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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!


New Year's Resolution: 6 Steps to Becoming a Homeowner

Homeownership Tips

The start of a new year is a great time to set goals and start new habits. Many people would like to be more active or save more money. For others, the goal of homeownership is their New Year's resolution. Our Realtors® suggest taking the following steps as you plan on buying a home in 2023:

  1. Check Your Credit Reports and Scores
    Your credit score is a number assigned (typically by one of the three credit bureaus) to represent the likelihood that you'll pay your bills on time. Your credit history and score can affect your ability to obtain a mortgage loan and the interest rate you'll pay on your loan. Check your history to see if it has any errors you can have corrected, and make sure to pay every bill on time. 

  2. Pay off Any Excessive Debt
    If you have debt, make an effort to reduce it before you start looking for a home. Mortgage lenders look at your debt-to-income ratio before approving a loan, and in most cases, they want your total debts to account for no more than 36% of your monthly income.

  3. Review Your Budget and Save for a Down Payment
    Keep a list of what you spend for several months, and then look to see what can be cut. Could you find a cheaper cell phone plan? Is your morning coffee run worth it, or could you make your own cup at home? Reduce your spending where you can to save up for a down payment and closing costs.

  4. Get Pre-Approved for a Mortgage Loan
    Go to a mortgage lender to get pre-approved for a mortgage loan before you start looking for your new home. Your lender will review your income, assets, and credit, and if you're pre-approved for a mortgage loan up to a certain amount, you'll receive a letter stating this. You can apply for a smaller mortgage if you'd like to, but the pre-approval lets you know the amount you'll be able to get. 

  5. Calculate the Additional Costs of Homeownership
    When buying a home, you'll need to factor more than just your monthly mortgage payment into your budget. You'll need to pay closing costs at the time of purchase and also pay for homeowners insurance and any applicable property taxes. You may also need lawn care items and factor in the cost of repairs and maintenance on your home. And if your home is in a community with a homeowners' association (HOA), you'll need to pay dues.

  6. Make a List of Your Priorities
    Decide what features you want in your new home, and make a list of priorities. If you have a partner or other family members who will also be living in the house, work on the list with their input. Once you have some ideas, divide your list into features your home must have, ones you would really like to have, and ones that would be nice but aren't as important. For example, maybe you really want a large backyard for your kids to play in. Or perhaps living in a particular area is important to you. When you've worked out your priorities, your real estate agent can help you find homes that fit your criteria. 

Contact us to see Houma homes for sale, visit Houma open housesand make your New Year's resolution of homeownership a reality! 


Budget-Friendly Ways to Update Your Kitchen


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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.


Helpful Tips for Finding Your Decor Style

home decor

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

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

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

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

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


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.


5 Tips for Moving a Collection

Moving Tips

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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. 


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

Cleaning Schedule

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

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

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

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

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

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


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!


Appliance Upgrades That Add Value

Home Upgrades Add Value

With the housing market soaring, many people are selling their homes at tremendous profit margins. But some sellers are maximizing their income even further by investing in a few upgrades. At this stage of the game, it's important to purchase items that will bring in a healthy return on investment. New appliances are a good option! Our real estate agents have a few recommendations to consider. 

  • Refrigerator Freezer
    The star of the kitchen is a fabulous refrigerator with attractive extras such as French doors, a stainless steel finish, and a water and ice dispenser. Interior features include easy access freezer drawers, crispers with humidity controls, and even Keurig K-Cup brewing options. Bottom freezers make it easy to access the contents of the refrigerator section by putting it at eye level. The Energy Star rating is important to buyers, as is the warranty that comes with a new appliance, ensuring worry-free function for several years.

  • Range
    Like refrigerators, high-end models boast amazing features such as dual fuel, which is, of course, dependent upon the options afforded by the house. Serious cooks like oversized ovens with consistent temperatures. The finish should match that of the refrigerator, the most popular of which is stainless steel. Special features include steam options for baking, touchscreen controls, and black glass doors. Gas models generally offer grills and griddles, while electric ranges often offer glass cooktops. Whether gas or electric, self-cleaning ovens are a must. 

  • Washer Dryer Sets
    While potential buyers want the laundry room to look nice, efficiency is far more important to them. To this end, they look for variable capacity to handle the heaviest loads of bedding and small loads of delicate clothing. Whether the washer is front or top loading, each will have its own benefits. For a smaller space, particularly in a townhouse or condominium, a stacking pair may be preferable. Many new models offer smart technology with water-saving features. Saving energy is equally important, so be sure to look for the Energy Star rating. 

  • Water Softener
    Hard water in the home can be a hidden cost that increases with time. Minerals from well water leave scale and build-up in pipes and appliances, shortening their useful lives. Hard water will not harm the people who drink it, but it does cause problems in other ways. Hard water does not dissolve soap effectively, meaning soap scum will coat shower doors, spots will remain on glasses in the dishwasher, and clothing will become dull and stiff. A water softener ends all of those issues, making it a popular feature in many Alexandria homes for sale

  • Dishwasher
    While this is the least important appliance to most buyers, it is still important to consider its role in the complete kitchen upgrade. Newer models offer water-saving features, making it more convenient to wash smaller loads of dishes every day instead of having to wait for a full load. Other positive features for newer models are sanitizing cycles and quiet operations. Built-in dishwashers offer a seamless look, blending in with the other appliance upgrades. However, if space is a factor, portable dishwashers are another great option. Dishwashers are also available in the ever-popular stainless steel. Look for the Energy Star rating for the best value. 

These appliance upgrades will make your home more efficient and comfortable while you reside there. They are also tried and true methods of boosting the sale value of your home. Contact us if you are considering selling, and our real estate professionals will be happy to offer additional insights. 


National Recycling Day: Tips for a Sustainable Home

Sustainable Home

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

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

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


    Housewarming Gift Ideas That First-Time Homeowners Will Love

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

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

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


    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. 


      What You Need to Know When Buying a Historic Home

      Historic Homes

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

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

      What is a Historic Home?

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

      • Connection to significant historical events

      • Connection to lives of significant people

      • Representation of a historic style or master craftsman

      • Provision of important historical information

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

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

      Purchasing a Historic Home

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


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


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

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


      5 Reasons You Shouldn't Skip a Home Inspection

      Home Inspection Baton Rouge

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

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

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

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

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

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


              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! 


              Try These Tricks for Repairing and Caulking Baseboards

              Caulking Baseboards Tips

              Baseboards help give your home a neat, finished appearance, but they can often develop cracks and gaps at the top or bottom as well as other appearance issues. In addition to making your home look less than its best, these flaws can allow drafts to enter your home. They also serve as dust-collecting crevices that make it more difficult to keep your baseboards clean.

              Caulk, which is flexible, can dry out over time, and become cracked. Fortunately, fixing the problem is a great DIY project that can be taken care of in an afternoon. Our real estate agents share the following tips and tricks for repairing and caulking baseboards:

              • Get the right supplies   
                You'll need the following supplies before starting your project:
                - paintable silicone caulk made for trim
                - caulking tool
                - caulk scraper
                - plastic putty knife
                - scissors or utility knife
                - sandpaper
                - painting supplies (paintbrush/roller/tape)
                - denatured alcohol

              • Scrape off the old caulk  
                Use your caulk scraper to remove the old caulk. Clean up any residue left by the old caulk using denatured alcohol on a paper towel. Rub it along the areas where you removed the caulk, and let it dry completely. Then smooth the surface by using sandpaper.

              • Use painting tape   
                If you haven't done much caulking, apply specialty tape for multi-surfaces neatly and directly above and below the area you're caulking. This will ensure you get clean, crisp lines.

              • Get your caulking gun ready    
                Cut the tip of your caulking gun at a 45-degree angle using scissors or a utility knife. Make the hole in the tip only as large as the area you'll be filling so too much caulk won't come out as you're using the gun. Put the tip of the caulk tube into the gun and push the plunger back. Squeeze the trigger several times before you begin.

              • Apply new caulk   
                Start at one end of the wall, putting the tip of the caulk tube against the gap you're filling. Squeeze the caulk gun's trigger slowly as you pull the gun along the wall, so you get a thin bead of caulk. Go several feet before wiping off the excess with your index finger.

              • Remove the tape    
                While the caulk is still wet, peel off the tape.

              For a small investment of time and money, you can give your home a more finished appearance by repairing and caulking its baseboards. Consider checking for cracks if you're selling your home since they can make your home look unfinished. This project will pay off whether you're planning to stay in your home for a while or are ready to sell and are looking to make improvements.

              Contact us to find out more home improvements that can make your house stand out from other Lafayette homes for sale


              7 Tips for Getting Your Home Sparkling Clean

              Home Cleaning Latter

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

              Looking to buy or sell a home in 2021? Visit for all your real estate needs.


              How Energy-Efficient Is Your Home?

              Energy Efficient Home

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

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

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


              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! 


              7 Tips for Applying for a Mortgage When You're Self Employed

              Self Employed Mortgage Tips

              Have you been looking at beautiful New Orleans homes for sale and dreaming of calling one your own? Homeownership is a wonderful thing! However, if you're self-employed, you may find the mortgage approval process to be a maze.

              Luckily, though, it's not impossible. In fact, our real estate agents work with self-employed buyers all the time! Here are a few of the smartest tips they've learned along the way.

              1. Manage Your Credit Score
                Regardless of whether you're a W-2 employee or you're self-employed, your credit history and credit score will play a major role in whether you're approved for a mortgage. When you first start thinking about buying a home, pull copies of your credit reports, and make sure they're accurate. If you find mistakes, initiate the process of correcting them right away. Make sure you pay all your bills on time! If possible, pay down some of your debts, so you have a more favorable credit utilization ratio. Also, try not to request any new credit before you apply for a mortgage, as doing so can lower your score.
              1. Organize Your Your Information
                Your lender will need to examine your financial records before they're willing to approve you for a mortgage loan. You'll have an easier time with your application if you gather all your information ahead of time. Some of the things you'll need include:
              • Personal and business federal tax returns (past 2 years)
              • Personal and business bank statements (2-3 most recent)
              • Year-to-date profit and loss statement including revenue, expenses, and net income
              • Copy of your business registration/license
              • Proof that you've been in business for at least 2 years
              1. Save Some Extra Cash
                Sometimes, if a lender is on the fence about approving your loan, having a larger-than-required down payment can tip the scales in your favor. It's a great idea to save as much cash as you can before applying for your loan. If you don't need it for the down payment, you can use it to create an emergency fund.
              1. Keep Your Books Clean
                Mixing business and pleasure is a big mistake when it comes to your credit cards. Many business owners use their personal credit cards to cover business expenses. However, if this causes you to carry high balances, it can hurt your credit score. You'll have the best chances of being approved for a loan if you keep your personal income and expenses completely separate from your business.
              1. Show Steady Income
                This is easier said than done, but if you can keep your business income fairly steady, you'll have a better chance of being approved for a mortgage loan. You'll need to show at least two years of business income and may also need to provide a list of your assets and debts. Ideally, you'll want to show that your business income is increasing or at least staying steady year-over-year. If your business is fairly new, some lenders will accept one year of business income and one year of W2 income. In this case, though, you'll want to show that your business is making as much or more than you were making when working for your previous employer.
              1. Explore Your Options
                You should be eligible for all types of mortgage loans as long as you meet the requirements above. However, you may find that some loan options are better for your circumstances than others. If you're having trouble getting approved for a traditional mortgage, you may also want to try applying for a non-conforming loan or even a personal loan.
              1. Don't Give Up
                If your loan application is denied, don't give up! The first thing you'll want to do is find out the reason for your denial. In most cases, you can take some steps to resolve the problem and apply again after you do.

              Start Your Home Search Today! 

              Taking these simple steps will help you set yourself up for success when applying for a mortgage. Now that you know how to prepare, you're ready to start exploring some of the great homes for sale. We would love to show you around and help you find your dream home. Contact us today to get started! 


              How Does Your Home Factor Into Retirement?

              Retirement Years and Homeownership

              For many individuals, their home is one of the most valuable assets they'll own during their lifetime. When it's time for you to retire, you may wonder how your home will impact your retirement. Our real estate agents know that some people choose to downsize their homes to properties that are easier to maintain, while others relocate to new locales. Here are a few things to keep in mind as you prepare for your retirement. 

              1. Owning Your Home Outright Will Reduce Your Monthly Expenses
                If you're concerned that your retirement income and savings won't be enough to cover your monthly expenses, you can reduce your monthly expenditures by paying off debt, like your mortgage or home equity line of credit. You don't have to devote thousands of dollars to your mortgage to pay it off early. Assume that you have a 30-year, $200,000 mortgage with an interest rate of 4 percent and a monthly payment of $955. By paying an additional $200 every month, you can cut a little over 8 years from the length of your mortgage. 
              1. Prepaying Your Mortgage May Not Give You the Best Return on Your Money
                Aside from lowering their monthly expenses, another common reason that people choose to prepay their mortgage is that the interest rate savings associated with paying a loan off early provide a guaranteed return on their money. However, depending on the interest rate for your mortgage, you may be able to earn a higher return with other investments. You'll have to weigh your preferences for a safe investment with your desire for a potentially higher return. 
              1. Selling and Purchasing a Home Should Happen While You're Still Healthy
                If you have plans to downsize your home or want to move to a new area, try to execute this plan while you're still in relatively good physical and mental shape. Not only does it take a lot of physical effort to declutter and pack up a home, but the moving process also requires mental energy. When considering potential properties, make sure that you view Lake Charles homes for sale that will meet your current and future needs. As your health changes, your mobility will change. For this reason, many people nearing retirement prefer one-level properties with minimal stairs. Or, they might add a ramp that makes the property wheelchair accessible. Some individuals plan to have live-in help to assist with their medical needs. See that potential properties give caregivers their own space to retreat and relax.
              1. Tapping Your Home's Equity May be Necessary to Cover Retirement Expenses
                Depending on your financial situation, you may need to access your home's equity to cover expenses during your retirement. There are a few different ways to do so. Should you find yourself needing a consistent source of additional income, a reverse mortgage is one way to meet this need. With a reverse mortgage, you'll receive a monthly payment from the lender as long as you're living in your home. You don't have to repay the loan until you sell the home or you pass away. If you find yourself in need of cash for unexpected, one-time expenses, a cash-out refinance, or home equity line of credit are options to help you get the money you need without having to sell your home. 

              Need more assistance in buying or selling a home? Contact us today to get started!


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

              Student Loan Debt

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


              7 Ways to Upgrade Your Laundry Room

              Laundry Room Upgrades

              The average household does 8 to 10 loads of laundry every single week. Since your laundry room is such a high traffic area, it makes sense to upgrade the space to be more functional and aesthetically pleasing. Our real estate agents know that a charming laundry room is even attractive to potential homebuyers. Here are a few easy ways to upgrade your laundry room and make this space more appealing. 

              1. Add a Slide-Out Storage Tower
                Most laundry rooms have a little awkward space between the washer and dryer and between the appliances and the walls. Don't let this space go to waste; instead, add slide-out storage towers to these spaces. These towers are perfect for stowing laundry detergent, dryer sheets, and stain removers. 
              1. Use the Space Over Your Door for Storage
                One quandary of laundry day is that you likely have many spare hangers floating around until all your clothes are washed, dried, and hanging up. Solve this problem by installing a clothes hanger rack over your door. This cheap addition is simple to install and will increase the utility of your laundry room within minutes. You can even use it to hang up clothes that need to air dry. 
              1. Opt for a Hanging Ironing Board
                A conventional ironing board is an awkward item to store. It's big, heavy, and there's no clear place to stow it when you aren't using it. Swap your old ironing board for one that's designed to be hung on the wall or door when it isn't in use. This will free up your closet space and ensure that your ironing board always has a designated spot. 
              1. Replace Your Light Fixtures
                If your laundry room feels dark and dingy, give it an instant update by replacing your light fixtures. Before you add your home to the Lafayette homes for sale, making a few simple upgrades will help your home look its best. 
              1. Add Some Plants and Art
                Most homeowners don't think to decorate their laundry rooms, but it only takes a few pieces to transform the atmosphere of the space. With a couple of pieces of art or a lovely plant, your laundry room will be a more joyful, welcoming spot to spend time in. Feel free to add a few shelves to display some of your favorite pieces. 
              1. Incorporate Functional Furniture Into the Layout
                Depending on the size of the room, incorporate furniture that makes it more convenient for you to use your laundry room. A large table makes a perfect spot to quickly fold a load of laundry. Or, if you have a little more space, a cozy sitting chair provides an excellent area to read or work while you wait for a load to dry. 
              1. Rethink Your Laundry Sorting System
                Revamp your laundry sorting system so that it works better for your family. For example, if you have a large family, you might invest in a cube unit and purchase a laundry basket for each family member. This will make it easier for you to sort the laundry based on who it belongs to. Then, the family member just has to grab their basket when it's time to put their laundry away. 

              Ready to purchase a home with a large laundry room? Contact us today to get started!


              DIY Tips: How to Remove Old Carpeting

              Removing Carpet

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


              How to Better Organize Your Kitchen

              Organized Kitchen

              Since the kitchen is known as the heart of the home, making sure it's organized is extra important. A cluttered kitchen not only makes preparing meals a hassle, but it can also turn away potential buyers. 

              Get rid of kitchen clutter by better organizing your space. Our real estate agents encourage you to use these tips to organize your kitchen.

              • Use Pull-Out Cabinet Drawers & Organizers
                Cabinets are often cluttered, preventing you from accessing (or even remembering) what's inside. Organize your cabinets by pulling everything out and installing pull-out drawers and inner-door organizers. These two cheap, yet effective resources make it effortless to retrieve whatever you need.

              • Drawer Dividers
                Like cabinets, drawers are another culprit of clutter. Thankfully, they can also be affordably organized with drawer dividers. While most use them solely for the silverware drawer, integrating different sizes into all of your drawers can help keep them organized. These are especially helpful for "junk drawers" full of miscellaneous items.

              • Use Lazy Susans
                Whether you're working in the cabinets or pantry, a lazy Susan can be an invaluable asset to your organizational needs. From spices and seasonings to sauces, cans, and bottles, a lazy Susan is an easy and efficient way to quickly browse through your kitchen staples.

              • Clear Containers
                Unfortunately, lazy Susans won't solve all of your pantry problems. Many odd-sized items or loose items that come in boxes can be easily contained in another helpful resource: clear storage containers. Clear containers are great for storing a variety of common pantry items. Not only can they keep foods like pasta or cereal fresh, but they can also make it easy to organize and view foods like snacks for kids, exercise supplements and power bars, or single-serve type foods.

              • Group Like Items Together
                Regardless if you use lazy Susans, clear containers, or another form of storage, it's important that you try to organize items into similar groups. Keeping food and supplies contained in groups makes them easy to access and keep organized. Be sure to apply this technique to your appliances and specialty devices as well. For instance, keep your baking supplies together in one area and your barbequing supplies together in another.

              • Arrange Items By Use
                With so much to organize, you must make sure that accessibility is a priority. One challenge to achieving this is ensuring that lesser-used items don't block frequently used items. Place seldom-used items in harder to reach places such as top shelves or bottom cabinets, so your most used items are always at hand.

              • Consider a Handy Cart or Serving Tray
                If you find yourself running out of room in the cabinets or pantry, you can cleverly use carts or serving trays that double as décor and storage options. For example, keeping your baking or barbequing supplies on a wheeled cart keeps them organized and easy to wheel over to the oven or grill when you need them. A tray can provide the same convenience: keeping supplies for coffee, tea, or cocktails on a tray is an attractive counter piece that can be instantly transported from room to room.

              • Ditch Unused Items
                One of the most important tips in kitchen organization is knowing when to toss unused items. Appliances that collect dust, such as cake trays or fondue sets, maybe taking up space despite being unused for years. Know when it's time to remove these items for the things you really need.  

              Are you searching for a house with a kitchen and dining area perfect for entertaining? We can help. Contact us today to tour our spacious Alexandria homes for sale.


              What to Know When Buying a Home in a Different State

              Buying a Home in a New State

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


              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.


              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!


              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.


              Moving to a New State? Don't Forget These Things!

              Moving to a New State

              Moving to a new state amplifies the stress of a move significantly. Fortunately, you can reduce the stress of your upcoming move by making a list of things that you need to research. Here are a few things that you should add to your to-do list before making your big move: 

              1. Research the State's Housing Market
                The local housing market can vary significantly from state to state. Make sure that you understand the market in the area that you want to move to so you know what to expect. In some areas, properties may only last a few days, or it might be normal for buyers to make offers over the asking process. Or, the opposite might be true. Buyers could have their pick of fantastic properties, and it might be normal for sellers to offer additional incentives. 
              1. Look at the State's Tax Policies
                Since the average household spends 14 percent of its income on tax obligations, it's a smart idea to understand your new state's tax policies. Understanding your new tax obligation will give you a better idea of how much income you'll have to spend on your housing expenses. You might also make financial moves that enable you to adjust your taxable income (such as increasing tax-deductible retirement contributions in a state with an income tax). Some states have high taxes that may rival the amount of your mortgage payment. It's essential to understand these property tax rates so that your new home isn't too expensive for your income.
              1. Check Out the Proximity to Local Medical Providers
                Take a few moments and review what kind of medical care your family regularly requires. If there's a specific kind of provider you know you'll need to see frequently, you might prefer neighborhoods that make it more convenient to attend your appointments. For example, if you know that you need to attend physical therapy, you may prefer a home that's close to multiple physical therapy providers. Or, a property with public transportation to nearby medical centers might suit your needs. 
              1. Learn About the Lifestyle in a Specific Area
                As you explore Lafayette homes for sale, keep in mind the lifestyle provided by a specific neighborhood. Even the most gorgeous home is a bad choice if it isn't suitable for your lifestyle preferences. If you value your privacy, home, or condo in a large neighborhood might not be right for your needs. However, if you love having a strong sense of community and want a home with numerous community amenities, a close-knit neighborhood is likely to be a terrific fit for your family.

              Find the process of searching for an out-of-state home a little overwhelming? Our real estate agents will make the search as convenient as possible. Contact us today! 


              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!


              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.


              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!


              You Can Buy a Home with Student Loan Debt

              Home Buying and Student Loan Debt
              Americans owe $1.5 trillion in student loan debt. And if you're one of the 44 million Americans still trying to pay off their student loans, you've probably wondered how it will affect your ability to own your own home. 

              Buying a house – especially if it's your first house – is stressful enough without having to worry about whether your student loan debt will squash your dreams of homeownership. Our REALTORS® are here to help, and to let you know that yes, it is still possible to become a homeowner if you have outstanding student loans.

              • Know where you stand with student loans
                As surprising as it may sound, many people don't know what's going on with their student loans. It's essential that you know exactly how much you owe, whom you owe it to, and what your payment options are. Keeping track of these important points will make it easier to stay on top of your loans and manage your finances well. 
              • Keep an eye on your credit score
                Your credit score is one of the main factors that lenders use to determine whether they will be willing to offer you a home loan. The good news is that your student loan debt probably won't have any adverse effect on your credit score, as long as you've been keeping up with your payments. To maintain a good credit score, remember to pay your bills on time, diversify the types of credit you use, and work on improving your credit utilization (the ratio between the amount you owe, and the amount of available credit you have). 
              • Talk to a lender
                Before you start looking at houses, it's a good idea to talk to a mortgage lender about your options. Most lenders will be perfectly willing to give you advice based on your current situation without any obligation to apply for a loan. Doing this early on will give you a more accurate picture of how you can work on your finances, and what your price range may be for a new home. 
              • Work on your debt-to-income ratio
                Your debt-to-income (DTI) ratio reflects your monthly debt payments as a percentage of your monthly income. Lenders will use this ratio to determine if you would have enough income left over, after all, your other payments, to pay back a home loan. Many lenders use what is known as the "28/36 qualifying ratio," which essentially means that you should spend no more than 28 percent of your gross monthly income on housing, and no more than 36 percent on debt. Because your DTI has two components – debt and income – you can improve it in two ways: pay back existing debt, earn more money, or both.
              • Look for down payment assistance
                A number of down payment assistance programs are acceptable to lenders, and many are available even to first-time homebuyers with student loan debt. You may be able to qualify for federal programs like an FHA Loan through the Federal Housing Authority, which would mean a down payment of as little as 3.5 percent. You could also qualify for a VA loan if you have served in the military, or a USDA loan if you're buying a home in a rural area. 

              If you're trying to buy a home with student loan debt, we're here to help. Contact us today to learn more about your options. We've helped countless families find Lafayette homes for sale that match their needs and budget. We can get you on the right track on your road to homeownership.


              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. 


              Move-in Ready vs. New Construction Homes in Lafayette?

              Move in Ready

              Our REALTORS® spend much of their time showing prospective buyers new home developments around Lafayette. One of the first decisions many buyers make is whether to pursue new construction or move-in ready Lafayette homes for sale.

              There are pros and cons to each approach, but no wrong way to go. Your decision will depend in large part on your goals and the lifestyle you plan to lead here in Louisiana. Either way, a local real estate expert is an essential ally in finding the right home with the best price and timeline.

              Here are the four significant differences between new construction and move-in ready:

              1. Time
                The question of time is the biggest one since it affects all of the others.

                Purchasing an existing home is by far the faster of the two options. If you're in a time crunch – for example, starting a new job soon – you'll usually want the option that leaves you with solid, reliable housing faster. Moving into an existing home should take no longer than 60 days.

                Building a home from scratch, on the other hand, is something of an undertaking. With the right home building company, a lot of the hard work will go on behind the scenes with no extra worries for you. Still, you should expect to wait somewhere between four and six months.

              2. Budget
                On average, custom homes will cost more per square foot than prebuilt ones. If you're willing to compare builders, however, you can find deals that may reduce costs to nearly the same levels. For example, builders working within their own subdivision can control costs better.

                On your own parcel of land, there's a unique environment for builders to contend with.

                Prebuilt homes are less expensive overall because the structure and amenities are all in place. Still, you should factor into your decision in the quality of the house and the land. Get a professional home inspection before you commit to bidding on any home.

              3. Location
                When building, you have the option of purchasing your own lot or building in a new construction community. The latter tends to be easier, with a streamlined buying process that can take the sting out of both the wait and the expense.

                The location also affects the available housing. For example, building your own home is common in small towns since properties for sale may be few and far between. On the other hand, finding undeveloped land in urban centers is difficult, but older homes are placed on the market regularly.

              4. Complexity
                Buying a prebuilt home is a more straightforward choice. In most cases, you can get much of what you want without having to grapple with decision fatigue. This is crucial for people who have busy, hectic schedules – raising a family, dealing with a challenging career, or both.

                Yes, there's a lot to think about when you buy any home. That said, a real estate agent can highlight prebuilt homes that meet your needs. On the other hand, complexity is part of what you're investing in when you choose new construction. You have control over the floor plan, colors, and finishes.

                Either option can be fulfilling, so your priorities determine what matters most.

              When you get started buying a home, the options can seem limitless. Narrowing them down is the first step in deciding on an approach that will satisfy your needs best. A real estate agent with deep insight into the local market can get you started on the right foot.

              Contact us today to learn more.

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