When the bottom dropped out of the real estate market, the biggest indicator that the economy was in trouble was that home owners and new home buyers found themselves paying more for their home than what it was worth.  One of the biggest indicators that the housing economy has been in recovery has been the increase in house pricing regionally nationwide.  These home prices went up steadily during the end of 2013 and 2014, so much so, that investors were concerned that they would cause a housing bubble and throw the entire economy back into a 10-1 Polo Farms Kitchen IslandRecession.  Once again, though, supply and demand allowed for free market commerce to dictate the real estate market, and prices started to stabilize in the 1st quarter of 2015.

For the 5th month in a row, conventional mortgages for new homes have increased to an all-time high of $352,500 in June, and this is also a record for the average loan amount which has not yet so far been above $350,000 after the Recession.  In addition to the average amount of a loan going up, home prices also increased in June to $462,100 from $447,600 which is a 3% increase.  Also a record-breaking statistic, this is the first time that new home prices have been above $460,000 since the Recession as well.

Even though the average initial fees and charges on loans decreased by 3 basis points to 1.08%, the effetive interest rate on conventional mortgages went up to 3.98%.  Home buyers and people interested in refinancing their homes have been “spoiled” with the phenomenally low interest rates over the past 5 years, but an average overall interest rate in the 4% range is still a historically low rate and will probably not be seen again for quite some time.  The Fed was set to increase interest rates in September, but this is not a guaranteed move and has been in limbo for over a year.  Interest rates are still low, credit is easing allowing higher borrowing amounts for conventional mortgages, and Ron Lee Homes is building new, custom homes in St. Tammany Parish for interested home buyers.  Contact Us today to help you start building the home of your dreams.  Call 985-626-7619 or e-mail Info@RonLeeHomes.com.

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Despite the frustration of finding lots on which to build and labor (employees and sub-contractors) to use to build new, single-family homes, the housing market is on an upward trend.  An increase in permits, starts, and confidence in the building industry by builders was reported by the National Association of Home Builders for the month of June, 2015.  New home permits rose in all 4 regions of the United States from the Northeast, Midwest, South, and West at 2.8%, 2.9%, 10.4% and 9.5% respectively.  The South gained a huge percentage jump in new home housing permits during June, and overall, single-family home permits rose .9% to 687,000 compared to 2-Lot 104 Maison du Lac Exterior 2previous months.

New home starts went up mostly for multi-family  building which went up by a huge 9.8% to over 1 million total units – 1.174 million to be exact.  Overall multifamily construction was up 29.4% for a total of 489,000 units.

“The multifamily gains this month are encouraging and show that the millennial generation continues to be drawn to the rental market,” said NAHB Chairman Tom Woods, a home builder from Blue Springs, MO.

Builder confidence is also the highest it’s been since November, 2005.  While any number above 50 means that builders are thinking positively about sales conditions, sales expectations for the next 6 months, and buyer traffic; builder confidence rose in June to 60 averaged out over all three survey results.

“The fact that builder confidence has returned to levels not seen since 2005 shows that housing continues to 2-54 Maison du Lac Exterior 2improve at a steady pace,” said NAHB Chairman Tom Woods. “As we head into the second half of 2015, we should expect a continued recovery of the housing market.”

Buyers are actually seeing a little bit of a seller’s market because of the lack of inventory of new homes for sale.  A dearth of lots and a shortage of construction labor has contributed to a shrinking inventory of supply for homes to buy nationwide.  However, the strong numbers for new home permits in the Southern and Midwest regions signal that new home buyers will soon have homes from which to choose.  If you would like to build your home instead of buying an inventory home, Contact Ron Lee Homes at 985-626-7619 or e-mail Info@RonLeeHomes.com.

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Twelve cabins in Fontainebleau State Park on Lake Pontchartrain have been renovated and will be reopened and available to rent in September, 2015. A unique place to vacation, these two-bedroom cabins are actually situated on piers that are 7 feet above the lake.

When the cabins opened in 2008 they were booked months in advance and were some of the most popular attractions in the park. The estimated $2 million dollars being spent on remodeling the buildings are due to storm

damage and will be paid for by FEMA.  Even though the cost to reconstruct these cabins, both inside and out is steep, the cabins will need a complete remodel which not only consists of cosmetic changes but repairs such as roof renovation, replacing fixtures and rebuilding docks. The cabins will be restored to their original design with updated features. The remodel will give the cabins a face lift with current colors, flat screen TVs, leather sofas, oversized tubs and all new appliances.

Fontainebleau State Park near Mandeville, LA is a short drive from New Orleans, Louisiana.  Located on the shore of Lake Pontchartrain this 2,800-acre park boasts a sandy beach, an old railroad track that was converted to the Tammany Trace, which is a 31-mile biking, walking, running, and horse riding path stretching from Mandeville to Slidell and growing!  The state park also has available to locals and tourists alike rental cabins, picnic areas, fishing piers and nature trails.  The land where the park is currently situated was originally owned by Bernard de Marigny de Mandeville, the founder of Mandeville, and was a sugar plantation which was constructed in 1829, as well as a brick yard.  Mandeville named the park Fontainebleau after a forest near Paris, France.  In 1942, the park opened as the Tchefuncte State Park and Conservation Reservation and was designed to preserve America’s natural resources including the multiple habitats for birds which are scattered throughout the park’s landscape.

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Luckily the housing market is picking up along with home construction. Now is a great time to become a new homeowner. As a new home buyer, you will want to look for these five up and coming latest trends. These design features and trends are being used by innovative builders, remodelers and architects in new home construction. The trends which were seen at the 2015 St. Tammany Parish Parade of Homes and which will also be seen at the New Orleans Parade of Homes are based on National Association of Home Builders “Best in American Living Awards.”

Do not fear!  If you are already a homeowner, this doesn’t mean you are left out of the loop. Just because these five design trends are used by the professionals in new construction, doesn’t mean you cannot incorporate them into your own home with a build-on addition or remodel.

First on the list is a white-on-white kitchens.  Whether you have a traditional or modern style home, this trend is popular in both.  Think004 white on white on white.  Designers are taking white cabinets, paring them with white countertops with a white backsplash and finishing it off with all white trim.  Ron Lee Homes incorporates a variety of materials (stone, ceramic tile, glass, and granite) to incorporate this look in kitchens and master baths, specifically.

Second is a double-island kitchen.  Once again it doesn’t matter what style home you live in, you are seeing more than one island in a kitchen.  Many times one island is used for cooking and preparing the food while the other is used for serving and dining. The second island can serve a dual function as a home work or hobby space.  In new homes built by St. Tammany Parish builder, Ron Lee Homes, you will see many of our kitchens use a double island and breakfast bar.  The island usually includes a sink as well as a dishwasher or warming oven / drawer.  The breakfast bar is attached to the island and normally flows into the family room – a perfect place for families to gather and socialize.

Third design is centered bathtubs and walk in showers.  If you visit a spa, this is often what is seen in these well designed relaxing atmospheres. Professionals are now taking the trend into the home.  Tubs are becoming a central focal piece and walk in showers are taking the place of a shower stall. Ron Lee Homes uses oversized showers and custom, hand-laid ceramic tile or stone.  Our home buyers request specific shower heads and sprays as well as seating areas inside these large shower spaces.  Also, glass doors or even “windows” are also popular with our new custom home designs.

Fourth is old world style meets modern contemporary. This is done by taking natural elements mixed with contemporary materials which soften the hard modern design.  Wood, steel and glass are popular materials being used in this trend.  In new custom homes, cypress beams and unfinished cypress fireplace mantles have been very popular in a few of our newly built custom homes.  Also, we enjoy mixing and matching materials on the fireplace surround, fireplace mantle, and built-in bookshelves.

Last is indoor-outdoor living. This trend is starting to be seen no matter what climate you live in.  Home buyers love to see a design that incorporates the outside view.  Indoor-outdoor transitional spaces can be easily added by using screens and removable/foldable walls.  In a few of the recent new homes built by Ron Lee Homes in St. Tammany Parish, we have incorporated screened-in porches that are “livable” – complete with a television, that open to outdoor patios with outdoor cooking areas.  We have even built outdoor kitchens inside of screened in porches upon request.

Ron Lee Homes takes pride in constantly staying on the cutting edge of residential building design and remodeling.  If you are interested in seeing a new, custom home built with these trends released by the National Association of Home Builders, take a tour of some of our newly built homes in Mandeville, Covington, and Madisonville.  To find out more, call 985-626-7619 or E-mail Info@RonLeeHomes.com.

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Home builders nationwide have a reason to celebrate – it’s beginning to look a lot like a seller’s market once again in the current real estate market.  According to statistics, the monthly supply of homes ready to be purchased on the market has dropped below a 5 months supply.  The tightening of inventory will promote quick sales as well as an eventual increase in home prices as demand will soon outweigh supply.

Potential home buyers will be able to purchase these new homes for sale as well as existing homes for sale because 029of an easing of credit requirements and down payment requirements both for FHA and Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae loans.  Decisions are being made to introduce loan packages that will offer down payment assistance to home buyers as well.

Another huge factor in supply and demand is the dramatic increase in household formation which means that more people will be out looking to establish a residence whether it is in an apartment or buying a home.  Millennials that were unable to get a job “right out of college” have started to move out of roommate or parent / relative living arrangements because of the new availability of employment nationwide.  The percentage of Millennials looking to get their own place increased by 11% from November to March according to surveys.

Finally, even though housing starts have been stymied by the unusually brutal winter weather, housing sales as of February reported a 7.8% sales increase on a monthly basis for new home sales and a 1.2 sales increase on a monthly basis for previously owned homes.

Wall Street is reflecting this sentiment with the iShares Dow Jones U. S. Home Construction ETF (ITB) showing a new 7.5 year high which is a reflection of the averaging out of home pricing gains which were on a roller coaster ride as the economy recovered.  Investors are interested in housing shares once again as the real estate market is showing true signs of recovery.  Overall there are multiple reasons for optimism in the housing market

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The term, traditional neighborhood development, evolved out of the concept of urban planning which included designing a “small town” within larger cities that has its own town center as well as commercial, retail, residential, and sometimes rental opportunities for its residents.  Walk to where you work and play became the buzz words forconcrete-plant-in-mandeville these urban and suburban communities.  Now, in Mandeville, Louisiana urban architect Steve Oubre, of Architects Southwest is set as the designer of terra bella village to create lakefront traditional neighborhood development plans for the site of the now abandoned industrial concrete plant.

Located just east of the Causeway Bridge, the plant was used to fabricate the concrete sections and pillars for the Causeway Bridge, which was originally built in 1956.  The plant has not operated as an industrial concrete fabrication site since 1984.  Drs Michael and Marcus Pittman purchased the property at sheriff’s auction that same year.  In 2011, they commenced a massive cleanup effort to prep the land for development.

Three planning  meetings have been scheduled by Architects Southwest, the developers, and interested community groups and residents of Mandeville on April 7th, April 9th, and April 13th.  Steve Oubre spoke at the first meeting on April 7th and presented a 90-minute powerpoint explaining the vision of this new community.  After extensive market studies, high-rise towers were eliminated from the plan, and the vision now includes retails shops, housing units, a hotel, and a marina on the lakefront location all centered around the town center, just like the traditional neighborhood developments he designed both in Lafayette, LA and Covington, Louisiana.

Once community feedback has been received, it’s “back to the drawing board” to actually draw up plans and renderings to present to the Mandeville City Council and the St. Tammany Parish government for ultimate approval to begin construction. Homeowners in Mandeville can expect property values to appreciate with the construction of several hundred housing units if the engineered plans are approved.

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As an increase to 2014’s workforce development series, the St. Tammany Economic Development Foundation will be sponsoring a 7-part series of education workshops for local St. Tammany Parish businesses, a year-over-year increase from the successful 5-part series which was hosted in 2014.  Founded in 1981, the St. Tammany Parish

Economic Development Foundation (STEDF) has been highly integral in the attraction and retention of new business to the parish.  Even before Hurricane Katrina, this foundation had been gradually increasing business opportunities to the Northshore.  After Hurricane Katrina, the construction growth and economic development of the region has lead to national recognition of the I-12 corridor being one of the fastest growing regional areas in the United States for new business opporunities.

In 2014, the St. Tammany Economic Development Foundation was responsible for the creation of 315 new jobs and the retention of 276 jobs with the completion of 13 projects which saw $54.3 million in investments.  The foundation is diligent in businss retention in St. Tammany Parish by utilizing “retention visits” to existing businesses to gauge their satisfaction and confidence in the local economy.  According to their annual report, the STEDF visited 112 different times to businesses which, all told, provided 7,891 jobs for residents of St. Tammany Parish.

This forward-thinking, proactive, and “preventative” approach to retaining business on the Northshore of Lake Pontchartrain has been the mission of the STEDF.  They are continuing that mindeset by offering the seminars and classes below:

April 28: Healthcare and Biosciences

May 19: Manufacturing

June 23: Digital Media

July 14: Construction and Coastal Restoration

Sept. 22: Energy, Oil and Gas

Oct. 13: Education and Training – Jump Start, Two-Year- and Four-Year-Colleges

Nov. 10: To be determined

“We hope this series will increase your knowledge of workforce opportunities, connect you to resources for workforce enhancement and training and provide insight about the future needs and trends of the workforce in our region,” Ashley Cangelosi Llewellyn, programs manager for the foundation, said in a news release.

To attend any of these workshops about workforce development opportunities, attendees must register in advance during the enrollment period for each program.  The classes themselves will be held in the STEDF conference room on Koop Drive in Mandeville from 9am – 10am with doors opening at 8:30am.  To register for the April event, email stedfinfo@stedf.org.

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The act of sale for the nearly 300 acres of land that currently encompasses the former Southeast Louisiana Psychiatric Hospital – now known as Northlake Behavioral Health – will be held, Thursday, March 26, 2015, at 2pm.  The sale is between the state of Louisiana and St. Tammany Parish.  The parish negotiated a sales price of

$15.4 million to buy the property, and the parish plans on utilizing the land for a few different purposes: possible expansion for Pelican Park, a new roadway from Hwy. 190 (Florida St.) to 1088 reducing congestion for both Hwy. 190 and Hwy. 59, and to bolster the government’s wetland mitigation bank.

St. Tammany Parish’s wetland mitigation bank is served by Mossy Hill Mitigation Bank which also serves the wetland preservation needs of Washington and Tangipahoa Parishes.  It will also review requests for credit from areas outside of these areas on a case-by-case basis.  The idea is that builders and developers may purchase a one-time credit from the Mossy Hill Mitigation Bank to offset the impacts that their construction will have on the wetlands involved with the project.  They must offer another portion of the project that is close to or adjacent to the job that they own in exchange for this credit so that the wetlands in other areas are preserved.

“When impacts to jurisdictional wetlands are unavoidable, a one-time credit purchase from the Mossy Hill Mitigation Bank prevents mitigation cost overruns and irrevocably transfers your perpetual mitigation liability to Ecosystem Investment Partners (EIP), one of the nation’s leading providers of environmental credits,” according to the website for the Mossy Hill Mitigation Bank.

St. Tammany Parish’s Pelican Park may purchase as much as 100 acres of the land involved in Thursday’s act of

sale to expand upon its already 321-acre park. In conjunction with the expansion is the hope that St. Tammany Parish will go ahead with the road building / expansion project between 190 and 1088 in order to construct a second entrance to Pelican Park on this cut-through road.

The “fate” of Northlake Behavioral Health is secured through this act of sale because one of the conditions of the purchase was that St. Tammany Parish leave the buildings and land belonging to the psychiatric hospital campus intact and operating as a behavioral health hospital.  Meridian Behavioral Healthcare, the current company that mangages operations at the hospital through a privatization program has expressed interested in purchasing the entire campus and land from St. Tammany Parish.

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The remodeling outlook is favorable for 2015 both locally and nationally according to the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB).  As there are many types of memberships for a traditional home builders association, there are many facets of the national real estate market that the NAHB keeps tabs on with remodeling and renovations being one of them.  The remodeling business tends to trend upwards and downwards with the newRon Lee Homes offers remodeling and renovation services in St. Tammany Parish home and existing homes market.  Whether homeowners are getting their house ready to put on the market and sell, or they are building an addition onto their existing home in order to make more room because they feel the real estate market may not be stable enough to move makes a difference as to how much business a person in the renovation business can get.

According to the press conference hosted by the NAHB Remodelers at the International Builders’ Show (IBS) in Las Vegas, the remodeling business forecast projects a 3% growth year-over-year compared to 2014, and another 1.5% growth is expected for 2016.  The panel of remodelers who attended the press conference commented that it was changing homeowner demographics and financial security that have loosened up the market to allow more people to have renovations done to their homes.

“Remodelers are responding to calls from home owners on steadier financial footing than recent years,” said 2015 NAHB Remodelers Chairman Robert Criner, GMR, GMB, CAPS, CGP, a remodeler from Newport News, Va. “From major kitchen remodels and bath facelifts to room additions, the members of NAHB Remodelers look forward to providing professional remodeling services in 2015.”

According to the NAHB, the RMI (Remodeling Market Index) which surveys the confidence of remodelers in 4 categories – calls for bids, amount of work committed for the next three months, backlog of jobs and appointments for proposals – resulted in a score of 60 (any score above 50 means that confidence is high).  In all 4 categories, the RMI saw an increase, and the score of 60 was a record high for this survey.  Many economists, remodelers, contractors, and builders alike are cautiously optimistic that the real estate market has taken an upward turn that should not reverse itself.  Ron Lee Homes in St. Tammany Parish Louisiana now offers complete remodeling services for the St. Tammany Parish area.  For More Information about remodeling your home, Contact Ron Lee Homes today at 985-626-7619 or E-mail Info@RonLeeHomes.com.


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Living in St. Tammany Parish has many benefits and lifestyle value for those residents and homeowners who enjoy the small town life but also desire the convenience of access to shopping, dining, entertainment, and culture.  The. Northshore of Lake Pontchartrain is partially a bedroom community and slowly developing an entire commercial and retail sector which is supporting large corporate entities such as Chevron and Budweiser as well as thriving local businesses that hung on and were able to make money even through the recession.  Building a new custom home in any of the cities of St. Tammany Parish, such as Mandeville, Covington, Madisonville, and Abita Springs affords you the benefit of making a living, working for the local businesses, corporations, and industrial warehouses, while still enjoying the feel and ambiance of small town life.

Before Hurricane Katrina, St. Tammany Parish was more of a bedroom community with a small and stable population.  With the flood of new home buyers coming across the lake after the storm, St. Tammany Parish was forced to grow at a faster rate, earning the I-12 corridor the label of being one of the fastest growing corridors in the United States.  Now, the Northshore retains its small town attitude but offers a full array of box stores, mall stores, formal restaurants and dining as well as exquisite local cuisine served at small but established venues.  One of the cities on the Northshore in St. Tammany Parish known for its culture and cuisine is Covington, Louisiana.  Covington just spent a significant amount of time and city budget completely renovating the streetscapes, landscapes, and curb appeal of its historic district.  In addition, the city also just celebrated its Bicentennial bringing many visitors and much exposure to downtown Covington.

This gorgeous and growing city can now add another feather to its cap because Mayor Mike Cooper just accepted the American Planning Association’s Great Place Award APA State Planning Awards Luncheon in Baton Rouge recently.  This award recognizes the city’s exemplary character, quality and planning, as well as architectural features, accessibility, functionality and community involvement.  The city of Covington, LA goes beyond the borders of downtown Covington’s historic district.  It also encompasses an entire commercial district that was just expanded with the Colonial Pinnacle Nord du Lac shopping district off of Highway 21.  A Winn Dixie was also built in this area and tucked behind all of this commercial development is the Stone Creek Club & Spa which offers a variety of luxurious services for Covington residents.  Covington, Louisiana also boasts the renovation of the town’s new courthouse finished just before Hurricane Katrina which just recently underwent another renovation, adding a new parking garage.

If you are considering moving to St. Tammany Parish, Covington, Louisiana would be the perfect place to build a new custom home in the many subdivisions located in that area.  Ron Lee Homes builds new homes in which are all located in the amazing St. Tammany Parish school district – a perfect place to raise a family.  Contact Ron Lee Homes today to begin the design and construction of a new home or new custom home in Covington, Louisiana.  Call 985-626-7619 or E-mail Info@RonLeeHomes.com.

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