A beautiful spot featured here is this custom courtyard with brick pavers and nice landscaping.

A farmhouse feel in this open floor plan home with a nice custom wood beam and fresh hardwood floors.The hot housing market has changed many things and one thing lenders want to see is appraisal modernization. According to a survey published in May by Fannie Mae, found that mortgage lenders see value in appraisal modernization, specifically in the implementation of non-traditional appraisals and inspection-based appraisal waivers. This was based on a survey conducted on senior mortgage executives. The survey concluded that 188 out of 200 (94%) feel that appraisal modernization will help reduce the loan origination cycle time.

The appraisal process time is one of the biggest obstacles the mortgage industry is facing. Right now, it is causing huge delays and higher costs. There are also fewer appraisers who are experienced in understanding more complex collateral assignments. Currently, the appraisers cannot get to all the houses that need to be appraised. Appraisal costs are going up due to the impact this has on the industry. The modernization will also amplify appraisal capacity and lower borrowing costs.

The survey also shed light on some other issues that are even more important for the lending industry. A digital portal for consumer loan applications was number one or two on many lenders’ lists. There were also concerns mentioned about roadblocks that challenged adapting new modernization tools. These were speed or lack of speed, of integrating these tools with loan originating systems.

The pandemic also has played a hand in the issues the industry is facing when it comes to appraisals. Hybrid appraisals are now allowed under the FHFA (Federal Housing Financing Agency). Appraisers can now conduct them remotely using public records (tax appraisals and listings) for purchase loans. HUD (Department of Housing and Urban Development) extended its timeline on using hybrid appraisals because of the impact from the pandemic.

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When residents of any community hear that there will be a manufacturing and logistics project close to home, they often fear what it will do to the environment around them. St. Tammany Parish residents are questioning the rezoning of a part of the Wadsworth property at the intersection of La. 1088 and Interstate 12 close to Mandeville.

John Crosby, a developer, wants to build an 800-plus acre industrial corridor on the site. He assures the St. Tammany Parish that the project will bring good jobs to the area and will not harm the environment. Residents spoke their concerns at the Parish Council at a town hall meeting about the impact on traffic and drainage.

Currently, the land is zoned for a mixture of different residential zones and a planned business campus zoning. Crosby is no stranger to these kinds of projects. His company developed The Sanctuary in Mandeville and has a good reputation for being environmentally friendly.

The plan for the site is to have 15 to 20 sites with the smallest being 25 acres. The buildings will be large and look like office buildings.
He also promised to use surfaces that allow rainwater to reach the underlying soil, such as crushed limestone or pavers with plantings in them, sometimes known as living concrete. Other features will include large swales covered in vegetation. With these steps in place, there will be less runoff and better water quality that does run downstream.

“It will not be a wasteland. It is something you are going to be proud of,” he said.

Target or Office Depot, Amazon, FedEx, or UPS are some of the businesses looking to locate distribution centers at the proposed project. He explains that what they will be using the land for will not be noxious or offensive and will not pollute the air or water.

This is not enough for Nancy Wagner, who fought a high-profile and successful battle against the proposed Medline medical equipment distribution center that was planned to be built near Covington. She does not see how they will keep from destroying the environment such as plastics and paint manufacturing. Deed restrictions can only go so far, and she believes they cannot be relied on to enforce zoning matters.

Residents still questioned the project even with the jobs that could potentially be generated there. Crosby does point out that more people who grew up in the area, will stay in the area if they have jobs to go to. The kind of companies that are in discussion to be part of the project will be companies that will attract and hire college graduates.

“Where are we going to put all those people,” David Jones, a member of Concerned Citizens of St. Tammany asked. “Apartments,” someone in the audience replied.

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This living area boast built-ins and hardwood floors.

Designing your home is a fun task but it can also be overwhelming. The key is to find the right balance of form and function. Here are ideas from the pros when it comes to how to design and decorate your home.

Use Your Wall Space

Many designers today are taking the rug off the floor and adding it to the walls of a home. A beautiful rug can accent the wall behind a sofa giving a living space a warm and colorful design. ELLE Decor designer Sheila Bridges also uses rugs to add color to any space. In her home, she uses an emerald green sheepskin throw rug draped across a bench to add texture and color. Laura Sartori Rimini of Studio Peregalli in Milan uses wallpaper to give a bedroom in a Milan apartment a wow factor. “We created the missing parts—the plinth and the ceiling frame—to depict an Italian capriccio, a fantastical and bucolic landscape with architectural features,” says Sartori. Another designer-inspired idea is to use curtains as a backdrop for art.“Curtains just create a great, calming energy in which you feel very shrouded and comforted, making for a luxurious and restful environment,” says Kelly Framel, creative director, stylist, and founder of online magazine The Glamourai. “And being able to put a really great pop of artwork in front of that textural colored backdrop has a lot of impact.”

Go Bold

A great idea anyone can use is creating a bold gallery on a wall. A gallery of eye-catching artwork can make a bright and bold statement in a room. Adding color to the floor can also brighten a space. A great example would be to use a bright blue rug in a nice all-white living area that looks out onto the ocean. If you have a small space, go bold. Graphic prints can give a small room a major impact. Sara Ruffin, a New Orleans designer uses Ellie Cashman floral wallpaper in a small powder room.

Experiment with patterns

Christene Barberich, former Refinery29 global editor-in-chief, says to layer patterns to create visual interest in a room. She did this by layering patterns in a range of styles and scales in a bedroom. She put black and white pillows with green chevron bedding to add this look. “I think a room balances out better when you have different levels of price and craftsmanship,” she says. “It helps you notice the statement piece more,” Kate Reynolds, co-owner of Studio Four NYC. Emilie Munroe of Studio Munroe says to play with texture. Use shiplap but instead of installing it horizontally, install it vertically in a room with high ceilings.

Use Color in A Hallway

Most of the time, home owner’s choose a neutral color for the hallways of their home. David Hicks used Vigorous Violet, Sherwin-Williams in a small hallway and added an art collection to the walls making it a beautiful space. He recommends using a bold color for a hallway giving the space an unexpected look.

Display Collectables and Antiques

Using collectibles and antiques can give your room a perfect look. Every room can benefit from accessories with a history. Showcasing your collectibles on a table instead of a shelf will maintain a sense of balance in your display. In order to make sure your display does not look kitschy, group your pieces by color according to Rebecca Robertson of RR Interiors. Another great designer tip by Kathryn M. Ireland, a textiles and interior designer, is to “mix things up with old and new.” “Bringing a touch of the old world into the mix creates a home that will never feel dated,” designer Alex Papachristidis explains of the art-studded Manhattan apartment he designed for a family friend. Acclaimed chef Ludovic “Ludo” Lefebvre’s home a designer used floor-to-ceiling shelving to hold his collection of over one thousand cookbooks. Floor-to-ceiling shelving never fails to add character to a room.

Designing your space can be done as many times as you want. Remember to invest where it matters and do your homework if purchasing an antique piece for your home.  A good rule of thumb is to maybe switch out a couple of pieces with new pieces once a year.

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The painted kitchen island is in a different color from the remaining kitchen cabinets.According to the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) there was a 1% rise in private residential construction spending from February’s 0.7%. Total private residential construction spending was 18.4% higher than it was a year ago and spending was at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $882 billion.

The rise is the result of the strong growth of spending on improvements and single-family. Single-family construction spending was up 1.3% over February estimates with an increase to $472.6 billion. This is great news since the home building industry is still facing supply chain issues and labor shortages.

There was a decrease however in the private nonresidential construction spending to a seasonally annual rate of $497.6 billion which was down 1.2% from February estimates. This still is not bad since it is 8.5% higher than a year ago. The highest increase in this category was in manufacturing at $22.7 billion.

The National Association of Home Builder’s construction spending index shows a great rebound back to pre-COVID-19 numbers. The NAHB construction spending index illustrates the solid growth in single-family construction and home improvement from the second half of 2019 to February 2020.

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The Gloriette, the new restaurant in the Southern Hotel in Covington, opened just after Mardi Gras. Amy and Jeffrey Hansell, who owns the Thorny Oyster, in Mississippi, opened the Gloriette which takes the place of Oxlot 9. The restaurant glorifies local Louisiana cuisine and offers drinks at the bar, Cypress Bar which is connected to the restaurant.

The new restaurant has a “theme of garden verdure” which compliments the old oaks outside of the hotel. Hence the name the Gloriette which means a garden pavilion in French. Patrons can view these oaks through the dining room that is lined with windows. The restaurant has white tile floors with baby blue walls and lattices. Among the walls are murals of blooms and garden scenes.

A veteran of the local culinary scene, executive chef Steven Marsella has an amazing way of creating dishes from local French cuisine. Marsella is from Providence, Rhode Island where he completed culinary school and began his career “at one of the city’s most ambitious seafood restaurants.” In New Orleans, he helped open Emeril’s Restaurant and recently was the corporate chef for Creole Cuisine Restaurant Concepts.

The French-inspired menu has many dishes that the chef himself created. Dishes include pork and clams Alentejana, crab gumbo, oyster stew, steak tartare and steamed mussels with Calvados, fried oysters with brie fondue, and a crawfish tagliatelle and lank of flounder thickly encrusted with crab and torn morsels of brioche. There are also fabulous desserts at the St. Tammany restaurant. These include apple galette and strawberry trifle.

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The kitchen in this home leads into the family room.

Springtime is a time when many home buyers come into the housing market. This spring, the housing market is still going strong with tons of competition. If a homebuyer finds a home they like, there is no time to think if you want to compete for an accepted offer. Here are two important things you should take action on before purchasing a home.

Bulk Up Your Credit Score

A homebuyer’s credit score can either hinder or boost your chances of purchasing a home. Credit scores determine whether a homebuyer can get approved for a loan. Before starting the home buying process, a homebuyer needs to make sure their credit score is 650 or higher.

Lower Your Debt-To-Income Ratio

A homeowner’s debt-to-income ratio is very important. It can not only affect getting a mortgage but can also affect the price of a home a homebuyer can purchase. A good debt-to-income ratio is less than 43% according to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. For example, if a homebuyer’s monthly income is $5,000 and monthly expenses are $1,000, then the debt-to-income-ration is 20%.

If you are considering purchasing a home, make sure to not only follow these two things but also contact a Realtor. A Realtor can help you with the process from start to finish. They will find the perfect home for the perfect price.

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This is a custom built home that was part of the Louisiana Northshore 2021 Parade of Homes and is for sale.

This is a nice open floor plan with nice and bright natural lighting.Monica Bourgeois and Neil Gernon, a New Orleans couple, decided to purchase Pontchartrain Vineyards last November after they visited the winery’s Jazz’n the Vines events featuring Charmaine Neville. The wine spot was put up for sale last summer.

“You could see every star, it was one of the most charming things I’ve ever seen,” Bourgeois said.

The couple will plan to reopen the vineyard under the new name Wild Bush Farms & Vineyards. They love the vineyard but want to put their own stamp on it. They have painted the tasting room walls and replaced the furniture. That will add a ping pon table, frisbee golf and a movie screening area. The couple will keep the traditional Jazz’n the Vines events every spring and fall.

“It’s going to be this really cool viticulture playground out here,” she said. “There are hardly any wineries in Louisiana and I don’t know anyone that’s trying to do what we are going to attempt to do out here. We’re going to do the style of wines we would enjoy drinking from around the world: thoughtful, honest, sustainable wines and that’s what we want to focus on, building an ecosystem, producing things of nutritional value that are beautiful.”

Monica and Neil are no strangers to the wine industry. Both worked in the wine distribution and retail industry on Magazine Street in New Orleans. In fact, in 2009 the couple, along with a vineyard owner in Napa, founded Vending Machine Wines. The results were nice red blends with California grapes and Louisiana flare.  There was a Double Shotgun, a Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot blend, and a Cabernet Sauvignon called Crooked Mayor, which she said “speaks for itself.”

“We’ll have a lot of different offerings for a lot of different people,” Bourgeois said.

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A nice kitchen island with a dishwasher and a nice sink. The sink is farmhouse in design.

December 2021 date shows that the construction of new homes climbed for the third consecutive month. Reports find that new construction homes are at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.7 million units. Close to 1.6 million housing units were started at a 15.6% increase over 2020.

Even with the rising interest rates, the housing market is still going strong. The average long-term U.S. mortgage rates rose to the highest levels since March 2020 in January 2022. Lawrence Yun, chief economist for the National Association of Realtors, says economists expect to see an increase in mortgage rates this year. This is due to the Federal Reserve slowing down on purchasing monthly bonds.

Applications for building permits rose 9.1% to a seasonally-adjusted rate of 1.87 million units. This is the strongest month for permits since the beginning of the year in January 2021. Applications for building permits can forecast future building activity. Housing starts in the Northeast and the Midwest rose the most at 20% and 36%.

The National Association of Home Builders and Wells Fargo monthly survey, which gauges builder sentiment, reported that it still remained stable. This is good news since builder sentiment was down slightly to 83 at the beginning of 2022.

“Demand exceeds supply, and builders are working as hard as they can to catch up, a process that was always going to be measured in years, not months, after the massive shift in demand toward single-family homes sparked by the pandemic,” said Stephen Stanley, chief economist for Amherst Pierpont.

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The exterior of this home features both brick and wood siding.

Selling a home and moving are some of life’s most stressful events. It is hard to schedule a closing for your new home and current home in order to move in one and out of the other. Flyhomes, a real estate brokerage, says to consider purchasing a home before you sell the one you are currently living in. Here are a couple of reasons to purchase a home before you sell your old one.

It gives you time to find the perfect home

Getting an offer on your current home is exciting but can be stressful because that means you have to find a new home to move into before your closing date. Rushing to purchase a new home will only make you more stressed with the process. A way to take off some of the pressure is to purchase a new home before selling your current one. You will be able to take your time and purchase the perfect home. This is another way to avoid extra expenses from moving and storage and temporary housing.

It can make your offer more competitive to sellers

Many times a buyer has a home they have to sell when making an offer on a new home. It is a competitive market and a buyer has to pull out all the stops. Having a contingency to sell a home on your offer puts limits on it. If you purchase a home without selling your current one, your offer will be much stronger.

Remember using a professional sales agent is a must. If you want to take this approach, choose a Realtor who can help you through the process.

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This custom French Provincial home was built by Ron Lee Homes located in Louisiana.

Homebuilder sentiment was strong at the end of 2021 according to the NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index (HMI). This is good news for the home building market despite the inflation scares and material shortages. The NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index (HMI) reported the builder sentiment in the market for newly-built single-family homes moved one point higher to 84 in December.

As for the regions, the three-month moving averages for regional HMI scores rose in all of the four regions. Both the West and South saw an increase to 87, and the Northeast and Midwest both were are 74. The seasonally adjusted rates for the four regions were the highest in the South at 89, in the West 87, in the Northeast 79, and in the Midwest at 74.

“While demand remains strong, finding workers, predicting pricing and dealing with material delays remains a challenge,” said NAHB Chairman Chuck Fowke. “Policymakers need to work on supply chain improvements and controlling costly inflation. Addressing lumber tariffs would be a good place to start.”

“The most pressing issue for the housing sector remains lack of inventory,” said NAHB Chief Economist Robert Dietz. “Building has increased but the industry faces constraints, namely cost/availability of materials, labor and lots. And while 2021 single-family starts are expected to end the year 24% higher than the pre-Covid 2019 level, we expect higher interest rates in 2022 will put a damper on housing affordability.”

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