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7 Tips for Selling Your Home During the Holidays

Holiday Home Selling Tips

With the winter months quickly approaching, you may wonder if it's possible to sell your home during the holiday season. Selling a home during the holidays is possible and even has a few advantages over selling at other times of the year, including less competition from other properties and homebuyers that tend to be more serious about buying a home. Our real estate agents suggest following these tips when selling your home this holiday season. 

  1. Price Your Home Competitively
    Pricing your home appropriately is one of the most effective strategies for selling your home quickly around the holiday season. Instead of pricing your home high to "test the waters" and then having to reduce the price, start with a more competitive price. 
  1. Create a Video Tour of Your Home
    A busy calendar and less free time may mean that homebuyers are less likely to venture out and explore Lafayette homes for sale. Make sure that you take the time to create a thorough video tour of your home. This allows potential buyers to explore your home's spaces and features when it's convenient for their schedule.
  1. Embrace the Coziness of the Holiday Season
    See that your home feels like a cheery, inviting haven for homebuyers. Consider lighting a fire, playing soft music, and using staging to fashion spaces that appear intimate and homey on a brisk winter day. 
  1. Focus on Curb Appeal
    Maximize your home's curb appeal so that it creates a favorable first impression with homebuyers. If buyers are deciding whether to make time for exploring Lafayette open houses, a home that looks appealing from the exterior is more likely to attract their interest. Touch up any cracked or damaged paint, clean your gutters, remove dead vegetation, and rake up your leaves. Add a doormat, wreath, and potted plant to your entryway so that it looks welcoming. 
  1. Decorate with Classic Holiday Decor
    It's fine, and even encouraged, to decorate for the holidays, but you want your decor to appeal to as many homebuyers as possible. You also want to see that your decorations enhance your home's features. If you have a gorgeous arch or lovely fireplace mantle, garland is a terrific way to highlight these features. Setting up a Christmas tree is a fast, simple way to add holiday cheer to your home's living room. Stick with classic white lights and coordinating ornaments; keep overly personal decorations in storage, as they can make it difficult for prospective buyers to envision themselves in your home. 
  1. Have a Plan for Keeping Your Home Looking Its Best
    During the busy holiday season, keeping your home ready for impromptu showings can be a little tricky. This makes it essential to have a plan for quickly tidying up your home. Consider having a plastic storage container where you can stow personal items, like shoes, coats, homework, and personal electronics so that they're out of sight. Make it a point to vacuum and sweep your home daily so you aren't trying to squeeze in a marathon cleaning session before the showing. 
  1. Work with an Experienced Real Estate Agent
    An experienced real estate agent understands the nuances of selling a home during the holidays. They'll assist you with marketing your home so that you're more likely to attract serious homebuyers who are ready to find a property. 

Following a few simple tips will make it easier and less stressful to sell your home during the holidays. Ready to list your home? Contact us to get started!


    National Homeownership Month: 5 Reasons to Celebrate Homeownership


    National Homeownership Month, which is recognized every year in June, is the perfect time to reflect on the meaning of owning a home and the benefits of this investment. Our real estate agents appreciate the value of homeownership, and we've put together 5 reasons to celebrate homeownership this June. Whether you're shopping for New Orleans homes for sale for the first time or are transitioning to a new home, here are a couple of the many reasons to celebrate homeownership.

    1. A Valuable Long-Term Investment
      For so many homeowners, owning a home is one of the most valuable financial investments that you can make in life. While not every home follows the same template, in many cases, a home is an asset that only increases in value over time. That's true because real estate in many markets tends to increase in value over time and also because you continue to build increased equity in your home as you pay down your mortgage. Add it all up, and it's no surprise that so many homeowners are happy with the investment that they've made in their home.

    2. The Freedom to Customize Your Living Space
      When you rent from a landlord or larger company, you typically have very few options for customizing your living space. Sure, you can hang new pictures or purchase new furniture, but making any substantial changes to your living space won't be allowed. Homeownership features no such drawbacks and allows you to unlock your creativity. Whether that means building a new addition to the home to accommodate a growing family, renovating your kitchen, customizing your yard, or just changing paint colors, it's great to have the freedom to customize your home.

    3. Simplifying Your Financial Planning
      For the vast majority of homeowners, owning a home means making a monthly mortgage payment. However, when your rate is locked in, your mortgage payment is the same every month, which makes it much easier to create a consistent budget and plan for your financial future. Compare that to renting a home or apartment, when rent payments can rise at the end of every lease term. Financial planning is simplified when you don't have to factor in the ever-present possibility of increased rent costs.

    4. A Hybrid Home and Workplace
      More than ever, employees in nearly every industry are working from home or working a hybrid schedule. When you own a home, it's so much easier to create a workspace where you can be productive and enjoy your working hours. If you've always dreamed of having your own dedicated office for working from home, homeownership helps you accomplish that goal.

    5. Create Memories That Last a Lifetime
      While the financial benefits of owning a home are important, they're far from the only factor. Owning a home means having a place where you can create the sort of memories that last a lifetime, from decorating a room for your first child to the many family dinners, social gatherings, and fun experiences that follow. Think of the home you grew up in and all of the memories that are tied to that specific place. For many of us, no place holds more personal or emotional significance than home.

    Find your next home at our New Orleans open houses, or get in touch with our team to learn all of the ways that we can help you sell your current home. Contact us to buy and sell homes throughout the New Orleans, LA area.


    What to Ask When Interviewing Real Estate Agents

    Interview Real Estate Agents

    When you're listing your home for sale, you'll have your choice of many real estate agents to do business with. Before signing a contract, take the time to interview a few, so you understand exactly what they'll be doing to sell your home and to ensure you have a good rapport with them.
    Our real estate agents suggest asking the following questions when you're interviewing agents:

    • What's included in your services?  
      Real estate agents typically list your home on the MLS (Multiple Listing Service), complete with an accurate listing description and appealing photos. They should also help you price your home based on a comparative market analysis of similar homes in your area. 

    • How would you market my home?
      A real estate agent should be able to explain how your home will be marketed. How will photographs and videos of your home be handled? Will other marketing strategies, like direct mail, be used?

    • What steps will be taken to prepare your home for sale?
      You'll need to know what to do to prepare your home before it goes on the market, and a real estate agent's experience and expertise should be able to guide you. They may, for example, suggest improvements that will make your home more attractive to prospective buyers. If that's the case, the agent should be able to tell you what improvements are most popular with buyers in your area and which are likely to earn the highest return on your investment.

    • What type of experience do you have?
      Ideally, an agent will have experience in selling homes that are in the same neighborhood or area as yours. They should also have experience in selling the type of home you have, such as a starter home, home with acreage, or a historic home.

    • Can you help connect me with other professionals? 
      Selling your home often requires the help of professionals such as home inspectors and title companies. And if you're making repairs and improvements to your home, you may need recommendations for painters, plumbers, and other similar tradespeople. A real estate agent should have good relationships with these contacts and be able to recommend those who perform their jobs with honesty and skill.

    • What sets you apart from other agents?  
      Marketing your home is important, but an agent also needs to be able to successfully market themselves to you. Do they pride themselves on their experience or a successful track record? Are they particularly good at being available when you need them? They should be able to answer this question in a way that makes you want to do business with them.

    • How well do you know the area?
      Although agents who are new to the area can often do a great job, it's an extra advantage to have an agent who has lived around the area for a long time. That way, they'll understand the local market, know what's important to buyers in the area, be aware of all the amenities near your home, and more.  

    Contact us today to put your home on the market with other Lafayette homes for sale or to visit homes for sale in the area. Our agents pride themselves on knowing the local market and making your real estate transaction experience an easy and pleasant one. 


    Agent Spotlight: John Schaff

    This week's Agent Spotlight shines brightly on John Schaff, a fifth-generation New Orleanian with over two decades of experience in the real estate industry. For over 10 consecutive years, John has achieved Top of the Latter – Latter & Blum's most prestigious honor, awarded annually to the top 30 producing real estate agents across the Gulf South. 

    John obtained his real estate license in 1994 and with a background in sales, he immediately had a knack for it and quickly became successful, amassing over $250 million and selling over 700 properties during his career. John attributes his success to setting goals, hard work and remaining committed to achieving those goals. His first year at Latter & Blum he made it his goal to become Top of the Latter, which he achieved within his second year.

    John credits his strong sales and negotiating background, patience, and being an empathetic listener attuned to his clients' needs – as the key to his success as a top producing agent.

    Offering advice to new real estate agents, John says to just go for it and take the leap! Everyone wants a place to call home and he says it's the most rewarding experience to help someone find their dream house.

    Accredited as a residential specialist, John specializes in selling condos, historic homes and investment properties in New Orleans. The area he concentrates mostly on is the "Sliver on the River" area focusing on Uptown to the Bywater in New Orleans. In 2021, John formed a team with Jared Briley – the Schaff Home Krewe – and despite the challenges from the pandemic, they have been helping their clients find their dream homes across Greater New Orleans. 

    Interested in buying or selling a house in New Orleans? Visit Schaff Home Krewe or call (504) 343-6683 for all your real estate needs.


    Kitchen Updates to Make Cooking Easier

    Kitchen Updates

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


    8 Interview Questions to Ask Before Hiring Contractors

    Contractor Questions

    Whether you're tackling a home renovation or building a new home from the ground up, working with a good contractor is essential for a good outcome. At Latter & Blum, our real estate agents understand what it takes to create beautiful Lafayette homes for sale with features that attract buyers. Before you hire a contractor, it's important to ask questions that separate the pros from the rest of the pack.

    1. Are you a licensed contractor?
      Most states require licensed general contractors to register with the state where they do business. A license shows that the contractor has passed certain tests that examine state laws and building requirements. In Louisiana, you can search online for licensed contractors on the Louisiana State Licensing Board for Contractors website.

    2. How long have you been in business?
      The number of years in business equates to professional experience and a good track record with clients. Contractors who lack work skills, experience, and satisfied clients don't stay in business very long. A long list of clients and a successful track record indicates a contractor who listens to clients, gets jobs finished on time and stays within the budget.

    3. Are you insured?
      Generally, a professional licensed contractor carries liability insurance, as well as workers' compensation insurance for workers. During an interview, ask for proof of insurance to verify coverage and liability limits. If a contractor isn't properly insured, you could be liable for accidents and injuries that occur on your property, as well damage if something goes wrong on your project.

    4. How much will my project cost?
      Prior to starting your home project, you should have a discussion with your contractor to clarify project tasks, details, and costs. A professional contractor should give you a written proposal that outlines work to be done, material costs, and labor costs. Read the proposal carefully before signing it, because it will serve as a legal agreement between you and the contractor.

    5. How long will my project take?
      The timeline of a home project from start to finish is important, because you may not be able to access certain areas while construction in underway. It's especially important if you have a busy household with children and pets or work from home on a regular basis. To ensure the timeline is met, ask your contractor to note a start date and completion date in your proposal agreement.

    6. What is your payment schedule?
      To properly budget for your project, talk to your contractor about payment terms and schedules before construction begins. The Better Business Bureau advises against paying in full upfront, and reputable contractors should not ask. Typically, an upfront payment is 30% to 50% of the project costs with additional payments in bi-weekly or monthly amounts until completion.

    7. How will you handle clean-up?
      A professional contractor will make sure that his/her crew takes care of daily clean-up duties such as removing trash and debris, putting away tools, and leaving areas in the house clean and clutter-free. If tools or equipment need to be stored on your property, a designated area should be discussed.

    8. What's the best way to reach you?
      At the beginning of your project, make sure you get your contractor's contact information including a business address, business or cell phone number, and normal work hours. If a contractor is hesitant to give you contact information, look elsewhere for someone who's more professional.

    If you're interested in buying or selling in the area, contact us for more information. We can help you with your real estate needs and make sure your results are successful.


    5 Ways to Make Your Home a Standout This Spring

    Lake Charles Sell Your Home

    Spring has arrived, making it the perfect time to tackle your home to-do list. Whether you have plans to contact our real estate agents and put your home on the market or just want to get your home looking its best, a few chores will help your home stand out. Here are some tasks to ensure your home is appealing to visitors and potential buyers. 

    1. Declutter Your Home
      Most likely, spring cleaning is on your to-do list. Before you get started, spend some time purging your home of items that you no longer use, need, or that just don't fit your lifestyle. The fewer items in your home, the larger it will appear when you add it to the list of Lake Charles homes for sale. You'll also have fewer items to clean. If your plans do involve selling your home, take decluttering a step farther. You'll want to remove items that are overly personal, like framed photos, bulletin boards, custom knickknacks, awards, magazines, and most toys. There are a few options for handling these items. One solution is to box these items up and rent a storage unit to house them until you've sold your home. Another possibility is to store them in your attic, basement, or shed; just make sure the space appears neat and uncluttered if you opt for this method. 
    1. Wash or Paint Your Walls
      If your walls are in neutral hues and the paint is in good condition, you may be able to refresh them by washing them. You can wash your walls using warm water mixed with a quarter-teaspoon of white vinegar and a teaspoon of dish detergent. Use a microfiber cloth to gently scrub your walls with the solution. However, if your walls have a lot of dents and dings or you want to change the paint color, it's time for a fresh paint job. A new paint job will also help your home look clean and crisp with potential buyers. 
    1. Get Your Landscaping a Facelift
      Check that your home is ready to greet prospective buyers by enhancing its curb appeal. Mow your grass (and bag your clippings), pull any weeds, and remove any dead or dying vegetation. If your flower beds are bare, add some colorful flowers and shrubs to brighten them up. Get your home and driveway looking their best by pressure-washing them. 
    1. Complete Minor Repairs
      Typically, you don't want to embark on major renovations before putting your home on the market. However, it's a smart idea to take care of minor repairs so that your home appears well-maintained. Make sure that none of your faucets drip and that your lights, showers, and appliances are all functional. Replace any broken or worn-out hardware.
    1. Rearrange Your Furniture
      Rearrange your furniture so that your home is staged to maximize its appeal. A potential buyer should be able to see the utility of every space. No room or area should be left without a function. When moving furniture, leave a few inches between the furniture and the wall; this will help the room look larger and prevent the room from appearing cramped. 

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


    Surprising Things That Can Decrease Your Property Value

    Property Value Tips

    Purchasing a new home is one of the biggest life decisions you can make, so learning how to protect your investment is an essential part of homeownership. However, many buyers aren't aware of all of the factors that can impact what your home is actually worth. Luckily, our real estate agents are familiar with the little things that can make a home sell for far less than market value. While some may seem obvious, others are not.

    If you're in the market for a new home, keep in mind the following factors that can actually decrease a property's value.

    1. Bad Neighbors
      Unfortunately, many people don't realize they have bad neighbors until well after they move in. If your neighbors are noisy or disruptive, it can have a major impact on your quality of life and your home's value. Also, your neighbor can drag down your property value right alongside their own property value if they fail to maintain their home and lawn.

    2. Proximity To Certain Types of Businesses
      A home's proximity to certain types of buildings or businesses can certainly diminish its overall value. There are certain types of businesses people generally don't like to live by, such as power plants and cemeteries. Living near a hospital can actually hurt your home value as well due to constant traffic and sirens. Be sure to think twice about a home that is situated near an unappealing business.

    3. Your Address Suffix
      Did you know fancy-sounding address suffixes are actually associated with higher property values? If your address ends in a less-typical suffix, such as boulevard, place, or way, this could actually help boost your property value. On the other hand, common suffixes like drive or street may actually have the opposite effect.

    4. The Appearance Of Your Lawn
      If lawn care isn't your forte, it's best to hire a landscaper. Overgrown grass, weeds, and unkempt trees can not only diminish your curb appeal but can also drag down property values across the entire neighborhood. Trees that are too close to the home can also be a big turnoff for future homebuyers. For some examples of well-maintained lawns, check out these New Orleans homes for sale for inspiration.

    5. History of Crime
      If a property played host to a particular newsworthy crime, it would likely sell for far less than market value. Many people are reluctant to live in a home where a tragedy occurred.

    6. Billboards
      A billboard visible from your lawn or property can actually bring down your home value by tens of thousands of dollars. Many people don't want to be forced to see a paid advertisement every time they leave the house, especially if the billboard is known to display ads for unappealing products.

    7. Proximity to Train Tracks & Power Lines
      Living near train tracks means that you'll likely have to deal with loud noises at all hours of the day, which is often a deterrent for potential homebuyers. By the same token, power lines also can create unpleasant buzzing noises, and not to mention they're unattractive. 

    Being aware of factors that can adversely impact your home value is important. Contact us today for more information!


    9 Reasons You Should Move to Louisiana in 2021

    Move to Louisiana 2021

    "La-La Land," referring to a state of bliss, is usually associated with Los Angeles. But our real estate agents believe the term could just as easily apply to Louisiana, thanks to a lifestyle that gave rise to another nickname, "The Big Easy." Consider these nine compelling reasons why you should move to Louisiana in 2021.

    1. Party All the Time
      In Louisiana, everything is worthy of celebration. With literally hundreds of annual events paying tribute to food, music, and holidays, Louisiana has more than earned the nickname, "Festival Capital of America." Mardi Gras, the most iconic party in the country, draws nearly 1.5 million visitors worldwide. 

    2. Sports Fan's Paradise
      Are you ready for some football? People in Louisiana love their Saints, one of the elite teams in the NFL, along with perennial college powerhouse Louisiana State University. If you prefer roundball, pro basketball is represented by the Pelicans.  

    3. The Sound of Music
      While Nashville is the king of country music and Detroit has Motown soul, New Orleans is the beating heart of jazz in America. Names like Louis Armstrong, Al Hirt, and Harry Connick Jr. are all synonymous with the city's rich musical heritage. Louisiana is also responsible for popularizing niche musical genres such as Zydeco, Cajun, and Creole.

    4. Food, Glorious Food
      Decades before Food Network, Louisiana's Paul Prudhomme became one of the first celebrity chefs and put the state on the culinary map with his inventive Creole and Cajun cooking. Plentiful access to fresh seafood, generous use of spices, and regional traditions led to popular dishes such as gumbo, boudin, and beignets.

    5. Breathtaking Architecture
      Louisiana is known for its numerous stunning, French-influenced homes. But you may be surprised to know that Louisiana leads all states in the number of sites listed on the National Register of Historic Places, including the former and current state capital buildings in Baton Rouge. The French Quarter in New Orleans has long been admired for its architectural style that has remained relatively intact since the 1800s.

    6. Clang, Clang, Clang Went the Trolley
      San Francisco's got nothing on New Orleans, which is the only other city with a streetcar line designated as a National Historic Landmark. Stretching just over 13 miles, the St. Charles line runs 24 hours a day.

    7. Higher Education
      Colleges and universities in Louisiana are more than just an excuse for sports. Tulane University is in the top 50 of the prestigious national university rankings from U.S. News & World Report. Other highly-regarded schools include Louisiana State University, Louisiana Tech, Loyola University, and Grambling State.

    8. Hit the Beaches
      Louisiana has many scenic white-sand beaches that rival better-known ones in California and Florida. In addition to the so-called Cajun Riviera, sun worshippers head to North Beach on Lake Charles, the only inland white-sand beach on the Gulf Coast. 

    9. The Wheels Go 'Round
      A wide variety of terrains and some beautiful scenery make Louisiana a popular destination for mountain bikers. Top-rated trails include family-friendly Lincoln Parish Park in Ruston and the challenging Beast in St. Francisville. 

    Start out 2021 from your wonderful new home in Louisiana. Contact us at Latter & Blum for dedicated and experienced help with Lafayette homes for sale.


    How to Maintain Your Sanity During a Move

    New Orleans Moving Tips

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

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

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


    How Does Your Home Factor Into Retirement?

    Retirement Years and Homeownership

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

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

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


    6 Creative Ways to Hide Clutter in Your Home

    Organize Your Home

    Clutter. No one likes it, but sometimes it's hard to avoid. We could blame it on the fact we're home more than usual. Or if we're away at work, we could blame it on the fact we don't have enough time left in the day to tidy up. Either way, we wish we could find the magic trick that helps us avoid clutter. 

    Most of us agree we have far too much stuff. It's easy to acquire things because buying gives us a rush, and it feels good. That is, until the moment, all that stuff ends up as clutter.

    The key to decluttering is often throwing away, donating, or rehoming excess items. But if it's something you use, either regularly or irregularly, you need a place to store it. That can be challenging in a home where space is at a premium. Sometimes you need a quick fix to keep the stuff out of sight but easily accessed.

    But if you need clutter to go away fast because your house is listed among Lafayette homes for sale, read on. We've got six great ways to hide clutter.

    1. Throw some shade on your bookshelves.
      Don't you love those tidily arranged bookshelves with books alternating with tchotchkes and negative space? Lovely to look at, but it doesn't do much to declutter. What might help is a shade installed from the top to pull down and hide the items you don't want to show in one deep shelf. The shade adds a little mystery. Invest in a nice fabric or rice paper shade. 

    2. Hide charging cords. 
      They're everywhere, aren't they -- tripping you up and looking unsightly. One solution is to gather up the charging cords and stow them in a box decorated with fabric. Cut some holes in the sides to run the cords through. Or, you can buy a manufactured charging station all ready to neatly store your extra cords in one place. 

    3. Draw the curtain on kids' clutter.
      Toys and games, even when they're stored on a shelf, are hard to hide. You can hang a pretty fabric curtain over the shelf, so the contents are out of sight.

    4. Stock up on bins and baskets.
      Bins and baskets should be your best friend when it comes to organizing your household. Arrange them on a shelf in closets; place them on countertops to hold those odd bits that don't go in a drawer; stow them in kitchen cabinets to hold dust rags, sponges, cleaning products, and more. Buy plastic containers in attractive colors and patterns, or acquire vintage-looking metal tubs or baskets. 

    5. Build a roll-out pantry in the kitchen.
      If you have a little extra space, say, next to your refrigerator, you might be able to create a roll-out pantry. You'll need some construction lumber, casters, hardware, molding, dowel rods, and plywood, but it's not hard to make if you're handy. Or hire someone to make it for you. You can also repurpose a shelf into a sliding pantry. Who wouldn't like some extra space to stow the cooking supplies that we've had to stack awkwardly in our fixed-space pantry?

    6. Create hidden cabinets.
      Mount attractive picture frames displaying family pictures or art. But behind them, affix cabinets of equal size. This will provide storage space for plenty of smaller items throughout the house.

    Our real estate agents can offer some great tips to hide clutter in your home while prospective buyers look at it. Contact us today.


    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.


    How to Better Organize Your Kitchen

    Organized Kitchen

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


    Agent Spotlight: Brigitte Fredy


    Brigitte Fredy has made a name for herself in the New Orleans residential market over the last 30+ years, and it's clear to see why. With her passion and dedication to her career, she has built an expansive network of happy clients and earned herself Top of the Latter for decades – Latter & Blum's most prestigious award presented annually to the top-producing real estate agents across all markets.

    Born in Paris, France – Brigitte has always had an eye for beautiful architecture, which naturally led her to specialize in historic properties in downtown, uptown and the French Quarter of New Orleans. Licensed in 1983, Brigitte started off her real estate career with Latter & Blum and is still with the company to this day as one of the top-producing agents. From helping clients buy their first home, second home and even third home, more of Brigitte's wide-ranging specialties include home staging, luxury condos and investment properties. Trilingual in English, French and Spanish, Brigitte's background and decades of expertise in historical properties allows her to help prospective home buyers and sellers from all walks of life. 

    With all of her success, Brigitte didn't get where she is today on accident. She credits her hard work, patience and flexibility as the key to her success and what helped shape her into the top-producing real estate agent she is today. Offering advice to new real estate agents, Brigitte says it's important to start as early as you can, being a successful Realtor requires a lot of time, energy and work. Her favorite part of the job? Having the flexibility to create her own work schedule, which in turn creates a good balance in her life.

    When Brigitte isn't basking in the thrill of navigating a successful real estate transaction, you can probably find her cooking some delicious cuisine in her downtown condo, exercising or entertaining clients and friends. She also owns an apartment in Paris, perks of all her hard work and dedication.
















    In the market for a home in New Orleans? Contact Brigitte for all your real estate needs.


    6 Ways to Decorate Your Home Office

    Decorate Home Office

    Many of us have moved our offices into our homes, where we're conducting business remotely. But just because you're officing on your own is no reason to forgo making your workspace comfortable and expressive of your personality. 

    Our real estate agents advise that a creatively decorated home office can also help you sell your home when you list it among Lafayette homes for sale

    You want your home office to be a place where you enjoy working and being. It should be a place where you can be comfortable, but it's also a place where you will work, so you don't want to fall asleep. Nor should it be in a location where you're easily distracted. Once you've got the location down, get ready, and decorate.

    1. Match your office decor with the rest of the home.
      As near as possible, match your office furniture -- even if it's just a desk, a chair, and a file drawer -- to the rest of the home. This also goes for the artwork on the walls, if you choose to have any. Don't settle for motivational posters; put up some art that's enjoyable when your gaze passes over it. If you love plants, incorporate them into your office area. 

    2. Make sure furniture is functional.
      It's important that your office furnishings look good, but they also have to be functional. It's tempting to order desks and chairs online, but it can pay to go to a store and try them out. Roll around in the chair for a bit. Is this where you'd like to sit for eight hours or more? Ergonomically correct chairs are worth the price.

    3. Let some light shine.
      You want plenty of light to illuminate your work. Use natural light if available, but otherwise, choose overhead lights and supplement it with task lighting. A neutral wall color will help make the light more consistent. Avoid dark or bright floors and walls. If you have natural light, combine it with warm-colored, low-wattage task lights, which will improve visual clarity and increase focus. 

    4. Go vertical to add space.
      Most home office areas are small and have limited space. Going vertical with shelves and cabinets above the desk will help extend your space. You can also use the space under the desk for storage. 

    5. Hide cords.
      Cord clutter can ruin your decorating efforts. Use an attractive box to store the cords, cut a hole in the back of the box, and run all cords through the hole. Use cable ties and hooks for gathering up cords. Store the box out of sight. Use a power cord to connect to the wall.

    6. Stay organized.
      When you're busy, it's tempting to let things go and to allow clutter to prevail in your office space. Try to keep it under control with some organizational shortcuts. Use drawer dividers to round up small items. Open shelving is a great solution for books, magazines, and folders you need to keep on hand. Keep writing utensils in jars or organizers designed for the purpose.

    Need advice for buying or selling a Lafayette home? 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.


    10 Safety Tips Every Realtor Should Know


    If you're a Realtor, then you know the importance of adopting safe procedures in every aspect of your real estate business. Whether you are holding an open house, showing property or meeting with a client for the first time, it's of the utmost importance to always be safe and think a few steps ahead. 

    In observance of National Realtor Safety Month, here are several safety tips that all Realtors should know: 

    1. Only show property when it's light out. 
    2. Don't park in the driveway, park in the street. 
    3. Leave valuables in your car during an open house or while showing property such as your purse, wallet, etc. 
    4. If you're meeting a client for the first time, ask for a copy of their driver's license and notify someone of where you will be during the meeting. 
    5. Team up with a fellow agent and have them accompany you while showing a vacant home. 
    6. Allow prospects to walk in front of you when showing a home.
    7. When possible, drive your own car to an open house or showing. 
    8. Take a basic self-defense course or keep self-defense equipment on you at all times. 
    9. Plan an escape reroute before showings and open houses.
    10. Pause, look and observe your surroundings before entering a property. Does anything look suspicious? Always trust your gut!

    By following these safety tips, you can protect not only yourself but your clients too. Review these tips every day and download our Realtor Safety Tips document. Pro tip: print it out and keep it by your desk!

    Learn more about Realtor safety on NAR's safety resources page.


    5 Benefits of Working With a REALTOR®

    Working With REALTOR

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


    5 Golf Courses in NOLA to Check Out This Father's Day

    Golf in Nola

    Known for smooth jazz, delicious food, and a lively culture — New Orleans is a destination unlike anywhere else in the country. Plus, avid golfers will love the links surrounding the Crescent City. Our REALTORS® invite you to grab your clubs and take your dad to one of these five challenging NOLA golf courses for Father's Day.

    1. Audubon Park Golf Course — 6500 Magazine St., New Orleans, LA 70118
      Discover an oasis just minutes from downtown at Audubon Park Golf Course. Located in Audubon Park, this 18-hole Denis Griffiths-designed course features Bermuda fairways and Tif-Eagle greens. Audubon Park's par 62 course is convenient for any business travelers or visitors who want to get a quick round in without leaving the metropolitan area.

    2. Joseph M. Bartholomew, Sr. Municipal Golf Course — 6514 Congress Dr., New Orleans, LA 70126
      After a renovation and renaming in 1979, Joseph Bartholomew Golf Course has continued to be one of the best places for year-round golf in the city. This 18 hole, par 72 golf course features a double-ended driving range, fully stocked pro shop, two practice greens, and discounts for senior, youth, and late-night golfers.

    3. Bayou Oaks at City Park — 1040 & 1051 Filmore Ave., New Orleans, LA 70124
      Looking for a weekend golf getaway? Then head over to Bayou Oaks at City Park, where 36 holes of golf await you and your group. The North Course, opened in 1969, was reopened in 2008 after it was restored from damage sustained during Hurricane Katrina. The South Course was also restored and reestablished in 2017, to accommodate players of all skill levels. As the only 36-hole golf course in New Orleans, Bayou Oaks at City Park is the ultimate destination to play the links in NOLA.

    4. Lakewood Golf Club — 4801 General Degaulle Dr., New Orleans, LA 70131
      This award-winning golf course located in NOLA is undergoing a rebirth that will delight locals and visitors alike. Lakewood Golf Club has been updated and improved to offer unique enhancements like a world-class practice facility, 444-yard "Fire in the Hole" sand bunkers dedicated to the New Orleans firefighters, and a brand-new clubhouse that is currently under construction. This facility also has an award-winning junior golf program, weekly clinics for kids, and junior summer camps, making Lakewood Golf Club a great course for families to grow the game.

    5. English Turn Golf and Country Club — 1 Clubhouse Dr., New Orleans, LA 70131
      Discover unmatched beauty and luxury at the English Turn Golf and Country Club. Located on the historical bend of the Mississippi River known as the English Turn, this spectacular golfing community boasts 1200 acres of gorgeous greenery and a massive 43,000 sqft clubhouse with world-class amenities. As elegant and timeless as the city itself, English Turn is a Jack Nicklaus Signature Design 18-hole par 72 Championship Golf Course ready to spoil you with serene scenery and undulating greens.  

    Are you ready to work on your short game in NOLA? Contact us today to browse New Orleans homes for sale within a short drive from the best golf courses in the city.


    Study Up On These Real Estate Terms

    Real Estate Terms

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

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

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


    Phase 1 Reopening in Louisiana: The Impact on Real Estate Services

    Reopening Louisiana

    Following established guidelines, Louisiana will begin Phase 1 of the opening plan on Friday, May 15th. Although this reopening is a bright beacon of hope, we must not forget that we are not fully free of the shadow of COVID-19. As we revive our sense of normalcy, our real estate agents want to assure you that we are collectively doing our part to safely serve our community as responsibly as possible.

    FAQ About Louisiana Phase 1 Coronavirus Reopening

    When will Louisiana reopen?
    The state will enter Phase 1 of a three-phase reopening plan, as suggested by the federal government, on May 15th.

    What businesses and services will be reopened in Phase 1?
    Phase 1 of the reopening plan includes the opening of many services and businesses, such as barbershops/hair salons, bars that serve food, churches, funeral services, gyms and fitness centers, malls, movie theaters, restaurants, and many other non-essential businesses. However, many of these locations are only allowed to open if they follow strict guidelines dictating the number of individuals permitted to occupy the space and how employees, visitors, and customers must interact while following social distancing/PPE guidelines.

    How long will Phase 1 last?
    Currently, Louisiana is scheduled to operate under Phase 1 guidelines for 21 days, and into Phase 2 on June 15th. However, as we've seen over the last few months, the coronavirus situation can change quickly. While these dates are hopeful, they are not guaranteed and may be adjusted at any time.

    How does this impact real estate services?
    We want all of our associates and clients to know that Latter & Blum considers the safety and health of our community a number one priority. As essential personnel, our agents can continue to serve our community as safe, securely, and responsibly as possible. To do so, we have asked that all Latter & Blum agents follow these guidelines:

    • Reduce the number of physical showings by only touring homes with buyers who are prequalified for properties that meet their search criteria (for example, size, price, style, wish list, location, etc.)

    • All agents should conveniently provide documents describing floor plan, property amenities, flood information, home improvements, termite contracts, and other relevant information on the MLS listing. Furthermore, agents should also execute any paperwork electronically when possible.

    • Agents should practice social distancing by remaining six feet apart from others when possible and by limiting showings to a maximum of five people at once. Agents should also drive to each property in separate vehicles from the buyers.

    • All agents are encouraged to wear a mask in public places, including during property viewings, wear gloves, and wash their hands when entering and exiting the property. All agents should also sanitize any surface that they touch and open/close all doors, cabinets, and other property elements for the buyers

    Although these guidelines are not forced upon the agents or buyers, many of our agents are voluntarily taking the necessary precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19 out of respect to our friends, family members, and neighbors throughout the community.

    If you are ready to purchase or sell property, we're ready to help. Contact us today to get started!


    How to Prepare Your New Orleans Home for a Virtual Tour

    New Orleans Home Virtual Tour

    COVID-19 has created considerable disruptions across the country. Many states have placed significant restrictions on home showings, open houses, etc. However, that doesn't mean you can't sell your house in the meantime. Our real estate agents can help you harness the power of technology to reach an even broader audience without ever having to leave the couch. Hosting a virtual tour of your home gives you a chance to show off the features around your property and present details about the house in a polished, professional manner.

    Preparing Your Home for a Virtual Tour

    Clean everything out so that the home looks open and spacious. This means cleaning the cupboards, clearing out the garage, polishing the fixtures, cleaning windows, and removing debris from the yard. Essentially, give your home the super spring cleaning treatment. Potential homebuyers will want to see every possible angle of their potential new home, so leave no dust bunnies behind!

    When shooting a virtual tour, you can also remove furniture from rooms while filming. This can open the room up and give you time to decide which pieces of furniture you want to move with you, and which pieces you will donate or sell before you make your move.

    As with a traditional open house, you should make minor repairs and repaint rooms to a neutral color before filming. This helps the audience better appreciate the home and alleviates concerns about damage and potential remodeling expenses. 

    Shooting Footage

    If possible, shoot live footage of your home using an ultra-high-definition camera. Better still use a camera that can capture a 360-degree view of the home through a fisheye lens. This will give viewers a realistic view of the interior and exterior of your home. Similarly, make sure to open windows and turn on lights. This will help eliminate shadows in the footage.

    Take test shots of the rooms and make adjustments to lighting, furniture position, and camera placement. 

    You will also want to make sure the home is quiet during the video shoot. Have children and pets play quietly outside while you are filming inside and choose quiet times of day to film exterior footage of the home.

    When filming, it's best to use a tripod or a camera with an effective stabilizer. This helps create a more polished, professional look. Similarly, it's a good idea to run your footage through a professional editing program. This can help remove sounds and other blemishes from the finished product. 

    Contact us to learn more about how to stage your home and prepare your property for a virtual tour. We'll provide you examples of other virtual tours of New Orleans homes for sale that have helped others in the area sell their home.  


    The Home Improvement Projects You Should Leave to the Experts

    Home Improvement Projects

    It's always fun to spruce up your house and make it feel more like home. However, while it may look easy on a YouTube video, some projects really should be left to the professionals. Our real estate agents recommend hiring a pro to do the following tasks.

    1. Electrical Work
      Leave electrical work to a certified electrician. This advice holds true whether you live in an old home that needs a wiring update or have a new home and would like to install a new light socket. Not only is there a risk of electrocution, but a simple mistake can cause your home to go up in smoke.
    2. Plumbing Repairs
      Never attempt to do plumbing repairs unless you are a certified plumber. There exist a bevy of pipes, hoses, and connections behind your walls and under the floors. One mistake, and you risk turning a small problem into a lake in the living room. If you notice leaks, drips, and other plumbing-related problems, call the professionals to handle the work. Likewise, while you may want to install an outdoor irrigation system, hot tub, swimming pool, etc., a licensed plumber can help ensure that everything is built to code and won't cause problems down the road.
    3. Additions
      Adding a little extra space can make your home feel more comfortable. However, it takes more than making sure your measurements are right, and the 2x4s are level. Building an addition requires adhering to building codes, securing permits, and completing inspections. Failing to secure the necessary permits and other tasks can diminish your home's value and create complications for a prospective sale.
    4. Roof Repairs
      While you may think it is alright to replace a few loose shingles or repair damaged gingerbread, it's best to leave these tasks to a reputable roofing contractor. This helps ensure that the work will be done according to code and that the shingles, tiles, and other repairs will properly protect your roof from damage.
    5. Window Replacements
      New windows can significantly improve the appearance and energy efficiency of your home. However, improperly installed windows can leak and suffer irreparable damage. This is best left to a contractor who can make sure the windows are plumb and properly secured to your home.
    6. Foundation Repairs
      Never attempt to repair a foundation on your own. You can cause significant damage to the home and threaten the structural integrity of the building. Further, if the repair is done wrong, it will show up on the home inspection and complicate a future sale. 
    7. Tree Removals 
      Tree roots can go deep beneath the soil. Sometimes, they can snake beneath fences and the foundation of your home. Improper tree removal can cause damage to the property that can cost far more to fix than the cost of hiring a professional tree removal specialist to do the work.

    Contact us for more information about the repairs we recommend homeowners do on their Houma homes for sale. We will provide you some valuable suggestions and ideas you can use to make your home stand out in the marketplace.


    5 Neighboring Properties That Can Affect the Sale of Your Home

    Neighboring Properties

    You've completed your staging and cleaning and have your home buyer-ready, inside and out. Unfortunately, sometimes surrounding properties can turn off prospective buyers, even if your home is a showplace. From messy yards to roaming dogs, neighboring properties could affect how your home shows while on the market.

    Our REALTORS® outline 5 solutions if you have neighboring properties that could affect the sale of your home.

    1. The Loud Property
      In the case of noisy neighbors, they may not realize that they're disturbing you. Ask them nicely to be a little quieter, especially during showings. If this doesn't work, you could talk to your homeowners' association, if you have one, or ask other neighbors who are bothered as well to have a similar conversation.

    2. The Abandoned Property
      An empty house near yours could be the result of bankruptcy or foreclosure. If the home's exterior condition is unsightly with newspapers piling up, household items left on the porch, and an overgrown lawn, it's time to do some research. Try to find out who - such as a financial institution - has a vested interest in the property and ask if they can have basic maintenance taken care of. If not, explain the situation and ask if you could mow the lawn yourself, pick up the papers, and dispose of outside debris.

    3. Nosy Neighbor
      A nosy neighbor might try to catch a potential buyer to share some of the unsubstantiated neighborhood gossip. Notify your real estate agent about this situation so he or she can try to head off the nosy neighbor. You may also want to approach your neighbor and stress how important it is to have only your agent give information to prospective buyers.

    4. Roaming and Loud Animals
      A neighbor who has dogs who constantly bark or have allowed to roam free can be problematic. Talk to him or her and be honest about the fact that you're trying to sell your home and are afraid this will turn buyers away. If a conversation doesn't work, call your local city or parish about noise ordinance violations with a constantly barking dog. It can help to record the dogs for evidence of your complaint.

    5. HOA Rule-Breakers
      A homeowners' association community is meant to draw up and enforce rules that govern the neighborhood. When there is an HOA, homebuyers expect their neighbors to follow the rules. However, neighbors who break the HOA rules can lead a prospective buyer to assume that neighborhood rules aren't enforced. If that's the case, take your complaint to the HOA and enforce the rules. 

    In most of these cases, the solution is to have a polite conversation with those in your neighborhood on your goals of selling your home and how they can help. Most people will be understanding since chances are they've had to sell a property before too! 

    Contact us when you're ready to sell your home. We've closed deals on many Alexandria homes for sale and can help advise you on sticky issues that could interfere with your sale.


    6 Tips for Buying Commercial Property

    Commercial Properties New Orleans

    If you've ever played Monopoly, you know the benefits of owning commercial property. Ready to skip Park Place and the fake money and become an investor in real life? Our REALTORS® share six useful tips to get you started on the road to becoming a successful commercial property owner.

    1. Know Yourself
      Buying commercial real estate is different from buying a residential property, where the main criteria is finding something you like. Before investing in commercial properties, ask yourself serious questions about why you're doing this, what's your risk tolerance and how much time, money and work are you willing to put into the venture. 

    2. Narrow Your Focus
      "Commercial real estate" is an umbrella term encompassing a wide range of choices. Start with deciding what type of property you want to buy, such as retail or multi-family. The next major consideration is location. Do you want something nearby, or are you open to being a long-distance landlord? Finally, think about the future. Is it possible you'll want to renovate or expand the property? If so, will the property accommodate such changes, both structurally and legally?

    3. Learn the Lingo
      Do you know the difference between usable and rentable square footage? What does "ad valorem" mean? What is cash-on-cash return? Commercial real estate has its own vocabulary. If you try to bluff your way through, at a minimum it could cost you untold amounts of money. At worst, it could end your real estate journey before it even begins.

    4. Determine Your Financing
      This is one element residential and commercial real estate have in common: it all comes down to the money. But financing commercial property does offer a greater number of creative options allowing you to use other people's money. In addition to traditional loans, possibilities include private or hard money lenders, seller financing and short sales. As with home buying, you should have financing in place before looking for commercial property.

    5. Assemble a "Dream Team"
      No matter how much homework you do, there's no substitute for experience. There are many professionals in the New Orleans area that can help you with the buying process. Look for REALTORS®, mortgage brokers, accountants and lawyers whose specialized knowledge can help you navigate the deep waters of commercial real estate transactions and remain in compliance with all legal regulations. Just like you would for residential real estate, ask for recommendations from friends or family members! 

    6. Make an Offer
      This is the step where outside assistance is invaluable. Make sure you're covered with a contingency clause allowing you to back out if the property doesn't pass inspection. Then comes due diligence, where you double- and triple check to ensure everything is in order. This includes securing insurance, ordering a land survey and finding an escrow officer. Don't sign anything without having your lawyer review it first.

    Looking for New Orleans homes for sale to live in or rent? Whatever your goal, Latter & Blum can help you achieve it. Many of our commercial and residential properties have virtual tours available for you to learn more from the comfort of your home. Contact us for more information.


    COVID-19 Update From Our Agents

    COVID-19 Update

    At Latter & Blum, our REALTORS® have worked hard to protect the safety of our clients and co-workers during the COVID-19 outbreak. We are following all social distancing and safety guidelines issued throughout Louisiana.

    The measures affect all Lafayette homes for sale and New Orleans homes for sale as well as properties elsewhere in the state. In addition to state and federal guidelines, real estate associations have issued industry-specific guidance for protecting clients.

    In light of all the available information, Latter and Blum is doing our part to flatten the curve with the following measures:

    1. All of Our Real Estate Offices Are Currently Closed
      Social distancing is the most important step most people can take to ensure the well-being of family, friends, and neighbors. With this in mind, all Latter & Blum offices throughout our service area are closed. We are still working every day and remain available by phone, Skype, Zoom, or FaceTime.
    2. Virtual Open Houses Are Now Available to Buyers
      In-person open house events are suspended for the foreseeable future. Our agents have been implementing Virtual Open House technology. We recommend Virtual Open Houses and showings be conducted by appointment only.
    3. New Home Search Technologies Are Being Introduced
      Latter & Blum will be rolling out cutting-edge technologies to make every aspect of buying and selling easier in this challenging time. That includes virtual showings, high-definition video tours, and 3D tours of new listings, digital document signing, and online transaction management.
    4. We Are Updating Current Listings With Safety Precautions
      Real estate agents around the country have been developing best practices for health and safety. We will update all of our current listings to request that visitors to homes maintain a safe distance from countertops, door handles, appliances, and lighting, and refrain from using bathrooms.
    5. We Recommend Screenings for Clients Who Want to See a Home
      Our agents will be asking buyers and sellers some simple questions to assess health risks. Please let us know if you are experiencing any symptoms, have been exposed to an infected person or have one in your care, or have recently traveled to areas with high coronavirus risk.

    What to Know About All-New Virtual Tours

    A virtual tour is the next best thing to being there! It's safe, convenient, and even fun.

    During a virtual tour, you will have the opportunity to walk through a property with the help of your real estate agent. You can ask questions and get them answered in real-time. Our smart mobile technology gives you a clear view of every area of the home.

    For your convenience, we are leading appointment-only virtual tours with the most popular telepresence software. Our agents are experienced in FaceTime, Skype, and Zoom. All you need to do is set an appointment time and then wait for our call. Tours last less than an hour.

    Here's how to get set up on these convenient platforms:

    You can use the above software on your favorite smartphone, tablet, laptop, or even on a desktop computer. For questions about how to best enjoy your virtual tour, contact your agent directly.

    Latter & Blum is Here for You in This Difficult Time

    If you decide not to buy or sell right now, that's okay! Latter & Blum will be here when you need us, and so will the right Louisiana home for you. We care about you and your family's health and safety. 

    Remember, we are all in this together. If you have any questions for our team, don't hesitate to contact us.


    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. 


    What to Look for When Buying a Condo

    Buying a Condo

    If you want to own your space, but don't want the upkeep associated with a single-family home, a condo is a terrific alternative. A condo is a single unit property that shares walls and structural aspects with other units. Condos have minimal exterior upkeep, and you often have access to a slew of convenient amenities. Here are a few things you need to look for when buying a condo to make sure it's a great fit for your needs:

    Check That the Condo is Right for Your Lifestyle

    An advantage of buying a condo is that there's a slew of different options that fit some various lifestyles. Before you contact one of our agents, take a few moments to contemplate the lifestyle that you live or want to live.

    Perhaps you like to live an active lifestyle and want a unit in a complex with walking trails, a dog park, and a fitness center. You should look for a unit that fits your preferred lifestyle. Conversely, maybe you don't value a lot of extra amenities or don't need them. In this situation, you don't want to pay for amenities that you're unlikely to use. 

    Research the Effectiveness of the Condo Association

    The condo association is responsible for maintaining the condo complex. This includes the complex's exterior, shared areas, and on-site amenities. You want a proactive condo association that promptly deals with resident complaints and potential issues in the complex.

    Ask for minutes from the condo association meetings so you can see how the association responds to resident complaints. If the same resident complaints regularly appear at multiple association meetings, this is a potential sign that the association is lax at handling the residents' concerns. 

    Get a Full Breakdown of Costs 

    When you purchase a condo, in addition to the monthly principal and interest on your mortgage, you'll pay a monthly condo association fee. This fee covers the costs required to maintain the condominium complex's exterior and shared areas as well as expenses necessary to operate the complex's amenities. Make sure that you ask for the unit's monthly condo dues before making an offer so that you can ensure it's not too expensive for your monthly budget. Note that condo association fees aren't tax-deductible. 

    Learn More About the Condo Association Fee

    Though a lower condo association fee sounds attractive, the amount of the fee shouldn't be excessively low. If the fee is too low, it won't cover the actual costs associated with maintaining and caring for the complex. Should this happen, there will eventually be a readjustment of the fee, and it will go up to account for this shortfall.

    Instead of facing a future shortfall, look for a unit with a fee that's sufficient to cover the complex's expenses. Ask for more info about the condo complex's financials. The complex should have a repair fund that's being funded adequately based on the age of the complex and any anticipated repairs. This will prevent the residents from being hit with a huge increase in their monthly association fees. 

    Feel like a condo might be the right fit for you? Call one of our REALTORS® today to set up an appointment or search New Orleans homes for sale!


    How to Declutter Before a Move

    Declutter Before a Move

    Like most people, you probably have stuff piled up around the house that you didn't even know you owned. Moving an overstuffed junk drawer or duplicate items you don't have use for doesn't make sense. 

    Decluttering helps decrease the weight of the items you're moving, makes the process less stressful, and saves on moving costs. Our REALTORS® have six useful tips to keep moving day as stress-free and inexpensive as possible.

    1. Start Early
      Don't wait until moving day to decide what to pack and what to get rid of. It could take a couple of days to complete the decluttering process. So plan at least two weeks and spare a few hours every day to go through a different room or storage area in your home. By giving yourself enough time to go through all your stuff, you won't be tempted to throw everything in the boxes and be done with it.
    2. Start Small
      It can be disheartening to look at a house full of stuff you have to sort through. It can also be tempting to put it off and promise yourself you'll do it on moving day or even after you moved into the new place. This is why you need to start small. Start with a dresser, a closet, or a home office. Don't try to clear an entire room at once because it can be draining and might extinguish your motivation. 
    3. Set Up Four Piles- Keep, Donate, Sell, Trash
      Before you begin decluttering, have trash bags, markers, and a shredder ready to help with the process. Have four labeled boxes handy as you tackle one area after another. The boxes should be for items you want to keep, sell, donate, and throw away. Take out the trash immediately after the decluttering session. You can take pictures of things you wish to sell, list them online, or hold a garage sale. For the things you're going to keep, try to pack as much as you can.
    4. Practice Letting Go
      It is not always easy to know what to keep and what to let go of as you go about decluttering your house. As a general rule of thumb, throw it away if it's damaged. If you haven't worn some clothes for over a year, think about donating or selling them. When it comes to seasonal clothing, sort through all of them and evaluate what you should keep and what you should let go. Decluttering also offers an excellent opportunity to let go of duplicate items and gifts you'll never use. If you're a keeper, maybe you should find a "tosser" to help you make the not-so-easy decisions.
    5. Check Expiration Dates
      Go through your pantry and bathroom and throw out anything past its prime. Check for expiration dates or think to when you purchased a certain item. Things like spices can last for several years, but their potency doesn't last longer than six months or so. Use this time to toss cookbooks you haven't opened for years and any strange appliances you don't have use for.
    6. Keep Going
      Set aside time, at least every day or every weekend to declutter. And make it fun. Reward yourself after you're done with a weekend session. You'll be motivated to put in more effort and feel better prepared when moving day comes.

    Are you looking for Lafayette homes for sale? Our team can help streamline the process. To learn more, contact us.


    How to Improve Your Home's Scent before Showings

    Improving Home's Scent

    Our sense of smell is a powerful force! Smells can evoke many feelings and emotions either positive or negative. If you're thinking of adding your property to the local market of Lafayette homes for sale, it's important to ensure your home smells good as a critical component of staging it to sell. Our REALTORS® share some tips for making your home smell fresh, clean, and appealing to buyers.

    • Do a Deep Cleaning
      Cleaning your house from top to bottom is critical to ensure it looks its best, but it also helps get rid of stale, nasty odors. Make sure to wash down walls, especially in the kitchen, to get rid of grease and grime, which can make your home pretty smell stale and dirty. If you're short on time or hate to clean, hire professionals to get the job done right.
    • Have Carpets and Curtains Professionally Cleaned
      Steam-cleaning carpets, rugs, and drapes can help them look like new and eliminate odors you never even knew existed. Once your carpets are cleaned, take a few moments to sprinkle them with baking soda and vacuum right before a viewing or open house. Baking soda is also great for scrubbing sinks, toilets, bathtubs, and other items. If you don't care for cleaning products with lots of fragrance, baking soda can eliminate tough odors while keeping perfumes to a minimum.
    • Wash Pet Beds, Toys and Accessories
      There's no getting around it—our furry friends can cause some stinky smells sometimes. Make sure to wash all pet bedding and blankets, clean the litterbox, and put items away or move them to more inconspicuous areas when showing your home. If possible, take pets to a friend or family member's home during an open house or showing.
    • Use Natural Scents to Make Your Home Smell Good
      Fake plug-in scents and heavily scented candles can leave buyers wondering what you're trying to cover up or even make them sneeze. If you want to add a pleasant aroma to your home, choose lighter scents like citrus, herbs, vanilla, and cedar. If you don't want to invest in a fancy diffuser, you can use essential oils with reeds that absorb the liquid and release the scent into the air. Simmering potpourri, herbs, or essential oils in a pot of water on the stove is an easy, affordable way to add a delightful olfactory ambiance to your home.
    • Pick Plants with a Pleasant Aroma
      Believe it or not, plants can clean the air and make your home smell better. Certain types of plants like scented geraniums, jasmine, lavender, rosemary, basil, gardenias, and orchids emit pleasant fragrances that can make your home smell flowery, earthy, or fresh. Not only that, staging your home with well-groomed plants can give it a bright, lively feel.

    Want to learn more about how to prepare your home for sale? Whether you're in the market for a new home or selling the one you own, our experienced real estate professionals can help. Contact us to get started.


    What You Need to Do Before Listing

    Before Listing Figuring out which steps to take before putting your home on the market can be daunting. If you're unsure about how to prepare, our real estate agents can provide the guidance you need to get your home ready for listing. 

    • Research the Value of Your Home
      It's vital to do your homework to determine the value of your home. Check out listings of comparable New Orleans homes for sale in your neighborhood. Make sure you are comparing homes similar to yours in size, location, and features. Save this list of comparables and discuss them with your real estate agent.
    • Find a Real Estate Agent
      One of the best ways to find a good real estate agent is by word of mouth. Ask friends, family, coworkers, and neighbors if they've worked with someone they'd recommend. Interview a few agents and ask them about their experience selling homes in your area, the steps they'll take to sell your home, and how many homes they've sold. Don't be afraid to ask for references from former clients as well.
    • Make Minor Repairs
      Replacing hardware like knobs, drawer pulls, towel racks, light switches, and lighting fixtures is an easy and inexpensive way to make your home look updated. If any major repairs need to be done, talk with your real estate agent about the most effective way to take care of them.
    • Paint
      A fresh coat of paint throughout the house does wonders for its appeal. You don't have to do anything fancy—make sure you choose neutral colors like taupe, beige, or greige. Depending on the condition of the outside of your house, you may want to consider having it professionally painted.
    • Declutter & Depersonalize
      Clearing clutter and depersonalizing your home will make it more appealing to buyers, and you'll have less stuff to move when you're ready to go. A good rule of thumb is to donate, sell, or pitch items you haven't used or worn within the last year. Packing up family photos, books, knick-knacks, and other personal items makes it easier for potential buyers to visualize living there. 
    • Clean
      You'll be surprised at what a difference a deep cleaning can make when it comes to the look and smell of your home. Shampooing rugs and carpets helps get rid of stains and odors. Make sure to get windows and trim sparkling clean. If you don't have the time or desire to DIY, hire a professional cleaning company to come in and clean it for you.
    • Stage Your Home
      Staging your home can help it sell faster at a higher price. Take out any excess furniture and create cozy sitting areas in spaces like the living room. Remove all small appliances from the counters in the kitchen, take any magnets off the fridge, and accessorize with fresh, new tea towels. The same thing goes for the bathrooms—remove or hide away all toiletries and invest in new rugs and towels. And don't forget the outside— curb appeal is the first thing that draws potential buyers in. Make your yard, landscaping, and your home's exterior look neat and tidy. 

    Are you ready to buy or sell your home in the New Orleans area? Contact us to get started.


    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


    How a Real Estate Agent Determines Home Value

    Real Estate Agent Determine Home Value

    If you're selling your home, you want to price it reasonably, so it doesn't languish on the market, but you don't want to price it for less than you could sell it for. Our REALTORS® use research, knowledge, and experience to determine your home's value. The following are some ways we can determine this value:

    • Using a Comparative Market Analysis (CMA)

      Real estate agents can run a comparative market analysis that will look at comparable homes that have sold in the area within the past 90 days. The most accurate comparisons will come from homes that are close to yours geographically, are similar in square footage, and have the same number of bedrooms and bathrooms.

      CMAs can be quite detailed, including the average and median sale prices for comparable homes, the number of days they were on the market, and other information that will help your real estate agent most accurately determine your home's value. Also, he or she can look at comparable homes currently for sale. If other houses in your neighborhood are on the market, you'll want to be competitive unless your home has attributes that set it apart.

    • Having Experience in Sales Negotiations

      Home sale prices don't always tell the entire story. Experienced real estate agents know that finalized deals may involve some concessions. So although a comparable home may have sold for a particular amount, it doesn't reveal the fact that the seller may have helped pay closing fees. Or they may have made other concessions, such as providing a flooring allowance to help the buyer upgrade out-of-date carpeting.

      A real estate agent's experience and knowledge can help him, or her know about some of the concessions that may not be reflected in the sale price. They may have helped broker the deal, or they can often get information by talking with another agent who handled the sale.

    • Adding Price Adjustments

      Although a CMA yields some invaluable information, your agent won't depend solely on formulas. Adjustments in prices will be made because each home is different. And these differences can influence the value of each home.

      For example, your home may have slightly more square footage than a comparable home, so your real estate agent may adjust your home value to consider this difference. Or it may have nicer landscaping that will help command a higher price. On the other hand, another similar home may have had upgraded appliances included with the home, so your home may be valued somewhat lower.

    • Being Aware of Other Factors

      Factors that are beyond your control can affect the value of your home. Your real estate agent knows that when mortgage interest rates fall, more people can afford to buy a home and can afford a higher price tag. Of course, the opposite is true when interest rates rise.

      The time of year your home is on the market can also affect your asking price. 

    Contact us if you're interested in selling your home. Our real estate agents know how to determine your home's value, so it's comparable with similar Baton Rouge homes for sale.


    Staging and Selling with Kids: Tips for Parents

    Staging and Selling with Kids

    Parents know that clean and kids can mix like oil and water. While it adds an extra hurdle to adding your house among the New Orleans homes for sale, it's entirely possible to sell and stage a home with kids -- and our REALTORS® are here to help.

    Try these four kid-friendly tips for staging your home and getting your whole family on board for selling your home. 

    1. Move Kid Things to Kid Rooms
      Most potential buyers will want to see a living room full of potential, not a packed den with the playpen, tummy time mat, forts, and a train track. While buyers won't want these items front and center, a home is often a family purchase, so it's okay to have these items in the right place. A tasteful nursery or second bedroom with bunk beds still opens the door for new home buyers to plan and dream.
    2. Pack up Unused Toys
      You might not realize it, but you have too many toys in your home. That's why you need to sort and pack before you stage and show your home. Realistically, there is no way that you'll keep a full overload of toys neat and tidy for any length of time. Move larger unneeded items to storage. For example, that mini trampoline can probably go away for a few months, or the three-story dollhouse can be packed from the living room until your next place.

      This is also an excellent opportunity to remove smaller toys that are no longer being used. Ask your child to help you pick ten favorites for right now, and box up the rest. While sorting, you can work towards donating items that you won't need at the next house, too, drastically reducing clutter both here and there.
    3. Discuss Future Goals
      If your child is at an age where they understand what moving means, let them get in on the action and making some decisions. Help your child embrace the changes by making things new and exciting. Ask your children to help choose a neutral color so the next kid in their room can take a turn at decorating. Also, discuss with them how they'll want their new room decorated. By empowering your child to help make new beginnings, you'll make it easier to remove overly personal items or decor and make your home purchase-ready.
    4. Ask Other Adults for Help
      A piece of advice that probably goes without saying is getting some extra adult support throughout the process. Mention to your friends and family your selling goals. Some might be able to pitch in with babysitting or offer storage space for toys. A few hours with a babysitter or a playdate is a great way to occupy your children while you work on cleaning before a showing or open house. 

    Need more tips for staging and selling? Our real estate agents are ready to guide you on the next steps.  Contact us today!


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

    Choosing an Agent

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


    How to Sell Your Home During the Winter Months

    Sell During Winter Months

    It's no secret that fewer people are looking at New Orleans homes for sale once the seasons change. After all, most buyers aren't excited about home shopping or moving taking up time in their holiday schedule. 

    However, if you're thinking about selling your home soon, not all hope is lost! Our REALTORS® sell homes all year long and know exactly what you need to do to make your home more appealing during the winter months. If you follow these tips, you have a great chance of selling your home well before the spring thaw. 

    1. Crank Up the Cozy
      Play up the winter season and make your house extra cozy and appealing. Remember, though, that the goal is to keep the house warm and comfortable without being stifling. If it's a colder day, make sure the heat is on, but not in an overwhelming way. You want to prove to buyers that the heating unit works when it needs to. 
    1. Add Some Sound
      The ambiance is critical for making your home feel welcoming, and the right type of music can make a big difference. Play some festive holiday tunes, light jazz, or soothing classical sounds. Just be sure to keep the volume low enough, so it's not disruptive. 
    1. Pay Attention to Lighting
      Short, dreary winter days are your enemy when it comes to selling a home. Combat this by making sure all light fixtures are clean and working correctly and switching to brighter bulbs. Also, open curtains and blinds to let the natural light come in.

      Don't forget about outdoor lighting. Since it gets dark out early, there's' a good chance buyers will come by the home during twilight hours. Make sure the front porch is well-lit and consider adding some landscape lighting for an easy boost to your curb appeal. 
    1. Keep Things Simple
      It's fine to get into the holiday spirit, but when you're trying to sell your home, less is more. Avoid putting up a tree that takes up half the living room or Griswald-style outdoor lights. As much fun as this may be for you and your family, it can be a turnoff for some potential buyers. Keep your holiday decor small, simple, and understated. 
    1. Spruce Up Your Online Listing
      Most buyers begin their journey by looking at homes online. During the winter months, it's even more likely that buyers will rule out a home based on the internet listing without ever going to see it in person. Make sure your listing stands out by using a great photographer and ensuring the home is staged appropriately. 

    Don't let the holidays hold you back from looking into selling your home. If you're thinking about listing your home, there's no time like the present. Contact us today to learn how we can help! 


    Here's What to Do if You're Inheriting a House

    Inheriting a House

    Our REALTORS® handle all types of real estate transactions and are experienced in helping those who have inherited a home wade through any potential issues. Our team recommends following these steps in order to ensure a smooth process. 

    Take Care of Business

    Updating the homeowners insurance policy right away is vital. Making sure your coverage is current, and all necessary changes are taken care of ensures your property is protected. If there's a mortgage on the home, contact the lender and stay current with payments. This goes for property taxes as well. 

    Contact all utilities to update account and contact information. You can cancel unnecessary ones but make sure the bills for other utilities are paid on time every month. If you're not around to take care of cutting the grass or yard work, you may want to hire someone to do upkeep until the house is sold or occupied.

    Empty it Out

    When someone passes away, some of the toughest tasks include going through their things, deciding who gets what and getting rid of the things no one wants. If you and your siblings have inherited a home, gather everyone there, and take turns choosing the items you'd like to keep. Let the grandchildren have a turn and include any other relatives that you think are appropriate. Once everyone has had a chance to take what they want, the rest can be sold at an estate sale or donated. Try to take care of it as soon as you can. Although this process can be painful, putting it off can be costly, both financially and emotionally.  

    Decide What to Do

    It's also important to make a decision about whether you want to move into the house, sell it, or keep it as a rental property. There are a few important points to consider when weighing your options. Before you take action, get a home inspection to make sure you're aware of any repairs or needed maintenance. It's also important to find out if local municipalities will reassess the home's value. If so, the property taxes may be much higher, which is an important factor to keep in mind.

    When siblings inherit a home as joint owners, things can get tricky. You'll all need to agree on what to do, or the issue could end up in court. If you want to live there, you can buy your siblings out by mortgaging or refinancing the property. You may also come up with another arrangement, like paying them in monthly installments until they are paid for their share in full. Another way to resolve the issue is to make the house part of your share of the total estate. It's also important to talk to a professional about the income tax implications of each option.

    Whether you decide to occupy the home, rent it out, or listing it among the Lafayette homes for sale, each option has its advantages and drawbacks. Seeking the advice of an experienced real estate agent is an excellent way to find out which choice meets your needs and lifestyle.

    Still, have questions about what to do when inheriting a home? We can help. Contact us to learn more.


    Avoid Home Appraisal Issues with these Tips

    Avoid Home Appraisal Issues

    Through your eyes, your home may be priceless and perfect! However, buyers and appraisers view your home a little differently. Data from the National Association of Realtors indicates 25 percent of delays on real estate closings are due to appraisal issues.

    There is no magic formula to predict appraisal results, but these useful tips will help you avoid appraisal problems.

    1. Understand the Difference Between Appraisal and Inspection
      While home sales generally involve both appraisals and inspections, they serve different purposes. An inspection is a detailed report about the physical condition of a house with a particular focus on structural problems, safety issues, and building code violations. While an appraisal takes these factors into account, it's intended to provide an objective opinion on the value of the home.

    2. Study the Market
      What are the going sale prices for similar homes in your area? These comparable properties, or comps, are useful in setting the asking price for your home. Our real estate agents are a valuable source of information on this subject.

    3. Finish the "To-Do" List
      Cosmetic imperfections are not necessarily safety risks, but they create a shabby appearance. Now is the time to secure that loose handrail, repair broken doorknobs, touch up chipped paint and remove clutter. You may want to consider using a professional cleaning service and a stager to optimize the home's look.

    4. Check Curb Appeal
      Appraisers consider the total package, which includes the home's exterior and yard. According to Consumer Reports, curb appeal can bump a home's value three to five percent. Are the lawn and hedges overgrown? Is the mailbox dated and decrepit? Do the gutters need to be cleaned? Even seemingly minor changes such as new door hardware and house numbers can boost curb appeal.

    5. Ask About Buyer's Financing
      Lenders want appraisals to ensure a home is truly worth the amount they're financing. Smaller down payments create greater exposure for lenders, leaving less margin for error in the appraisal. Also, FHA mortgages have more stringent appraisal requirements than conventional mortgages.

    6. Present Your Offers
      If you've received multiple offers on your home, this is evidence of the perceived value that an appraiser will take into consideration.

    7. Know Your Options
      So despite your best efforts, the appraisal comes in significantly lower than you anticipated. The first step is to review the report for accuracy. You then have the option of submitting an appeal. Be prepared to offer reliable, logical, and unemotional reasons why the appraised value should be higher. You may be able to negotiate a solution, whether it's lowering the price, splitting the difference or making agreed-upon upgrades.

    We have extensive experience smoothing out any bump in the road to your real estate goals. Contact us to learn more!


    How to Make Your Home More Energy Efficient

    Energy Efficient Home

    Our REALTORS® know there are many ways to increase the value of a home. One of the most valuable ways for New Orleans residences to increase the value of their home is by improving energy efficiency.

    Energy-efficient home improvements benefit you, the environment, and future homeowners. "Green" renovations can also help you financially with lower bills and in some cases, get you a tax rebate.

    However, you don't have to buy an entire set of solar panels to move forward on your energy goals. Some of the most effective changes you can make are small, costing a few hundred dollars. 

    Let's take a look at some of the best ways to increase your energy efficiency:

    1. Replace or Update Your Thermostat
      The thermostat serves as the brains of your air conditioning and heating system. As it begins to age, it no longer registers the temperature accurately, leading to poor performance – for example, running too long or cycling on and off. A programmable thermostat is a modern alternative.
    2. Seal or Upgrade the Windows
      Windows gradually become warped over time and lose their seal. If you've never replaced the windows before, then it's probably time. Glazing your existing windows can be inexpensive. To maximum energy savings, consider special insulating glass.
    3. Improve Attic Insulation
      Over time, the insulation in an attic deteriorates. This affects the natural flow of heat throughout the home, making it hotter in the summer and colder in the winter. Hire a trusted roofer to replace the insulation and check on the health of your roof.
    4. Replace Your Existing Roof
      If you have a larger budget, you might want to consider replacing your roof. Traditional shingle roofs can be made with energy-saving composite shingles. You can also consider residential metal roofing, which can keep your home cool by reflecting up to 80% of solar radiation.
    5. Invest in Air Conditioner Maintenance
      New Orleans is hot, hot, hot ... in more ways than one! The air conditioner is the biggest user of electricity in many homes. Instead of buying a new unit, have a certified technician make your existing AC more efficient by replacing worn-out components.
    6. Update Your Hot Water Heater
      A hot water heater is another common culprit when it comes to electricity use. Energy-efficient water heaters do not usually run constantly, but they are still able to provide hot water on demand.
    7. Update or Move Your Refrigerator
      The refrigerator can be a huge energy hog. If you haven't checked out the latest fridges in more than five years, there's probably an efficient model available. If you are not in the market to buy a new refrigerator, move your current refrigerator to a cooler spot in the room to lower energy consumption.

    Instead of renovating your kitchen or bathroom, make a lasting impression on buyers and update your home with energy-efficient improvements that will help buyers and the environment.

    Our team at Latter & Blum can help you come up with even more smart ways to create value in your home. Contact us to find out more!


    You Can Buy a Home with Student Loan Debt

    Baton Rouge Student

    The media, financial advisors, and even real estate experts are calling the current $1.5 trillion national student loan debt anything from a "crisis" to an outright national emergency.  While there's certainly cause for concern, living a normal life, having a family, and even owning a home isn't out of the picture even if you have student loans.

    Our REALTORS® are plenty familiar with the challenges that student loan borrowers face as they enter into the workforce including homeownership.  The bottom line is, you can buy a home with student loan debt, and here's how.

    Monitor Your Credit and Improve It
    If you're a first-time homebuyer, chances are you haven't looked too deeply into your credit and perhaps have never had to.  This is a great place to start if you're looking to buy a home with student debt on the books.  

    It's estimated that on average, student loan borrowers owe somewhere in the neighborhood of $35,000 each.  This sort of debt obligation can hurt your credit, but it can also show that you're worthy of credit if you make timely, regular payments on your loan note.  Additionally, if there are places you can improve your credit such as reducing or eliminating credit card debt, then you can improve your credit score relatively easily.

    Your Debt May Be An Asset
    Depending on your view of your student loan debt, it may actually be one of your greatest assets.  Assuming you put that debt to good use and earned a college degree, chances are that your earnings are higher at your age than they were when your parents joined the workforce.

    What this means is that the return on your investment may very well be worth the extra debt and additional payments you have each month.  You're likely to be in a better financial situation with your income than the Baby Boomer generation which means you can likely afford to buy a home sooner.  All of that to say, leverage the added income you have and put it towards homeownership.

    Get Pre-Approved for a Mortgage
    Provided you've done your homework thus far by monitoring and improving your credit and paying down any debts that are holding you back, then you should seriously consider applying for a mortgage and getting pre-approved.  Pre-approval simply means that based on the snapshot of your personal finances, a lender is willing to give you a certain amount of money for a mortgage.

    This may not seem like a big deal, but it can be a major boost to your home search because you have a better idea of how much you can spend on a home and allow you to understand what payments you can make.  Additionally, pre-approval will likely lock you into a favorable interest rate that will be protected from rising in the future.

    Getting approved for a mortgage along with mapping out your future student loan payment options can give you a very firm grasp on exactly what you can expect from likely your two biggest monthly expenses.  From there, you can shop for a home within a fixed price window.

    If you're looking for Baton Rouge homes for sale, then contact us to see our current inventory and get started with one of our local real estate pros who can help you find the home you want!


    Best Catfish Restaurants Around Baton Rouge

    Catfish Baton Rouge

    Our REALTORS® love a good catfish fry-up ... and we think you will, too!

    June 25 is National Catfish Day, and there's no better place to celebrate it than right here in the middle of all the action, Baton Rouge. Baton Rouge is the epicenter of Cajun cooking, and there are few bigger stars in that culinary tradition than the catfish.

    Not surprisingly, you'll find that the streets of Baton Rouge are dotted with famous catfish restaurants. Today, we'll help you pick out some of the very best.

    If you want to experience true flavor, check out these Baton Rouge restaurants featuring catfish on their menus:

    1. Parrain's Seafood Restaurant – 3225 Perkins Road, Baton Rouge, LA 70808
      Parrain's Seafood Restaurant has been serving up mouth-watering seafood selections since all the way back in 2001. Specialties include the catfish perdu: Catfish fillets served with shrimp and crawfish etouffee on a bed of rice. You can also have catfish as one of the fried platters, in a standard or thin-sliced form. Whole fried catfish is also available.
    2. Drusilla Seafood Restaurant – 3482 Drusilla Lane D, Baton Rouge, LA 70809
      Drusilla Seafood Restaurant is where to go for the classic Cajun-fried catfish fillets, in both adult and kids' menu form. You can complement your dinner with your choice of fried oysters or fried shrimp. Several of the house specialties also come with catfish, including the "Taste of Louisiana" platter: Delectable shrimp au gratin, fried popcorn shrimp, and more.
    3. Crawford's Restaurant – 1980 Staring Lane, Baton Rouge, LA 70810
      Crawford's Restaurant – that's Crawford, not crawdad – is the one and only home of the infamous c-fish. What makes it so unique? It's fried "the Ken Sr. way," and has attracted a bevy of five-star reviews from locals and visitors alike. In addition to the catfish plate, you can also enjoy Crawford's catfish po'boy, easily one of the best seafood dishes in town.
    4. Dempsey's – 13580 Coursey Boulevard, Baton Rouge, LA 70817
      Dempsey's prides itself on authentic Louisiana cooking. Jambalaya with fried catfish is right there on the weekly specials menu (it's the headliner for Monday), so you know it's got to be good. Other specials include Cajun meatloaf, chicken-fried steak, and ... once again, on Friday, jambalaya with fried catfish. Go get some!
    5. George's Southside – 8905 Highland Road, Baton Rouge, LA 70810
      George's Southside will tempt your taste buds with catfish dishes whipped up by "the original" South Baton Rouge catfish restaurant. Known as the first on the internet in Baton Rouge (dating all the way back to 1996), George's has a fun and friendly atmosphere nobody else can match. It's open seven days a week, and you can even get a souvenir bumper sticker on request.

    Catfish isn't the only thing unique about Baton Rouge. With sage advice from an expert real estate agent, you can tap into all Baton Rouge's great real estate opportunities. No matter your budget, style, or timeline, our team supports you with reliable knowledge and attentive customer service. It has never been easier to find Baton Rouge homes for sale that are right for you ... and get to closing the easy way.

    Contact us to find out more today. We look forward to meeting you.


    Real Estate Pros Explained: Agents and REALTORS®

    REALTOR vs Agent
    Whether you're buying or selling a home in Baton Rouge, you'll likely hear discussions about "real estate agents" and "REALTORS®" as if they're one and the same. While their primary functions overlap, there are specific differences between designations.

    How do you decide which type of real estate professional will best fit your needs? Let our REALTORS® remove some of the confusion between the two and help you make an informed choice.

    What Is a Real Estate Agent?

    Simply put, any person who is licensed to represent buyers and sellers in property transactions is a real estate agent. Requirements vary from state to state, but generally speaking, an agent completes a certain amount of coursework to learn various local, state and national real estate laws and practices. They officially receive the title of "agent" after passing an exam and pay an annual fee to keep licensing current.

    Real estate agents represent either a buyer or a seller. In both cases, they work with the client on each step of the process, using their education and experience to handle listings, negotiations and other complex elements of a real estate transaction. In order to avoid conflict of interest, agents rarely represent both a buyer and a seller. Dual agency, where allowed by state law, requires consent from both sides.

    What Is a REALTOR®?

    The title of REALTOR® applies to an agent or broker who is a member of the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR). With more than 1.3 million members, NAR is the largest trade association in the United States.

    All licensed agents and brokers must adhere to the real estate laws governing the area in which they practice. REALTORS® go above and beyond by promising to follow NAR's Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice, which is designed to reassure clients of receiving the highest standards of integrity and service.

    NAR has trademarked the term "REALTORS®" so buyers and sellers can be confident that only a qualified agent may use the title. In addition to the REALTOR® program, NAR offers educational resources along with events such as conferences and conventions to help members develop their skills and stay up-to-date on the real estate industry.

    Contact us at to learn more.


    Debbie Ferrante - Million in a Month December 2018


    December 2018 Million in a Month Producers


    December 2018 Million in a Month Producers


    December 2018 Million in a Month Producers

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