Greater Baton Rouge Real Estate News

May 20, 2021

What to expect: Home Inspection

Once your house has gone under contract, the buyer has the right to schedule a home inspection within the inspection period in the state of Louisiana. Buyers have the right to also have specific inspections during the inspection period, most often they might ask a licensed roofer or licensed HVAC contractor to inspect those things. The home inspection usually occurs within 7 business days after the contract is accepted.

 

Inspection

 

The buyer will schedule the inspection and his/her Realtor will confirm the day/time work for us. Most inspectors do not work evenings or weekends so usually the inspection takes place during a week day. It’s important that the home inspection occur quickly.

 

Sellers should not be present for the home inspection. Instead, it’s a time for the buyer and the buyer’s Realtor to be alone in the property with the inspector. For condos, plan to be gone for 2 hours. For single family homes, the inspection can take 3 – 4 hours depending on the size of the home. The home should look just like it did for the showings with beds made, dishes put away, pets out of the home, etc. 

 

After the inspection, the inspector will send the report to the buyer, usually within 24 hours of the inspection. Then the buyer will need to review the report and decide if there are any deficiencies for which they wish to request repairs.

 

The buyer’s Realtor will send the official Inspection and Due Diligence Response and Contingency Removal with any deficiencies and repairs the buyer is requesting. At this point the seller has a few options: agree to remedy all the items requested, agree to remedy some but not all, offer money in lieu of repairs, or simply decline to remedy any items. 

 

Repairs

 

If major problems are found during the inspection, the buyer does have the right to walk away from the deal and the deposit will be returned to him/her. Otherwise, if we’re able to come to an agreement, each party signs that they accept the other’s response and elect to proceed to the act of sale

 

Any agreed upon repairs need to be completed prior to the final walk through which occurs within 5 days before closing and receipts need to be provided to the buyer showing the required work was completed and paid for in full prior to the walk through.

 

Leslie Green (225) 202-7935 Leslie@PatWattam.com

Leslie GreenThe Pat Wattam Five Star Team

May 13, 2021

4 Drainage Related Issues

Y’all, we have to talk! Baton Rouge, Louisiana gets 63 inches of rain, on average, per year. The US average is 38 inches of rain per year. With all that rain comes the issue of DRAINAGE!

Water

Most homeowners and, unfortunately, many builders do not fully understand proper drainage. The key to good drainage is simple: water flows downhill. When it collects in a large area or flows a great distance, it has the potential to create significant problems.

Soggy, poorly graded ground is certain doom for lawns, shrubs and plants. Poorly drained runoff from roofs can flow inside your home through foundational cracks or leaks, where it can warp floorboards and turn finished rooms into mildewy messes. If it’s a raised house (pier & beam) water can collect underneath the house and cause the floors to warp and have is the perfect environment for mold & mildew!

Prospective home buyers should check out four drainage-related issues before signing on the dotted line:

1-Walk the perimeter of the house. Make sure to check and see if the dirt adjacent to the foundation slopes away from the house. If the grading of the property slopes toward the home, this could lead to damp or wet crawl spaces, structural damage and toxic mold.

2-Find the rain gutter downspouts. Do they drain directly to the ground? Has the water created a low spot for water to collect adjacent to the home? If so, there’s a good chance there is water intrusion somewhere. Take a look at the water flow through the downspouts to make sure the water moves freely away from the home, especially the foundation. Further, make sure gutter downspouts are carrying water at least 10 feet away from the home. Gutters are also a source of wood rot along the fascia boards if they are clogged with leaves.

3-Look for cracks in the exterior walls and foundation. If a quarter can slip into a crack of the foundation, it is a sign that there are settling issues. Primary culprits of major cracks are gutters and downspouts that have failed to deliver runoff water far enough away from the foundation.

4-When buying new, ask about the drainage plan. Most problems with new homes relate to drainage issues. If you are buying a newly-constructed home, make sure you understand how a property drains before you buy. If possible, during a heavy rain, visit the site and observe how the water flows. You’ll then be able to discuss any drainage concerns with the builder and get his plan for dealing with potential problems.

An important part of buying any home is investigating its potential problems and hazards. Overlooking potential drainage trouble spots could very well mean hundreds if not thousands of dollars in unexpected repairs later on.

Leslie Green (225) 202-7935 Leslie@PatWattam.com

Leslie GreenThe Pat Wattam Five Star Team logo

May 11, 2021

Tips on Buying During This Crazy Real Estate Market

So as a home buyer you are probably already aware that we have a crazy real estate market.  Limited inventory of homes for sale, homes selling for over list price, homes with multiple offers the first few hours, sellers unwilling to assist with closing costs, etc, etc, etc.  What's a home buyer to do?  

First, let me assure you that there are plenty of homes for sale in the Greater Baton Rouge Real Estate Market.  However you might have to make a compromise on what you want.  Let's start there.  Many home buyers want a 'turn key' home, meaning they don't have to do anything to the home but move in.  Guess what?  There are sellers out there who don't want to do anything to their home to get it ready for market except for the normal things like fixing damaged wood, or replacing a roof or AC as needed.  But these same sellers aren't willing to change out their counter tops, of the color of their wall, and you sure don't won't them changing out their carpet especially if they have pets - wouldn't you rather put in brand new carpet that no one else has been on?  The homes that are in TOO CONDITION in CERTAIN price ranges do sell very fast, and possibly with multiple offers that will drive up the price.  But these other sellers that are normal homes that need your PERSONAL touch are willing to NEGOTIATE with you.  Perhaps they will pay your closing costs and you can use that money to update the house.  Remember, unless you are moving walls, all the cosmetic things can be done as you can afford them.  Don't let the color of the walls, flooring, or types of counter tops discourage you from buying a home.  Just NEGOTIATE to get what you want!

But if you have to have the perfect house, then you need to arm yourself with with everything you can to put yourself in the very best light.  It's hard to win if you are competing with a cash offer.  It's hard to win if you are asking for closing costs so make sure before you start making offers you have the money to pay your own closing costs.  Another way to win an offer is to tighten up or forego the inspection.  Before you make an offer, have your REALTOR call the inspector you want to use and see how quickly they can do the inspection.  Here's a great tip that no one is thinking about it seems.  Find out the sellers time frame for moving.  Perhaps if you let them stay 30 or 60 days after closing YOU will win the offer.  And one more thing.  Those pre-qual letters your lender gives you means nothing to me UNLESS it specifically states the lender has run your file through desktop underwriting, that they have looked at your credit score and debt to income ratio AND have verified that you do have the cash necessary to close.  Using these tips will give you the best shot at winning in a multiple offer situation.  Of course, if you are working with our Five Star Team, we will guide you!  

Watch this Video as Pat Wattam Explains how all this works!

 

May 7, 2021

Find the Right Home for Your Next Stage of Life

 

Find the Right Home for Your Next Stage of Life

Imagine the first place you lived as a young adult. Now imagine trying to fit your life today into that space. Not pretty, right?

For most of us, our housing needs are cyclical.1 A newly independent adult can find freedom and flexibility in even a tiny apartment. That same space, to a growing family, would feel stifling. For empty nesters, a large home with several unused bedrooms can become impractical to heat and clean. It’s no surprise that life transitions often trigger a home purchase.

While your home-buying journey may not look like your neighbor’s or friend’s, broad trends can help you understand what to keep in mind as you house hunt. No one wants to regret their home purchase, and taking the time now to think about exactly what you need can save a lot of heartache later.

The Newly Married or Partnered Couple

The financial and legal commitment of marriage has provided a springboard to homeownership for centuries, though these days more couples are buying homes without exchanging rings. In the last few decades, changing demographics have shifted the median age of first marriage and buying a first home into the late 20s and early 30s, planting most newly married or partnered buyers firmly in the millennial generation.2,3 But no matter your age, there are some key factors that you should consider as you enter into your first home purchase together.

Affordability is Key

There’s no doubt about it—with high student loan debt and two recessions in the rearview mirror, many millennials feel that the deck is stacked against them when it comes to homeownership. And it’s not just millennials—Americans of all ages are facing both financial challenges and a tough housing market. But stepping onto the property ladder can be more doable than many realize, especially in today’s low mortgage rate environment.

While many buyers are holding out for their dream home, embracing the concept of a starter home can open a lot of doors.4 In fact, that’s the route that most first-time homebuyers take—the average home purchase for a 20-something is about 1,600 square feet. While the average size increases to around 1,900 square feet for buyers in their 30s, it’s not until buyers reach their 40s that the average size passes 2,000 square feet.5

Chosen carefully, a starter home can be a great investment as well as a launchpad for your life together. If you focus on buying a home you can afford now with strong potential for appreciation, you can build equity alongside your savings, positioning you to trade up to a larger home in the future if your needs change.6

Taking Advantage of Low Mortgage Rates

Mortgage rates are historically low, making now the perfect time to purchase your first home together. A lower interest rate can save you tens of thousands of dollars over the life of your loan, which can significantly increase the quality of home you can get for your money.

 

But what if both halves of a couple don’t have good credit? You may still have options. First, boosting a credit score can be easier than you think—simply paying your credit cards down below 30% of your limit can go a long way. But if that’s not enough to boost your score, you might consider taking out the mortgage in only the better-scoring partner’s name. The downside is that applying for a mortgage with only one income will reduce your qualification amount. And if you take that route, make sure you understand the legal and financial implications for both parties should the relationship end.

Commute and Lifestyle Considerations

Whether you’ve lived in a rental together for years or are sharing a home for the first time, you know that living together involves some compromises. But there are certain home features that can make life easier in the future if you identify them now. The number of bathrooms, availability of closet space, and even things like kitchen layout can make a big difference in your day-to-day life and relationship.

Your home’s location will also have a significant impact on your quality of life, so consider it carefully. What will commuting look like for each of you? And if you have different interests or hobbies—say, museums vs. hiking—you’ll need to find a community that meets both your needs. Need some help identifying the ideal location that fits within your budget? We can match you with some great neighborhoods that offer the perfect mix of amenities and affordability.

The Growing Family

Having kids changes things—fast. With a couple of rowdy preteens and maybe some pets in the mix, that 1,600 square foot home that felt palatial to two adults suddenly becomes a lot more cramped. Whether you’ve just had your first child or are getting to the point where your kids can’t comfortably share a bedroom any longer, there’s plenty to consider when you’re ready to size up to a home that will fit your growing family.

The Importance of School Districts

For many parents, the desire to give their kids the best education—especially once they are in middle and high school— surpasses even their desire for more breathing room. In fact, 53% of buyers with children under 18 say that school districts are a major factor in their home buying decisions.7 Of course, better funded (and often higher ranking) schools correspond to higher home prices. However, when push comes to shove, many buyers with kids prefer to sacrifice a bit of space to find a home in their desired location.

But when you’re moving to a new community, it can be tough to figure out what the local schools are actually like—and online ratings don't tell the whole story. That’s why talking to a local real estate agent can be a gamechanger. We don’t just work in this community; we know it inside and out.

Lifestyle Considerations

For many families, living space is a key priority. Once you have teenagers who want space to hang out with their friends, a finished basement or a rec room can be a huge bonus (and can help you protect some quieter living space for yourself).

A good layout can also make family life a lot easier. For example, an open plan is invaluable if you want to cook dinner while keeping an eye on your young kids playing in the living room. And if you think that you might expand your family further in the future, be sure that the home you purchase has enough bedrooms and bathrooms to accommodate that comfortably.

Functionality

Try to think about how each room will fit into your day-to-day. Are you anticipating keeping the house stocked to feed hungry teenagers? A pantry might rise to the top of the list. Dreading the loads of laundry that come with both infants and older kids (especially if they play sports)? The task can be much more bearable in a well-designed laundry room. Imagine a typical day or week of chores in the house to identify which features will have the biggest impact.

Chances are, you won’t find every nice-to-have in one home, which is why identifying the must-haves can be such a boon to the decision-making process. We can help you assess your options and give you a sense of what is realistic within your budget.

The Empty Nesters

When we talk about empty nesters, we usually think about downsizing. With kids out of the house, extra bedrooms and living space can quickly become more trouble than they’re worth. While the average buyer under 55 trades up to a larger home, buyers over 55 are more likely to purchase a smaller or similarly sized but less expensive home. Even in the highest age groups, the majority of home purchases fall in the single-family category. According to research by the National Association of Realtors, by the time buyers reach their 70s, the median home size drops to 1,750 square feet.5 But there’s plenty for empty nesters to think about besides square footage.

Maintenance and Livability

What factors are driving your decision to move? Identifying those early in the process can help you narrow down your search. For example, do you want to have space for a garden, or would you prefer to avoid dealing with lawn care altogether? What about home maintenance? In many cases, a newer home will require less maintenance than an older one and a smaller one will take less time to clean. You may also want to consider townhomes, condos, or other living situations that don’t require quite as much upkeep.

Lifestyle Considerations

Many empty nesters have retired or are nearing retirement age. This could be your chance to finally pursue hobbies and passions that were just too hard to squeeze into a 9-5. If you’re ready to move, consider how you’d like to spend your days and seek out a home that will help make that dream a reality. For some, that might mean living near a golf course or a beach. For others, being able to walk downtown for a nice dinner out is the priority. And with more time to spend as you wish, proximity to a supportive community of friends and family is priceless.

Ability to Age in Place

Let’s face it—we can’t escape aging. If you’re looking for a home to retire in, accessibility should be front-of-mind.8 This may mean a single-story home or simply having adequate spaces on the first floor to rearrange as needed. While buying a home that you plan to renovate from the start is a viable option, being forced into renovations (because of the realities of aging) a few years down the road could seriously dig into your nest egg. Location matters, too—if your family will be providing support, are they close by? Can you easily reach necessities like grocery stores and healthcare? While it’s tempting to put it out of our minds, a few careful considerations now can make staying in your home long-term much more feasible.

Finding the Right Home for Right Now

One thing is for sure—life never stands still. And your housing needs won’t, either. In the United States, the median duration of homeownership hovers around 13 years.9 That means many of us will cycle through a few very different homes as we move through different life stages. At each milestone, a careful assessment of your housing options will ensure that you are well-positioned to embrace all the changes to come.

Whatever stage you’re embarking on next, we’re here to help. Our insight into local neighborhoods, prices, and housing stock will help you hone in on exactly where you want to live and what kind of home is right for you. We’ve worked with home buyers in every stage of life, so we know exactly what questions you need to ask. Buying a home—whether it’s your first or your fifth—is a big decision, but we’re here to support you every step of the way.

We support the Fair Housing Act and equal opportunity housing.

 

Sources:

1.      Freddie Mac -
http://www.freddiemac.com/blog/homeownership/20190104_homebuying_lifecycle.page

2.      PRB -
https://www.prb.org/usdata/indicator/marriage-age-women/snapshot/

3.      Experian -
https://www.experian.com/blogs/ask-experian/research/average-age-to-buy-a-house/#:~:text=Buying%20a%20first%20home%20will,by%20real%20estate%20marketplace%20Zillow

4.      Nerdwallet -
https://www.nerdwallet.com/article/mortgages/starter-home-forever-home

5.      NAR 2020 Home Buyers and Sellers Generational Trends Report -
https://cdn.nar.realtor/sites/default/files/documents/2020-generational-trends-report-03-05-2020.pdf

6.      Investopedia -
https://www.investopedia.com/personal-finance/what-look-starter-home/

7.      NAR 2019 Moving With Kids
https://www.nar.realtor/research-and-statistics/research-reports/moving-with-kids

8.      Kaiser Health News -
https://khn.org/news/baby-boomers-aging-aging-in-place-retrofit-homes/

9.      National Association of Realtors -
https://www.nar.realtor/blogs/economists-outlook/how-long-do-homeowners-stay-in-their-homes#:~:text=As%20of%202018%2C%20the%20median,varies%20from%20area%20to%20area

Posted in Homebuyers
May 6, 2021

Getting Your Home Ready To Sell

Spring is finally here - as evidenced by the storms we’ve had recently! If you are thinking about selling your home, this is the perfect time to prepare the outside of your house. This is an area a lot of sellers skimp on but if you don't have the curb appeal to attract the buyers then they will never see what a great house you have inside! Even in our hot real estate market, buyer’s are looking for the most attractive homes. They will pass your house up if the outside isn't inviting.

Unless you have a green thumb, go to your local garden center and get advice on what flowers to buy - find some that bloom a lot and don't require a lot of maintenance!  Of course, this would be a good time to put in an inexpensive sprinkler system which would also make a good selling point. When choosing the flowers, you want to have enough to be noticed, but not so much that it looks like caring for them will be a lot of trouble to the new buyer! 

Gardening

Once you have the front looking inviting, remember, after the buyers look inside your home, one of the last places they look at is the back yard. I see so many people who have a beautiful front yard, then no landscaping in the back! That doesn't leave the kind of last impression you want! A easy way to dress up the back yard is to fill large pots with flowers. The plastic pots that look like clay are great, inexpensive. I tend to kill plants because I’m busy and forget to water them! When you have them in pots, you just throw out the old and put in some new ones (better pick inexpensive flowers if you are doing this!)!  Also, you might want to get ride of your old patio furniture and get the new stuff you will want for your new house - just get it now so that it helps make a great last impression on the buyers!

And, as always, if you need me to look at your house to help determine what needs to be done to get it ready for market, just give me a call!

Leslie Green (225) 202-7935

Leslie GreenThe Pat Wattam Five Star Team logo

April 29, 2021

Why Have A Professional Handle Your Home Inspection?

A lot of our clients have friends or family who have been home owners for quite some time or are in the repair industry for things in the house.  These are the people they want to help inspect their new home purchase - not only because they respect their opinion but also because it's FREE!  What's wrong with this?  

 

First, Louisiana Inspectors are licensed and there are specific things they are trained to inspect. Not only will they tell you what they find wrong with the house, but will give you tips on maintenance or things to keep you eyes on in the future.  No one is perfect, but an impartial 3rd party can help you make sure you aren't buying a lemon!  

 

Also, a licensed home inspector knows that the job you hire them is not to make this home into a new home again, but to alert you to items that need attention - then it's your job to determine which things need to be addressed in order for you to move forward with the sale. 

 

This is one of the most expensive purchases you will ever make.  Trust your home inspection to a licensed inspector so that you have the best chance of getting a total over all view.

 

And those of you, who, like us, have owned your house for several years, might want to have a home inspection done on your own house to see if there are items you should be aware of.  We recently had a structural engineer check out our house as I had seen some movement in the brick.  Well, what I thought was foundation issues were really termite issues - and I never saw the evidence - even though I look for that stuff all the time!  The professional recognized it immediately. Guess that's what they are the professionals!

 

If you never need a list of inspectors to call on, just let us know. We keep a list handy - just for you!

 

Leslie Green - (225) 202-7935 - Leslie@PatWattam.com

Leslie GreenPat Wattam Five Star Team logo

April 22, 2021

6 Tips from the Best Credit Repair Services

1-Open New Accounts Now

One of the best tips is the importance of opening new accounts now, rather than waiting until your credit report is all cleaned up. New accounts show that you are capable of getting back in the game and will have a great impact on your score. Secured cards are a perfect credit repair tool.

2-Reduce Your Credit Card Balances

You have heard it a million times, but it bears repeating. All of the legitimate credit repair services stress the importance of watching your credit card balances. Keep them well below the limit!

3-Add an Authorized User Account

An easy way to get a new credit card along with an instant bump in your FICO scores, adding an authorized user account is simple. Call mom or dad and ask them to add you to one of their perfect, low balance credit cards. In fact, they do not even have to give you a card for you to get the score benefit. This is not a replacement for opening your own cards, but it is a quick way to get credit repair traction.

4-Check Your Statutes of Limitation

If you are confronted by a collector, the first thing that any of the good credit repair services will suggest is to check your statute of limitation, or SOL. If the SOL is over, the collector has no legal leverage. They could try to sue you but if you raise the SOL defense they will have no case. Check your SOL and you may be excited to find that you have nothing to fear.

5-Negotiate Collections

The economy is rough. Most good credit repair services agree that now is a great opportunity to negotiate with collectors. Everyone is hungry, and here are some guidelines that can help you capitalize on the opportunity. Make your offer on the last Friday of a month. And make your offer as tempting as possible by figuring out how to get your settlement money to the collector instantly. Let them know that you are ready to push the money button.

6-Dispute Redundant Collections

It is a funny thing about credit reports. The majority of collections on all credit reports should not be reporting at all. That is right. By law, when a collector sells a debt to another collector they should remove their account at once so you are not double-hit. This little tidbit is often ignored and the result is a whole lot of bogus collections. Review your reports!

 

Leslie Green - (225) 202-7935 - Leslie@PatWattam.com

Leslier GreenPat Wattam Five Star Team

April 15, 2021

5 Things to Know About a Real Estate Agent

What's Your Number? – Ask how many properties the agent has sold. You want to see a proven track record, and someone who sells 5 homes a year probably won't get the job done as well as someone who sells 20 or 60 homes. Also, you want to find someone who is experienced in selling homes in your neighborhood.

It Ain't Pretty – A good real estate agent will make nice but honest suggestions on how to cosmetically improve your home. Don't take it personally. Listen, make the changes, and get your home sold. Simple.

Out To Lunch – Do they work full time? The odds are that agents who sell homes part time or just on the weekends won't be available when you need them. Ask them about their system for finding buyers and communicating with you as the seller, as well as if they have a team to cover for them if they are sick or on vacation.

Show Me the Odds – Ask what the agent's list-to-sell ratio is. What percentages of houses that they list actually sell, and what percentage of asking price do they get? The agent who wants to sell a house for the highest price is probably not the right person. Anybody can ask a high price, but that doesn't mean they can sell it for that.

Not All in the Family – Don't list your house with a family member or friend just because of the relationship. This is a business transaction, and if they are not good at the business, then your house doesn't get sold. If they are the top real estate agent in the Market, then that's a different story. But hiring someone based purely on relationships is always bad.

The Pat Wattam Five Star Team at RE/MAX First has always addressed these questions with our clients.  We believe you need to know how we sell houses, how we communicate with you, and what are our back up systems when one of us is out.

Our goal is to take the mystery and the hassle out of the home selling and home buying process so that you, our client, can make the best possible decision. Call us anytime for a free consultation!  

Leslie Green - (225) 202-7935 - Leslie@PatWattam.com

Leslie GreenPat Wattam Five Star Team logo

 

April 8, 2021

How To Have Someone Else Pay For Your Child's College Education!

What a great idea!  Get somebody else to fund your child's college education! Nifty idea? Well, all it takes is owning rental property. Think about this - if you bought a rental property when the child is born, or within a couple of years, put it on a 15 year payout, then sell it when they are ready to go off to school. Even if the house doesn't appreciate in value, somebody else paid for it!! And, if it does appreciate, even better for you!  

 

In Baton Rouge, you can find good real estate buys that will create cash flow for you on a 30 year payout.  But, if your goal is to have it paid off in 15 years, then concentrate on paying it off, not on cash flow.  

 

Most people are afraid to own rental property. What if the house doesn't rent?  How do I mange it?  How do I find tenants?  I have all the tips and forms you need to make this easy for you. Call me today and I'll show you how easy this is to do. We'll help you make a plan, and then we will search out the best properties for you, based on your needs. Talk to you soon!

 

Leslie Green - (225) 202-7935 - Leslie@PatWattam.com

Pat Wattam Five Star Team logoLeslie Green

March 31, 2021

Why you should BUY instead of RENT

Buy vs. Rent

1. Savings and Equity

When you are renting a home, you pay your monthly rent check and that money is gone forever. When buying a home, every mortgage payment you make builds equity in your home and gets you closer to full ownership.

 2. Interest Rates

With interest rates still low, now is a great time to buy and take advantage of the rates before they rise.

 3. Tax Breaks

Everyone dreads tax season. The homeowner can deduct the real estate property tax, some or all of the interest on the mortgage, and the cost of insurance for the property.

 4. Stability

A homeowner pays the same every month/year when they have a fixed rate mortgage, giving the owner a sense of stability. A renter may be faced with rent increases with the cost of living. Owning a home gives you stability in that your payment will not change regardless of the increase of cost of living.

 5. Freedom

Unlike renters, homeowners have the right to make structural and aesthetic changes to their home and yard as they want.

 6. Pride!

There is nothing like the feeling of owning your own home. You worked hard to get there so take pride in the accomplishment.

Leslie GreenThe Pat Wattam Five Star Team

Leslie Green (225) 202-7935

Leslie@PatWattam.com