A pop of color is seen in this nuetral bathroom in the custom vanity mirrors.

There are a ton of steps between choosing a home, making an offer and collecting the keys. Here are several tasks to do to make a smooth fast closing on a home.

1. Get All Contingencies Squared Away

This is a big part of the negotiations between the buyers and sellers. A contingency is a clause that can be added to a contract that allows a buyer to walk away from a contract without any penalties. Some of the most used contingencies are a mortgage contingency, an appraisal contingency, home sale contingency or a home inspection contingency. Before closing, you will want to make sure that any contingency in the sales contract has been resolved.

2. Review Your Closing Disclosure Form

Anyone who will be using a home loan, will get a closing statement before the closing happens. The closing disclosure will be given to you around three business days before the closing. It is a five-page form that lists out all the terms of your loan and tells you all the fees owed at closing. Take time to review everything on the closing disclosure and if you have any questions, make sure to contact your lender.

3. Do a Final Walkthrough

About a day before closing, do a walkthrough of the home with your real estate agent. Many professionals tell you that it is ideal to walk the property the morning of your closing to make sure the property is in the same or better condition as when you saw it last.

4. Bring the Proper Documents

Nothing is more frustrating than to not have all the documents at your closing. Before your closing gather your government-issued ID, a cashier’s check, and proof of home owner’s insurance.

5. Rope In Your Support Team

You want to have your support group who has been with you through the whole process at the closing. Having them attend the closing will help expedite the process if there are any hiccups. A lot of times the your real estate agent, loan officer, attorney, a title insurance rep and your closing agent will be required to be at the closing.

6. Schedule Transfer of the Utilities

Nothing is worse than getting the keys to your new home, and not having the utilities working when you open the door for the first time. Before your closing date, transfer your electric, gas, cable and internet and set them to be turned on in your name day of closing.

7. Sing On the Dotted Lines

There is a lot to sign at closing, so it will take time and be a little intimidating. Take your time and read through each document before signing. If you have any questions, ask them! Once the paperwork is signed there is no going back.

Remember if you are in the market for a home, start with hiring a real estate agent. They can get the ball rolling and can advise you on a lender who can help you with the mortgage process. Following these steps is a great way to help the transaction run quickly and smoothly.

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Master bedroom with nice hardwood flooring.

Purchasing a new home is one of life’s biggest events. It can be exciting but also very stressful. This is a big financial decision and you need to consider key factors including savings, credit score, income stability, and life circumstances. Only you can determine if it is the right time for you to buy a home.

Evaluate Your Savings

You need to be familiar with your savings. You do not want to push all of your savings into a down payment and closing costs. Figure out how much you will have left over after closing costs and your down payment. There will be home maintenance and repair costs that you have to think about.

Review Your Credit Score

If you want good mortgage terms, then you must have excellent credit scores. When a lender is working with you, they use your credit score to determine what rate you qualify for. Before you start the home-buying process, request a free copy of your credit report. You can review it and make sure there are no errors or discrepancies.

If you are in the market for a new home, follow this advice along with hiring a Realtor. A Realtor will help you with your home purchase from the start to finish.

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Welcome into this home with a nice bright foyer.

St. Tammany Parish is a desirable area to live in on the North Shore as it has been rapidly growing for a while now. In fact, the area had major road projects that were done and completed in 2019 along U.S. 190 between I-12 and Covington.

The project helped the flow of the northbound traffic on I-12 until it squeezed into one lane to go over the bridge at Bogue Falaya River. The old bridge was built in the 1940s and does not fit the traffic flow of today’s commute.

“It’s been an issue for years,” Parish Council member David Fitzgerald said. At times, he said, the congestion “is almost impenetrable.”

The parish’s population grew 13% between 2010 and 2020. Today there are around 270,000 residents with 330,000 registered vehicles. That means that U.S. 190 around the old bridge has around 70,000 vehicles on average a day.

They have begun a project to build a $30 million bridge to replace the current vintage bridge. The bridge will be done in two phases with the first being the one going northbound and the second will be southbound. The bridges will each have two 12-foot wide traffic lanes along with shoulders. The Department of Transportation and Development says the project is slated to be completed in 2025.

“We’re somewhat worried about the construction,” Colin Patrick, co-owner of the nearby Pat’s Seafood Market and Cajun Deli said, adding with a hopeful note: “I believe it’ll be good for business after it’s done.”

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Bush, Louisiana is the home to Wild Bush Farm & Vineyard where patrons can go and enjoy local wine. Their tasting room is quaint and even the place patrons can go to dine.

Chef Marcus Jacobs, co-founder of Marjie’s Grill and Seafood Sally’s, made the inaugural dinner over an open flamed grill that was next to the tasting room. Owners Monica Bourgeois and Neil Gernon are excited about the new possibilities for Wild Bush Farm & Vineyard.

Previously known as Pontchartrain Vineyards, Wild Bush, is just north of Covington in St. Tammany Parish. The scene is beautiful and looks like it has been plucked from a piece of land in California wine country.

In fact, currently, the wine that is produced at Wild Bush begins in the West Coast wine country. It is brought over and then finished at Wild Bush. The owners want to start growing grapes locally that can also produce wine. This Louisiana climate is tricky and it will take a “newly developed hybrid grape” to make it successful.

“It’s a playground for us,” Gernon said. “We don’t have rules for it. Does it taste good? How can we combine what grows here to make something that’s great, or does what we’re growing taste good enough to be a single varietal? There’s so much we can do here.”

So far, Wild Bush has four varieties that are grown on the property which include muscadine grapes, old-school Norton grapes and blueberries. “We want to change what people think about when they hear ‘Louisiana wine.’ We want to make something they can show friends from other places, and say this is what Louisiana wine can be,” Gernon said.

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A new retail and residential project will be proposed before the Mandeville City Council. The age-restricted community will be located on 15 acres on Mandeville’s lakefront at the location of Sucette Harbor.

There will be a meeting at City Hall where the council and residents can weigh in on the project. In fact, they are moving the voting event to a larger venue due to the size of the crowds. There will be many who will want to share their opinions about the project.

“We don’t want to wait forever on this, but there’s no reason to rush into a decision either,” says Chairman Rick Danielson.

The Mandeville Planning and Zoning Commission has already approved the project which will be around $150 million. It went through with a 4-3 vote so it was recommended to the City Council.

The LSU Health Foundation owns the land which is leased by the Sucette Harbor developer Woodward Interest. The land was originally dedicated to the foundation by Al Copeland’s family and Woodward Interests will use 60% of the lease money for cancer research and scholarships.

Many are against the luxury retirement community which will have 201 apartments for 55 and older, an 82-room boutique hotel, restaurants, an event center and a marina. Those that are opposed feel that the development will cause more traffic and congestion for the community. Mandeville is known for the beautiful oak treses which many on the land will have to be removed.

The council will take the votes and just move the project along for further discussion before a definite decision is made. “This has nothing to do with whether we (the council) want the project, do not want the project, like certain aspects or don’t like certain aspects,” Danielson told audience members.

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An amazing custom built home close to New Orleans.

Despite the increase in mortgage interest rates, home prices have remained stubbornly high for those real estate buyers who can still afford to purchase a new home for sale. The reason for this is that the market hasn’t recovered from the exceptional interest rates before and during the pandemic. Housing inventory remains low, which prompts bidding wars for available homes for sale. These bidding wars almost artificially inflate home prices, and the result has been a 1.4% increase in home value from April to May, which is the highest it’s been since June of 2022.

Even though this spring’s home buying season has been muted compared to the last two years, home buyers are still in the market to buy new and previously-owned homes in the Greater New Orleans area. Nationally, the average home value was at $346,856, almost 1% higher than a year ago and 3.4% more than the beginning of 2023.

During a normal real estate market, pricing tends to trend downward beginning in August, but experts are waiting to see what this year’s market brings. The Midwest had the highest monthly price increases, and New Orleans, considered one of the smallest markets, increased by .6%. The trend of abnormally low home inventory continues in 2023 with May showing a 23% drop in listings compared to May, 2022, and this percentage aligns with the same drop of inventory in March of this year of 22%.

In addition to the pandemic surge and buyout of existing land and houses, another factor in the abnormally low inventory has been the high mortgage interest rates. Homeowners don’t want to sell their home, which probably had a fantastic interest rate and buy a home at a significantly higher rate. Also, once they put their home on the market, and it sells, they may not be able to find a new home to move into. Overall, in a 4-year comparison of home inventory, May 2023, inventory is 3.1% less than May of 2022, and 45.7% less than May of 2019.

If you are looking to buy a new home or build a new home, Ron Lee Homes has available lots for sale and ready to build your new home. Consider getting started with your home building process and Contact Us Today!

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St. Tammany Parish shall soon be the recipients of a Costco location in Covington in the Nord du Lac shopping center off of Pinnacle Parkway. The location will be in “good company,” surrounded by such stores as Koh’s Department Store and Academy Sports + Outdoors, as well as the restaurants of Olive Garden, Texas Roadhouse, and Saltgrass Steak House.

This well-know area and location will be convenient to residents of Covington and Madisonville in the expansive shopping area off of Highway 21. The investment of approximately $48.5 million for the 159,000 square-foot store will add to many other profitable developments that have sprung up in the area in the last few years. Land clearing has begun for the project, which could take up to 16 months to finish construction.

According to a press release from St. Tammany Corporation, 75 new, full-time jobs with average salaries of $59,000 will be available once the store has opened, and there will also be 75 part-time jobs. The traffic to this new, big-box store in St. Tammany Parish is expected to produce approximately $60 million in sales and property taxes over the next 10 years.

Additional lanes on Interstate 12 have been completed, and construction on the “loop” that crosses over I-12 (Pinnacle Parkway) shall help with the new traffic that this new shopping area will produce.

“We are incredibly excited to see that construction is beginning on the new Costco on Pinnacle Parkway in Covington. We look forward to this great family-first company opening their doors, which will bring dozens of jobs and sales tax revenue to St. Tammany Parish,” St. Tammany Parish President Mike Cooper said.

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Vapor barriers are an important part when it comes to building a home. Here is some science behind the reason why.

There are six sides of a new construction home which are in three categories, the walls, the roof and the foundation. All of these sides need to be protected from both liquid water and vapor water.

The side of every new construction home consists of a building envelope. This is where we want to keep moving such as liquid water, air, water vapor and thermal energy. There are several ways that water can sneak into your home. By liquid progress (wind-driven rain hitting up against walls), water vapor diffusion (movement of water vapor and its concentration level), and airflow (movement of air and its pressure levels).

A vapor barrier does not only need to block these areas but needs to also control the movement through them. This is done by using an air barrier (the material layer that will prevent the flow of air between air-conditioned air to unconditioned air), water-resistive barrier WRB (this material layer prevents liquid water from seeping into the house), waterproofing (this is a system that helps prevent and manage build liquid water infiltration), vapor retarder (a material layer that stops water vapor movement by diffusing it), insulation (the material layer that is used to help with the loss or gain of thermal energy).

So basically the goal is to keep your building’s envelope dry, efficient, comfortable and healthy. Remember there are different ways to control water, air, vapor and heat. Here are the reasons why, they all can move in or out of a home in both directions, they can move at different rates and degrees, and they can affect each other.

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A new age-restricted community was approved called Sucette Harbor which will house 201-unit apartments, an events venue, restaurant, marina and an 82-room boutique hotel all along Mandeville’s lakefront. The Mandeville Planning and Zoning Commission approved the plans so now it will be up to the Mandeville City Council to say yes to the 55 and older development.

The land is being leased by Woodward Interests, who is the developer, from LSU Health Foundation. Al Copeland’s family dedicated the land to the LSU Health Foundation. The proceeds from the leased property will be split up with 60% going to cancer research and 40% going to scholarships.

Although the development will help with a good cause, residents in Mandeville have some questions and concerns. There is a concern out there that the development would attract enough older residents to the area that qualify to live in the age-restricted apartments. Another big concern is the traffic it will bring to the community and the removal of old southern oaks.

Many commission members are also concerned about the project. Claire Durio suggested reducing the size of the hotel but this was shot down. Mike Pierce also agrees that the project might be too big for the community calling Sucette Harbor an anomaly that doesn’t fit with the older surrounding neighborhoods and fails on compatibility.

Other commission members say the development will be an asset to the community. Nixon Adams feels that it is a better option than just leaving the land vacant. He says that the area needs a hotel because there is not one in the area. He also suggested the city bring a walking and biking path to the lakefront which will open up the lakefront.

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It is a great adventure to take when it comes to building a new home. There are many exciting decisions to make on building materials, floorplans, etc. The home’s foundation is not one of the components that most homeowners want to think about. The foundation is what your home is literally built on and is the most critical part of the home-building process. Since you only get one chance to do it right, the professionals in the industry suggest asking your building these five questions.

1. What type of foundation will I have for my home?

There are three foundation types to choose from, slab-on-grade, crawl space or basement. Some homes found around the country can have a combination of the types of foundations. The foundation of your home will be based on where you live, the climate, and the local soil and moisture conditions. If you live in a colder climate, then the frost line will be important to factor into your decision-making.

When determining the foundation type, your builder can use a geotechnical report to help with the decision on what foundation is best. A geotechnical report will provide the builder with soil data to ensure that the appropriate design is used. In all three options, moisture management is the key.

2. How will my home be protected from liquid water?

As mentioned before, moisture management is the key. The goal is to keep liquid water out of your home. Moisture seeping through into your home, can hurt the foundation, dampen your comfort level and cause a potential health problem. Water doesn’t just come from mother nature, in some climates bulk water pressure from a water table going up and down can cause problems as well as landscaping irrigation.

There are many ways your builder can design your foundation area and products they can use to help repel liquid moisture. There are different building codes in specific areas around the country. Your builder will be familiar with your areas’ minimum building code requirements. You will want to always make sure you have the proper grading around your home so that water never becomes a hindrance.

3. How will my home be protected from soil vapor?

Soil vapor can seep into any type of foundation in any location into a home’s envelope. The natural flow of water vapor is to move from greater concentration to lesser concentration called diffusion. Your foundation needs to be checked to make sure this is not happening. If it goes unchecked, it can lead to issues with floor coverings, coating failures, mold growth and overall poor indoor quality. It can also cause your HVAC system to not run properly.

Water vapor can be just as menacing as liquid water but protecting your home from water vapor is different from protecting your home from liquid water. Remember to ask your home builder what steps they will take to make sure there is no diffusion of water vapor under your home. Builders can use a water vapor barrier under a slab foundation or overexposed earth in a crawl space.

4. What about comfort and efficiency?

A home needs to be both comfortable to live in and energy efficient. Homeowners turn to solar panels, air conditioning and insulation to make a home more energy efficient. The comfort level in your home actually starts below the living space. If you live in a colder climate, then the home’s foundation will need to be insulated. Even if you live in a milder climate, having your foundation insulated can help maintain comfortable temperatures and keep utility bills down.

5. What products do you use?

Choosing the right products can make a huge impact. Choosing the correct foundation is a big deal because it is hard to replace a foundation once it is installed. If you do have to replace a foundation, it is very costly and can affect other systems throughout your home.

Builders know all the ends and outs of the foundation systems they use in their area. They can explain to you how they work and if they have a warranty or if your home buyer warranty package includes the foundation.

Remember the construction of the foundation of your home is very important. Talk with your builder and get familiar with the choices. Understanding what goes on with the foundation helps to give you peace of mind to know that everything is working as it should.

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