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Home Tips | 9 Posts

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! 


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!


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. 


7 Tips for Adding Personality to Your Home

Home Decor Tips

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


How to Prepare for an Open House

Alexandria Open House

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

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

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


    How to Update Your Driveway

    Houma Driveway Tips

    When you, a prospective buyer, or anyone else looks at your home, your driveway is one of the first things visible. As a result, it can contribute in a major way to curb appeal or lack thereof. If your driveway is damaged, outdated, or just a little too blah, our real estate agents recommend updating it. Here are a few questions to help you decide whether to update your driveway and how.

    1. Is your driveway cracked and broken?
      If your driveway has cracks or is breaking up, you'll first need to decide how bad the damage is, and that will help you decide what to do about it. A few cracks can be patched, and then the entire driveway updated (and the patches hidden) with a spray coating and rolled texture for a classy, modern look. Major breaks will probably require a new driveway, but you can likely achieve this by patching the damage and then having the new driveway put down on top of the old one.

    2. Does your driveway look outdated?
      If your driveway just looks old and outdated compared to other Houma homes for sale, it might be time to do something a little different, even if the old one is still perfectly serviceable. Consider the materials used for your current driveway and if you'd like to switch to a new one. Concrete and asphalt are popular options and while installation and materials can be costly they require little maintenance, compared to gravel. Your driveway can help to make or break your home's curb appeal, so if you want it to look its best, whether for you or for the ease of selling it, updating the driveway might be your best option. A textured coating for a concrete driveway is an inexpensive way to achieve the smart look of a custom driveway, for example, or you could spring for a whole new driveway and start fresh.

    3. Does your driveway lack lighting?
      A well-lit driveway looks classy, but it offers functionality, too, as it makes it easier to navigate your driveway at night. Fortunately, lighting is an easy solution, especially if you'll be updating the landscaping too as you work on improving your home's curb appeal. Look for small but mighty lights that will do their job well while blending with your landscaping.

    4. Does your home need an infusion of curb appeal?
      Curb appeal isn't just about selling your home. It's how good your home looks to a passerby, as well as a visitor's first impression. If your home lacks some oomph, jazz it up by refreshing your landscaping and updating small details about your driveway. For example, a landscaped border of pavers and plants alongside your driveway can help to boost those first impressions.

    Curb appeal can make a huge difference in your home's value. If you're thinking about selling your home and wondering what you should update before listing, contact us today to get in touch with one of our agents.


    Helpful Tips for Installing a Sprinkler System

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


    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. 


    Don't Forget These Home Maintenance Tasks

    DIY Houma Tips

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


              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 Signs it's Time to Upgrade Your Kitchen

              Upgrade Your Kitchen

              The kitchen is often called the heart of the home since it serves as a gathering place for family and friends. It's used every day, multiple times a day, so it's important to make the room look its best while being highly functional. This is true whether you're planning to live in your current home for a while or you want to move since an appealing kitchen is especially important to homebuyers.

              Our real estate agents share these 5 signs it's time to upgrade your kitchen:

              1. You don't have enough storage and counter space.
                If your kitchen always feels crowded and messy – no matter how you struggle to find a place for everything and keep it organized – you probably lack sufficient storage and counter space. This problem also causes meal preparation to become a challenge since you don't have enough workspace. Upgrading your kitchen to add extra cabinets and counter space can make your kitchen look much neater while making it easier to use.

              2. Your appliances are outdated.  
                As you've replaced appliances over time, you may have ended up with mismatched colors and surfaces that don't add up to a clean, cohesive look for your kitchen. Older appliances could also be costing you money each month because they probably use more energy to keep them running. Newer appliances are generally more energy-efficient and can help you save on your power bill. Over time, energy-efficient appliances can pay for themselves since they help you save money month after month.

              3. The layout is inefficient.  
                A poor layout makes a kitchen more difficult to use. The floor space between your stove, sink, and refrigerator is particularly important since a poor layout between these essential elements can make your kitchen difficult to navigate as you cook and clean. You may also find that as you open your cabinet doors, refrigerator, dishwasher, or oven, you end up bumping into another part of your kitchen behind you. If that's the case, upgrading your kitchen to reconfigure its layout is definitely warranted.

              4. You can never get it truly clean.
                Cleanliness is essential in the kitchen, so if you scrub and mop but can't make your kitchen sparkle, it's time for a change. Peeling or stained countertops, cracked porcelain sinks, and cracked linoleum with dirt in its crevices can all harbor dirt and bacteria while making your kitchen look dull and grimy. Replacing them using new materials such as hardwood flooring and granite or quartz countertops can make your kitchen much easier to keep sanitary and will hold up better over time.

              5. Its lighting is poor.
                Even if your kitchen is designed well, it can look gloomy without the right lighting. Determine what natural light your kitchen has and fill in the gaps with artificial lighting, taking into account that even the best natural light doesn't last throughout the entire day. You'll also need to add task lighting in areas like under countertops and pendant lights over spaces like a kitchen island. Finally, adding some decorative lighting to your kitchen can provide a touch of personality.

              Contact us to find out more ways to upgrade your home, whether you're planning to stay in it awhile or would like to move. As you look at Baton Rouge homes for sale, upgrading areas such as your kitchen can make your home more appealing to potential buyers.


              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.


              Your Guide to Making Your Home Smarter This Year

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


              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!


              Decorating Tips for Your Front Porch

              Houma Front Porch

              Does your house have curb appeal? The term doesn't apply only to Houma homes for sale. When your home looks as good outside as it does inside, it projects a warm, welcoming ambiance to visitors. 

              Dress up your front porch any time of year with these creative decorating tips from our real estate agents.

              1. Hang a Wreath
                There's no rule that says wreaths are only for the holidays. A charming, oversized grapevine wreath instantly transforms a front door. It can serve as a base that may be customized for different seasons and occasions.

              2. Paint the Ceiling
                Looking for unexpected ways to add a pop of color? A painted ceiling creates a striking visual and sets your front porch apart from others.

              3. Lay Graphic Tiles
                What's good for the ceiling is good for the floor. Make a statement with graphic travertine, porcelain, or slate tiles.

              4. Incorporate Vintage Furniture
                Vintage furniture is chic and trendy, plus it shows your commitment to eco-friendly practices. Consider classic rocking chairs or Adirondack chairs for seating. Period pieces like tables or trunks add function and beauty.

              5. Plant a "Garden"
                Emphasize the beauty of nature by adding flowers and green plants to your porch, which can easily accommodate pottery and containers of nearly every size and style. Take advantage of vertical space with a trellis or plant stands. Want a fun project for the kids? Start an herb garden, which will also pay off at mealtimes.

              6. Add a Screen
                Don't let mosquitoes or other insects prevent you from enjoying your front porch. Add a screen to keep pests out while allowing sunshine and breezes in.

              7. Channel the Tropics
                Island life is a timeless inspiration for outdoor decor. A color scheme of turquoise, coral, and pastel yellow conjures up views from a beach, while rattan or wicker furniture provides casual elegance.

              8. Update Porch Swings
                Like the idea of a traditional porch swing or glider, but want a more modern look? With a whole new range of shapes, materials, colors, and designs, today's porch swings don't bear much resemblance to the one on your grandparents' porch.

              9. Think Minimalist
                Porch furniture is not mandatory. Create a dramatic look by making the front door a focal point and using the rest of the porch to frame it. For example, put decorative tile down and place large matching planters on either side of the door.

              10. Let There Be Light
                Strategic lighting can create a mood outdoors just as easily as it does indoors. String and rope lights are easy to put up and take down, and they come in a number of different styles so you can adapt when you want to update the look. If you want something more permanent, options include sconces, lanterns, and pendant lights.

              11. Use Throw Pillows
                Indoors or out, throw pillows are a quick and effective way to change an entire look with little time, effort, and money.

              12. Paint the Front Door
                Whether you're aiming for a monochromatic effect or you want an element of bold color, a freshly-painted door immediately spruces up a front porch.

              For more helpful tips on styling and staging a home, contact us at Latter & Blum.


              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!


              Painting Projects You Should Complete Before Listing

              Painting Lafayette Home

              As you prepare to sell your home, a detailed to-do list will save you time, money, and frustration in the long run. One of the important home renovation tasks your to-do list should include is painting. Various painting projects can dynamically improve the appearance of your home and potentially even raise its value. Our real estate agents encourage you to consider completing these painting projects before listing your home for sale.

              1. Paint Your Exterior
                With so much focus on your curb appeal, you may choose to paint the exterior of your home. Unless you're placing a fresh coat of the same color on the surface, you'll need to be cautious of which new color you choose. The color should complement the home and blend in with most other houses in the neighborhood. You should also choose a high-quality exterior paint to increase your chances of adding value to your home.

              2. Apply a Fresh Coat Indoors
                When it comes to your interior spaces, you shouldn't neglect the walls. It may seem like your walls are clean, but you'll be surprised just how fresh and vibrant your walls become after a repaint. One option is to place a fresh coat of the existing color on the walls. Another option is to paint all rooms in a neutral color such as white, beige, or gray to cater to the widest number of buyers.

              3. Repaint Special Spaces
                Although, in many cases, a neutral color scheme is a preferable option, you shouldn't be afraid to add a splash of color where appropriate. You can choose to add an accent wall in the master bedroom, office, or main living space. You can also design your kitchen or bathroom aesthetic with a particular color palette in mind. Just make sure you don't go overboard with color; you want buyers to view your home as a blank canvas as often as possible.

              4. Touch Up Interior Features
                After you've addressed the walls, it's time to hone in on the details of your interior. There are plenty of features that you may overlook, but buyers will notice with a close eye. Crown molding, door, furniture, window trim, and other painted elements of the home receive their share of wear and tear over time. Chips, scratches, or other blemishes are distracting and may make a buyer wonder how well the home was cared for. By touching up these areas, you ensure that everywhere they look appears as presentable as possible.

              5. Don't Neglect Outdoor Features
                Just as you shouldn't ignore your interior features, you can't neglect the painted elements of your exterior. This is especially important if you repaint the exterior of your home. Consider touching up your porch, stairs, and railings. Freshen up any shutters or planters on your windows. Attention to detail is key, as even simply repainting your front door or mailbox can potentially add value to your home.

              Are you ready to list your home? We can help. Contact us today to list your house alongside our Lafayette homes for sale.


              The Most Important Rooms to Stage When Listing Your Home

              Staging Rooms

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

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

              The Living Room

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

              The Kitchen

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

              The Master Bedroom

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

              The Bathroom

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

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


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

              competitive market

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

              1. Lead Off with Your Best Offer

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

              2. Secure Your Financing ASAP

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

              3. Be Ready to Have the Home Inspected

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

              4. Offer a Quick Closing

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

              5. Work with the Right Real Estate Agent

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

              6. Add a Personal Touch

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

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


              What to Know Before Buying a House Virtually

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

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

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


              1. Learn how to read about a listing online

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

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


              2. Pick the right real estate agent 

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

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

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

              3. Request an in-depth video tour 

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

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


              Visit our website to start your virtual home search today!


              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.


              What You Can Expect From a Home Inspection

              Home Inspection

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

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

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

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

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


              Don't Wait to Address These Home Maintenance Issues

              Home Maintenance Issues

              Whether your home is an older house filled with character or a new property filled with trendy details, it's important to keep your space maintained. Not only will regular home maintenance save you money in the long run, but it will ensure your home is ready to put on the market when you call our real estate agents. Here are a few common home maintenance issues to address as soon as possible: 

              1. Any Leaks or Drips
                It might not seem like a huge deal if your pipes drip a little water or if your roof has a small leak when it storms. Unfortunately, it only takes a small amount of water to cause a lot of damage to your home. When left on its own, a leak will continue to add water and keep the same area moist. If you notice an area of unexplained moisture or if your water bill seems higher than usual, contact a plumber ASAP to diagnose the problem. You want to take care of any water-related damage before adding your home to the list of Lafayette homes for sale. This moisture can lead to a host of issues, including:
                  • Mold or mildew
                  • Cracks
                  • Damage to your foundation or ceilings
                  • A prolonged musty smell
              1. Dirty Air Ducts
                Your home's air ducts transport the cool or warm air from your home's heating and cooling systems throughout your home. Over time, it's possible for contaminants to get trapped in your air ducts. Pet hair and dust are some of the most common culprits. When the air passes through the air ducts, these contaminants will be released back into your home, lowering your air quality and causing respiratory irritation. Make sure that you regularly change your air filters and have your air ducts inspected annually. During this cleaning, you can also have your air ducts inspected to ensure that they're structurally sound. 
              1. A Sewage Backup
                If you have a sewage backup, this is a problem that calls for a quick remedy. Overflowing sewage will cause your property to have a horrid smell that will prevent you from using your outside spaces. Should you notice that you have multiple drains clogged or if your toilets aren't flushing correctly, you might have a sewage backup. A rank odor is another common sign that it's time to call a plumber. 
              1. A Broken Kitchen Exhaust Fan
                When you cook, your kitchen's exhaust fan helps remove smoke, grease, and odors from your kitchen. If these items aren't collected, they'll remain in your kitchen's air, causing your kitchen to smell and accumulate a film of grease on the walls and cabinets. Fortunately, replacing a wonky exhaust fan is a quick, simple repair. If your exhaust fan works but doesn't seem like it's clearing the smoke from your cooking very efficiently, this may indicate it's time for an upgrade. 
              1. Buildup in Your Chimney
                There's nothing like a warm, cozy fire on a chilly night. If you notice that your fire leaves more wood than ash or if there's a lot of soot, this can indicate that your chimney has creosote buildup. Creosote is a byproduct produced by the combustion of wood. When creosote accumulates, it increases your home's chance of a chimney fire. Have your chimney cleaned once a year to remove any buildup. 

              Ready to explore properties that are for sale? Contact us today to find a fantastic home for your family!


              How to Navigate Multiple Offers on Your Home

              Multiple Offers

              When listing your home for sale, you might be fortunate to receive multiple offers for your property. If you find yourself in this situation, it's important to know what steps to take to ensure you choose the best offer for your specific situation. Know how to weigh your options with these tips below. 

              Stick with the Facts

              Many sellers have an emotional attachment to their home, and buyers may try to take advantage of this to encourage a seller to accept their offer. You might receive offers that include personal photographs or letters that suggest the buyer will take great care of your home. However, it's essential to stick with the facts.

              A touching family narrative doesn't put one buyer in a better financial position to purchase your home. Instead, focus only on the facts of the offer to decide which option is best for you. 

              Consider Details Other Than Price

              It's tempting to go with the offer with the highest price. After all, it seems reasonable to end the sale with as much money as possible in your bank account. However, it's vital to consider details other than price when comparing the offers. Some other elements to keep in mind include:

              • The proposed closing date
              • The buyer's contingencies
              • The buyer's source of funding
              • The amount of the buyer's earnest money
              • Any extras offered by the buyer

              Decide what other elements will sweeten the deal for you. Do you need to close the deal as soon as possible to move into another home? If so, you may prefer a deal with a quick closing date.

              Or, do you want a little time to check out other Lafayette homes for sale? You might decide to go with an offer that allows you to remain in the home for a specified period after the closing date.

              Acknowledge the Power of Cash

              When comparing your buyers' financing, you should acknowledge the power of a cash offer (or an offer that includes a significant cash portion). There's always a chance that financing can fall through if the buyer is using a mortgage to cover the majority of the home's price. The buyer might have credit, financial, or employment changes that lead the lender to decide they're too risky. 

              A buyer who plans to pay cash doesn't have to wait around for a lender. They don't have to worry about a low appraisal possibly souring the deal. If the buyer wants your home and has the cash to pay for it, they can pay whatever amount they feel the home is worth. Not only does a cash offer make selling your home a little more convenient, but it can help reduce the length of time it takes to close the deal.

              Take Your Time

              Our REALTORS® encourage homeowners with multiple offers to take their time when deciding what offer to accept. You may worry that one or all of the buyers will get impatient and withdraw their offer. It's important to relax; you own an attractive property that multiple people want to buy.

              Instead, take time to thoroughly review the ins and outs of each offer and weigh the advantages and disadvantages of your options. 

              Need a little more insight into selling your Lafayette home? Contact us today to speak with an agent. 


              How Staging will Help Sell Your Home

              Home Staging

              We've all watched those HGTV shows where a home is renovated and transformed before being listed for sale. The last step before the open house is "staging" the home. Most real estate agents agree that staging is the most important element when selling your home.

              Staging a room that sells means creating an environment that will have buyers thinking about curling up on the couch with a good book, hosting a game night with friends, or spending quality time with the family.

              Here are some tips to help you set the perfect stage to sell your home!

              • DeClutter! - Both professional home stagers and top real estate agents agree clutter is the biggest problem when selling a home. While you may be fine with the pile of magazines on the coffee table, or the mantle full of family photos, a buyer will only see it as clutter. The goal is to make your living room feel fresh, clean and open.
              • Deep Clean - After decluttering, it's a good idea to deep clean the room. Hiring a professional cleaning service will not only make your life easier but in just a few short hours, you can get the job done without spending a fortune.
              • Use Simple Colors - It's best to stay away from "danger colors" like oranges, pinks, reds, and fluorescents as these can turn off a buyer. Keep it neutral, think grays, whites, and beiges. These classic colors are always in style and have mass appeal. 
              • Create a WOW Factor with Statement Pieces - Selling your home is all about creating an emotional connection with the buyer. Display an open and inviting space and add a "wow factor." A single stunning item or a few key pieces can draw people in. In the living room, this can be anything - a statement piece of art on the wall, a sculpture on an end table, a few accent pillows in different textures on the couch, or a bold rug. Whatever you do choose, keep it restrained to appeal to the widest possible audience.

              Why Staging Can Help Sell Your Home

              The living room is often the first room a potential buyer sees when they enter a home. Most buyers will make an emotional connection within the first 30 to 60 seconds of entering. By professionally staging your living room, you're showcasing it in its best light and giving buyers the opportunity to see themselves living in the space. It's this connection that sells homes.

              Unlike the kitchen and bathrooms, which are functional, the living room's primary purpose is relaxation. In fact, the living room was ranked as the #1 most essential room in the house, followed by the kitchen and master bedroom by buyers in a recent study on

              Potential buyers need to walk in and immediately be able to picture themselves enjoying the space with family and friends. Memories are made here, from your annual Super Bowl Bash to family game nights, and Christmas mornings.

              Our REALTORS® know the market and have experience offering staging advice for Baton Rouge homes for sale. Contact us today!


              8 Tips for Remodeling Your Kitchen

              Kitchen Remodel

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

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

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

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

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


              Cathy Cusimano - Million in a Month December 2019


              6 Ways to Add Spring Curb Appeal to Your Baton Rouge Home

              Baton Rouge Historic Home

              Your home may have the most fantastic kitchen and the cutest back porch, but if potential buyers don't get past the curb, they may not get to enjoy the delightful breeze on the porch. If yours is one of our Baton Rouge homes for sale, it is essential to make sure its curb appeal is top-notch. Start by standing on the curb yourself and making a fair assessment of what needs upgrading. Then tackle these six steps to boost your curb appeal.  

              1. Clean 
                Start with a good old-fashioned cleaning. If you can, the best way to get this done is to use a pressure washer to clean the siding or brick, plus the driveway. Then get out your elbow grease and wipe down windows, doors, and other parts of the outside. You want those windows to shine, and don't forget the cobwebs hiding in the nooks and crannies of your doorways and porches.
              2. Freshen 
                Another method to freshen your home's look is to give your door a new coat of paint. Adding a pop of color to your door is also pleasing to the eye, so maybe a bold red or daring yellow. Clean and polish the door handle and any hinges that can be seen. Changing your door handle and the welcome mat is another way to add freshness.
              3. Landscaping 
                Next, take a good look at your lawn or front area. Are there leaves to be raked? Bushes to be trimmed? Edging to be neatened? You should look at the trees to make sure there are not any dead branches that should be removed. If you have bare spots in your lawn, a trip to the garden shop may be to get seed or sod. Look for areas that could use some living color and plant some nice seasonal plants. Putting flowers in flower boxes or container gardens is an easy way to add some life to your home's look. 
              4. Mailbox 
                Perhaps the place that is closest to your potential buyers needs some love too. The mailbox should be cleaned and revived. Go ahead and paint the post with a complementary color. Make sure the box numbers are legible. This area can also be enhanced with some strategic flower plantings.
              5. Lighting 
                Another view of your home that is often overlooked is how it looks at night. Is your home welcoming once the sun goes down? Consider adding low voltage landscape lighting to add to its evening sparkle. Clean any porch lights and of course, make sure you have a fresh bulb in place.
              6. Balconies, Porches or Patios 
                If your home has an outdoor gathering place such as a balcony or porch, make this an inviting place where potential buyers can imagine sitting and enjoying their new house.  Get rid of that bicycle you are storing there and remove any dead plants sitting out. Invest in comfortable patio furniture or clean what you have. You should repaint or re-stain the railings around these areas and make any necessary repairs.

              When you're interested in placing your home on the Baton Rouge real estate market, contact us. Our real estate agents are experts at getting the job done.

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