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Home Buyer Tips | 34 Posts
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Shreveport, LA | 5 Posts
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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
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
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
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
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
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
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.

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