They always say that investing in real estate is a wise investment.  Since we don’t know who “they” are, people can be skeptic of this saying, but in the case of the current real estate market in 2015, investing in real estate is a wise investment for many reasons.

The first reason is the interest rates.  Interest rates hit the lowest they have ever been during 2013 thanks to the Fed’s bond buying program which artificially lowered housing interest rates in order to stimulate economic growth.  lot-120-maison-1Fortunately the maneuver worked, and the economy has since begun to slowly grow back towards its normal employment rates and GDP rates.  When this began to happen, interest rates went back up, but only by 1% or 1.5% depending on the month of the year of 2014 that you were looking at interest rates.  The rates out there are STILL at historic lows, so low in fact that you may want to consider using these interest rates in order to invest in a second home or a real estate investment.

The second reason it is wise to invest in real estate right now is because of the selection and pricing of homes on the market right now.  Once the economy shifted and people’s funds started to increase again from being depleted by the Recession, home prices started to rise at a rapid rate.  For 6 months out of 2014, home prices increase by many whole percentages every month.  However, home pricing is not totally back to normal in all markets.  Depending on where you are looking to possibly make a real estate investment or purchase a second home, you may still be able to get a deal on a home at a lower than normal price.  When the market fully recovers, you could see a good bit more appreciation than you would in a normal market with normal pricing.

When looking to purchase a second home or make a real estate investment, you should definitely do your homework extensively especially if you are still paying on a mortgage for your primary residence.  Below are some helpful tips on the steps to take when purchasing a second home.

1. Research Your Market: If you are savvy enough to find out everything you can on the Internet, or if you live close to the location where you are thinking about purchasing a new home, condo, or townhome, then you should be able to at least narrow down where you think that you will be making a good investment.  However, it is strongly recommended that you work with a local Realtor in the area in order to find out the best neighborhoods, which communities may have lost their value, comps in subdivisions in the area, and what homes are going to either retain their value or appreciate over time.  A qualified and experienced Realtor should definitely be able to help you out with this information.

2. Know Your Insurance Requirements: If you are looking to buy a second home in the Greater New Orleans area or Gulf Coast areas, keep in mind that you will run into issues getting both homeowner’s insurance and flood insurance if you are purchasing say a beach home or a home in a flood zone.  Before moving forward to aggressively on a purchase, you will want to go ahead and get quotes for insurance on the home or property to make sure that you can afford the escrow on the 2nd mortgage.

3. Research a Good Mortgage: In today’s market, credit has loosened up some, but it is still pretty difficult to quality for a home loan.  Be ready to have cash at closing.  To qualify for an excellent interest rate, you will want to consider putting at least 10% down on the home to drive up the equity.

“It is relatively easy to qualify for a second-home financing,” Bill Banfield, a Quicken Loans vice president says. “There is still a 10 percent down financing option. You can even get cash-out on a second home. There is jumbo financing for a second home. It is a very liquid market.”

4. Be Aware of Taxes: Since you are purchasing a second home, you will not be able to claim homestead on the home unless you make that home your primary residence.  When choosing a location to buy, you may consider buying a home, condo, or town home on the “fringe” of  a popular market in order to save on taxes.

If you are in the market for a 2nd home in St. Tammany Parish in the Greater New Orleans area, Contact Ron Lee Homes to discuss your home building plans.  Call 985-626-7619 or E-mail

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Floorplan design is the most essential part of the home building process, and Ron Lee Homes takes great care and pride in offering unique, beautiful semi-custom and fully custom floorplan designs for our clients.  Ron Lee has been009_mls designing and building state-of-the art new homes in St. Tammany Parish for over 20 years.  His hands-on approach to his projects has not only exponentially increased his knowledge of home building techniques that are both technology savvy and energy efficient but also stylish and elegantly beautiful.  He has found that even the smallest details such as matching tile choices for flooring and backsplashes as well as crown molding and built-in cabinetry trim selections can create a stunning display of craftsmanship and workmanship in the homes that he builds.

With this standard in mind, Ron Lee Homes has recently hired Cheryl Murphy, a design specialist who worked for many years with Floor to Ceiling off of Florida Street in Mandeville, Louisiana.  The purpose of adding her to the team at Ron Lee Homes is so that we can offer an even more specialized design service experience for our customers 003_mlswhile they are building their home with us, or if they have an individual remodeling or renovation project that they need handled.  Many people may have heard of making “selections” during the home building process.  Some builders offer minimal selections such as carpeting colors, tile design choices, paint colors, siding colors, etc.  For the homes built with Ron Lee Homes, our custom home design process can be extensive, and the choice of selections can be “dizzying.”  That is where Cheryl Murphy will take over and make the process of navigating the selection choices a more manageable and pleasant experience for the custom home building part of her job.

With her background at Floor to Ceiling, Cheryl was a designer who helped home buyers, renovators, and remodelors find the perfect selections for their kitchen, bath, cabinetry, and flooring.  From wood styles and colors, to kitchen cabinetry, countertops, fixtures, and appliances, to flooring choices, Cheryl will use her instinctive design skills to help clients choose the perfect blend of color, textures, and styles to make their project the very best that it can be both architecturally as well as aesthetically.  In addition to the construction aspects of the renovation and remodeling projects, Cheryl also excels at helping her clients choose accessories such as bathroom furniture, rugs, floor coverings, blinds, drapes, and other window treatments, and even specific requests such as wall art, sculptures, and stand-alone pieces.  Lighting packages are also a specialty of Cheryl Murphy’s design skills.  She can help clients completely change the look and feel of the room that they are remodeling by completely changing the lighting scheme throughout.

So, whether you are building and designing your home with us as a semi-custom or custom home project, or you have a smaller remodeling or renovation project, you will have the expert assistance of Cheryl Murphy with Ron Lee Homes to help you make the perfect selections for you and your project.  For More Information About Renovations and Remodeling by Ron Lee Homes, Call 985-626-7619 or E-mail

Two major shifts have entered the real estate industry in the last 15 years – a rise in the demographic of Millenials, a group of young professionals who followed Generation X and are now graduating college and establishing careers in today’s economy and a rise in the number of downsizing Baby Boomer households which is expected to sky rocket in the next 10 years in addition to the impact that it is already having on the housing industry.

The Baby Boomer generation is considered those citizens who were born from right after World War II to right in the middle of the Vietnam War in the mid ’60’s.  Much news has been covered about this generation and its impact on social security and healthcare costs, and builders and developers alike have been given a “head’s up” as to the needs and preferences for homes that they would like built to match their lifestyles and habits.  Because of the quickly changing technology in today’s world, many of this generation have an established and sometimes expert knowledge of this technology.  Therefore, their expectations of “smart devices,” “smart homes,” energy efficiency and green building, and other state-of-the-art building techniques will have an effect on those builders who are interested in providing new homes for these buyers.

Some of the particular features that are trending for the Baby Boomer generation are listed below:

Home Offices: During the Recession, many employers started allowing flex-hours and working from home in order to cut back on salary costs and retain their good employees.  Therefore, many people got used to having home offices and were able to utilize the open commerce of the Internet such as eBay to supplement their income.  This income could last them into retirement as well.

Tech/Media Centers: Because of their knowledge of technology, having to grow with the next generation in knowledge in order to compete in their workplace, many Baby Boomers will have an impressive array of high-tech media, surround sound, Wifi accessibility, and BlueRay players to be installed in a state-of-the art media room or just their family room.  Builders need to be ready to adapt to a complicated wiring system in these rooms.

Flex Space: As Baby Boomers get older, and they no longer want to or have the ability to continue working or “playing with technology,” their living space needs to be accommodating to their changing lifestyles. That is where flex space comes in – making rooms flexible to be used in different ways based on the needs of the occupant – a library or home office can become a guest room or downstairs sick room for people unable to use the stairs anymore.

First Floor Bedrooms and Bathrooms: This feature mainly refers to the downstairs master suite if the home is a two-story home.  Normally, however, builders find that many Baby Boomers are looking to downsize and get into a smaller square footage home that doesn’t require such a high amount of upkeep.  Ron Lee Homes has many garden homes that we build both in TerraBella Village and Bedico Creek Preserve in St. Tammany Parish that are perfect, low-maintenance homes for Baby Boomers.

Easy to Maintain Exteriors/Landscaping: In addition to having a smaller square footage home that is easier to clean and less space to maintain, garden homes are typically built on smaller lots which have less yard space and landscaping.  Also, Ron Lee Homes has built many gorgeous courtyard homes that have an attached, private courtyard that is simply part of the homes architectural construction.  This low-maintenance, beautiful design is perfect for an individual or couple who is/are not interested in spending a lot of time working in their yard.

As a builder located in St. Tammany Parish, Ron Lee Homes has been building homes for all ages and generations for over 20 years.  We are able to accommodate any of the latest technology designs and are ready to custom-build the home of your dreams.  For More Information, Call 985-62-7619 or E-mail

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The month of July, 2014, bodes well for the health of the real estate market in the United States according to the National Association of Home Builders.  1st quarter, 2014, construction numbers were cause for alarm after a harsher-than-normal winter essentially shut down the construction industry and crippled recovery numbers for the housing industry.  2nd quarter of 2014 began to show a slight increase in home construction permits and new starts, but July numbers had analysts breathing a sign of relief when housing starts increased by 8.3% year-over-year for July and a 15.7% increase from June’s dip in new housing starts.  There were housing starts increases for 3 out of 4 regions in the U.S., with one market – Midwest “breaking even” and matching typical national averages for this time of year.

Construction starts were especially fantastic for multi-family construction which reached 437,000, the highest since February, 2006.  Multifamily construction permits were at 412,000 which was a 21.5% increase from June, when starts and permits dipped slightly.  Overall, building permits were up 8.1% over June’s permit numbers, and single-family home building permits were up 3.9% over July, 2013.

Meanwhile, housing affordability went down slightly in the 2nd quarter.  Anything that goes down in the housing industry – except for interest rates, taxes, and insurance – has, in this uncertain housing market, been a cause for alarm.  However, the dip in affordability actually pushes the real estate market to pre-2000’s numbers in home pricing and affordability.  Markets in the United States are evaluated for their affordability based on the median income and monthly home sales numbers.  In June, home affordability was slightly over 65%.  In July, this number dropped almost 3 points to 62.6%.  The latest readings reflect a slow but steady march toward historically normal appreciation and interest rates, producing a more typical HOI.  The HOI is the Housing Opportunity Index that is monitored and produced by a partnership between the National Association of Home Builders and Wells Fargo.  More good news is that interest rates actually did go down in July from 4.57% to 4.44%  This was good news for the refinance market where homeowners were waiting to see if interest rates would end up dropping again.

Overall, the NAHB is predicting that the real estate market will continue to thrive at least to the end of 2014.  Locally, home prices continue to rise in the New Orleans area. Small and medium-sized businesses have steadily been moving into the Central Business District (CBD), which has caused an influx of employees and a rise in demand for housing in downtown New Orleans areas.  Many Realtors and owners have become embroiled in bidding wars, just 24 hours after homes have gone on the market.  Real estate activity throughout the rest of the Greater New Orleans area has seen a steady increase with higher than normal sales numbers in busier real estate months of the year.

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According to the National Association of Realtors (NAR), home prices and new home prices are beginning to level off.  Prices are still on the rise – 4.4% in the second quarter of 2014, over the same time in 2013.  However, this increase is still less than the 1st quarter price increases from 2013 which was an 8.3% increase.  When the housing market began its recovery, home prices skyrocketed causing major concern in interested parties.  The worry was that the prices would increase so much, they would create another housing bubble.  All throughout 2013, the real estate market technically “recovered,” and now with the slow in housing price increases, the market may finally be stabilizing.

Another important and vital factor to the stabilization and sustained health of the housing market is the increased pace of new home construction.  Builders providing a selection of new home inventory allows buyers to have more of a choice in the house that they would like to buy.  A lack of supply increases demand which raises prices.  With a full inventory of homes for sale, demand is stabilized, so prices come back to an industry average which helps with price stabilization. Total inventory of existing homes reached 2.3 million by the end of June 2014. That was 6.5 percent more than a year ago.

Due to a harsher than normal winter, home sales fell behind approximately 5% in the 1st quarter of 2014, but in the 2nd quarter new home sales and home sales increased.  Real estate sales are expected to match or even exceed sales number of 2013.  In 2011 and 2012, a lot of the sales were “playing catch-up” with the existing inventory which had sat for awhile after the collapse of real estate in 2008. 2013 seemed to reflect one the first “normal” years post-Recession.

In St. Tammany Parish, pricing did fall slightly in the slower years, but for the most part, homes in Mandeville, Covington, Madisonville, and Abita Springs held their value except for hard-hit pockets here and there.  From the point of view of a builder, our buyers get a substantial “bang for their buck” when building a new custom home with Ron Lee Homes in St. Tammany Parish. You can view the types of Projects we build as well as find out more information about our Homes for Sale by Contacting Us directly at 985-626-7619 or E-mailing

Builders nationwide are the life-source of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB).  The input of builders nationwide has helped this organization keep its finger on the trends of the housing market.  Feedback from its members has made the NAHB a truly representative organization which has been strong valued and listened to in Congress.  Sweeping legislative changes have either been pushed through or reversed because of the input of small to medium-sized, to large, production builders in small and large markets throughout the United States.  In order for the NAHB to stay in touch with how housing trends are shaping up in all regions of the country, the Association, along with lending institute Wells Fargo conducts a monthly survey to evaluate builder confidence in the real estate market.

Their results are published each month in the NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index (HMI).   The survey allows points for builders’ attitudes toward the following three real estate topics: current sales conditions, prospective buyers, and expectations for future sales.  Any “score” that is higher than 50 is considered good – that builders are feeling positive about the housing market.  With a slight dip in the HMI score earlier in 2014, builder confidence rose 4 points in June, 2014 to 49.  In July, however, the numbers strongly rebounded again with builder confidence rising to 53. Builder confidence numbers have not been above 50 since January, 2014, so the sharp increase in 2 months is a good indication that builders are feeling better about the real estate industry in general.

All three HMI components posted gains in July. The index gauging current sales conditions increased four points to 57, while the index measuring expectations for future sales rose six points to 64 and the index gauging traffic of prospective buyers increased three points to 39. The housing inventory also currently stands at 4.5 months, which is “typical” for a normal housing market.  During the worst parts of the Recession, inventory would sometimes climb to a 16-month to 24-month inventory depending on different regions of the country.

Locally in St. Tammany Parish, new home sales and resales have both been higher than 2013, which has been an indication of a stronger-than-ever housing market.  Ron Lee Homes is currently taking orders for new and custom home designs for interested buyers.  Contact Us at 985-626-7619 or E-mail

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As a builder, Ron Lee Homes typically sells homes that are higher both in square footage in price range, but no builder is complete unless he / she considers all of the people for which we may be able to build a new home.  Homeownership has to begin for most Americans at some point, and the market for brand new home buyers is called the first time home buyer.  Building in St. Tammany Parish for over 20 years, Ron Lee Homes spent a lot of the first 10 years of our business building charming and unique, smaller square footage homes for first time home buyers.  A wonderful article clearly explains the types of strategies that all builders need to implement when they are providing inventory for the first time home buyer.  Use these ideas and strategies when you are shopping your new home builder.

1. As a new home buyer, you should definitely shop for builders who are wise about their land choices.  Building a new home further out or in an established neighborhood will help you with the cost of your lot.  Because your new home purchase doesn’t just include the four walls of your home, you will need to shop lot and land costs in your local area for the best value in a safe subdivision or community.

2. Even if your home is a scaled-down version of the fully custom home that you want to build for yourself someday, the appearance of your new home doesn’t have to be scaled down.  Builders can enhance the attractiveness of a smaller more economically priced home by increasing the home’s curb appeal.  Curb appeal is the way a home looks from the curb – landscaping, sodded front yard, brick or stone accents on the front of the home, a concrete driveway / sidewalk, or even an attractive front porch can add to the beauty and buyer interest of the home.

3. It’s all about your floorplan.  Even a 1,200 – 1,300 square foot home can be made to look and feel larger because of the type of floorplan that a builder builds.  Open spaces, such as a continuous kitchen to living room to dining room layout will make the home “breath,” as well as let in a lot of light.

4. Remarkably, building using green builder techniques can save the builder money as well as offer cost savings to home buyers.  If builders look into green building techniques which save time as well as materials costs, they can then offer the end user – you, the buyer, savings on electricity bills, which will make the new home more “sellable” and attractive.

5. Accessories, accessories, accessories – nothing can have more emphasis than the right accessories.  Simple trimmings for a first-time home buyer home, such as light dimmers, vaulted and/or treyed ceilings, frosted shower or cabinet doors, and built-in shelfs or small bookshelves can be added for low cost but add an aesthetic value to the home for the new home buyer.

6. While a builder wants to offer every buyer the amazing experience of being a part of the building process, builders can save money and save buyers a headache by offering important, yet limited design choices.  Buyers want to feel engaged by their builder, but if they are purchasing a new home for the first time, they may become overwhelmed by all of the choices that go into designing the new home.  Possibly keep choices to just flooring type, countertop color / design, and cabinet colors / styles, using a neutral yet warm and inviting wall color with contrasting trim throughout the home.

7. When you are interviewing your new home builder, try to find out who will actually be working on the building of your new home.  Good builders will have quality, experienced leadership staff as well as vendors with whom they have had ongoing and reliable relationships for many years.  As a builder, you want to make sure you can cut your costs as low as possible, but you don’t want the “cost-cutting” builder who gets new estimates from any and every sub around every time he builds a home.  The quality of the work may suffer in order to cut $100 – $1,000 here and there.

We hope these tips have been helpful.  Ron Lee Homes does build new homes that are a little larger in square footage and price, so we would love to offer our services to those first-time home buyers that are ready to move into or build their 2nd or even 3rd home.  Please contact us at 985-626-7619 or E-mail for any information you may need.


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Ron Lee Homes, a St. Tammany Parish builder which builds new, custom homes in the cities of Mandeville, Covington, Madisonville, and Abita Springs, has been consistently building what the industry terms “McMansions” on the Northshore of New Orleans for over10 years.  Now, a report has been released by the National Association of Home Builders that shows that the percentage of larger homes built since 2005 has significantly increased.

014_mlsThe AVERAGE size of new homes in 2013 is 2,600 square feet, which is up from the “housing bubble years” when it was 2,400 square feet.  Ron Lee homes builds many new homes which range from 3,200 – 6,000 square feet.  This group of homes, homes which are in the range of 4,000 square feet and up is called “mega homes.”  The percentage of mega homes built has increased almost 3% since 2005 – at 9%, up from 6.6%.   And, homes ranging in size from 3,000 – 4,000 square feet has increase from 15.6% in 2005 to 21.7% in 2013.

One factor which does affect and skew the statistics is the fact that first-time home buyers are having a difficult time qualifying for a new home.  Because of the Great Recession, students who graduated from college with an expectation of how the job market would assist them with future income found themselves without a entry-level career job and mountains of student loans.  During the Recession, the housing industry saw a huge increase of 20 – 30-year-old people moving back in with parents, friends, or relatives because of the lack of employment which would help them pay their bills.  So, with the lack of income, heightened debt, andlot-120-maison-1 many builders completely “stalling” on putting new inventory on the ground, the first-time housing market declined to 4% in 2013 compared to 9% in 2005.  A single-family, first-time home size is 1,400 square feet or less.

St. Tammany Parish’s population constitutes home buyers with a slightly higher-than-average income level, so the building of 3,000 – 4,000 square foot and “McMansions” trends normally in this area.  Even during the slower real estate years past, the business of building for Ron Lee Homes truly showed this trend with new and custom homes being built with more accessories as well as larger square footage.  For more information about building your new, custom home in St. Tammany Parish, Contact Ron Lee Homes at 985-626-7619 or E-mail

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Surprising facts about the new construction market reveal that green building is becoming a large percentage of single-family and multi-family construction projects. A report released by McGraw Hill called the Construction’s Dodge Construction Market Forecast states that single-family construction and multi-family construction account for 45% of the value of construction projects in the United States in 2014. A separate report released in the Forecast, “Green Multifamily & Single Family Homes: Growth in a Recovering Market,” shows that in 2014, 62% of single-family builders and 54% of multi-family builders have 15% of their business that is green building. Those numbers are supposed to increase by 2018 to 84% and 79% respectively.

Probably unknown to most people, green building has become so popular that there is a segment of the single-family builder market which is building over 90% of its projects with green building techniques. That percentage is 19%, and the report stated that this number was expected to double to 38% by 2018. Green builders have found that government incentives and grant money is available for those builders that utilize green building techniques. This has “inspired” business men and women to employ these techniques, and over the past 10 – 15 years, the market has come to a certain level of expectation when it comes to green, environmentally friendly new construction.

The report by McGraw Hill showed that the consumer market believes that green building shows a higher quality of home as well as a greater value of home and therefore will pay more for this quality. 73% of single family builders (up from 61% since the last report) and 68% of multifamily builders say consumers will pay more for green homes.

“This new study demonstrates phenomenal growth in green building, with more builders engaging in sustainable building practices than ever before,” said NAHB Chairman Kevin Kelly, a home builder and developer from Wilmington, Del. “While growth in green in the single family market is driven more by high quality and customer demand, the multifamily market is more driven by cost factors such as the availability of government or utility incentives, as well as enhancing their competitive position and corporate image. All are compelling reasons for the industry to engage with this continuously growing market.”

Ron Lee Homes in St. Tammany Parish is a Certified Green Builder – a designation earned from the National Association of Home Builders. Ron Lee constantly is educating himself and his staff to employ innovative green techniques in all homes built in Mandeville, Covington, Madisonville, and Abita Springs, Louisiana. For more information about building your new custom home by Ron Lee Homes, Contact Us at 985-626-7619 or E-mail


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At Ron Lee Homes, we will build you a new home or a new, custom home either on a subdivision lot or on your own lot.  Or, we can build your new home with a floorplan that you designed.  Or we can design your floorplan as well as build your new home from the ground up.  If you are interested in building the home of your dreams, but you don’t have a lot or a floorplan, national trends are starting to show that rural042_mls lots and developments will help new home buyers save money on the cost of the land on which they are planning to build their new homes.  These lots and neighborhoods are considered rural, but they still may be located very close to small retail shopping centers or even distributed between grocery stores and large shopping areas which may be as much as 5 – 10 miles away.

There are several subdivisions in St. Tammany Parish right now that have affordable lot costs, are located a little farther away, but are very close to shopping and dining on the I-12 Corridor.  These communities include the following: Bedico Creek Preserve (located off of Hwy. 1085 off of 1077), Maison du Lac (located off of Bootlegger Rd. off of Hwy. 21), TerraBella Village (also off of Bootlegger Rd. off of Hwy. 21), and Eagle Landing (located off north on 1077 above Madisonville).  All of these communities offer lots for sale as well as new homes for sale built buy quality builders in St. Tammany Parish.  Ron Lee Homes builds homes in Bedico Creek, Maison du Lac, and TerraBella Village.

Keep in mind that when you are purchasing a new lot, there are several requirements to consider:

  1. Decide on the square footage of your new home, and if you do not already have a floorplan, make sure that your new home floorplan design will fit within those square footage requirements.
  2. If you already have a floorplan designed, make sure the “footprint” of your floorplan will fit proportionately on the lot you are interested in buying.
  3. If you don’t know how to fit a floorplan to your lot, consult with your builder to help you decide if the lot in which your are interested will be a good fit for your floorplan.

039_mlsRon Lee Homes has been in the home building business in St. Tammany Parish for over 20 years.  We have built “spec” homes (where the buyer can pick out carpet, tile, and cabinet colors), semi-custom homes (already designed floorplans with minimal changes by the home buyer), and fully custom homes.  We have built a portfolio of homes ranging in square footage from 1,800 – 10,000 square feet.  We are experts in determining how your home will be positioned on your lot.  We will even go through a detailed “sitewalk,” which includes marketing out the footprint of your home and choosing the trees that you want to keep – if you happen to have a lot with a lots of trees!

So, when you are ready to purchase your land, and you may consider buying a lot that is more rural, Ron Lee Homes can guide you every step of the way from your lot selection and floorplan design to the final home building process.  For More Information on buying a new homesite in St. Tammany Parish, Contact Us at 985-626-7619 or E-mail