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Hidden Culinary Gems in Baton Rouge

Baton Rouge

The culinary delights of Baton Rouge are legendary, but a number of incredible restaurants fly under the radar. Our real estate agents share the secrets of their favorite hidden gems around the Capital City.

  • Crown Bistro - The Royal Standard, 16016 Perkins Rd., Baton Rouge, LA 70810
    Treat yourself like royalty with a majestic meal at Crown Bistro. This charming restaurant is tucked inside The Royal Standard, a British-inspired lifestyle shop featuring a curated assortment of fashion accessories and home decor from around the world. Enjoy the sophisticated selection of soups, salads, and sandwiches at your table with a view of the lovely patio and lawn. Be sure to stop at the candy counter for some gourmet chocolates to go. Crown Bistro is open from 11 a.m. - 6 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday and 11 a.m. - 5 p.m. Sunday. Brunch is served 11 a.m. - 2 p.m. weekends.

  • Heather V's Cafe - The Foyer, 3655 Perkins Rd., Baton Rouge, LA 70808
    With 75 merchants across 8,000 square feet, The Foyer is the perfect place to find furnishings, accessories, and artwork to fill Baton Rouge homes for sale. When you're ready for a break, grab a bite to eat at Heather V's Cafe. Order a classic muffuletta or a fresh salad with their signature lemon parmesan dressing, which is also available by the bottle. Follow Heather V's on Facebook for information about daily soup and sandwich specials. Hours are 10 a.m. - 3 p.m. Monday through Friday.

  • Waterfront Cafe - Greenwood Community Park, 13350 LA-19, Baker, LA 70714
    So it's a beautiful day in the Red Stick, and you're in the mood for an impromptu scenic meal near Baker homes for sale. Head to Greenwood Community Park for lunch at the Waterfront Cafe, located in the Dumas Memorial Pro Golf Shop. Dine on summertime favorites such as burgers, hot dogs, and deli sandwiches from your lakeside table. There's candy and soda for the kids, as well as ice-cold beer for the grown-ups. Waterfront Cafe is open 9 a.m. - 4 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday.

  • Louie's Cafe - 3322 Lake St., Baton Rouge, LA 70802
    When a restaurant's clientele includes both college students and families, you know they're something special. Louie's Cafe has been a Baton Rouge institution since 1941. Over the years, Louie's has grown from a 10-stool diner to their current, more spacious building on Lake St. One constant has been proximity to the LSU campus. The comfort food-laden menu includes Eggs Louisianne, the cafe's take on Eggs Benedict, featuring locally-caught shrimp and crawfish. Louie's is open seven days a week from 6:30 a.m. - 2:30 p.m.

  • Smoke & Boil - Baton Rouge, LA
    Feel like a true insider when you attend one of the lively events from Cajun food vendor Smoke & Boil. They describe their pop-ups at various Baton Rouge locations as "social gatherings" celebrating the city's culinary, brewing, and artistic communities. During recent months, Smoke & Boil has served a crawfish boil at Cypress Coast Brewing Co., farm-fresh egg sandwiches at Agile Brewing, and gourmet hot dogs at Sugarfield Spirits. Follow Smoke & Boil on Facebook for details about their current schedule.

Fuel up at these great places while you're touring Baton Rouge open houses. Get the inside scoop when you contact us at Latter & Blum. 


5 Ways to Add More Natural Light

Natural Light TipsSoft, warm, and hard to replicate, natural light is always better than artificial light. It brings a rich, full-spectrum hue that makes your room feel brighter, bigger, and more welcoming. Natural light also lifts your spirit, improves your wellbeing, and even helps cut down on your utility bills. Our real estate agents run through 5 easy ways to increase the amount of natural light in your home.

  1. Use Lighter Wall and Ceiling Paints
    Color can either absorb or reflect light. Lighter colors bounce light around the room, while dark shades absorb light and make a room dreary than it really is. Banish dark block colors and statement wallpaper in favor of a soft shade of white paint. If you really don't like the brightest white, look into off-white shades or other lighter color tones. Choose a paint with a glossier finish to enhance the reflective properties of the surface color. Also, consider painting the ceiling a few shades lighter than the walls to make the room feel brighter, larger, and airier. A matte finish is preferred for ceilings because it reduces glare.

  2. Add Reflective Surfaces and Accents
    Mirrors and other shiny surfaces can help reflect and amplify the amount of light in your space. So, consider hanging decorative mirror walls, metallic light fixtures, and faucets, furniture with glass, metallic, or chrome finishes. In the bathroom and kitchen, you can incorporate ceramic or glass tiles into your backsplash. And when it comes to décor elements, go for light-colored furniture pieces, linens, accents, and window treatments to help bounce natural light around your space.

  3. Do Some Exterior Work
    While you're outside, give your glass doors and windows a thorough clean to ensure light can filter through the glass and into your home. Also, take a look around your home's exterior to see if there are any obstructions that may be blocking the sun. Trim any overgrown trees, hanging vines, and shrubs that are growing around your windows and doors. 

  4. Install Larger Windows or Doors
    If there's an opportunity to install new windows, especially those facing east, west, or south, this should be considered. Advances in window manufacturing allow for more exposed glass and minimal framework. Choose bow, bay, or picture windows for the greatest impact. Also, replacing a solid exterior door with a garden or patio door can help transform your space into a "sunroom." Bi-folding doors are also a good choice because they can transform an entire wall into glass for ultimate light levels and breathtaking views.

  5. Add Skylights to Bring in Top Light
    Skylights are a unique and effective way of pulling in natural light. They come in a variety of sizes and configurations and can be installed easily and quickly. They often work great in windowless rooms and high-traffic areas like family rooms and bathrooms. Skylights bring in "top light," which is three times brighter than the light that penetrates windows. But if your roof cannot accommodate a skylight, consider installing a solar tube or sun pipe. These ingenious, twisty pipes travel from the roof to the ceiling and bring natural light with them.

Looking for Baton Rouge homes for sale with inviting natural light? Planning to get your home ready to sell shortly? Whatever your real estate needs are, our experts at Latter & Blum are here to help you navigate the housing market and make things easier for you. Contact us today!


How to Keep Pests Away from Your Home

Remove Pests From Home

Is there anything more challenging to Louisiana homeowners than the ever-present war on pests? No one wants to see a six-legged uninvited guest crawling across the carpet, least of all when invited guests are present! If you look into some of our beautiful Alexandria homes for sale, you might want to take note of some of the pest control measures the owners have taken. With this multi-pronged attack, you may be able to claim a permanent victory, even during the warm summer months.

  • Put Them Under Siege
    Take away their access to food inside the house. Not only are cardboard boxes ineffective against insects, but some of the more offensive varieties will also actually make a meal of them. Transfer dry goods whenever possible to sealed canisters or plastic storage containers. Clean up food debris immediately. Don't invite bugs by leaving them crumbs to eat. Wash dirty dishes immediately. Take the trash out daily. Garbage containers left inside are a call to arms to hungry pests. Feed pets on a schedule, avoiding leaving pet food on the floor. Free feeding of your dog or cat means free feeding for ants, as well. Outside the house, make sure that leaves and debris are cleared away, as they are breeding grounds for bugs. Some of the worst culprits are newspapers, boxes, and paper bags.
  • Remove Access to Water
    Did you know that a roach can live without food for a month but only a week without water? But they don't need a lot to quench their thirst. Make sure to keep sinks clean and dry by fixing all leaks, keeping the sink free of soaking dishes, and using garbage disposal frequently. Clean up spills on counters immediately. Inspect dishwashers, washing machines, and water heaters for leaks. Continue your inspection under all sinks in the bathrooms, laundry room, and kitchen. Don't over-water plants or leave excess water in planter saucers. Eliminate standing water outside the house by draining rainwater away from the house. Keep gutters and drainpipes running freely.
  • Block Their Entrance
    Inspect the exterior of the house for cracks or holes that would allow pests access to the inside. Besides sealing cracks, you need to pay close attention to entry points for pipes and wiring. Caulk and silicone work well. Both have formulas specific to indoor and outdoor use. Another material that offers excellent results is expanding foam. It's a versatile option for both small gaps and larger holes and very easy to use. Inside the house, seal gaps along baseboards, around windows, and behind sinks. Keep screens in good repair. Don't bring pests inside with boxes or bags. Replace weather-stripping around doors and windows annually. Trim trees and shrubbery so that branches are not allowed to offer bridges for pests. 
  • Call in the Experts
    Once you've done your part, call in a professional by scheduling an exterminator for regular inspections and treatments. Professional technicians have the tools and the expertise to handle the pests you can't. They will inspect for termites and make recommendations to help you maintain a pest-free home.

Contact us if you're interested in buying or selling a Louisiana home. Our real estate agents will be happy to help. 


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!


How to Add More Closet Space to Your Home

Closet Space Tips

Storage is one thing we never seem to have enough of, which is probably why closet space is usually such a big selling point for homebuyers. If you feel like you're in cramped quarters, here are six suggestions from our real estate agents for adding to your closet space, ranging from minor adjustments to major renovations.

  1. Get Creative
    Not all storage spaces have to be tucked away into a closet. There are plenty of creative storage options you can use to make more storage space out of nothing. For example, reclaim that lost space under your bed by getting a bed frame with under-bed storage drawers or shelves, or check out furniture such as storage ottomans, cube shelves, and freestanding wardrobes.

  2. Maximize Current Closet Space
    Sometimes the issue isn't really a lack of storage space, but under-used closet space. The traditional approach of a single clothing bar with a shelf above it tends to leave a lot of wasted space. Look into organizational design options to customize and make full use of your closet space, from recessed nooks to the backs of the doors. Consider installing custom shelving, drawers, or a second clothing bar to utilize your unused spaces. Closet upgrades like these always make a good impression in Baton Rouge homes for sale.

  3. Install Open Closets
    The concept of open closets might seem unappealing, but you may already have some of these spaces without realizing it. For example, a mudroom setup with coat hooks, a bench, and cubbies with bins represents an open closet design that is a popular and attractive part of many homes. You can build similarly designed open closets in bathrooms that lack linen storage or in craft rooms for supply storage.

  4. Find Unused Spaces
    Houses often have unused spaces in them that can be given new life as reconverted closet spaces. For instance, you might have unused space under your stairs. It's often easier and requires less remodeling to convert those spaces into closets than building closets from scratch. Another option is to convert a small bedroom into a walk-in closet and dressing room. This can easily be turned back into a bedroom when it comes time to sell the house.

  5. Build a Closet
    If you've exhausted all the creative options available to you and still find yourself pressed for storage space, it might be time to consider building a closet or expanding on an existing one. This does mean more involved renovations and may cut into the size of the room where you're adding the closet space. In some cases, however, you may find that it's worth the expense.

  6. Declutter
    When all else fails, remember that much of the stuff we keep and store we don't really need. Make it a habit of going through your closets regularly, getting rid of things you don't need or haven't used in a while, and reorganizing to make the best use of the space. This is especially important if you're getting ready to sell your home! 

Storage is an ongoing issue for many households, and there's a reason why storage is often toward the top of our clients' wish lists. If you've outgrown your current space and you're ready to move onto something bigger and better, contact us today.


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. 


Why Lafayette is Known as the Happiest City in America

Lafayette Happiest City

When folks call Lafayette the happiest city in America, it's not just a marketing slogan meant to drum up tourism. It's the real deal. 

Our real estate agents don't need statistics and data to tell you that Lafayette is a happy city filled with happy people (although it is nice to get some national recognition). Here's how we can tell that living in Lafayette makes people happy:

It's a Foodie Dream

If you're looking for a rich culinary scene, you'll definitely find it in Lafayette. We happen to be home to some of Louisiana's most legendary Cajun and Creole restaurants, like T-Coon's, Poor Boy's Riverside, and Cafe Vermilionville. And contrary to what you may have heard, it's not all crawfish and barbecue. We have cuisine from all over the world, along with great options for anyone looking for vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free cuisine. And for everyday fare, check out the Hub City Diner, one of the best retro '50s diners in America.

Lafayette is Affordable

One thing that surely cheers people up in Lafayette is that we have a very low cost of living. Based on a national average of 100, the cost of living in Lafayette comes in at 87.7, according to Best Places. Everything from groceries and utilities to Lafayette homes for sale cost less here than in most places around the country. The median cost of a home in Lafayette is just $159,100, compared to the $231,200 national average.

Your Dog Will Love It

It's a proven fact that dogs make people happy, and we have it on good authority that dogs are happy in Lafayette. For starters, we have two great dog off-leash dog parks at Brown Memorial Park and Beaullieu Park, plus awesome on-leash trail adventures at the Acadiana Park Nature Station. Many of our local restaurants—Taco Sisters, Central Pizza, and Borden's Ice Cream in particular—also go out of their way to accommodate pooches (and their humans). 

Some Like it Hot

If you like warm weather, we have good news for you. In Lafayette, the average day in January has a high of 61°F and a low of 43°F. Granted, the summers get pretty toasty (July has an average high of 91°F and an average low of 74°F). But for those of us who thrive in warm climates, we find plenty of ways to beat the heat. For example, Lafayette has some pretty awesome pools and splash pads

Big City Amenities, Small Town Charm

Lafayette has everything you would expect in a major city. It has a vibrant nightlife and a rich music scene, along with endless shopping and dining options. But Lafayette also has small-town charm and a friendly neighborhood atmosphere. It's easy to make connections and get to know each other here. Plus, Lafayette is a stone's throw from some of America's most wild and beautiful landscapes, including incredible opportunities for fishing, camping, paddling, hiking, and bird watching.

Contact us today to learn more about life in Louisiana. Our team can't wait to help you find your dream home in Lafayette and the surrounding areas. 


Toss These Items While Spring Cleaning

Spring Cleaning Baton Rouge

Spring is the perfect time to conquer your to-do list and get ahead on your cleaning and household maintenance chores. While you're working, take a few moments to declutter items from your home that you no longer need or use.

Our real estate agents know that decluttering is a simple way to help a home appear larger and more appealing to potential homebuyers. Here are some items to toss as you make your way through your spring cleaning to-do list. 

  1. Expired Medication
    When tidying your medicine cabinet, take a moment to check the dates on your medication and ointments to ensure that you're not holding onto expired products. Over time, the chemical composition of medication changes. These changes mean that the medication may not work as well at treating or managing your symptoms. 
  1. Old or Unmatched Tupperware
    Over time, Tupperware becomes less sturdy. This makes it more likely to break, crack, or potentially leach chemicals into your food. Dispose of any Tupperware that appears worn, damaged, cloudy, or warped. Check that all of your remaining pieces have a matching lid and are in a size and shape that you'll regularly use. 
  1. Old or Extra Cables
    It's not uncommon for the average household to accumulate an astonishing collection of charging cords and USB cables. Spend some time confirming that you know what each individual type of power cord or cable goes to. If necessary, label it so that you know what it goes to. For more multifunctional cables, like USB and Apple cords, keep only a reasonable amount for the number of devices you have. Throw away any cords or cables that are frayed, worn, or damaged. 
  1. Old Paperwork and Papers
    Keep your filing cabinets in order by getting rid of old papers. Most information, like a credit card, utility, and bank statements, is available online. There's little reason to keep a slew of paper copies on hand. Get rid of old manuals and instructions. Many companies now have their instruction manuals online if an issue does arise. You should also sort through more sentimental items, like old greeting cards, school work, and programs. Keep only a few items that have significant meaning and store them in a dedicated container or scrapbook. 
  1. Outdated or Seldom Used Electronics
    If your old VCR or small kitchen appliance is used primarily as a paperweight, it's time to throw it out. Remove anything that you haven't used in the past year. Make sure to also get rid of any accessories, like VHS tapes or appliance attachments. When preparing to explore Baton Rouge homes for sale, you'll appreciate having less stuff to move when you find your ideal home. 
  1. Worn-Out Towels
    When your towels wear thin or become riddled with strings, it's time to let them go. Old towels aren't nearly as efficient at drying, and the rough fabric is sure to provide an uncomfortable drying experience. See that you also go through your washcloths, hand towels, and cleaning rags. 
  1. Board Games with Missing Pieces or Those That You Seldom Play
    If you've been holding onto board games with missing pieces, either reorder the missing pieces or throw the game out. Some manufacturers do allow you to order only the pieces or cards that come with games. Donate any games that your family doesn't enjoy playing.

Feel like your family needs more space? Contact us today to check out your options!


Helpful Tips for Hanging Your Wall Art

Hanging Wall Art Tips

Does it feel as though hanging wall art takes as much talent as actually creating the art itself? Don't be intimidated when decorating Alexandria homes for sale and other houses. Use these valuable tips from our real estate agents to hang wall art like a pro.

  1. Location, Location, Location
    The #1 rule of real estate also holds true when decorating. Determine where you'll place each piece of art by considering room functions, existing furniture and accessories, and sizes and shapes.

  2. To Thine Own Self Be True
    Shakespeare's words are always good advice, including when it comes to choosing artwork. Don't be guided by trends or the need to impress others. A single picture you truly cherish is worth more than a museum full of masterworks.

  3. Don't Look Up
    According to design experts, hanging a piece of art too high is the most common decorating mistake. People shouldn't have to strain their neck, admiring the artwork in your home. The rule of thumb used in museums and galleries is to place the center of a wall hanging 57" above the floor, which equals eye level for most people.

  4. Strike the Proper Balance
    Wall hangings and furniture should neither fight for attention nor drown each other out. When proportions are correct, both elements create a sense of harmony. Aim for an artwork or grouping that's approximately two-thirds the length of adjacent furniture, with the bottom of the art no more than a foot above. If you're working above a fireplace, go with a piece that's slightly narrower than the mantle but slightly wider than the fireplace opening.

  5. Bigger Is (Usually) Better
    When in doubt about size, err on the side of bigger. An oversized piece of art can serve as a focal point, while one that's too small comes off as an afterthought and adds absolutely no interest to a room.

  6. Blend Form and Function
    "Art" doesn't have to be rigidly defined as something created solely for visual appeal. There's a wide range of shelving, storage units, and other organizational items that offer equal parts style and substance. Incorporate these "wall hangings" for some great multitasking design elements.

  7. Consider a Gallery Wall
    Grouping several small and mid-sized pieces can tell a striking visual story. When you have an even number of pieces similar in size and appearance, a grid arrangement works well. Another option is using several pieces of varying sizes, shapes, and mediums, placing them in a carefully-drawn "random" arrangement. 

  8. Measure Twice, Hammer Once
    "Measure twice, cut once" is a popular saying applied to home improvement projects that's easily adapted to hanging wall art. If you're using more than one piece in a specific area, place a piece of butcher paper on the floor and test different arrangements. Once you've found the right one, trace the outline of each piece and mark the spot of the hanger to create a handy template.

  9. Use Alternative "Hanging" Methods
    Maybe you want a more casual, contemporary look, or you just don't want any hardware on your walls. One popular option used by many designers is simply leaning a piece of art against the wall. Larger pieces can rest on the floor, while smaller ones can be placed on a side table, bookcase, or floating shelf.

Home, like art, is in the eye of the beholder. Contact us today and let Latter & Blum guide you on the journey to find your perfect house in Alexandria. 

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