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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There are many different types of features that people look for in a previously-owned home, as well as a home that is built custom by a new home builder.  These features can include the type of flooring, the type of cabinetry, the type of countertops, and many other selections.  However, there are other “forgotten” features which can be hidden luxuries in a new home or a resale home which can also add aesthetic value and make a home more valuable.

Whether you are building a new home or buying an already-built home, storage inside a home can be very important.  Any home that has “out-of-the-way” storage is also a great benefit.  Built-in storage shelving in closets,6-22nd Avenue Backlit Cabinetry bathrooms, and planned built-ins around the fireplace or in private office nooks offer surprising and unexpected “hidden” spaces which allow for a homeowner to be able to put things away and not waste space.

Although not very common, another hidden luxury are heated floors.  Heated floors can mostly be found in bathroom areas and other wet areas. Heated floors can be especially wonderful for new homes built custom for older homeowners who appreciate warm floors on older bones.

Many already built homes have this next feature – surround sound.  Many people prefer to install custom systems once they own a home and have placed all of their music and entertainment equipment in specific places throughout the home.  Properly installed, working sound systems can add great value to a home for sale because people can envision how they can use the installed system to fit their needs.  If you are building a new, custom home, you can also have the system installed where it doesn’t affect the walls and flooring because it can be implemented with the electrical system before the walls are erected and finished.

A very popular home luxury which can be found in many newly built homes for sale in West St. Tammany Parish is under-cabinet lighting in the kitchen.  This lighting can be both underneath the lower cabinets and also installed in top cabinets that double as display cases with glass fronts.  This lighting can add an amazing aesthetic value to the kitchen and also is helpful for navigating spaces at night or when you are just getting home from work.

These new home and already built home luxuries are not common, but they are very appreciated by home buyers when they are searching for a home to buy.

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There are many tools that new home buyers can use to prepare to become a homeowner, which were not available even a few years ago.  On the Internet, new home buyers can access home loan calculators, tax appraisals, pre-qualification opportunities, and constant credit monitoring.  Some new home buyers may not realize that the last item – credit monitoring – is one of the most important factors that lenders use to determine eligibility for a new home loan.  Staying on top of your credit right before you are about to buy a home is the most important thing you will need to do unless you are planning on being able to purchase a new home for sale with cash.

If you have the availability, sign up for a free credit monitoring agency which will not only be able to constantly inform you about your credit report, but it will also alert you if there are any changes to your credit report.  You are Credit Scoregoing to want to know exactly where you stand with your credit when you go to apply for a loan.

If you check your credit report, and you see items on it that you don’t recognize, be sure to immediately report those errors to the credit agencies so that they can be removed.  Any good credit monitoring company will have information where you can dispute items on any of the three credit agencies’ reports.  You will need to have as clean a credit report as you can when applying for a home loan.

Finally, if there are legitimate items on your credit report which need to be addressed or paid, you will want to be sure to take care of those before applying for a loan.  Some banks won’t approve you for a loan with derogatory marks on your credit report.  Others will give you a loan, but it will be for a higher interest rate than you would have gotten with a better credit rating.

Credit is the biggest factor in getting a home loan, but don’t forget that you will need to have enough income to qualify for a home loan. Make sure you know how much you qualify for before going out to search for a house, so that you don’t go out of your price range during your search.

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In case you haven’t been “in the market” to buy a home in a very long time, now its as easy as a touch of your finger to begin the search for the perfect home you wish to buy.  However, this article gives you some helpful tips on how to process and move forward with the information that you find online during your home buying process.

Before you even get started with buying a home, make sure you know what type of home that you want.  That doesn’t just mean, bedrooms, bathrooms, square footage, and location, although those are pretty much mandatory pieces of1-196 Bedico Creek Exterior information you will need when searching for a home to buy.  Make a list of the items that you can and can’t “live without.”  If you definitely need a space for an office, make sure that the home you are buying has a room with enough outlets and phone lines to install your office equipment and hook up a modem.  If you need a lot of cabinets in your kitchen, make sure that you put that on the list and don’t settle for a home that has a kitchen which won’t be functional for you.  When you have your list of of absolute must-have’s, then make sure you know how much home you can afford so that you can find a home that not only fits your needs but fits in your budget.

Once you have established the exact type of home that you want, start your real estate search online.  There are hundreds of websites out there which carry what is called an IDX feed, which is access to the MLS feed (Realtor listings) of all homes for sale in your area.  By using a useful website, you can actually sort the homes for sale by bedrooms, baths, square footage, and price.  Once you have sorted down the homes which fit your basic requirements, you can view multiple pictures of the homes for sale to see what type of features they include.

After utilizing all of these preliminary tools, you may consider hiring a Realtor who can take you around, get you 9-196 Bedico Creek Stand-Alone Tubaccess to homes for sale, educate you on parts of town, school districts, and realistic pricing.  A Realtor should have their finger on the pulse of the real estate market and should be well-informed on where homes with your price range and parameters may be located. Also, a Realtor can assist you throughout the entire buying process as well.

When you are doing your preliminary research, be sure to pay attention to any open house information you may see about homes in which you are especially interested.  It is also advised that you drive the neighborhoods in which you are interested, as well as the surrounding area to see if they are going to fit your lifestyle as well as your budget.

All of these tools should help you make an informed and intelligent decision about the home you wish to buy.  These tips should also get you as close as possible to any existing home on the market which is in your price range, with the features you want, where you and your family can be happy.

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The housing market has completely rebounded and nationally home prices have risen 49.9% according to CoreLogic. The next challenge that builders have been facing is a labor shortage in the construction market and an increase in materials, especially after this year’s hurricanes and wildfires.  To offset this cost, builders and developers alike have been looking at setting a new trend called densification.  This basically means that because of the scarcity of lots available to build, builders and developers must divide up the lots that they can purchase to put more houses on each0-22nd Avenue Exterior Overview lot, thus reducing the overhead cost and property taxes per house that they build.

Home prices have come completely back to the record high that they were in August, 2006, before the housing market crashed.  For this reason, it is lucrative to be in the home building and real estate industries right now. However, depending upon what market you are in, home prices may have been on a continual increase, or some builders may have seen a volatile up and down trend in their local community’s home prices.

According to the Census Bureau’s Survey of Construction (SOC), the following statement was issued.

“The median lot size of a new single-family detached home sold in 2016 stands at 8,562 square feet, or just under one-fifth of an acre. This is a new record low and a small decline since 2015, when the median lot size fell under 8,600 square feet for the first time since Census Bureau’s Survey of Construction (SOC) started tracking the series for single-family detached homes.”

By reducing overhead costs, builders and developers will be able to make more profit. Thus, shrinking lot sizes is one answer to reducing these costs.  However, some communities have covenants which require a certain lot size, or pre-engineered plans have delineated the size and scope of the lot and house in new developments, so the trick is to be a crafty business professional and seek out opportunities to rezone lots to a smaller size.

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A jointly sponsored survey from the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) and Wells Fargo to a selection of builders in the United States rates builder confidence in three different areas: current sales conditions, prospective buyers, and expectations for future sales. The results of this survey are published each month in the NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index (HMI). Any rating by builders that is higher than 50 is considered a positive sign. During October, 2017, the builder confidence index rose to a total of 68 for all three categories, which is the highestBuilder Confidence level it has been since May of this year.  March – June are considered some of the best months for real estate, so to have this high of a score during October from builders is a very positive sign for the real estate industry as a whole.

“This month’s report shows that home builders are rebounding from the initial shock of the hurricanes,” said NAHB Chairman Granger MacDonald, a home builder and developer from Kerrville, Texas. “However, builders need to be mindful of long-term repercussions from the storms, such as intensified material price increases and labor shortages.”

It is also interesting to note that builder confidence is so high when the hurricanes have eaten up a lot of the construction labor available to builders with flood restoration and home repair.  Some construction companies have one year and year and a half waiting lists for hurricane-related home repairs. In fact, the typical number of new home permits issued in Houston in a year has been surpassed by the number of permits requested for home repairs.

The price of lumber is also up 21% and is expected to continue to rise. However, builders are also seeing a surge in demand for new homes after the hurricanes, so this has probably helped with builder confidence levels during this month.

The exact numbers of the three survey factors are as follows: current sales conditions rose five points to 75. Sales expectations over the next six months also rose five points to 78. The component measuring buyer traffic rose just one point to 48 and is the only measure in negative territory.

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If you have been able to purchase a new home, and you were able to afford a little less space than expected, there is no reason why your new home has to look or feel crowded, even if you have less square footage. Below are some tips to help you expand the look and feel of your newly purchased home.

1. Even if you like a lot of light, overhead lighting illuminates a room too much and actually emphasizes the size of the room. This means that if the room is smaller than you would like, excess lighting will reveal this. It is recommended that you use smaller lamps and focused lighting on the areas of the room in which you will occupy or spend the majority of your time. Table lamps and unique lighting selections can also make your decorating eclectic and inviting.

2. Color coordination – maybe a small palette of just a few colors – will make the house seem to “flow” together 12-22 Madisonville Oaks Master Bedroominstead of using a different color in every room.  By using too drastically different of colors, you are highlighting the fact that every room is separate, which may make the focus on the room size more stark. With a blended palette throughout, your room spaces may blend together more seamlessly.

3. Some people think that getting a shower enclosure is a good way to create more space in the bathroom. However, by installing a shower door, you only are creating two cramped spaces instead of a larger vanity area space. By installing a panel that can open, which only covers 1/3 to 1/2 of your shower space, you are creating a versatile space between your vanity area and your shower area.

4. When choosing your decor, think, small and delicate in order to utilize your cubic space instead of your square footage.  Oversized couches, beds, and bedroom furniture can take up all of your space and make the rooms seemed cramped and tight to move around. Have fun choosing decorative furniture that is simple in design and takes up less space.

5. If you have the ability, try to use all light colors in your kitchen, including your kitchen cabinets. Dark cabinets make a room seem much smaller, especially if your kitchen cabinets go all the way to the ceiling. Even though the storage space is great, the cabinets will seem to “swallow” the room, and a lighter color may deflect this feeling. If your cabinets don’t go all the way to the ceiling, and you have your heart set on dark cabinets, try using a sharply contrasting wall color (black and white) to set off the cabinets and give them a more aesthetic appeal.

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Located between N. Columbia Street and N. Florida Street is a slight street in Covington, Louisiana’s downtown district named Hotel Alley.  Streets in the historic district of Covington, formerly known as Division of St. John, are laid out in unique patterns of squares within squares called ox lots. This peculiar design is how the downtown district got placement on the National register of Historic Places in 1981.  The main streets, laid out horizontally, are accessed by alleyways.  That is how this particular street – Hotel Alley – came to be named.  Now, the St. TammanyArt Alley Covington Art Market Art Association is planning on completely “renovating the street,” and renaming it: Art Alley.

Art Alley, currently a strip of asphalt, will be getting a new look, complete with cafe-style lighting overhead, connecting between the Art Association’s Art House and the H.J. Smith & Sons General Store and Museum; a lit-entry archway, a mural, and removable bollards to close off the street for special events. The special event, which will benefit from this street renovation is the Covington Art Market.  This year’s Covington Art Market will be held on October 7, 2017, from 9am – 1pm at the new Art Alley location.  Formerly located at the Covington Trailhead, the October Art Market will feature artists: Susan Carver, Wess Foreman, Julie Katich, Richard Lo Piccolo, Linda McNeely, Jeffrey Minzey, Ruth Ostarly, Allison Radtke, Jason Ronquillo, Kristy Ruffino, Robert Wagner and Chuck Wright.

“Throughout the United States, cities of all sizes are embracing what’s known as ‘Creative Placemaking,’ the art of transforming ordinary spaces into extraordinary places that promote a sense of community, spark commerce and enhance areas by creating cultural hubs of activity,” said Kim Bergeron, STAA’s executive director.

The October Covington Art Market is also doing something a little different.  They are partnering with American Art Therapy Association and the South Texas Art Therapy Association to provide hurricane relief efforts to children affected by Hurricanes Harvey and Irma.  The visitors of the Art Market can contribute to an art supply drive which will then be donated to those children in need. The effort is being spearheaded by Jaclyn Warren MS, ATR-BC, a STAA Artist Advisory Board member and president of the Louisiana Art Therapy Association. Colored pencils, crayons, cay-pas, unruled journals and sketchpads, and coloring books are just some of the supplies that can be donated.

“We hope the community sees the possibilities that Art Alley offers and embraces our efforts to bring that vision to reality,” Bergeron said. “And, of course, a visit to the art market is an opportunity to discover new talents and to celebrate our community’s artists.”

For more information, call 985.892.8650 or visit www.sttammanyartassociation.org.

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