Charles homes for sale. You'll also have fewer items to clean. If your plans do involve selling your home, take decluttering a step farther. You'll want to remove items that are overly personal, like framed photos, bulletin boards, custom knickknacks, awards, magazines, and most toys. There are a few options for handling these items. One solution is to box these items up and rent a storage unit to house them until you've sold your home. Another possibility is to store them in your attic, basement, or shed; just make sure the space appears neat and uncluttered if you opt for this method. 
      1. Wash or Paint Your Walls
        If your walls are in neutral hues and the paint is in good condition, you may be able to refresh them by washing them. You can wash your walls using warm water mixed with a quarter-teaspoon of white vinegar and a teaspoon of dish detergent. Use a microfiber cloth to gently scrub your walls with the solution. However, if your walls have a lot of dents and dings or you want to change the paint color, it's time for a fresh paint job. A new paint job will also help your home look clean and crisp with potential buyers. 
      1. Get Your Landscaping a Facelift
        Check that your home is ready to greet prospective buyers by enhancing its curb appeal. Mow your grass (and bag your clippings), pull any weeds, and remove any dead or dying vegetation. If your flower beds are bare, add some colorful flowers and shrubs to brighten them up. Get your home and driveway looking their best by pressure-washing them. 
      1. Complete Minor Repairs
        Typically, you don't want to embark on major renovations before putting your home on the market. However, it's a smart idea to take care of minor repairs so that your home appears well-maintained. Make sure that none of your faucets drip and that your lights, showers, and appliances are all functional. Replace any broken or worn-out hardware.
      1. Rearrange Your Furniture
        Rearrange your furniture so that your home is staged to maximize its appeal. A potential buyer should be able to see the utility of every space. No room or area should be left without a function. When moving furniture, leave a few inches between the furniture and the wall; this will help the room look larger and prevent the room from appearing cramped. 

      Ready to put your home on the market? Contact us today to get started!

      December
      16

      Exterior Home Features Buyers Are Looking For

      Exterior Home Features

      If you're selling your home, you're probably planning to spruce up and improve its interior. While that's important, the exterior also needs attention. It's the first thing prospective buyers see, so it can either make them walk away or entice them inside to see more. And many exterior features can separate your home in a positive way from other Baton Rouge homes for sale.

      Our real estate agents highlight some of the most popular exterior home features that buyers are looking for:

      1. Patios    
        You frequently hear curb appeal is important, and although it's true, that doesn't mean you should neglect your backyard area. Homebuyers look for outdoor living spaces, and they want to be able to sit outdoors and share a drink with friends. Adding an outdoor area like a patio will cost less than a large-scale home addition and appeal to buyers who envision themselves entertaining friends and family in this outdoor space. To boost your patio's appeal, add items like an outdoor fire pit with seating or a backyard wet bar.
          
      2. Solar panels 
        In certain regions, like the Baton Rouge area, solar panels are very appealing to potential buyers. That's because this region gets plenty of sunshine to generate electricity and hot temperatures that can make power bills high in the summer. A 2019 National Association of REALTORS® survey revealed that 69% of REALTORS® said that promoting a home's energy efficiency was important, and 77% said clients thought a home's utility bills were either very or somewhat important. As a result, homes with solar panels sell more quickly than those that don't have them.

      3. 3-car garages     
        Having a 3-car garage adds prestige to a home since many buyers believe that bigger is better. A larger garage also appeals to would-be buyers for practical reasons since it adds storage space. This is a high priority for most homeowners, especially if their family is still growing. Prospective homebuyers also appreciate the added space because it's attached to the house, unlike a storage shed. This makes it easier to move items to and from the garage. Add some cabinetry, shelving, and peg wallboards to make it easier to store items vertically and make sure to keep the garage clutter-free.

      4. Energy-efficient windows  
        New windows that are energy efficient are a draw for home buyers. If you have windows that don't open or are otherwise in poor condition, this may cause problems during a home inspection since these are some of the most common issues. Energy-efficient windows help reduce power bills since they can let a lot of cooled or heated air escape from the home and let untreated air from the outside work its way inside.

      5. Exterior lighting  
        Exterior lighting adds to a home's curb appeal, whether you choose spotlights, walkway lights, pendant lights, or a combination of these options. If a prospective buyer is touring your home after dark, exterior lighting – combined with a well-kept lawn and landscaping – makes your home look more appealing. It's also an important safety feature, making a home easier to navigate outside when it's dark, and motion sensor lights can be added for an extra layer of safety.

      Contact us at Latter & Blum if you're interested in selling your Baton Rouge area home. Our knowledgeable agents can guide you in determining which exterior features are likely to help your home sell more quickly while letting you recoup your investment. 

      October
      26

      The Most Important Rooms to Stage When Listing Your Home

      Staging Rooms

      Room staging is one of the most important parts of the home selling process. With digital marketplaces playing such a large role in the real estate market these days, good pictures of properly staged rooms can make all the difference for your listing. Studies have actually shown that room staging can also lead to an increased offer value from prospective buyers. 

      The process of properly staging a room is both an art and a science, and it's important to do it right. For many sellers, it can be difficult to know where to start. Luckily, our real estate agents are experts at room staging and can provide tips. Below are some of the most important rooms to stage when listing your home for sale.

      The Living Room

      The living room is arguably the most important room to stage. Not only is it where many families spend most of their time, but it's also often one of the first rooms potential homebuyers see when viewing a home. Make sure to have the carpet professionally cleaned and remove personalized items like souvenirs and photographs. Add a few minimal decorations such as flowers or neutral artwork. If your living room is small, consider opening shades or blinds in order to maximize light exposure, as this will help the room appear larger. 

      The Kitchen

      The kitchen is the heart of the home, so make it as attractive as possible to potential homebuyers. The key is to make your kitchen appear bright, sparkly, and clean. Consider having the room professionally cleaned before listing your home for sale. If you're looking to create a cozier look, consider adding an eat-in table with chairs or a kitchen rug. Be sure to remove all clutter except for a few decorative items (think flowers or a tea kettle). If you have the budget, consider updating your appliances as well.

      The Master Bedroom

      It's no surprise that the master bedroom is one of the most important rooms to stage when listing your home for sale. One of the keys to staging it is to keep things as neutral as possible. You want to allow prospective buyers to be able to envision themselves living in the space. Avoid any themes, as these can ultimately be distracting. Make sure to clean out closets and go out of your way to show off organization and storage. Also, be sure to keep most personal items out of sight. When it comes to the bed, decorative pillows and throw blankets can go a long way -- just be sure to use softer colors. Try to optimize the room's light exposure by keeping blinds and curtains open. Mirrors can also give off the appearance of depth.

      The Bathroom

      A well-organized bathroom can really help the staging process. Prospective buyers will be opening closets, so make sure to use stylish drawers, organizers, and hanging shelves to organize toiletries. Remove any personal items like toothbrushes or bath towels. Most importantly, make sure sinks, counters, floors, tubs, shower curtains, and mirrors are sparkling clean. Spring for a decorative, fluffy bath mat or a small rug for the middle of the room.

      Staging your home can have a huge impact. For more inspiration on beautifully staged homes, check out these Lake Charles homes for sale or contact us today.

      October
      16

      Agent Spotlight: Brigitte Fredy

       

      Brigitte Fredy has made a name for herself in the New Orleans residential market over the last 30+ years, and it's clear to see why. With her passion and dedication to her career, she has built an expansive network of happy clients and earned herself Top of the Latter for decades – Latter & Blum's most prestigious award presented annually to the top-producing real estate agents across all markets.

      Born in Paris, France – Brigitte has always had an eye for beautiful architecture, which naturally led her to specialize in historic properties in downtown, uptown and the French Quarter of New Orleans. Licensed in 1983, Brigitte started off her real estate career with Latter & Blum and is still with the company to this day as one of the top-producing agents. From helping clients buy their first home, second home and even third home, more of Brigitte's wide-ranging specialties include home staging, luxury condos and investment properties. Trilingual in English, French and Spanish, Brigitte's background and decades of expertise in historical properties allows her to help prospective home buyers and sellers from all walks of life. 

      With all of her success, Brigitte didn't get where she is today on accident. She credits her hard work, patience and flexibility as the key to her success and what helped shape her into the top-producing real estate agent she is today. Offering advice to new real estate agents, Brigitte says it's important to start as early as you can, being a successful Realtor requires a lot of time, energy and work. Her favorite part of the job? Having the flexibility to create her own work schedule, which in turn creates a good balance in her life.

      When Brigitte isn't basking in the thrill of navigating a successful real estate transaction, you can probably find her cooking some delicious cuisine in her downtown condo, exercising or entertaining clients and friends. She also owns an apartment in Paris, perks of all her hard work and dedication.

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

      In the market for a home in New Orleans? Contact Brigitte for all your real estate needs.

      August
      14

      Decluttering with Kids: 6 Tips for Making it Easier

      Decluttering Tips

      As minimalist living continues to increase in popularity, owners of many of these beautiful New Orleans homes for sale have taken a "less is more" approach to their interior design and lifestyle. However, for many parents, decluttering with kids in the house may seem far beyond the realm of possibility. Luckily, our real estate agents have shared several tips for how you can make decluttering with kids possible today:

      1. Start the Process When the Kids Aren't Around
        When you first start the decluttering process, it's best to begin when the kids are at school or staying with grandma. Decluttering with the kids at home can be highly unproductive as they'll likely have a tough time giving up certain toys, books, or clothing. You'll get the best results if you do the initial sweep on your own.
      2. Avoid Excuses
        Let's face it, it might be tough for you to part with your kid's belongings. After all, many of these items have a tremendous amount of sentimental value. Hanging onto items simply because they were a gift or are connected to good memories is simply going to lead to more clutter. If you're struggling to let things go, just remind yourself of the joy these items can bring to kids in need.
      3. Broken Toys Must Go
        Any toys that are broken, missing a piece, or falling apart should go straight to the trash without a second thought. Do a quick evaluation of all the toys in the house and find the ones that are broken. Your kids may ask for you to fix them, but it's important to resist the urge to hang on to any broken items.
      4. Organize Everything Into Categories
        After the old junk is gone, organize the remaining toys into categories such as stuffed animals, action figures, dolls, or vehicles. You can then store the most commonly used groups of toys in an accessible location in the bedroom while placing the less commonly-used toys in the basement or attic. Kids often forget about the toys that are out of sight.
      5. Don't Hang on to Clothes
        Once the toys are taken care of, it's time to move on to the clothes. It may be tempting to hold onto clothing for sentimental reasons, but you must resist! Comb through drawers and closets and make a pile of items that no longer fit or are never worn. These items can be taken to a local clothing drive. Starting a donation bin is also a great way to declutter overtime. 
      6. Teach Your Kids the Value of Decluttering
        It's important for your kids to understand the value and benefits of decluttering. Teach your kids about the importance of donating unused items so that other children can benefit and find joy in them. By showing your kids the importance of decluttering at a young age, they are more likely to develop positive habits that last a lifetime. 

      Kids can certainly make the decluttering process more challenging, but by establishing some simple guidelines and teaching your kids the value of simplicity and organization, it can be done. Contact us today for more tips on how to declutter your home.

      August
      10

      5 Benefits of Working With a REALTOR®

      Working With REALTOR

      Today's real estate industry presents you with many options when it comes to buying and selling Baton Rouge homes for sale. Our REALTORS® want your real estate transaction to be as swift, smooth, and successful as possible. Before you choose to hire a broker or simply conduct the property sale with only an escrow agent, we encourage you to discover the many ways that working with a REALTOR® can benefit you.

      1. Their knowledge and experience are invaluable.
        Just as you're an expert in your professional field, REALTORS® have extensive knowledge of your market thanks to years of experience. They understand the complex legalities involved with the process and know-how to complete transactions in the most ethical way possible. Most importantly, they know how to spot and avoid potential problems that may delay or outright nullify your transaction.

      2. Hiring a REALTOR® gives you access to a team of professionals.
        When you enlist the help of a REALTOR®, you're gaining the assistance of more than a single individual. Their network of professionals includes other REALTORS®, licensed contractors, professional staging companies, certified appraisers, honest inspectors, and other resources that will help you throughout the home sale.

      3. REALTORS® are motivated with your best interest in mind.
        Buying or selling property is a huge milestone, personally and financially. Rest assured that your REALTOR® recognizes how important these transactions are and will conduct this process with the utmost priority. They are dedicated to helping you succeed, putting your interests first to ensure that you are completely satisfied with the process and results. Your REALTOR® is your personal advocate for your home sale and will stand beside you through thick and thin until you've achieved your real estate goals on your terms.

      4. Your REALTOR® handles many frustrations for you.
        Selling or buying a home, while exciting, can be a stressful experience without expert assistance. What if an element of the home fails inspection or doesn't appraise as expected? What if a buyer doesn't secure a mortgage loan or if a seller tried to play hardball? Instead of juggling these stressful problems alone, your REALTOR® manages them for you. They've encountered a variety of problematic issues during their career and know the best ways that you can overcome them. More importantly, they have the foresight to prevent some obstacles from arising, such as adding contingencies to your contract to protect you if challenges arise.

      5. REALTORS® can save you money before, during, and after the real estate transaction.
        Too many property owners are focused on the sale itself and forget about the miscellaneous expenses in addition to the purchase price. Thankfully, your REALTORS® know how to save you money throughout the process, even after they've expertly negotiated to save you money. From remodeling tips and tricks to the best advice for local services in your new area, your REALTOR® is committed to helping you save every penny possible.

      Are you considering buying or selling a home in Baton Rouge? We can help. Contact us today to learn more about the ways our REALTORS® can help you achieve your real estate goals.

      June
      24

      5 Features Buyers Are Looking For Right Now

      Features Buyers Want

      In many places throughout the United States, the coronavirus slowed the real estate market for more than a month. Now, people are back to looking for Alexandria homes for sale.

      The difference: Precisely what they are looking for has changed almost overnight. Needs that simply did not exist before are now reflected in buyer preferences around the region.

      Our real estate agents are always eager to find new ways to help our sellers succeed. You don't always have to plan a major renovation to get ahead of these new trends. Sometimes, you can improve your odds of a fast, successful sale just by staging your home correctly.

      To really wow your prospective buyers, focus on these emerging trends:

      1. More Bathrooms
        Washing your hands regularly is a good idea any time, but it has never been more important. Families who were once used to rationing time in a shared bathroom are finding that tougher. More means better, even if one bathroom is smaller or less sophisticated. It's a bonus if extra bathrooms have brass or copper fixtures, now lauded for their antimicrobial properties.
      2. Better Pantries
        In many communities, stocking up has become a way of life. While 2-4 weeks of food was the norm not that long ago, some buyers are wondering how they can safely stockpile two or even three months of groceries. Good kitchen storage is the key. On the same theme: Freezer space is at a premium, so agreeing to leave your new fridge behind can raise your selling price.
      3. The Return of The Coatroom
        Whether you call it a cloakroom, a coatroom, or a mudroom, this adjunct to your home's foyer is about to experience a renaissance. Mudrooms give you the opportunity to kick off your shoes and shed your outer garments, helping protect against two ways coronavirus can enter a home. Plus, you can also set up cleaning materials in this space, like hand sanitizer.
      4. More Distinct, Closed-Off Spaces
        While the open floorplan won't go away, its reputation has taken a dinging. From students doing their homework to established professionals working from home, everyone now needs a place to call their own. Enclosed, distraction-free spaces are "in." Nooks, islands, converted closets, and many other options will be more appealing to buyers than ever.
      5. Home Gyms
        Up until recently, the home gym has had a mixed reputation. Many buyers preferred sellers to take their gym equipment away with them to save on storage space. Today's buyers are worried about staying fit in a safe and sustainable way. It's time to put out the treadmill, exercise bike, and any other equipment. Clean them up like new and photograph them all set up!

      No one can see the future – and the average buyer or seller couldn't have imagined all these changes. But even if your home doesn't match the latest trends, there are still steps you can take.

      Adding shelving in your dining room or kitchen can help you meet the need for more storage space. Updating your bathroom fixtures is always a good idea, so make brass your first choice.

      What about home office space? Many homeowners have been converting their side storage closets into small bonus rooms. This can be done in as little as one weekend. Just make sure to decorate the space when you're done and include the photos in your online listing!

      Contact us at Latter & Blum today to find out more.

      May
      15

      Phase 1 Reopening in Louisiana: The Impact on Real Estate Services

      Reopening Louisiana

      Following established guidelines, Louisiana will begin Phase 1 of the opening plan on Friday, May 15th. Although this reopening is a bright beacon of hope, we must not forget that we are not fully free of the shadow of COVID-19. As we revive our sense of normalcy, our real estate agents want to assure you that we are collectively doing our part to safely serve our community as responsibly as possible.

      FAQ About Louisiana Phase 1 Coronavirus Reopening

      When will Louisiana reopen?
      The state will enter Phase 1 of a three-phase reopening plan, as suggested by the federal government, on May 15th.

      What businesses and services will be reopened in Phase 1?
      Phase 1 of the reopening plan includes the opening of many services and businesses, such as barbershops/hair salons, bars that serve food, churches, funeral services, gyms and fitness centers, malls, movie theaters, restaurants, and many other non-essential businesses. However, many of these locations are only allowed to open if they follow strict guidelines dictating the number of individuals permitted to occupy the space and how employees, visitors, and customers must interact while following social distancing/PPE guidelines.

      How long will Phase 1 last?
      Currently, Louisiana is scheduled to operate under Phase 1 guidelines for 21 days, and into Phase 2 on June 15th. However, as we've seen over the last few months, the coronavirus situation can change quickly. While these dates are hopeful, they are not guaranteed and may be adjusted at any time.

      How does this impact real estate services?
      We want all of our associates and clients to know that Latter & Blum considers the safety and health of our community a number one priority. As essential personnel, our agents can continue to serve our community as safe, securely, and responsibly as possible. To do so, we have asked that all Latter & Blum agents follow these guidelines:

      • Reduce the number of physical showings by only touring homes with buyers who are prequalified for properties that meet their search criteria (for example, size, price, style, wish list, location, etc.)

      • All agents should conveniently provide documents describing floor plan, property amenities, flood information, home improvements, termite contracts, and other relevant information on the MLS listing. Furthermore, agents should also execute any paperwork electronically when possible.

      • Agents should practice social distancing by remaining six feet apart from others when possible and by limiting showings to a maximum of five people at once. Agents should also drive to each property in separate vehicles from the buyers.

      • All agents are encouraged to wear a mask in public places, including during property viewings, wear gloves, and wash their hands when entering and exiting the property. All agents should also sanitize any surface that they touch and open/close all doors, cabinets, and other property elements for the buyers

      Although these guidelines are not forced upon the agents or buyers, many of our agents are voluntarily taking the necessary precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19 out of respect to our friends, family members, and neighbors throughout the community.

      If you are ready to purchase or sell property, we're ready to help. Contact us today to get started!

      April
      29

      5 Neighboring Properties That Can Affect the Sale of Your Home

      Neighboring Properties

      You've completed your staging and cleaning and have your home buyer-ready, inside and out. Unfortunately, sometimes surrounding properties can turn off prospective buyers, even if your home is a showplace. From messy yards to roaming dogs, neighboring properties could affect how your home shows while on the market.

      Our REALTORS® outline 5 solutions if you have neighboring properties that could affect the sale of your home.

      1. The Loud Property
        In the case of noisy neighbors, they may not realize that they're disturbing you. Ask them nicely to be a little quieter, especially during showings. If this doesn't work, you could talk to your homeowners' association, if you have one, or ask other neighbors who are bothered as well to have a similar conversation.

      2. The Abandoned Property
        An empty house near yours could be the result of bankruptcy or foreclosure. If the home's exterior condition is unsightly with newspapers piling up, household items left on the porch, and an overgrown lawn, it's time to do some research. Try to find out who - such as a financial institution - has a vested interest in the property and ask if they can have basic maintenance taken care of. If not, explain the situation and ask if you could mow the lawn yourself, pick up the papers, and dispose of outside debris.

      3. Nosy Neighbor
        A nosy neighbor might try to catch a potential buyer to share some of the unsubstantiated neighborhood gossip. Notify your real estate agent about this situation so he or she can try to head off the nosy neighbor. You may also want to approach your neighbor and stress how important it is to have only your agent give information to prospective buyers.

      4. Roaming and Loud Animals
        A neighbor who has dogs who constantly bark or have allowed to roam free can be problematic. Talk to him or her and be honest about the fact that you're trying to sell your home and are afraid this will turn buyers away. If a conversation doesn't work, call your local city or parish about noise ordinance violations with a constantly barking dog. It can help to record the dogs for evidence of your complaint.

      5. HOA Rule-Breakers
        A homeowners' association community is meant to draw up and enforce rules that govern the neighborhood. When there is an HOA, homebuyers expect their neighbors to follow the rules. However, neighbors who break the HOA rules can lead a prospective buyer to assume that neighborhood rules aren't enforced. If that's the case, take your complaint to the HOA and enforce the rules. 

      In most of these cases, the solution is to have a polite conversation with those in your neighborhood on your goals of selling your home and how they can help. Most people will be understanding since chances are they've had to sell a property before too! 

      Contact us when you're ready to sell your home. We've closed deals on many Alexandria homes for sale and can help advise you on sticky issues that could interfere with your sale.

      March
      9

      7 Ways to Reclaim Your Unfinished Space

      Reclaim Unfinished Space

      Whether it's an attic, basement, or extra room in your home, you don't need to spend big bucks on a full renovation to make it a warm, welcoming space. Lots of people searching for Baton Rouge homes for sale look for additional space like an attic room or finished basement. Below, Our REALTORS® share some helpful tips on how to make unfinished spaces livable and lovable.

      1. Clean Out the Space
        Remove all boxes, tools, and everything else you have in your attic or basement, including appliances. If you're finishing your attic and replacing insulation, take out all the old insulation as well. Having a clean slate to work with and plenty of room to move around can help you plan and complete your project more efficiently and quickly.   
      2. Dry Out a Damp Basement
        If you're looking to cozy up your basement, it's important to make sure it's dry and smells good. Unless you have a problem with water entering or flooding your basement, a dehumidifier should do the job nicely.
      3. Paint
        A fresh coat of paint can transform a room. Cinder block and poured concrete can end up looking pretty stylish if you choose the right colors or get creative and paint a bright mural on the wall. If you're painting an attic, using a light, neutral color like gray, greige, or beige can make it feel more open and expansive.
      4. Add String Lighting
        Nobody likes the stark look of a naked bulb hanging from the ceiling. With just an electrical outlet or two, you can bring more light to your space and create a warm glow by hanging strings of lights. Not only that, they look super cool hanging from the rafters.  
      5. Accessorize
        Throwing down some area rugs will keep your feet warm and make the floor pop. If you're in a dark area like a basement, don't be afraid to use bold colors for furniture, cushions, pillows, and other decorations. Hanging curtains in strategic places can divide a room and help create cozy nooks that are perfect for reading or napping. You can also soften the look of the ceiling by hanging swaths of fabric to create an attractive canopy.
      6. Add Storage
        Regardless of which room you're fixing up, you can always use more storage. Shelving, plastic bins with lids, and even tension rods can give you a ton of space to store stuff, so you have more room to enjoy your new space.
      7. Research Building Codes and Permits
        If you're making significant changes, you may need a building permit before you to get to work, especially if you're knocking down or building any walls. Find out the local building code specifications for ceiling height requirements, exits, electrical wiring, ventilation, and other important elements you may be modifying. If you decide to install or upgrade the electricity in the room, make sure to have a licensed electrician do it to ensure all wiring is up to code. While saving money by doing it yourself sounds nice, having a professional take care of it ensures it's done correctly and avoids fire hazards.

      Whether you're looking to buy or sell a home in Baton Rouge, our knowledgeable real estate professionals can help. Contact us to learn more and get started on finding your new Louisiana home.

      January
      27

      How to Improve Your Home's Scent before Showings

      Improving Home's Scent

      Our sense of smell is a powerful force! Smells can evoke many feelings and emotions either positive or negative. If you're thinking of adding your property to the local market of Lafayette homes for sale, it's important to ensure your home smells good as a critical component of staging it to sell. Our REALTORS® share some tips for making your home smell fresh, clean, and appealing to buyers.

      • Do a Deep Cleaning
        Cleaning your house from top to bottom is critical to ensure it looks its best, but it also helps get rid of stale, nasty odors. Make sure to wash down walls, especially in the kitchen, to get rid of grease and grime, which can make your home pretty smell stale and dirty. If you're short on time or hate to clean, hire professionals to get the job done right.
      • Have Carpets and Curtains Professionally Cleaned
        Steam-cleaning carpets, rugs, and drapes can help them look like new and eliminate odors you never even knew existed. Once your carpets are cleaned, take a few moments to sprinkle them with baking soda and vacuum right before a viewing or open house. Baking soda is also great for scrubbing sinks, toilets, bathtubs, and other items. If you don't care for cleaning products with lots of fragrance, baking soda can eliminate tough odors while keeping perfumes to a minimum.
      • Wash Pet Beds, Toys and Accessories
        There's no getting around it—our furry friends can cause some stinky smells sometimes. Make sure to wash all pet bedding and blankets, clean the litterbox, and put items away or move them to more inconspicuous areas when showing your home. If possible, take pets to a friend or family member's home during an open house or showing.
      • Use Natural Scents to Make Your Home Smell Good
        Fake plug-in scents and heavily scented candles can leave buyers wondering what you're trying to cover up or even make them sneeze. If you want to add a pleasant aroma to your home, choose lighter scents like citrus, herbs, vanilla, and cedar. If you don't want to invest in a fancy diffuser, you can use essential oils with reeds that absorb the liquid and release the scent into the air. Simmering potpourri, herbs, or essential oils in a pot of water on the stove is an easy, affordable way to add a delightful olfactory ambiance to your home.
      • Pick Plants with a Pleasant Aroma
        Believe it or not, plants can clean the air and make your home smell better. Certain types of plants like scented geraniums, jasmine, lavender, rosemary, basil, gardenias, and orchids emit pleasant fragrances that can make your home smell flowery, earthy, or fresh. Not only that, staging your home with well-groomed plants can give it a bright, lively feel.

      Want to learn more about how to prepare your home for sale? Whether you're in the market for a new home or selling the one you own, our experienced real estate professionals can help. Contact us to get started.

      January
      14

      How a Real Estate Agent Determines Home Value

      Real Estate Agent Determine Home Value

      If you're selling your home, you want to price it reasonably, so it doesn't languish on the market, but you don't want to price it for less than you could sell it for. Our REALTORS® use research, knowledge, and experience to determine your home's value. The following are some ways we can determine this value:

      • Using a Comparative Market Analysis (CMA)

        Real estate agents can run a comparative market analysis that will look at comparable homes that have sold in the area within the past 90 days. The most accurate comparisons will come from homes that are close to yours geographically, are similar in square footage, and have the same number of bedrooms and bathrooms.

        CMAs can be quite detailed, including the average and median sale prices for comparable homes, the number of days they were on the market, and other information that will help your real estate agent most accurately determine your home's value. Also, he or she can look at comparable homes currently for sale. If other houses in your neighborhood are on the market, you'll want to be competitive unless your home has attributes that set it apart.

      • Having Experience in Sales Negotiations

        Home sale prices don't always tell the entire story. Experienced real estate agents know that finalized deals may involve some concessions. So although a comparable home may have sold for a particular amount, it doesn't reveal the fact that the seller may have helped pay closing fees. Or they may have made other concessions, such as providing a flooring allowance to help the buyer upgrade out-of-date carpeting.

        A real estate agent's experience and knowledge can help him, or her know about some of the concessions that may not be reflected in the sale price. They may have helped broker the deal, or they can often get information by talking with another agent who handled the sale.

      • Adding Price Adjustments

        Although a CMA yields some invaluable information, your agent won't depend solely on formulas. Adjustments in prices will be made because each home is different. And these differences can influence the value of each home.

        For example, your home may have slightly more square footage than a comparable home, so your real estate agent may adjust your home value to consider this difference. Or it may have nicer landscaping that will help command a higher price. On the other hand, another similar home may have had upgraded appliances included with the home, so your home may be valued somewhat lower.

      • Being Aware of Other Factors

        Factors that are beyond your control can affect the value of your home. Your real estate agent knows that when mortgage interest rates fall, more people can afford to buy a home and can afford a higher price tag. Of course, the opposite is true when interest rates rise.

        The time of year your home is on the market can also affect your asking price. 

      Contact us if you're interested in selling your home. Our real estate agents know how to determine your home's value, so it's comparable with similar Baton Rouge homes for sale.

      January
      6

      7 Ways to Prepare for an Open House

      Prep for Open House

      Hosting an open house is a tried and trusted method for selling your home. However, you need to do more than put a sign out front. Before you host an open house, the following are seven steps our REALTORS® recommend to prepare your home for prospective buyers.

      1. Clean Out the Clutter
        Cleaning out clutter opens up the floorplan and makes the home feel more spacious. You will also want to remove valuables such as jewelry, heirlooms, and other items that you don't want to include in the sale. Removing items helps protect your possessions. Further, if prospective buyers don't see appliances or fixtures they won't ask to negotiate these as part of the sale.
      2. Conduct a Thorough Cleaning
        Pay to have the carpets professionally cleaned. Dirty, dingy carpets will turn away even the most motivated buyer. Clean every corner, window, cabinet, and other surfaces so that the home looks as new as possible. You will want to organize closets, cupboards, and pantries so they appear neat and tidy. 
      3. Repair Damage
        You will want to take care of any cosmetic damage before the open house. Fixing broken tiles, repairing holes in walls, sealing drafts, etc. can go a long way towards enticing a prospective buyer to make an offer. Painting is also advisable, but you will want to make sure to do this as early as possible so that the home doesn't smell like fresh paint during the open house. 
      4. Make Arrangements for Your Pets
        Not everyone is a pet person. Having your pets running around during an open house can be a huge distraction to potential buyers. Consider sending your dogs, cats, and other pets on a mini-vacation. Take them to a friend's house or take your pup to a dog park. When they're gone, make sure the home is free of pet odors, dander, and toys when prospective buyers arrive. 
      5. Stage the Home
        It is worth every penny to pay for a consultation with a professional home stager. Often, a few simple changes in furniture positioning, curtain choice, or lighting can create a fresh, modern look that appeals to the types of buyers you want to attract.  
      6. Conduct a Final Spot-Check
        The day before, your open house is a big day. You will want to make sure the clutter is gone, the curtains are open, and the smells removed. You will also want to bake the cookies, prepare the refreshments, and make sure that all the marketing materials are ready to go when prospective buyers knock on the door.    
      7. Host a Broker and Agent Preview
        Agents and brokers are eager to find the best properties for their clients. Hosting a preview allows them to contact their clients who have expressed a desire for a property that matches your home's description, features, and location.    

      Contact us to discuss the strategies we use to sell Lafayette homes for sale. It's our pleasure to develop a plan that will help you sell your home effectively!   

      December
      16

      How to Stage Your Home for Real Estate Photos

      Real Estate Photos

      You only get one chance to make a first impression! Today's homebuyers do most of their decision making before they see the property in person. Photos of a home for sale, in most cases, will be the first impression buyers will get of your property. So staging for these photos is crucial!

      Our real estate agents have gathered these tips to help you stage your home like a pro:

      1. Kick Clutter to the Curb
        If you want your house to stand out from the other Baton Rouge homes for sale, the first thing you need to do is declutter. Make sure all countertops and other surfaces are clear. Put children's toys and other items away in closets or storage, and remove all personal items like family photographs. 
      1. Think Like a Photographer
        When staging your home, think about how it looks for the camera, rather than worrying about comfort or function. In this case, you'll want to focus on things like lighting and angles. Your photographer and your real estate agent should be able to help you with this. 
      1. Present a Clean Home
        It's also important to make sure the entire home is as clean as possible before the photo session. Things like dust bunnies or streaks on the windows can make a poor impression. If you're not sure you can do it on your own, consider hiring a cleaning company. 
      1. Pay Attention to Details
        Small details, like forgetting to put the toilet seat down, can also ruin your photos. Take a moment before the photographer starts shooting to look through the home one last time. Make sure to fluff pillows, smooth out wrinkles on the beds, open the blinds, and turn on the lights.  
      1. Less is More!
        It's great to have some furniture and decor in the home, but be careful not to overdo it. Keep things simple and stick with neutral colors or a single color scheme in each room. When decorating, strive for symmetry and repetition as this is naturally aesthetically pleasing. You want potential buyers to envision the space as something they can personalize. 
      1. Boost Your Curb Appeal
        Remove all vehicles from the driveway, make sure trash cans and children's toys are put away, and remove anything else that pulls attention away from your home's curb appeal. Mow the lawn a day or two before the photoshoot, make sure your edges are neat, freshen up your mulch, and sweep the sidewalks. Consider adding some potted plants on the porch and a simple wreath on the front door. 
      1. Add Some Fresh Flowers
        Never underestimate the power of adding some fresh flowers to your home. This will add a splash of color and some class. Choose a simple vase and strategically place the flowers on your kitchen countertop or the coffee table. 
      1. Consider Hiring a Professional
        While it certainly is possible to stage your own home, this is a task that's often best left to the pros. Great staging can mean the difference between selling your home quickly for top dollar and having your house linger on the market for far too long. In most cases, this is a service that's well worth the investment. 

      If you're thinking about listing your home, don't go it alone! Contact us today to get started. 

      November
      11

      Open House Checklist for Sellers

      Open House Checklist

      An open house is a perfect opportunity to showcase your home and make a good impression on potential buyers. Our real estate agents have hosted hundreds of open houses with clients and understand the pitfalls that can arise when preparing for the big event. This checklist can help you avoid common mistakes and allow you to stay competitive with others who are offering their Lafayette homes for sale.

      Declutter and Organize

      Getting rid of clutter and depersonalizing your home is a must for any open house. This process allows potential buyers to envision themselves in your home. Remove items like family photos, collectibles, and any pet beds or toys.

      It's a good idea to leave pets with friends or family during an open house. Clean and organize closets and other storage spaces so potential buyers can get a good look.

      Also, consider putting excess furniture in storage. It will make rooms appear bigger and give them a more refined look. Your real estate agent should be able to offer some staging tips before your open house. 

      Do a Deep Cleaning

      Whether you're a DIY type or prefer to hire a service, deep cleaning your home before an open house is vital. Make sure all carpets are cleaned, and hardwood and other surfaces shine. Baseboards, trim, ceiling fans and other hard-to-reach places should be free of dirt and dust. Wash the windows inside and out, and don't forget to tidy up the garage, yard, deck, and front entrance.

      A good power washing and a fresh coat of paint on the front door can work wonders for curb appeal.

      For the finishing touch after you clean, a little scent goes a long way. So avoid overdoing candles and air fresheners. Your home should smell naturally fresh.

      Take Care of Maintenance and Repairs

      Painting the inside of your home in neutral colors such as beige or gray is one of the most affordable ways to make your house more attractive. Patch and sand any holes in the walls or ceilings before painting. Another inexpensive way to make your home look updated is by replacing plate switches, drawer and cabinet pulls, and light fixtures. If any major work like roof repairs needs to be done, take care of it before putting your home on the market.  

      Promotion, Promotion, Promotion

      If you want your open house to be successful, it's essential to get the word out. There are several ways to do this, including old-school and online methods. Have your real estate agent create brochures highlighting the features of your home listing vital info like property taxes, school district, and acreage.

      Your agent should also add the open house to your MLS listing, so it shows up on multiple real estate sites. Don't forget to post the listing on social media a day or two before the open house. Also, put an open house sign in the yard and at the end of your road to help people find your open house more easily. For eye-catching flair, tie some balloons on the signs the day of the open house.

      Do you need help organizing the perfect open house? Our experienced real estate professionals can help. Contact us to get started.

      July
      8

      What to Do When It's Jam-Packed with Junk

      Lafayette Donation Centers

      5 Area Donation Centers to Visit on National Give Something Away Day

      In early 2019, Marie Kondo's Netflix series about "tidying up" went viral and sparked a nationwide decluttering trend. In the spirit of KonMari, celebrate National Give Something Away Day on July 15 by finding a new home for unwanted items at one of these donation centers around Lafayette suggested by our REALTORS®.

      1. ARC of Acadiana Thrift Store - 710 S. Union St., Opelousas, LA 70570
        Donations to ARC of Acadiana Thrift Store, located not far from Opelousas homes for sale, provide a two-fold benefit. Proceeds support ARC's mission to improve quality of life for individuals with developmental disabilities, and the store itself provides a place for ARC's clients to learn valuable work skills. Hours are 9 a.m. - 6 p.m. every day but Sunday.

      2. Chez Hope - 801 Main St., Franklin, LA 70538
        Chez Hope offers shelter and support services to victims of domestic violence. The organization, founded in 1982, also operates an outreach program to raise public awareness and promote social change. Items needed at Chez Hope include new and used linens, full-size bath, beauty and hair care products, feminine hygiene supplies, trash bags, and disposable tableware. Make an appointment to drop off your donation during a break from viewing Franklin homes for sale

      3. Goodwill Industries - 1811 Rees St., Breaux Bridge, LA 70515
        Over the years, Goodwill Industries has helped so many individuals and families that it ranks in the top five in the most recent Brand World Value Index, which identifies brands that inspire consumers with their mission. The organization has a local donation center and retail store just minutes away from Breaux Bridge homes for sale that accepts clothing and household goods in usable condition. 

      4. Vermilion ARC Resale Clothing Store - 104 N. St. Charles St., Abbeville, LA 70510
        Kids grow out of clothes so quickly they're often barely worn. Recycle wearable items by taking them to the Vermilion ARC Resale Clothing Store. Proceeds from all sales fund ARC's work with developmentally disabled individuals. Hours are 8 a.m. - 4 p.m. Monday through Friday and 9 a.m. - 4 p.m. Saturday, making it convenient to stop by while touring Abbeville homes for sale

      5. Habitat for Humanity ReStore - 3123-1/2 Johnston St., Lafayette, LA 70503
        Homeownership provides a valuable feeling of self-sufficiency, and Habitat for Humanity makes the dream attainable for individuals and families in need. Habitat for Humanity ReStore, close to Lafayette homes for sale, funds the organization's mission through sales of donated building materials, furniture, and selected housewares. Hours are 10 a.m. - 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. If you're pressed for time or items are too bulky to move, contact the store to schedule a pick-up.

      Whether you're buying or selling a home, our friendly and professional REALTORS® can help streamline the process. Contact us to learn more.

      June
      24

      6 Tips to Sell Your Vacant Home

      Sell Vacant Home

      Our REALTORS® have helped many people put Lafayette homes for sale on the market that would be vacant during the selling process. In many ways, it can be more convenient than the alternative – but there are some things that sellers should know.

      In most cases, houses become vacant because the owner has already moved out. Sellers in this situation are highly motivated because they do not want to continue paying for associated bills. It's crucial not to let this translate into a lack of preparation or caution.

      Let's face it: A vacant home is under more risk from burglary and vandalism than an occupied home. Still, there are steps that will both protect the property and make it appealing to buyers.

      1. Stage the Home to Reflect an Occupied Space
        When buyers show interest in a home, they need to be able to imagine themselves in the space – which means de-cluttering rooms and emptying closets. A completely empty house, however, is often more distressing than welcoming. Leave some basics like key furniture items and lighting. This is more "homey" and helps you showcase the potential of the rooms.
      2. Let Your Neighbors and Law Enforcement Know
        If you will be leaving a home unattended for extended periods of time, it's a great idea to let your local law enforcement know. That way, there'll be other eyes looking out for any suspicious activity around the home, especially at night. If you have strong relationships with your next-door neighbors, tell them as well for added vigilance.
      3. If You Do Open Houses, Make Sure Space is Secure
        Open houses are among the most powerful tools you have in selling any home. Unfortunately, thieves have been known to use these to case homes in the past. If you will be holding open houses, do not discuss the fact you have already moved out. You will be most secure if you have an active security system that can defend the house in off-hours.
      4. Provide for a Sense of Activity Within the Space
        Many of the tips you'd use when taking a long vacation also apply to a vacant home. For example, leaving some lights on is advisable – and all the better if they are timed so they reflect a pattern of activity inside the house. Security devices can be used that will simulate TV chatter. Do not let newspapers, catalogs, or mail accumulate while you are gone.
      5. Get an Appraisal and Repair Estimates Early
        Sometimes, prospective buyers will wonder if something is "wrong" with the house because you have moved out already. You can soothe their worries by providing them with a recent appraisal and inspection report. If an inspection uncovers any necessary repairs, also provide estimates for any of the work that you will not complete before closing day.
      6. Focus on Curb Appeal
        Whether a home is empty or full, curb appeal remains the all-important first impression. It is extra vital for vacant homes, as scraggly, overgrown lawns will tip off those with ill intentions. Keep your lawn in tip-top shape with weekly maintenance. Also be sure any other outdoor features, such as pathways, continue looking neat and tidy.

      Having a vacant home to sell is no reason to change your plans. These simple tips can help you ensure that your sale will go off without a hitch. An experienced real estate agent will provide you with personalized advice that will make the whole process even easier.

      Expert help from real estate pros like our team of REALTORS® accelerates time to sale and maximizes your earnings. Contact us to find out more today.

      Latter & Blum
      430 Notre Dame St.
      New Orleans, LA 70130
      (866) 794-1022
      Disclaimer: All information deemed reliable but not guaranteed. All properties are subject to prior sale, change or withdrawal. Neither listing broker(s) or information provider(s) shall be responsible for any typographical errors, misinformation, misprints and shall be held totally harmless. Listing(s) information is provided for consumers personal, non-commercial use and may not be used for any purpose other than to identify prospective properties consumers may be interested in purchasing. Information on this site was last updated 12/04/2022. The listing information on this page last changed on 12/04/2022. The data relating to real estate for sale on this website comes in part from the Internet Data Exchange program of Houston Association of Realtors (last updated Sun 12/04/2022 12:32:26 AM EST) or Fort Polk MLS (last updated Sat 12/03/2022 11:30:06 PM EST) or Greater Southern MLS (last updated Sat 12/03/2022 11:35:12 PM EST) or Greater Baton Rouge MLS (last updated Sat 12/03/2022 11:30:40 PM EST) or GSREIN MLS (last updated Sun 12/04/2022 1:09:58 AM EST) or Bayou MLS (last updated Sat 12/03/2022 11:20:45 PM EST) or Pearl River MLS (last updated Sat 12/03/2022 11:24:17 PM EST) or GCLAR MLS (last updated Sat 12/03/2022 11:12:09 PM EST) or MGCMLS (last updated Mon 10/04/2021 9:31:53 AM EST) or Realtor Association of Acadiana (last updated Sat 12/03/2022 11:22:29 PM EST) or Southwest Mississippi MLS (last updated Sat 12/03/2022 11:15:23 PM EST) or MLS United (last updated Sun 12/04/2022 1:36:09 AM EST). Real estate listings held by brokerage firms other than Latter & Blum may be marked with the Internet Data Exchange logo and detailed information about those properties will include the name of the listing broker(s) when required by the MLS. All rights reserved. --

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      Agency License Information: Latter & Blum is licensed in Louisiana by the Louisiana Real Estate Commission. Latter & Blum is also licensed in Texas and Mississippi.


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