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Stephanie Villani
REALTOR®, GRI, ABR, SRS
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Community Guides | 50 Posts
Home Tips | 6 Posts
December
2

Home Improvement Projects You Still Have Time to Tackle in 2022

Houma Home Improvement

Are you looking for ways to spruce up your home? Whether you have thousands to spend or you're on a tight budget, our Realtors® can recommend a variety of DIY home improvement projects that will make a lasting impression.

Take a look at ten budget-friendly home improvement projects that you can easily tackle before 2022 is over.

  1. Paint the Front Door
    Louisiana weather can cause your front door to look dingy and faded over time, but you can fix that with a fresh coat of paint. Choose a bright color that makes a good first impression, and buy a semi-gloss paint that's durable and easy to clean.

  1. Install Home Security
    For extra security, install a smart lock on your front door and a security camera near your home's entrance, so you can see who's at the front door. Some smart locks include cameras that can be viewed by your smartphone whether you're home or not.

  1. Upgrade Exterior Light Fixtures
    You can give your home's exterior a low-cost facelift just by upgrading outside light fixtures. Consider a new porch light, walkway lights, and accent lights for your landscaping. Solar lights will cost less because they don't require wiring, but they may not be as bright.

  1. Pressure Wash Your Driveway
    If you don't own a pressure washer, go get one. They cost less than $50 and can be used to clean driveways, walkways, porches, decks, and even siding and windows. With little effort, you can wash away dirt and grime and make your home sparkling clean.

  1. Lay Low-Cost Flooring
    Many older homes have outdated 12x12-inch vinyl tiles in entryways, kitchens, and bathrooms. By replacing old vinyl tiles with laminated wood planks, ceramic or porcelain tiles, or stone pavers, you can bring an older home into the 21st century with style.

  1. Add a Runner to Stairs
    If you have a two-story home with a staircase made of wood steps, adding a runner will increase fall safety and interior style. To keep the budget down, look for off-the-shelf woven runners and supplies from a local home improvement center.

  1. Install a New Dishwasher
    An old dishwasher can wreak havoc on your electric and water bills. By installing a Star-rated energy-efficient dishwasher, you can save about $50 a year on power and 500 gallons of water. If you're washing your dishes in the sink, you're using 40% more water with every wash.

  1. Paint Your Kitchen Cabinets
    Dark wood cabinets can make your kitchen feel smaller and outdated. Instead of spending thousands on new cabinets, give your cabinets a fresh new appeal with paint. All you need is a cleaner, sandpaper, a paintbrush, and a little elbow grease to let in the light.

  1. Upgrade Your Hardware
    Installing new fixtures and hardware in your kitchen and bathrooms is a quick way to increase design appeal. Replace your old sink and shower fixtures and cabinet pulls with shiny new chrome, brass, or bronze ones that update style and convenience.

  2. Install a Programmable Thermostat
    If your home still has an old-fashioned dial thermostat, it's time for an upgrade. Programmable thermostats are inexpensive and easy to install with a drill and a screwdriver. You can program your thermostat to adjust the heat and cool settings based on your daily activities and sleep schedules.

If you're considering Houma homes for sale or nearby communities, we can help you find the perfect place to call home. Contact us today.

September
28

Best Plants for Your Home Office

Office Plants

Whether you work from your home office every day or just on occasion, keeping plants in your office can have important benefits. Not only are plants favored by interior designers for improving the decor, but they also have been shown to have some major psychological benefits that can help you while you work, such as reducing stress and depression and improving memory and focus.

If you don't have a particularly green thumb, however, you might find the thought of caring for plants to be a little intimidating. Not to worry! Our Realtors® have compiled a list of easy-care plants that will be perfect additions to your home office.

  • Cacti
    Cacti do well in natural light, so if you have a sunny window in your home office, that'll be a perfect place for your cactus. Beware of overwatering, as that can kill them. Cacti usually only need to be watered once a week in the warmer months, less in the fall and winter.

  • Succulents
    Much like cacti, succulents typically like natural light and little water, as they store water in their leaves. There are some kinds that do well in low light, so be sure to read care instructions and find one that will work well for the conditions in your home office. Because of their easy care and popularity, they make popular plants for staging, and you'll often see them in the kitchen window in Alexandria open houses.

  • Philodendron Green
    These leafy, vining plants are common plants and even more common office plants, partly because of how easy they are to care for. They do well in indirect or low light, only need to be watered once a week, and feature a trailing vine that looks great on bookcases. Keep them out of reach of pets, however, as they are mildly poisonous.

  • Spider Plant
    Spider plants are another popular office plant that you've probably seen before. They do well in indirect to low light and prefer their soil to dry out between watering, so they thrive easily in an office environment. They're often seen as hanging plants but also do well on the corner of a desk or on top of a bookcase, where their leaves can hang down freely.

  • Snake Plant
    The snake plant is another that does well in low light with infrequent watering, making it a perfect office buddy. With their tall, vertical leaves and spiky appearance, they're also a less common office plant if you want your home office to feel a little more unique. Be sure not to water them too much, only once every couple of weeks, as they also like their soil to dry out between waterings.

  • ZZ Plant
    This plant prefers drought-like conditions, so you can let its soil dry out between waterings. It likes moderate light best but will do well in low light too, so it's perfect if your home office is located in the basement or on the north side of the house.

In addition to being good for maximizing productivity and minimizing stress, plants are heavily favored by decorators, so don't be surprised if you're asked to include a few when staging your home for sale. Easy care is important for plants in Alexandria homes for sale, too, so you may find the above list helpful. To get started staging and listing your home for sale, contact us today.

September
16

Budget-Friendly Ways to Update Your Kitchen

Kitchen

If you're looking to update your kitchen but think it would be costly and time-consuming, it may be easier than you think. There are several budget-friendly ways to update your kitchen that will not take long to achieve. They'll help quickly transform the room, so it's more attractive and pleasant to work in.

Our Realtors® suggest the following kitchen updates that won't break the bank:

  • Add a Rug 
    Bring in a rug from another room to give your kitchen a nice dose of color, pattern, and texture. Neutral colors in just one or two variations create a subtle look, while using more colors in more vibrant hues creates a bolder look. This update couldn't be easier, and if you'd like a change, you can always choose another rug from your home or buy one.

  • Paint Your Cabinets
    Giving your kitchen cabinets a new coat of paint gives them a fresh, clean look. Remove the hardware (making sure to number them, so you'll know where everything goes) and clean and sand the cabinets' surfaces. Use two or three coats of self-priming paint, and if you'd like some variation, paint your upper and lower cabinets in contrasting colors.

  • Add Character With Artwork
    Use a poster, painting, or photo to add some color and character to your kitchen. This can be achieved with a large single piece, or you can add some smaller pieces on open shelves or above the kitchen cabinets.

  • Update Your Backsplash
    A dated, dingy tile backsplash can be easily addressed to help modernize and brighten your kitchen. Tile can be painted a bright color and then sealed. Or you can also use peel-and-stick tiles, which can be applied over your existing tile. It's simple to install and can help give your kitchen a more expensive appearance.

  • Swap Out Your Hardware
    Your kitchen hardware may be showing its age, so why not replace it for an easy update? Metal and glass are two popular options, but if you choose metal, use just one finish for everything. You can find a wide variety at a home improvement store, but if you want something more unique, try looking for handles, knobs, and pulls at a flea market.

  • Install New Lighting Fixtures
    New lighting fixtures can make your kitchen more attractive as well as more functional. Swap out your older lighting for brighter hanging lights in an interesting shape, size, and/or style to add more personality to your kitchen. You can also add lower hanging lights, sconces, and other types of lighting to brighten up dark areas of your kitchen, making meal prep easier.

  • Hang New Window Treatments
    A fresh window treatment can add style to your kitchen for under $100. Consider woven shades that can, if you'd like, be layered with drapery panels. Don't cover too much of the window, however, since you'll still want to let natural light shine in.

  • Add Molding
    If your kitchen lacks molding, adding it can add architectural interest to the room. It doesn't have to be complicated or fussy-looking since a simple piece of molding with a single shape, and single depth will achieve what you're looking for.

Contact us if you're ready to find a new home and would like to see Lafayette homes for sale and visit Lafayette open houses. Our firm is the top real estate company in the Gulf South, and we have over a century of proven results. We'd be happy to help you find your new home in the area! 

August
17

How to Avoid a Bad DIY Project

DIY Projects

The DIY approach is not only affordable but also gives you more control over your results. At various Baton Rouge open houses, we've seen some lovely DIY remodeling jobs and decor projects. So, how do you ensure your own DIY project goes well and yields beautiful results? Here are a few tips to help you avoid a bad DIY project.

  • Know What You're Capable Of
    It's okay to challenge yourself a little with a DIY project, but you don't want to take on something so outside of your abilities that you end up doing a poor job. Before you take on a project, make sure you have the tools necessary to complete it. Also, make sure you have the skills necessary or can learn them easily.

    A good rule of thumb is that plumbing, HVAC, and roofing work should always be left to the pros. These fields require licenses and certifications for a reason; they're technical, and mistakes can be costly.

  • Measure Twice, Cut Once
    Getting measurements wrong is one of the most common ways to mess up a DIY project. You don't want to cut an expensive piece of flooring or wallboard to the wrong size and have to start over!

    Those in the building industry use the phrase "measure twice, cut once." If you're someone who often makes mistakes with numbers, have a friend or family member check your work before you make the cuts.

  • Prepare Your Surfaces Properly
    This is a common mistake homeowners make when painting. If you're painting, make sure you sand and prime the surface first. If you're putting down a floor, make sure the subfloor is level. Or, perhaps you're re-staining a deck. If so, you'll want to sand down rough spots and remove any oily residue before applying the stain. 

    Usually, finishing products like paints and stains will tell you how to prepare your surface prior to application. Read and follow these instructions closely.

  • Use a Level
    When you walk into a Baton Rouge home for sale, you notice whether pictures are level and the furniture is sitting evenly. Of course, you want your own home to have this same balance. So, use a level when tackling any DIY project that involves hanging wall art, positioning furniture, and the like.

    If you don't have a physical level, there are level apps you can download to your smartphone.

  • Have Your Paint Matched
    If you are painting something to match an already-painted surface, don't just go buy another gallon of paint you assume is the same color. Instead, bring a sample of the old paint with you to the paint store. The technicians can match it, so you end up with the perfect match.

    Pay attention to paint finishes, not just color. If the surface you're trying to match has an eggshell finish, for example, your new paint needs to have an eggshell finish, too.

  • Use a Stud Finder
    So many DIY projects involve hanging or mounting things on the walls. When you do this, you need to make sure you're drilling into wall studs, not just into the drywall.

    There are a number of stud-finding tools you can purchase, and also some stud-finding apps for smartphones. Use them to locate wall studs so you can mount things to them securely.

If you follow these tips, you should have better luck with all of your DIY projects. Contact us if you're still looking for a new home to live in. Our Realtors® can help find you a place worthy of your DIY efforts. 

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!

July
8

Tips for Buying a Historic Home

Historic Home Tips

If you're searching for a home with character and historical significance, a historic home is an excellent option.

A historic home is a property that retains a significant amount of the original construction and design, is at least 50 years old (potentially less if an event of historical significance happened on the property), and is connected to events that are historically important. 

However, there are a few things that make owning a historic home different from owning a typical home. Our real estate agents suggest following these tips when buying a historic home to ensure it's a great fit for your needs and budget. 

  • Realize That Historic Homes are Ideal for Buyers Interested in Preserving the Home
    If you want a home that you can modernize or make a lot of structural changes to, a historic home isn't the right fit for your design preferences. When you purchase a historic home, there are typically guidelines that specify what changes you can make to the property. As the owner, you're expected to maintain the original charm and design of the home. There are countless properties that you can renovate or redesign, but a historic home should be accepted as is. When you're checking out Lafayette homes for sale, look for a property that has a layout and design that meets your family's needs. For example, historic homes tend to have multiple small rooms rather than an open floor plan. If you want space for gathering with your family, you might look for a layout with multiple small rooms in close proximity to one another. You can then use each room for a specific function. 
  • Embrace the Uniquely Distinct Architecture and Charm of a Historic Home
    Purchasing a historic home often ensures that your home has a style and design that stands out from other homes in your area. This historic, authentic charm simply can't be replicated by more modern homes; many historic homes even experience higher than average appreciation in their property values thanks to the distinctiveness of the craftsmanship and features. 
  • Know That Updates to the Home Will be More Expensive
    You'll need to make occasional updates and maintenance repairs to the home that adhere to the original design. This means that you might spend more money on home maintenance and renovation than you would on a newer home. A historic home often requires specific materials and specialized labor to ensure that the repairs are as authentic as possible. To help cover the cost of the repairs, you can utilize a federal Historic Rehabilitation Tax Credit. There are also state programs that assist with defraying the expenses associated with maintaining a historic property. 
  • Explore Financing Programs Designed for Historic Homes
    A historic home can be a terrific investment, but it can also be difficult to procure financing through traditional mortgage programs. This is especially common if the home requires a lot of repairs or has structural problems. Fortunately, there are programs available that offer financial resources for restoring and caring for historic homes.

Ready to check out historic homes that you can call your home? Contact us today to get started!

July
6

Long-Distance House Hunting Tips

house hunting

Looking for a house can be challenging under any circumstances. It's even more difficult when you're looking somewhere far away from the city where you currently live. There are plenty of Baton Rouge homes for sale, but how do you know which one is right for you when you're that far away? Here are a few tips for long-distance house hunting.

  • Plan Ahead
    When you're looking locally, you have the time to browse casually and get a feel for what's available before you commit to anything. When you're hunting long-distance, you don't have that luxury. Make a comprehensive list of everything you're looking for in a house, including both your wants and your must-haves.

  • Be Flexible
    Keep in mind that your new area might not be like your old one. You may have your heart set on a particular style, but that style might not be as popular or widely available in your new city as it is in your current one. This is where your list comes in handy. It's important to know which features you absolutely need in your new home, and which ones you can compromise on.

  • Browse Home Listing Sites
    Looking at house listings online is no substitute for actually being there in person, but they can still provide helpful insight into the area where you're searching. Online listings can give you an idea of what's available in the area and how much you can expect to pay for it. This will help you as you plan your budget, and allow you to house hunt more efficiently.

  • Get a Good Agent
    This is important no matter where you're looking. But especially long-distance house hunting is something you shouldn't do alone. An agent who knows both the area and your needs can guide you through the process, helping you find places that meet your standards and fit your budget. That way, if you do manage to plan a brief trip to Baton Rouge, you can make the most of your time there.

  • Plan a Trip
    Carve out at least a couple of days to experience the new area for yourself. Find out from your real estate agent what Baton Rouge open houses are going on, and see if you can visit a few of them while you're there. However, the trip is important, not just for the houses themselves, but for the neighborhoods. Where are the schools, grocery stores, and other amenities, and how easy are they to get to? What's the traffic like? These are the sorts of things you can only find out by visiting a place in person. Be sure to go in with a clear plan and a clear objective, to make efficient use of your limited time there.

  • Understand What You're Doing
    Moving to a new city is a big step. It can also be a rewarding one, but make sure you're ready to do it before taking the plunge.

These are your first steps toward finding a new home in a new city. It's not an easy ordeal, but our real estate agents can help you through it. Contact us to get started.

June
24

Helpful Tips for Finding Your Decor Style

home decor

Worried that your home's furnishings don't complement one another? It's time to figure out your decor style!

While there's no rule that says you have to consistently stick to a specific decor style, it's usually easier to find pieces for your home when you know what style you find most appealing. Your home will also look more cohesive and put together. Our real estate agents suggest following these tips to help you determine your decor style. 

  • Use Your Current Home's Architecture
    Take a cue from our home's architecture to learn more about your decorative preferences. For example, if your home is a craftsman with a simple design that seems to blend in with nature, you'll likely prefer minimalist, nature-inspired decor or rustic furnishings. Or, if your home has a more flashy Queen Anne design with steep roofing, towers, vertical windows, and numerous decorative features, your decor style may lean towards traditional pieces (think classical, elegant items) or even art decor that embraces ornate home furnishings. 
  • Take a Home Decor Style Quiz
    A fast, effective way to learn your preferred home decor is to take an online quiz. Then, your results will tell you what your preferred decor style is. 
  • Flip Through Magazines
    Another way to determine your ideal home style is to flip through magazines. Don't look for anything in particular; instead, flip through the magazine and mark any rooms or pieces that are appealing to you. Go back through the pages you saved to get a better idea of why style you tend to gravitate towards. 
  • Check Out Other Homes
    Drive around your town, and make a note of any homes with an exterior that you instantly love. When you go to Lafeyette open houses, look for rooms or homes that you find appealing. Seeing specific decor styles in real life can assist you with narrowing down your home decor tastes. 
  • Examine Your Wardrobe
    Your wardrobe offers a lot of insight as to what style you tend to prefer. Are most of your clothes neutral, or do you tend to gravitate towards cheery prints and bright colors? Does your clothing have clean, straight lines, or do you prefer flowy, romantic pieces? If you like a specific style for your wardrobe, you're likely to prefer pieces with a similar style in your home. 
  • Take a Tour Through Your Home for Inspiration
    Go through each room in your home, and look for pieces that you like and would select again for your home. Use these furnishings and decorative items to figure out what they have in common and help you get a better sense of your style. You can also use these items to help you stage your home's rooms before adding it to the list of Lafayette homes for sale

Finding your home decor style can be tricky, but once you know your stylistic preferences, it's easier to find items that fit your aesthetic preferences and budget.

Ready to put your home on the market? 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.

May
20

7 Tips for Updating Your Smart Home Tech

Smart Home Tech

Smart home technology has made everyday life so much simpler. A decade or two ago, you probably could not have imagined asking your digital assistant to dim the lights or checking your security camera remotely while on vacation. But smart home technology is continually evolving, and it's important to ensure your home is up-to-date. Our real estate agents are excited to share 7 tips for updating your smart home tech.

  1. Start with the Thermostat
    If you don't already have a smart thermostat, this is the first smart appliance to invest in. A smart thermostat will allow you to adjust your home's temperature while you're away. It will also help you more closely monitor your energy consumption. This one upgrade can yield significant savings on your energy bill and pay for itself in no time.

  2. Add a Second Smart Camera
    If you don't already have a smart camera or video doorbell at your main door, then this is an important upgrade to make. Video doorbells give you so much security. You'll never have to guess who's on the other side of the door. 

    If you do already have a video doorbell at your front door, consider adding a second one at your side or back door. This will help you make sure nobody tampers with these entrances while you're away.

  3. Install a Smart Toilet
    Smart toilets keep themselves clean. They also have heated seats, deodorizer sprayers, and low-flush technology. 

  4. Keep Cool With Smart Shades
    In Louisiana, summers get hot. But you can keep your home cooler with smart shades. These automated shades roll up when it's dark out and down when it's sunny. They keep the heat outside where it belongs. You can control the shades remotely with your smartphone and set unique opening and closing schedules for each day of the week.

  5. Add WiFi-Compatible Lights
    WiFi-compatible lights are awesome because they're energy-efficient, but they're also a lot of fun. You can set these lights to flicker like a strobe light when you're having a party. Dim them down for a romantic evening, or turn them up when you're reading. You can even turn the lights on remotely to make it look like someone's home while you're away. 

  6. Install Smart Locks
    How many times have you pulled into the parking lot at work, then realized you forgot to lock your house? If you have smart locks, this won't be a concern. You can just pull out your phone and lock your home remotely. Smart locks are an incredible investment for busy parents. They also make it easy to unlock your home to let a guest inside. You won't have to hand out spare keys anymore.

  7. Invest in Smart Irrigation Systems
    There are several types of smart irrigation systems that make watering your plants so much easier. Self-watering pots are nice for potted herbs and flowers. If you have a larger flower bed, you may want to have a landscaper install smart sprinklers. You can even install smart sprinklers throughout your lawn, so your grass stays nice and green with less effort. We've seen these at some Lafayette open houses, and they're very convenient.

With the tips above, you can easily raise your smart home's IQ! If you're still looking for the perfect house to make your home, contact us. Our experienced real estate agents will happily guide you through the buying process and help you search Lafayette homes for sale

March
25

What Makes the Perfect Kitchen?

Kitchen Tips

The kitchen is the heart of today's home, especially with many of us spending more time at home than we used to, so it's important for it to have all of the qualities that will help you love your kitchen. While what makes the perfect kitchen is subjective to you and your family's needs, there are several features most people will appreciate in this space. Fortunately, our real estate agents are here to take some of the guesswork out of it, so that you have a list of specific things to look for in your housing search or when you go to remodel.

  • Functional Layout
    A kitchen that is well laid out will have a nice flow to the casual observer, but more importantly, the layout should be functional, so that everything you need is close at hand while you cook. Avoid crowded-looking or maze-like kitchens. Instead, look for a kitchen with storage cabinets, spice racks, pantries, prep space, cooktop, and a sink that are all easy to access while you cook.

  • Layered Lighting
    Lighting is important everywhere in the house, but especially in the kitchen. The ideal kitchen should have several layers of lighting, such as overall lighting that lights the entire room, plus focused task lighting that brightly illuminates your prep spaces in the kitchen.

  • Traditional Touches
    Many of the most popular trends right now in Lafayette homes for sale, in kitchens as well as in the rest of the house, pull in vintage and traditional aspects to soften the cleaner, more modern look we're accustomed to. This eclectic style tends to look more warm, homey, and comforting, which fits well in a room that doubles as a gathering place for family and friends.

  • Multi-Functional
    If your kitchen is to serve several different functions in your home, from a food prep space to a gathering spot, it's important that it's designed to accommodate the different kinds of traffic. In addition to food prep areas being laid out for the cook's convenience, there should also be places where family and friends can gather, such as an island with seating, usually close to food prep areas.

  • Minimalism
    While traditional and vintage touches have become trendy, homeowners and buyers may still prefer a clean, uncluttered space. This means cabinetry that provides easy storage for hiding appliances such as coffee machines and toaster ovens. Appliance cupboards can be installed with roll-up doors and power receptacles, so that you can easily access your appliances and still hide them when they're not in use, preserving the simple lines of a clean counter space.

  • Smart Appliances
    As kitchens get more simple and minimalistic, they're also becoming more complex, but in ways that simplify our lives. Smart appliances can track the contents of your fridge, add items to your grocery list before they run out, and even allow you to run the dishwasher, preheat the oven, or make sure you turned everything off from your phone.

Finding a house with the perfect kitchen might seem impossible, but it's totally doable once you understand what goes into making a kitchen "perfect." Not to mention, the kitchen is one of the most important rooms in the house, since it's a multifunctional space that is responsible not only for feeding the entire family but bringing everyone together, family and friends alike. For more information on what homebuyers want in a kitchen, contact us today or stop by one of our Lafayette open houses.

March
2

5 Tips for Moving a Collection

Moving Tips

Have you contacted our real estate agents, reviewed Alexandria homes for sale, and found yourself a new home? Moving is stressful, and it gets even more stressful when you have a valuable collection you need to move.

In an ideal world, after identifying a suitable home, you would move in and begin buying new things. However, in the real world, you get attached to your belongings and collections. So, you need to ensure your collection moves safely from your old to your new home. Here are helpful tips for moving your collection.

  1. Prepare for the Move
    The most important part of moving a collection is preparing for the move. What needs to be moved? While you're likely attached to many of the items in your collection, take the time to see if there are any items you can part with. The fewer items you have to move, the easier your move. Plus selling some items from your collection might help with moving costs.

  2. Create an Inventory List
    Before contacting a moving company, you should begin by taking an inventory of your collection. The list should include the item's name, description, and value. An inventory list helps appraise your collection's value and verify that every item in the collection reaches the intended destination. It's also important to take pictures of your collection when taking the inventory. Your insurer may ask for the photos for verification. Additionally, you can send a copy of these pictures to experts to help value your collection.

  3. Get Collectibles Insurance
    If the collection you intend to move is of high value or sentimental value, you must safeguard it in every way possible. You can protect your collection by taking collectibles insurance.

  4. Pack Your Collection
    What type of collection do you intend to move? Different types of collections have different packing procedures. For example, if you are moving a record collection, you will need a plastic sleeve for each record. Since records are sensitive to heat, you need to avoid excess heat during the move. When moving a wine collection, box corked wines upside down to ensure the corks remain wet. You shouldn't pack any open wine bottles. Also, since wine is sensitive to temperature, consider hiring a refrigerated truck to move your collection. If you are moving a vintage toy collection, use bubble wrap and different zip lock bags to seal each toy. It's better if you can access the original toy packaging and gently wrap each item before storing them in the box. Correctly packing your collection means accounting for fragile items and goods sensitive to temperature or humidity. Remember to evaluate the unique concerns of your collection before packing to identify which packing supplies you need.

  5. Hire a Moving Company
    The best way to ensure your collection remains safe during the move is by seeking the services of professional movers. Before contracting a company, inquire if they have experience moving special collections. If they do, you can ask them about various measures they take to ensure your treasured belongings safely arrive in your new home. Remember to disclose the number of boxes you will be moving to help them determine the right vehicle to use during the day of the move. Professional movers have the experience, tools, and workforce to help move your collection.

Are you looking to relocate? Contact us today to view our listing and buy your dream home!

February
9

How to Create a Pet-Friendly Home

Pet Home Tips

If you have a beloved four-legged friend in your house, you know that it's not really your house. It's their house. You just live there... and pay the mortgage. 

Our real estate agents know what it's like to share space with a canine or feline companion. We understand the rewards and also the challenges. It's not always easy to create a pet-friendly home that offers everything your pets require. 

One of the most common things our clients always ask for when they're looking for Baton Rouge homes for sale is a place that's pet-friendly. Here's what to look for in a pet-friendly home and how you can make your place more accommodating. 

  • Consider the Stairs. Some pets take stairs like a champ. Others, not so much. If you have a senior dog, for example, maybe a 5th-floor apartment with no elevator isn't for you. A single-family home where your pooch can live like a queen on the first floor might be more your speed. 

  • Color Code Your Space. Interior designers use colors in countless creative ways. Pet owners use them to disguise their pets' constant shedding. When it comes to furniture and flooring, choose colors that are close to the tone of your pets' fur. If you have dark floors and a white dog, you're going to see little white tumbleweeds everywhere. 

  • Don't Overlook Wall Texture. Furry walls are a real thing, and many homeowners fail to consider them. Highly textured walls are like fur magnets, so paint with a satin or semi-gloss finish that repels fur instead of attracting it. 

  • Give Them a Boost. Some pets have a hard time getting up on beds and couches. Assuming yours are allowed up there, arrange the room with a smaller piece of furniture, like an ottoman, nearby that they can use to make the leap more easily.

  • Choose Hardwood Floors. Hardwood is infinitely easier to clean compared to carpet, and it doesn't absorb pet odors the way carpet does. Tile and linoleum are pretty good too. If you do get carpets or area rugs, look for colors that match your pets' fur.

  • Create a Pet Storage Space. Pet toys, treats, and accessories have a way of ending up... well, everywhere. Cleaning them up and keeping them organized is a never-ending battle, but a smart storage solution can help. A ground-level basket for toys, an out-of-reach bin for treats, and hooks for hanging leashes and collars will help keep the mess in check. 

  • Offer a Place to Rest. A plush, comfortable dog bed is a staple of any canine household. Look for one that's well-made, comfy, and matches the overall decor in your home. 

  • Stow Bowls and Litter Boxes. Choose a litter box location where you don't have to see (or smell) it. Laundry rooms and garages are perfect. If you don't want to always see your pet's food bowls, they too can be placed out of sight or even designed to slide in and out of your kitchen cabinets at mealtime. 

Explore Pet-Friendly Homes in Baton Rouge

Check out these exciting upcoming Baton Rouge open houses to explore your next pet-friendly paradise in Louisiana. Baton Rouge also has a reputation as an amazingly pet-friendly city, with numerous dog parks, doggy daycares, pet-friendly restaurants, and top-notch veterinarians. 

Contact us today to learn more about life in Baton Rouge, and be sure to ask out real estate agents about how we can find your pet's next great home. Don't worry, you can live there too. 

January
7

New Year's Resolution: How to Make a Cleaning Schedule

Cleaning Schedule

Trying to think of a New Year's resolution for your home? Making a cleaning schedule helps you keep your home extra tidy all year long. Plus, if you are getting ready to sell your home, a cleaning schedule can help ensure your home is ready for any showings. Here are a few tips from our real estate agents to help you set a successful cleaning schedule for 2022. 

  • Make a Master Task List
    Part of the problem with keeping your house clean is forgetting how many things you actually have to do. It's easy to get into a routine of keeping the kitchen clean, and then next thing you know, you've got dust piling up on all your surfaces. Sit down and make a comprehensive list of all the things you need to clean regularly in order to keep your house clean, noting the frequency of each task on the list. If you need to do a deep cleaning of anything, for instance, before your house joins other Lafayette homes for sale, put that on the list too.

  • Pick Your Cleaning Style
    There are a few different approaches to cleaning the house. For instance, are you the type who likes to do a little every day to avoid lengthier cleaning days? Or do you prefer to get it done all at once? One approach to a daily cleaning schedule is to focus on speed cleaning everything lightly every day to prevent the need for deep cleaning. Alternatively, you can set a timer every day for 30, 60, or 90 minutes, and when the timer goes off, you're done for the day. For those who like a more rigid approach, you can actually schedule all of your tasks on a monthly calendar. Or, if you're an all-in-one-day kind of person, pick a day each week or every couple of weeks where you have the time to devote an entire day to cleaning.

  • Assign Tasks
    Once you've figured out how you'd like to schedule your cleaning, it's simply a matter of assigning tasks to fill in the time. If you're speed cleaning daily or doing timed cleaning, pressing or frequent tasks come first, and other tasks from your master list can be added as time allows. If you're the calendar type, fill in your cleaning calendar with tasks throughout the month according to how often they need to be done to stay on top of a clean house. If you're a one-big-cleaning-day type of person, do the regular tasks first, and fill in with an alternating schedule of less frequent tasks where you have time.

  • Regroup as Needed
    The biggest problem with New Year's resolutions is that people often don't reassess and adjust their original goals. Try out your new cleaning schedule, and if it obviously isn't working, change it! Do you have busy days where you don't have time to clean? Does something need to be cleaned more often? Can something else be cleaned less often to make life easier on you? Change what needs to be changed, and don't be hard on yourself when you don't get something done. Just pick it back up next time.

Most people don't love cleaning, so setting a schedule can help you stay on top of it. If you're planning to sell your house soon, on the other hand, you may need to devote time to a more thorough cleaning. For more information on what should be cleaned to stage your home for sale, contact us today.

November
5

National Recycling Day: Tips for a Sustainable Home

Sustainable Home

As environmentally conscious Americans look toward a more sustainable lifestyle, it quickly becomes evident that recycling is a critical part of the equation; so much so that we have recognized National Recycling Day on November 15th since 1997. Our real estate agents would like to point out some of the ways you can make your home more sustainable and how we can use recycling to improve our lives as well as the health of the planet. 

  • Recycled Building Materials
    These fall into two main categories: reusing existing materials and products made from recycled materials. Many Lafayette homes for sale have been repaired or remodeled with reclaimed materials. Supplies reclaimed from tear-down sites often find their way into barbecue pits, fences, and walls. A frugal shopper can find useable materials in donation outlets such as Habitat for Humanity Restore. Online sites such as Craigslist and Offer Up are also great resources for materials while protecting local landfills. Barn wood is a perfect option for a decorative material thanks to its unique weathered appearance. Even old blue jeans make excellent insulation material. Recycled materials that are transformed into entirely new products are newspaper wood, ecobricks made from waste plastic, and glass bricks made from recycled glass. All it takes is a little creativity! 
  • Household Products
    Homeowners can support recycling by purchasing goods made from recycled materials. Some items you use every day are made from recycled materials. The most common are paper products. Look for the recycled symbol on copy paper, facial tissue, toilet paper, and paper towels. While in their earlier days, some of these items were inferior to products made from new materials, production processes have improved dramatically over the years and you will find it difficult to recognize which is which. That's why it's important to read the labels to make sure you support the companies that give materials a second life. Plus, when possible opt for products that are reusable compared to disposable ones. This adds up over time and can save you money in the long run! 
    • Refurbished Furniture
      You don't have to feel guilty about hating that old dining room table your grandmother gave you when you got your first apartment. You can find some items like that new homes simply by putting a "free" sign on them and setting them in the front yard (Do check HOA regulations first!) or consider donating your old furniture when possible. Prefer to keep your old furniture and take on a DIY project? You can also have couches reupholstered, refinish dressers and chests of drawers, and so much more. Get creative!
    • Explore DIY Options Before Buying New
      Whether you need a birdbath for the backyard, a headboard for the bed, or more storage in the den, you can find do-it-yourself ideas on the internet. Very few require significant carpentry skills. A little spray paint may be all you need to turn an old tv stand into attractive storage. Prop your feet up on your beautiful new ottoman made by padding an old coffee table. 

    Looking for a home with eco-friendly features? If you're in the market for a new home, contact us. There are plenty of gorgeous options in Lafayette, waiting just for you!

    October
    22

    Housewarming Gift Ideas That First-Time Homeowners Will Love

    Gift IdeasOur real estate agents know that a housewarming gift is a fantastic way to congratulate a first-time homeowner on their new purchase. When selecting a gift, you want to choose something that the recipient will find useful. Here are some housewarming gift ideas that new homeowners are sure to love. 

    1. A Bottle of Wine in a Wine Cooler Bag
      If the new homeowners enjoy wine, gift them a bottle in a wine cooler bag. A wine cooler bag is one of those items that you don't realize how useful it actually is until you own one. Wine cooler bags are produced using water-resistant materials that provide insulation. They make it easy to transfer a chilled bottle of wine without worrying about the bottle sweating or getting warm during your travels. Thanks to the similarity in the size of their bottles, you can often use a wine cooler bag to transport a chilled fifth-sized bottle of liquor. 
    1. A Weighted Blanket
      Using a weighted blanket is an excellent way to encourage a more restful night of slumber, decrease the amount of time it takes to fall asleep, reduce anxiety, and improve restless leg syndrome. Some individuals even like to use them when they're lounging and relaxing. Consider gifting a weighted blanket with a removable cover. This makes it easy to handle spills and drips without having to launder the weighted portion of the blanket. 
    1. A Letter and Key Holder
      Make sure that the new homeowners never misplace their keys by gifting them a letter and key holder. The hooks are perfect for keeping keys and pet leashes in a designated location, while the mail holder portion provides a place to stow mail so that it doesn't pile up on a table or counter. 
    1. A Folding Step Stool
      Unfortunately, there are likely to be areas within their new home that the homeowners simply can't access on their own. A folding step stool gives them the lift they need to reach light fixtures and the top shelves of cabinets. When the stool isn't needed, they can fold and store it. 
    1. An Indoor Plant
      An indoor plant is a gift that suits nearly any style of home decor and improves the air quality inside the home. Individuals who are adding their homes to the list of Lafayette homes for sale are even encouraged to add a couple of plants because they've been shown to freshen the air and enhance the overall appearance of a room. Succulents, cactuses, aloe vera plants, spider plants, snake plants, and orchids are a few low-maintenance options. 
    1. A Video Doorbell
      A video doorbell is a versatile selection that makes their new home feel more safe and secure. They can see who's at the door before they answer it, and they're handy for remotely keeping an eye on front porches and driveways (serving as a potential deterrent to porch pirates). 
    1. A Gift Card to a Local Restaurant
      The new homeowners likely have some busy days ahead as they unpack boxes and organize their new home. Make it easy for them to have a delicious dinner, even when their schedule is full, and their budget is maxed out, with a gift card to a local restaurant. To make the gift card even more convenient to use, look for a restaurant that delivers. 

    Ready to become a first-time homeowner? Contact us today to get started!

    October
    18

    7 Tips for Adding Personality to Your Home

    Home Decor Tips

    When you first move into your new house, you might find it beautiful, but it may not quite feel like "home" yet. In order to make it feel like home, you need to give it some personality! Here are some fun and easy ways our real estate agents recommend bringing your own personality into your new space.

    1. Display Your Souvenirs
      Do you have souvenirs from vacations you've taken? Perhaps you have a collection of shot glasses from different cities, or maybe you have a few prints you've bought at key destinations. Work these into your decor. They are part of your story, and they're great conversation pieces that will prompt visitors to ask you about your travels.

    2. Add Meaningful Decor
      Not every piece in your space needs to have a story or call lots of attention to itself. In fact, if every piece is a conversation piece, the space might feel overwhelming. A good strategy is to choose mostly "plain" items to decorate with and then work in a few key, meaningful pieces that speak to your interests and personality. These key pieces will then hold your attention more readily.

    3. Avoid Clutter While Decorating
      Clutter has a way of getting in the way of a room's personality. It distracts from the decorations you've chosen. So, as you decorate your new home, make sure you don't allow clutter to accumulate. Include lots of storage so you can hide away things like keys, note pads, and pencils. Make sure every item in the room has a home.

    4. Purchase Some Custom Artwork
      Decorating your whole home with custom artwork can get expensive, but including a few custom pieces is pretty manageable. Work with an artist to have a large painting created for your living room and perhaps one for the dining room. Make sure this painting depicts something you love. For example, if you are an equestrian, you may wish to have a custom painting of horses made for your home. 

    5. Choose Colors You Love
      Different colors evoke different feelings. Red is energetic and exciting. Blue is cool and calm. Think about your personality and the colors that best represent it. If you're a really quiet person, for example, including a lot of blue and green in your home can help give off that personality. If you're an energetic person, you may want to decorate with orange and yellow.

    6. Design Areas for Your Hobbies
      Throughout your home, aim to create spaces where you can comfortably engage in the activities you love most. For example, if you love reading, you might want to create a reading nook in your living room. If you enjoy cooking, you might want to deck out your kitchen with the latest cookware, displaying it on your shelves. Don't forget the yard, either. You can put it in a garden or a grill area if those things suit your personality.

    7. Decorate the Entryway
      Sometimes there is a tendency to dismiss the entryway as a purely functional part of the home where you keep your coats and shoes. But this is the first place guests see when they come over! Make sure you decorate it with a few personal items, like family photos or souvenirs.

    Remember, you don't have to decorate your home in one day. Work on it slowly, using the tips above to add personality along the way. If you're still looking for New Orleans homes for sale, don't hesitate to contact us. Our helpful real estate agents can guide you every step of the way.

    October
    6

    When to Replace These Household Items

    Household Items

    Maintaining a clean and healthy household is an important part of homeownership, so our real estate agents always recommend replacing everyday household items on a regular basis. However, keeping track of when things need to be replaced can be challenging as there are so many items we use on a daily basis. To further complicate things, many household items need to be replaced more often than you'd think. 

    To keep a clean, safe, and healthy home, we recommend replacing these household items at regular intervals throughout the year:

    • Hand Towels - If you leave wet hand towels in your bathroom for an extended period of time, you're really creating a space for germs to thrive. Hand towels should be swapped out and washed every 2 to 3 days at a minimum. However, if they see a lot of use, it's not a bad idea to replace them daily. 
    • Bath Mats - Similar to hand towels, bath mats collect a lot of moisture over time. To keep them germ-free, you'll want to wash them regularly and replace them every 18 to 24 months. Plus, who doesn't love shopping for a new bath mat?
    • Toothbrush - Brushing your teeth is a part of your daily routine, but it's easy to forget to swap out your toothbrush. However, your toothbrush actually becomes less effective as the bristles start to wear, so you should replace it every 3 months. 
    • Refrigerator Water Filters - Your water filter in your refrigerator is responsible for clean drinking water and clean ice, but it also collects a significant amount of bacteria. Change it every 6 to 8 months. 
    • Toilet Brush - You might think your toilet cleaner is keeping your toilet brush clean, but the truth is toilet brushes accumulate a significant amount of bacteria after each clean. The longevity of your brush will ultimately depend on how often you clean your toilet, but you should probably swap it out every year at a minimum.
    • Kitchen Sponges - Dirty kitchen sponges should be replaced on a weekly basis. When reused repeatedly over an extended period of time, they can leave germs and bacteria on your dishes and countertops, which can then make their way into your food.
    • Air Conditioning Filters - Your air conditioning filter prevents dirt, particles, and allergens from circulating throughout your home. It also protects your air conditioning unit from ingesting these harmful particles as well, which can ultimately shorten its lifespan. As a result, your best bet is to replace it every 4 months. 
    • Pillow Cases - Pillowcases do not last forever, and over time they can accumulate dust mites. Unless you're using special allergen covers, you should wash your pillowcases weekly and replace them annually. 
    • Vacuum Cleaner Filters - When your vacuum filter starts to overflow, you'll want to take care of it right away to prevent the particles it sucks up from reemerging into the air. As a result, be sure to change it out every three to six months.

    No household item lasts forever, but the ones listed above need to be replaced relatively frequently to keep your home clean and healthy. For more tips on home maintenance, or to start searching Baton Rouge 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
    13

    Build or Buy a Home?

    Build or Buy a Home

    If you're purchasing your first home or ready to upgrade your existing residence, you're likely wondering if it's better to buy or build a home. Our real estate agents know that there is no "correct" answer to this quandary; the final answer depends on your specific needs and situation. Here are a few things to keep in mind as you make your decision. 

    1. Your Moving Timeline
      While it takes an average of 7.7 months to build a new home, it isn't uncommon for the process to take more than a year. When you buy a home, once you locate a property that fits your needs and the seller accepts your offer, it takes an average of 56 days to officially close the deal. If your goal is to complete your move as quickly as possible, buying a home is definitely the quicker alternative. However, if you're not on a strict schedule and are more interested in having a home that's created specifically for your preferences, building a home may be the better option. 
    1. Your Budget for the Home and Overall Financial Situation
      In general, it's cheaper to purchase an existing home than it is to build a comparable property. It's often difficult to precisely estimate the exact cost of building a home, as the prices for labor and building materials can quickly change. Running utilities to land without the infrastructure in place is often expensive. The financing process for building a home is a little different than when you buy a home. First, you have to procure approval for a land loan to purchase the land for the home. Securing approval for a land loan requires excellent credit and available funds for a down payment. Then, you need to take out a construction loan to build your property. Once the property is complete, you'll consolidate both the land loan and construction loan into a traditional mortgage. If you don't have a ton of extra cash or stellar credit, you may have trouble securing the required financing to build a house.
    1. Your List of Must-Haves
      When you purchase a home, it's tricky finding everything that you like in a single property. A lot of Lafayette homes for sale will have most of the characteristics you want, and you can always renovate your home so that it's a better fit for your wants. However, if you have a specific floorplan in mind or want your home to have your ideal aesthetic from the day you move in, building a home lets, you accomplish these goals. When you build a home, you can customize every single detail about the property. Some homebuyers find the number of decisions overwhelming, while others value the opportunity to make a home completely their own. You even have the ability to personalize the setup and details of your home's landscaping and yard structures. 
    1. Your Tolerance for Stress
      Due to the longer timeline and many decisions to make and tasks to complete, building a home is typically viewed as more stressful than purchasing a home. There's a lot of time, effort, and money involved with building a home. You'll also have to manage the details to make sure everything is completed according to your wishes.

    Ready to start the homebuying process? Contact us to begin your search!

    July
    7

    Kitchen Updates to Make Cooking Easier

    Kitchen Updates

    There are Baton Rouge homes for sale that can meet all of your needs. However, that doesn't mean you can't still do a bit of work to make your new house your own. If you're a home chef, for instance, you might like to make a few changes to making cooking easier. From minor additions to major renovations, here are a few kitchen updates to consider.

    1. An Induction Cooktop
      A regular electric or gas-powered range can work well for your basic needs, but an induction cooktop can make cooking so much easier and more precise. It lets you regulate temperature more accurately, for perfect browning, boiling, and steaming, every time. It's also more energy-efficient than your regular stovetop.

    2. A Warming Drawer
      If you're cooking multiple things at once, the dish you finish first will sit around getting cold while you work on the ones that take longer. A warming drawer lets you get dishes out of the way as soon as you finish them while keeping them warm and ready for serving. If you're a fan of the Great British Baking Show, you can also use your warming drawer as a proofing drawer to let bread doughs rise.

    3. A Produce Washing Station
      You can wash your fruits and vegetables in the sink, but that's the same place where you're putting your dirty dishes. If you happen to drop something, it will end up even dirtier than it was. Consider installing a second, smaller sink off to the side, just for washing produce. It will help keep your prep work separate from your cleanup and keep your food a lot cleaner and more sanitary.

    4. Lighting
      There are three types of light you want in the kitchen. Ambient light is like what you have in every other room - a simple overhead fixture to illuminate the room in general. Accent lighting adds more illumination to a specific area of the kitchen. If you have a kitchen island, you may want a light above it to turn on when the family is sitting around it to eat. Finally, task lighting is a direct light that shines on a particular workspace to help give you a better view of what you're doing. You may have a task light above the counter for when you chop vegetables or above the stovetop to help you see what's on the back burner. 

    5. Storage
      There's nothing more frustrating in the kitchen than having to take apart an entire cupboard to find the one pot or pan you're looking for. Fortunately, there are plenty of simple ways to make container storage more convenient. Install a few sturdy hooks a couple of feet above the stove, and hang your pots and pans from them for easy access. You can add extra shelving to the kitchen walls, too. Try putting in a single shelf, right at eye level, that goes all the way around the kitchen. Use it for herbs, spices, flour, sugar, and other non-perishable ingredients that you want at hand. It will make things easier to find and make cooking easier and quicker.

    These are just a few of the ways you can update the kitchen in your new home. Whether you want to add a few finishing touches or a complete remodel, our real estate agents can help you find the best way to make your new kitchen your own. Contact us and let us help you find the perfect house for you.

    June
    30

    Bidding War Tips: What to do

    Bidding War

    As the housing market continues to be competitive due to high demand and low inventory, many buyers are forced to act quickly and pay top dollar to secure the house of their dreams. As sellers continue to select the highest and best offer, it's all too common for bidding wars to break out between prospective buyers.

    If you're in the market for a new home, it's important to prepare yourself for a potential bidding war when making an offer. Our real estate agents have extensive experience when it comes to creating compelling offers, and we've compiled some things to know if you're trying to secure a new home in this market.

    • Get Your Preapproval Letter First
      Depending on your lender, getting preapproved for a mortgage can often take a couple of days, which is precious time in this market. To be competitive, you'll need to be ready to make an offer as quickly as possible. Talk to your lender about getting preapproved before you start shopping. Your lender will ask for bank statements, W-2 forms, pay stubs and will also pull your credit report. After reviewing your financial documents, your lender will issue a preapproved letter that serves as a signal that you're in the market and prepared to make an offer.

    • Determine Your Maximum Purchase Price
      Before making an offer, you need to determine the maximum amount you're comfortable paying for the home. You can then work with your real estate agent to include an escalation clause in your offer that essentially increases your bid by a specific amount over the highest bid but not to exceed a defined limit.

    • Forget About Adding Contingencies
      Under normal market conditions, buyers have more leverage and can often request that their offer be contingent on certain conditions, such as leaving certain furniture and appliances or making repairs. In a seller's market, it's best to forget about contingencies. When you're in a bidding war with other buyers, dropping all contingencies is a smart way to make your offer stronger.

    • Work With An Experienced Agent
      The key to winning a bidding war without exceeding your budget is to work with an experienced real estate agent. A good agent can get the inside scoop on the number of offers a seller has received. He or she should also know the proper way to execute an escalation clause and can advise you on the best strategies for putting forward a compelling offer. Because homes are going quickly, your agent should be a good communicator and available to draft an offer letter when you're ready to do so.

    If you're thinking about purchasing one of these beautiful Alexandria homes for sale, make sure you're working with an agent who can help you create a compelling offer. Contact us today. 

      July
      2

      6 Tips for Upcycling Furniture

      Furniture Tips

      Keep your furniture out of the landfill and revamp your home's look by upcycling some of your existing pieces. Upcycling your furniture is a cost-effective alternative to purchasing new furniture. Our real estate agents know that strategically adding a few upcycled pieces to your home can help it appeal to potential buyers. Here are some tips to follow to help you get started. 

      1. Start with a Clean Slate
        Before you start your project, it's essential to properly prepare your furniture. You want your furniture as clean as possible so that your new paint or stain doesn't have dust mixed in. While furniture polish works well for removing small amounts of dirt and grime, an oil soap designed for cleaning furniture is effective on even the thickest layers of filth. 
      1. Gather All Your Supplies
        Gather everything that you need to upcycle your furniture beforehand. This includes items like tools, new hardware, paint or stain, paint brushes, cleaning supplies, sandpaper, and dropcloths for your workspace. Make sure to order extra paint, stain, or fabric in case you have a mishap. 
      1. Be Realistic with Your Capabilities
        If you're a novice when it comes to DIY, select a project that's suited to your abilities. It's fine to try to learn a new skill, but start small so that you don't get frustrated or overwhelmed. For example, instead of upholstering your whole couch, start with your dining room chairs. Paint old furniture with chalkboard paint that's forgiving, requires minimal surface preparation and is easy to work with instead of opting for a product that states you have to sand and prep the surface. Make sure to allocate ample time for your project. You may want to revamp a few pieces before adding your home to the inventory of Houma homes for sale; if so, schedule in more time than you think you'll need to see that the pieces are done in time. 
      1. Stick with Durable Pieces
        When you're choosing a piece of furniture to upcycle, avoid selecting pieces produced from cheap, flimsy particleboard. Particleboard simply isn't strong enough to withstand extensive sanding and cutting. Instead, choose furniture crafted from wood. Wood pieces have longevity, and they can stand up to a little demo work. You have a lot of options for overhauling the look of wood furniture, including paint, stain, or even wallpaper. Lacking sturdy furniture around your home? Try a thrift store or yard sale to pick up pieces at budget-friendly prices. 
      1. Think Outside the Box
        While you may envision furniture when planning your upcycling projects, it's also possible to upcycle smaller household items. Glass jars are an excellent alternative to repurpose for additional storage; clean the jar out well with soap and use nail polish to eradicate any sticky residue from the label. Use your old suitcase to create a new bookcase or coffee table. Give an old picture frame a fresh coat of paint and turn it into a makeup or jewelry tray. 
      1. Invest in Quality Material
        It's a smart idea to spend a little extra money on the materials for your project. A cheap paintbrush will result in uneven coats and potentially leave bristles on your furniture. A high-quality paint will ensure you have even coverage that won't chip or fade. 

      Is it time to put your home on the market? Contact us today to get started!

      June
      25

      Helpful Tips for Installing a Sprinkler System

      Sprinkler SystemIn-ground automatic sprinklers play an important role in maintaining a high-quality lawn. Evenly distributing water across your landscaping at certain intervals throughout the day helps promote healthy grass, great-looking shrubs, and beautiful flowers. Using a sprinkler system is much more efficient than manually watering your plants each day. However, installing sprinkler systems isn't always easy. If you're planning to install your own system, below are some tips to help guide you through the process.

      1. Mark Your Pipe And Sprinkler Heads 
        The first step is determining your ideal irrigation plan. The right distribution of water at the proper intervals is critical for maintaining a healthy lawn. If you need some guidance, our real estate agents can refer a number of professional landscapers that can help.

        Once you've determined your plan, you'll need to mark the locations of your planned sprinklers with stakes or flags. Then, use string to mark the locations of your pipes.

      2. Dig Trenches
        After you've mapped out your pipe and sprinkler heads, you'll need to dig trenches 6 to 12 inches deep. The actual size will depend on the size of your pipe. Make sure to allow for more than enough room as you don't want to end up with exposed pipes in your yard. When digging trenches, we recommend placing soil on one side and sod on the other. It's usually easiest to rent a power trencher as digging manually can take quite some time.

      3. Connect Your Water System
        The next step is hooking up your sprinkler system to your water supply. The easiest thing to do is to connect your system directly to a spigot (you can also connect to your main water line if necessary, but this work may be best suited for a plumber). When connecting to a spigot, you'll need to shut off your water supply. Then, swap out the original spigot with a brass tee. After that, you'll need to match the outlets with the faucet and irrigation pipe and connect them by fitting the short pipe with threads into the tee stem. 

      4. Install Valve Manifold and Lay The Pipe
        Next, in order to install the valve manifold, create a hole that is just big enough to hold the valve manifold box. Then, attach the water supply to one end of the manifold. Afterward, lay your PVC pipe along your trenches and your sprinkler heads at the designated markers.

      5. Assemble Your Pieces
        Begin at your first sprinkler and assemble your pipes and pieces (except for the sprinkler heads). Connect the parts at each sprinkler location. It's easy for dirt to find its way into your pipes, so you'll want to adequately flush your pipes by turning your water on and opening up each value. Be sure to close each valve before moving on to the next one. After you've flushed out the entire system, you can attach your sprinkler heads.

      6. Connect The Wiring
        Lastly, place the programmable timer on the wall and wire the connection box. If you're not experienced working with wires or electricity, it's a good idea to consult an electrician. You'll need to attach your 24-volt wires to the timer terminal. After the wiring is set up, you can set the timer to match your desired irritation plan.

      After you've connected the wiring, then you can test your system and fill your trenches.

      Many owners of these Lafayette homes for sale use a good sprinkler system to maintain beautiful-looking lawns. For more lawn care tips, contact us today.

      June
      9

      When Should You Go Over Asking Price?

      Asking Price

      You looked at Baton Rouge homes for sale and found the perfect house for your family. You're getting ready to make your offer and are considering going over the asking price. Should you? Our real estate agents encourage you to consider these things. 

      1. Multiple Offers
        Your agent can discuss with the seller's agent whether there are other offers on the table or if more offers are anticipated in the near future. If that's the case, you'll have to make a better offer to compete for the property.
         
      2. Below Fair Market Value Price
        The seller may have intentionally priced the property at an attractive price to attract multiple buyers initiating a bidding war. By looking at recent home sales in the area, you can see whether the property is underpriced. This process will help you calculate a reasonable offer. 

      3. Unmotivated Seller
        Change is difficult, and sometimes, even if they know it is the right decision for them, sellers will drag their feet. They may have listed the home, not really anticipating buyers so quickly. You can sweeten the pot by offering them more than they thought the house was worth. Just be careful that you don't overpay for the property. 

      4. It's Your Dream House
        You made your list of everything you wanted in a new home, from location to architecture. It even has some awesome features you hadn't even considered. When you absolutely have your heart set on the property, your willingness to pay a little extra can ensure that it's yours. 

      5. The Market Belongs to the Sellers
        This is a simple matter of supply and demand. In a buyer's market, there are more homes available for sale than buyers to fill them. But when real estate inventory drops, prices rise. The subsequent bidding wars can drive prices far above fair market value. When you find the house you want in a seller's market, it is important to act fast. This is not to say, settle for something less than you want, but when you do find it, don't hesitate. 

      6. The Buyer Can Afford a Higher Price
        It's important to remember that when a buyer must acquire a mortgage, the lender sets the maximum loan amount based on the appraisal. Any amount over and above that comes from the buyer's pocket. Cash buyers don't have to concern themselves with these limits, which is a definite advantage. Even if a mortgage is still necessary, a sizable down payment can mean the loan is well within the limits of the appraisal. Older sellers who are trading a large family home for a condominium or townhouse often have the liquidity to pay cash.

      7. The Cash Buyer Advantage
        As previously mentioned, buyers who are downsizing to a smaller home often have a significant financial advantage over first-time buyers. Companies that offer immediate cash with no showings also often snatch up properties quickly. But they tend to buy at a high discount. A buyer who can afford to compete with a slightly higher offer will often secure the property. 

      Contact us for expert guidance in the real estate market and start your search for the perfect home. 

      May
      28

      Don't Forget These Home Maintenance Tasks

      DIY Houma Tips

      As spring rolls into summer, it's time to roll up the shirt sleeves and get some of those home maintenance tasks out of the way before it gets too hot. Some chores are probably obvious, such as changing the filters in the HVAC system, but our real estate agents want to call attention to some often neglected areas for the benefit of newer homeowners. A few extra precautions can save you thousands of dollars in repairs you never have to make!

      1. Inspect the Roof
        This doesn't have to be a do-it-yourself task. If you aren't sure what to look for or aren't comfortable climbing on the roof, call a professional roofer. It's important to make sure no tiles are damaged or loose, so the roof is sound before hurricane season. Mildew or algae can be treated with a mixture of equal parts bleach and water. Gaps around vents and skylights should be corrected.
         
      2. Repair Cracks in Walkways and Driveways
        Winter weather can wreak havoc on concrete. Use concrete crack filler and sealant to fill in all cracks to end water damage. An alternative material is silicone caulk. For small cracks, concrete resurfacers without gravel will suffice. For larger or deeper areas, your best bet is a mix of standard concrete and gravel.

      3. Check Faucets and Pipes for Leaks
        While freezing weather is rare in Louisiana, even occasional events can mean cracks and leaks. You can check outside faucets by sticking your finger in the outside spigot and turning the water on. If water continues to flow around your finger, there is probably no pipe damage. But if you can block it completely, there is a good chance a pipe is broken. In that case, call a plumber immediately to avoid additional problems. 

      4. Inspect Home Safety Equipment
        Put fresh batteries in smoke detectors. Install carbon monoxide detectors if you don't have them, or replace batteries. Establish a small storage container with emergency lighting and flashlights. Make sure they are all functional with fresh batteries. Consider including a small butane-fueled cooking stove to heat water or meals in case you are without power for any significant amount of time. 

      5. Drain the Water Heater
        Sediment collects in the bottom of the tank, clogging pipes and interfering with heating efficiency. At best, the water heater will have to work harder to generate heat, causing you to experience higher gas or electric bills than necessary. At worst, the sediment can cause pipes to burst, water pressure to drop, and perhaps complete appliance failure. A water heater should be flushed at least every two years or each year in hard water zones. The useful life of a gas water heater is 8-12 years or 10-15 years for an electric. Proper maintenance makes the difference. 

      6. Inspect the Exterior of the House
        Termites and rodents leave clues to their presence in cracks in the walls, blistered paint, mud tubes, and gnawed materials. Both pests are deadly enemies to the health of your home. Don't try to eliminate the problem on your own. Signs of these creatures calls for a professional exterminator to tackle the problem. Don't wait, as they cause horrific damage in a short period of time. While you're at it, check gutters and downspouts for clogging debris and any signs of standing water. 

                While homeownership does bring the added responsibilities of maintenance, the many stunning Houma homes for sale are well worth the added efforts. Contact us today to find the house you'll want to call your home. 

                May
                17

                What You Need to Know When Buying a Historic Home

                Historic Homes

                Historic homes offer a step back in time to an era where houses had huge front porches, hand-carved details, and picturesque features. They have cozy rooms filled with charm and character, but they're not for everyone. Purchasing a historic home often comes with upkeep, maintenance, and repairs that can put a dent in your bank account.

                Historic homes are not ordinary financial investments in the real estate market. At Latter & Blum, our real estate agents know that historic homes are also emotional investments. When searching for New Orleans homes for sale, clients want to invest in historic properties because they're buying a piece of history. We help them to understand some important factors before they invest.

                What is a Historic Home?

                In the United States, old homes don't automatically qualify to be historic homes. Since historic homes are placed on the National Register of Historic Places, they must be at least 50 years old and meet certain criteria determined and monitored by the National Park Service. To qualify, homes must meet one out of four criteria:

                • Connection to significant historical events

                • Connection to lives of significant people

                • Representation of a historic style or master craftsman

                • Provision of important historical information

                Currently, there are more than 26,000 homes and buildings listed on the National Register. States and municipalities can also designate historical districts, many found in areas of New Orleans.

                If a home is located within a historic district, owners are restricted to making certain changes to the property. Districts with historic properties must preserve certain features, so permits are required before any work can occur on the home's exterior. In some cases, ordinary homes located in historic districts may face certain renovation restrictions as well.

                Purchasing a Historic Home

                Before purchasing a historic home or a home in a historic district, you should know the advantages and disadvantages. You should be prepared to deal with special circumstances that may impact your lifestyle and budget.

                Advantages

                1. A Good Return on Your Investment
                  Buyers looking for historic properties are willing to spend a significant amount on their investment. In many areas of New Orleans, homes in historic districts are in demand, and buyers are spending big money to live in historic homes.
                2. Financial Assistance for Renovations
                  Many historic homes provide loans or grants to first-time homebuyers for renovation costs. Available through the State Historic Preservation Office in Louisiana, homebuyers in New Orleans can get special assistance through the state for home renovations.
                3. Community Preservation
                  Homeowners who live in historic districts join together to form groups that maintain the history, character, and culture of the district. 

                Disadvantages

                1. Strict Regulations
                  In some historic districts, properties are closely monitored and reviewed for historic appeal and compatible architectural features. Some restrictions can be even more confining than restrictions by homeowners' associations. If you're interested in a historic home, do your research on restrictions.
                2. Costly Renovations
                  Homeowners in historic districts are required to get permits for any additions, alterations, and renovations. If you're required to use authentic materials, you may be looking at costly products that put a dent in your renovation budget.
                3. Difficult Financing
                  In some cases, it can be more difficult to schedule an appraisal and get through the loan process. Lenders and insurance companies sometimes back away from historic homes because renovations and upgrades can be very costly.

                If you're interested in buying or selling a New Orleans home, contact us for more information and help with properties in the area.

                May
                5

                5 Reasons You Shouldn't Skip a Home Inspection

                Home Inspection Baton Rouge

                When you've scrimped and saved to buy a house you may be tempted to forgo that three to five hundred dollars for a home inspection. But missing critical flaws in the property can cost you thousands in the long run. Our real estate agents will assure you that a trained observer can spot some of these pitfalls when you might not see them.

                1. Neglected Roofing
                  Inspectors will look for broken shingles and evidence of leaks that could mean the roof is nearing the end of its life. Replacement costs can be more than $10,000, and the damages resulting from leaking could cost even more to repair. If an inspector believes roofing problems exist, and you still want to buy the house, a reputable roofer will generally be happy to provide a detailed evaluation to help you negotiate the sale price of the home to allow for roof repair. Some things you can spot yourself that indicate roof deterioration include black spots on the roof and coarse granules in the gutters or on the ground along the edge of the exterior walls. 

                2. Improper Grading
                  The ground should slope away from all structures at a rate of one inch per foot. Otherwise, standing water can create mildew problems and worse. Spongy soil beneath the foundation can cause it to shift, leading to cracks in the walls and sloping floors. Once these problems arise, they may cost more than $10,000 to correct. Adding topsoil to grade the ground, plus the addition of gutters and downspouts, can address drainage issues before they create serious damages. The ground should never slope toward the house.

                3. Outdated Plumbing
                  Cracked pipes, backed-up sewage, and leaking water heaters all spell expensive repairs ranging from a few hundred dollars to thousands for the unsuspecting homeowner. Polybutylene pipes and other outdated materials are indications to a home inspector that problems may arise in the near future. At the very minimum, any visible leaks and clogs should be corrected immediately. Reseating toilets and replacing wax rings can also help avoid extensive plumbing issues.

                4. Mold Infestation
                  Mycotoxins cause serious health problems which are far worse than financial damages. Before you can smell it, some obvious signs of a potential problem are watermarks on the base of walls or near windows and plumbing fixtures. Most home inspections do not include mold in order to avoid liability for missing a hidden problem, but seasoned inspectors will certainly point out warning signs they observe. Small cracks and separations around the windows should be addressed immediately upon discovery to prevent water from entering the walls and creating an environment ripe for mold growth.
                   
                5. Inferior Wiring
                  The age of the house can signal aluminum wiring, used frequently in house construction between 1965 and 1973. Aluminum expands and contracts more quickly than copper, leading to loose connections. Also, connections between copper and aluminum can cause oxidation, heat, and ultimately, a fire. Inspectors will check for damaged receptacles, missing junction boxes, and reversed polarity. Polarity is measured with a hand-held tester. Improperly connected wiring can mean electricity continuously flowing through appliances that appear to be off. At best, this means burning out appliances. At worst, it can mean the possibility of a severe electrical shock.

                        Armed with your newfound knowledge of things to consider when buying a home, are you ready to go house shopping? Contact us today to arrange a tour of our stunning Baton Rouge homes for sale.

                        April
                        7

                        Baton Rouge a Top City of First-Time Homebuyers

                        first time homebuyersFor several years running now, Baton Rouge has distinguished itself as one of the top places to move. Baton Rouge homes for sale are especially popular among first-time homebuyers. In fact, it was recently named one of the Top 10 Metros for First-Time Homeowners.

                        What's the secret that makes Baton Rouge so attractive? Our real estate agents love the Baton Rouge area because of the following features that make it truly one of a kind:

                        1. Baton Rouge Is Amazingly Affordable
                          If you want to be surrounded by world-class amenities that don't demand a premium price, Baton Rouge is the place to be. Many of its dozens of museums offer free days, the public libraries are bustling with free programs for kids and adults, and there are nearly 200 parks, many along the 4.31-mile Mississippi River Levee Path.

                        2. A City on the Grow
                          Over the last decade, the area along the Mississippi River has been revitalized to make it walkable and family-friendly. Downtown is a blend of historic properties and all-new construction totaling millions of dollars in very recent investment. The Shaw Center for the Arts is just one example of fresh, state-of-the-art facilities.

                        3. Unbeatable Cajun Cuisine
                          Inspired by New Orleans but spiced by vibrant immigrant communities originating from all over the world, the Baton Rouge dining scene presents you with a mouth-watering blend of classic and contemporary cuisine. You'll always be close to ribs, gumbo, and soul food, but also Honduran, Vietnamese, and fusion restaurants.

                        4. Birthplace of the Blues
                          The unique blues tradition of Baton Rouge reaches even further back than modern jazz and has influenced that style at many points. True to this history, the Baton Rouge Blues Festival is one of the oldest anywhere in the country and completely free of charge. And, of course, countless blues clubs dot the city.

                        5. A Busy Social Calendar
                          The blues aren't the only thing to celebrate in Baton Rouge. There's always something new to discover – all you have to do is look. LSU is the tailgate party capital of the world, and there are frequent free festivals. You won't want to miss out on the Louisiana International Film Festival, Crawfish King Cookoff, or Spanish Town Mardi Gras.

                        6. The Best of a Big City and a Small Town
                          Baton Rouge has many of the perks you would expect from the biggest cities, such as a thriving startup scene and numerous universities that pump out groundbreaking research. Despite it all, though, it remains a close-knit community with small-town charm. In Baton Rouge, you can really get to know your neighbors.

                        7. Kids Love Baton Rouge
                          This is a city where young minds can soar. The new Knock Knock Children's Museum is just one of the many interactive learning experiences that can help children embrace imagination and develop a love of learning. The region also boasts top-ranked public and private schools catering to students of all ages.

                        8. Diverse Home Options to Suit Any Lifestyle
                          Baton Rouge neighborhoods each have their own character. You'll find historic buildings dating all the way back to the 1880s in one area with modern, luxury high-rise condos in another. Younger neighborhoods like Perkins Rowe and Longfarm Village are known for convenient access to work and retail spaces.

                        Ready to own your first home in the Baton Rouge area? Contact us today at Latter & Blum to find out more about real estate opportunities in the Baton Rouge area.

                        February
                        3

                        Using a VA Loan this Year? 2021 Changes to Know About

                        VA Loan Louisiana

                        If you're thinking about buying one of the beautiful Baton Rouge homes for sale, a VA loan is a great option! These loans come with excellent benefits. They offer flexible credit underwriting and low-interest rates. In addition, buyers using a VA loan won't have to come up with a down payment or carry mortgage insurance (PMI).

                        A portion of these loans is guaranteed by the U.S. Department of Veteran's Affairs (VA). However, the loans are issued by mortgage lenders and banks. Our real estate agents regularly meet with lenders to learn more about any updates to loan programs and how they could impact their clients. 

                        There have been some changes to VA loans that go into effect in 2021. Here's what you need to know. 

                        Benefits for National Guard Members

                        The biggest change affects National Guard members. Previously, VA loans were not available to members who did not have at least 90 days of active service.

                        Beginning in 2021, all Guard and Reserve members who have at least 90 days of service are eligible for a VA home loan, even if the service wasn't active. However, there is one caveat. At least 30 of the days of the service must be consecutive. 

                        Increased Loan Limits

                        As of 2020, service members with "full entitlement" are not subject to a VA loan limit. You'll have full entitlement if you've never used a VA loan benefit, have paid off a VA loan and then sold the property, or had a foreclosure or short sale and repaid the VA in full.

                        However, if you have "remaining entitlement," you are subject to a limit. This can occur for several different reasons. The most common is that you have an active VA loan, they're still paying back.

                        The Federal Housing Finance Agency announced that the upper limit for their loans was increasing in 2021. VA loans follow these guidelines, so all VA loans closing after January 1st, 2021 also have increased loan limits. The new limit for a single-family home located in the lower 48 states is $548,250. This is an increase of 7.4% compared to 2020. 

                        In Alaska or Hawaii, the upper limit is now $822,375. If you're buying a home in a high-cost county, you might also have some extra wiggle room. These areas will have their own limits, which are set on a local basis. This limit may be anywhere from $548,250 and $822,375. 

                        Explore Baton Rouge Homes Today! 

                        Whether you're planning on using a VA loan or another type of financing, now is a great time to buy a new home. There are many beautiful options on the market, and we would love to help you find the perfect one. Contact us today to get started! 

                        January
                        7

                        7 Tips for Getting Your Home Sparkling Clean

                        Home Cleaning Latter

                        With the holidays behind us, now is the perfect time to start the New Year off with a sparkling clean home. Our real estate agents suggest that homeowners create a four-seasons checklist to keep the home clean and maintained year-round. Here are seven simple tips for getting your home as clean as possible this winter.

                        1. Make a list, check it twice
                          It may seem obvious, but you'd be surprised how many homeowners don't create and follow a cleaning checklist. With so much to get done, even in a single room, creating and maintaining a checklist is vital. You'll likely add items to the list as you move from room to room, too. We suggest breaking the chores down by room so you can finish a space before moving to the next area.


                        2. Beware of bugs
                          As you dig out warm clothing and holiday decorations, don't be surprised to find a few insects making their way into your home as well. While you should always be detailed in your cleaning routine, we recommend being proactive in your defense against bugs. Call a pest control specialist to spray your interior and exterior, warding off intruders before they become unwanted guests.


                        3. Focus on indoor living spaces
                          Granted, you always spend time inside, but many homeowners tend to enjoy the indoors more during the colder months. That means that everything from couches and kitchens get used more frequently. Make sure you're cleaning these spaces a little deeper. For example, remove and wash pillowcases or couch cushions, empty and wash your refrigerator, and use a carpet cleaner to wash your rugs and carpets thoroughly.


                        4. Clean around heat sources
                          Even if you'll only use them a handful of times in the winter, it's vital that you keep the areas in and around your fireplace, furnace, radiator, or other heating sources clean. Even something as small as lint from clothing can ignite and potentially cause a fire. Keeping all heating sources clean, as well as professionally serviced and maintained, is essential for homeowners.


                        5. Wash interior window panes
                          There are many areas of the home that are easy to neglect, and interior windows are among the easiest. Homeowners often make sure the window panes' exterior side is washed, but forget that the interior panes also collect dust and fingerprints. Add washing your interior window panes to your cleaning list in the winter to help the sun's rays naturally warm your home (and lower your heating bill).


                        6. Don't neglect seasonal spaces
                          Although you may not be using certain areas of your home like patios or pools, don't neglect these spaces. They may not need a thorough cleaning, but it's wise to give them a quick once over so that any areas that need to be addressed don't linger until the warm weather arrives.


                        7. Consider ditching clutter
                          People and possessions often start to pile up in your home during the holiday season. Consider taking this opportunity to declutter your home so that it's easier to keep clean. Throw away, sell, or donate old items to make room for new ones. This includes any holiday decorations that never seem to get much use year after year.

                        Are you cleaning up in hopes of selling your house? Let us help you find a new place to live. Contact us today to tour our Baton Rouge homes for sale.

                        January
                        5

                        Your Guide to Making Your Home Smarter This Year

                        Smart Home 2021Our real estate agents want you to close your eyes and think about the home of the future. Do you envision full tech integration, voice commands to operate everything, and special features so dazzling that you'd think you were living in 3021? Well, open your eyes to the tech of the future, available in your home today! Smart home automation brings state-of-the-art technology right into your living spaces. From the kitchen to the living room, bedroom, and even bathroom, you can outfit your home with advanced software and hardware that dynamically changes the way you live. Here's how to make your home smarter this year in five easy steps:

                        1. Consider Your Needs
                          Before you make any decisions, you must first consider whether smart home technology is right for you. There are endless options for upgrading your home, but your lifestyle may not benefit from the inclusion of certain systems. Ask yourself questions, such as if voice-controlled lighting, enhanced video security, or theater-quality AVL builds are right for your home.


                        2. Learn About Smart Home Technology
                          Now that you're able to identify which areas of your lifestyle would benefit from smart home integration, it's time to learn about the many options. Technology changes rapidly, so much so that even your neighbor's smart home tech may already be a little outdated. It's best to first discover what the top smart home tech upgrades are for the current year. For instance, if you're interested in smart home security, find out which systems are most popular and offer the most reliable software.


                        3. Create A Budget
                          Don't buy that cool piece of smart home tech just yet! It's always wise to create and stick to a budget when making any home modifications. Because smart home technology can become outdated even within a year, it's essential that you make sure your investment is as solid as possible. If needed, consult a professional, smart home automation technician to help you gauge how much equipment and setup charges would be for various installations. Then compare that to the DIY cost and determine which integrations will fit into your budget.


                        4. Plan for the Future
                          Again, technology is ever-changing, so you want to outfit your home with tech that can be easily upgraded or modified if necessary. Consider integrating smart tech that doesn't require extensive installation, such as smart hubs. If you're serious about heavy installation, consider consulting a real estate agent for advice, especially if you're planning to sell your home soon. You'll want to choose the smart home tech that adds the most resale value to your home.


                        5. Enjoy Your Smart Home
                          Finally, sit back and enjoy your new smart home. Seriously, use it. You'd be surprised how many homeowners have trouble breaking old habits. With so much integration available to control from your smartphone, you can enjoy your smart home without ever leaving the couch.

                        Would you like to live in a new house that's already equipped with smart home technology? We can help. Contact us today to tour our Lafayette homes for sale.

                        December
                        30

                        A New Year's Eve Home Makeover, Straight From The Pros

                        After a year of uncertainty and wide-swinging emotions, the arrival of New Year's Eve means all sorts of good things: Celebration, Closure, the distinctive Clink of Champagne glasses. Although it's been hard to find a silver lining this year, if there's one good thing that's come from being quarantined, it's the fact that we are being forced to slow down, reflect and get reacquainted with our homes. With that in mind, Latter & Blum Realtors share the hottest home decorating trends to ring in the New Year.

                        High Style Accessories
                        For living rooms, we are seeing comfortable, plush seating with rich tones and layered styling. Thanks to all of the virtual meetings while working from home, your home background is now more important than ever and accessorizing and styling are finally getting the credit they deserve. We see accessorizing becoming bolder, more artful and more personal in 2021. 
                        Cindy Bailey, Latter & Blum Realtor 

                        Multifunctional Spaces
                        Workspaces have drastically changed this year and more people are opting to take back wasted space in their home offices. A closet can easily be combined with an office, since both spaces are able to disappear behind doors when not in use. A flexible workspace and fashion-forward decor help to blend these two functions seamlessly into a space that is both inspiring and productive.
                        Erynn Patania, Latter & Blum Realtor

                        Biophilia
                        Biophilia first hit the headlines back in 2018 and is one trend that's here to stay, especially when more people are inclined to stay home in 2021. Propelled by the sustainable living movement, homeowners have been upping their eco-credentials by filling their homes with an eclectic assortment of trailers, climbers and bloomers. From macramé pot holders to vertical gardens, biophilia is one trend that's here to stay. If you don't have time for watering, go faux.
                        Lisa Thomas, Latter & Blum Realtor


                        Bold Colors Mixed With Neutrals
                        While neutral tones are still popular, bold colors are on the rise in 2021. In fact, Pantone Color chose not just one but two colors of the year for 2021 – the neutral "Ultimate Grey" paired with a lovely yellow called "Illuminating". This marriage of bold and neutral colors conveys a message of strength, warmth and hopefulness that is uplifting during these times.
                        Vickie Karamales, Latter & Blum Realtor

                        Wellness Spaces
                        Let's be honest, it's been a rough year, and we could all use a little light relief from the stresses of 2020. Little wonder then that one of this year's top trends is wellness spaces – rooms designed with comfort and relaxation in mind. From soothing neutral palettes to cozy bouclé blankets, this trend has got you covered even in the most stressful of times.
                        Team Right Side, Latter & Blum 


                        Looking to buy or sell a home in 2021? Visit www.latter-blum.com for all your real estate needs.

                        December
                        22

                        How Energy-Efficient Is Your Home?

                        Energy Efficient Home

                        Though the exact amount is subject to seasonal and regional variations, the average power bill is $118 a month. You can lower your power bill by making your home more energy-efficient. Our real estate agents know that homes with energy-efficient features are also more attractive to potential buyers. Here are some guidelines to help you evaluate the energy efficiency of your home so that you can take steps to improve it. 

                        1. Look at Your Entire House
                          When you're determining how energy-efficient your home is, it's easy to get caught up on certain aspects, like your old windows or dated appliances. However, it's important to look at your entire home rather than individual components when calculating your home's energy efficiency. A home constructed with energy-efficient materials in a resourceful design won't be impacted as much by smaller details, like older windows and doors. Instead of replacing these items, it might be more cost-effective to caulk and repair any holes or cracks creating drafts. Consult with your power company to see if it offers a free energy assessment. This will help you determine what areas of your home are using the most energy and what changes you can make to conserve energy. 
                        1. See That Your Home Has Ample Insulation
                          As prospective buyers are touring Alexandria homes for sale, they're searching for properties that will minimize their future out-of-pocket expenses. If your home has ample insulation, this will lower your home's energy bills, allowing you (and your potential buyers) to lower your heating and cooling expenses. Add insulation to any areas where your home might be lacking, such as your attic, basement, and crawl spaces. Check that your doors and windows are also properly insulated. A fresh layer of weatherstripping is a quick, easy way to boost your home's energy efficiency. 
                        1. Seek Out Replacement Products with Favorable Energy Efficiency Ratings
                          If you have components in your home using or wasting excessive amounts of energy, like an old HVAC system or single-pane windows, it's wise to consider replacing them. Focus on replacing one thing at a time, and seek out replacement products with favorable energy efficiency ratings. This will make it easy for you to reduce your energy costs. Don't forget the accessories in your home! Your window draperies are a powerful tool for blocking out the sun's hot rays during the warmer months and keeping frigid drafts out during the colder months. Utilize heat-reflecting window coverings during the hot months and insulating drapes in the chilly months. 
                        1. Review Your Daily Habits
                          A few changes to your daily routine can lower your home's energy consumption. If you forget to turn your lights and electronics off, use a smart plug so that you can put them on a timer or even cut them off when you're away from home. Close your draperies on hot days, especially in windows that face the sun. Try to run only full loads in your washing machine and dishwasher when possible. Use cold water, and utilize your device's moisture sensor to avoid overdrying your clothing. If you cook a lot of small meals, invest in a toaster oven or electric pan, as they use less energy than a full-size oven or stove. Check that your oven and stove are clean before using them; dirty appliances don't operate as efficiently. 

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

                        December
                        22

                        Pay Attention to These Things During a Final Walkthrough

                        Final Walkthrough TipsDuring your final walk-through, a million things will be racing through your mind, and you may find yourself distracted. But this is your last important task before you become a homeowner! Consider making a checklist before sealing the deal on the house you've chosen among Lake Charles homes for sale. You don't want to overlook anything.  

                        Here are some of the important points to keep in mind during your walk-through.

                        1. Verify repairs.
                          You've specified a number of repairs to be made before you buy your home, and they should all be listed on the inspection summary. The seller should furnish warranties and receipts for all work. This is important because if the repairs don't hold up, you'll have to consult the person or company that made the repairs. Also, make sure that debris from repairs has been removed. 

                        2. Items included in the sale.
                          The seller should be moved out, with nothing left in the home that hasn't been included in the sale. Check your list carefully to make sure that everything agreed upon in the sale is in the home. From window blinds to appliances, it should all be in place and in the condition that it was when you agreed to include it in the same.

                        3. Try all the appliances.
                          The appliances aren't much use to you if they do not work. It may not be possible to know if they work well, but at least you can turn them on to ensure they are operable. It's a good idea to turn the dishwasher on to ensure it goes a full cycle. A gas oven should heat up without evidence of a gas smell. Make sure that all appliances drain properly.

                        4. Check the bathroom.
                          Look for signs of mold or plumbing leaks. There should be no damp places or standing water. Flush the toilet; make sure it drains and fills up properly and does not leak at the base or run after it should have turned off. Turn on the faucets and the showerhead to ensure they have hot water and no leaks. Tubs and sinks should drain properly.

                        5. Inspect the kitchen.
                          Just as you checked the bathroom for mold. Leaks and damp spots, check the kitchen. If you have exhaust ventilation, check for signs of mold around it; also look under the sink, the dishwasher, and the refrigerator.

                        6. Inspect windows and doors.
                          The windows and doors should be in good condition, opening and closing properly. Window locks should work and be easy to lock. The window and door glass should be in good shape. Window screens should be in place and be in good repair.

                        7. Test the HVAC system.
                          During a walk-through, all you can do with the HVAC is turn it on or off to make sure the heating and the air conditioning come on. An HVAC system is expensive to replace, so ask for the history of the equipment -- how old, any significant repairs, and if it is due for replacement due to using the discontinued refrigerant Freon. You might want to pay for an inspection before the walk-through, so you know what shape the HVAC is really in. Other major areas to check out: the electrical system (turn on all switches and test your phone charger in all plugs) and outside the home.

                        Our real estate agents can help with more tips for your walk-through. Contact us today. 

                        December
                        18

                        5 Creative Ways to Add a Home Office

                         Lafayette Home Office

                        Whether you work from home full-time or sporadically need a spot to concentrate, a home office is a valuable addition to your home. If your home is lacking a space that encourages productivity, here are a few creative ways to add a home office to your property. Our real estate agents know that properties staged with a home office also show well with potential buyers. 

                        1. Set Up an Office in a Spare Closet
                          An unused closet is a perfect spot to set up a home office. Depending on the size of the closet, you might have room to add a full-size desk, or you may want to install a shelf to act as your desk. If you want to have the option to quickly hide your work, leave the door to the closet intact. When you're done working, just close the door to conceal your hard work. Or, if you prefer a more open atmosphere, remove the door. 
                        1. Partition Off Part of Your Open Concept Living Room
                          Open concept living spaces are often popular in Lafayette homes for sale for multiple reasons, one of which is their versatility. It's easy to turn a wall or corner into an office space. While you can't easily add a wall to define your workspace, a room divider is an excellent way to partition off your office so that you have a little privacy. 
                        1. Use the Space Under Your Stair
                          If you reside in a home with multiple floors, don't let the space under your stairs go to waste. Instead, set up a desk and chair in the space. Sometimes, this space might be closed off, but it's usually possible to open up the space by removing the wall.
                        1. Hide a Home Office in Your Cabinets
                          Have a few spare cabinets in your media room, mudroom, or even your kitchen? They're a fantastic spot to set up a home office! Set your computer and work supplies up inside of the cabinet and pull up your chair. You can add or remove shelving as needed so that your office suits your needs. 
                        1. Move Off-Sight to Your Storage Shed or Detached Garage
                          Maybe you need a little space from your household's activities so that you can focus; if so, consider setting up a home office in your storage shed. If your shed doesn't already have electricity, an electrician can run power to it for a reasonable cost. You'll likely need to do a little decluttering and cleaning, but you'll be left with a private, tranquil spot where you can retreat when you need silence for your work. 

                        Want to explore homes with more space? Contact us today!

                        December
                        18

                        How to Maintain Your Sanity During a Move

                        New Orleans Moving Tips

                        Moving is a very stressful event as you struggle to get everything done in time, make sure nothing falls through the cracks, and manage the physical demands of the task. Good thing all it takes is a bit of planning to make the process go smoothly. 
                          
                        Our real estate agents suggest the following ways to help you maintain your sanity during a move:  

                        • Decide whether you need professional movers  
                          Consider how much time and effort it will take to move your belongings and how far away they'll need to be moved. Based on these answers, decide to either ask friends for help or hire professional movers. If you ask friends, go ahead and firm up a date with them, and if you need professional movers, get written estimates from three different companies.
                            
                        • Keep good records
                          Get a binder or notebook to keep track of your moving timeline as well as your paperwork. Check items off your timeline as you complete them and keep paperwork such as your contract with the movers and your lease agreement or documents related to the sale of your home.
                            
                        • Budget for your move  
                          It may be tempting to prioritize saving for furnishings or other items for your new home, but that's not what should come first. Instead, make sure you've budgeted for the costs of your move, including any supplies you may need to buy, renting a moving truck, or the cost of a professional mover.
                            
                        • Go through your belongings and purge what you don't need  
                          There's no need to move items you no longer want into your home, so before you start to pack your belongings, sort through them and keep only what you truly need or enjoy or what holds sentimental value.
                            
                        • Start to pack – but do it in the right order  
                          Start packing the belongings you don't frequently use, such as seasonal clothing and décor. The very last things to pack include your personal documents, any pet-related items, and essentials such as toiletries. Label each box with a description of its contents as well as the room you'll be putting it in at your new home.
                            
                        • Transfer your insurance and utilities   
                          Make sure you have insurance arranged for your new home and set a cut-off date for utilities at your current home. Also, arrange for utilities to be turned on at your new home before your arrival.
                            
                        • Have your address changed  
                          Fill out change of address forms at the Post Office to have your mail forwarded to your new home. You'll also need to change your address with agencies such as the Social Security Administration and the IRS.
                            
                        • Arrive at your new home before the movers   
                          Get to your new home before the movers arrive so you can make sure all your belongings are accounted for. This also lets you direct the movers to ensure that boxes are put in the correct rooms, which makes it much easier to unpack and organize your belongings.  

                        Contact us at Latter & Blum if you're interested in looking at New Orleans homes for sale. We'd be happy to help you find your dream home! 

                        November
                        27

                        Lighting Upgrades That Are Worth the Investment

                        Lighting Upgrades

                        It's not uncommon for older houses to have substandard lighting, so if you want a relatively fast and easy upgrade that will give you the most bang for your buck, take a look at how you can improve the lighting. After all, no one wants to hang out in a dark house or struggle to see at night! Plus, if you are planning other home improvement projects, updating the lighting is a great way to highlight your decor. Here are a few lighting upgrades our real estate agents say are worth the investment.

                        1. Task Lighting
                          One of the major areas where most houses fail the lighting test is having enough lighting to comfortably complete a task. Task lighting is focused light in areas where you need it most, such as food prep areas in the kitchen, craft room surfaces, and bedside lighting for reading. For instance, under-cabinet lighting in the kitchen has become the gold standard for providing enough light for food preparation, and track lighting makes a good flexible option for a craft room.
                        2. Dimmer Switches
                          Just as sometimes you want more focused light, it's also true that you don't always want the room to be lit up like midday. Installing dimmer switches are a perfect way to quickly convert your lighting to a more flexible design. With a dimmer switch, overhead lighting can go from bright and focused, to a soft ambiance in seconds. Dimmer switches are typically inexpensive and relatively easy to install.
                        3. LED Bulbs
                          Incandescent and even CFL bulbs are so yesterday! LED has everything you need: clean, clear light that's affordable, runs cool and uses next to nothing on your utility bill. LED lights are a favorite for everything from stair lights since they can be left on all the time and not overheat or draw too much power, to task lighting since they produce clear bright light.
                        4. Stair Lights
                          Dark or dim stairways are a significant hazard, as a lot of falls can happen when you can't clearly see where to put your feet (or whether a cat or dog is underfoot). LED stair lights are a perfect solution for preventing accidents. They run cool, draw very little energy, and can be left on all the time so that no one ever takes the stairs in the dark.

                        An old fashioned home with poor lighting can feel like a cave, which is certainly the last impression you want to give someone else when they're touring Houma homes for sale! The key to modern indoor lighting is making sure you meet all three criteria: creating ambiance, illuminating tasks, and highlighting decor. Are you wanting a professional to give you the green light for selling your home, or do you need some assistance finding your dream house? Contact us today and one of our agents will be happy to shed some light on the subject.

                        November
                        9

                        Buying a Home with Student Loan Debt: What You Need to Know

                        Student Loan Debt

                        Did your college diploma come with a healthy portion of debt? If so, you're not alone. According to Forbes, approximately 45 million Americans are paying on student loans, for a cumulative debt total higher than that of credit cards and auto loans.

                        Fortunately, student loans don't mean you have to give up your dream of homeownership. Use these valuable tips from our real estate agents to buy one of the great New Orleans homes for sale, even if you have student loan debt.

                        1. Optimize Your Debt-to-Income Ratio
                          When evaluating mortgage applications, lenders look for the ability to pay above all other considerations. The actual amount of your student loan debt is less significant than its proportion to your total income. Reducing overall debt is important, but you can also improve your DTI (debt-to-income) score by increasing your income, whether it's by asking for a raise, taking a second job, or doing freelance work.

                        2. Polish Your Credit Score
                          A high credit score pays off in two ways. Not only does it make you an attractive borrower overall, but it can help you qualify for better interest rates. Payment history accounts for a full third of your score, so be sure you're making payments on time. Avoid applying for additional credit cards or loans during this time, as each request can ding your score.

                        3. Change Your Payment Plan
                          New student loan programs, such as extended repayment and income-driven plans, can create a more manageable monthly payment and improve your DTI ratio. But stay away from deferments, which are agreements to repay your loan at a later date. Your monthly payments will be temporarily eliminated, but lenders see deferments as red flags signifying trouble.

                        4. Research First-Time Homebuyer Programs
                          Buying a home has become harder for today's twenty-somethings than it was for previous generations. For that reason, several federal and state agencies offer assistance to first-time homebuyers in the form of favorable interest rates, lower down payments, and other benefits.

                        5. Ask for Help
                          If you have parents or other close relatives who are in a comfortable financial position, they may be able to contribute to a down payment or serve as co-signers on a mortgage application. Even if that's not possible, you may qualify for a second mortgage, matched savings program, or other assistance with down payments and closing costs.

                        6. Understand Loan Types
                          Mortgages generally fall under one of two categories. Conventional loans are issued by banks, credit unions, and other private lenders. Government loans, such as FHA and VA, are insured by the federal government. Since they carry less risk, government loans are easier to obtain if you have a higher DTI ratio or less money to put toward a down payment.

                        7. Get Pre-Approved
                          When buying a home, especially when it's your first one, anything you do to demonstrate stability and serious intent will work in your favor. Getting pre-approved involves submitting much of the same information that will be required for the final mortgage application. As a result, you'll have a solid idea of how much you can afford, and sellers will know you're serious about buying.

                        Whether you're shopping for your first home or looking for a retirement nest, our cheerful and experienced real estate agents at Latter & Blum can guide you every step of the way. Contact us to learn more.

                        November
                        4

                        DIY Tips: How to Remove Old Carpeting

                        Removing Carpet

                        Removing old carpet can be a time-consuming DIY project, especially for those who lack experience. But knowing how to effectively remove carpet can definitely come in handy. If you're looking to switch to hardwood floors or simply looking to save a few bucks on new carpet installation, removing old carpet by yourself can have some benefits. If you're doing it for the first time, our real estate agents have outlined the best way to go about the process:

                        1. Gather Tools And Supplies
                          If you're planning a DIY carpet removal, there are a few items you'll need before you start the job. As far as tools go, you'll want to invest in a good utility knife, a hammer/pry bar, a sharp-bladed floor scraper, a pair of pliers, and some heavy-duty trash bags.

                          You'll also want to be sure to have the right protective equipment as well. Use a good pair of work gloves as your hands may come into contact with sharp tack strips or rough carpet backing. You will also need a dust mask. The process is likely to disperse particles, allergens, and bacteria into the air, protecting your lungs is important. Protective goggles are also recommended to protect your eyes from flying nails or debris.

                        2. Prepare The Room
                          Before you begin tearing up the carpet, you'll need to prepare the room. You'll want to start by removing doors from their hinges (including closet doors). Next, remove all furniture from the room. Once the carpet is completely accessible, it's time to begin the work.

                        3. Start The Work
                          Once you begin removing the carpet, the process is fairly simple. We recommend starting in the corner of the room. Using pliers, grab the carper and pull it up until it detaches from the tack strips. Then, use your hand to continue pulling carpet along the wall.

                          After you've detached two or three feet of carpet, begin to cut the carpet into strips using a utility knife. Roll-up the strips and remove the carpet from the room. Removing the carpet in pieces allows for easier disposal. If there is a carpet pad underneath, remove it by following the same process described above.

                          After you've removed the carpet and any additional padding, you can begin to remove the tack strips and nails using your pry bar or hammer. Keep in mind, there will be hundreds or even thousands of nails. We recommend using your floor scrape (instead of pliers). Otherwise, the process can take quite a while.

                        4. Cleaning Up
                          After the carpet and carpet pad is removed, scrape off any glue stuck to the floorboards and give the floor a good sweep to capture any remaining debris. We also recommend cleaning your floor with a mop prior to installing any new carpet or flooring materials.

                        While it can be time-consuming, DIY carpet removal isn't complicated. Switching to hardwood floors is a great way to make your home stand out among these Baton Rouge homes for sale. For more tips on DIY projects, contact us today.

                        October
                        23

                        What to Know When Buying a Home in a Different State

                        Buying a Home in a New State

                        Whether you're moving for a great new job, picking the perfect place for your family, or simply making a long-distance move to a city you've always dreamed of calling home, there are many good reasons to move to a different state. There are also some challenges with long-distance home shopping, but technology, research, and the right real estate agent can help you overcome those obstacles. Our real estate agents know what it takes to find the perfect home from a distance, and we've got some tips to help you get started.

                        1. Take Advantage of Technology to Tour Homes from Afar
                          So you're shopping for Lafayette homes for sale, but your current location is nowhere near the city... no problem! Virtual tours and virtual open houses are now available in nearly every market where you might be shopping. Take advantage of these technological tools to get a detailed impression of any home that catches your eye, no matter where you're currently located.

                        2. Invest Time in Researching Neighborhoods 
                          Loving your new home for the long haul is much easier when you also love the neighborhood where the home is located. Invest some research time in learning everything you can about neighborhoods in your target markets, focusing on the factors that matter most to you.

                        3. Choose a Real Estate Agent Who Understands Long-Distance Purchases
                          The right buyer's agent can take so much of the guesswork out of shopping for a home in a different state and help you handle the logistical details of a long-distance purchase. Look for a real estate agent who has experience with out of state purchases.

                        4. Learn the Real Estate Rules in Your Target Markets
                          Different states and communities have different regulations for real estate purchases, so make sure you understand the rules in the places where you're shopping. There may be different requirements for earnest money deposits, closing time-frames, home inspections, and more, so it helps to be prepared.

                        5. Research Real Estate Markets to See How Much Home You Can Purchase
                          Every real estate market is different, so you might find that your real estate budget stretches much farther in some communities than others. The right real estate agent can give you a detailed impression of your target markets, so you know exactly how much home you'll be able to afford and how the asking prices for homes that catch your eye fit within the local market.

                        6. Consider the Cost of Living When Choosing a Community
                          While the cost of the home is a key factor, the cost of living in your target markets will also have a major impact on your budget. Researching the cost of living will help you decide whether a neighborhood is the right fit for your budget.

                        7. Try to Attend the Home Inspection If Possible
                          If you can only attend one thing in person, the home inspection is a great choice. The home inspector can answer questions, tell you about smaller issues that won't affect the sale, and give you a deeper impression of the home's condition.

                        8. Can't Close in Person? No Problem
                          Attending the closing in person is a good thing if you can manage it, but it's certainly not a requirement. Remote closings are more popular than ever, and technology makes it possible to close on a home no matter where you're currently located.

                        Whether you're shopping from across the city or across the country, our team is here to help you find your next home. 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.

                        October
                        12

                        How to Save Money for a Down Payment

                         

                        How to Save Money for a Down Payment   

                        Saving money is an important life skill to practice, especially if you are thinking of buying a home. In observance of National Savings Day, take a second and think of a reason for why you would enjoy homeownership. Is it for decorative freedom? Investment purposes? More space for your family? To have a backyard for your dog? 

                        Whatever the reason may be, we all start this process the same way – by saving money. Questions that immediately may pop into your head are, "How do I save money? How much do I save? How much house can I even afford?" Overwhelmed? Don't be. We have answers to these questions and quick tips for you to learn how to save up for a down payment in no time.

                         

                        1. Set Goals

                        Creating a goal gives you a target to reach for your savings and setting benchmarks toward your main goal keeps you motivated. The most common range for a down payment is 5-20% of the home's purchase price. Most people aim to put down 20% because then you won't have to pay private mortgage insurance (PMI), which is an additional insurance fee a lender adds to your monthly payment. Use this down payment savings plan spreadsheet to help you visualize your savings plan. 

                         

                        2. Trim Your Spending

                        Sure - a coffee from Starbucks or a scrumptious pizza delivery may not sound like a splurge, but added up over time can equal a sizable amount of money. For example, buying a $5 coffee each morning adds up to $35 per week which turns into $140 per month, which turns into $1,680 per year. That equates to most people's monthly mortgage payment! So what can you do to cut down on spending? Start with these most common money saving practices: 

                          • Cook meals at home   
                          • Use discount codes or coupons 
                          • Cancel memberships you aren't using
                          • Reduce your cable bill 
                          • Buy generic where you can

                         

                        3. Open a Savings Account

                        Perhaps one of the best strategies to help you save money is to set up a savings account. Putting your money in a separate account makes it easier to shield those funds from everyday expenses. You can also set up an auto-draft feature that will automatically transfer a certain amount of money to your savings account each month. 

                         

                        4. Boost Your Income

                        If you have the time, starting a side hustle can help you save extra cash fast! Offer to babysit, take dogs on a walk, spend some time tutoring, etc. Earning just an extra $100 per week adds up to $9,600 in two years. That's almost half of the average down payment.  

                         

                        5. Talk to a Lender

                        Even if you have no money saved for a down payment or if you aren't planning on buying for another year or two, it's always beneficial to speak with a lender to get familiar with the home loan process. Don't know what to ask? Use this worksheet that has questions you should ask your lender. Don't know a lender? You're in luck because Latter & Blum also offers mortgage services through Essential Mortgage. Get in touch with a lender here.

                         

                        Fast forward a bit and voilà, you've made it! All of your hard work paid off and now you can start searching for the home of your dreams. But before you dive into the home buying game, make sure you find the right person to help you. Purchasing a home is your biggest financial investment. You'll want to be represented by a trusted real estate professional that has your best interest at heart. Latter & Blum Realtors are the best agents in the state and they are ready to make your homeownership goals come true.

                        September
                        23

                        5 Ways to Make Your Move More Organized

                        Organized Move

                        Being organized takes time and effort. But does it pay off? You bet, and nowhere more than when preparing for a move. 

                        If you've listed your house among Baton Rouge homes for sale, you've probably already thought about your move and how to minimize the stress. Take it from our real estate agents good organization is the way to get there.

                        To start you off, here are five excellent ways to organize your move.

                        1. Make a Moving Schedule
                          Create a moving schedule, on a printed document, or on the calendar feature of your phone or computer. This will give you the big picture of your move, as your schedule when you want to hire movers; create a packing schedule (schedule a couple of hours a day to pack, if you're going to do it yourself); note deadlines for getting rid of stuff; note dates for contacting utilities; mark known dates for events pertaining to the sale of your current home or the acquisition of your destination home, and note details about the move itself.

                        2. Declutter
                          You will be amazed at how much of your stuff you will not want once you move it to your new home. Save money by saying goodbye to a quarter of your stuff before you move. Hold a garage sale; sell items through the app LetGo, on eBay, or on Facebook Marketplace. Offer what you can't sell to friends or co-workers, or give it away. You may have to leave some things on the curb for pickup. 

                        3. Create a System
                          Make your move organized by using a color-coding system, so you know what box goes in what room. Apply circular, different-colored stickers to boxes; create color-coded cards to match the stickers. Cards should be hung in the doorways to rooms where boxes go. Create a master copy of your moving legend, complete with color codes and instructions. Make more than one copy, to be dispersed throughout the destination home. Finally, create or buy self-adhesive moving labels, on which you list the contents of each box. Stick the stickers on the label and on top of the box.

                        4. Gather Packing Supplies
                          Get packing supplies from the home store or a moving store. Get boxes in different sizes, but mostly the smaller size boxes where you can pack fewer but heavier items such as books. Get packing tape and a dispenser, wide felt markers and packing material such as bubble wrap.

                        5. Be Careful with Fragile Items
                          You don't want to show up at your new home with boxes of broken items! Boxes should be full, but weigh no more than 50 pounds per box. If packed items don't fill up the box, fill the space with newspaper or bubble wrap or air pillows, so they don't shift around when moved. Mark boxes that contain fragile items. Use arrows on boxes if it's important they stay upright.

                        Whether you're leaving Baton Rouge or joining us, our team can help! Contact us today. 

                        September
                        25

                        Get Your Offer to Stand Out in a Competitive Market with These Tips

                        competitive market

                        This is a great time to buy a home, with interest rates at all-time lows and many motivated sellers seeking the right buyer. Of course, that means you won't be the only person house-hunting right now, and a competitive real estate market means you may have to do a little extra to make your offer stand out above the rest. Our real estate agents know what it takes to land your dream home, and we've got some practical tips to help your offer outshine the competition.

                        1. Lead Off with Your Best Offer

                          So you've narrowed down your list of Lafayette homes for sale, found the perfect match, and you know other buyers are competing to purchase the property. With strong competition for the home, now is not the time to lead off with a low offer that has little chance of being accepted. Instead, work with your real estate agent to put together your best offer, and show the seller that you're serious about closing the deal. When there are multiple bidders on a home, your first offer may be your only chance to impress.

                        2. Secure Your Financing ASAP

                          If you're in a position to make an all-cash offer, then you likely already have a leg up on the competition. For most buyers, financing the purchase is a more practical option. Getting pre-approved for a mortgage is a must if you want the seller to take your offer seriously, and benefits you by telling you how much home you can afford. If you can get fully underwritten before making your offer, that's an even stronger sign to sellers that you're ready to close the deal.

                        3. Be Ready to Have the Home Inspected

                          Some sellers have a tight timeline for finding a buyer and will want to know as soon as possible whether you will be negotiating for repairs based on what the home inspection reveals. So, the sooner you can have the home inspected, the better. Rather than wait out the inspection window (typically 5 to 10 days), get your inspector on the scene as soon as you can.

                        4. Offer a Quick Closing

                          Offering a faster closing is another way to make your bid stand out when the seller is facing a time crunch, and can still be an appealing perk even if the seller is on a more relaxed timeline. If you can make a quick closing happen, it can be a great option in competitive markets.

                        5. Work with the Right Real Estate Agent

                          The right real estate agent will be your greatest asset when putting together an offer because they can help you analyze the market, check comparable sales, and create an offer that catches the eye of the seller. They will also help you with all the little, important details of the transaction and keep things on schedule.

                        6. Add a Personal Touch

                          While money speaks loudest when making an offer, there are often sellers who have lived in the home for a long time and would like to see it sold to someone who will love it as much as they have. A hand-written, personal letter about why you love the home won't make up for a low-ball offer, but it can help make a difference when your offer is similar to the competition.

                        Searching for a real estate team that can take your home search to the next level? We can help you make a winning offer on your dream home. Contact us today.

                        September
                        17

                        What to Know Before Buying a House Virtually

                        When the global pandemic first started, Christopher and Sarra were living in Ohio and had just given birth to their first newborn daughter. Offered a new career opportunity in New Orleans, they had to quickly find a house and move. 

                        Because of COVID-19 and their new baby, they didn't feel comfortable traveling to New Orleans and touring multiple homes in person. Instead, they reached out to Latter & Blum Realtor, Stephanie Burkett, who is highly experienced in virtual showings and selling of homes due to her experience working with military clients. 

                        After several virtual tours, Christopher and Sarra finally found a place to call home in New Orleans without ever touring it in person. The family's experience of finding a home essentially "sight unseen" is not an uncommon one, particularly during the coronavirus pandemic. Below are some tips for prospective home buyers that are considering buying a home virtually. 

                         

                        1. Learn how to read about a listing online

                        Before you reach out to an agent and start an online search for your home, watch out for these red flags as you click through pictures:

                        • Are there more photos of the home's exterior than the interior? If so, the inside might need work.
                        • Photos with closed curtains or blinds could potentially be hiding an unfavorable view.
                        • If a picture of a bathroom focuses on a sink, it can mean the bathroom is very small.
                        • Photos that appear stretched may be smaller than it appears online.
                        • Be aware of listing terms. A "fixer-upper" can mean an investment opportunity or require updating.

                         

                        2. Pick the right real estate agent 

                        Like Christopher and Sarra, choosing an agent that is experienced in helping families relocate is a major plus when shopping for a home virtually. After all, your agent will be your eyes and ears during the entire touring process. Agents that specialize in relocation may understand more of the challenges that come along with buying a home sight unseen, especially since there are a lot more unknown factors and hand-holding involved. 

                        Pro Tip: Don't hesitate to ask your agent the following questions: Can you help schedule movers and get different moving options and quotes? Can your agent help set up services at the home or at least provide contact information for water, gas, garbage, electrical, etc.? 

                         Looking for a qualified Realtor? Visit here to help you find the right agent for your needs. 

                        3. Request an in-depth video tour 

                        Before going on a virtual tour, have the floor plan of the space handy to help with determining how big a room is or how high the ceilings are. Ideally, your agent should start the tour while driving up to the house, in order to give you a better sense of the neighborhood and local amenities. If you're a parent, you may also want to request that the agent drive to the nearby schools to give a sense of how long it would take the kids to get to school each morning. From there, the agent should show you every part of the home from every possible angle. 

                        Pro Tip: Ask as many questions as possible — particularly about the things you can't learn just from looking at a home. Is the neighbor's dog barking all day? Can you hear planes overhead? Is there a fire station nearby? Does the house have a certain odor?

                         

                        Visit our website to start your virtual home search today!

                        September
                        8

                        5 Things to Know Before Going House Shopping

                          

                        Buying a house can be an exciting process, but it can also be nerve-racking! Before you start your home search, here are five things you should know that will help you make decisions that are the best for you, your peace of mind and your wallet.

                        1. Know how much house you can afford. One of the biggest roadblocks for prospective home buyers is not calculating beforehand what kind of home you can afford and coming up with enough money for a down payment. Use these calculators as a guide to calculate how much you can afford in a monthly mortgage payment. 

                         

                        2. Know your credit history. The better your credit history, the better the chances you'll have of securing the best financing rates and terms. A good score can help save you thousands of dollars over the life of the loan. See how to raise your credit score to get better loan terms. 

                         

                        3. Have a lender pre-approve you before house shopping. These days, houses can go off the market fast. In order to be ahead of the competition, you need to make sure you're prepared to make a strong offer and having a pre-approval in hand will position you as a serious buyer. "Buyers should feel comfortable with their budget before heading out the door with their Realtor to look at houses. Most of my buyers qualify for much more than they want to spend on monthly mortgage notes. I always have a lender walk my buyers through all of the costs of buying a home and together they will decide the purchase price range to fit the buyer's lifestyle!" - Penny Stettinius, Latter & Blum agent. 

                         

                        4. Make a checklist of your needs, must-haves and wants. Making a list of all your wants and needs is essential. Seeing many homes at once can be overwhelming and a checklist can serve as a guide to remind you what you're looking for. It also serves as a helpful reference for your Realtor. Not sure what you are looking for in a home? Download our Wants & Needs Worksheet. If you already know your wants and needs, tell one of our agents and start shopping today!

                         

                        5. Choose a Realtor that best fits your needs. One thing most people don't realize is that you can meet with several Realtors to discuss your needs and see who is the best fit for you. An experienced agent can save you time and money by helping you find your dream home and negotiate with the seller on your behalf. "I tell my clients to hire a Realtor who is full-time and answers the phone when you call! Nothing is more important than being represented by an experienced agent who you can easily communicate with. I also tell my clients to look up Realtors online and read their customer reviews." - Cindy Bailey, Latter & Blum agent. 

                         

                        Ready to go house shopping? Buying a home is easy with Latter & Blum! Visit latter-blum.com for all the resources you'll need to help you find your dream home!

                        September
                        11

                        7 Things You Need to do After Buying a Home

                        Buying a Home Lafayette

                        Our real estate agents know buying a house can consume a lot of energy. Expert advice helps, but when you get to closing day, you probably just want to relax. It's time to celebrate, but don't overlook the vital things you need to do now!

                        Whether you've been hunting for Lafayette homes for sale or houses elsewhere in Louisiana, the basics are the same. A few quick tasks help you get the most from your place.

                        Here are the most crucial things:

                        1. Secure Your Home
                          As soon as you move into your new home, it's time to make sure it's secure: Change the locks on the front and back door and the locks or codes on the garage. If you have a security system, be sure the account has passed to you and call the help desk to update codes there, too.
                        2. Purchase or Review Your Home Warranty
                          A home warranty is completely separate from your homeowner's insurance. Instead of covering damage to your home, it covers the cost of repairs for major appliances. Depending on what you have and how old it is, this can be a good deal, but it needs to be completed within a month or so of moving in.
                        3. Check Your Smoke and CO Detectors
                          Your smoke detectors are your first line of defense in the event of a kitchen fire or other accident. And although carbon monoxide leaks are very rare, the gas is colorless and odorless – so a CO alarm is a must. Both of them usually operate on small, inexpensive batteries that can last for years.
                        4. Prioritize the Most Important Maintenance
                          Odds are good that the process of buying your house included paying for a home inspection. If there are any urgent priorities on the list, be sure to start thinking about them. Write down what you want to do in the coming month, three months, six months, and a year.
                        5. Find the Circuit Box
                          Before you start to hook up all your electronics and appliances, find the circuit box, and test each breaker to see where it goes. You may need it in an emergency. Likewise, sometimes you can counteract power outages by flipping affected breakers.
                        6. Forward Your Old Mail
                          The United States Postal Service enables you to quickly update your address online so that your mail can be forwarded. Also, consider updating your address with the IRS and update all of your accounts, such as credit cards and membership subscriptions.
                        7. Clean and Paint
                          Even with the best of intentions, the old owners may leave your new home in need of cleaning – such as a carpet deep clean. Give yourself a week off, then break out the cleaning supplies. Consider the current state of your paint and decide whether you need a fresh coat, inside or out.

                        There are many stages of "moving." These simple tasks are easy to get done, but they'll help you make your house a home. To learn more about local real estate, contact us today.

                        September
                        2

                        What You Can Expect From a Home Inspection

                        Home Inspection

                        If you're considering purchasing a home, a home inspection will give you better insight regarding the condition of the home. A home inspection is an examination of the property's interior, exterior, and major systems.

                        Our real estate agents know that a home inspection can provide invaluable information regarding repairs that a property needs now or will require in the near future. Here's what you can expect from a home inspection. 

                        1. A Home Inspection Examines Items That are Readily Visible
                          During the home inspection, the inspector can only examine things that are already visible or are easily visible by opening a door, cabinet, or drawer (something that's fairly accessible). The inspector can't pull up flooring or smash walls, nor will they move furniture. That's not to say that a home inspection only looks for surface-level problems. Your inspector will look for problems that may not be obvious to the average homebuyer, such as grading problems, foundation issues, and leaks in the plumbing system. As long as the home's roof isn't extremely steep, your inspector will likely inspect the roof, gutters, shingles, and any skylights. Some items that a home inspection won't look for or check include:
                          • Termites and other household pests
                          • Chimney condition
                          • Radon levels
                          • Well condition
                          • Water quality
                        1. A Home Inspection Will Take at Least a Couple of Hours
                          On average, a home inspection takes anywhere from two to four hours. The length of time the inspection takes depends on the size of the home. Your inspector will examine any structure that's physically connected to the home; this includes the garage, basement, attic, and bonus room. Sheds or barns not attached to the home aren't included in the inspection. It's allowed and even encouraged for the buyer to attend the home inspection. This will give you a chance to learn how the systems in various Alexandria homes for sale work. You can also ask questions about any items that the inspector thinks are potentially a major issue.
                        1. A Home Inspector Will Provide You With a Report After the Inspection
                          After the inspection, your inspector will provide you with a comprehensive report that details their findings. This report is an extensive document that will go over everything that the home inspector examined during their inspection. The report will state the inspector's findings for the item examined, including the condition for the item and the anticipated additional lifespan for major systems and appliances. Your report will also include a section that states which items the inspector recommends be immediately repaired or replaced. Many homeowners are overwhelmed when they receive a report that lists dozens of defects. Remember, many of these defects are likely to be relatively minor. Focus on the items that are a potential safety hazard or that will be expensive or time consuming to repair or replace. You may be able to get the seller to adjust the price if the inspection shows that the home needs a lot of costly, unexpected repairs.

                        Regardless of the outcome of your negotiations, an inspection will help you better understand the true condition of the home that you're considering purchasing. 

                        Ready to start shopping for homes? Contact us today to get started!

                        August
                        21

                        Thinking of Buying Your First Home? Why Now is the Perfect Time!

                        Buying a First Home

                        2020 has been an unprecedented year in so many ways, and the current real estate market has created unique opportunities for many buyers shopping as a first-time buyer. A combination of low-interest rates and motivated sellers means that now is the perfect time to shop for a home in many markets! Our real estate agents are here to help with more info on the current market and some tips to help you prepare for purchasing your first home.

                        • Mortgage Interest Rates Are at All-Time Lows
                          The interest rate on your mortgage is a crucial factor in how much home you can afford, and how much of your budget that mortgage payments will take up over time. At the time of publication, mortgage rates are at an all-time low of 2.98 percent. The Fed drops rates to stimulate the economy so that these low rates won't last forever. That's why now is the time to capitalize on this unique opportunity.

                        • Motivated Sellers Are Ready to Make Deals
                          With social distancing measures and other restrictions in place in many markets across the country during 2020, sellers have had some unusual obstacles in their path when trying to find a buyer. Mix in an unsettled economy, and many sellers are more motivated than ever to make a deal. While the competition for homes is often still strong, motivated sellers make it easier for you to find the best deals as a first-time buyer.

                        Tips for Preparing to Purchase Your First Home

                        • Check Your Credit and Pay Down Debts
                          Before you get serious about shopping for Lafayette homes for sale, it's wise to make sure that you're ready to secure a mortgage. Start by requesting your free annual credit report from the three major credit bureaus, and looking for every opportunity to improve your credit score. Paying down as many outstanding debts as possible before applying for a mortgage will help you get the best rates, and increase your purchasing power. Once your credit score is looking great, avoid making large purchases and opening new lines of credit until after purchasing your home.

                        • Save for Your Down Payment and Closing Costs
                          The largest up-front costs in purchasing your first home will typically be your down payment and closing costs. Overall, you can expect these payments to be about 8 to 10 percent of the total cost of the home, at a minimum. 

                        • Get Pre-Approved to Discover Your Purchasing Power
                          Once your finances are looking strong, you'll be ready to get pre-approved for your mortgage. Pre-approval will give you an idea of exactly how much purchasing power you have as you shop for homes and shows sellers that you're a serious buyer with the funds to close the deal.

                        • Find the Right Real Estate Agent
                          There are so many little details that go into purchasing your first home, and the process can be challenging to navigate when you haven't done it before. The right real estate agent will make your life easier in so many ways, from identifying homes that match your needs to negotiating the best possible deal with sellers.

                        Ready to take advantage of this unprecedented opportunity and find your first home? Our team is here to help. Contact us to buy and sell homes throughout the Lafayette, LA area.

                        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!

                        January
                        21

                        8 Tips for Remodeling Your Kitchen

                        Kitchen Remodel

                        When Our REALTORS® bring potential homebuyers out to explore Baton Rouge homes for sale, there are always a few details that can make or break the buying decision. The design and layout of the kitchen is one of them. 

                        Whether you're thinking about putting your home on the market soon or you're planning to stay for years, a kitchen remodel is almost always a great investment. However, if you're not well-prepared, this is the type of project that can take on a life of its own. 

                        The following tips will help you make sure that creating your dream kitchen doesn't turn into a real nightmare.

                        1. Pad Your Budget
                          Despite best intentions, home remodeling projects almost always end up coming in over budget. This is particularly true if you're taking on a DIY project. Make sure you're prepared to deal with unexpected issues by adding 10 to 15 percent of the amount you plan to spend. If you don't end up spending it, you'll come out ahead, but if you run into a bump in the road, having the extra cushion will help you avoid financial stress. 
                        2. Choose Your Appliances First
                          Many homeowners make the mistake of waiting too long to choose their appliances. Make this decision early, so you have exact measurements to work with. Otherwise, you'll find that it's difficult or impossible to get a proper fit. 
                        3. Don't Scrimp on Storage
                          When remodeling a kitchen, it's always a good idea to incorporate as much storage as possible. Look for creative solutions like corner lazy Susan's, pull-out drawers, or strategically placed hanging racks. 
                        4. Add Extra Outlets
                          Don't forget to add plenty of electrical outlets throughout the kitchen. Not only is an overloaded outlet inconvenient and unsightly, but it's dangerous. 
                        5. Don't Forget the Trash
                          Like it or not, a trash receptacle is an important part of your kitchen. Make sure you plan appropriately, or you'll find yourself with a nasty garbage can in the middle of your beautifully redesigned space.  
                        6. Avoid Indecisiveness
                          Remodeling your kitchen is a big project, and it's easy to get excited or overwhelmed. Make sure you make all of your plans before you start and commit to them. You might see a feature you love when you're half-way through the project, but making a change mid-way is rarely worth it. Not only will changing your plans extend the time it takes to complete your project, but it will likely cost you more as well. 
                        7. Go with the Pros
                          A kitchen remodel is a big project that the average person shouldn't try to take on themselves. Although you may think you'll save money by doing your own work, it's likely to cost you in the long run. Professional contractors have the skills, knowledge, and tools to do the job right. 
                        8. Don't Take On Too Much
                          Beware of taking on a kitchen remodel project that's just too much to handle. If your kitchen needs that much work, you may want to consider foregoing the remodel and looking for a new home that already has the features you're looking for. 

                        Have you decided that it's time to make a change? Whether you're thinking about buying or selling a home, we can help make it a smooth and pleasant experience. Contact us today. 

                        January
                        14

                        Cathy Cusimano - Million in a Month December 2019

                        December
                        23

                        Choosing the Right Real Estate Agent in 2020: What to Look For

                        Choosing an Agent

                        Is buying or selling a home on your list of New Year's resolutions? One of the first steps to take is finding the right agent to help guide you through the process. 

                        Find the right agent for the job with this list of tips. 

                        1. Get Referrals and References
                          Talk to friends, family, co-workers, and neighbors who have bought or sold real estate and find out about their experience with their real estate agent. Were they happy with the service and guidance they received? Would they recommend the real estate agent they used to you? Ask detailed questions, including what they liked best and least, and how well the agent handled communication.

                        2. Talk to Several Agents
                          Interview several agents and ask about their experience, education, and background. If you're interested in a specific neighborhood or type of house, ask about their experience and knowledge with these. Listen to their questions and feedback, and after the interview, think about whether you were comfortable. You'll want to feel at ease asking questions and expressing any concerns throughout the process.

                        3. Local Knowledge
                          How long has your potential agent lived in and worked in real estate in your community? Local knowledge is fundamental, so look for an agent who knows about specific neighborhoods, ordinances, market trends, recreation, schools, and more in your community. He or she should be an expert in local information and trends that can affect real estate.

                        4. Ask about Their Specialty
                          Over time, real estate agents start to have more knowledge and experience with certain situations. For example, if you're looking for high-end homes, one real estate agent may specialize more in this area than another. Others may specialize in different types of properties, such as those with a lot of land, starter homes, or foreclosures, so choose one that has special knowledge and interest in what you're looking for.

                        5. Look for Someone Responsive
                          During a real estate transaction, you'll have pressing deadlines and will need someone responsive. He or she won't always be available to take your call right at the moment, but you should expect a return call within a reasonable time frame. One way to judge how responsive they'll be once you're a client is to determine how long it takes them to return your call or online request when you're starting your search for an agent. If they don't respond to your call or message relatively promptly, you should consider contacting another agent.

                        6. Find an Agent Who Cares
                          Overall, they should care about finding the right home for you or selling your current home. You're looking for someone who will understand your specific needs and goals for finding a new home or selling your current one. He or she should answer any questions you have, offer suggestions, and work to help you sell your home for the best possible price or find a home within your budget that has the attributes you're looking for.

                        If you're looking for Baton Rouge homes for sale, our real estate agents have the experience, knowledge, and caring attitude to help you find the right home for you. Contact us today to get started. 

                        December
                        9

                        Holiday Gifts for First-Time Homebuyers

                        Gifts for Homebuyers

                        With the holidays around the corner, it's a good time to start making a list and checking it twice. Our REALTORS® know all about Baton Rouge homes for sale and gift ideas for those who recently purchased them! Get gift inspiration for the first-time homebuyer in your life with our list of top holiday gifts below. 

                        1. Tool Box
                          If there's one thing a first-time homeowner will appreciate, it's a well-stocked toolkit. Owning a home means taking responsibility for ongoing maintenance and everyday DIY projects. And while we certainly hope your new home doesn't need repairs any time soon, it's always good to be prepared. Choose a toolbox that comes with all the essentials, like pliers, socket wrenches, a hammer, tape measure, drill, and assorted drill bits. 

                        2. House Plants
                          Nothing brightens up a new home like a few splashes of green. House plants don't just look great. They also improve air quality inside your house. Plus, if you know someone who is buying a house in winter, they'll probably be grateful for some extra greenery. 

                        3. Coffee Supplies
                          Upgrading from an apartment to a house usually comes with some major kitchen upgrades, so it's also an excellent opportunity to up your coffee game. For the coffee lover on your list, spring for some new and improved coffee-making gear, like a French press or pour-over kit, along with some freshly roasted beans. 

                        4. Garden Tools
                          For the new homeowner with a green thumb, a fresh set of garden tools offers an opportunity to turn that brand new yard into a dream garden. Even if you know someone who is moving into a second-story condo, some simple tools and pots allow them to create a lovely container garden on the balcony or patio. 

                        5. Art
                          Nobody likes staring at bare walls. Moving into a new house often means a lot more room, and most new homeowners find themselves desperately looking for fresh artwork to liven up the space. If you know an artist, now is a great time to commission them for a painting. 

                        6. Grilling Gear
                          Chances are if you know someone who is buying their first home, they're probably eager to host their first backyard barbecue. Help them out with the gift of a new barbecue grill and maybe some grilling tools. Whether it's a small hibachi grill for balcony barbecuing, or a full-sized charcoal or gas grill for the back patio, they'll surely be grateful. Chances are you'll be repaid with an invitation and some great food. 

                        7. Gift Cards
                          Usually, a gift card is an excellent way of saying, "I give up - pick your gift!" But for the new homeowner on your list, a gift card can be a lifesaver. Owning a home comes with a lot of needs and expenses they may not have even thought of yet, and a gift card to their favorite hardware or home and garden store will allow them to get what they need to make their new house a home. 

                        Thinking about becoming a homeowner this holiday season? Contact us to learn more, and talk to one of our REALTORS® about finding your dream home.

                        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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