The kitchen island is the home to the kitchen sink and the dishwasher.

Everyone always thinks of updating their home’s interior, but what about the exterior? The exterior is your first layer of protection and the first thing people see. Here are several ways to enhance the exterior of the home from professionals in the industry.

A Safe Space

Hardie siding is the first big step to take when you are upgrading the exterior of your home. Good quality siding will help defend against storms, exterior fires, and pests. The siding will not do its job if it is not installed by a professional.

“A product that has withstood the test of time is important. But so is selecting a qualified contractor,” says Evan Crow, a custom homebuilder.

Minimal Upkeep

Protecting your home is not the only thing that siding is important for. You want the siding to also be easy to maintain. “To take care of your Hardie siding, inspect your gutters and downspouts regularly. Other than that, I encourage an annual soft wash with mild detergent, to prevent both aesthetic and integrity damage,” advises Crowe.

Personalized Curb Appeal

Any home renovation can be both fun and stressful all at the sametime. But it is nice when a visitor, or you drive up to a wonderful home with great curb appeal. Not only will Hardie siding give you protection, it will also give your home a great new look. “From trim boards to smooth lap siding to stucco-like panels, James Hardie has a number of authentic , cutting edge products,” says Crowe.

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In today’s market, buyers seek energy-efficient and eco-friendly features when searching for a new home. According to the National Association of Realtors‘ 2023 Realtors and Sustainability Report, almost half of consumers in the current market are focusing on sustainability.

“Buyers often seek homes that either lessen their environmental footprint or reduce their monthly energy costs. There is value in promoting green features and energy information to future home buyers,” says Jessica Lautz, Deputy Chief Economist and VP of Research at NAR.

In the report, there are many green features that are most important. These include proximity to frequently visited places, a comfortable living space, utility bills plus operating costs, and a home’s windows, doors and siding. These all can be changed while the location of your home cannot.

ENERGY STAR also points out that there are other features that can be updated that will make your home not only more comfortable but energy efficient as well. Make sure your HVAC system is maintained and working properly. This also goes with your hot water heater which should ideally be upgraded to a heat pump water heater. Upgrade to a smart thermostat that can regulate temperature settings and reduce the cost of your energy bill. Proper sealing and insulation in your attic can also help with the heating and cooling of your home. Air can also seep out of windows, so upgrading to energy-efficient windows will reduce the transfer of heat.

Not only will an energy-efficient home sell for more money, but you can also benefit from tax credits and rebates for energy-efficient upgrades. Focusing on energy efficiency and eco-friendly features will make your home very appealing to buyers.

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The living room has tons of natural lighting that seeps through all the windows.

The current housing market sees high mortgage rates, concerns about another recession and inflationary pressure. Even with these trends, it is a great time to buy a home because the long-term benefits are still worth it.

If you ask a homeowner who has had their home for 5, 10, or more years they will tell you they have no regrets. The main reason is due to the growth in a home’s value over time. According to Fannie Mae, seventy percent of those that were surveyed said that buying a home is a safe investment.

The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) reveals how much homes have increased in price over the last five years. The highest overall increase was seen in the Mountain region at 68.9%. Next came South Atlantic with a 67.5% increase, then East South Central at 63%, New England came in with 57.5%, East North Central and West South Central at 51.8%, Middle Atlantic came in at 49.4%, West North Central with 48.8% and last is Pacific with 48%.

As far as the percent change in home prices was drastic. The highest was in the Mountain region at 457.5% and the lowest was in East North Central at 214.2%. The Pacific region had a 334.1% increase, South Atlantic by 320.4%, 302.4% in West South Central, West North Central 270.1%, and Middle Atlantic with 239.9%.

Talk to a Realtor who will help you with the options of purchasing a new home. They can also let you know the great long-term benefits of owning a home.

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For the first time in the past year or so, builder confidence has moved into the positive range. The confidence booster is due to the heavy buyer demand, low home inventory and the increase in productivity in the supply chain. The National Association of Home Builders had a lot of great data to share about the housing market.

As of June 2023, builders’ confidence in newly-built single-family homes rose to fifty-five points. According to the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB)/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index (HMI) this is the sixth straight month that there has been an increase in builder confidence.

“Builders are feeling cautiously optimistic about market conditions given low levels of existing home inventory and ongoing gradual improvements for supply chains,” said NAHB Chairman Alicia Huey, a custom home builder and developer from Birmingham, Ala. “However, access for builder and developer loans has become more difficult to obtain over the last year, which will ultimately result in lower lot supplies as the industry tries to expand off cycle lows.”

“A bottom is forming for single-family home building as builder sentiment continues to gradually rise from the beginning of the year,” said NAHB Chief Economist Robert Dietz. “This month marks the first time in a year that both the current and future sales components of the HMI have exceeded 60, as some buyers adjust to a new normal in terms of interest rates. The Federal Reserve nearing the end of its tightening cycle is also good news for future market conditions in terms of mortgage rates and the cost of financing for builder and developer loans.”

The hot summer can wreak havoc on your nice green lawn. A lawn can go dormant and turn brown which is not a nice look for your landscaping. Here are five steps to take to keep a healthy green lawn.

1. Mow at the right height

You want to make sure to mow your lawn at a good height so your grass stays nice and green. Cutting your grass at a taller height can shad the soil helping to keep in the moisture which allows for a robust root system. Shorter grass can dry out the roots causing ample opportunity for weeds to grow. A good rule of thumb is to cut off about 1/3 of the grass each time.

2. Let clippings lie

If you are OCD then this could be a hard task. Leaving the grass clippings can look untidy at times but if done the correct way this will not happen. Timing your cuts and cutting at the proper height will just give off enough clippings to be beneficial. The clippings will actually help your grass to stay healthy.  Sometimes called ‘grasscycling’, this will save you time and money – as the fine mulch clippings will act as a natural fertilizer to provide nutrients back to your lawn.

3. Clean up after your pets

Your four-legged family members can also be a bad thing for your yard. Their waste will leave dead spots in the lawn. When your pet goes potty, flush the area with water to dilute the urine.

4. Water properly

Too much or too little can be hazardous to a lawn. A deep soak every so often is the best. Continuously watering a lawn will cause mold issues but water too little will lead to brown dead grass.

5. Tackle tough lawn weeds

Weeds are the enemy when it comes to the lawn. When given the right environment, weeds will overtake the lawn. A lawn needs to be protected by using weed control on your lawn. There are many types on the market that will kill the weeds which include dandelion, chickweed, knotweed, plantain, henbit, spurge and many others commonly found in home lawns.

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At Ron Lee Homes, we specialize in semi-custom and fully custom-built homes for our many home buyers. Because of this, we have an extensive portfolio of house plans that include a mix and match of features that we have introduced throughout the years to our discerning custom home buyers. Through specialized requests and the new and unique custom features constantly being introduced throughout the real estate market, we have an incredible variety of specialty offerings we can propose for any floorplan design.

Whether it’s a specific type of wine cellar, butler’s pantry, mud room, custom closet, walk-through shower, etc., we have worked with our new home buyers to try to provide them with their dream home design. Our floorplans are constantly being evaluated for efficiency, as well. Making our designs not only built to an exceptional quality but making them as friendly to your budget as possible is all part of our custom home building process.

When building new, custom homes, we take into account much more than just the interior amenities and features. We are looking to design and build for you a complete plan, where the exterior can be just as important as the interior. We have created extensive outdoor spaces, such as custom, covered, screened-in porches with an outdoor patio area, covered and outdoor kitchens and catering areas, outdoor fireplaces, design for outdoor entertainment, including sound systems and televisions, pool and fountain designs, hot tubs, and so much more!

If you are ready to start your custom home building journey, get in touch with us to Schedule Your Consultation to discuss your new home floorplan and exterior design! Call 985-966-0086 or email

It is sometimes said that real estate is a great investment. Sometimes people equate this fact to owning property and earning rental income, purchasing land and developing it for commercial and residential real estate ventures, or the value of land or property as it appreciates over time.

According to the a report released by the National Association of Realtors, on average, homeowners in the low, middle, and upper income levels nationally accumulated $98,900, $122,100, and $150,800 in wealth by owning their own home. Putting aside the equity earned while making mortgage payments on a home that you own, as well as the interest that can be written off for tax purposes, the benefits of owning vs. renting translates into actual accumulated wealth, according to this report.

The report by the National Association of Realtors focused on the “built-in” wealth of home appreciation. The amount of equity in a home that appreciates in value over time automatically adds money to a homeowner’s portfolio. Specifically, around the state of Louisiana, the low, middle, and upper income homeowners in the New Orleans-Metairie metro areas accumulated $41,110, $75,030, and $75,680 respectively. In Baton Rouge, low, middle, and upper income homeowners achieved an additional $60,020, $73,500, and $102,980 in additional personal wealth.

Owning a home has so many more benefits than renting because all of the money put into the home and the payments made on the homes is money working for you. In the West St. Tammany Parish area, rents and mortgage payments are now closer in price than ever. Consider purchasing a new home for sale or building a custom home. If you’re ready to begin, Contact Us for a Consultation Today!

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Wood ceiling beams and the brick accent archway help define the spaces in this open floor plan concept.

You do not have to wait to downsize just because you become an empty nester. Sometimes downsizing to a smaller home can have its advantages no matter what stage of life you are currently in. Here are some nice advantages for those who want to downsize.

1. More Financial Freedom

A smaller home will have a less expensive sale price than a larger home in the same area. If you have a good bit of equity in the home you are downsizing from, you might even be able to purchase a smaller home outright. If this is the case, you do not have to worry about a monthly mortgage payment. If you cannot purchase a smaller home without a mortgage, then you will more than likely get a good chunk out of the equity for a large down payment. The larger down payment will allow you to enjoy a smaller monthly payment, low-interest rates and more cash each month.

2. Greater Ability to Diversify Your Assets

The wise old saying, “don’t put all your eggs in one basket” can apply to your assets as well. If you have all of your cash tied up into residential real estate and the housing market crashes, you could stand to lose a lot of money. If you buy a smaller house, you will have extra cash that you can invest in assets other than just real estate.

3. More Energy Efficient

A smaller home, equals less square footage to heat and cool and light. This not only helps you save money, but you also reduce your carbon footprint.

4. Less Time Spent Cleaning

A bigger home makes for a bigger space to have to clean. Even if you do not use all of your rooms on a daily basis, dust still gathers in the space. It takes less time to clean a smaller space, making way for other things to enjoy.

5. Cozy Atmosphere

You can feel lonely in a big space but a smaller home feels cozy and homey. Having one family room area is a great benefit because it gives you a lot of time to bond with loved ones. A smaller home encourages closer relationships with those you live with.

If you are looking to downsize, contact a local real estate agent who can help you find the right home for your needs. Remember you do not have to be an empty nester to downsize into a smaller home.

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New Home Sales climbed again in March, making it the fourth month in a row. Those in the industry say that this is due to the ease in mortgage rates and the low inventory of existing homes. Buyers are now looking at new construction more than ever.

According to the US Department of Housing and Urban Development and the US Census Bureau, there was a 9.6% rise in new construction home sales from February to March. This could be a good sign that the housing market is starting to stabilize. Sales of new single-family homes in March were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 683,000 which is still down from a year ago at 707,000. New home sales rose from $438,200 in February to $449,800 in March.

“Buyers have begun to adjust to the elevated mortgage rate levels, especially in areas where home prices have adjusted downwards to compensate. Despite signs of economic uncertainty in March, which included news of bank failures, buyers are still showing demand for new homes,” said Kelly Mangold of RCLCO Real Estate Consulting.

“Demographic drivers remain strong as more households move into family years, and remote hybrid work continue to have a foothold in many industries, driving buyers to seek space for extra bedrooms and/or office space in their homes,” says Mangold.

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The walk-in shower has a shower bench and custom tile.

The LSU Health Foundation wants to build an age-restricted community along the Mandeville Lakefront. Sucette Harbor would be located on land that was donated by Al Copeland’s family. Many residents are not thrilled about the proposed development because they feel it will create traffic problems.

Although the development is planned to be for tenants 55 and over, it has to be 80% filled with tenants that are 55 and older in order for the age restriction to be enforced. Many Mandeville leaders and residents are afraid they will not be able to draw in that many tenants that are 55 and older. If this happens, then the development will go back to a regular multi-family complex.

Woodward Interest, the developer that will be leasing the land from LSU Health Foundation, believes that traffic will not be an issue. If the development did lose its age restriction, and younger people were to live in the complex, Mandeville’s land use regulations will still hold for the traffic standards.

The chair of the planning commission, Brian Rhinehart, still feels this could be a problem because older tenants are expected to have fewer vehicles but they still might not draw enough older tenants. Rhinehart wants Woodward Interest to do a study showing traffic that would be generated by a non-age-restricted multi-family complex.

“There’s always a level of mistrust when the developer hires a consultant. Citizens need that to have confidence that this isn’t a big snow job,” says Kevin Vogeltanz.

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