• CHANGE RESULTS VIEW
  • SORT BY

Date Archives: June 2022

Blog Home

Subscribe and receive email notifications of new blog posts.




rss logo RSS Feed
Home Buyer Tips | 63 Posts
Home Seller Tips | 73 Posts
Homeowner Tips | 55 Posts
Moving Tips | 3 Posts
Press Release | 13 Posts
Shreveport, LA | 5 Posts
Uncategorized | 1 Posts
June
29

5 Ways to Buy a Home That Won't Bust Your Budget

Buying a house is one of the most significant financial decisions of your life. Many first-time buyers believe such a decision involves going "all-in." Buying a house does not mean you have to overextend your finances. There are many ways that you can buy a home without busting your budget. With a little patience, research, and practical consideration, you'll be on your way to buying your dream home.

  1. Tally Up Your Current Expenses & Assess Your Finances
    The first thing you need to consider is your current finances. You'll need to add up all of your current monthly expenses and compare them to your monthly income. Once you know how much you're earning and spending each month, you can determine cost-cutting opportunities to increase your savings. Keep in mind that assessing your full financial health means also looking at your credit score. One of the best ways to proactively prepare for buying a house is to get preapproved for a mortgage so you know roughly how much your mortgage payment would be for a home in your budget range.
  2. Create a List of Must-Haves
    One easy way to blow your budget while buying a house is to lose focus on what you need in a home. Before you begin your search: Create a list with three columns: Must-Have, Would-Be-Nice, and Don't Need. Place the features and elements of a home in each column, such as a swimming pool, fireplace, two-car garage, and extra bedrooms. Add community features too, like proximity to schools, sidewalks, streetlights, and gated neighborhoods. 

    As you search, you'll be able to assess each home under your unique rubric so that you're only looking at homes within your budget that meet your needs.
  3. Plan for Increased Costs
    Buying a house is costly, and considering the number of responsibilities it includes, many first-time buyers don't realize how many additional costs are associated. From moving expenses and renovations after the purchase to repairs, replacements, and miscellaneous costs years into homeownership, the expenses quickly add up. One way to keep your finances comfortable is to plan these expenses into your budget. Setting aside $10,000 that would typically be routed to the listing price allows you to have a substantial budget for immediate expenses such as replacing your roof or purchasing new appliances.
  4. Purchase Less Than You Can Afford
    Although it's wise to avoid going over budget, you're not required to spend every cent of your established budget. If you have a maximum budget of $250,000, search for homes in the $200,000 - $225,000 range. This strategy will allow you to remain competitive in the event of a bidding war without overextending your finances. Bidding wars aside, imagine buying a house and still having as much as $50,000 to spare! You can easily put that towards remodeling, repairs, or even as a rainy day fund.
  5. Search for "Undesirable" Homes
    Here's a secret many won't admit: many "undesirable" homes are fantastic opportunities. While some buyers may be skeptical of homes listed on the market for too long, wise house hunters will see this as an opportunity to save some cash. Seek out houses that aren't selling and discover why. It might be because it doesn't have a specific feature that surrounded homes have. These slow-to-sell homes may also have motivated sellers who are willing to drop the price or negotiate on certain closing costs, which means you'll be buying a house for a great value. 

Buying a house doesn't need to wipe out your bank account. With a little planning and preparation, you can buy a home without busting your budget.

June
28

Sellers: How To Have A Stress-Free Move

If you've ever moved and had a stressful experience, or you've heard horror stories from your friends or family when they sold and moved houses, you may wonder if a stress-free move is even possible. The answer is: "You Bet!"

Buying a house is a huge deal. If you've just started house hunting or are already under contract, moving is the next giant step in this process. Moving can be stressful and chaotic. The good news is packing and moving can be relatively effortless with some planning and organization. Use these simple steps to get started:

  • Get Organized
    Having a plan is critical if you are going to make your move stress-free. Begin by making a list of everything you need to do and divide it into weeks. Allow yourself enough time to complete all the tasks.

  • Start Packing Well in Advance
    Time is not always our friend. If you can, start packing at least eight weeks ahead of time. (If you have more time — even better.)

  • Don't Move it All
    Instead of trying to figure out how you are going to do it all, first determine if you really even need it. Inventory all of your belongings and decide what to donate, sell or toss and what will actually be moved. Decluttering and simplifying your life can actually help lessen the load, and moving into a new home is a great time to do it.

  • Label Your Boxes
    While tossing everything into boxes and sorting it once you move seems like a great idea, organized packing will pay off in the long run. Label each box with detailed descriptions. Color-coding boxes by room make it easier when it comes time to unpack.

  • Make a Survival Kit
    Just like anyone going on a great journey, it's important to pack a survival kit. In it should be the basic necessities that you and your family will need at some point during the day, the things you just can't make it through a day without. In your kit should be things like:
    • Toiletries
    • Water
    • Snacks
    • Phone chargers

  • Get Familiar with Your New Digs
    Familiarize yourself with your new home and community before moving day. Spend some time driving around, determining where grocery stores, shopping areas, and restaurants are located. When moving day comes, you won't waste time searching for hardware stores or places to eat. Spending time in your new home can also help you better envision where your belongings should be placed.

  • Hire a Professional Mover
    Perhaps the most stressful part of packing and moving is the actual process. It's true that doing all the heavy lifting will save on your bottom line, but it's going to cost you in terms of a sore back and added stress. Letting a professional mover handle everything takes a lot of the guesswork out of the process for you and ensures that moving day will go as smoothly as possible.

No matter how you decide to de-stress your moving day, it's important you keep everything in perspective. Don't decide that all your boxes need to be unpacked in one day. Make sure you take time for yourself on moving day to relax and reflect on what you've accomplished.

June
27

GOING FORWARD AND SEEING BACKWARD
By Brad Gosslee, President, Coldwell Banker Gosslee

I can talk about the real estate market forever. It's fascinating! There are so many moving pieces and nuances that dictate prices and sales. And I love working with our incredible agents who have a laser focus into what is occurring in specific neighborhoods and price points as they help guide buyers and sellers.

This is one of those times where buyers and sellers really need our agents. Even though it may look similar, what is occurring in the moment is not quite the same as it was just a month ago. At the same time, what has occurred for the last several years throughout the pandemic continues to have incredible ramifications today.

Let's start with the basics. Sales activity remains strong, buyers are active and we still do not have enough homes to meet demand. Far from it. In fact, we are so far behind in that category that it will take us a while to go from our big-time sellers' market to a balanced one. But there has been a change that I want to address. While we don't yet have the supporting evidence in the full statistics, here is what is happening:

  • Mortgage rates have risen and now fall in the 5.75% to 6.25% range according to our friends at Fairway Mortgage.
  • The monthly payment on a traditional 30-year mortgage is therefore up and could be preventing some from entering the home buying process.
  • As we lose some buyers, we are seeing fewer multiple bids and properties with multiple bids. There is slightly less of a "frenzy."
  • If a home was priced to reflect the market conditions of even a month ago, the seller may reduce the price.
  • Over time, if more homes come on the market, many would likely stay on the market longer. Our supply would eventually catch up to demand.
  • Buyers would have more choices and sellers would not have the same competitive advantage they have today.
  • Slowly, but surely, we would return to a normalized Northwest Louisiana housing market where we again become a "Steady Eddie" market with gradual price increases.

But we are not there yet! Our sales are just off of record pace, inventory remains incredibly low, and prices continue to rise.

This month's first chart compares Caddo, Bossier and Desoto Parishes to the rest of the nation. Looking at the National Association of Realtors Existing Home Sales Report just issued, we know that the median (middle) price of all homes sold in May was a record $407,600, up 14.8% from a year ago. $407,600! We had an almost identical percentage increase but thankfully our median price is about $153,000 less!

Why have prices jumped so high? Supply vs. demand. In the case of real estate, demand can be measured in sales. Locally, there were 544 homes sold in May, down just one percent while the national levels were off about 8%. But take this in context. This was the second-best May EVER locally! We were six houses short of last May's record of 550 home sales. In fact, the five-year May average is just 479. And, for all of 2022 so far, while down 3% in total sales of 2,267, this was the second best first five months in our region's history.

 

U.S.

(change over May '21)

Northwest LA

(change over May '21)

Median Price

$407,600/+14.8%

$254,537/+14%

Number of Sales

5.41 million/-8.6%
(annualized)

544/-1%

Inventory

1.16 million/-4.1%

802/+2%

Month Supply

2.6/2.5

1.6/1.6

Median Days on Market

17/16

6/7

I wonder how high our sales figures would have been in May IF we had more homes to sell. We entered June with only 802 homes on the market. Here is a quick comparison to show you how low this is:

May 2022:        802
May 2021:        795
May 2020:     1,567 (the pandemic began two months prior)
May 2019:     2,097
May 2018:     2,222

Look at how tight things are at the different price points compared to four years ago:

Price Range

May 2022 Available Homes/Month Supply

May 2018 Available Homes/Month Supply

Total

802/1.6

2,222/5.7

$100,000 & less

164/2.3

440/4.5

$100,000-$200,000

212/1.2

716/4.5

$200,000-$300,000

173/1.2

501/5.6

$300,000-$400,000

75/1.3

259/8.9

$400,000-$500,000

72/2.8

142/16.7

$500,000+

106/5.1

164/23.2

Inventory levels are probably the most important statistic to watch to gain perspective on the market's future. The 802 listings available at the end of May was more than our record low of 667 in April. While up 20%, these additional homes were gobbled up at record pace. In fact, it took only six days for homes to sell! This is almost 3 times faster than the national mark of 17 days!

I want to zoom in a bit on what is occurring in sales. Several months ago on our next chart, we saw + signs everywhere almost always accompanied with double-digit growth. This was because of the pandemic-fueled economy that brought all-time low mortgage rates along with the work-from-anywhere phenomenon which made our affordable marketplace attractive to so many.

What also occurred was that we saw incredible activity at the higher price points. Because we had so many buying at the lower-end of the market, this allowed move-up buyers to take advantage of price gains and their equity, along with the low mortgage rates. Therefore, the higher-priced homes became scarce too.

At some point, we had to see these sales figures level off as we couldn't keep going up forever. And that's what has occurred, especially at the lower ends. But remember, even though our May sales are down, they are down of incredible highs.

Price Range

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

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

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

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

Total

2,264 (-3%)

873 (-7%)

1,324 (-1%)

67 (-8%)

$100,000 & less

341 (-2%)

     79 (-4%)

253 (0%)

9 (-31%)

$100,000-$200,000

741 (-15%)

227 (-20%)

495 (-12%)

19 (-30%)

$200,000-$300,000

699 (+3%)

316 (-5%)

369 (+12%)

14 (+8%)

$300,000-$400,000

269 (+3%)

158 (+5%)

99 (-1%)

12 (+9%)

$400,000-$500,000

117 (-1%)

65 (+18%)

47 (-15%)

5 (-38%)

$500,000-
$600,000

47 (+34%)

17 (-6%)

23 (+35%)

7 (+700%)

$600,000+

50 (+52%)

11 (0%)

38 (+81%)

1 (0%)

For the market to even out a bit, a reduction in the buyer pool will need to be met with more homes on the market. Otherwise, we likely won't notice a dramatic change in a shift to a more balanced market.

There is an adage in real estate that "you won't know the market has hit the top until we've passed it." Unfortunately, we likely had a lot of sellers who were trying to "time the market" and sell at the peak. My guess is that because of the rising mortgage rates, that time has passed. It will be interesting to see if this group decides it is time to list as they can also take advantage of greater home supply in their next destination – if they are leaving Northwest Louisiana and our slice of heaven.

This leads to one more adage - "sellers are usually the last to know." This refers to the fact that sellers will often believe their home is worth more than it is. Remember, the sales price will always reflect what an "able and willing buyer will pay." Our agents are working hard with their current and prospective buyers on the subtleties of today's market. When you see price drops, its usually indicative that the home was priced too high at the start and/or it was caught in an unforeseen market change (i.e., rising rates).

That's why looking at the list-to-sales price ratio is another great indication of the market's strength. Real estate agents strive to be as close to 100% as possible. For example, if a home is listed for $400,000 and sells for $400,000, that is a 100% list-to-sell ratio. If it sells for $390,000 that is a 97.5% ratio.

Our agents have done an incredible job in counseling sellers. We entered June with the region's agents coming in at 99%. I do expect this number to drop simply because it will take a while to adjust to a potentially changing market especially if mortgage rates bounce around a lot.

Therefore, I'm going to strongly suggest that EVERY potential buyer and seller speak with one of our agents. Get your questions answered. Gain a perspective of the state of the market.

Buyers can learn about how much they can afford and how to best work with a lender to learn about different mortgage options that can help get monthly payments where they need them to be. Remember, there are plenty of choices beyond a 30-year-fixed rate mortgage which became even more popular because rates have been so low. As they rise, the options are important. And, because we still have multiple bids occurring, our agents are preparing their buyers to effectively compete.

Sellers also need to learn how to effectively price and prepare their home for sale so it commands top dollar. We also must prepare for a day when homes don't sell as quickly as they are today. At the same time, as market conditions change beyond Northwest Louisiana, our agents are connecting sellers with agents in other cities who can provide insight about what's occurring in that next destination.

Buying, selling and moving are never easy. There are multiple emotional and financial decisions along with numerous steps. Doing it in a market like this is even harder. It's important to remember that there are no dumb questions. And we are here to help!

CLICK HERE to view the full May 2022 Residential Real Estate Market Report for Shreveport/Bossier City, LA. Please reach out to one of our agents or feel free to reach out to me at bgosslee@cbgosslee.com with any questions.

Hope you are enjoying the "official" start of summer!

June
24

How to Plan the Perfect Picnic

A summer picnic is always a fun way to enjoy time with friends and family and soak in a beautiful day, whether it's at your favorite park, beach or lakeside, at the top of a lovely overlook or even in your own backyard. You can simply grab a few items and be on your way.

Here are a few fun and inspiring ways to help you plan the perfect picnic this summer.

First, you're going to want to make sure you have something to carry your food and beverages in. There's something really nostalgic and charming about those classic woven style picnic baskets. But don't worry if you don't happen to have one, a cooler, backpack or large tote will also do the trick. Whatever you choose, you'll just want to make sure that you can keep food and drinks cool.

When you think about picnics, you most likely think about an outdoor blanket that you can sit, eat and relax on. If that's your preference just make sure it's durable and can be rolled and unrolled easily. If you want to make sitting on the ground a little more enjoyable, then pack some decorative pillows to add both comfort and style to your picnic. Another great option is to bring along a few folding chairs that are easy to transport and set up.

You may also want to consider bringing a grab-and-go style picnic table. These lightweight, easy-to-carry tables feature folding legs – some even include handy slots for wine glasses. And lastly, you don't want to forget utensils and dinnerware. Make sure you they're durable and can withstand being packed and dropped.

When it comes to the menu, you can keep it light and simple. Easy sandwiches, chips or pretzels, some cheese and fruit and refreshing drinks like homemade lemonade help complete the perfect picnic. Or you could go all out and get creative with a beautiful charcuterie board with your favorite meats, cheeses and chocolates. You can even add some decorative greenery and flowers to make it a little more Instagram-worthy.

Sunny warm days are the perfect excuse to ditch the dining room and dine alfresco, just don't forget to bring a book or a frisbee!

June
22

Staging Tactics That Are Proven To Wow Buyers

If you're planning to sell your home, consider staging it. From decluttering and cleaning to rearranging and styling, successful home staging can make you money. In fact, according to the National Association of REALTORS®, most sellers' agents agree a well-staged home increases the dollar amount home buyers offer.

If you are an HGTV fan, you know home staging is when the "pros" go through a home clearing out the clutter, highlighting its strengths, and presenting each room in the best light that will attract the largest group of potential home buyers.  

But, do you need to hire a professional stager? Maybe not. Use these six tips to manage the styling and upgrading of your home to fetch a higher sales price.

  1. Ban the Clutter
    Nothing turns away prospective buyers quite as quickly as clutter. For some buyers, clutter makes it impossible for them to see the home because all they can see is the mess. For others, clutter makes them feel as if the home does not have enough space for their own needs because it does not have enough room for yours. Clear away the clutter, so the home's spacious design shows through.

  2. Spruce up the Front Door
    When selling your home, the front door of your home is the first thing most people notice, so make sure it really shines. Give it a fresh coat of paint, add some outside, potted plants, and a new rug. If the front door is inviting and welcoming, the home will sell faster and for a better price.

  3. Place Furniture Strategically
    The placement of your furniture can add to or detract from your home. In the main living areas, put the furniture into conversation groupings rather than pushing it up against the wall. Then, in other rooms, make sure the furniture accentuates the home's positive features while drawing the eye away from negative ones. Remove some furniture, if needed, to help the room look as large as possible.

  4. Spruce up a Neglected Bedroom
    Do you have a guestroom or a master bedroom that you've neglected over the years? Take some time to spruce it up. Transform the guest room into a kid's bedroom (even if you don't have kids) to make the home appealing to families who do. Make sure the bed is the focal point of your master bedroom space. Aim for symmetry where clutter rules. With these tips, your home will be much more appealing.

  5. Add Lighting
    Most homes do not have the right amount of lighting for proper home staging techniques. Even if your home has plenty of natural light, you want to ensure that you have 100 watts of lighting for every 50 square feet of living space. Adding lighting on multiple levels of the room, including overhead lights and table lamps, will make the space feel warmer and inviting.

  6. Clean and Organize the Kitchen, Inside and Out
    The kitchen will make or break your home's ability to shine, so spend a significant amount of time here as you stage the property. Make sure you clean it well and pack away all clutter so the countertops can be clear. Then, clean out each cupboard and pantry to make it look like it has plenty of storage space. Remember, potential buyers will be looking inside these spaces. Finally, update any outdated appliances and cover any ugly cabinets with a fresh coat of paint. Don't forget to invest in a new sink faucet if an upgrade is needed.

In a competitive market or in a situation where you need to sell your home quickly, staging is the key. Keep these tips in mind, and don't be afraid to talk to a professional stager. Often, the cost of professional staging is made back with a higher sales price and less time on the market!

June
21

Make Buyers Fall In Love With Your Home With These 5 Tips

When you're selling your home, first impressions are everything. Typically, each home buyer is looking for something different in the house they buy. However, there are common problems that will make them walk — and, maybe, even run — out of your home if they see them. The good news is there are several things you can do to make buyers fall in love with your home.

  1. Boost Your Curb Appeal
    Start with your yard. You won't believe the difference mowing your lawn, trimming hedges, picking up toys, adding fresh mulch, and raking leaves make. Best of all, improving the visual appearance of your yard doesn't cost you much. Just remember, once you're committed to selling your home, you'll need to stay on top of lawn work until the property has sold and is no longer your responsibility.

    If you have a plain yard, you should consider adding one or two flower beds or planting an ornamental tree to spruce things up.

  2. Tweak the Interior
    Take a look at the interior of your home. Is the paint chipped, streaked, or just tired looking? Do the fixtures and door handles match? Are the outlet covers and light switches working properly?

    The odds are good that when you look at the interior of your home through the eyes of a prospective buyer, you'll realize that things are a bit dated. Now that you're selling your home, it's time to change that. A quick run to the hardware store for updated door fixtures, outlet covers, and paint won't cost too much. With a weekend's worth of work, you'll have given the inside of your home a facelift and made it more appealing to buyers.

    When choosing fixtures and, more importantly, paint, stick to neutral options.

  3. Upgrade the Kitchen
    Buyers have said that the kitchen was what made them decide to place an offer on a home.

    If you're on a shoestring budget, you'll want to devote your funds to:

    - Ensuring the plumbing works perfectly,
    - Repairing and/or replacing damaged cabinet doors,
    - Making sure the kitchen is well lit,
    - Repainting,
    - Relining the shelves/drawers,
    - Refinishing hardwood floors,
    - Cleaning grout and re-grouting any damaged/crumbling grout.

    If you have more money to devote to upgrading the kitchen, consider:

    - Replacing older countertops with new granite countertops,
    - Upgrading to energy-efficient appliances.

  4. Ceilings
    If your home was built prior to the 1980s and has a popcorn-finished ceiling will want to have it tested for asbestos. If the test is positive, you'll want to replace the ceiling before speaking to a real estate agent. Now that buyers understand the potential health risks connected to asbestos, they won't consider a home with the material.

    Even if the test comes back negative, you should still consider having the ceilings replaced. Not only does the popcorn finish give the house a dated feel, but it's also extremely difficult to keep clean or paint, which serves as a turn-off for any prospective buyers.

  5. Remove the Clutter
    It's difficult for prospective buyers to fully appreciate the full potential of your home if it's full of clutter, so after deciding to sell your home, put any items you can temporarily live without into storage.

With these tactics and fixes, there's no doubt buyers will fall in love with your home. Ask your real estate agent for more tips on how to get the most out of your sale.

June
20

What Exactly Is An Investment Property?

Investment properties and vacation homes might seem like similar concepts — after all, they're both great ways to grow wealth and expand your real estate portfolio. But did you know these two terms have significantly different meanings? The distinction is actually pretty important when it comes to financing, and it really comes down to how you intend to use the property. If you've been thinking about purchasing an investment property, here is what you need to know:

What Is An Investment Property?
An investment property is a property that you purchase with the intent of generating income. In most cases, this means serving as a landlord and renting the property out to tenants. In other words, an investment property may be a business, while a "vacation home" or "second home" is another property away from your primary residence that you use for visiting or living in part-time.

While it's certainly possible to purchase a vacation home that you occasionally rent out, it's important to define the home's primary purpose when seeking financing. Trying to pass an investment property off as a vacation home for the purposes of achieving better mortgage rates can lead to severe legal consequences.

What To Look For In An Investment Property
While a second home or vacation home is often selected based on location and amenities, an investment property should be evaluated on the potential to generate a return. As a result, you'll want to consider features that can help you achieve higher rental income, such as size, parking, amenities, crime, and public transportation. Look into average rent for similar-sized properties within the same area to get a sense of how much you'll be able to charge. You'll need to have a solid business plan when applying for a mortgage on the investment property.

How To Finance An Investment Property
Financing an investment property is a bit more complicated than securing a mortgage on a primary residence or second home. For one, lenders typically require a higher down payment (at least 20%) for an investment property, and there isn't much flexibility here.

Also, because you're going to be making a profit on the property and because the transaction is much riskier, lenders won't hesitate to charge significantly higher fees and interest rates. Your lender also may require that the investment property be located within a certain distance of your primary home.

Tax Implications Of An Investment Property
Owners of primary residences and vacation homes can deduct mortgage interest from their taxes, and investment property owners can do the same. However, investment property owners have the added advantage of being able to deduct many other expenses associated with the property as they technically qualify as business expenses. However, your rental income will also need to be reported too.

Investing in real estate is a great tool for securing long-term financial stability. While financing is a bit more expensive than a vacation home, you also stand to make a larger profit if you're purely operating the property as a rental.

June
17

Summer fun is around the corner, and the Red River Balloon Rally is the perfect way to kick off the season. Held in a convenient location near Bossier City homes for sale, the Red River Balloon Rally brings together some of the best pilots and most creative-looking hot air balloons from around the country for two full evenings of family fun. Each evening of the event is packed with events that both kids and adults will love. Our real estate agents have the latest details to help you plan for the Red River Balloon Rally.

Event: Red River Balloon Rally

Dates: June 24-25, 2022 – 5 - 10 pm

Location: Brookshire Grocery Arena – 2000 Brookshire Arena Dr., Bossier City, LA 71112

  • A Unique Collection of Hot Air Balloons
    Participants in the Red River Balloon Rally come from all over the country, from Michigan to New Mexico and many points in-between. Some are here for the competitive flights, while others are here to show off the unique designs on their hot air balloons. From dazzling, multi-colored geometric designs to fun, silly designs like the giant mustache balloon, there's a design to suit every taste. The collection of pilots is just as unique as the collection of balloons, so there will be plenty to see throughout both nights of the event.

  • Tether Balloon Rides and Kidz Fun Zone
    Of course, it wouldn't be a proper Red River Balloon Rally without the chance to take to the skies yourself! On both nights, there will be tethered balloon rides offered so that you can enjoy a similar experience to the balloon pilots when they take off from the ground. Enjoy unmatched views of the event from above and give the whole family a thrill in the process. There will also be a Kidz Fun Zone open throughout the two-day event, with tons of fun activities, games, and events for the kids.

  • Four Live Bands on Two Evenings
    Live entertainment is also a big part of the Red River Balloon Rally, with two different bands taking the stage each evening. Friday night features a performance from Tipsey, followed by a set from Odyssey Road, a Journey tribute band. On Saturday evening, you can catch Shayliff on stage for the first show, followed by LANCO to close out the evening.

  • Cap Off the Night with the Balloon Glow and Fireworks Show
    Perhaps the two most spectacular sights of the evening will be the Balloon Glow which takes place after dark, and the fireworks show that closes out the evening. Both events take place on Friday and Saturday, so you won't miss a thing no matter which night you visit.

  • Start Your Day Watching a US Team Nationals Competition Flight
    In conjunction with the Red River Balloon Rally, a US Team Nationals Competition Flight will take place June 21-25 at the same location. This event brings together 36 of the most talented balloon pilots in the country for competition and is free to view every morning, including the dates preceding the Red River Balloon Rally. Competition flights take place every morning from 6:30 - 8:30 am, and you can find up-to-date details on the best locations to watch on the Red River Balloon Rally Facebook page.

Our local team is here to help with all of your Shreveport and Bossier City real estate needs. Contact us to view Shreveport homes for sale.

June
15

Make the Most of Your Outdoor Space

We all want to spend as much time as we can outside during the summer months. There's nothing quite like a relaxing summer day in the backyard with friends, hosting a barbeque or enjoying an evening under the stars around the firepit. Summer is made for chilling and breathing in the fresh air and just unwinding after a long day. So this month, ramp up your outdoor space and bring your indoor style right to your backyard.

Bonus Living Spaces
More and more, people are treating their backyard spaces as an extension of their living space. From outdoor pergolas to string lights, trendy rugs and comfy, weatherproof sectionals and lounge chairs, homeowners are creating stunning open-air outdoor living spaces. You don't even have to have a huge space, you can add smaller pieces to your deck or patio to create a relaxing, cozy sanctuary. Whatever your indoor style is, you're sure to find similar outdoor pieces.

Inspirational Botanicals
The right plants, flowers and planters can make all the difference when it comes to creating a warm, inviting and colorful outdoor space. With so many stylish planters available, you can easily find ones that match your style and fill them with a variety of herbs, flowering annuals, cactuses, plants and shrubs. If you live close to a farmers' market, be sure and check them out as they typically have a huge variety of cost-effective flowers, plants and herbs to fill your yard, patio or balcony.

Small Space Solutions
There are tons of creative ways to transform a small space and make a big impact. Start with some lively décor, potted plants, outdoor pillows, candles and small scale furniture. Consider a vertical garden where you can plant your favorite herbs and vegetables. Adding string and solar lights can also help make a space feel extra cozy. And when it comes to furniture, think about a bistro set for casual dining, foldable and stackable chairs or a small loveseat and ottoman. There are tons of creative ways to make a big impact in a smaller space.

If you're limited on outdoor space, don't let that stop you from creating the perfect outdoor oasis. Infusing your personality and style to your backyard, balcony or back porch is the perfect way to gain more living space and enjoy a place where you can enjoy more fun in the sun all summer long.

June
13

Military Veterans: The Best Tips For Buying A House

A Veteran's Administration loan is one of the most generous benefits offered to America's military veterans. In fact, many veterans find the VA loan a better proposition than conventional real-estate loans and even other government-funded mortgages.

Perhaps the major advantage of a VA loan is that there's no need for a down payment. Generally, conventional loans call for a down payment and may cover only 80 to 85 percent of a home's value.

A VA loan can allow veterans to buy homes when they don't otherwise qualify for a conventional loan. Backed by the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs, these loans let homebuyers get lower rates and qualify for a more expensive home than they would otherwise. Further, veterans can qualify with lower credit scores, and will not have to pay Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI).

An additional bonus for veterans who receive monthly disability benefits is that they don't need to pay the VA funding fee, which can be from 0.5 to 3.3 percent of the overall loan. 

Here's a look at who can qualify for a VA loan, and how to go about it. 

Eligibility for a VA Loan

Who is eligible for a VA loan? A Certificate of Eligibility, or COE, will be given to veterans or family members who meet one of these requirements:

  • Served 90 consecutive days of active service during war;
  • Served 181 days of active service during peacetime;
  • Has been an active member of the National Guard or Reserves for 6 years or more;
  • Was married to a service member who died in the line of duty or from a service-related disability.

To receive this COE, apply online, or mail in an application

Requirements for Getting a VA Loan

As mentioned above, veterans with lower credit scores can qualify for a VA loan. Nevertheless, there are some requirements for getting a VA loan, such as these:

  1. Enough income to afford the home.
  2. Reasonably good credit scores.
  3. Application for a VA Home Loan Certificate of Eligibility.
  4. Have all necessary military documentation, including the DD214, which is issued when a service member leaves the military.
  5. According to the VA website, certification that the buyer will occupy the home.

Find a Real Estate Agent Who Knows VA Loans

Homebuyers seeking a VA loan should see real estate agents who are familiar with the VA loan process. This is particularly important when it comes to the fees involved with VA loans. The VA funding fee is a one-time payment. It is owed by the veteran on a VA direct home loan or a VA-backed loan. This fee helps lower the cost of the loan for U.S. taxpayers since the veteran doesn't have to pay down payments or monthly mortgage insurance. In most cases, veterans with disabilities are exempt from this fee. 

What's more, an agent with VA loan experience won't waste your time with purchases that you can't buy with your loan. They can also have an advantage when it comes to negotiating with the seller's agent. They may be in a position to explain a veteran's story and appeal to the heart of a seller weighing several offers.

Other Loans

You of course can also look at other loans, either through the Federal Housing Finance Agency, which includes the mortgage-loan lenders Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae. There may also be some government-funded loans to pursue through agencies such as the U.S. Department of Agriculture or the Federal Housing Administration.

Good luck on your road to homeownership. If you're a veteran and are ready to pursue a VA loan, consult your VA Benefits Advisor today. 

June
10

Are You Ready To Be A Homeowner?

Buying your first home is a rite of passage that many people dream of. However, before you take the plunge, it's important to make sure you're really ready. Your finances have a lot to do with it, but it's not the only thing you'll need to consider.

Here are five important questions to ask yourself before you buy your first home.

  1. Are You Ready to Settle Down? 

This may be the most important question of all. It's completely normal to try living in a few different areas before you're ready to put down roots. However, you won't want to consider buying a home until you're fairly sure you plan to stay where you are for a significant amount of time. 

Ideally, you'll want to commit to staying in your new home for at least seven to ten years, as this is roughly one full cycle of the housing market. 

  1. Do You Have Stable Employment? 

It will be easier to get a home loan if you've been in your current job for at least two years. More importantly, you'll want to know you can count on your current income before you commit to buying a home.

An unexpected job loss can completely upend your life. The loss of income could potentially cause you to have difficulty paying your mortgage. You'll also need to find a new job that's reasonably close to your new home. Otherwise, you may need to sell your home before you're ready or deal with renting it out.

While it's impossible to predict the future, make sure you feel fairly comfortable about the stability of your job before you consider becoming a first-time homeowner. 

  1. Are You Financially Prepared? 

When deciding whether you're ready to buy a home, you'll need to take a close look at your finances. Make sure you have enough saved up for your down payment, your credit score falls within acceptable ranges, and you have an emergency fund.  

It's a great idea to meet with a lender before you start your home search. This will allow you to have a solid understanding of how much you can really afford and what you'll need to bring to the table when you close. Having a pre-qualification letter will also increase the chances that the seller will accept your offer.

  1. Are You Ready for Maintenance and Upkeep? 

Remember that you'll need additional money beyond what's necessary to purchase your home. There's also the cost of keeping up with repairs and maintenance. This may include everything from maintaining your lawn and landscaping to the occasional need for a plumber, electrician, or handyman. 

Caring for a home is also a labor of love. Make sure you're willing to put the time into keeping it looking nice and taking care of any small issues before they can turn into big problems.

  1. Are You Looking for More Stability? 

Buying a home allows you to settle down in a way renting simply can't. When you rent, there's always a chance your landlord could raise the price or even decided to sell.

As long as you make your mortgage and tax payments, no one can make you leave a home you own. This will give you a strong sense of security.

When you're not worried about housing, you can also put more effort into focusing on other parts of your life — like getting that promotion, spending time with your loved ones, and getting more involved in your community.

If you answered "yes" to each of these questions, congratulations! You're both mentally and financially ready to buy a home. Soon, you'll get to enjoy one of the most satisfying adventures of your life.

June
8

Your Guide To Appraisals

You've listed your home on the market, and the seller has made an offer. Congratulations! Now, it's time for your appraisal.

This is the part of the home selling process where an independent third party determines the value of your home. The results of your appraisal can impact your final selling price, so it's normal to feel a bit nervous going into it. Are you wondering how an appraisal works and what you can do to prepare? Take a look at these tips.

1. Know What to Expect 

Understanding what happens during an appraisal can help calm your nerves and will also help you prepare. Most appraisals take between one to three hours and involve a professional appraiser thoroughly inspecting your property both inside and out. The purpose is to determine the current market value of your property.

Some of the things your appraiser will consider include the age of your home, its location, the size, and what the structure of made of. They'll also consider the number of bedrooms and bathrooms, the layout of your home, and the overall condition of the roof, siding, and interior. Finally, the appraiser will compare your home to the value of comparable homes located nearby.

2. Prepare Your Home for Inspection

Even though an appraiser doesn't value your home based on its cleanliness, it's always a good idea to clean and declutter before they arrive. Sometimes, an appraiser might subconsciously value a home a little lower if it looks like a mess, so it makes sense to take the time to present your home in the best possible light.

3. Gather the Necessary Paperwork

Appraisers will typically ask for information about the home before they arrive. You'll make their job easier and ensure a more accurate appraisal if you give them a list of any major improvements you've made and provide detailed information about the age of your major appliances, HVAC system, and the roof. Whenever possible, also provide copies of the original paperwork.

If your appraiser arrives and finds out there's an addition or something else they didn't know about, all the information they've gathered about comparable homes will be off. This means they'll have to start over — which will delay your results and the closing of your sale. Avoid this by giving full disclosure and providing all of the information upfront.

4. Be Honest in Your Listing

Before your appraisal, it pays to make an honest assessment of what your home really offers. Unfortunately, sellers and their agents are sometimes guilty of listing "puffery." Fudging the numbers, adding square footage, or hoping no one will notice your roof isn't new isn't going to get you anywhere.

While it's sometimes tempting to add a little bit here and there, starting with an honest estimate will make the appraisal process much smoother.

5. Understand the Outcomes 

When you get your appraisal back, there are three possible outcomes: it will be higher or lower than the agreed-upon purchase price, or it will be spot-on. If your appraisal matches the agreed-upon price, you're ready to move forward with the closing, and no additional negotiations are needed.

However, if the appraisal comes in lower, you could have a problem. In this case, you may want to request an appraisal review. During this process, another licensed appraiser will prepare an independent report. This will help confirm the accuracy and completeness of the initial report. If the appraisal is still lower, you may need to re-negotiate with the buyer, and there's a chance they may walk away from the deal.

If your appraisal comes in higher than the agreed-upon price, you can move forward with the closing. However, you also won't have the opportunity to ask for more money. While the buyer will be happy knowing they already have some equity in their new home, knowing you've underpriced yourself may leave you feeling bitter.

This is why it's so important to price your home appropriately from the start. Working with a knowledgeable real estate agent will help you evaluate the value of your home and price it correctly for the current market conditions. This will help prevent you from having unpleasant surprises when your appraisal is done.

June
7

Feeling Overwhelmed About Buying A House? These Tips Can Help

Buying a home — whether it's your first home or fiftieth — can make you want to scream. Two-story or ranch... open houses... budgets. So much to do and so many choices. What's a home buyer to do?

You're more than likely making the biggest financial decision of your life. It's natural to feel stressed and overwhelmed until everything falls into place. The good news is that there is plenty you can do to alleviate the stress and keep your focus on the main goal — buying your dream home.

Here are six steps to ease home buying stress: 

  1. Set House Hunting Goals
    Finding the right home for you will be much easier when you have a clear picture of the type of home you're looking for. Decide what is important to you. List out your basic requirements for a home, like the number of bedrooms and bathrooms, square footage, yard, neighborhoods, school districts, and anything else that will factor into your final decision.

  2. Understand Your Budget
    Understanding your finances is an important part of buying a home. Without loan pre-approval and realistic budgets, you may lose out on your dream home. Before you start your home search, get pre-approved for your loan, secure the cash for your down payment and educate yourself to understand the whole financial picture of buying a home.

  3. Get Pre-Approved for Your Mortgage
    All home buyers should strongly consider obtaining mortgage pre-approval when diving into the real estate market. Mortgage pre-approval will significantly reduce the stress of buying a house because you won't have to worry about financing once you find the right match. Home sellers prefer pre-approved buyers because it shows that you are a serious shopper from the start.

  4. Don't Take It Personally
    Sellers are looking for the best offer, and at times, yours will not be it. Sometimes, sellers just are not ready to sell even if an offer is perfect. Look at rejection as an opportunity to find something even better. You never know what house is right around the corner.

  5. Have a Timeline
    Buying a home is certainly a process, and it starts long before you start negotiating the terms of a sale. In addition to making a list of your desired features for your new home, it helps set a rough timeline early in the process. Having a general idea of when you want to take each step and how you want to see things progress is a great way to limit stress, even if some steps take longer (or shorter!) than you expect.

  6. Take a Break
    Buying a home can consume you. Make sure you are taking time to do something else every once in a while. Take a break to go work out or have coffee with a friend. When it feels like all you're doing is eating, breathing, and dreaming about new houses, it is probably time to go have a little fun.

Buying your first home can be a wonderful journey with the right plan. Following these steps can help you feel calm and confident when closing day comes.

June
6

Here's How To Sell A Home When You Have Pets

You love your dog or cat; however, when listing your home for sale, many potential buyers will not be as enamored as you are. In fact, your pet might be the reason some buyers bypass your home entirely and move to another pet-free option.

Here's How To Sell A Home When You Have Pets

The Problem Prospective Buyers Have with Pets

Many buyers will say there are two reasons that prevent them from touring homes with pets:

  1. They are not comfortable around pets--especially dogs — and won't enter a home that currently has one.
  2. Your pet changes the way your home smells. Some buyers won't buy a house they feel has a pet odor.

The good news is that there are things you can do to ensure that your pet and prospective buyers are comfortable.

Relocate Your Pet

You might not like the idea of living without your dog, but it's an option you may have to consider to sell your home.

If you have a friend or relative that is willing to provide a temporary home for your dog, consider their offer. In fact, it will be good for both your dog and prospective buyers. Your dog won't have the stress of strange people coming and going, and prospective buyers will be comfortable while in your house.

Create a Safe Place for Your Pet

If providing your pup with a home away from home isn't an option, provide them with a secure place while prospective buyers tour your property. This can be a neighbor's house, an outdoor kennel, or even an indoor crate. It's important that your pet is comfortable in this area before prospective buyers start walking through your home.

Clean up After Your Pets

First impressions are important during the home selling process. Before prospective buyers arrive, clean your home thoroughly. This includes:

  • Putting toys away
  • Cleaning litter boxes
  • Vacuuming pet hair
  • Laundering pet beds

Make sure your pet looks groomed and well-cared for.

Repair Pet Damage

Go over your entire property and repair any damage your family pet has done. This includes:

  • Filling in holes they've dug in the yard
  • Replacing stained carpets
  • Repairing or removing damaged furniture
  • Repairing or replacing torn or chewed drapes/curtains/blinds

Consult Your Veterinarian

Selling your home is stressful for you and your pets. It can take a toll on their health, particularly if they're a senior pet or one that already struggles with health issues. Talk to your veterinarian about what you can do to make the process easier for your pet.

Throughout the entire process, make sure your pet knows that they're still an important member of your family.

June
3

If you want a relaxing sanctuary to luxuriate in every day, it can be found as near as your bathroom door. Follow these do-it-yourself tips to convert your primary bathroom into a spa-like retreat, and your relaxed body, mind and soul will be glad you did.

Give a Jacuzzi Tub a Whirl

To transform your bathroom into a home spa, install a modern soaking tub for a total immersion in the therapeutic benefits of bubbling water. If a do-it-yourself bathroom remodel isn't in the offing, convert your tub into a hydrotherapy whirlpool with equipment that fits over the side to whip your water into a healing frenzy. There's also the simple fix of installing a spa-like massage showerhead that melds relaxation with hygiene to make you feel and smell good all over. When you're done, finish the spa experience with a warm wiping, courtesy of you freestanding electric towel warmer.

Speaking of Smelling Good

Scent contributes to the mood you are in, so make sure aromatherapy is part of your bathroom spa experience. Hang eucalyptus from your shower head for a refreshing scent. Place reed diffusers on your bathroom countertop. Or finish up a hard day's work with a treat for the senses by adding aromatic essential oils to Epsom salts for an in-home mineral bath.

Make It Music to the Ears

Spa music should transport you to a Zen-like place of peace and tranquility, and good choices are acoustic tunes and the sounds of nature. Or, go Simon and Garfunkel with your own "Sounds of Silence" smartphone playlist and listen to it through waterproof Bluetooth speakers while relaxing in the tub.

With a sprinkling of ingenuity and a smattering of inspiration, you can easily convert your primary bathroom into a modern-day spa worthy of the ancient Romans!

June
1

Need To Sell Fast? These Tricks Will Help

Before you sink the "for sale" sign in your front yard, make sure your house looks its best with these simple and inexpensive home improvement projects that will help make your home sell faster.

  1. Consider Curb Appeal
    You only get one chance to make a great first impression. Your lawn, landscaping, and entrance to your home are the first things buyers see. Make that first impression memorable by cutting the grass, weeding, trimming hedges, and raking leaves. Polishing (or adding new) front-door hardware and a new mailbox can give a visual boost. Some colorful plants and a few bags of mulch can spruce up the outside appearance of your home without breaking the bank.


  2. Step Up Your Storage
    Clutter is the enemy when you're selling a house. If your closets and storage areas are cramped, lighten the load (beyond decluttering) by adding do-it-yourself closet storage systems. Top candidates for storage units are entry closets, kitchen pantries, linen closets, and bedrooms. When all is said and done, your closets will be more organized and functional while you're still living in the home and will attract potential buyers when you're ready to sell.


  3. Give Your Kitchen a Facelift
    The kitchen is the heart of your home. If it looks as if it's seen better days, give your oven, microwave, countertops, and sink some extra "TLC" with a deep cleaning. Buyers typically focus on a home's kitchen; consequently, it should sparkle the minute it hits the market.


    If your kitchen needs more than just a little elbow grease, a few inexpensive cosmetic changes can go a long way. Give it a makeover with a fresh coat of neutral paint, new hardware for drawers and cabinets, and up-to-date lighting and plumbing fixtures.

  4. Spiff Up Your Bathroom
    The bathroom — just like the kitchen — is a high priority for home buyers. Buyers love the idea of experiencing a five-star luxury experience in the comfort of their new homes. Since a complete bathroom renovation may not be in your plans, add the wow factor buyers are looking for by upgrading your sink, tub, shower, and lighting fixtures. A fresh coat of paint and new towels will give your bathroom a new look. A good, deep cleaning can make a drab shower and dingy floors shine again.


  5. Lighting Makes a Difference
    When you're selling a house, poor lighting can detract from your home's best features. Installing new light fixtures can give your house an updated look and highlight the best features of your house for home buyers. Replace old light bulbs with new ones with a higher wattage. You want buyers to see your home's best-selling points as they walk through it.

Buyers typically don't want to think about all the work they need to do in their new home. These fixes can help make your home a showstopper and will help move your property faster.

Login to My Homefinder

Login to My Homefinder