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Home Tips | 9 Posts

Why You Should Move to Lake Charles in 2023

Lake Charles 2023

Whether you prefer nature-inspired activities, love to play a round of golf, or prefer to visit museums and other cultural interests, Lake Charles is a terrific spot to call home. While Lake Charles boasts a small-town atmosphere, it has many of the perks and amenities of larger cities. Here are a few reasons our Realtors® encourage you to make Lake Charles your home in 2023. 

  • You'll Enjoy Warm Weather Year Round
    If you dread the thought of frigid winter temperatures and having to shovel snow and ice, Lake Charles' climate is perfect for your temperature and climate preferences. You'll experience hot temperatures in the 80s and 90s during the summer months, while the winter months have an average high of 60 degrees Fahrenheit. As you explore Lake Charles homes for sale, you'll have a chance to experience this great weather firsthand! 
  • The City Has a Resilient History
    Though the Great Fire of 1910 destroyed seven blocks of downtown Lake Charles, the city persevered and rebuilt. This resiliency continues to inspire and impact the town's residents, creating a supportive community that embraces growth and tenacity. Some of the town's parks were even constructed almost entirely by volunteers who wanted to improve the lives of other Lake Charles residents. 
  • Options for Dining and Entertainment
    Lake Charles is referred to as Louisana's Playground, and with a name like that, you can expect there will be plenty of things to see and do in the area all year long. Lake Charles offers five public golf courses well-suited for both novice and experienced golfers. Or, take the family out for a friendly round of putt-putt. The Lake Charles Civic Ballet regularly holds plays, musical productions, and seasonal shows.

    After checking out some of the Lake Charles open houses, take a few minutes to visit Lake Charles' top attractions and eateries. Sample a plate of boudin, a tasty sausage-like combination of pork, rice, vegetables, and seasonings.

    Stop by the Historic City Hall Arts and Cultural Center to check out the current exhibits. There's also a children's museum, the DeQuincy Railroad Museum, and a Mardi Gras museum.

    Plus, Lake Charles is also no stranger to hosting fantastic annual events. The city also has three major casinos perfect for a staycation or celebratory night out. Lake Charles hosts an annual Mardi Gras celebration that attracts up to 150,000 people.

    The area also offers plenty of opportunities for outdoor activities! Visit The Creole Nature Trail for scenic outdoor activities, including boating, fishing, crab hunting, and bird watching. Thanks to the pleasant Lake Charles weather, you can utilize the Creole Nature Trail the entire year. For all the outdoor amenities the area offers, be sure to check out their parks and recreation department.

Lake Charles attracts new residents from all across the country. Ready to find your new home in the Lake Charles area in 2023? Contact us to get started!


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!


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!


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.


National Homeownership Month: 5 Reasons to Celebrate 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.


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. 


How Our Team Can Help With Your 2022 Real Estate Goals

2022 Louisiana

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

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

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

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


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. 


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.


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!


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. 


    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. 


    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.


    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! 


    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. 


    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! 


    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.


    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.


    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. 


    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.


    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!


    Don't Do These 5 Things During the Closing Process

    Closing Process Tips

    When you're ready to close on your home, you probably feel as though you're near the finish line. Although this is true, you'll need to be careful not to make a mistake that could delay closing or put your loan approval in jeopardy.

    Our real estate agents warn against doing these 5 things during the closing process.

    1. Make a Big-Ticket Purchase  
      When you're buying a home, you may have your eye on some large purchases, such as new furnishings, appliances, or other items for your new dwelling. You might be tempted by a furniture store line of credit or think it won't hurt to add some new purchases on your credit card. After all, your mortgage has already been approved, and you're about to close on your home, so what harm could it do? As it turns out, your credit is still being monitored. Any large purchases could change the ratio of your income to debt, putting your mortgage loan in danger or causing you to pay a higher home loan interest rate for years to come.

    2. Change Jobs   
      Changing jobs during the closing process can complicate matters greatly. Your mortgage lender has agreed to your loan based on your employment history as well as your current job and income. If you have a new job, this may cause issues since your lender may call the employer you originally listed on your loan application in order to re-confirm your employment. In addition, if you take a lower-paying job, your lender may not be able to offer you the same loan amount.

    3. Open or Close a Line of Credit
      Your credit report and score play a large part in your ability to get a mortgage as well as in determining what interest rate your pay. Until the closing process is completed, you should keep your credit stable by not opening or closing new lines of credit. Opening a new line can make a lender think you could easily max out your card and have trouble paying your mortgage. And although closing an existing line of credit may sound like a good financial move, it can cause trouble with your mortgage loan since it removes that credit history and affects your length of credit. This can negatively impact your credit score.

    4. Make a Large Deposit 
      If your lender sees a large amount of money deposited into your banking account without an obvious explanation (such as a tax refund), this can be a cause for concern. That's because your lender may view it as a loan that has to be repaid and require proof – through a bill of sale, pay stub or letter from a person who gifted you the money – that this isn't the case.

    5. Check your Credit Report   
      Leave your credit report alone as you prepare to close on your home. Even if you find a mistake in it, don't try to correct it before you close on your home. Disputing an error can cause another inquiry and report to be generated, which could delay your closing.

    Contact us today at Latter & Blum if you're interested in looking at Baton Rouge homes for sale. We can guide you through the entire process, from pre-approval to closing, so it proceeds as smoothly as possible.


    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 for all the resources you'll need to help you find your dream home!


    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.


    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.


    5 Benefits of Working With a REALTOR®

    Working With REALTOR

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


    Study Up On These Real Estate Terms

    Real Estate Terms

    The home buying process can be daunting. Understanding basic terms and concepts associated with real estate can help make the process less stressful, help you identify red flags, and save you money. Our real estate agents recommend that homebuyers and those with Lake Charles homes for sale familiarize themselves with a few common terms that often pop up during the process.

    1. Mortgage
      Although most people know that a mortgage is a loan to buy a home, there are many different types. Conventional fixed-rate mortgages have a set interest rate for the life of the loan, which is usually 30 years for non-commercial properties. Adjustable-rate mortgages have a variable interest rate, and the duration of the loan can vary. The Federal Housing Authority (FHA) and Veterans Administration (VA) offer loans that make it easier for those with a low or no-down-payment to purchase a home.
    2. Pre-Approval Letter
      Getting a pre-approval letter before you start your home search shows sellers and real estate agents that you're serious about buying. It's important to keep in mind that a pre-approval letter is not the same as a pre-qualification letter. Before issuing a pre-approval, the lender checks a potential buyer's credit, verifies their income, and employment. A pre-qualification letter merely states the estimated amount a borrower may be entitled to obtain in a mortgage loan.   
    3. Real Estate Agent
      There are usually two agents involved in a real estate transaction – the listing agent, who represents the seller, and the buyer's agent, who represents the homebuyer. When a real estate agent represents both the buyer and the seller, this is known as dual agency.  
    4. Offer
      When you find a home you'd like to buy, it's time to make an offer. Your real estate agent or attorney can help you write up an offer, but it's always a good idea to include a cover letter that summarizes why you want to purchase the home. The seller may counter your original offer because they want a higher asking price or would like to close sooner. 
    5. Contingency
      When you put in an offer on a home, you can include contingencies, which require that certain conditions are met before the deal is done. An offer may be contingent upon financing, home inspection, appraisal value, or other conditions.
    6. Earnest Money
      Typically 1% - 5% of the purchase price, earnest money is a deposit a buyer puts down to show that they are serious about purchasing a home. It is not part of the down payment and can be lost if a buyer backs out after signing a real estate sales agreement. 
    7. Escrow
      Escrow is an arrangement in which a third party temporarily holds the money until a particular condition has been met. In addition to earnest money, seller proceeds are often held in escrow, which is known as an escrow holdback. This is sometimes done when there are title issues or to motivate a seller to complete repairs.
    8. Closing Costs
      There's really no getting around it – financing and buying a home involves a lot of fees. Closing costs often include loan processing, excise tax, appraisal, title insurance, homeowner's insurance, settlement fees, and other expenses. When you're shopping for a mortgage, compare a few lenders' closing costs or consider negotiating some of the fees with the lender you choose.

    Need assistance with buying or selling a Louisiana home? Our experienced real estate professionals can help. Contact us today to get started.


    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!


    9 Signs You've Found the Home of Your Dreams

    Dream Home

    If you've been visiting some of the Lake Charles homes for sale, you know just how many great options there are on the market right now. Buying a home is a big commitment, so how do you know when you've found the perfect one? 

    Sometimes, your heart will skip a beat, and you'll feel a little flutter. Our REALTORS® love it when this happens! Other times, the decision will be a bit more challenging. You may be torn between several homes, or you might just feel unsure. In this case, you'll be looking for a sign that the home you're considering is the right one for you. 

    Don't worry! We've created the following list of the top nine signs that you've found your dream home. 

    1. You Feel Overjoyed
      The number one sign that you've found your dream home is when you feel a pure sense of joy. Remember those flutters we mentioned? This is it! If you leave the house feeling excited and euphoric, this is an excellent sign. 
    2. It Meets All of Your "Must Haves"
      It's rare to find a home that checks off every box on your list of "must-have" features. If you find one that does (or comes really close), then you may want to jump on it.
    3. The Location is Perfect
      As they say, the most important things about real estate are location, location, and location. If a home has come on the market in the exact area you were hoping for, it just might be your dream home.
    4. You Don't Want to Look at Any More Homes
      When you've found the perfect home, you'll often lose your desire to keep looking. In this case, it's probably a good idea to listen to your gut and put in an offer.
    5. Small Flaws Don't Bother You
      Sometimes, your perfect home isn't actually perfect. If you're in love with a house and willing to overlook small flaws, this is an excellent sign. As long as the upgrades or repairs won't take too much time or money, go ahead and listen to your intuition.
    6. You're Already Thinking About Decorating
      Are you already picking out paint colors and decor in your mind? Picturing yourself living in the home is an excellent sign that it's the one for you. 
    7. You Can't Wait to Share the News
      Did you leave the house and immediately want to call your family and friends? Go ahead and share the news, because you've just found your dream home!
    8. You Can See Yourself Living There for the Foreseeable Future
      A home you can see yourself living in for the long-term is always an excellent option. Is there room to grow and accommodate life changes like marriage or children? If you think you could comfortably stay in the home for at least five years, it's worth considering. 
    9. It Already Feels Like Your Home
      When you've found the right home, those initial feelings of excitement can turn into feelings of possessiveness. When you've found your dream home, you'll start to think of it as yours well before you sign the closing paperwork and receive your keys. 

    If you haven't found your dream home yet, don't give up! Instead, contact us. We'll show you some of the best houses on the market and keep working until you're sure you've found the right one. Reach out to us today!


    How to Virtually Tour Homes in Lafayette

    Virtually Tour Lafayette

    Open-houses and private showings are often the most exciting parts of your home search. Of course, many buyers don't always find their dream homes during the first few tours, especially if they're visiting from out of town. Thankfully, modern technology has revolutionized many aspects of the home buying process, including showings.

    Prospective buyers can now virtually tour homes in Lafayette, New Orleans, and Baton Rouge from anywhere in the world without leaving their own house. Our real estate agents are excited to offer virtual tours of our many amazing Lafayette homes for sale — helping you find your Louisiana dream home from the comfort of your couch!

    What is a Virtual Home Tour?

    A home showing allows a prospective buyer to walk through a property they're interested in buying. Instead of walking the home in-person, a virtual home tour allows a prospective buyer to view the full interior and exterior of the property via the internet. There are two types of virtual home tours.

    The first is a 3D walk-through. This function allows a viewer to explore a home through a first-person point of view with 360-degree angles. Imagine the same technology as Google Street View, only this time you're navigating your way around the interior of a home.

    The second type is a custom virtual tour. Unlike standard video tours that are prerecorded and uploaded for a buyer to view at any time, a custom virtual tour employs video chatting apps to give buyers a real-time tour of the property. Real estate agents use convenient apps like FaceTime to walk each buyer through the home virtually. This allows the buyer to dictate which areas they want a closer look at and enables the agent to explain every element of the home to the buyer in exceptional detail.

    Touring Lafayette Homes Virtually With Latter & Blum

    Virtual tours are innovative and interactive ways for buyers to tour homes from anywhere at any time. Touring Lafayette homes for sale virtually with Latter & Blum is effortless:

    • First, select the listing you wish to tour virtually.

    • Then, click the "Tour This Home" button.

    • Next, select "Tour via Video Chat" and choose your preferred video chat app. Options include FaceTime, Goggle Duo, Skype, Zoom, and WhatsApp.

    • Enter your contact information, including your name, email address, and phone number.

    • Select a date and time that best fits your schedule.

    • Finally, tell us whether email or text messaging is the best way to contact you and click "Send Request". Our agents will call you shortly to schedule a virtual tour of this specific property.

    If you don't have either of those applications, they're simple to download via these links:

    Contact us today to schedule a virtual tour of our Lafayette homes for sale.  


    Baton Rouge a Top Metro Area for Gen Z Buyers

    Gen Z Buyers

    Recent data indicates that the Baton Rouge metropolitan area is a hit with Gen Z homebuyers. Though exact date ranges vary, the Gen Z label usually refers to someone born between the years of 1995 and 2010. Those early Gen Zers are the ones starting to emerge in the Baton Rouge market with purchase power.

    Besides the obvious factor of age, there are several other noticeable differences between Gen Z and other types of buyers. This includes the prices of the homes they purchase and what attracts them to a potential property. 

    A Look at the Gen Z Buyer

    The average purchase price for a property bought by a Gen Z buyer is $160,600. This is significantly less than the $256,500 average purchase price of a property purchased by a millennial homebuyer. On average, listing prices for homes that Gen Z buyers purchase are 25 percent less than the national median asking price. Gen Zers are forgoing the conventional 20 percent downpayment; instead, the average downpayment for a Gen Z homebuyer is only five percent of the home's purchase price. 

    Understanding Gen Z's Buying Preferences

    The markets that Gen Zers are attracted to tend to have affordable housing options that make the dream of homeownership an attainable reality.

    Most Gen Z homebuyers are early in their careers and don't have the purchasing power of other generations who have had time to grow their salaries. They're drawn to affordable housing markets in part due to necessity. 

    Since it appears Gen Z homebuyers are comfortable making smaller down payments, this enables them to become homeowners sooner rather than later. As a whole, Gen Z tends to value individual expression. They are willing to purchase a more affordable home that allows them to customize the property to their unique needs and stylistic preferences.

    The Appeal of Baton Rouge to Gen Z Buyers

    The Baton Rouge metropolitan area ranks as the tenth top housing market for Gen Z buyers. Baton Rouge is a growing area that has a median age of 36. Approximately 46.52 percent of people who reside in the Baton Rouge area are under 34 years of age. Baton Rouge boasts a median home value of $156,400, making it a top choice for budget-conscious Gen Zers. 

    There are a lot of other traits that make Baton Rouge homes for sale a hit with Gen Zers. Baton Rouge has a lot of fantastic restaurants and attractions, and it's a highly walkable city. Gen Zers looking to live an eco-conscious lifestyle or lower their vehicle-related expenses appreciate housing that enables them to walk to their job and favorite hangouts. 

    Ready to make the move to Baton Rouge? Our REALTORS® can help clients find great homes that span a variety of price points. Contact us today to learn more about homes that fit your budget and have the traits that you're searching for.


    7 Tips for Moving with Pets

    Moving with Pets

    It's no secret that packing all your belongings and moving them to a new home is always a little bit stressful. While most humans take this in stride, a move can wreak havoc on our furry friends. Luckily, there are ways you can help keep everyone calm and comfortable throughout the process. 

    1. Update Their Tags and Chips
      Our REALTORS® always like to remind homebuyers with pets about the importance of updating their tags and microchips. Before your move, make sure both have your current cell phone number. This will help you reunite with your pet if something happens on moving day. Once you're moved into your home, don't forget to update everything with your new address. 
    1. Talk to the Vet
      There are several reasons to talk to your vet before a move. First, if your pet is overly anxious, you may consider asking for some medication to help smooth the transition. If you're moving out of town, you'll also want to get a copy of your pet's medical records. Consider asking the vet if he or she can recommend a practice in your new hometown. Ideally, you'll want to find a new vet before you move, so you're prepared in case your pet needs treatment soon after you relocate.  
    1. Pack Their Bag
      Keep your pet as comfortable as possible by packing a bag or box with everything they'll need during the first few nights in your home. This includes at least a few days of food, dishes, toys, treats, bedding, crate, and any medications.
    1. Keep Them Away from the Action
      During the hustle and bustle of moving day, there are far too many opportunities for your pet to escape or get injured. Don't take this chance! Instead, consider bringing them to a boarding facility for the day or asking a friend to care for them. If this isn't an option, make sure to keep your pets crated or in a safe place while the move is taking place. 
    1. Take Them in Your Vehicle
      When it's time to leave the house, plan to bring your pets with you in your vehicle. Cats and small dogs can easily be restrained in a crate while larger dogs may need to go in a kennel in the back seat. Make sure to add plenty of blankets or bedding to keep them comfortable. 
    1. Slow Adjustment
      It's best if you can get your house set up as much as possible before bringing home your pets. This means having furniture in place and setting up their food and water bowls, bed, and (for cats) their litter box. Remember that your pets don't understand what's going on and may need some time to get comfortable. Allow them the space to do so. When they're ready, slowly start to introduce them to the neighborhood. 
    1. Maintain a Routine
      To help calm your pet's nerves, do your best to keep things as normal as possible. If they were used to eating at a certain time or going for walks every morning, try to maintain that schedule. With just a bit of patience and some extra TLC, your pets will handle the move like champs and quickly settle into their new home. 

    When it comes to finding Lafayette homes for sale your whole family will love, we're here to help. Contact us and will help you find a home for you and all your pets to enjoy in Lafayette! 


    7 Helpful Tips for Buying Your First Home in 2020

    Buying a Home in 2020

    2020 is nearly here, and there's no time like the present to start planning for your first home. Amazing Lafayette homes for sale are waiting!

    There are lots of reasons people put off buying their first home. Our REALTORS® have the advice to give you a leg up in the new year.

    These seven tips will clear the path to a home in 2020:

    1. Start Saving for a Down Payment Early
      If you only save for a few months, it's better than nothing! A more significant down payment offers all kinds of benefits. It may net better rates on your mortgage loan, and it will give you more flexibility about the amount you borrow. If your down payment is around 20%, you may even be able to skip certain types of mortgage insurance.

    2. Pay Off Any Debts You Can
      The debt you carry has a big impact on how lenders view your loan. As a rule, housing expenses should not cost more than about 30% of your income. Even a few small debts – a $35 credit payment here or there – can change the equation in your favor. Don't take on new loans or mortgages, but don't close credit card accounts: Your total credit eligibility works in your favor.

    3. Determine How Much You Can Afford
      Deciding how much house you can afford is a multi-step process. It not only includes the cost of buying and maintaining your home but also your other obligations and any income fluctuation. A holistic view of your finances is essential. It's a good idea to set up a detailed budget and have everyone who will contribute money to the household review and comment.

    4. Get Preapproval From a Lender
      Preapproval is an essential step toward securing your mortgage loan. This is when you submit documentation of your finances and learn the loan amount you're qualified for. Although this isn't a formal loan agreement – that comes after you select a home – it is close enough that you can bid on homes without delay.

    5. Connect With a Great Real Estate Agent
      A real estate agent will help you navigate all the best neighborhoods in your area of choice. Take your time with the decision of which agent to work with. Asking plenty of questions will leave you with a better sense of an agent's knowledge and whether you feel comfortable.

    6. Stick To Your Budget (Or a Little Less!)
      Once you have preapproval, you have a reasonably good idea about your price range. However, always leave extra in the budget for closing costs. Closing costs can range from 2% to 5% of the property's sale price. It is crucial to leave room for closing, so you don't have to scramble for last-minute financing.
    7. If An Opportunity Arises, Negotiate
      There are times when negotiation can save you thousands of dollars. For example, a home inspection may turn up issues that need to be fixed immediately. Or, you may discover the other party is motivated to sell and will trim the price to accelerate the process. Your real estate agent can help you choose the right approach.

    We've supported hundreds of first-time buyers throughout Lafayette, Acadiana, and the Gulf South. To get started, contact us.


    Guide to Closing Costs for New Home Buyers

    Guide to Closing Costs

    We make it our duty to support and educate our clients. Our real estate agents are true experts helping people buy and sell homes!

    One area that raises a lot of questions for buyers is closing costs. Closing costs consist of a variety of administrative fees involved in turning legal ownership of a home over from one person to another. Most of the professionals whose work supports the transaction, such as attorneys and tax experts, are paid from this amount.

    Other matters are settled by your closing costs, too: For example, insurance payments.

    Closing costs can add anywhere from 2% to 5% to the total cost of your transaction. Many buyers seek to shift the costs to the seller or add them to the mortgage package. That requires savvy negotiating and clarity on your goals. No matter how you approach them, some closing costs are unavoidable.

    Below are the categories of closing costs you'll find in all transactions:

    1. Lender Fees
      This can be expressed as a single "origination fee" or include an itemized list with processing fees, a credit check, taxes related to title transfer, flood certification as needed, courier fees, appraisal costs, administrative fees, and others. All of these represent different costs incurred by the mortgage loan provider that is recovered from the homeowner.
    2. Title Company Fees
      The vast majority of your closing fees are related to the title, the legal document that proves ownership of a property. You can reduce these costs by comparing different title services in your area. The title company is responsible for issues like title search, title insurance, and settling. In effect, they ensure that nobody else can claim to own the property later.
    3. Prepaid Costs
      Insurance obligations related to buying a home are usually set up through an escrow account. Prepaid costs include homeowners insurance and property taxes. One year of your homeowners insurance must be paid upfront along with about two months of premiums. You may also be required to pay anywhere up to six months of property taxes, which can be prorated.
    4. Discount Points
      Discount points are an optional expense equal to 1% of the loan amount. You can choose to buy them when you are settling your closing costs. The discount points you purchase are converted to lower your interest rate. Buyers with strong cash flow may wish to pay more upfront to maintain a lower cost of ownership, but it is entirely up to you.

    In general, the more cash you can bring to a transaction, the less you'll ultimately pay in closing costs. In addition to discount points, it's possible to get exemptions from some prepaid costs if you make a down payment, usually 20%.

    You should discuss your financing and negotiation options with your real estate agent. Your agent can maximize your leverage in reducing certain costs or shifting them to the other party in the transaction. By comparing several different lenders, you're more likely to get the best deal.

    Contact us today to find out more. We look forward to hearing from you soon.


    Rent No More: Signs It's Time to Buy a Home

    Rent no More

    There comes a time in most people's lives when they consider trading a lease for a mortgage. As the deadline for signing your next rental contract approaches, you may be wondering if now is the right time to buy a home.

    Our REALTORS® know this is not a decision you can make overnight. However, most people who choose to invest in a home often have spotted the signs it's the right time. If any of the following signs have popped up in, it may be your golden opportunity for homeownership.

    1. You believe you're wasting money renting…
      Are you paying a high sum each month approximately similar to mortgage payments in your area? Does your rent pay for amenities you don't need or use? If you keep signing monthly checks yet feel like you're not getting your money's worth, it may be time to invest in the space with features you desire.
    2. …Especially if your rent keeps increasing.
      No matter where you live, monthly rental prices will likely continue to climb. Some will only rise a few dollars each cycle while others jump astronomically with your renewal contract. If you're not getting the most out of your complex and your increasing rent is costing you hundreds, purchasing a home becomes a more financially sound option.
    3. You move every few years to find cheaper or larger apartments.
      Of course, you can always try to find a complex with specials or incentives to reduce your payments, but that involves moving. Even if you're moving solely to increase your space, too many moves can wear on your family and finances.
    4. Your family is growing.
      If your family is growing, you'll need space to accommodate these new needs.
    5. Your financial situation is secure…
      Purchasing a home takes significant financial planning. However, if you've increased your credit score, paid down your debts and saved up for a down payment and closing costs, you may be in the best financial position to make an offer.
    6. …As well as your career.
      If you've been at your office for years and plan on staying, you've undeniably developed roots in your career. Now it's time to consider planting those same roots in a house.
    7. You are at a transitional period in your life…
      There are milestones in life that open up ideal opportunities to make a significant life decision like buying a home - like graduating or getting married. Either way, it might be time to take a step toward homeownership.
    8. …And so are your kids.
      Moving can be tough on children, but it can be made easier by moving them as their school years come to a close. By moving before the start of elementary, middle, or high school, you allow your kids to adjust to new surroundings and make new friends.
    9. The market is in your favor.
      The real estate market is in favor of the buyer, presenting opportunities to match your dream home to your budget. If the market looks promising, now may be the time to score a deal.
    10. It feels like the right time to settle down.
      Sometimes, it feels like the right time in your life to settle down and have a home to call your own. 

    If now is the right time for you to stop renting and start owning, contact us. We'll show you Lafayette homes for sale that cater perfectly to your unique needs!


    8 Tools Every First-time Buyer Needs

    Tools for New Home BuyersYour offer on a house just got accepted! Before you know it, you will be moving in! As a first-time homebuyer, you are probably anxious to start making changes and decorating your new home! Customizing your home is great, but it is easy to let your excitement and eagerness get the best of you and could leave you potentially underprepared. That's why our REALTORS® are here to help!

    Let's talk about tools. Specifically, which tools you're going to need after purchasing your first home. All of the "to-do's" on your list, whether they involve maintenance, repairs, installations, or decorating, can only be completed with the help of certain essential resources. Here are eight tools we believe every first-time homebuyer needs:

    1. Hammer
      A hammer is more than meets the eye. There are different sized hammers like the small ball-peen hammer and different style hammers such as sledgehammers and brush hammers. We recommend a claw hammer, which is the typical standard hammer. Find one made from a reliable manufacturer with high durability and shock absorption.
    2. Screwdriver Set
      Next, you need to think about getting a screwdriver. You'll need both flathead and Phillips head screwdrivers in varying sizes. Some manufacturers make screwdrivers with interchangeable heads so you can get a bang for your buck.
    3. Level
      If you don't use a level while you're hanging your décor, don't be surprised if you're tilting your head to see your wall art. A level will give you the perfect line every time so you'll never have to eyeball and keep pivoting picture frames.
    4. Stud Finder
      Always try to hang items securely in the beams behind your wall. Most pieces of drywall aren't strong enough to hold heavy items, which means your frames may come crashing down if they're not in a beam. A stud finder will easily show you where these beams are so you can hang with confidence.
    5. Tape Measure
      The space in an empty home can be deceiving, making it difficult to determine whether or not a particular piece of furniture will fit in a room without trying to move it in first. This is why a tape measure is an essential tool to have. Not only can you measure furniture before you move it all around the house, but you can also take it with you to measure items before you buy them.
    6. Cordless Drill
      A screwdriver set is resourceful, but some jobs require a cordless drill. Buy a cordless drill set with a handful of different sized drill bits and a second rechargeable battery so you'll never have to cut your project short.
    7. Pliers
      A set of pliers are a convenient resource to have for a variety of uses. They can cut and skin wires, tighten or loosen nuts and bolts, and pick up objects in places where it's not safe or practical.
    8. Extra Screws, Nails & Anchors
      You've got a whole set of tools that can complete a series of projects around your home — but your hammer, screwdriver, and drill won't get anything done without screws, nails, and anchors. When you head to the hardware store to pick up your tools, grab a few packs of wood screws, drywall anchors and nails.

    Ready to pick out a fixer-upper and transform a Lafayette house into your dream home? Contact us today!


    How to Buy a House While Selling Your Current Home

    How to Buy a HouseBuying a home is a huge decision. Selling a home is an equally important endeavor. Buying a home and selling a home at the same time? Now that's an impressive feat! It may sound overwhelming, but believe our REALTORS® when they say you can buy a new home while selling your current home. We've gathered our years of knowledge and experience with Lafayette homes for sale to help you buy a house while selling your existing home.

    1. Ask For & Accept Help 
      Before you list or make an offer, you probably already realize that dual real estate transactions will leave you with your hands full. The best first step you can make in this process is to request and accept assistance from a qualified REALTOR®. You don't want to be stuck with two mortgages, and you don't want to chance jeopardizing either sale. Enlist the help of a trusted REALTOR® who will go above and beyond to help you navigate these separate real estate transactions.
    2. Decide Whether to Buy or Sell First
      This decision is up to you. If you can reasonably afford the cost of two homes, then locking in your dream home before you sell your current home may be the right move. If you decide to sell your home first, you can negotiate with your buyer to allow you to rent back your former home until you close on your new home. This will enable you to complete the sale of your old home while still buying you time for finding and securing your new home. Alternatively, when you sell your home, you can delay the closing if the buyer agrees to give you a month or so to purchase a new home.
    3. Prepare for Buying & Selling
      Depending on which option you choose, you're now ready to either make an offer on a new home or list your current home. To reduce the gap time between the two, you should immediately prepare your home for buyer offers. Have the home inspected professionally and stage it appropriately so it's ready for the market and no surprises will pop up later during an inspection. Price your home reasonably and get ready to consider diverse offers. To prepare to buy a home, you should have your finances in order. Get pre-approved for a mortgage and identify what funds you'll use as the down payment.
    4. Let Your REALTOR® Help You Facilitate Both Transactions 
      As you venture further into the buying and selling process, you may be juggling a lot of paperwork, deadlines, and requests. Thankfully, an experienced REALTOR® can help you navigate each of these transactions, ensuring everything goes according to plan. They'll guide you through the process, step by step, communicating with all parties fluidly. Most importantly, they'll be there for you through thick and thin, resolving any hurdles and celebrating both successful sales with you!

    Are you interested in selling your current home and purchasing one of the fabulous Lafayette homes for sale at the same time? Contact us today, and we'll help you accomplish all of your real estate goals!


    A Final Walk-Through Checklist for Home Buyers

    Final Walkthrough Checklist
    Buying a home seems like a process with an endless number of steps. But if you've made it far enough for your final walk-through, then congratulations are in order. You're really in the home stretch now, and our REALTORS® are here to make sure that your final walk-through is a success. Here's what you need to know:

    Have Your REALTOR® With You

    The main purpose of a final walk-through is to make sure that the house is in the condition you agreed to buy it in, and it's always best to have your REALTOR® with you. Doing your final walk-through alongside a professional will make this crucial step much easier, bringing an added understanding of the home buying process and a seasoned eye for detail.

    Bring the Essentials

    Don't arrive at your final walk-through empty-handed! Make sure you have all these essential items so you can ensure that your future home is in good shape:

    • Your final contract, so you know what should and should not be in the house when you buy it.
    • Notepad and pen, so you can quickly jot down any questions or observations as you walk through the house. 
    • Your phone, so you can take pictures of anything you need to make a record of.
    • Phone charger, in case your phone dies, but also so that you can make sure the electrical outlets are functional.
    • Inspection summary, to double-check that all necessary repairs have been completed.

    Be Thorough

    You have a lot of items to check as you perform your final walk-through, so leave no stone unturned. This is one of the reasons it's great to have your REALTOR® with you – they can help keep you on track and make sure everything gets checked. Be sure to include these important items on your final walk-through checklist: 

    • Verify repairs. If the seller was required to make any repairs, carefully check that they have all been made. 
    • Check items included in the sale. Home sales can include anything from appliances and furniture to carpets and window blinds. Make sure everything is there that's supposed to be. 
    • Test windows and doors. Make sure all the windows and doors open and close without sticking, and also that all the screens are present and the locks work properly. 
    • Inspect bathrooms thoroughly. Inspect for mold and water damage. Make sure all toilets run and flush properly without leaking. Check all faucets and showerheads, and make sure all drains flow freely. 
    • Check the condition of the kitchen. Mold and water damage can be issues in kitchens too; be sure to check under sinks, inside cabinets, and behind the fridge.
    • Make sure all the appliances work. Any appliances included in the house should be in good working order, from microwaves and stoves to washers and dryers.
    • Try out the heating and A/C. Turn on the furnace to make sure it works, even if it's the middle of summer; same goes for the air conditioning. 
    • Test the electricity. Plug a phone charger into each outlet to make sure it works.
    • Look for signs of pests. Check every room in the house, but especially the attic and basement, for signs of mice, insects and other pests. 
    • Tour the property. Make sure the landscape looks like you remember it, and check all hoses and irrigation to make sure they're functional. 

    Contact us today to learn more about the final steps you need to take before your dream home becomes your own! From finding the perfect Lafayette home for sale to your final walk-through, our team is with you every step of the way. 


    Lafayette Living: Discover the Plate Lunch Paradise

    Lunch in LafayetteWhile the Lafayette area is well-known for outstanding Creole and Cajun cuisine, the humble but satisfying plate lunch is an equally popular staple of the local restaurant scene. Our REALTORS® take you on a tour of some of our Lafayette locals' favorite places for plate lunch specials.

    • Soulful Eats - 1815 Charity St., Abbeville, LA 70510
      When you serve the kind of delicious, homemade food found at Soulful Eats, you don't need a trendy name. Everything on the menu is indeed full of the heart and soul that comes from people who are passionate about cooking. Weekday plate lunch specials feature items such as smothered turkey necks and fried pork chops, while BBQ plate lunches are available on Sunday from 11 a.m. until they're sold out, so stop in before viewing Abbeville homes for sale. Soulful Eats is open for lunch and dinner every weekday but Monday.
    • Blazin Wings - 1015 Main St., Franklin, LA 70538
      Not surprisingly, chicken is the main event at Blazin Wings, just minutes from Franklin homes for sale. But they also put a creative spin on the classic plate lunch by incorporating Louisiana seafood and Southern favorites like hush puppies with global dishes such as hummus and fried rice. The plate lunches, along with the chicken, shrimp and fish meals, are perfect for take-out.
    • Kelly's Diner - 1531 S. Union St., Opelousas, LA 70570
      The retro-50s decor at family-owned-and-operated Kelly's Diner creates the perfect ambiance to enjoy their tasty plate lunches. Many of the main items come from Kelly's Country Meat Block, the adjacent butcher shop and market. Several items are prepared using proprietary sauces created and made in Kelly's kitchen and sold next door. Be sure and save room, because the plate lunches at Kelly's include dessert. Hours are 10-:30 a.m. - 2 p.m. daily, making it easy to fit in a visit as you tour Opelousas homes for sale.
    • Glenda's Creole Kitchen - 3232 Main Hwy., Breaux Bridge, LA 70517
      No less an authority than the late Anthony Bourdain proclaimed Glenda's Creole Kitchen as serving "the gravy of the gods." Glenda opened her restaurant in 2000 after co-workers began paying for her home-cooked lunches. Each Monday through Saturday, the menu features a different pair of side dishes to accompany a rotating selection of four to six plate lunch options. On Sunday Glenda's serves a BBQ dinner with your choice of entrée and sides for $11. Hours are 10 a.m. - 2 p.m. daily, and there's a handy drive-thru window to swing by before or after visiting Breaux Bridge homes for sale.
    • Dwight's - 4800 Johnston St., Lafayette, LA 70503
      If it's variety you're looking for, you don't have to travel far from Lafayette homes for sale to find it at Dwight's. A different assortment of plate lunches is offered every day and they're served cafeteria-style, so you can order half-and-half to sample other options. Dwight's is also known for crawfish, and during the season you can enjoy a traditional boiled dinner each evening. On Sunday it's time for Dwight's popular BBQ lunch, which begins at 11 a.m. and lasts as long as the food does. Weekday lunch hours are 10:30 a.m. - 2 p.m.

    Whether it's dining, culture or entertainment you seek, Lafayette has something for everyone. Contact us for help buying or selling your Lafayette area home.


    7 Habits of Successful Home Buyers

    Successful Home Buyers

    Buying a home for the first time is definitely a learning experience. There are a lot of details, new terminology and plenty of decision making. Many first-time buyers find the whole thing can be overwhelming at times. But it doesn't have to be. Remember you have control and can take actions that will greatly increase your chances of successfully purchasing one of the Lafayette homes for sale you've been dreaming of. 

    Start incorporating these seven home-buying habits today, and you'll be on your way to changing your house hunt from aggravating into awesome.

    1. Look at the financial big picture. Take the steps necessary to financially prepare to purchase a home. Check your credit report, get educated about the types of financing and interest rates available, and figure out your budget. These steps all lead up to getting a mortgage pre-approval before you shop.
    2. Educate yourself about the process. There are a lot of steps to buying a home and a lot of new terminology and concepts to learn about. Familiarizing yourself with them before you start will help you know what to expect, when to ask questions, and when to make changes.
    3. Have the right team behind you. There are several professionals you'll need so it is important to take the time to find the right ones. Our REALTORS®, your lender, a home inspector, insurance agent, an attorney can save you time and headaches with their expertise. They can give recommendations and advice, and confirm that everything is correct.
    4. Be methodical and organized. Have a plan. Think about your wants and needs in a home before you shop. Have financial paperwork in order and available when you need it. Plan out when you will be able to look at homes and meet with your agent. The structure will keep you accountable and allow the process to move forward as quickly as possible.
    5. Have realistic expectations. Expecting to find a pristine mansion in an exclusive neighborhood, far under the price you'd pay for something much smaller will set you up for disappointment. When you start house hunting, it can seem like everyone has some incredible story about an amazing deal. There are exceptions, but keep in mind most people end up with a great home that meets most of their needs for a fair price. Knowing what kinds of homes and amenities are available in your price range and what a reasonable asking price is will ultimately help you reach your goal of purchasing a home. It will also help you recognize a good deal and a good investment when you see one.
    6. Flexibility is key. It's important to remember that you may have to give up something to get something else. Know ahead of time where you're willing to compromise. Many buyers change their minds about their wants and needs after seeing several houses, and that's okay. Be willing to negotiate on price, inclusions or repairs. Being flexible will help you find win-win situations that can make the deal happen.
    7. Be proactive. Being focused and engaged during all parts of the process and realizing that you will have to make a consistent effort to achieve your goal. You will routinely need to communicate with your real estate agent and other professionals, schedule appointments and showings, gather information, express opinions, and ask questions. Consistently moving forward and taking the next step will help you tremendously.

    Buying a home is a big decision and it takes some effort to get there. But there is a lot you can do to help ensure your success. Contact us today to get started your home-buying journey.


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

    Lafayette Donation Centers

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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