New protections by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) kicked in the first of October, but their effects were not felt until November when delayed closings affected home sales numbers nationwide.  The plunge in new home sales was expected because of the delays that the new system incurred coming out the gate.

The new system for closing new home loans and home loans included a drastic overhaul of the traditional HUD 2-lot-29-willow-bend(Settlement Statement), and this new document, called the CD (Closing Disclosure) had multiple checks and balances throughout the Good Faith Estimate all the way to closing to ensure that home buyers know what every aspect of their home buying process is about.

Despite the expected slowdown in home sales in November, the National Association of Realtors said that solid gains in real estate have been seen throughout the entire year of 2015.

Another factor contributing to an adjustment in home sales numbers is the fact that home values are increasing a rate that is double that of typical wages.  Year-over-year, home values have increased 6.3% in November to $220,300.  The good news is that wages exist with an improving job market and still historically low framing-3interest rates are encouraging buyers and refinancers to get their loans done before there is a significant increase in the interest rate.

Still, builders will have to get busy in 2016 because the real estate market is still showing a gap between availability and inventory for new home buyers.  New home builders can fill this gap with newly constructed homes which will help balance out home prices.

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New jobs in the form of construction work and employee hiring is happening in Mandeville, Louisiana, in St. Tammany Parish.  Florida Marine, LLC, currently located off of the west side service road between Fairway (Judge Tanner) Drive and Hwy. 22, is doubling its commercial construction space from 27,500 square feet to 55,000 square feet and is expected to cost approximately $7.2 million.  The move will bring in 40 new Florida Marine jobs and approximately 180 jobs in construction including contractors and sub-contractors.

As part of the nonprofit business retention program offered by the St. Tammany Parish Economic Development Foundation, Florida Marine has focused on retention and expansion of its business and services over the past 14 3

years in Mandeville, Louisiana.  It purchased the present office building which it is now expanding in 2004.

“We have been very happy in St. Tammany Parish and are pleased to be expanding our offices,” said Dennis A. Pasentine, owner and CEO of Florida Marine.

In addition to the much needed commercial work space that the expansion of new construction will offer, the new campus-style building will also have an outdoor kitchen and courtyard for employee and customer events.  In case of inclement weather, the buildings will be fitted and retrofitted to include backup generators to restore power. The project has been designed by Greenleaf Architects and is being constructed by Kent Design Build.

“We congratulate Florida Marine on their expansion,” Parish President Pat Brister said. “The maritime industry is woven into the fabric of our community, and this growth will provide job opportunities and positive economic impact.”

In addition to the commercial construction of office space in Mandeville, LA, in St. Tammany Parish, Florida Marine is also expanding its shipyard in Harvey.  This West Bank expansion will create 200 additional jobs as well.

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Even though the housing market has been making incredible strides in its recovery since its low in 2008, one of the major obstacles that has been holding the sale of real estate back is the lack of supply for the growing demand of home buyers.  New home buyers especially have been stymied by a lack of inventory from local builders.  Builders themselves have been frustrated by the tightened funding requirements for construction loans from79 Oleander Carriage Style Garage banks and lenders, so there is been a “stalemate” of sorts going on in the new home industry.

However, good news is on the horizon for real estate because single-family home starts have been on the rise and holding steady over most of the months of 2015.  Single-family home startss remained steady from August to September with 740,000 starts nationwide for both months.  Overall, housing starts (including multi-family housing) increased by 6.5% and reached the 1.2 million mark – the highest its been since October, 2007.

From a yearly perspective, quarter-over-quarter, single-family home starts are up 5.7% 3rd quarter from second quarter with a total of 746,000 home starts.  The numbers year-over-year show that single-family home starts are up 11% compared to 2014.

Another strong sign of new home real estate recovering is the number of housing permits for single-family home starts.  The number of permits for single-family homes went up 9.4% year-over-year and also remained unchanged compared to the previous month of August from September, 2015. Trends also show that money of the new home purchases are coming from “contingency sales” where a home buyer has a house to sell and wants to build or buy new which is excellent news for new home builders.

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Real estate professionals have expressed concerns as to the state of the interest rate in today’s housing market because there are rumors that the interest rate is about to be raised by the Federal Reserve (The Fed).  Because of these fears, many homeowners have hurried up to refinance their homes with these historically low interest rates while home buyers have been “coming off the fence” more rapidly than normal to buy a new home.  These worries can be set aside for now as The Fed has decided not to raise interest rates during their last meeting citing a weak global economy, low inflation, and unstable financial markets.

However, there are some aspects to consider when deciding whether or not to buy a new home as soon as possible25-54 Maison du Lac Exterior Rear 1 before interest rates “go back up.”  The first point is that even if interest rates do go up, they are not forecast to go up by much upon raising.  The increase in the interest rate will STILL be lower than any record of interest rate lows in the past.  This means that you will still be able to maximize the amount of money you use to buy your new home with lower interest rates.

The second aspect to consider is that the increase in the interest rate means that the U.S. economy and job market are getting better which means more and better jobs for home buyers interested in buying a home. Waiting until you have the right job and the financial ability to buy a home is a better choice than “squeaking by” to be able to buy a home at a lower interest rate with no stability in your financial future.

Finally, when The Fed does raise interest rates, this is good for investors and employees with retirement accounts because interest rates for these types of savings and money making accounts go up as The Fed raises the interest rate.

Even though The Fed’s decision is to not raise interest rates at this time, interest rates are expected to go up as soon as the end of 2015.  Whether they go up or not, now is the time to take advantage of the incredible financing offers to buy your home while interest rates are low, credit restrictions are easing, and down payment assistance has once more been established by the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

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Just like summer in Louisiana is hot in July, the housing market nationwide heated up this summer with new home sales activity rising to 507,000 homes sold. The Census Bureau and HUD reported that newly built home 2015 Parade of Homessales rose 5.4% from June and 25.8% from July of last year. New home inventories were reported at 218,000 in July which is the highest level that has been seen in over five years.

This increase was also seen in the private residential construction spending where the highest amount spent was at an annual rate of $387 billion in July. This increase in spending verifies that the construction industry is continuing to experience strong economic growth. Single family homes have pushed construction expansion 15.8% on a year-over-year basis and multifamily new home construction spending is 21.2% higher than it was reported a year ago as well.

Developers, new home builders, and custom home builders are not the only ones that are seeing a positive growth, the National Association of Realtors (NAR) reports increase in existing home sales. Existing home sales increased in July 0.5% from June and 7.4% from July of last year. Completed transactions were reported at the highest since February 2007, which was the beginning of the downhill slide of the Recession.

Home buyer confidence stems from the strengthening economy overall with increased spending. The Bureau of

Economic Analysis reports that the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) grew to a strong 3.7% rate. These findings were based on several factors including investment, faster growth for consumption, government spending and trade components.

Now is the time for buyers to tap into the housing market. Sales are solid which makes the real estate market a stable vested interest. New home prices are continuing to strengthen making real estate a great investment. Interest rates continue to remain at record lows with the reluctance of the Fed to increase interest rates. The Department of Housing and Urban Development have rolled out new loan products which require a much lower down payment on FHA and some conventional mortgages. Best of all, there is a spectacular new home builder in St. Tammany Parish which builds new, custom home exactly to your specifications and design. These new homes are designed and built to withstand the test of time and elements with energy efficient green building techniques as well as the best, most quality components to ensure the strongest and best built new home in St. Tammany Parish. For More Information, Call 985-626-7619 or E-mail


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New jobs reports and the falling unemployment rate have brought about a positive economic outlook of many Americans in the U.S. The employment growth is a big reason for both the real estate and housing industries’ latest boom both with new construction homes for sale as well as resale homes for sale. The strong job reports have encouraged many to believe there is not a “double dip” recession looming so many are relieved and feel confident in purchasing a new home. Everything from apartment buildings (multi-family homes) to single-family 79 Oleander Court Front Exteriorhomes are under construction everywhere you turn in the country.

The rise in household formation by millenials as well college grads that have finally been able to get a job has led to new houses being built which has attracted workers in the construction industry. Employment in the field of construction reflects an average of 20% of the jobs that have been recently created. The American Association of General Contractors showed 80% of construction firms planned to hire this year. JOLTS survey showed an increase of 36% in the number of construction job openings year-over-year.

Mark Vintner, senior economist at Wells Fargo Securities says, “Home building will be one of the economy’s largest upside surprises in 2015.”

This is very good news for those looking for employment in the construction industry. Contractors are desperately seeking those who are skilled in all areas of construction which include part time and full time employees as well as sub-contractors. Vintner points out that overall, nationwide, there is a shortage of skilled construction workers. 028The American Association of General Contractors also reports that 87% of construction firms are having difficulty filling positions. Moody’s Analytics Adam Ozimek believes the shortage is due to lack of wage growth in the construction industry. However with the decline in unemployment, the job market will soon become an “employees’ market” instead of a employers’ market, which should drive up competitive hourly and salary wages. For the construction industry, this should put many out-of-work carpenters, builders, plumbers, electricians, and day laborers back to work with a healthy salary. Ron Lee Homes has been following this construction employment trend in St. Tammany Parish by expanding its services to include remodeling as well as custom home construction. To build your new, custom home today, Contact Us at 985-626-7619 or E-mail


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They say that “imitation is the sincerest form of flattery” and that is the plan Steve Oubre, Project Designer at Architects Southwest, says about the lakefront traditional neighborhood development (TND) Port Marigny on the Mandeville lakefront. Port Marginy will be patterned after the “historic character” of Old Mandeville. The 78-acre project site is located on the former Pre-Stressed Concrete Products plant just east of Lake Pontchartrain


The waterfront development’s updated figures and renderings were presented to the Mandeville Planning and Zoning Commission July 28, 2015, and the project will only be allowed to proceed with the City Council’s approval. The City Council will hold several more meetings to allow Mandeville’s resident’s opinions to be heard before voting their final approval.

Mandeville’s residents, who attended the standing-room-only, meeting July 28, 2015, were able to ask important questions about the project’s density and potential traffic problems the new development could create. Many believe the developers of Port Marigny plan to build too many housing units which will cause traffic congestion in the area. The proposed development plans include building 429 “New Urbanism” new homes for sale which include apartments (multi-family housing), condominiums and single-family homes on large home sites. In addition to the new construction housing units there will also be 60,000 square feet of commercial space, a 150-slip marina, a 120-room boutique

hotel, a park and a town center that would feature a statue of city founder Bernard de Marigny. Traffic Consultant Rich Hall will address these concerns and has already taken preliminary traffic counts. He plans to take additional counts once school begins in August.

Richard Muller’s, attorney for Marcus Pittman owner of the property which the abandoned concrete plant sits on and who is providing guidance for the proposed project, described the focus of the project is to “facilitate the development of a vibrant, walkable, mixed-use, waterfront development that provides strong fiscal benefits for the city.” Residents who will own a new construction unit in the residential community will have narrow setbacks, large lots, sidewalks, service alleys with back access garages, streets no longer than 650 feet, and the multi-family homes will be four stories high including commercial space on the first floor.

Oubre is confident in the project. Oubre stated that his goal was to “build to the historic character” of neighboring Old Mandeville. “Old Mandeville was done right,” Oubre said. “We’re trying to replicate it.”


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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

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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

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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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