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Date Archives: July 2022

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July
29

How Sellers Prepare For A Home Inspection

Getting ready for a home inspection is one of the more nerve-wracking things about selling your home. The good news is that you don't have to wait until after the inspection to fix some of the most common trouble spots.

There are certain spots in a home that every inspector will check. Focusing on these issues now is the best way to maximize your budget and your chance of a favorable inspection result.

  1. Address Electrical Issues
    Electrical systems are always an area of focus during home inspections as old or damaged wiring can present a significant safety hazard. You can take care of some of the simple stuff like replacing broken switch plates and making sure that all light bulbs are working. It's also a good idea to contact a trusted electrician for a full review of your electrical systems. Better to find and fix it now rather than learn about a problem on inspection day.

  2. Freshen Your Fireplace
    A fireplace can be a major attraction to homebuyers as long as it's clean, safe, and well-maintained. Staying on top of fireplace maintenance is always a good idea because an inspector will check it thoroughly. In addition to cleaning up, make sure your fireplace meets all relevant safety codes.

  3. Eliminate Mold and Mildew
    Mold and mildew in a home are enough to scare off most buyers before things even reach the stage of inspection. Scour bathrooms, basements, kitchens, and anywhere else mold might develop. You can find specially formulated cleaning products to deal with mold at most hardware stores. If you have a serious mold problem, it's worth calling in the pros to get the job done thoroughly.

  4. Fix Roof and Basement Leaks
    If you do have mold or mildew issues in your home, there's a good chance that leaks play a part. Roof and basement leaks are among the most common ways for water to enter the home and often cause significant damage before being detected. Have a professional contractor repair any leaks. It's an absolute must if you're preparing for inspection.

  5. Check Your Plumbing
    Leaks don't just come from the outside of the home and faulty plumbing is sure to draw the attention of any home inspector. Taking care of any leaks is the first priority, but it's also a good idea to make sure that your water systems are functioning at their best. Check that the water pressure is high and your water heater works properly.

Investing the time and resources to repair these problems now will save a lot of stress in the long run and will likely save you some money at closing time. Better yet, a positive inspection result puts you one step closer to turning your dreams of a home sale into a reality.

July
27

MORTGAGE RATES ARE DRIVING A MARKET SHIFT
By Brad Gosslee, President, Coldwell Banker Gosslee

We knew it would come but didn't know what it would look like. I'm talking about the potential end of one housing cycle and the beginning of the next.

The last few years have seen the real estate market hugely impacted by the pandemic. While so many took advantage of the "work from anywhere" phenomenon and mortgage interest rates dropped to record lows, our housing supply quickly reached all-time lows.

With soaring demand and low inventory, prices were sure to rise. And they did.

Today, seemingly overnight, we have seen some softening. This occurred because of rising mortgage rates that are the result of rising inflation that came about because of supply chain issues, the impact of the war in Ukraine and other factors.

We are starting see some potential buyers move to the sidelines because of increased costs. The U.S. Federal Reserve reports that with each rise of 1% in mortgage rates, buyer demand will drop by 10.4%.

But I want to state a few things at the start of this blog that are critically important to both buyers and sellers:

  • We still do not have enough inventory to meet demand. While sellers may have missed "the top of the market," they are still benefitting today.
  • Therefore, we are a long way from emerging out of a very strong sellers' market where that side of the transaction has a negotiating advantage.
  • Buyers need to understand that home prices are technically not coming down. Instead, the pace of percentage increase is slowing. Remember, home prices in Northwest Louisiana are up 11% over last June and 6% for the entire year.
  • Buyers should therefore not expect home prices to return to pre-pandemic levels. Here is an interesting fact. NAR just reported in its monthly Existing Homes Sales Report that the median price of all June home sales in the U.S. was $416,000. Just three years ago, the U.S. reached a then-record $285,700. Home prices would have to tumble 45.6% to reach those levels again. It's likely not going to happen!

I now want to touch on mortgage rates and what their impact is. Rates are currently bouncing between the high 5%'s and low 6%'s according to Fairway Mortgage. When rates were 3.5% a buyer who took out a $250,000 30-year fixed rate mortgage with 5% down had a monthly fee (not including taxes, insurance, etc.) of $1,066.  At 6%, that buyer is paying about $300 more a month each month.

It makes sense that unfortunately, a certain number of potential buyers would not be able to afford a home. Or they now set their sights on a lower-priced home. But for the overall majority of potential buyers, this increase is not an insurmountable hurdle.

For comparison, take a look at some of these annual average mortgage rates:

 

  • 1981 17.00%
  • 1985 12.96%
  • 1990 10.31%
  • 1995 9.13%
  • 2000 8.25%
  • 2005 5.66%
  • 2010 4.98%

 

This is why you will hear real estate professionals explain that today's interest rates are more normal that you might think. And our sales, while off of our record-pace, reflect that buyers are still buying as we are still ahead of our five year June average.

Last month, there were 521 sales in Caddo, Bossier and Desoto Parishes which was down 15% over last June. But we need some perspective. Last June was the strongest sales month EVER with 615 sales. We had never before even cracked the 600 sales mark in any month, in any year.

We are still ahead of pre-pandemic levels - June 2019 (452) and June 2018 (501) - by a nice margin. In fact, our 5-year average is 511 sales in June.

This next chart shows the "slowing" of sales as we are not seeing the huge percentage increases we saw for many, many months. At the same time, we must recognize that part of the sales challenge is simply not having enough homes to sell which is especially the case in Desoto Parish.

Price Range

YTD Number of Home Sales NW LOUISIANA
(% change over June 2021

YTD Number of Home Sales in Bossier Parish (% change over June 2021

YTD Number of Home Sales in Caddo Parish (% change over June 2021

YTD Number of Home Sales in Desoto Parish (% change over June 2021

Total

2,793 (-6%)

1,107 (-6%)

1,601 (-6%)

85 (-7%)

$100,000 & less

405 (-6%)

    102 (+5%)

293 (-8%)

10 (-41%)

$100,000-$200,000

885 (-18%)

266 (-23%)

594 (-15%)

25 (-22%)

$200,000-$300,000

858 (+1%)

402 (-5%)

439 (+7%)

    17 (+13%)

$300,000-$400,000

354 (+2%)

213 (+7%)

127 (-5%)

14 (-7%)

$400,000-$500,000

157 (+4%)

85 (+18%)

63 (-7%)

9 (-18%)

$500,000-
$600,000

64 (+33%)

    22 (0%)

34 (+31%)

8 (+800%)

$600,000+

70 (+27%)

17 (+21%)

51 (+28%)

2 (+100%)

 

To provide even greater insight, let me share a new term – "current pendings." These are properties that have entered the contracting phase. But they have not yet closed. In just two months we have dropped from 677 pending sales to 541. This could be a sign that a return to sales normalcy may be on the horizon.

Our local sales figures – at least on a year-over-year percentage basis – are very similar to what NAR is reporting nationally. Across the U.S., sales were down 14.2% compared to 15% here.

You will also notice in the below chart that our median home price increase is also similar to the U.S, 11% vs. 13.4%. But it is also great to know that our median home is more than $180,000 cheaper than the U.S. norm!

And while our inventory – the number of available homes for sale – is mirroring the U.S. market with a 3% increase vs. 2.4% nationally, you see with the month supply that we still have a critical shortage of homes at only 1.9 months. Just two years ago when the pandemic first began, we had a 3.6-month supply. It was 5.4 months prior to us having ever heard of the word "pandemic."

In most housing markets, a 6-month supply is considered balanced where neither buyer nor seller has a negotiating advantage. I've always felt our line of demarcation was closer to 5 months. You can see we have a long way to go to get there.

 

U.S.

(change over June '21)

Northwest LA

(change over June '21)

Median Price

$416,600/+13.4%

$232,000/+11%

Number of Sales

5.12 million/-14.2%
(annualized)

521/-15%

Inventory

1.26 million/+2.4%

910/+3%

Month Supply

3.0/2.5

1.9/1.7

Median Days on Market

14/16

7/7

 

We also need to be aware that homes went under contract in June in a previously unheard of 7 days. This speed is caused by the supply vs. demand imbalance. Northwest Louisiana is 2 times faster than the overall U.S. figure.

Another thing we want to pay close attention to over the coming months is the supply of homes at the upper-end, since those sales are largely predicated on the "move up" buyer. This next chart shows that our most expensive homes have the highest supply. While this is normally true because it takes longer to sell more expensive homes simply because the buyer pool is smaller, every move higher in supply would be indicative of a normalizing market at the lower to mid-tiers.

Price Range

June 2022 Available Homes/Month Supply

May 2018 Available Homes/Month Supply

Total

910/1.9

2,285/5.6

$100,000 & less

171/2.4

453/4.7

$100,000-$200,000

214/1.3

733/4.6

$200,000-$300,000

216/1.5

500/5.5

$300,000-$400,000

101/1.8

265/9.9

$400,000-$500,000

74/2.8

142/16.2

$500,000+

132/6.3

172/26.1

 

I want to close this month's blog, the same exact way I did last month.

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!

If you want to get even more insight, you can click here to get our Coldwell Banker Gosslee June 2022 Monthly Market Report.

Please reach out to one of our agents or feel free to reach out to me at bgosslee@cbgosslee.com.

I can't believe we are almost to August. My internal clock is already ticking. Football season is almost here!

 

July
27

Getting Out of the Rental Rut

There's nothing wrong with renting your home. In fact, in certain circumstances, it's the smarter choice. However, if you've been renting for what seems like forever, you might have started thinking about wanting to get out of the "rental rut."

While it's nice to know you can call the landlord any time there's a problem with the home, there are some major advantages to buying a house of your own. If you've been on the fence about finally taking the leap into home-ownership, consider these important benefits. 

  • You'll Build Equity
    One of the biggest advantages of buying a house is that you're no longer handing over your hard-earned money to pay for someone else's property. Each time you pay your rent, that money is gone, and you have nothing to show for it. Whenever you make an improvement to the home you're renting, or you take care of routine maintenance, you're building your landlords equity – instead of your own. Buying a house allows you to start building your equity. It's a long-term investment that you can sell or take a loan against in the future.

  • You'll Have More Stability
    When you rent, you don't have any control over changes your landlord might decide to make. Not only can your monthly rent payments suddenly go up, but your landlord could also decide to sell the property – meaning you'll have to find a new place to stay. Buying a house gives you a lifetime of predictability and stability. If you get a fixed mortgage, your payments will always remain the same. As long as you keep making those payments, no one can ever tell you it's time for you to go. 

  • You Might Save on Taxes
    In addition to being a great long-term investment, buying a house will likely also create short-term benefits in the form of tax savings. You may have access to the mortgage interest payment deduction, tax write-offs, and other tax deductions that aren't available to renters. This could allow you to start making money back on your investment right away. 

  • You Can Give it a Personal Touch
    Another huge advantage of buying a house is that once you do, it's yours. This means that you don't have to ask permission to paint, change out the carpets, or completely update the landscaping. When you own your home, you're free to give it your own personal touch in any way you see fit. 

  • It's a Great Time to Buy 
    It's one thing to understand the advantages of buying a house. It's quite another to feel financially prepared to do so. Luckily, the current economic conditions are perfect for buying a house. Interest rates are at historic lows, so locking in a mortgage today can save you tens of thousands of dollars over the lifetime of your loan. There are also many programs available that can allow you to buy a home with little to no money down. 

If you've been thinking about buying a home, now is a great time to do it. However, the inventory of homes for sale has also reached record lows. Since there are fewer houses on the market, it might take you longer to find your dream home. Starting the process of buying a house sooner, rather than later, will give you the best chance to take advantage of these optimal conditions and finally get out of that rental rut.

July
25

A Guide to Buying Your First Home in 2022

Ready to buy your first home in Northwest Louisiana in 2022? Coldwell Banker Gosslee specialize in helping first-time home buyers like you find their dream property in Shreveport/Bossier and the surrounding areas!

Before you start searching for homes online, it's important to take the first step to house shopping: Getting pre-approved for a mortgage.

Your pre-approval will tell you what you can afford and what your monthly payment will be, so it's important to determine this before you start searching for your new home.

Pre-approval is good for about 30-90 days, so once you're ready, take these first 3 steps to get it done.

  1.  Contact us, and one of our experiened agents will send over a list of lenders they know and trust.
  2.  Look over the list, check out online reviews, and ask friends and family for referrals.
  3.  Email 2-3 lenders you like or let a Coldwell Banker Gosslee agent introduce you over email.

Once you've got your pre-approval letter in hand, it's time to start the search!

Before you hop into the home search, We like to advise our clients to create a "Needs" list and a "Wants" list. This will help us to really focus on the things that are most important in your future home.

Needs are the non-negotiable features; the features you simply must have in your next home. Wants are the ones you'd like to have, but you can add or change down the road. Remember, you can't change the lot or the location so make sure you love both.

Once you've established what you're looking for, your Coldwell Banker Gosslee agent will set you up on a search so you can receive an email the second a home that fits your criteria goes live. If you have any questions about a property, send your agent the information and they will find out for you. Send them listings you like and they can get more information and set up showings on your behalf.

After touring houses and choosing the one you love, it's time to make an offer. To do this, you'll need your pre-approval letter or proof of funds. You'll also need to make an escrow deposit of at least 1-2% of the purchase price. This will go towards your closing costs at closing.

Have more questions about buying a home or what happens after making an offer? Reach out to us today!

Bossier City Office 318.747.5411

Shreveport Office 318.861.2461

July
22

Breaking Down The Most Common Homebuying Myths

Buying your first home is no easy task, and if you're shopping for the first time, you're likely to hear a lot of advice. While your friends and family may have good intentions, don't believe everything you hear. There are so many common home buying myths out there. In order to make the right decision, it's important to separate fact from fiction — especially when shopping in a hot seller's market.

To help you along the way, we've debunked some of the most common homebuying myths:

  • Myth: You Need To Waive The Inspection Contingency To Be Competitive
    Over the last year, there was an increase in homebuyers waiving home inspection in order to make their offer stand out. While this is a good way to sweeten an offer in a hot market, it's a risky proposition for first-time buyers.

    Despite this recent trend, a home inspection contingency is still the standard. It's not an unreasonable or uncommon request. As the market continues to calm down, waiving the home inspection contingency won't always be necessary to land a home.

  • Myth: You Should Avoid Putting Down Less Than 20%
    Many first-time shoppers are waiting until they've saved 20% for a down payment before making a purchase; however, this isn't always necessary. So long as you have a stable source of income and good credit, you can get by with putting down less than 20%. You may be required to pay Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI), which could cost you more in the long run; however, buying earlier with a smaller down payment helps you to begin building equity sooner.

  • Myth: A 30-year Mortgage Is The Best Deal
    Most buyers spring for a 30-year mortgage over a 15-year mortgage because it offers the lowest monthly payments. However, with a 30-year mortgage, you'll pay significantly more in interest over the life of the loan. By borrowing for a shorter period of time, you stand to potentially save hundreds or thousands of dollars in interest.

  • Myth You Won't Be Approved For A Mortgage If You Have Student Loan Debt
    While it's true lenders look at your debt-to-income ratio when evaluating your creditworthiness, they only focus on monthly payments in comparison to your monthly income. This means even if you have tens of thousands of dollars in student loan debt, you can still be approved if your minimum monthly payments are low enough.

  • Myth: You Have To Overpay To Land A Home
    There was some unprecedented activity in the real estate market in 2021, which sent home prices soaring. The national median home price increased 18% year over year. As a result, many buyers were forced to enter bidding wars that led to sale prices of $10K to $15K over asking price.

    However, the market has cooled down a bit over the last couple of months, and we expect that trend to continue into 2022. There should be an increase in inventory along with an increase in interest rates. This combination should help even out the buyer/seller balance. While home prices will likely continue to increase next year, we don't expect to see the double-digit percentage growth we saw in 2021.

While it's always good to hear different perspectives on the real estate market, many of the myths floating around today have little to no merit. The best thing you can do is trust your real estate agent to guide you through the process.

July
20

What To Pack For Your First Night In Your New House

The following is a guest post written by Laura McHolm, Chief of Organized Living & NorthStar Moving Company Co-Founder 

Moving day is approaching and your to-do list just keeps growing! But, there is one more to-do to add to your list. This to-do gets you ready for a peaceful first night in your new home. You'll thank me later. Actually, you'll be too tired to thank me, but that's okay. Your first night will be great and that's all the thanks I need.

The last thing anyone wants to do after a long moving day, is to open box after box in search of your pjs, toothbrush, pillow and your kid's night light. No one wants to go on a treasure hunt at the end of moving day!

Here's how to have a restful first night:

Pack a suitcase for each family member (two and four legged) for their first night. Bring those suitcases with you, so you'll know right where they are.

 Each suitcase should be packed with these essentials:

  1. Linens and pillows
  2. Clean pjs
  3. A fresh change of clothes
  4. Toothpaste, toothbrush, soap, toilet paper and towels
  5. Medications, eyeglasses or contact lenses & solutions
  6. Your kids favorite teddy bear, bedtime story and night light
  7. Phone, computer and chargers
  8. A bag for each pet with food, food bowls, toys leash and bed

Keep your family happy & fed:

Pack a family box with food and healthy treats for moving day and for breakfast the next day. Include a few dishes, silverware, paper towels, snacks and food.

Take precautions:

Remember to personally move your credit cards, wallet and jewelry. Keep them safely tucked away.

If you're moving long distance:

Bring clothing and essentials for at least a week while you're waiting for the moving truck to arrive. No one wants to have to start their new job or school in their pjs!

Enjoy your first night!

Being able to easily grab what you need makes your first night in your new place feel like home. Watch the video below for more tips!

July
19

Back to school means back to doing homework. While there are many ways to help children develop good self-discipline, one way is to motivate them by creating an inviting space where they can concentrate and stay stress free. You don't need a lot of space or a dedicated room for a homework station. Whether it's a desk in your child's bedroom, the kitchen table or a nook in a hallway, here are five ways to ensure it's a well-organized area conducive to getting work done.

Too-Cool-for-School Supplies

Liven up dreary desk supplies by choosing colorful and fun design options, including items like pencils, pens, erasers, paper, crayons, markers and a handy calculator. Stocking up will prevent the all-too-often frantic search for supplies before tackling homework.

No-Noise Zone

Do your best to reduce all visual and auditory distractions by turning off televisions and ensuring the homework area is free of electronic devices and toys. Try to locate the homework station where it's quieter, away from any highly trafficked living spaces.

Bright Idea

Supply good lighting. Choose a space near a window for natural light or provide a desk lamp or overhead illumination so your child doesn't have to strain to see their work, which can cause fatigue or, worse yet, headaches. Proper lighting is essential to homework efficiency.

Clean Slate

Avoid clutter on your child's desk/table by establishing an organization system for their supplies. Make it easy for items to be found so kids can stay focused on their homework. When they're done, returning everything to its proper place is a breeze and cleanliness is restored for another day.

Star Pupil

Celebrate your child's unique talents by displaying some of their special artwork, assignments and awards near their homework station to make them feel proud and motivate them to continue working hard.

Creating a comfortable environment for homework is a great way to kick off the new school year on the right foot. Find some more smart ideas for creative kid homework stations here: CravingSomeCreativity.com

July
18

Old or New: Which House Should You Buy?

While shopping for your next home, you may run into the situation where you're deciding between a previously lived in house and a house that's brand new. A spotless new construction may be enticing enough to convince you to pony up the larger cost, but the decision between old versus new is more complicated than just the price tag. In fact, there are a lot more factors to consider, and there's no one answer that applies to all shoppers. Here's what you should know.

Buying a New House

Buying a brand new home comes with some advantages over one that's housed previous families. Here are the pros for buying a new home:

  • Maintenance - In a brand new home, there's little you need to worry about with maintenance, at least for several years. Your wiring, plumbing, roof, and HVAC system will all be in pristine condition and built to code, requiring only minor upkeep. Even if something goes wrong, there may be a builder's warranty.
  • Energy Efficiency - With new and modern building materials and tech, a new home is likely to be more energy-efficient than an old home. Some new homes might even come with solar panels and dual pane windows that help slash energy bills.
  • Customization - Since you're starting with essentially a blank slate, you have a lot of options for customizing interiors to exactly how you imagine them. The work will be speedier for any contractors as well since they won't have to tear out old fixtures.

Buying a new home can be a great option, but it does come with some drawbacks.

  • Cost - A brand new home can cost considerably more than an existing one, usually at the tune of an additional 20-30%. Because of this, it may not be feasible for first time buyers who don't want to break the bank. That's also not including the likely higher property taxes.
  • Location - It's difficult to put up a brand new home in an existing neighborhood, which means a new home is less likely to have the same immediate community that comes with an older home. The commute to work might be longer as well.
  • Resale Value - Because the house is new, there's no history of past transactions to show what the house has been worth over the years. If you're buying a new construction as an investment, that can turn out to be a potential risk.

Buying an Existing House

Just like with buying a new house, buying an existing one comes with its own set of pros and cons. Here are some of the advantages.

  • Cost - An existing home will usually have a lower selling cost than a new one. This cost can be disguised by inevitable renovations, so it's best to have an idea of what work will need to be done to make the purchase worth it.
  • History - An older house - and the neighborhood where it lies - will have an existing history and character that just isn't present with a new home. Little quirks of the construction add to the charm, and neighbors will have lots of stories about the previous owners and the neighborhood. An older home will also have more mature landscaping.
  • Proven Investment - An existing home is less likely to see the volatile value swings of a newer home, so you can take comfort in knowing your investment is sound. And if you strategically pump renovations into the home, you could even sell later on for a profit.

Buying an existing home of course comes with the side effects of decades of homeownership.

  • Maintenance - Almost the complete opposite case for a newer home, an existing property is almost guaranteed to require some serious attention. Some of this maintenance may be negotiated with the seller, but you'll likely have to do some dirty work yourself.
  • Outdated design - The interior design, as well as the interior layout, may feature some once popular but now outdated concepts that clash with what the modern homeowner will want. Expect to see outdated fixtures and little closet space.
  • Competition - Due to the reduced cost and location of an existing home, you'll likely see more competition than you would for a new construction. This can be upsetting for buyers who lose out on a home they thought would be perfect.

Buying a home, whether it's a new or an existing one, is a big decision. There's no wrong or right answer that applies to all shoppers, so it's best to find a good real estate agent who can help you make the right decision.

July
15

Few things taste as good as straight-from-the-farm fruits and veggies, bursting with flavor and freshness. You can get them at local farmers' markets or the farms themselves, often with the option of picking the produce yourself.

Our real estate agents recommend the following markets and farms to get farm-fresh produce around Shreveport homes for sale and Bossier City homes for sale.

  1. Shreveport Farmers' Market - 101 Crockett St., Shreveport, LA 71101
    The Shreveport Farmers' Market brings people together from Northwest Louisiana, Far East Texas, and Southern Arkansas. You'll find a wide variety of fruits, veggies, herbs, plants, meat (including ethically-raised beef, pork, chicken, and lamb), and more that are grown or raised within a 150-mile radius of Shreveport. Beyond the usual tasty offerings, the market also has specialty goods such as candies, soaps, and frozen logs of cheese wafers you can slice and bake at home. Or enjoy breakfast or lunch from a popular onsite cafe with meals from local food trucks and chefs. The market is open on Saturdays from 7:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. from early June-late August.

  2. Bossier City Farmers Market - 2950 E. Texas St. (Pierre Bossier Mall behind Starbucks), Bossier City, LA 71111
    You'll find over 100 vendors at Bossier City Farmers Market, selling farm products and homemade goods and crafts. Local artists also set up shop at the market, offering unique jewelry, stained glass, multimedia creations, and more. Make sure to bring the kids, since live music is featured each week, along with plenty of activities they'll love, like painting classes, face-painting, bounce houses, and interactive games. The market is open every Saturday from 9 a.m.-1 p.m. from April-November.

  3. Blueberry Hill - 5121 Bellevue Rd., Haughton, LA 71037
    Get farm-fresh blueberries and blackberries at Blueberry Hill, where you can buy them already picked or pick your own. If you choose the latter option, show up early before it gets too hot! The farm also sells veggies (including several types of beans as well as okra and eggplant), honey made from bees at the farm, jellies, and juices. The farm, located near Haughton homes for sale, is open from 7 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Saturday.

  4. Lenox Acres - 6501 Vardaman Rd., Keithville, LA 71047
    Lenox Acres
    , located closed to Keithville homes for sale, started with blueberries and has since grown to include other fruits. Visit the family-owned farm to pick your own blueberries, blackberries, and muscadine grapes. And if you'd like to turn your visit into a short overnight or weekend trip, a full-service RV park is located nearby, just east of the Sabine River. The farm is open from 7 a.m.-noon Tuesday-Saturday.


  5. Provenance Farmers Market - Windrush Park, 1968 Bridgewater Ave., Shreveport, LA 71106
    Residents of Provenance, Shreveport, Bossier, and surrounding communities gather at Provenance Farmers Market for fresh food and unique arts and crafts items. In addition to produce, meats, and dairy products, you'll find baked goods and ready-to-eat foods. Take your time to browse and buy, and you can enjoy live music while taking in the sights, sounds, and delicious smells of the market. The market is open from 4-8 p.m. on select Thursdays.

Contact us if you're interested in buying or selling a home. We'd love to help you have a smooth real estate transaction.

July
12

Have an extra room that's just taking up space? Lucky you! Put your creativity to work and transform it into the "play" place you've always wanted. Here are just a few suggestions for using that unused area.

Rock Out

Let the rock-n-roll in you rip loose in a room designed to be your very own music studio. Bearing in mind that you'll want to remain friends with your neighbors, a careful soundproofing plan is key. The door to the space will need to be solid, heavy and insulated with sealing strips. While you'll be tempted to also seal the windows, it's important to allow some light in so it won't feel like you're playing in an underground bunker. Absorption panels can be purchased to line the walls, and it's wise to elevate the floor as well to keep the decibels down. By essentially building a ventilated "room within a room," you'll be able to enjoy some uninhibited jam sessions.

Divine Dressing

If you're a fashionista with less than ample closet space, or if you're seeking solace apart from a portion of a shared closet, then think about turning your spare square footage into the dressing salon of your dreams. Create a beautiful, well-appointed and brilliantly lit wardrobe room complete with floor-to-ceiling shelving, light-reflecting mirrors and plenty of storage for your accoutrements for every season. Add luxury elements like a comfy tufted pouf, an elegant jewelry armoire and even indulge in haute couture for the window treatments by framing them with sumptuous fabric. Dedicate an entire room to your coveted fashion collection by displaying all your favorite finds in full glam grandeur and celebrate the diva within.

Ssss-steam Heat

Ready for a relaxing retreat at the end of a hard day to soothe away daily pressures? If this sounds appealing, then get ready to turn up the heat in your very own steam room. Follow a few careful tips and you'll be loose as a goose in no time. The key concern, of course, is moisture. Because the entire room will need to be waterproofed, a special door and insulated tile from top to bottom are absolute musts. A polyethylene film for the ceiling and walls, with backerboard to which the tiles will be attached, are other important tools to implement. Once the room is properly protected, a steam generator is all that's necessary to create your cozy little piece of heaven.

Now that you have some inspiration for wonderful ways to use your extra square footage, it's time to tally your budget, consider the possibilities and let your imagination run wild.

July
11

Single Homebuying Doesn't Have To Be Difficult

Many people assume they'll buy a house after they get married, but it's really never too early to start building wealth through homeownership. While studies suggest millennials are renting more than any other generation, single home buying is actually on the rise. While married couples may have a slightly easier path to homeownership (joint income goes a long way), single home buying is certainly achievable. If you're single and looking to purchase your first home, here is how to approach it:

Assess Your Financials
Single buyers face a few additional challenges when it comes to funding and financing a home purchase. Since you're only relying on one income, it may be difficult to qualify. The only way to know for sure is to assess your financial situation carefully. How much do you have saved for a down payment and closing costs? How much of a monthly mortgage payment can you afford? You'll need to be very clear on your financial situation, so you gain a better understanding of your budget.

Don't Drain Your Savings
If you already have a significant amount saved for your down payment and closing costs, you might want to keep saving. Remember many lenders will want to see a few extra months worth of mortgage payments in your account in case of an emergency situation. You'll want to keep saving to fund home repairs or to be ready for unexpected costs.

Focus On Your Credit
Your credit score is going to have a huge impact on your ability to secure a mortgage as well as your interest rate. As a result, it's in your best interest to do everything you can to improve it. Make sure not to miss any bills or monthly payments and really focus on paying off your debt as soon as possible — especially credit cards. Credit card utilization and balances have a significant influence on your credit score.

A Co-Signer Is Always An Option
While you might not have the benefit of dual-incomes, that doesn't mean you have to go through the mortgage financing process alone. A co-signer is always an option, so if you have a close family member that is willing to help you out. Remember, a co-signer is putting their own credit on the line and is also responsible for paying off the debt, so you'll want to make sure you're aligned on payment plan.

Plan For The Future
While you may not need a ton of space now, you might in the future. Therefore, it's wise to try to weigh your current needs and future plans when deciding on a home. Do you see yourself getting married and having children? How long do you plan to live in this home? While no one can predict the future, having a plan can go a long way towards helping you find the right home.

One of the best parts about single homebuying is you can choose the exact home you want. While the process can come with some additional hurdles, careful planning will have you on the route to homeownership in no time.

July
8

Insider Tips For A Successful Open House

Selling your home? A successful open house is essential to attracting the right buyer. A truly great open house takes time, and it goes beyond popular ideas about "staging." Use these proven techniques to make an impression:

  1. Start Planning Early
    When selling your home, it's never too early to get started. Your first open house should take place no later than the second weekend your home is on the market. It'll take some time for prospective buyers to find your listing one way or the other.

    When it comes to an open house, no detail is too small. Consider things like lawn care, whether you want to offer cookies or a catered lunch, and how to keep kids and pets calm. The more thoughtful your presentation, the better.

  2. Hire a Cleaning Service
    Even if you keep your home immaculate, it's tough to get out all the spots and stains from years of living. When selling your home, making sure it looks its best is crucial — would-be buyers need to be able to imagine their happy futures there!

    There are two areas you should be especially careful about: the carpets and the exterior. Carpets can hold pollen and pet dander that might disturb some buyers. And, of course, a freshly pressure-cleaned exterior maximizes the home's curb appeal.

  3. Get the Word Out
    Gone are the days when it was necessary to take out full-page newspaper ads to get your open house noticed. Now, it's simply a matter of making sure your real estate agent is posting them on all the top sites serious buyers look at regularly to find properties.

    Still, you should take the time to advertise within your neighborhood — beginning a full week before your event. Starting from a radius of several blocks, put up signs that clearly direct visitors to the home. Tie off each sign with colorful balloons to get them noticed.

  4. Pick the Right Times and Days
    These days, most open houses take place on Sunday. To get even more visitors, however, consider having two days of back-to-back showings. This will give people multiple weekend options. It can even motivate visitors to return on the second day with new ideas or questions.

    Open houses traditionally start around 1 PM. . . but they don't have to. By starting later, you may make a stronger impact. That's because buyers are likely to look at several houses in a day and will more clearly remember the one they visited last.

  5. Have Something to Give Away
    When executives look for a job, they bring something that makes an impression, like a portfolio of their top press clippings and achievements. By leaving it with the interviewer, they provide a memory boost that makes them look more attractive — you can do the same for your house.

    Don't stop with the traditional baked cookies — have photos of the house from different times of the year, appraisals, and other valuable documents buyers can take away with them. They're much more likely to follow up since they'll have a concrete reminder of your property.

  6. Get Out of the Way
    While there are many ways to get prospective buyers to linger and talk to your real estate agent, you don't necessarily need to be there. Some brokers actually prefer that the owner be away from the house to more effectively stay "on message." Coordinate with your broker — and if you go, be sure to take Fido or Fluffy along for the day.

Ask your real estate agent for more tips on how your open house with wow buyers. That way, you'll know you're on the right track.

July
6

(July 6, 2022) Evanne LeBlanc has joined Coldwell Banker Gosslee, the #1 real estate brokerage in Northwest Louisiana. 

Evanne has always been a big believer in the comforts of home. In pursuing a career in real estate, she is excited to help others find a place they can truly feel at home. 

With her experience in event coordinating, Evanne knows all about working with people to make their visions come to life, coordinating all the small details and building personal relationships that last a lifetime. She is an outgoing and compassionate person who plans to use her talents and traits to utilize and grow as a Coldwell Banker Gosslee agent. 

Evanne grew up in Shreveport, attending Caddo Magnet High School. She graduated Northwestern University with a Bachelors of Arts in English and a minor in Communication. She attends St. Johns Berchman's Catholic church and lives on Lake Bistineau with her finance'.

You may contact Evanne at 318.773.1656 or you can email her at evanneleblanc@gmail.com.

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

July
5

Sellers: How You Can Downsize Efficiently

Once you've decided to sell your home, there is one question that looms large, hanging over your head like a heavy weight. What am I going to do with all this stuff? The question is especially relevant if you will be downsizing into a smaller house.

If you have lived in your current home for an extended period of time, the problem may be just that much worse. The accumulation of life's stuff is easy to put out of sight and out of mind during the day-to-day bustle. But when it is time to start packing and getting a home ready to sell, it can be like an avalanche bursting forth from every corner.

What's the best way to start downsizing your life and do it efficiently? It may sound easy — keep the stuff you need and purge the stuff you don't — but if you aren't careful how you do it, you can create more problems for yourself than just having too much junk.

Have a Plan to Ease the Pain

  • Start with the big stuff. If you are selling your three-bedroom home to move into a two-bedroom home, there's no need to move that extra bedroom furniture. It's just not needed. Take that approach with the rest of your home as well. Consider the space you are moving into and what you will need to fill it.

  • Be cautious. It can be easy to get on a "get rid of it" kick when it comes to smaller items, but be careful. Some things you know you will never need again, sell or donate. For other things that you are on the fence about, separate boxes into "must keep" and "maybe keep" boxes. That way, you can adjust as needed if your new home has the space to accommodate more of your things.

    It also helps to think about your belongings like this: If they were all wiped away by a fire, what would I replace and in what order would I replace them. It can be counter-productive to aggressively downsize, only to find that you need to re-buy things when you get in to your new home.

  • Go through those boxes again. Do you have boxes of keepsakes or mementos that you just couldn't live without but have never been unpacked from your previous home? Go through those boxes again, separating what's truly needed from what will never be missed.

  • Some space hogs can be effectively downsized without disappearing from your life. Take this opportunity to digitize old photos, CDs, DVDs or even VHS tapes. Uploading them to the cloud keeps them accessible while reducing the amount of stuff you have to move.

  • One year rule. When selling your home and downsizing, it helps to follow one simple rule: If you haven't used it in the last year, get rid of it.

Take your new uncluttered attitude with you into your new home. Recognize clutter culprits in your old home and take pains to reduce what can build up in your new one. The easiest stuff to get rid of is the stuff you never accumulate.

July
1

There's nothing like enjoying a good beer with friends after a long day. You can get the big-name brands anywhere, but the best experiences are at places with local craft beer, where you can sample a few unique offerings. As you're looking at Shreveport homes for sale, you may be wondering, "Which places have the best craft beer around here?"

Well, our real estate agents have you covered. Some places brew their own beer in-house, while others provide samples from other microbreweries around the area. Either way, here are our favorite spots for craft beer around Shreveport.

  • Brewniverse - 1409 E. 70th St. UNIT 123, Shreveport, LA 71105
    Located in Pierremont Plaza, Brewniverse is a beer enthusiast's dream. The store sells over 350 different craft beers—the largest selection in the area—plus ingredients, equipment, and other supplies for you to do your own homebrewing. Open Monday through Saturday, 11 am to 7 pm, Brewniverse regularly hosts beer samplings and other events after hours for locals to get together and discover new craft beers.

  • BeauxJax Crafthouse - 501 Barksdale Blvd., Bossier City, LA 71111
    There are plenty of Bossier City homes for sale near BeauxJax Crafthouse. In addition to an impressive selection of craft drafts and cocktails, they also serve a variety of delicious Cajun food, from poboys to gumbo to jambalaya and much more! Open from 11 am to 10 pm Sunday through Thursday and until midnight on Fridays and Saturdays, BeauJax is a great place to meet friends for a bite and a beer.

  • Great Raft Brewing - 1251 Dalzell St., Shreveport, LA 71104
    Great Raft Brewing
    has a taproom that serves a wide selection of beers on draft. In addition, they also sell them to go, either by the can or by the keg. You can even order your beers online and pick them up on-site. They also regularly offer free tours of the brewery, plus other fun events. Closed Mondays and Tuesdays, they're open 4 pm to 9 pm Wednesdays and Thursdays, and noon to 10 pm Fridays and Saturdays.


  • Strange Brew - 235 Wall St., Shreveport, LA 71101
    With over 200 different beers on offer, Strange Brew is like Christmas for beer lovers. The bar also has a variety of games, from pool to pinball to air hockey and, of course, beer pong. They have live music, karaoke, trivia nights, and more throughout the week.

  • The Blind Tiger - 120 Texas St., Shreveport, LA 71101
    A great casual dining spot, The Blind Tiger also boasts plenty of "delicious regionally-inspired beverages"—i.e., great local craft beers. Located in the Red River District, it's a great place to have some Cajun food and discover your new favorite brew.

  • The Missing Link - 504 Texas St. #100, Shreveport, LA 71101
    While The Missing Link has a few good craft beers, their specialty is craft hot dogs. From their classic all-beef frank to their Cajun dog, made with alligator and pork sausage, they serve a variety of delicious, house-made hot dogs that you can't find anywhere else. And what better way to wash down those hot dogs than with one of their delicious craft beers? They may not have many, but the ones they do serve are top-notch.

These are just a few places in Shreveport where you can sample great craft beers, enjoy great food, and much more. If you're ready to make Shreveport your new home, contact us. We'll help you find the perfect house in the perfect neighborhood to meet your needs.

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