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Date Archives: May 2022

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May
31

Pay Off Your Mortgage Early With These Tips

The answer is different for each homeowner. Your earning power, expected future earning power, savings, and even your hobbies will all have an impact on how you choose to pay your mortgage. The good news is that there really are simple, effective tactics for paying off your mortgage early — as long as you're willing to stay committed to the process.

One of the best ways to pay off your mortgage early is to make sure that your mortgage fits your finances well before signing on the dotted line. Free mortgage calculators are very useful when shopping for a mortgage. If you're already locked into a mortgage, don't worry, there's still plenty you can do to more quickly own your home free and clear.

  1. Cut Expenses, Increase Savings – The number one tip for paying off your mortgage early is both pretty simple on the surface but sometimes easier said than done. It's sort of like saying that to lose weight, you need to burn more calories than you take in. We all know that it's true, but cutting expenses and increasing savings requires a lot of planning, discipline, and persistence.

  2. Earn More, Save More – One of the best options to cut expenses will come when you earn a raise at work or move to a higher-paying position. It's natural to want to splurge a bit, but you've already proven that you can live comfortably on your prior salary. Keep the same budget when you get a raise and put the difference toward paying off your mortgage.

  3. Focus on Frugal Fun – There will always be little sacrifices when you want to pay off a mortgage early, but that doesn't mean you have to forego fun. You'll just want to be smart about how you invest your entertainment budget. Focus on affordable hobbies, plan vacations on a budget, and try replacing a few dinners out with creative, home-cooked meals. It's all about finding the right balance.

  4. Plan Your Financial Future – If you're not on a first-name basis with a financial adviser, now is a great time to change that. A financial adviser can help optimize your budget, minimize your tax load and identify ways to lower spending that won't cut into your quality of life. Investing some of your extra savings can also help with paying off your mortgage early.

  5. Extra Payments – The ultimate payoff of saving more and spending less is the extra payments you'll be able to make, which will help you pay off your mortgage early. These payments add up quickly, and with a little planning, you can start making extra payments soon after buying a house. Your financial adviser can help you optimize your extra payments to make paying off your mortgage early as efficient as possible.

While the goal of saving more and spending less holds true for all homeowners interested in paying off their mortgage early, there are many different ways to reach that goal after buying a house. Research, experiment, and find the savings tips that work for you. The benefits of owning your home free and clear are worth the effort.

May
27

Shrimp is a staple of many Cajun and Creole dishes, and there is no better place to find fresh shrimp than Louisiana. Fresh, Gulf shrimp is the most popular seafood in the state, and for good reason. Shrimp is incredibly versatile. Whether you like it fried, grilled, or blackened, everyone has a favorite style, including many of our real estate agents who are often in search of new local shrimp-based dishes to try.

Whether you're visiting the area or are a local looking for a good new restaurant, here are five popular destinations where you can get some delicious shrimp around Shreveport.

  1. Crawdaddy's Kitchen - 9370 Mansfield Road, Shreveport, LA 71118
    This easy-going restaurant in Shreveport serves a slew of Cajun-style cuisine, including some delicious shrimp entrees that are just packed with flavor. At Crawdaddy's Kitchen, you can order your shrimp boiled, stuffed, or on top of some delicious fettucine alfredo. Don't forget to top off your meal with some New Orleans-style bread pudding for dessert. Afterward, you'll want to be sure to take a look at these Shreveport homes for sale just a few miles down the road.

  2. Orlandeaux's Cafe - 5301 South Lakeshore Drive, Shreveport, LA 71109
    This iconic local restaurant has been serving some of the area's top Creole and Cajun seafood in some form or another since 1921. Orlandeaux's Cafe has some amazing Shrimp Fried Rice, Shrimp & Grits, and Shrimp Creole—not to mention dozens of other seafood entrees, po'boys, and more. You're sure to get the true taste of Louisiana at this classic dining establishment.

  3. THE PORT - 711 Horseshoe Boulevard, Bossier City, LA 71111
    Located inside the Horseshoe Casino, THE PORT takes seafood to the next level. Order your shrimp grilled, fried, or boiled, or if you're a fan of Cajun flavor, choose the Shrimp Etoufee. Love oysters too? You're in luck. THE PORT offers Oysters Diablo, Oysters Rockefeller, and Oysters on the half shell. Stop by after looking at these Bossier City homes for sale.

  4. Herby-K's - 1833 Pierre Avenue, Shreveport, LA 71103
    For some of the best fried shrimp in town, swing by Herby-K's, a tiny family-owned and operated bar and restaurant known for its delicious Louisiana seafood. Don't be fooled by the modest appearance; Herby-K's has been serving up the delicious World Famous Shrimp Buster since 1945. It's a unique take on a shrimp po'boy with a secret dipping sauce. You have to try it!

  5. Zuzul Coastal Cuisine - 1370 East 70th Street Suite 1100, Shreveport, LA 71105
    Zuzul Coastal Cuisine
    is a local seafood destination with some great local Louisiana classics with a Latin American influence. Try the Shrimp and Grits—it's Louisiana gulf shrimp, heirloom grits, verjus cheese, and bacon-demi. The bar serves a variety of tasty tropical drinks. Enjoy your lunch or dinner on the cool, covered patio.


  6. Sam's Southern Eatery - 2910 Barksdale Boulevard, Bossier City, LA 71112
    While Sam's Southern Eatery has grown to locations in nine states, the restaurant got its start in Shreveport. The Bossier City location serves up a variety of po'boys, including one loaded with four jumbo shrimp. If you prefer lighter fare, consider ordering the Shrimp Salad, or savor the flavor of Sam's Special 25 Baby Shrimp in the restaurant's signature sauce.  

There's no place better to enjoy authentic Cajun and Creole seafood than Lousiana. If you're considering a move to the Shreveport and Bossier City area, contact us today.

May
25

MAY IS THE MOST IMPORTANT WORD
By Brad Gosslee, President, Coldwell Banker Gosslee

This is my May blog. And it's also an article that will use the word "may" over and over. That's because there remain a whole lot of unknowns about what may occur in housing over the near- and long-term future. But there remains one certainty…we are still in the one of the hottest and tightest times in real estate history that is especially challenging in Northwest Louisiana.

Let's start with today. We continue to see strong buyer demand met with a limited supply of available homes, causing continued rising prices.

I want to explain a bit more about the current market while I also look into the future of what may occur.

As you can tell from my blogs, I love digging into the statistics associated with the housing market. I believe the numbers give us insight into what is occurring and what may be coming down the road with prices, sales and the pace of the market.

One of the most telling numbers that indicates a down-the-road shift may be coming is in the number of home sales. The National Association of Realtors just came out with its Existing Home Sales Report looking at April sales and shared that the U.S. was down 5.4% in sales over last April. This was the third time in a row that the sales figures were below the previous month. And locally, our sales in April were down 8% over last year.

That rationale for a decrease in sales likely has a lot to do with the following:

  • Mortgage rates have ticked up. Locally, as I write this, we are around 5.3% for a 30-year fixed mortgage according to our friends at Fairway Mortgage.
  • Home prices have risen to record levels.
  • Prices and mortgage rates may be pulling some entry-level buyers out of the market.

At the same time, we are continuing to see the repercussions of a record low number of homes on the market. If there aren't enough homes for sale, logic would indicate we can't sell as many homes.

The buying frenzy of these last several years, which was fueled by historically low mortgage rates and the "work from anywhere" phenomenon, has never allowed for an already dipping pre-pandemic supply of homes to keep up. If we continue to see fewer buyers, we may start to see homes stay on the market longer, with fewer multiple bids and therefore prices would stabilize. After all, double-digit percentage increases are not sustainable.

But for now, we remain in dire need of more listings. I am hopeful that potential sellers who may have waited to "time the market" and sell at the peak, may recognize that we may be at that point and decide to list.

The inventory challenge has been exacerbated by another phenomenon of modern times – aging in place. The older generation, those 65+, have the highest homeownership rate according to the U.S. Census, with just under 79% in this age group owning their homes. This figure more than doubles the 38.8% reported for those under 35. But these older homeowners may not be selling. In fact, AARP reports that more than 90% of them want to remain in their homes.

It's just another piece of our inventory concerns. We entered May in Caddo, Bossier and Desoto Parishes with only 667 homes for sale. This was just a 1.3-month supply, and off nearly 78% from just four years ago. Even though 606 new listings came on the market in April, they are being sold really quickly. In fact, the median days on market locally for all sold homes was a ridiculously fast nine days, which was almost twice as fast as the national figure of 17.

We remain in the greatest "seller's market" of all-time. As this next chart shows, because inventory levels are so low, sellers have a huge negotiating advantage. You can see that by comparing back to 2018.

Four years ago, we had a very balanced market at our lower price points – at or near the six-month supply. In this environment, neither side has a negotiating advantage. The script flips to the buyer's advantage when there are more properties available than buyer demand. Taking a look at the chart below, this is evident in the higher price points in 2018. You can also see how severe today's lack of inventory is:

Price Range

April 2022 Available Homes/Month Supply

April 2018 Available Homes/Month Supply

Total

667/1.3

2,289/5.9

$100,000 & less

148/2.0

523/5.4

$100,000-$200,000

172/1.0

728/4.6

$200,000-$300,000

144/1.0

494/5.6

$300,000-$400,000

64/1.1

261/9.2

$400,000-$500,000

51/1.9

132/14.9

$500,000+

88/4.7

160/23.4

 

Now let's address sales and demand. While we are off a bit from last year, remember a year ago our frenzy was at full capacity. There were 469 home sales in April in Caddo, Bossier and Desoto Parishes. The drop of eight percent was off a record 510 a year ago. But if you look at our five-year April average of 426, we are actually running 10% ahead. So the demand is still there!

What's also interesting locally is that if we were selling more at the lower price points, we would be at record level pace. As this next chart shows, the move-up segments above $200,000 continue to show incredible sales strength.

Price Range

YoY Number of Home Sales NW LOUISIANA
(% change over April 2021

YoY Number of Home Sales in Bossier Parish (% change over April 2021

YoY Number of Home Sales in Caddo Parish (% change over April 2021

YoY Number of Home Sales in Desoto Parish (% change over April 2021

Total

1,723 (-4%)

649 (-10%)

1,021 (0%)

54 (-11%)

$100,000 & less

281 (+5%)

    66 50 (0%)

208 (+9%)

8 (-27%)

$100,000-$200,000

573 (-18%)

173 (-25%)

308 (-12%)

15 (-42%)

$200,000-$300,000

530 (+5%)

233 (-6%)

285 (+17%)

    12 (+0%)

$300,000-$400,000

194 (-1%)

112 (-2%)

74 (0%)

8 (0%)

$400,000-$500,000

84 (+12%)

48 (+55%)

32 (-22%)

4 (+100%)

$500,000-
$600,000

34 (+21%)

    11 (-35%)

17 (+55%)

6 (+400%)

$600,000+

27 (0%)

6 (-40%)

20 (+25%)

1 (+100%)

 

This is also the second straight month where we are not seeing dramatic increases in the number of sales over the previous year. In fact, because 2021 was such a strong sales year, we are even seeing large swings to the negative. But I urge you not to read into these shifts too much since they are compared to record levels. I am more focused on the price points that are still showing positive increases. A few months ago, we were seeing most of these in the plus 50-80% ranges. We are not seeing those same dramatic increases today. This may be an indicator that we are entering a more normalized market.

 

As you would expect with demand (buyers) still high being and a lack of supply, prices would continue to rise. And that is exactly what has occurred here and throughout the U.S.

Nationally, home prices have risen to a record median price of $391,200, up 14.8% over last year. For comparison's sake, it was $255,300 at this time in 2018. Locally we saw a similar April increase of 11% to $218,000. Thankfully our median priced home is $172,000 cheaper! Once again, the affordability of Northwest Louisiana is visible.

This next chart shows how we compare to the U.S. As you can see by what I've highlighted, our supply and pace is drastically lower than the nation:

 

U.S.

(change over April '21)

Northwest LA

(change over April '21)

Median Price

$391,200/+14.6%

$218,000/+11%

Number of Sales

5.61 million/-5.4%
(annualized)

469/-8%

Inventory

1.03 million/-10.4%

667/-14%

Months Supply

2.2/2.3

1.3/1.6

Median Days on Market

17/17

9/10

 

I wanted to close this month's blog with a portion of the actual script from our radio ads that run on our local radio stations. It addresses a seller's needs:   

NOW…MORE THAN EVER…SELLERS NEED A HIGHLY SKILLED….FULL TIME AGENT…..WHO IS WELL TRAINED ON PRICING AND NEGOTIATING MULTIPLE OFFERS.

THAT'S WHAT YOU WILL FIND IN A COLDWELL BANKER GOSSLEE AGENT…

REMEMBER…NOT ALL AGENTS ARE THE SAME…

YOUR TRUST HAS ALLOWED US TO BE THE #1 BROKERAGE IN NORTHWEST LOUISIANA FOR 29 STRAIGHT YEARS.

This is not just marketing speak. It is the truth. Sellers face different challenges today than they ever have, including managing the nearly daily changes in prices along with the ability to properly choose and negotiate with the right buyer.

I am confident that our agents are the most skilled in the region and I applaud them for continuing to train, learn and grow.

Remember, there are no silly questions. If you have any, please reach out to one of our agents or feel free to reach out to me at bgosslee@cbgosslee.com.

Hope you have a great Memorial Day start to summer!

 

 

 

May
24

(Shreveport, LA - May 24, 2022) - Katelyn Roan has joined Coldwell Banker Gosslee, the #1 real estate brokerage in Northwest Louisiana.

"For me, Real Estate has nothing to do with the transaction and everything to do with the relationship I build with my clients," says Katelyn. "I am armed with superior services, technologies and knowledge of the market conditions to provide a smooth process from beginning to end!"

Katelyn strives to serve her clients with compassion, leads with integrity and looks forward to being a part of everyones' story. She feels like it's an honor when someone chooses her to turn a page or close a book in their life's milestones!

"It is my goal to help my clients make the right move and be their forever Realtor! You will not find anyone willing to work harder for you. I am completely dedicated to my client's satisfaction and will always go above and beyond to make that happen." 

Born and raised in Shreveport, LA, Katelyn knows the market well. She believes that it matters having an agent on your side who knows cities, towns, schools and all of the local things to make life easier! Katelyn is licensed in Louisiana and Texas.

You may contact Katelyn at 318.402.6983 or you can email her at kroanrealtor@gmail.com.

To find out how Coldwell Banker Gosslee has remained #1 for the 29th straight year, go to CBGosslee.com.

May
23

5 Ways Sellers Can Sabotage Their Own Sales

Is the yard a mess? Do the shutters need painting?  Have you just cost yourself a contract by making a few simple mistakes. Here is a list of five home-selling mistakes to avoid with tips on how to correct them.

  1. Dirty Kitchen, Dirty Bathrooms
    For most people, the kitchen is one of the marquee attractions when looking at a potential home. Bathrooms are less an attraction than a necessity in most cases, but they're just as important. Clean both rooms thoroughly, including grout, tiles, and those annoying, hard-to-reach areas around appliances.

  2. A Messy Yard
    When acting on tips for how to sell your house, it's easy to get so caught up in preparing the inside of your home that you forget about the outside. It's also a big mistake. Your front lawn is an advertisement, even to people who are just passing by. Keep your lawn healthy, your hedges trimmed, and your yard free of clutter.

  3. Old Appliances
    While it may seem counter-intuitive to purchase new appliances for a home you're about to leave, doing so can make it easier to sell your home. You don't need the most advanced, high-end appliances unless you're appealing to the luxury market. The important thing is that the buyer knows your appliances have modern features, work well, and won't have to be replaced anytime soon.

  4. Old Carpets, Odd Colors
    While that extra-shaggy carpet or lime-green sitting room may have seemed a good idea at the time, it might not go over so well with potential buyers. Opt for hardwood floors or new carpet instead, and paint those extra-vibrant rooms with more conventional colors. You can always get creative again when decorating your next home!

  5. Hovering Sellers
    When showing your home, there's nothing wrong with a warm welcome and friendly rapport. Just make sure you give the potential buyer room to breathe. Allow them to look around on their own, and let them know you're available to answer any questions. They'll appreciate that much more than a guided tour.

Avoid these common mistakes and you can be sure buyers will want to bite! And don't forget to talk to your real estate agent for even more advice on selling your home.

May
20

There's something magical about watching a movie on a warm summer night under the stars with friends. If you're not close to one of the few drive-in theaters still in existence, no worries – you can easily transform your backyard into an outdoor home theater. Here are five tips for turning your backyard into a pop-up movie theater.

Projector and Screen

If you want to capture the essence of the drive-in theater, there's no substitute for a good projector. An outdoor projector should be at least 1,200 lumens, a measurement of how much light a device emits. Another must-have feature are HDMI ports, so you can connect items such as Blu-ray DVD players. If you don't want to invest in a projector, bring your TV and DVD player outside.

Comfy Seating

Provide your guests with a range of comfortable seating options, including patio furniture, lounge chairs, blankets and outdoor pillows. Of if you have a pool, even better. Host a raft-up party and invite guests to bring their own pool float to relax on while the movie plays.

Snackage

Step up your game by creating a popcorn bar for guests. Fill small decorative bags with popcorn and offer an assortment of candy treats, marshmallows and other sweet mix-ins. And, of course, a movie night wouldn't be complete without offering some classic movie-theater candy like Raisinets, Jujubes and the perennial favorite – Junior Mints!

Soft Lights

While your yard needs to be dark enough to see the movie, you also will need a little light so guests don't trip over each other on the way to the snack bar. String lights and luminaries are a nice inexpensive option, casting a glow over your yard without distracting from the movie.

De-bugging

Spray the backyard before guests arrive, or, if your backyard isn't generally buggy, offer them insect repellent. There is quite an array of natural bug-repelling options available to keep the swatting to a minimum.

Hosting a backyard film fest isn't as challenging as you might think. With just a little planning ahead and some creativity, you can bring the drive-in movie theater experience to your backyard… possibly even better.

May
18

Meeting people is the best way to make your new digs feel like home. 

Whether you're moving across town or across the country, it's tough to feel like the new kid on the block--regardless of your age.  Here are five great ways to make friends with your new neighbors and make the move into your new community.

  1. Just Say Hi! 
    Your new neighbors are busy and most likely won't come knocking to help you unpack. So, if you want to meet your new neighbors make the first step. Start by making the rounds through your new neighborhood and introduce yourself to everyone. Not only is this a great way potentially meet new friends, it's also a great time to get recommendations on things like local mechanics, gyms, grocery stores and upcoming community events; great information to know after buying a new house.

  2. Take the Kids Out to Play
    If you have children, go outside to play.  Go to a local park.  This will give you an opportunity to meet neighbors with children the same age as yours.  Schedule a play date to get your families acquainted.  Walking your children to the bus stop is a great way to meet several parents at once. 


  3. Host a Get Together
    If you don't like the idea of going door to door to meet your neighbors, you can encourage them to come to you. The simplest way to do this is by hosting a meet and greet. As soon as you're settled, plan a small party and invite only your new neighbors. Keep everything low key and friendly. You shouldn't ask them to bring anything. Be clear as to whether or not kids are invited to the get together.

  4. Become an Active Community Member
    After buying a house and getting settled in, look for ways you can become an integral member of the community. Sign up to volunteer at things like your local pet rescue, school functions or 4-H events. You should also consider participating in community rallies and charitable events. The more active you are in the community and the more people you'll meet.

  5. Talk to People
    The odds are pretty good that you will run into at least some of your new neighbors while you're running errands around town. It's so important that you make an effort to be friendly and make small talk as many people as you can in the months after buying a house in a brand-new neighborhood. The few minutes you speaking to a cashier, bank teller or the person standing line behind you could be the start of a new friendship.

When you buy a house, there's plenty to be excited about during the packing and moving processes.  Once you're settled in, roll out the welcome wagon and meet your new neighbors.  Your new house and neighborhood will soon be feeling just like "home sweet home."

May
17

Not everyone is ready to buy a home. But if you are ready, it's one of the best investments you can make.


This is especially true for younger people (the Millennial generation), who arguably have the most to gain from buying a house.


Millennials make up the largest group of first-time homeowners in America, and many in their 30's and even in their 20's are coming around to the benefits of buying their first home. Unfortunately, many factors are keeping Millennials from becoming homeowners—student debt, a volatile job market—but the numbers are improving.  Here are four benefits of buying a home while you are young: 

  1. Spend money smarter. Making monthly payments on an apartment you'll never own can be frustrating, and escaping from the cycle of renting is one of the biggest reasons many Millennials give for wanting to own a home. Putting your money toward mortgage payments instead of rent gives you something to work toward. Many young homeowners find that the responsibilities of homeownership lead to developing better financial habits in general. 

  2. Invest in your future. If you're like many people, a house is probably the most valuable thing you will ever own, but it's more than that. Most real estate increases in value over time, and buying a home at a young age gives you something of great value that you can sell when the time is right—probably for a higher price than you paid for it. Granted, property values can go up and down as the market fluctuates, but if you make a wise choice in the home you choose to invest in, it is unlikely that its value will decrease in the long run. Chances are when you reach retirement age, you'll be glad you bought a house when you were younger.

  3. Build your credit. It goes without saying that if you're buying a home at a young age, you're probably already working with some credit. That being said, buying a house looks good to lenders, and the fact that you're able to achieve it at a younger age than most will only make your credit history look more impressive. Even if you're buying a relatively modest starter home, obtaining a mortgage and paying it off reliably will boost your credit rating and make it easier to buy a larger home in the future. 

  4. Enjoy the tax benefits. Many new homeowners are pleasantly surprised by all the tax advantages that come with buying a house. For starters, mortgage interest is deductible from your annual income tax, and homeowners get tax credits that can lower your tax liability. Simply put, owning your home means that you may owe less to the government when tax time rolls around. 

Age is just a number, of course, and the right time to become a homeowner is when you're ready.

May
13

4 Ways to Cool Off Your Energy Bill

Gear up for summer by giving your air conditioner a break and lowering your energy bill at the same time with these home cooling methods. Alternatives like energy-efficient windows, doors and electronics, filters and shading can help chill your home with less energy use, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.

Dress Your Windows

During peak daylight, it's a good idea to keep window coverings closed to block the sun's heat. Consider window awnings or roll-down shades for the outside of your home that can be operated remotely or put on a schedule. For your home interior, opt for insulated cellular shades or blinds that block out the sun and have reflective backing. Even fitted drapes that cover the interior blinds can help reduce heat in your home.

Fans for Cooling

A great way to help your air conditioner is to run ceiling fans at the same time. This circulates the cool air, so your A/C doesn't have to work quite so hard. A whole house fan is an entire air system that's installed in the attic to pull in air from the windows and push it out through the attic vents. This not only cools your whole home fast, but it also gives your attic, which is a major source of heat, better ventilation.

Adjustable Thermostats

No matter what the temperature is outside, you can always pre-set your thermostat according to the weather report and your schedule. Many new thermostats let you repeat daily settings or even control the temperature with an app. Check out this energy saver video for quick tips on what the optimal house temperateive should be.

Door Draft Stoppers

Consider adding door draft stoppers to your interior and exterior doors. These fitted plastic, magnetic or fabric pieces are placed at the bottom of entrances to stop heat from escaping. They provide the flexibility of being able to cover slight openings and cracks under the door. And don't forget the sliding glass door — there are extra-long options available to stop the draft before it starts.

Now that you know more ways to stay cool for the summer, you can see what works best for you and your home to make sure you have a nice, cool summer.

May
11

Sellers: Why You Should Upgrade Your Outdoor Space

Whether you're thinking of selling soon or you plan to stay in your home for the long haul, your outdoor space is more important now than ever before. With the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic still fresh in our minds, most homeowners are re-evaluating their space and re-prioritizing what's important to them.

Today, many buyers are focused on making the best use of all available space. This has created a strong trend towards all types of outdoor upgrades. It's now one of the most sought-after features among home buyers, and we don't see this trend going away any time soon. Still not convinced? Here are three reasons to consider spending some of your time this summer upgrading our outdoor space.

1. Increased Home Value

Many outdoor upgrades increase the amount of usable living space on your property. According to a January 2021 survey conducted for the International Casual Furnishings Association, people spend more time outdoors doing things like grilling, dining, gardening, and spending time with their children and pets.

People want outdoor spaces that complement both their homes and their lifestyles. They want privacy, relaxation, and comfort when they're spending time outdoors. Since this is so desirable right now, you can expect upgrades that support these goals to earn you a solid return on your investment.

2. Improved Curb Appeal

Upgrades to your driveway, front entrance area, and landscaping will all improve your curb appeal. This will make your home more attractive and inviting. It will also go a long way towards making it more desirable when you decide to sell.

You never get a second chance to make a first impression, so don't miss out. You'll be surprised by how much even small upgrades like replacing your mailbox or house numbers can improve your home's curb appeal.

3. Long-Term Enjoyment

Even if you don't plan to sell your home any time soon, it's worth considering moving forward on the outdoor upgrade you've been dreaming of. Countless studies tout the benefits of spending time outdoors.

Creating a space where you can relax and enjoy your time off without ever leaving the comfort of your home will do wonders for your physical and mental health. You'll also have the peace of mind that comes with knowing you're making smart moves and keeping your home on-trend.

2021's Top Outdoor Upgrades

Outdoor kitchens top the list of desirable outdoor upgrades. This can range from a covered grill with some cabinet space to a full gourmet kitchen complete with pizza ovens, dishwashers, and more. Other desirable features include outdoor heating (ex. fire pits), outdoor bars, and comfortable outdoor seating areas. In some locations, inground pools are also making a comeback. Decks, patios, and outdoor gazebos are also growing in popularity.

It's important to note that you don't have to break the bank to follow this trend. Even a simple landscaping update can make a major difference in the value of your home. Other simple upgrades to consider include replacing your garage door, installing a sprinkler system, updating your front door, and adding landscape lighting.

May
10

Organizing your home search makes the process easier. 

Every buyer-to-be knows searching for a home can be a challenge.  However, your house hunt doesn't have to mean chaos if you start with an organized plan. Streamlining your search starts with a healthy dose of preparation by including a great real estate agent, setting a budget, creating a wish list and reviewing real estate listings that meet your requirements. 

These six tips can keep you organized and focused as you search for your new home.

  1. Involve Your Agent
    Your real estate agent isn't there just to set up visits and oversee the closing process when you're buying a house. They're also your number one resource for answering questions, sharing ideas and providing real estate advice.

  2. Set a Budget
    While you don't have to know exactly how much you'll be able to spend at the start, it's a good idea to narrow your budget down to a comfortable range. Setting a sensible budget from the start makes every step that comes after easier.  You can always adjust later if your finances change.


  3. Scout First
    Before you start scheduling visits, it's a good idea to scout some neighborhoods and identify possible matches. Doing online research will help you narrow down the possibilities.  You can learn even more by driving through the most appealing spots that your research uncovers. Be sure to write down the info of any homes that catch your eye so that you can visit them later for a closer look.


  4. When in Doubt, Make a List
    Making lists are a great way to stay organized and super helpful when buying a house. Making lists of your needs, wants and deal breakers will help you lock in on the best fits and save time by quickly eliminating homes that just aren't a match.


  5. Ask Around
    Have any friends or family members who recently bought in a new community or live in a neighborhood you're considering? It helps to get the inside scoop on a neighborhood from someone you trust.


  6. Get Pre-Approved
    Want to impress potential sellers and gain some peace of mind in the process? Getting pre-approved for a mortgage is an excellent idea when shopping for a house and will make life much easier when it's time to make an offer. Get this step out of the way early and you'll be in great shape.

Creating a plan before you start your search for a home gives you the chance to enjoy the process and to make an efficient, informed decision when it's time to place an offer on your new house.

May
9

The Home Seller's Survival Guide

There's no doubt that you're going to be busy while you work to sell your home, but focusing your energy in the right places will make your life much easier. Better yet, a bit of focused prep can make your home more appealing to potential buyers and ultimately makes it easier to find the right match as quickly as possible. Use this "survival guide" for selling your home to get started.

  1. Your Real Estate Agent – Working with a real estate agent that you trust really does make a huge difference when selling a house. Ask for referrals, potential interview choices, and choose the agent that best matches your needs.

  2. Consider Cost – Choosing the right price is one area where your real estate agent can be a big help because they have done the market research to understand trends in local real estate prices. Setting a fair price goes a long way toward enticing curious shoppers to take that first look and enticing interested buyers to make a real offer.

  3. Keep It Clean – Showings (and open houses) are simply part of the home-selling process, and you'll need to keep a clean, neat home if you want to make a positive impression. Make sure that floors, walls, corners, kitchen surfaces, appliances, and everything else look its absolute best. It also helps to put together a cleaning prep checklist for days when you'll be showing your home.

  4. Clutter-Free – This is huge, and it's an easy step to miss if you'll be living in the home until you sell it. The less clutter – furniture included – the better. You want shoppers to be able to envision their own lives in your home. Consider renting a storage unit to safely store non-essential items until you are ready to move into your next home.

  5. Maintenance and Repairs – DIY repairs are a great way to save some money if you have the experience necessary to do the job. For bigger maintenance tasks, it simply makes more sense to hire a contractor. Putting off repairs now just means more headaches and costs later when it's time for inspection.

  6. Landscaping – The outside of your house is where shoppers form their first impression, so be sure that your landscaping is looking its best. Keep up with outdoor maintenance, including cutting the lawn, for as long as you'll be showing your home. You might even consider adding some new landscaping features for increased curb appeal.

  7. A Welcoming Gesture – On days when you'll be showing, it's a good idea to make or buy some light refreshments for your visitors. Some fresh cookies, fruit, and coffee/tea will make shoppers feel right at home. Your real estate agent will help get the word out about your open house and can walk you through the process so you'll be ready to go.

Your real estate agent will help make sure that people show up, so the most important thing you can do when selling a house is to make sure that your home is always ready to show. That part becomes significantly easier to maintain after you get the initial work out of the way, as long as you keep up with it consistently. With a little teamwork, you'll find the right buyer in no time.

May
6

It's hard to imagine a better way to spend a sunny spring day in Louisiana than a bike ride. It's the perfect season to enjoy the outdoors, and the Shreveport area is blessed with an abundance of excellent bike paths. 

In honor of National Bike Month, which spans the entire month of May, Our real estate agents are here to share some of their favorites. Check out these perfect destinations for a family bike ride in the Shreveport, LA area!

  • Red River Bicycle Trail - 115 E. Texas St., Shreveport, LA 71101
    Arguably Shreveport's premier bike path, the Red River Bicycle Trail follows the course of the Red River for a little over 8 miles. Along the way, it passes through several city parks and provides outstanding views of the river and the Shreveport skyline. The Red River Bicycle Trail is accessible at numerous points across its length, but the 115 Texas Street Parking area is a great place to begin, just a short drive from these Shreveport homes for sale.

  • Lakeshore Mountain Bike Trail - 3301 St. Matthias Dr., Shreveport, LA 71119
    Shreveport's Lakeshore Mountain Bike Trail is a great option for mountain bikers who enjoy moderately challenging terrain and picturesque, wooded scenery. The trail system totals approximately 12 miles and comprises several color-coded singletrack loops ranging from 1 to 4 miles in length. The terrain is, for the most part, gently rolling and hilly, and the various trail options allow mountain bikers to choose among numerous route combinations. 

  • Arthur Teague Trail - Arthur Ray Teague Pkwy, Bossier City, LA 71111
    A popular destination for hiking, cycling, and jogging, the Arthur Teague Parkway Trail extends along the Red River, on the opposite bank from the Red River Bicycle Trail. Currently extending a little over 6 miles, the Arthur Teague Trail is a work in progress, and other sections may be added in the future. The trail extends through some beautiful riverside scenery between Shreveport and Bossier City and is convenient to many Bossier City homes for sale

  • Walter B. Jacobs Memorial Nature Park - 8012 Par Rd. 4, Shreveport, LA 71107
    A beautiful nature preserve not far from the heart of Shreveport, Walter B. Jacobs Memorial Nature Park is a great spot for a short family bike ride. The park's densely wooded landscape includes a pond, picnic area, and deer pen. Although the dirt walking paths in Walter B. Jacobs Memorial Nature Park are for foot traffic only, the park's paved roads are open to bicycles. 

  • Red River National Wildlife Refuge - 150 Eagle Bend Point, Bossier City, LA 71112
    Located in Bossier City just south of Shreveport, Red River National Wildlife Refuge is one of the best places for outdoor adventures, including hiking, biking, fishing, and wildlife viewing. The refuge has a visitors' center and several miles of hike-and-bike trails traversing a rich landscape of woodlands and wetlands. Red River National Wildlife Refuge is also connected to the aforementioned Arthur Teague Trail. 

  • Sugar Cane Trail - Kisatchie National Forest, Minden, LA 71055
    You'll find some of the most beautiful scenery in Louisiana along the Sugar Cane Trail, a roughly 6-mile loop located within Kisatchie National Forest. Less than 45 minutes from Shreveport, the trail hugs the shore of Upper and Lower Caney lakes and meanders through a rich, biologically diverse ecosystem of hardwood bottomland forest and hillside pine groves.

Contact us today to learn more about life in Louisiana! Our real estate agents are dedicated to helping you find your dream home in Shreveport and the surrounding areas. 

May
4

Tech To Smarten Up Your Household Cleaning

Need a little help around the house? Today's technological gadgets can clean gutters, mow lawns, vacuum floors and even clean your toilet bowls. This real-life tech is accessible for everyone to make life a little easier. Check out these cool ideas for some smart home cleaning gadgets.

Say Goodbye to the Pool Boy

Robotic pool cleaners can brush, scrub, vacuum and filter your pool's surface, making them just as handy, if not more so, than your typical pool maintenance company. Say goodbye to pesky leaves, dirt and grime on the pool walls with a touch a button. Top-of-the-line models let you set daily or weekly schedules with hassle-free cordless options. 

Lawn Time Coming

The days of fighting the lawn (and the H.O.A.) are over. Robo lawn mowers are rapidly evolving to become even more efficient, streamlined and even quieter for painless grass cutting. That way, you can focus on spending time with family and friends instead of mowing your lawn under the hot sun. Many models can be scheduled to cut when you want them to and offer easy control, so you can take the work out of yard work.

Toilet Talk

Smart toilets offer amazing technology such as ultraviolet light for sanitizing, night lights, self-cleaning nozzles and deodorizers. These thrones give you more than the traditional toilet. Newly added comforts such as a heated seat, automatic opening and closing lid, front and rear warm water sprays, auto flush and warm-air dryer make your bathroom a high-tech experience.

Pet Products Save The Day

Tired of constantly cleaning the litter box? There's a robot for that. Check out this awesome list of smart pet products, including a remote-access automatic feeder, glow-in-the-dark collars, automatic pet door, treat tossing camera, GPS trackers and of course, the self-cleaning litter box. You and your furry friends will be glad you did.

Smart Starts in the Garage

If you've ever been locked out of your garage, you know the feeling. That's why smart garage door openers have been popping up everywhere to give homeowners access to easy-to-use tech. From Amazon deliveries to letting family and friends inside, these clever openers don't just click to close. They let you have control from your phone with daily notifications, custom schedules and even home lighting accessibility while you're away.

Let's not forget gadgets that wet mop, clean windows, scrub barbecue grills, offer companionship and even teach the kiddos. With so many options today, new technology can be a reality of modern life and can make yours so much easier!

May
3

Waterfront Buying: 8 Steps to Buying a House on the Lake

Does the idea of turning your love of spending weekends out on the lake, fishing, or lounging by the shore, into your everyday way of living? Buying a house on a lake could be your answer. However, be aware it comes with challenges making it a tall order. Still, the effort is worth it!

Let's look at eight crucial steps when buying a house out on the lake:

  1. Connect With a Local Real Estate Agent
    Talk to a trusted local real estate agent as soon as you decide you are in the market. It is not unusual for some agents and firms to specialize in lakefront property. Explain your needs, and they will help you find a terrific property for you.
  2. Visit the Property Multiple Times
    Depending on how developed the lakefront area is, your neighbors could have a significant impact on how inviting the property is to live in. Visit several times – at different times of the week and hours of the day – to get a better sense of the community's culture and the level of privacy.
  3. Make Sure the Water Meets Your Needs
    One of the biggest reasons to pursue lakefront property is to enjoy boating any time you want. This is a laudable goal, but make sure the property can comfortably accommodate your boat. Also, get familiar with local ordinances on boating and docking that could affect your enjoyment.
  4. Factor in Your Frontage
    Frontage is the area of the home that sits along the water itself. In general, the more the amount of frontage, the higher the asking price will be. Rough waters can damage your dock facilities or the lake-facing wall. Factor in these costs and ask the seller about any past repair work.
  5. Give Yourself a "Lifestyle Realty Check"
    Whether you buy a house on the lake or by the ocean, waterfront properties all lend themselves to a certain lifestyle. Double-check to be sure it's really what you want before you commit. The premium you pay for a lakefront home may not be worth it if you never hit the water!
  6. Get a Complete Home Inspection
    Before committing to any lakefront property, get a complete home inspection done. A qualified inspector can uncover issues, such as electrical problems, that might make a home much less attractive. You'll be "in the know" about any repairs that need to be done.
  7. Look Into Wind and Flood Insurance
    Waterfront properties have become riskier buys as climate change strengthens summer storms. In many areas, flooding can happen even outside the rainy season. Depending on your location, this can add substantial insurance costs, so check up on your policy options.
  8. Double-Check for Hidden Costs
    In addition to insurance and vulnerability to weathering, waterfront properties can conceal other hidden costs. One common issue is higher water and sewer rates. Also, review any docking and lift fees and any septic tank or well upkeep charges that apply to your property.

For the right buyer, a lakefront home is an ideal choice. As a primary residence, a seasonal vacation getaway, or even a rental property, it's an excellent investment in your quality of life. Use these eight tips, and you'll be on your way to a successful lakefront buy.

May
2

Downsizing Isn't So Bad: Why Less Can Be More

Downsizing frees you from the time, energy, and effort required from living in a larger home.

People have become obsessed with the idea that bigger is better. You see it everywhere: bigger burgers, bigger cars, and bigger houses. It's time to set the record straight — selling your house and downsizing your home might actually be a better lifestyle choice for you.  

Choosing to buy a smaller home often has to do with the desire to live a more simple life. If you're trying to decide whether downsizing is the right move for you, here are some benefits to consider before taking the plunge. 

  1. Increased Cash Flow.
    Smaller homes are less expensive to buy and less expensive to maintain. If your monthly mortgage and utility payments are lower, chances are you'll have more money every month to invest, travel or pay down your mortgage sooner than expected.

  2. More Time.
    The larger the home, the more you have to maintain. A smaller home reduces the time spent on household tasks giving you more hours in the day to do something else more enjoyable.

  3. Reduced Consumption.
    Buying smaller forces you to pare down your belongings and regularly keep what's important and used. If there is no room for it, you probably won't buy it.

  4. Reduced Carbon Footprint.
    A smaller home requires fewer resources because it uses less electricity, heating, and cooling. Building a smaller home also requires the use of less lumber and other wood products.

  5. Less Stress.
    Downsizing definitely has its perks. Less work, more money, and greater flexibility — all these add up to reduced stress. Homeowners who have downsized their homes seem happier when they're no longer overwhelmed by the demands of a larger home.

Downsizing your home is about doing more with less. Rather than spending your time and energy maintaining a larger home, you may enjoy your life more by living in a smaller one.

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