Home buyers have faced a challenging environment for being able to qualify for home loans since the real estate market crashed over 10 years ago. Since then, the main program offering affordable home loans has been from the Federal Housing Authority which offers FHA loans. Now, government sponsored Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are offering additional loan programs to home buyers with less than stellar portfolios to make it possible for them to buy a home.

One of the programs offered by Fannie Mae is the HomeReady program which allows a credit score as low as 620 or a debt-to-income (DTI) of as much as 50% with only a 3% down payment. While other factors are taken into account of a potential home buyer’s credit profile, these two factors separately don’t automatically decline the home buyer from being able to buy a home. For people who are within the income limits of this loan program, it is a viable alternative to the FHA loan which can incur high mortgage insurance premiums which can last for 5 to 15 years on payments of the loan. This program also counts rental income as a true source of income and allows co-borrowers to be people not actually residing in the home – think a parent or grandparent co-signing on the loan.

Another program that is available is being offered by Freddie Mac. It is called the HomePossible program. It also allows a 3% down payment, and is specifically designed for home buyers with a lower income level. Repeat buyers qualify for this loan program as well. Freddie Mac is also offering a new loan program called HomeOne. HomeOne’s advantages are that there are no income limits, and there are also no geographic restrictions. A credit score of at least 640 is required for this loan, but that it still well below the “perfect” credit score require by a regular conventional loan.

Where before, home buyers had to account for every penny in their bank account before being able to get approval for their loan, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are now allowing home buyers to crowd source fund a down payment for their loan. With home prices going up, a 3% down payment is turning into a higher and higher amount, so being able to raise money to buy a home, just like you would raise money for other things in your life, is a huge advantage. An program called Loftium actually has a unique “forward-thinking” program for home buyers. They allow a home buyer to rent out a room of their home, calculate the potential income for the rental and then “front” a percentage of that income as part of the down payment on the loan. This is a truly innovative way of “getting a home buyer into a home.”

Fannie Mae is also in the trial stages of a lease-to-own program for home buyers where a buyer begins as a renter and then has a deadline to buy the home for an agreed-upon price in a designated number of years. This program is not an official loan program yet, as it is just in the beginning stages.

So, however you are trying to buy your new home, there are programs out there to assist you if you don’t have the upfront money or need a little “mercy” because of bad credit or a high debt-to-income percentage. Ask your lender about these programs to see if you qualify.

For more information about buying a home for sale in St. Tammany Parish, Contact Us Today at 985-626-7619 or Email Info@RonLeeHomes.com.

 

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One of the most important career paths many can take is a job that helps mold and raise the next generation.  St. Tammany Parish public school district sees the importance of its employees and is proposing an increase by $2.8 sttammanypairshschoolteachermillion in salaries for the 2018-2019 school year.

The $235 million that will total the salaries in the district is part of a proposed $416.6 million budget that St. Tammany Parish School Board has agreed to and developed alongside the St. Tammany Federation of Teachers and School Employees.

The district will also use the allotted monies for special revenue funds, capital project funds and debt service funds.  Typically, the School Board accepts a spending plan in September, but this proposed budget is set for the school district’s fiscal year that began July 1, 2018 and will end July 31, 2019.

The money projected for the budget will be granted by the state through the Minimum Foundation Program, State funding, and local funding.  There will be a projected $890,000 increase in the Minimum Foundation Program, with $212.3 million from state funding and local funding will represent $203.8 million of the budget.

This is a reasonable proposal for the St. Tammany Parish Schools.  The district runs 55 schools with more than 5,600 employees and 39,000 students.  According to Superintendent Trey Folse and Director of Business Affairs Terri Prevost, the budget will not affect local sales or property tax revenues.

To learn more information or for any questions you might have about the proposed budget, the School Board has scheduled a public hearing Thursday August 23, 2018 at 6pm. The hearing will be held at the School Board’s office located at 321 N. Theard St., Covington.

 

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Sometimes wording can easily get lost in translation. Thursday, August 9, 2018 questionable wording was the reason for a proposed ordinance to be placed on hold.  Councilman Mike Pulaski stated, “I have no idea what we’re voting on.” According to Mayor Donald Villere, the current way it is written will create unintended problems for residential zoning districts. The Mandeville City Council struggled with what to do with the proposed ordinance that prohibits bed and breakfasts (B&Bs) in a single-family residential neighborhood.

Several community members voiced their concern saying it brought about unnecessary restrictions on use of private property. Even though there were concerns, most of the community are in favor of the prohibition. Acoldmandevillecording to Council Chairman Clay Madden, who sponsors the ordinance, the majority of residents who reside in residential neighborhoods do not want B&Bs in their subdivision. Currently Mandeville’s Comprehensive Land Use Regulation Ordinance allows B&Bs in residential zoned districts. Under the proposed ordinance, B&B’s are prohibited in single-family residential zoning districts, with the exception of Old Mandeville’s Historic Preservation District. The B&B’s that currently reside in residential areas will be grandfathered in.

Councilman John Keller voiced his concerns on “another restriction on people’s property,” and has never heard of any complaints regarding B&Bs until recently.  City officials commented that the issue arose when a recent B&B was permitted by the city’s Planning and Zoning Commission in the New Golden Shores subdivision.

Keller’s comments led to a discussion on individual neighborhood associations allowing B&Bs through convents.  Madden however, says that is not feasible because many of the city’s neighborhoods have allowed their convents to expire or the associations are now inactive.

Once the ordinance is redrafted, the city council will revisit any action on the ordinance.

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Anecdotal evidence shows that home buyers will pay up to 10% more for a home that they buy that is in a good school district.  In fact, many people buy homes in good school districts even in the family planning stages before they ever have kids.  Therefore, if you have children or are planning to have children, and you are interested in your children being able to get into a good school, you will need to make sure you have the time and budget to plan your home or new home search.

The first thing you need to do is to decide whether you want your kids to go to public or private schools.  Private schools don’t have districts, so buying a home in order to be close to a private school or knowing that your child will be attending private school will make your home buying decision more flexible.  If you are planning on sending yourMandeville High School kids to public school, then you need to get serious about figuring out which is the best school district for you, your kids, and your family. It’s not just about test scores and ratings when it comes to schools. There are other factors to consider such as extracurricular activities, sports, clubs, friends and lifestyle expectations.

Once you have narrowed down the school district in which you would like to live, be sure that you have allocated enough time before the next school year to find a new home to buy.  Expect there to be competition for homes going on the market in a good school district.  Because, not only are the homes going to probably sell quickly, there are other benefits to buying in a good school district such as home values which make the homes more desirable and a better real estate investment.

When choosing the right home to buy, make sure that all of your finances are in order.  Get pre-qualified with a realistic lender, so that you look better to the seller once you make an offer.  Being able to close quickly on a home can make a seller more interested in working with you.

Be ready for the price tag of living in a better school district when it comes to property taxes.  Property taxes help pay for your kids’ public school education, but when your home is located in a better district, you “get what you pay for.”  Other than that, buying a home in a really good school district is a way to invest in not only your childrens’ futures but also in your financial future with great equity in the resale value of your home.

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Sometimes you like the idea of having a yard with no boundaries, where you can see everything from your front or back porch with nothing obstructing your view.  Or, if you have pets who also like freedom or maybe neighbors you’d rather not have seeing you, you might want to install a fence in your front yard or backyard.  Believe it or not, getting a fence installed can take quite a bit of work on your part when it comes to selection of material, parameter of the fence, and finding the right fence contractor.

Here are some tips that will help you get started on the process. The look of your fence and its requirements are totally up to you!

Fence Purpose
What is the purpose of your fence? Do you want more privace and need a wood-slatted or vinyl privacy fence? Do you have pets that are just as smart as you are and need a secure fence to keep them from “visiting” everyone else in the neighborhood?  Do you need boundaries for your neighbors where they can see you and you can see them, but1-Lot 48 Terra Bella Exterior they can’t just walk on over?  Whatever type of fence you need, you need to begin there when making the next decision steps of your process.

Materials & Aesthetics
The next thing you will need to decide is how you want your fence to look.  There are several decorative fence styles that are popular in St. Tammany Parish. There is the “farm fence” which is a 1/2 to 2/3 tall fence with horizontal poles or boards, typically painted white.  There is the popluar picket fence which is seen around many homes in Madisonville and Mandeville.  There is the horse fence with is like the “farm fence” but is actually used as a fence to keep horses or cattle in.  This fence typically is taller with more horizontal rails.  It is also popular in north Covington and Folsom.  There is the 6′ or 8′ privacy fence which completely covers the area to make it…private.  You can also upscale your fence with a mixutre of materials including stone columns and wood slats or brick columns and wrought iron pickets.  Whatever type of fence you choose, be sure to be budget conscious and buy what you can afford.

Fencing Cost & Care
Which brings us to the next point – cost. Not only do you need to consider the cost of the materials but also the cost of installation. In Louisiana especially, you need to consider the elements when installing your fence because the weather here can wreak havoc on your materials.  Vinyl, aluminum, brick, & wrought iron will definitely last longer than wood (even treated wood) any day.  Going with a cheaper product, such as landscape timbers, may save you money in the short term, but you will definitely be replacing that fence in the near future.

Map Your Fence
If you are located in a neighborhood, you will want to be very clear where your property lines are located so as not to intrude on your neighbor’s property. That is a definite way to keep the peace between you and your neighbor.  You will also want to walk the proposed fence line with your installer to be sure that he or she is very clear as to where the fence needs to be installed.

Homeowners Association
Some homeowners associations have very strict rules as to where a fence can be constructed and even what materials may be used.  Be sure to check with them before beginning your project to make sure your fence proposal falls into their guidelines.  In some areas, you may have to get a letter from your HOA to get a permit from the city or parish before you begin.

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When building a fully custom home, the sky’s the limit as to what type of features, customizations, materials, and new home design you would like to use.  One of the options that home buyers forget they have is the exterior and interior architectural style that is available to them when designing the facade and different rooms of the home. Architectural style can truly define the way a home looks and feels both on the outside and the inside. The outside look is more obvious, such as the French and Spanish architecture you see on the many homes and townhomes in the French Quarter.  The interior architecture can be more subtle and less well known to other people and even your builder.  If you have your heart set on a specific architecture or floorplan layout based on an architectural style, don’t hesitate to let us know during the floorplan design of your custom home.

Several architectural styles are well-defined and easy to recognize and are listed below:

Mediterranean
Just like it sounds, this type of home makes use of exterior spaces in order to soak up the feel of the Mediterranean (or in this case, the Gulf of Mexico and Lake Pontchartrain in the Greater New Orleans Area).  These types of floorplans will have extensive verandas, courtyards, patios, sun rooms, or covered screened porches. The exterior finish typically includes plaster or stucco with low slope or flat roofs.  Interior details include decorative tile and exposed wood beams.

Southern
In order to compensate for the extreme heat of southern climates, southern architecture emphasizes protecting the exterior of the home with wide covered porches around the entire home, long overhangs, functional shutters, 1657 Ox Bow Gorgeous Modern Farmhousecovered verandas, elevated, open living spaces and sometimes decorative columns in the front.

Modern
Introduced during the ’50’s and 60’s, modern architecture becomes more simplistic with less ornamental design.  Horizontal windows, plain fireplace surround – basically ranch-style homes with low roof lines.  However, this simplicity is offset by high-quality material finishes, such as stone, wood flooring, and marble.

Cottages
Just like they sound, cottages are designed to be smaller, lower maintenance homes with incredible use of square footage space.  The term cottage brings to mind a cramped, small home with a lower mortgage, but builders have been quite innovative in building cottages with excellent use of space in the floorplan. Built-in window seats and shelving utilize empty walls to create more space for “stuff.” A spacious front porch also adds to the size of a cottage home.

At Ron Lee Homes, we have built numerous styles of architecture and have many different floorplan styles from which to choose.  You can bring us your ideas and pictures, and we can design the style of home that you want.  Call 985-626-7619 or E-mail Info@RonLeeHomes to make an appointment to create your floorplan design today!

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As a builder, we offer an in-depth building process from design and layout to the final punchlist.  We try to put ourselves in the shoes of our home buyers to make sure we anticipate the questions and needs you will have during the home building process, especially if this is your first new home build or custom home build.  However, we also want to give you as much industry advice as possible to make sure that you feel comfortable with working with us as a builder. Below are some tips to following when working with a builder.

Use a Realtor Who Represents Your Interests
While we, as a builder, don’t use an on-site sales representative, some builders and developments do.  Make sure that you find a Realtor who is used to working with new home sales and knows the ins and outs of information that you,18-713 Night Heron Backy Entry as a home buyer, will need to know during the building process.  That way, if your builder does not explain something to you in full or there is missing information, your buyer’s representative will know the questions to ask and information to get.

Research Your Builder
One way to know if you are using an excellent, quality builder is to view their work, while it is under construction. As we constantly have new or custom homes under construction, we can take you on a tour of our homes to show you the craftsmanship and quality construction in person and answer any questions you may have. Another way to vette your builder is to read any testimonials or reviews. We have multiple testimonials on our website as well as reviews on social media of our satisfied customers. Finally, we have an extensive list of Completed Projects on our website which show in-depth pictures of the finished homes and remodels we have done.  You can get a a good idea of the features and fixtures that we offer in all of the new homes and custom homes that we build.

Know Your Specs
When you view a completed home or model home of a builder, there may be upgraded features or thoughtful extras 13-713 Night Heron Opulent Master Bathwhich may or may not be included in the floorplan that you select or design.  As a builder, we try to be as thorough as possible to cover every detail in your new or custom home, so that you know exactly what types of features, fixtures, and trim that your home will have once it is built.  However, if you want to go room-by-room asking about the features of each room to ensure that you understand all of the specific details that will be built in your home, we have no problem with that either.

Written Agreement
Once you are comfortable with everything that will be included in your home, make sure that everything we put in our agreement with you is to your complete satisfaction.  We pride ourselves on finishing our projects on time and on budget, barring any unforseeable weather events. Therefore, our agreements have specific budgetary and timeline parameters that are defined specifically in our contracts.  Make sure that if you are working with another builder that they offer you the same.

Building a new home is more complicated than shopping for a previously-owned home. However the flexibility of having choice of selection of flooring, cabinets, countertops, paint colors, fixtures, appliances, and so much more can make the building process a very rewarding experience.  So, whether you use us as a builder or someone else, we hope that you find these tips useful.

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When most people think of a walk-through, they think of buying a new home and walking through with a builder to go over the punchlist of items which need to be completed, tweaked, or fixed before closing on the home.  However, there is another type of walk through that can be done by you as the home buyer which will help you decide if you even want to put an offer in on a home.  And, you don’t have to be an expert at construction to evaluate the merits of the home you are buying – you can just use the common sense tips below and all of your senses!

1. The first thing you will want to notice about a home for sale is how it smells. Some homeowners are smart and will install air fresheners which emit a smell throughout the home, but pay attention to any odors which seem out of place.  This could indicate a long term problem like mildew or decay.

2. Check out the paint job. See how well the paint job has aged and how well it has withstood the test of time.  If it is peeling or chipping, that might mean that there is a problem with moisture or sagging in the construction.

3. Popcorn ceilings COULD be a warning sign, but not necessarily.  Depending on the age of the home, you might want to avoid older homes which have popcorn ceilings because they were originally applied with asbestos material.  Since asbestos is a cancer-causing agent, you will not want to purchase an old house with popcorn ceilings without either absolutely loving the house or having that checked out.

4. Look around at all of the walls, ceilings, and baseboards for the presence of water stains to make sure that there are no leaks in the roof or the exterior siding.

5. How well is the home maintenanced?  This can be a big indicator as to how well the home was taken care of by the current owner.  Just like you want to buy a car with one owner (who took good care of the car and had it 17-713 Night Heron Double Vanities with Undermountsmaintenanced often), the same goes for a house.  If the home has long term cleaning problems or simple problems were not repaired before the home was put on the market, the more likely it is that the home was not maintenanced, which could lead to problems for you as the buyer further down the road.

6. Depending on the part of the country in which you live, as well as the season of the year, keep a lookout for bugs.  In Louisiana, many houses, no matter how well sealed and insulated, may have bugs present in the house, just because of the climate and the weather here.  However, if you can tell there are bug “droppings” and spider webs everywhere, there may be more “leaks” in the actual structure of the home which indicate an energy efficiency problem.

7. Pay attention to the type of floors in the house. Even if you fall in love with the house itself, be mindful of the condition of the floors as they may need to be repaired or replaced in the future.  You will want to be ready and realistic about the cost.

8. Renovations can be a good thing or a bad thing for home buyers.  Properly completed renovations in order to sell the home like new carpeting, an excellent paint job, exterior landscaping, and replacing deck boards or trim can be a good thing.  If the homeowner offers the information about renovations, question that information closely to make sure that it was done correctly, not last minute, and is now completed.  Poorly done construction renovations will not last, and unfinished renovations should be required by your contract to be finished before you close on your home.

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You’ve found or had a builder build your perfect home for you, and now it is time for you to complete the transaction and close on your home.  Closing day, if you have never done it before, can be a nerve-wracking process, so this article will help you with the requirements for that day.

In the original sales contract, there will be a “close-by” date that doesn’t necessarily mean the actual day that you will close on your home. This date is established to make sure that the contract is completed in a reasonable time period that is acceptable to both the buyer and the seller.  That way, there is a deadline to sell or buy the actual home.  TheClosing on Your Home close-by date can be a “goal” of sorts to close on your home. Much will determine the final closing date, mostly the time it takes for the appraisal, loan application, mortgage approval, and a final walk-through if you are building a new home.  The title company is the actual entity which sets up the closing for the home.  A title search / abstract is done on the property or the home itself to ensure that you have a clear title upon closing.  This process can also affect the timing of the closing.

Once the title company and you have received your closing disclosure from the lender, then any financial questions, closing cost questions, or tax questions are answered, and the closing is ready to happen.  The title company and lender work closely together to make sure that both parties are able to make the final closing date. So, ideally, you, as the buyer, should be able to set your closing date, but it typically ends up being more of a lender / title company decision.

In order to avoid additional interest and closing costs, you may want to suggest at the beginning of the process that the closing date be as close to the end of the month as possible.  A closing date after the 20th of the month can move out the date of your first payment and save the cost of daily interest until the first loan payment is due.

Another thing that you can take care of on your end is to make the move from your old place to your new place as smooth as possible. As soon as you can find out your closing date, you can make sure that you will be able to move out immediately afterwards so that you don’t incur anymore charges at the place where you are currently living.

For the closing day itself, you might want to bring your closing disclosure which the lender will typically send you 3 days prior to closing with you on the day of closing.  That way, you can compare what you previously received and the final closing documents to make sure that they match.  Also, if you feel like you will have questions or issues at closing, you can make sure that a representative of the lender and your Realtor (if you used one) shows up at closing to support you.

Buying a new home or a previously owned home can be an exciting adventure, but you will have to be prepared to take care of all of the details of the buying process with the help of your Realtor, the lender and the title company.  Since everyone involved in the transaction benefits financially, don’t hesitate to reach out to them to ask any questions or get the help you need during the closing process.

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They say that investing in real estate is one of the most secure investments you can make. However, many people who have heard this adage and are used to working within the investment system of stocks and bonds can be unsure as to how exactly to go about investing in real estate.  Below are some tips on how, when, and where to begin the real estate investing process.

The first thing you need to do is to make sure that the timing of your investment is right.  For years, since the 11-325 TerraBella Laundry RoomRecession, and slightly before the Recession, interest rates have been at record low and historically low rates. In fact, interest rates are still at low levels compared to the lifelong statistics of interest rates, so now may be a good time to invest in real estate.

The next thing, as an investor, you need to consider is the health of the market in which you are investing.  The way to tell about the health of the market is the stability of home prices, economic opportunity, and employment rates.  Many investors will start with what they know, in an area that they know.  This sometimes means checking out the opportunities around where they live.  Once an investor has taken the plunge on real estate investment, the same formula can be applied to other markets while doing research.

Simply said, areas in which there is strong economic growth, new commercial construction with chain box stores of new chain restaurants being built in an area, that is where residential real estate may soon move in.  The economic studies done by these big companies indicate the opportunity for growth of people and jobs, which will bring them the business and eventually the home buyers.

Another way to tell if growth is happening is the employment rate of an area. The more jobs offered and the more businesses cropping up, the higher the employment rate. Jobs bring people who need to rent or buy homes, which indicates a great place for real estate investment.

Once you have considered the economic and employment factors in residential real estate, the next thing to do is to find the actual real estate itself.  If you are skilled at construction and renovations, the more profit you can make out of a home that needs a little TLC because the cost of buying and “flipping” the home in a sale will be lower for you if you don’t have to higher a construction manager to do the work.  If you don’t have this skillset, you might want to consider a home that might be in foreclosure or a bank-owned home which doesn’t require a lot to get it sale ready.  Looking for deals where you can purchase a house for much lower than appraised value is the name of the game here.

So, wherever you live and whatever your skills, as long as you have good credit, money to invest, and even potential investment partners, there are opportunities to invest in residential real estate is the market conditions are right.

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