Interest rates have been driving the housing recovery, as well as the economic recovery in the United States since the housing market dropped out in 2008.  The Fed has kept interest rates at zero for approximately 8 years which has been attractive for both home buyers, new home buyers, and people looking to refinance their mortgages.

As the U.S. economy has recovered at a very gradual, yet very steady pace, the Federal Reserve, called The Fed, has,Mortgage Rate Increase within the last year, started to gradually increase the interest rates, once in December, 2016, again in March and then in June, 2017.  During the last meeting of The Fed, October 31st and November 1st, during a two-day meeting in Washington, kept the interest rate the same.  This could be  because a new pick for The Fed chair was expected on Thursday. Rates have stayed within the 1% and 1.25% range, with a rate increase expected in December.

New picks for the chair for the Federal Reserve include the current chair, Janet Yellen, and Jerome Powell, a Fed governor and John Taylor, an economist at Stanford University.

The economy is said to be strong enough to handle another rate increase, especially with the job growth and recovery due to the hurricanes in both Texas and Florida and the wildfires, which have increase restoration construction in California.  In addition, the United States unemployment rate is the lowest it has been since 2001 at 4.2%, and the job growth has increased for the last 83 out of 84 months.

The December increase in the interest rate will not cause a huge disruption in the home building industry as, even with the rate hikes, mortgage rates are still at historic lows.  However, the refinance market has slowed down a great deal once rates rose above 4%.

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The National Association of Home Builders has been publishing news articles that tout the increased need for construction workers throughout the entire United States, and this need was reflected during this year’s Virginia Tech’s Myers-Lawson School of Construction career fair.  The result of the job fair for the students was 100% employment for all students who attended the fair. The need for construction employees, whether they are workers, sub-contractors, or project managers, was one reason that the fair was so successful; but the other reason was the location of the career fair.

Virginia Tech’s Myers-Lawson School of Construction offers a program which not only trains students in their fieldConstruction Career or major but also teaches life skills and professional skills which are highly desired by potential employers.

“There is simply not enough young talent being produced to keep up with the growth. This particular school is preparing them not only with construction techniques, but life skills and professional skills,” says Ken Taylor, executive vice president of W.M. Jordan Company, who graduated from Virginia Tech’s building construction program in 1979.

In addition the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), the U.S. News & World Report also released a study that showed the popularity of construction-based majors, saying that enrollment in construction-related majors grew by 26.4% over the past year at four-year colleges and universities. Right now, this increase holds the record for the highest increase of any major ever, according to the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center. Construction careers are projected to have the fastest growth of all occupations over the next decade (adding more than 7.2 million construction jobs by 2024) by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Meanwhile, for the students of Virginia Tech, the 900 participants who attended the career fair were offered jobs with starting salaries of at least $66,000.  More than 117 companies showed up to this career fair, and other companies had to be turned away from getting a booth at the fair.

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Dual enrollment in both high school and college will be available to St. Tammany Parish students with the advent of joint enrollment programs with St. Tammany Parish high schools and Southeastern and Northshore Technical College.  Programs are being implemented in local high schools focused on getting students to think about theirSt. Tammany Parish Schools Prep career goals, whether they want to attend a 4-year college, a 2-year college, or go to a technical school.  For those students who have no plans for additional education after high school, the program gives students direction on where they can get technical certifications in a field in which they are interested.

In addition to this early planning for St. Tammany Parish high school students, a new task is now being considered by  a panel of experts who met Tuesday, October 10th to brainstorm about how to prepare upcoming graduating students to be able to join an ever-changing workforce.  One of the unique ideas being discussed is preparing students for jobs that do not yet exist.  The panel of experts include educators, members of the economic development foundation, and business associates.

St. Tammany Parish Schools’ Superintendent Trey Folse, as well as Assistant Superintendent Regina Sanford are members of this panel.  Representing Northshore Technical Community College is Chancellor William Wainwright and university president John Crain represents Southeastern Louisiana University.

Programs are being developed and will be developed based on a supply and demand basis, which is why these experts are constantly touching base with local businesses to see what demands will need to be met by the emerging workforce.

“If our school system fails, your business is not far behind,” Folse told the audience.

Wainwright, meanwhile, said educators are constantly consulting with industry and economic development leaders to determine what programs are needed to meet future demand. “The programs we offer are supply and demand driven,” he said.

One of the tools that will be used to assist high school students to reach the next level will be the $10 million science, technology, engineering and mathematics campus that has been built in Lacombe and opened in February of this year. The industries that will be offering programs through this campus are biological sciences, maritime, information technology and business preparation for students interested in moving forward to get a 4-year degree.

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The new community of River Club is located behind the new River Chase commercial development right down the Brewster Road extension near Sam’s club.  An enormous apartment complex is being built out in view of Interstate 12 one exit up from Highway 21 at the Pinnacle Parkway exit. Ron Lee Homes is selling a new, totally custom, unique1657 Ox Bow Painted Beadboard in Foyer home for sale in River club featuring 5,627 total square feet with 4 bedrooms, 3.5 baths, and a game room.  This southern farmhouse-style home is priced at $925,000 has 4,086 living square feet, complete with a 3-car garage, spacious outdoor living and entertainment areas with outdoor kitchen, and a durable metal roof.

In addition to the convenient location of being approximately 1 – 2 miles of shopping at the Pinnacle Nord du Lac shopping complex off of Highway 21, Walk-On’s, a sports bar and restaurant with a rooftop bar is finishing construction in the River Chase commercial district.  The sports bar will be open Monday, September 25th at 11am at its location at 69796 Stirling Blvd.  This is Walk-On's Sports Bar & Restaurantsthe 12th location of Walk-On’s in Louisiana and the first and only one to have a rooftop bar.

Saints quarterback Drew Brees is co-owner of this location with general manager Brandon Mier. He said everything patrons have come to love and expect from Walk-On’s — upscale bar food with a Louisiana twist, an excellent beer selection and a lively, family friendly atmosphere — can be found at the Covington location.

To maintain local loyalty and flair, Walk-On’s has an entire back wall mural with Louisiana legends, and it is using Duece McAlister’s waste management company, Waste Pro, as well as beer supplied by Zach Strief’s brewery, Port Orleans brewery.

“Walk-On’s is really a community driven restaurant,” Mier said. “I can’t tell you how proud and excited I am to introduce Walk-On’s to our city.”

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In the Greater New Orleans area, holiday celebrations abound and are also a very popular tourist attraction.  However, here locally in St. Tammany Parish, there are a few events that always draw a huge crowd and are anticipated by the residents of St. Tammany Parish every holiday season.

For those who call St. Tammany Parish home, they have always looked forward to the Holiday of Lights celebrationHoliday of Lights Cancelled at the Tammany Trace Trailhead on Koop Drive in the city of Mandeville.  Unfortunately, this will not be the case come holiday season this year.  Pat Brister, President of St. Tammany Parish government, informed residents that the two-weekend holiday celebration will be cancelled due to the lack of funds.

This free annual event was enjoyed by residents for 17 years and featured entertainment by local schools, musical and theater performances, caroling, carnival rides, pictures with Santa and a tour of the holiday lights display in the Koop Drive campus. The St. Tammany Parish government was one of two sponsors which Holiday of Lights in St. Tammany Parishfunded the annual event that reportedly cost the parish $75,000 each season.

While this sad news might come as a surprise to the community, parish officials anticipated it as a cut to the St. Tammany Parish operating budget for 2018 which forecasts an $18 million-dollar revenue shortfall. The parish feels there is no way around the budget cut which stems from the failed attempt to renew sales taxes linked to the jail and courthouse.

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A single-story home, commonly called a ranch home doesn’t have to be a “boring box” floorplan.  There are many French Country and French Acadian style homes built throughout the Greater New Orleans area which offer a variety of floorplans that are elegant and stylish while still within the price range of either a first-time home buyer or2-Woodstone, Lot 25 Exterior a fully custom home with all the “trimmings.”  Single-story of ranch style homes also can save homeowners money because their design is easy to make energy efficient without the necessity of cooling and heating the 2nd floor area. With all of the choices of one-story floorplans available from French Country Design to French Acadian Style, home buyers can work with their builder to customize their floorplan design to build a Semi-Custom New Home with selections chosen buy the new home buyer.

Another reason to purchase a ranch style, one-story home is that these homes offer amazing opportunities for empty nesters, baby boomers looking for low-maintenance homes, and young families.  Avoiding having to use stairs or having to clean an entire second story of a house is a detracting factor for home buyers in these categories when it comes to buying a home. In terms of fire safety, it is exterior-1also easier for home buyers in these categories to be able to escape a home through a first-floor window in case of fire or an emergency.  So, a French Country or Acadian-style home may be an attractive home style to purchase.

Ranch-style homes also offer unique floorplan designs that can accommodate a “roommate” floorplan.  This means that the master bedroom can be built on the opposite side of the house, away from the “action” of other family members or visitors to be active in other parts of the house without disturbing those in the master bedroom. This also comes in handy for homeowners that require a home office – this room can be separated from the rest of the house during “office hours.”

A final benefit of buying a one-story, ranch style house is the opportunity to renovate or expand the house if you wish.  Adding an extra room, an addition, or expanding existing space to a one-story home is much easier than building on to a two-story home.  Whether you are making room for a bigger family, adding on studio space or a home office, or upgrading a kitchen, master bath, or great room to make the home more livable, you will have less cost and hassle doing these types of renovations to a one-story home versus a two-story home.

It is your choice as the home buyer as to which type of home is attractive to you, where you and your family can live “happily ever after,” but the options on a one-story, ranch-style home offer many benefits to new home buyers.  Ron Lee Homes offers a huge variety of floorplan designs to accommodate the one-story lifestyle. Contact Us Today to begin your home design process. Call 985-626-7619 or E-mail

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Even though the 10-year statistical snapshot for the parish of St. Tammany includes 2006, a “boom” year for the parish, the snapshot revealed some very good news for residents of St. Tammany Parish, as well as home buyers looking to move into the parish. A report by the St. Tammany Parish Economic Development Foundations shows a St. Tammany Parish Economic Statistics10-year overview of the population, employment, wages, income, housing, and much more.

According to the report, the population increased 26% from 223,062 to 253,603 from 2006 to 2016. The really good news was that total wages increased by nearly 63% from $2.4 billion in 2006 to $3.9 billion in 2016.  Most of the job growth was seen in the science and technology sector, which saw a 40% increase.  Overall, household income increased from $75,016 to $88,614 during the 10-year period, which is an 18% increase.  Science and technology job wages grew from $163 million to $293 million in 10 years, with an average wage of $62,400.

“I think the biggest impact, to me, is knowing the opportunities and wages for science and technology jobs increased so much,” said Brenda Bertus, the foundation’s chief executive officer. “That tells me there are more of those jobs Housing Statistics in 10-Year Reporthere. Those are really good jobs,” Bertus said.

Local real estate companies as well as the U.S. Census & U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis contributed to the statistical data about the residents and economic information in St. Tammany Parish.  They also reported on building and business permits, housing prices, apartment rent, and sales taxes.

After the initial boost of buildling permits just after Hurricane Katrina in 2006, the report showed that housing sales increased around 42% over the last 5 years, and the average rent for apartments went up 38%. Business numbers increased from 6,728 in 2006 to 7,900 in 2016, which is approximately a 17% increase.

Access the Full 10-Year Report Here.

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Financing is one of the biggest factors in buying a new home.  From the appraisal, to the loan application, to the Good Faith Estimate, to the mortgage, to the large amounts of paperwork that get faxed, scanned, and e-mailed; you can almost spend as much time acquiring money to buy your home as you did finding the home itself.  Sometimes searching for a home takes less time & effort! In order to have the best chance at bidding for and putting a contract on the home that you are going to buy, we recommend that you begin with a lender commitment letter which shows12-753 Bedico Creek Gorgeoud Brick Accent Wall your potential seller that you have the financing and ability to close on the loan. This gives you an edge over other home buyers and also dictates the amount of money you are able to spend on a loan.

Before you ever get this letter from your lender, you are going to need to seriously examine your financial situation in order to determine if you are ready to go through the rigorous loan process required most banks and lenders.  In order to do this, you will need to look at the amount of money you make, how long you have made this amount of money, if you are employed and how long you have been at your current employment, how much your monthly bills are (minimum payments on credit cards and fixed loans), and your credit score.

Your credit score should always be a work in progress in your daily life.  Pretty much all of your financial decisions in life affect your credit score, so you are not going to want to just wake up one day and decide to buy a home.  You will want to check your credit score, and if it need improvement, come up with a plan to get rid of all of the negative information on your score before you apply for a mortgage.  The earlier you start on your plan and get your score up, the longer you have a consistent good credit history, the better chance you have at an excellent interest rate and quality loan offering.

If you have low / no credit, there are several things you can do to “get some credit.”  Secure loans and credit cards are a great way to establish credit because these products are designed to report to the credit agency monthly with your 0-324 TerraBella Front Exterioron-time payments.  This establishes that you can maintain payments / credit and also boosts your score.  Another way to work on establishing your credit is to stay super strict on your credit usage.  This means that you should use a low percentage of the credit available to you and make your payments on time. Keeping your “credit utilization ratio” below 30 percent makes the credit agencies “happy.”

Finally, kind of a no-brainer, common sense concept, but you want to get rid of all derogatory marks on your credit.  This includes old utility bills, written off credit cards, old medical bills, and any other reported debts that you owe.  Really working on your credit score is vital to having the best chance at financing a new home loan with a lender or bank.  When you are ready to get started on your home buying process, Contact Ron Lee Homes for Homes for Sale to Build a New, Custom Home.  Call 985-626-7619 or E-mail

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So, you think you got the hard part out of the way when you were able to find a home to buy, in your price range and location, and it’s either a new home or quality home that is perfect for you.  However, before you hand over your precious investment money, there are several items to negotiate that you are going to want to address in the offer that you make on your new home.


In order to make you a more “quality buyer,” you are going to want to have a very good idea as to how much home you can afford.  Before you ever start your home buying process, you should make sure that your income and credit are in order, and you should meet with a lender in order to get a lender commitment letter to use in making the offerDesign of Your New Construction Home on your home.  This letter shows the seller of the home and the Realtor or Realtors involved that you are a real buyer with financial backing who will be able to close on the home in a reasonable time period with minimal hassle.  This will make you a solid prospect, and you may be able to use this to beat out any other interested bids or prospects on the home.

Inspections, Repairs, & a Home Warranty

Unless the home that you are buying is an “as is” purchase, where you are taking the home without any changes, you will want to make sure you get a home inspection.  For the sake of expediency, you may want to put a time limit on the amount of time a seller has to get an inspector and make the inspection of the home. If there are repairs or major systems that have issues, you will want to negotiate the cost of these repairs off of the seller’s price or have the seller repair them before closing.  If the home passes inspection but is an older home or has questionable systems or appliances that will potentially bread down quickly, you can ask the seller to provide a home warranty on the home as part of the items to negotiate.

Closing Date

The sooner that you offer to close on the home, the better as far as any motivated seller can attest.  However, there will be times when a seller is selling and trying to move into another home and may be “stuck” in between the two homes during your home buying process.  In order to make you a “better buyer,” you can offer a short-term leaseReal Estate Closing back as part of your offer which gives you a small break on the purchase price and gives the seller more flexibility in their moving timeline.  Then you and the seller can agree on a fixed closing date that works for both, making you an attractive buyer with your willingness to negotiate to fit their lifestyle.

Closing Costs

In most of the items to negotiate above, you as the buyer are making yourself totally flexible and available to the seller, but don’t forget to take care of you.  If possible, you should ask that the seller help you pay some of the closing costs associated with your home purchase.  They may stick firmly to their selling price, but some sellers will be willing to give a little if they are getting a solid home buyer prospect who will close quickly and work with them on repairs of the home.  Closing costs can add up with the abstract of title, title insurance, deposits into escrow – prorated taxes and insurance – and your loan origination fees, so definitely try to negotiate these costs to get the seller to step up for some of them.  Remember, all the seller can say is “no,” so it doesn’t hurt to ask!

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During a report about the 1st quarter of 2017, the St. Tammany Parish Economic Development Foundation has once again brought great news to the residents of St. Tammany Parish about the economic health of this area of the Northshore.  Building permits for the year 2017 so far show a year-over-year increase of 23.6% compared to 1st quarter 2016 for a total of 319 building permits. In addition to this exponential increase compared to last year’s 1st 1657 Ox Bow Luxurious Master Bathquarter, it also showed a 37.5% increase in building permits compared to the 4th quarter of 2016 (last quarter).

Numerous reports have been bringing the news that May, 2016, saw a decrease in housing inventory on a national scale to just a 2.6 month’s supply, so this drastic increase in building permits is excellent news for home buyers who are entering an extremely tight and competitive housing market in search of a home to buy.

Of the building permits issued, 82 of the permits were commercial building permits, which is a 3.8% increase compared to the first quarter of 2016. The St. Tammany Parish EDF also reported that house sales in the 1st quarter netted 761 houses, which is a 3.8% increase compared the previous year, and the average sales price was $238,068, which is actually slightly less than 2016, which was $238,151 – bucking the national trend.

The number of businesses being incorporated during the 1st quarter of 2016 was 777, which was an astounding 61% year-over-year increase compared to the 1st quarter of 2016.

“Every quarter, we report the number of new domestic entities filed with the Louisiana Secretary of State for St. Tammany Parish,” foundation CEO Brenda Bertus said. “The drastic increases in the months of January and March of 2017 from the same months in 2016 show an increase in growth and stability in St. Tammany.”

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