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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.

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
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
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.

May
25

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Price Range

April 2022 Available Homes/Month Supply

April 2018 Available Homes/Month Supply

Total

667/1.3

2,289/5.9

$100,000 & less

148/2.0

523/5.4

$100,000-$200,000

172/1.0

728/4.6

$200,000-$300,000

144/1.0

494/5.6

$300,000-$400,000

64/1.1

261/9.2

$400,000-$500,000

51/1.9

132/14.9

$500,000+

88/4.7

160/23.4

 

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

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

Price Range

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

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

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

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

Total

1,723 (-4%)

649 (-10%)

1,021 (0%)

54 (-11%)

$100,000 & less

281 (+5%)

    66 50 (0%)

208 (+9%)

8 (-27%)

$100,000-$200,000

573 (-18%)

173 (-25%)

308 (-12%)

15 (-42%)

$200,000-$300,000

530 (+5%)

233 (-6%)

285 (+17%)

    12 (+0%)

$300,000-$400,000

194 (-1%)

112 (-2%)

74 (0%)

8 (0%)

$400,000-$500,000

84 (+12%)

48 (+55%)

32 (-22%)

4 (+100%)

$500,000-
$600,000

34 (+21%)

    11 (-35%)

17 (+55%)

6 (+400%)

$600,000+

27 (0%)

6 (-40%)

20 (+25%)

1 (+100%)

 

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

 

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

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

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

 

U.S.

(change over April '21)

Northwest LA

(change over April '21)

Median Price

$391,200/+14.6%

$218,000/+11%

Number of Sales

5.61 million/-5.4%
(annualized)

469/-8%

Inventory

1.03 million/-10.4%

667/-14%

Months Supply

2.2/2.3

1.3/1.6

Median Days on Market

17/17

9/10

 

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

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

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

REMEMBER…NOT ALL AGENTS ARE THE SAME…

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

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

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

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

Hope you have a great Memorial Day start to summer!

 

 

 

May
24

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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!

May
31

Pay Off Your Mortgage Early With These Tips

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

May
23

5 Ways Sellers Can Sabotage Their Own Sales

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

May
20

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

Projector and Screen

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

Comfy Seating

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

Snackage

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

Soft Lights

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

De-bugging

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

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

May
18

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

May
17

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


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

May
13

4 Ways to Cool Off Your Energy Bill

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

Dress Your Windows

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

Fans for Cooling

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

Adjustable Thermostats

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

Door Draft Stoppers

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

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

May
11

Sellers: Why You Should Upgrade Your Outdoor Space

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

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

1. Increased Home Value

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

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

2. Improved Curb Appeal

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

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

3. Long-Term Enjoyment

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

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

2021's Top Outdoor Upgrades

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

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

May
10

Organizing your home search makes the process easier. 

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

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

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

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


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


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


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


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

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

May
9

The Home Seller's Survival Guide

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

May
4

Tech To Smarten Up Your Household Cleaning

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

Say Goodbye to the Pool Boy

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

Lawn Time Coming

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

Toilet Talk

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

Pet Products Save The Day

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

Smart Starts in the Garage

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

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

May
3

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

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

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

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

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

May
6

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

April
29

Smart Moving Tips for Homeowners With Pets

You may be ready to start an exciting adventure in a new home, but what about your pets? Some furry family members may find moving to an unfamiliar place stressful, but there are ways to ease them into it with a little advance planning.

Pet-Friendly Properties

Living harmoniously with pets is a top priority for homeowners. The APPA National Pet Owners Survey by the American Pet Products Association estimates that 70% of all U.S. households – roughly 90.5 million – owns one or more pets. That's a remarkable figure that impacts many aspects of the economy, including residential real estate. People love their pets and today's home buyers are seeking properties that reflect it. For some house hunters, finding a pet-friendly home is as simple as getting a place with a fenced-in yard, hard-surface flooring or space for a litter box. Others, however, are looking for more deluxe amenities for Fido and Fluffy.

The Pampered Pet

Some pet-centric home designs cater to the four-legged family members. Today's popular custom details include under-cabinet food stations, pet washing facilities, and built-in crates, beds or pet suites. Also sought after are high-tech smart-home features like electronic pet doors and remote-access security cameras that let homeowners keep an eye on their pets when they're away.

Park, Park, Park!

Location matters to pet owners. A pet-friendly community is a must, and proximity to an off-leash dog park or long nature trail away from busy streets is a bonus. And while parents of young children often make school districts a priority, some pet parents also seek homes close to their veterinarian, boarding facility and doggy daycare.

This Way Home

Show your pets the lay of the land at the new house. Determine where your pets' toys, bed and water bowl will go, then take them on a home tour to familiarize them with their designated areas. Be sure to examine the home for safety hazards, then let them poke around and discover new scents and favorite spots. Cats may feel more comfortable adjusting to one room at a time, so start them off in a smaller space and let them take their time exploring.

Adjustment periods in a new home are easy when you keep these tips in mind and stick to your pets' regular feeding and walking routines. They should barely notice the move and continue living their usual happy lives in the comfort of your new home.

April
27

Your Guide To Selling A Home In Spring

Spring is typically the busiest season in real estate. If you're thinking about selling your house, then this is truly a can't-miss opportunity. Buyers are hitting the market in force after a winter of hibernation, curb appeal is springing back, and warmer weather makes it easier to finish chores around the home. Now all you need is to get your home — and yourself — ready for the busy season ahead.

  1. Create a To-Do List
    This step is easy to miss while you're busy buzzing around from one project to the next, but it's really worth taking the time to create a to-do list. Order tasks by priority, and be sure to update your list as you add new projects or complete existing ones. Once you have your list, post it in a place where you'll see it often.

  2. Prune Your Shrubbery and Trees
    While you're pruning, consider whether you'd like to add any new landscaping features or outdoor lighting to boost curb appeal.

  3. Declutter Your Home
    Buyers want to be able to picture what their life would be like in your home, so it's a good idea to remove clutter and personal possessions as you prepare for selling your home. A clutter-free home is also much easier to keep clean between showings.

  4. Property Inspection
    Having your home inspected will help you develop a game plan and reveal potential issues which could halt a sale if they go unnoticed. Ask around for referrals, and look for an inspector with a thorough track record.

  5. Meet with Your Agent
    The real estate market never truly sleeps, and your real estate agent is always hard at work. Schedule a time to talk strategy and get answers to your questions before the busy season begins.

  6. Home Improvements
    This is a great time to tackle minor home improvement projects like painting, power-washing outdoor surfaces, or refreshing your flooring. Every little improvement makes a difference, but you'll probably want to save the big remodeling projects for your next home.

  7. Prepare Yourself
    Selling your home takes a lot of time and energy, so it's a good idea to get yourself ready for the selling season. Develop a plan, coordinate with other household members, and maybe even set aside a bit of time for relaxation before showings and open houses begin.

With the right preparations in place, you'll be ready to hit the ground running during the busiest months of the real estate calendar. Selling your house is much easier when you take the time to plan, prepare and put your strategy into action. The right real estate agent and willingness to research on your own are the key ingredients to simplify selling your house this spring.

April
26

WE ARE TIGHTER THAN THE NATION
By Brad Gosslee, President, Coldwell Banker Gosslee

Let's get right to it. The housing market in Northwest Louisiana is tougher than what we are seeing across the nation.

The National Association of Realtors just came out with its Existing Home Sales Report looking at March sales and I found it striking how much tighter our market was. But before you think it is all gloom and doom, as we go on in this blog, there are some potentially promising signs.

Looking at the below chart, we are down in numerous categories compared to the overall U.S.:

  • Sales
  • Inventory (number of homes on the market)
  • Month supply
  • Median days on market which shows how fast homes are selling. In fact, our homes are selling almost 100% faster than in the rest of the nation.

 

U.S.

(change over March '21)

Northwest LA

(change over March '21)

Median Price

$375,300/-4.6%

$193,345/-1%

Number of Sales

5.77 million/-7.1%
(annualized)

491/-8%

Inventory

950,000/-9.5%

688/-11%

Months Supply

2.0/2.1

1.4/1.8

Median Days on Market

17/18

9/43

 

On the flip side, it is important to notice that our affordability levels are a HUGE positive. Our median priced home (the middle of all sales) was a whopping $181,955 less than the national price. Also, while our prices have appreciated from about $158,000 in March of 2019 to today's $193,345, we are seeing the pace of price increases slow.

We ended 2021 up 8% for the year to an overall median price of $198,950. This was another anomaly as traditionally I call our market "Steady Eddie" since we don't normally see huge annual increases. So far this year, prices are flat over this time last year.

Also, while most of 2020, and all of 2021, saw sales greatly influenced by historically-low mortgage rates, the work-from-home phenomenon and other pandemic-fueled sales, we may – I say "may" because none of us has a crystal ball – slowly begin to see a more normalized housing market.

But this can only occur if – and only if – we start to see more homes come on the market. While this will likely not happen overnight, here is what could start to happen:

  • If mortgage rates do continue to creep up into the mid/high 4% and low 5% levels, that may pull some potential buyers out of the market or they would be forced to only consider lower priced homes. Remember our price gains have already made it harder for first-time buyers to get into homeownership.
  • Fewer buyers would create more balance in the supply vs. demand equation and limit the number the number of multiple bids.
  • Homes would potentially stay on the market longer with prices leveling off.
  • If prices stabilize, this might allow potential sellers to recognize we've reached the "top of the market" and those interested might act.
  • More homes would then come on the market allowing us to begin returning to a more traditional market.

But we are definitely not there yet. Our demand is still really strong and inventory levels really low.

Sales is a great reflection of demand. While we are down 2% in sales over last year, remember this is off a record pace last year. Consider that since March 2018, just four years ago, we are:

  • We are up 29% in total sales
  • We approximately doubled the sales figures in the mid-level ranges
  • The $400,000+ luxury market is up 311% in sales

Price Range

March 2022 Sales

March 2018 Sales

Total

490

379

$100,000 & less

81

103

$100,000-$200,000

176

166

$200,000-$300,000

149

76

$300,000-$400,000

47

23

$400,000-$500,000

23

7

$500,000+

14

            2       

 

I think the major reason for the year-over-year sales slowdown is a reflection of our inventory remaining ridiculously low. Last February was our lowest inventory level ever with only 667 homes on the market. Today we are at only 688. This equates to a major seller's market with a paltry 1.4 month supply, far below the 5-6 month range we need for a balanced market where neither buyer nor seller has a negotiation advantage.

This chart shows the lack of supply compared to five years ago. Notice how the month supply has also dropped dramatically, especially in the mid-level price points:

Price Range

March 2022 Available Homes/Month Supply

March 2018 Available Homes/Month Supply

Total

688/1.4

2,222/5.5

$100,000 & less

181/2.4

456/4.7

$100,000-$200,000

168/1.0

745/4.8

$200,000-$300,000

127/0.9

495/5.6

$300,000-$400,000

64/1.2

263/9.5

$400,000-$500,000

51/1.9

116/13.7

$500,000+

93/5.1

145/21

 

If you are looking for a positive sign of a more stabilized market, you'd look at our most expensive homes where the month supply, which had come down dramatically from the 20-month level prior to the pandemic, has leveled off in the 5-month range for a while.

The impact of the inventory challenge is really noticeable in the $300,000-$400,000 range where only 64 homes were available. This sector has been fueled by move up buyers who took advantage of their equity and historically-low mortgage rates to buy larger and more expensive homes. We are down in this price range 12% across the region, 17% in Caddo Parish and 10% in Bossier Parish.

Price Range

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

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

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

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

Total

1,252 (-2%)

466 (-7%)

744 (+1%)

42 (0%)

$100,000 & less

224 (+14%)

50 (+9%)

169 (+16%)

5 (0%)

$100,000-$200,000

425 (-14%)

128 (-23%)

282 (-8%)

15 (-29%)

$200,000-$300,000

372 (+8%)

165 (+2%)

198 (+14%)

     9 (+0%)

$300,000-$400,000

134 (-12%)

79 (-10%)

50 (-17%)

5 (0%)

$400,000-$500,000

56 (+14%)

30 (+58%)

23 (-18%)

3 (+100%)

$500,000-
$600,000

24 (+4%)

     8 (-38%)

12 (+20%)

4 (+400%)

$600,000+

17 (-11%)

6 (0%)

10 (-23%)

1 (+100%)

 

I am so proud of our agents. Coldwell Banker Gosslee has led the local real estate industry for 29-straight years. We really believe that full-time agents deserve full-time support. And today's market certainly demands full-time agents who have proper, non-stop training who can be in constant communications with their clients.

Our behind-the-scenes team are unsung heroes. They work closely with our agents to assist them in attracting buyers, marketing your home and handling back-end details, which allows our agents to attend training classes, network with others and work closely with you.

While none of us has been through a market quite like this, we have been in business since 1960 and have amassed great knowledge and experiences. Both buyers and sellers NEED that today.

I want to re-iterate what I wrote last month:

Our agents are doing an incredible job in explaining to their sellers and buyers what is happening in the housing market. It is a stressful time on both sides. Here is why:

  • Sellers need to identify where they want to move and ensure that their next potential home is available. Our agents are connecting them with agents in their next community to assist them.
  • Sellers then have to be prepared for the fast-pace of the sale. If they get multiple bids they will eventually have to choose who they want to sell to. Our agents handle the negotiations and help the seller understand the complexities of each offer.
  • Our agents also work with their seller to create "contingencies" that often state when the sale will become final predicated on when the seller can leave and move into their next home.
  • Buyers are stressed because they have to move very quickly. They don't have as many choices as in previous years. Their agent may have to have the buyer make a quick decision and offer.
  • Buyers are also facing rejection. They may not win a bidding war and many are frustrated that they have the down payment funds and want to take advantage of the low mortgage rates, but they can't buy the home they want.

To those who are considering selling your home, I would encourage you to have a conversation with one of our agents. They can help you understand market conditions, give you a look at what your home is worth, help you meet with an agent where you are considering moving to (if it is out of town), and answer any questions you have.

Of course, you should feel free to reach out to me at bgosslee@cbgosslee.com.

See you next month!

April
20

5 Budgeting Tips When Saving for a Down Payment

Buying a home is a big financial decision and making your new home a reality means you'll need some money for a down payment. Homeownership is a great goal to have, and once you've figured out how much money you need to save, you can get down to business. As a general guideline, you'll need between 5% and 20% of the purchase price of a home. The actual number will depend on your financial situation, but it's always a good idea to get started as soon as possible. If you happen to end up with extra money, it can be applied to your moving expenses.  Here are some suggestions to get started saving.

  1. Make it automatic. Designate a separate account strictly for your down payment and have your money direct deposited or schedule regular transfers from your main account. For many people, it's much easier to save the money if you never see it in your checking account in the first place.
  2. Pay down or pay off your current debt especially if it's high-interest debt. Credit cards and car loans are two common budget busters that can eat up a sizable chunk of your monthly income. You may be able to refinance a car loan to a lower interest rate, and apply the extra money to the principal to pay it off sooner. Most credit cards assess interest daily, so paying more than the minimum as early in the billing cycle as possible will mean you're being charged less interest, allowing you to pay off that card sooner. After you get rid of the debt, you can put that money toward saving for your down payment.
  3. Cut out unnecessary spending. This includes monthly expenses and discretionary spending too. Eat out less, skip the daily latte, cut your grocery bill, give up the monthly subscription box, or get cheaper internet. You also may want to consider living somewhere less expensive or getting a roommate while you're trying to save for a home.
  4. Earn extra income and save it. You could get overtime at your current job, get a second job, or get a side hustle to earn extra income. You could also sell some of your stuff or something big you can do without, like a second car. Then put that money in the savings account for your down payment.
  5. When you do have to spend money take advantage of deals, coupons, and freebies. If you're going out with friends, go for the mid-week dinner specials. Buy one, get one free deal at your favorite lunch place, free concerts, community events, and game nights in can all help you reach your goal.

Saving up for the down payment on your new home can seem like an enormous task. But the truth is several small steps, and a little effort can make a big difference. You'll be in your new home before you know it.

April
19

Impress Buyers With These Staging Shortcuts

Home staging highlights the best features of your house and makes it more marketable by giving it a clean, organized, and neutral appearance. It also makes your home more appealing to the greatest pool of prospective buyers.

Hiring a professional stager is a good investment because they have the design expertise and time to get the job done right. If you don't have the budget to hire a professional, follow these six home staging tips to get you on your way.

  1. Conquer the Clutter
    The most important thing you can do to prepare your home for sale is to declutter. Decluttering helps buyers imagine themselves living in your home. Take a good hard look at what you have and decide for yourself what you can live without. Pack, donate or store those things you can live without for the time being — this includes furniture. When professional stagers prep your home for sale, they often remove a good deal of furniture to make your rooms look bigger.

  2. Make Your Home Sparkling Clean
    A sparkling clean home gives prospective buyers the impression that it has been well-cared-for. Mop and vacuum your floors, dust, and wash windows and baseboards. Don't forget about organizing your cupboards, under your sinks, and in your closets. Assume home buyers will inspect every corner of your home.

  3. Slap on a Fresh Coat of Paint
    Repainting your interior is one of the most cost-effective and easiest ways to spruce up your home. Choose beige or taupe for living areas and neutral green or blue for bathrooms.

  4. Make Repairs
    Repair squeaky doors, leaking faucets, bathtub caulking with mold, or missing light bulbs. Now is the time to break out the toolbox and repair things you've neglected.

  5. Accessorize
    Decluttering is an important step in staging; however, once your home looks streamlined, add back a few accessories to convey the style of the home you want to project. A few lamps and pictures can create the right vibe.

  6. Boost Curb Appeal
    The way your home looks from the street can put dollars in your pocket and cut the time your home takes to sell. Prospective buyers thinking of touring your home will do a drive-by first to decide whether or not to schedule a showing. Lure in more buyers with some good old-fashioned spit shine and polish along with a splash of color. Power wash siding and walkways, wash windows, plant blooming flowers and greenery, repaint and stain as needed.

Making your home shine is a critical component of a successful sale. If you need more tips, your real estate agent will know how to transform your home so buyers will bite.

April
22

Earth Day is on April 22, and there are so many ways to join the movement including these 52 tips to invest in our planet. Looking to celebrate and help at the same time? Here are five tips that you can try from the comfort of your own home.

Reuse and repeat. Plastic bags and single-use bottles often end up in landfills or in our oceans, rivers and lakes. Reusable bags and bottles offer a stylish and eco-friendly alternative that you can easily refill and reuse. Find the perfect spot to store them in your home or car, so you can take both on the go to grocery stores, running errands and to your kids' soccer games.

Hit the great outdoors. With so many distractions today, it can be hard to find time to get outside. Earth Day is simple reminder of just how beautiful our planet is. Spend an afternoon on your backyard patio with friends or family, take a long walk around the neighborhood or visit a local hiking trail — you can even register to be a part of the Great Global Cleanup in your community.

Try an organic garden. It feels good to be self-sufficient. While we can't always be that way, a little starter garden doesn't take up too much space. You can even have a portable garden on your porch or balcony. And with pollinator gardens, the kiddos can see how bees and other pollinator populations are crucial to our habitat.

Plant a tree or twoDid you know trees can reduce a household's energy consumption for heating and cooling by up to 25%? By adding a small tree to your local neighborhood's tree canopy, you can help save money and provide a vital wildlife habitat for years to come. Studies have shown that trees are great for our stress levels and mental health, too. So, plant one!

Window shop instead. Shopping secondhand or simply reducing your purchase volume is a great way to reduce your environmental impact. When it comes to home décor shopping, it's easy to fill up on new and mass-produced items that often end up in a landfill when you tire of them.  This year, discover something new that's old while at consignment shops or vintage outdoor markets.

However you choose to celebrate Earth Day this year, try it at home with friends and family. Spending time with loved ones can remind us just how lucky we are. And treating the planet like your home is a great way to give back.

April
18

Buying a new home can be a confusing and stressful process especially for first-time buyers.


You may hear all kinds of conflicting advice from friends, neighbors, and relatives. If you do your research, you can get a better understanding of what is actually involved in the home-buying process. Here are the truths about four common home-buying myths:

  1. You need to have perfect credit.
    Many people assume you must have a high credit score in order to secure a mortgage. That simply isn't true. If you have less than perfect credit, lenders are often willing to work with you to get a mortgage. Although it's not the only thing lenders look at when considering you for a loan, your credit score will have an impact on the interest rate, so make sure you review your credit report before applying. If you find any errors, report them to the credit reporting bureaus ASAP. Once they're removed you can apply for your mortgage.

  2. You need 20 percent down.
    One of the most common misconceptions about the home-buying process is that you have to pay 20 percent of the purchase price for the down payment. Since this can be a large chunk of change, many people think owning a home is out of their reach. However, there are many first-time home-buyer programs that allow buyers to put down a lower down payment. For those who qualify for a Federal Housing Administration loan, your down payment can be as low as 3.5 percent. FHA loans also feature low closing costs and easy credit qualifying. Active or retired members of the military can apply for a Veterans Administration home loan, which requires no down payment for qualified borrowers.

  3. A 15-year fixed-rate mortgage is your best option. 
    Many people opt for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage because they offer lower monthly payments than a 15-year fixed-rate loan. If you can afford to pay more on a monthly basis you may want to consider a 15-year mortgage. With the 30-year option, you will most likely end up paying more during the term of the loan. It's also smart to keep an open mind about adjustable-rate mortgages. If you don't plan on staying in your home for the long haul, it could save you money if mortgage rates are low at the time you buy your house.


  4. You don't need a REALTOR®.
    While it may seem like a no-brainer, the home-buying process can be complicated and wrought with pitfalls. Buying a home is probably one of the largest purchases you will make in your life, so you want to do it right. An experienced REALTOR® who knows the ins and outs of the market and the features of a specific real estate area can make the process run more smoothly. Real estate agents often have local connections with other REALTORS®, insurance agents, appraisers and lenders who can help make the home-buying process easier.   Before you know it, you'll be the proud owner of a new home.
April
15

Easy Renovations for Your Laundry Room

One of the best things about being a homeowner is being able to renovate your space. You're not stuck with someone else's ideas about what you need or what looks good. You can improve the functionality of the space, or just opt for something with more personality or style.   

If you've been thinking about undertaking some renovations or upgrades to your home, the laundry room is an excellent place to start. Lots of the solutions you can do for the laundry room are quick and easy fixes. In many homes, the laundry area was built as a very basic space. So giving this room some added functionality and style can make a big difference. Here are some ideas to get you started.

  • Add some color. This is a good place to start, especially if your laundry area is tucked into the corner of a dark basement. A fresh coat of paint can do wonders. Other options are bold patterned wallpaper or window treatments.
  • Change the light fixture. Many laundry rooms don't have enough light. And basic builder-grade light fixtures are almost never stylish. Changing out the fixture can make the area more functional and more appealing.
  • Change the look of cabinets. There are a few options for changing the look of your laundry room cabinets. Of course, you could paint them a different color. But if you don't want to do that, you could remove doors so you have exposed shelves and add baskets or bins. You could also swap out the doors for ones that have glass fronts. Changing cabinets to have drawer pulls is yet another option.  
  • Add a folding area. This can be a countertop built over the top of front-loading machines or along another wall. It could also be a table that folds up against a wall. In a very large laundry room, a regular table or an island in the middle of the room is an option as well.
  • Change the flooring. Many laundry rooms have unfinished or concrete slab floors. That situation is uncomfortable under your feet and unpleasant to look at. Or maybe your laundry room floor is just looking a little dated and out of sync with the rest of your home. Floors are one of the biggest surfaces in the room, so an update here can make a big difference.
  • Add more or better storage. If you don't have shelves, cabinets, or cubbies of course you can add them. But there are other ways to add storage too. You can add a fixture to store the ironing board and iron on the back of the laundry room door. A drying rack that folds up against the wall when not in use is another example. Adding baskets or bins and hooks can increase your storage options. A screw-in closet or shower rod can be used to hang clothes on. Making sure everything has a place will keep things looking neat and tidy.
  • Add some artwork. If your laundry room lacks a little personality, a few well-placed pieces of artwork can add some flair. This can be a fun DIY project. Otherwise, there are plenty of inexpensive prints available online. Or you can check out the second-hand store or flea market for something vintage.

Doing a few quick and easy renovations to your laundry area can take it from boring to amazing. It will also give you a sense of accomplishment, and it might make doing the laundry just a little more fun!

April
13

Buying a home is like falling in love. 

It might have been love at first sight or maybe it took one or two dates, but do you remember what it was like to find that special one and fall in love.  You might feel the same way when you're buying a home.  You see several possibilities, listen to a few friends and then all of the sudden, you find the right one--your dream home.

Buying a house is a big undertaking. For most people, their home is their largest personal investment.  Buying a home is filled with big expectations and without due diligence, there can be big disappointments.

It is important to look deeper into buying a house to make sure you'll love for the long haul.  Take into consideration the following questions to find your happily ever after:

  • Will the house serve your current and future needs?
    The house may be fine for you as a young couple or even as a single person but will it be enough a few years from now when you have a family? According to mortgage information site HSH.com, the most common complaint from home buyers is inadequate space with 80 percent of buyers registering this complaint.


    Take measurements of the space you currently have in your closet, bedroom, living room, kitchen and other key areas. Then, take those of the house you are planning to buy. If the new purchase won't give you significantly more space, you could soon be grumbling about not having enough space in your new home.
  • Are you buying in a controlled development area?
    Find out whether you are buying in a controlled development area. If it is, you are sure that you won't see someone put up a pub or other development that would be a nuisance in the area.
  • Who did the home inspection?
    Don't forego a home inspection because you are buying a house in the same neighborhood as someone you know and the houses are all alike. The houses may all be the same but one may have problems that another doesn't. One home could have problems with the HVAC, a leaky basement, dry rot in the joists or other problem that another house that does not have.


    Homebuyers are entitled to an inspection once a seller accepts their offer. Some buyers opt to forego an inspection because they are trying to buy in a strong seller's market which is not advisable.

    You also want to do some homework on the company that does the home inspection. Ideally, it should be done by an independent company that is not attached to a buying or selling company.
  • What kind of neighbors can you expect to find?
    You can't know what kind of neighbors you will get and you can't control that. However, you can buy into particular neighborhoods and avoid others. Broadly speaking, there are those that have good reputations and that are inhabited by a particular class of people such as the suburbs. Then they are neighborhoods that are known for insecurity that you want to avoid.
  • Are the amenities you need nearby?
    Another check you want to make before committing to buying a house is whether the amenities you need are close by. You want to check that there are good schools nearby and if you have young ones or are planning for them, a good child care facility.
  • How far will you need to commute?
    If you will be commuting to work every day, you don't want a long commute that will make your day even longer. You don't want to have to leave so early in the morning and get home late because of a long commute.
April
12

The Best-Kept Secrets To Selling Your Home

Many sellers rush to put their homes on the market without giving too much thought to what it takes to grab a home buyer's attention. As you consider listing your home, there are a number of "secrets" you can use to take your house from ordinary to extraordinary in the eyes of homebuyers.

Make your home stand out from the competition by following these selling steps.

  1. The Price is Right.
    Your real estate agent will help you determine what similar homes in your community are currently listed for and what similar homes have sold for in the past. Evaluate the features these homes may have over yours and vice versa. Your goal is to get the best price for your home. This means pricing your home right, so it will remain competitive within the local real estate market.

  2. Preparation Is Important.
    Before your house even enters the market, there are a few things you might want to do. While there are a few buyers out there that are looking for a fixer-upper, most buyers would like to purchase a home, move straight in and live comfortably. This means that updating a few things will go a long way in getting buyers to put your home on their shortlist. Make sure your home is in good repair. Replace things that aren't working or need to be updated. A new splash of paint inside and outside will make a house feel, smell, and look clean and new. You want the buyer to leave your home with the best impression they could possibly have.

  3. Curb Appeal.
    To get your home on a buyer's radar, getting them inside your home is your first task. This means making the outside of your home look appealing. The first thing a buyer sees — other than pictures on the internet — is the outside of your home. If the paint is peeling, plants are dead, and the grass is knee-high, it is likely that buyers will keep driving and never see the potential that is inside of your home.

    It doesn't take much effort to make the outside of your home inviting. Stand on your front lawn and think as if you were buying the home. Does the front door need a new coat of paint? Could the landscaping be spruced up with a new layer of mulch? A few little changes and you can make the outside of your home stand out.

  4. Staging.
    Staging your home is one of the important home selling tips. Staging your home is all about bringing the best of your home out and downplaying the parts that may not be so good. The first thing to do when staging is to clear the clutter. If you have big furniture, store it. You want your home to appear as if it is spacious. Buyers want to be able to picture themselves in a home, so remove all personal items and trinkets. A buyer may look at two houses that are the exact same size; however, if yours feels more spacious, then yours is the one they will likely choose. Other things to consider are, updating hardware, lighting, kitchen cabinets, and using a neutral color scheme throughout.

A little effort on your part will go a long way to increasing the chances of your home selling quickly. Following these steps can make your home selling process fun and pain-free.

April
8

Essential Fixes To Make After An Inspection

If you accepted an offer with a home inspection contingency, be aware that your buyer is entitled to renegotiate or walk away based on the results of the home inspection. Therefore, many consider the home inspection one of the final hurdles to clear before closing.

Home inspections can uncover all sorts of concerns ranging from minor to significant. While you aren't legally obligated to pay for any repairs prior to closing, failing to fix some essential items can ultimately cause the deal to fall through. Below, we'll focus on what sellers should fix and what concerns you can most likely let slide:

Essential Seller Repairs

If an issue uncovered in the home inspection leads to health or safety concerns or raises questions regarding whether the home is inhabitable, it's reasonable for buyers to ask sellers to address it prior to closing. Some of these more serious concerns include:

  • Significant Structural Concerns - Visible cracks, structural framing defects, sagging roofs, or foundation problems
  • Fire or Electrical Hazards - Old electrical systems,  double-tapping of circuit breakers, a lack of GFCI protection, etc.
  • Pest Infestation - Ants, termites, rodents
  • Water Damage - Major leaks, plumbing issues, mold damage.

Again, while the seller doesn't have to make these repairs, the buyer is within their right to walk away if these aren't addressed. Also, in some cases, the buyer's lender may require that some of these issues are taken care of before the buyer can secure financing, especially if the problems are serious.

At the end of the day, everything is negotiable. If you're in a hurry to sell, you can also offer to lower your sale price as opposed to fixing the issues.

Non-Essential Repairs

While it's usually good to fix doorknobs, loose boards, light switches, and even paint prior to listing your property, sellers generally aren't on the hook for cosmetic repairs or problems caused by general "wear and tear." As a rule of thumb, you shouldn't worry about any minor repairs that cost less than $100. Buyers will most often prioritize the largest, most serious concerns.

Selling Your Home As-Is

Sellers always have the option to sell a home "as is," which signals to buyers there is no room for negotiation on repairs. This might be the best option if you need to sell quickly regardless of what issues turn up.

Keep in mind, buyers will still conduct a home inspection and can still ask to negotiate the sale price based on the results of the inspection. However, in this instance, you wouldn't be on the hook to finance and manage the repairs yourself.

The home inspection is often one of the most stressful parts of a real estate transaction, and it can be somewhat unpredictable. As a seller, it's not your responsibility to fix every item, but you take care of the major issues. During the process, rely on your real estate agent to help you negotiate the terms and details.

April
4

6 Tips for Millennial Homebuyers

Buying a house is a goal of many Millennials. However, some people mistakenly believe that it's an impossible goal. If you're interested in buying a home, it's essential to know this goal is attainable with a little patience and preparation. Millennials take note: these six tips will help you become a happy homeowner.

  1. Don't Rush, But Don't Wait Too Long
    Buying a house is a major milestone in your life, and it's a decision you should make responsibly. You shouldn't rush to purchase a home until you're able to comfortably afford it, but you also shouldn't be afraid to buy a home when you're ready and capable. 
  2. Pay Down Debt & Start Saving
    One of the best financial decisions you can make is to reduce your debts and increase your savings as often as possible whether you're buying a house or not. Several factors influence your ability to buy a home, including your credit score. By managing your debts and proactively saving for a down payment, you'll be in a better position when the time comes to make an offer. 
  3. Learn About the Market
    Before you begin your home search, it's not a bad idea to learn about your desired market and real estate transactions in general. For instance, many first-time homebuyers aren't aware of the closing costs they might be responsible for. By learning about these small but important details, you'll be more informed during your search and better prepared to enter into a contract with confidence. 
  4. Plan for Practical Not Pretend
    Who doesn't dream of the perfect home? Dazzling designs, amazing amenities, and one-of-a-kind features are fantastic when you're daydreaming. Unfortunately, not all of us can afford million-dollar homes––or even any home above a certain budget. As you consider buying a home, stay practical in your expectations. Create a list that separates your must-haves from your dream wish-list. This technique helps you manage your expectations and ensures you find a home that meets your needs. Keep in mind that buying a house does not need to be a one-time experience. Buying a house now that you can responsibly afford can set you on your next step to one-day owning your dream home.
  5. Enlist the Help of a REALTOR®
    While it is true that you don't need to hire a REALTOR® when buying a house, it's to your benefit that you do. They are highly educated, trained, and experienced and know the ins and outs of the industry. More importantly, they're 100% on your side. Their job is to ensure you not only get the best deal when buying a house but that you're completely satisfied with the process from start to finish. 
  6. Don't Be Afraid to Ask Questions
    Buying a house can feel intimidating. It's essential to find answers to all of your questions. There are no "stupid" questions in the real estate world, only buyers wise enough to ease their uncertainties before finalizing the contract. Be sure to ask your REALTOR® any and every question you may have; they'll be happy to answer all of them.

Buying a house is a realistic goal for many Millennials. If you learn to manage your finances, gain insight into the real estate market, and trust your real estate professional you'll discover that buying a house is an attainable goal.

March
29

Questions Sellers Are Afraid To Ask Agents

Selling a home is filled with complexities that can be difficult to navigate, especially when going through the process for the first time. As a seller, you should always remember no question is stupid. Asking as many questions as possible can help you avoid costly mistakes, and your real estate agent is there to help educate you about the process.

To help put clients at ease, here is a quick list of common real estate questions sellers are often too afraid to ask:

  • How Are Real Estate Agents Paid?
    Your real estate agent will do a lot of work upfront to help you sell your home and maximize your sale price. However, real estate agents are not paid upfront or hourly. They also do not receive a salary. A real estate agent is only paid when your home sells, and they receive a percentage of the home sale as a commission.

    Typically, the buyer's agent and the seller's agent both receive 3% of the sale price, and that commission is usually paid by the seller. Many times, real estate agents then split a portion of their commission with their broker as well.

  • Do I Have To Relocate My Pets While My Home Is On The Market?
    Pets come with so much joy, but they can occasionally make the selling process a bit inconvenient. While many people love cats and dogs, some people do not. While relocating your pets may not be feasible, you should make every attempt to eliminate pet odors and put away toys or accessories. You don't want visitors tripping over dog bowls when touring your listing!

  • Do I Need Listing Photos?
    Staging your home and taking listing photos can be a bit inconvenient at times for sellers. It can be difficult to live in a staged home, and keeping things pristine at all times can be a lot of work. However, listing photos are essential for attracting buyers to your property. Most home shoppers browse listings online, so listing photos have never been more important. The manner in which you stage your home combined with your listing photos can have a major impact on your sale price.

  • Can I Leave Something Out Of The Sale?
    While buyers typically don't expect sellers to leave furniture, they do expect buyers to leave most appliances. As a seller, it's your right to exclude anything you'd like from the home sale, but you must disclose what's not included upfront. Your real estate agent will usually add notes to the MLS listing. Just keep in mind excluding major appliances, lighting fixtures, or anything else can negatively impact your listing and sale price.

  • Can I Decorate For The Holidays?
    While agents usually advise clients to keep decorations to a minimum, decorating for the holidays is perfectly acceptable. Just do so tastefully and don't go overboard. Too many lights or decorations can be distracting.

Selling your home can be a fast-paced, complicated process, and you're sure to have tons of questions along the way. Even if something might seem obvious, don't hesitate to double-check with your agent. Your agent's job is to make your home sale as smooth as possible.

March
28

Sellers: How To Make The Right First Impression

You don't have a second chance to make a good first impression, and this couldn't be more true when it comes to selling your home. People often form first impressions within seven seconds of an interaction or experience. First impressions are key to attracting buyers; in fact, many buyers will know within a couple of minutes whether they're going to make an offer or not. As a result, creating a compelling first impression is an essential part of the selling process.

So how exactly do you create a good first impression when selling your home? These tips can help:

  • Start With Your Curb Appeal
    The front of your home is your first chance to make a good impression, as it's the first thing the buyer sees when touring your home. By improving your curb appeal, you can wow buyers as soon as they pull up to your home or enter the driveway. Your facade and landscaping need to be in top condition. Some simple ways to improve your curb appeal include:
    • Painting your front door
    • Power washing your facade
    • Freshen your mulch
    • Plant flowers or shrubs
    • Remove tree branches, leaves, and debris
    • Invest in a new doormat, mailbox, or address numbers
  • Hide Your Pets
    While you may think your cute dog or cat can double as a cute home accessory, some buyers just aren't pet people. Make sure to relocate your pets during house tours and put away any toys or bowls. Also, remove any pet fur or hair from your furniture and be sure to eliminate any pet odors.
  • Depersonalize Your Space
    When touring a home, buyers try to envision their family, pets, furniture, and belongings existing in the space. When your home is filled with too many family photos, knickknacks, or personal color preferences, it becomes harder for the buyer to imagine the space as their own. Put away any personal items and try to keep colors and decor neutral.
  • Clean From Top To Bottom
    When it comes to cleaning, your home should be impeccable. Clean your carpet, scrub your floors, and dust everything you can. You want your home to be as spotless as possible before listing it on the market. If you're not up to the task, you can always consider hiring a cleaning company to do the work for you.
  • Make Repairs
    If your home is showing obvious visual signs that repairs are needed, it's best to take care of them before showing your home. Replace broken doorknobs, check for leaks throughout the house, add caulk to tubs and sinks, and replace light bulbs. Buyers can be very detail orientated, and if something is broken or out of order, it can create a very unappealing first impression.
  • Freshen Up The Space
    Adding simple accessories, such as fresh flowers or a bowl of fruit can go a long way towards freshening up the space. You want buyers to feel welcome when touring the house. If you're holding an open house, you may even want to consider providing light refreshments.
  • Maximize Light
    An important part of making a good first impression is to maximize your home's light exposure. Not only will this make your home appear bright and welcoming, but light also helps spaces look larger. Make sure your blinds and curtains are open, and if any rooms don't receive enough light, try supplementing them with additional lamps or lighting.

When listing your home on the market, be sure to set yourself up for success. It takes many buyers less than 10 or 15 minutes to tour a home, so you only have a short period of time to make a good impression.

April
1

If you have kids, keeping them busy and active can be a challenge. Especially if the weather is too hot, cold, or rainy, it can be tough to find something for them to do. Fortunately, Shreveport has plenty of indoor activities that kids will love.

Our real estate agents suggest visiting the following kid-oriented indoor destinations in Shreveport:

  • Shreveport Aquarium - 601 Clyde Fant Pkwy., Shreveport, LA 71101
    Kids will love exploring at Shreveport Aquarium, with over 300 species and 1,000 animals. They'll be able to see a wide variety of sea creatures and reptiles, including sharks, seahorses, and eels. And while seeing these underwater animals is amazing, kids can also get up-and-close and personal with some as they hand-feed gentle stingrays and touch moon jellies. Additional experiences include watching the staff feed sharks and alligator snapping turtles. They can also hunt for treasure, gems, fossilized shark teeth, and more as they learn about how fossil records show Louisiana used to be at the bottom of an ocean.

  • Air U Indoor Trampoline Park - 424 Ashley Ridge Blvd., Shreveport, LA 71106 
    At Air U Indoor Trampoline, kids—and adults—can have fun and stay active no matter what the weather is outside. The destination has about 10,000-15,000 square feet of trampolines for all ages, as well as foam pits. The pits are huge and have tumble tramps so kids can test their aerial skills as they launch into over 25,000 cubes of fun. Trampoline dodgeball courts and basketball courts are also available, so kids can try to get high enough to dunk.

  • Escape Games - 8856 Youree Dr., Shreveport, LA 71115 and 2708 Plantation Dr., Bossier City, LA 71111
    Kids can work together to solve the mystery of several different puzzles at Escape Games, which has a location in Shreveport and one near Bossier City homes for sale. Each location has its own puzzles, so they're both worth a visit. Some are a little creepier and are best suited for older kids, but they're marked on the destination's website. One that's suitable for the younger set is "Santa's List," which challenges kids to sneak into Santa's house to erase their names from his Naughty List before he comes back for his daily milk and cookie break.

  • 318 Climb - 731 American Way, Shreveport, LA 71106
    Located inside Shreveport Soccer at the end of American Way, 318 Climb is a rock climbing facility that provides fun and exercise for beginners as well as kids who've climbed before. When you arrive, let the front desk know what your kids' experience levels are so they can help everyone get started with the right amount of help. And instead of just supervising, you might want to join your kids in having fun.

  • AcroSports - 735 American Way, Shreveport, LA 71106
    If your kids are into gymnastics or baseball, they'll love going to AcroSports, where they can take gymnastics or hitting lessons. Hitting classes with Rapsodo Hitting Analysis lets kids get specific information and feedback on their swing, including the ball's exit velocity, launch angle, spin direction and rate, and projected distance. And even if your kids don't want to take gymnastics or hitting lessons, Fridays at AcroSports provide fun for everyone. Ages 5-12 are welcome every Friday night from 7-11 p.m. for supervised games and activities, trampolines, a foam pit, and more. Pizza and drinks are also served.

Contact us if you'd like to see Shreveport homes for sale. We're the largest full-service real estate company in Northwest Louisiana and have been helping residents buy and sell homes since 1960. 

March
22

5 Ways To Spring Into Cleaning

It's that time again! Spring has arrived and so has the need to freshen things up a bit. Whether you're planning a total home makeover, or you just want to declutter, organize and refresh some spaces, we've got a few ways to get you started.

Before you spring into action, make sure you have the right cleaning products. There are a ton of eco-friendly, non-toxic options and it's worth a little extra research to find the right ones.

Clean in chunks. Spring cleaning can feel overwhelming. Start by making a list of everything you want to get done and then break it down in 30-minute chunks. Need to dust, vacuum, sweep and mop? You don't have to do it all in one day. Start with dusting first and see how far you get. Think floorboards, celling fans, corner walls and windowsills. That alone will help freshen everything up.

Hit the washing machine. There's nothing better than fresh, clean linens. Take some time to clean stains before you throw them in the wash. You could also add a few drops of your favorite essential oils, so they smell even better. If weather permits, hang them outside for the most eco-friendly way to dry your linens. And, while your linens are washing, you can go back to some of that sweeping and mopping.

Focus on the bathroomWhen the last time you disinfected your shower head? Showers and shower heads are magnets for mold and bacteria so make sure and use an antibacterial and anti-mold solution for those areas. When it comes to the sink, tub and toilet, there's nothing a hefty scrub brush can't take care of. And don't forget to use it on the grout, you'll be amazed at how great it looks afterwards.

Got carpets? Spring is the best time to deep clean those dirt-filled carpets and rugs. If you're more of a DIYer, you can run up to your nearest hardware store and rent a cleaning machine (this will cost less, too). Or you can find a reputable carpet cleaning company and let them take care of it. Either way, your house will smell and look a million times better with freshly cleaned carpets!

Sparkling windows for the win. Windows both inside and out tend to get very grimy without you even noticing. Power cleaning them is probably one of the most satisfying things you can do. Use a streak-free window cleaner and a microfiber towel to quickly wash away all that seasonal build up. You might also want to clean your blinds along the way, as they tend to accumulate a lot of dirt as well. You reward? A beautiful, clear view to the outside.

Finally, if it's warm enough, don't forget to open up all the doors and windows and let that fresh spring air circle through. There's really nothing better than a sparkly clean home to enjoy on a gorgeous spring day.

 

March
23

Open House Tips for Buyers and Sellers

An open house is a tried and true way to attract potential buyers and create buzz when your house goes on the market. So how do you make sure your open house goes smoothly and gets the job done? Consider the following insider tips and tricks to help ensure you have a successful open house.

Out with the old. It might sound a little harsh, but you're going to want to remove about half of your belongings. The goal is to sell your house, so any unnecessary clutter is really just getting in the way of that. This might mean storing away all those sentimental vacation knickknacks, framed family portraits, toddler toys and bulky furniture. Buyers want to see fresh, clean open spaces. They need to imagine their things there, not yours. If storage is an issue, look into a nearby short-term storage facility to help move things out during this time.

What's on the outside counts. In this instance, what's on the outside matters. First impressions are huge, so make sure your lawn is cut, trees trimmed, toys and garbage cans … are all stored away. Think about planting some pretty flowers or adding a few big flowerpots and a welcome mat by the door. This would also be a good time to power wash the outside and clean the windows. Also, replace any outdated light fixtures and consider painting your front door a welcoming color.

Shine up your kitchen and baths. Get them as sparkly clean as possiblewe're talking cleaning every square inch. Focus your attention on decluttering these spaces. Buyers want to see your counter tops, your backsplash, your shiny appliances – not your blender, toaster and junk mail. It's also smart to clean out your pantry and refrigerator because, let's be honest, people do like to snoop around.

Always take a final lap. Look at your house objectively, through the eyes of a buyer. Make sure you've depersonalized every room. That means dog beds, little Jimmy's 3rd grade artwork, closets stuffed with old clothes, toothbrushes on the bathroom counter … And then look at rooms that could use a little more sprucing up. There are a few simple and cost-effective ways you can make a room look brand new. Invest in a couple new throw pillows on your bed and sofa, a new entryway rug, a neutral-colored shower curtain and a bouquet of fresh flowers. Always make sure your home smells good. There's nothing that turns a buyer off faster than a stuffy, smelly house.

Holding an open  house is a great way to gauge buyers' interest in a property and quickly assess whether the asking price is appropriate. And preparing for an open house really comes down to two things: cleaning and decluttering. With these tips, you're well own your way to your next real estate adventure.

 

March
21

5 Fixes to Sell Your Home Fast

When it comes to selling your home, remember there are more savvy buyers out there than ever before. Many insist on a home inspection, and most mortgage lenders won't go forward with a financing package until there's an inspector's report on file. No house is perfect, but the right repairs today can make tomorrow's home maintenance look a lot more manageable. That helps you sell much faster.

Usually, the winning strategy is to go after the biggest problems before selling your home. Those include roof repair, heating and cooling system performance, wiring issues, and sewage or septic system problems. But what if those things are in great shape? If you have any leftover home repair budget, you can invest it in targeted projects. These won't take long, but they can impress prospective buyers and give you negotiating power for the asking price you really want.

Let's review five of the best fast fixes before selling your home:

  1. Lay New Flooring
    Flooring can transform a room's appearance, with lighter flooring tending to make a space look bigger – especially when paired with plenty of natural light. If any of your floors are looking tired, consider laying new laminate flooring. Laminate comes in various colors and styles, is cost-effective per square foot, and is easy to lay yourself. This weekend DIY project can make a big difference in how new your interiors seem.
  2. Update (and Simplify) Your Landscaping
    In spring and summer, mulch serves as a powerful secret weapon to make your yard more appealing. Heaped around your trees and shrubs and in your planting beds, it encourages healthy growth while allowing you to water a little less. This is a good opportunity to simplify, too: Buyers don't want to be dazzled by all the hard work they'll need to do, so consider taking down water features and any time-intensive touches.
  3. Give Your Kitchen Cabinets a Makeover
    No time or funds for a huge kitchen renovation? You don't need to upgrade your entire kitchen when selling your home. Updated kitchen cabinets are a wonderful way to grab attention without spending too much. Instead of buying all new cabinets, consider removing the hardware and doors and cleaning everything thoroughly. 
  4. Replace Your Bathroom Fixtures
    It may only cost a few hundred dollars to replace bathroom fixtures and hardware, such as your sink's faucet and handles, but the impact it has when walking into a room is worth it. Be thorough: Don't forget about the handles on your bathroom cabinets, tub fixtures, and your showerhead. 
  5. Put Up a Fresh Coat of Exterior Paint
    Other than your roof, exterior paint makes the biggest splash in curb appeal. Now is the ideal time to align your exterior with the most popular colors in your neighborhood, so your home looks fresh and tidy. For an added touch of class, paint your door in a complementary color – or replace it with a sturdier one.

As you get ready for selling your home, it's important to balance your investment with expected returns in the form of a higher asking price and a faster time to closing. An experienced local real estate agent can help you take advantage of the most valuable trends.

March
16

Six tips to minimize the stress of buying a home.

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 numbers 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 it means you won't have to worry about financing once you find the right match. Home sellers prefer buyers who are pre-approved 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 to 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 workout 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.

March
11

3 Simple Design Ideas for a Zen Outdoor Space

The following is a guest post by Suhayl Laher

Amidst lockdowns and times of uncertainty, many of us looked inward to our homes to provide calming and safe spaces, including our outdoor areas.

As a result, many gardens became like a 'fifth room', offering the perfect area for relaxation and spending quality time outdoors – and this trend seems to be here to stay.

That's why, in today's post, we're going to be sharing tips on how to create a zen outdoor space, however you like to relax.

So, whether your idea of unwinding is soaking up the sun, chilling with pals on warm summer evenings or pottering, planting and pruning, we have garden design ideas to suit everyone.

1. The wild and whimsical

Relax to the sounds of wildlife with a wild and whimsical garden design that allows nature to be the star of the show.

The key to a successful wild garden is to accept the imperfections that come with natural habitats, seeing them as beautiful traits. This means letting things grow their own way, simply pruning them back from time to time to keep paths clear and to help promote regrowth.

For flower beds and planters, opt for a mixture of species to create a striking sea of color – a wildflower seed blend can be an easy option here. Also, embrace longer grass and weeds, as some species can be very pretty.

You may also want to include a water feature like a pond to attract a wider variety of wildlife and boost that sense of serenity.

When it comes to practical additions like furniture and hardscaping materials, opt for a rustic theme with wood and stone elements aplenty to give your wild wonderland a cohesive finish.

2. The simple and serene

If clean lines and a simple design is more your style, there's plenty of scope for carving out a calm and soothing outdoor zone for reading, meditating or socializing.

In large gardens, this may look more like a defined relaxation zone, while smaller backyards may benefit from a full minimalist makeover.

Achieving your pared-back haven requires a carefully curated balance of texture, decoration and color. To start, lay a solid and versatile foundation with a grounding neutral color palette.

Durable stone effect outdoor tiles in beige or a pale gray are ideal for floors and walls, bringing both texture and a soothing hue.

Pair with darker wood or metal to create crisp color and texture contrasts for furniture and structural elements like a pergola or trellis.

When it comes to plants, avoid fussy florals and instead use big, bold leafy species. Ideally, you want a mixture of fauna and green shades here to help boost your mood.

For decorative touches, a simple water feature is a must. Set amidst a blend of soft-touch fabrics for furnishings and a few modern ornaments, you'll have all the ingredients for the perfect serene sanctuary outside.

3. The practical and sustainable

With evidence to suggest that the act of gardening itself can help to improve mental and physical health, zen outdoor spaces aren't just about creating relaxing seated areas.

Having a practical and sustainable outdoor space where you can grow your own can provide the perfect escape and a chance to practice mindfulness.

Creating a practical and sustainable garden doesn't always need lots of room – even modest spaces can yield a decent crop with the right design and plants that utilize vertical space.

To keep maintenance low and optimize the functionality of your outdoor space, opt for raised flower beds that make it easier to weed and pick your produce.

If you like to keep things orderly, plant vegetables and fruits in groups. For instance, keep root vegetables like carrots, beetroots and potatoes together, while other species like lettuces, herbs and edible flowers can go in another area.

Also, make sure sprawling plants like pumpkins, butternut squash, courgettes and cucumbers have plenty of space to grow, as well as vertical support to keep them from taking up too much ground space.

You can also make better use of space and make crops easier to pick for things like peas, beans, raspberries and blackberries by using growing frames along walls.

Whatever you choose to grow outdoors, you can help to promote sustainability and keep the zen vibes going by using organic, eco-friendly materials, pesticides and fertilizers.

With these ideas and practical tips, we hope you find all the inspiration you need to give your outdoor areas a zen makeover this spring. Whether you prefer to soak up the sun with a good book or get your hands dirty planting, there are plenty of ways to create your very own outdoor haven.

 

Author bio:

Suhayl Laher works at Tiles Direct, one of the UK's largest independent tile distributors and retailers – bringing design inspiration to homeowners, architects and developers.

March
9

Sellers: Prioritize These Kitchen Improvements

A bigger and brighter kitchen is always on the list of top home features buyers are willing to move for. For those who love to cook and entertain guests, a nice kitchen is a must-have. As a seller, this means investing a little time and effort into sprucing up your kitchen can be well worth the time and energy.

Because the kitchen is such an important selling feature, we often recommend our clients invest in some upgrades and repairs before listing. While a full remodel may not make sense financially, here are some upgrades you might want to consider this year:

  • Enhance Your Lighting
    Everybody wants a bright kitchen, so if you're lighting fixtures aren't getting the job done, it might be time for an upgrade. Consider adding new fixtures over your kitchen table, island, or sink. We also love the look of dimmable under cabinet lighting. You can also line your backsplash with string lights to create a nice look.

  • Update Your Countertops
    If your countertops are in poor condition or have an unflattering color, upgrading them can be well worth the investment. While traditional granite countertops have been popular for decades, buyers prefer quartz these days. Not only are quartz countertops nice and sturdy, but they come in a wide range of colors and designs.

  • Upgrade Your Appliances
    New appliances can be a big investment, but you can see a nice ROI. Buyers are immediately drawn to brand new stainless steel appliances. If your refrigerator or dishwasher are dated or in bad shape, an upgrade can do you good and wow your buyers at the same time.

  • Add Or Replace Your Backsplash
    It doesn't take long for kitchen backsplashes to become dirty and dated, and don't underestimate the power of a makeover. The great thing about backsplashes is you can install a wide range of colors or patterns. Of course, classic white subway tile always works well too.

  • Refresh Your Cabinets
    Brand new cabinets can come with a hefty price tag, so if you're not feeling this upgrade, there are easier and less expensive ways to refresh your cabinets. Adding a new coat of paint is the easiest and fastest way to give them a fresh look. You can also replace any doorknobs or drawer pulls.

  • Stage The Room
    Once you've completed your kitchen upgrades, take some time to stage the room. You can really make your kitchen appear larger by putting away countertop appliances and getting rid of clutter. Open up your blinds or window treatments to maximize natural light and remove any personal items (including photos and magnets from the refrigerator). Sometimes keeping things simple is the best way to stage a room.

The kitchen is often considered one of the most important rooms of the house when it comes to selling a home. It serves as a gathering place where food is prepared and guests are entertained. Looking at your kitchen through the eyes of a potential buyer will definitely help your home sale.

March
9

MYTH: "It's a seller's market so I don't have to stage my home."

TRUTH: Although sellers might have the advantage right now with low inventory and high demand, you still have to get your home ready for market.

Here are the five biggest turn-offs to buyers (and how to avoid them!):

Poor photography.
We live in a digital world and your first showings happen before anyone even sets foot in your home. Professional photography is a non-negotiable if you want to attract the right kind of buyers and generate demand for your home.

Overpricing for the market.
Even if you think a buyer will pay $50k over asking (and anything is possible!), pricing your home at market value is going to expose it to the widest pool of buyers. Setting a competitive price may even result in multiple offers, driving up the sale price.

Weird smells.
One of the first things a buyer will notice when they step into your home is the way it smells. Although we do like a scented candle for ambiance, they can only hide so much! Keep windows open to let fresh air in and be sure to clean and take out the garbage regularly while your house is on the market.

Too much clutter.
We know you've heard this one before, but here's our tip: make your closets and cabinets look more spacious by taking half of everything inside them and pre-packing or putting them in storage. Your home will look roomier and buyers will be willing to pay more for all that space.

Deferred maintenance
Now is not the time to scrimp at Home Depot. Squeaky door knobs, ripped window screens and other seemingly minor issues give the buyer an impression that you don't take care of your property. For older homes, swe ometimes recommend a pre-inspection to identify any issues that my arise during the course of your home sale.

Questions about what to do and how to prep before you go to market? We are always here to help you!
Bossier City Office 318-747-5411
Shreveport Office 318-861-2461
March
25

Louisiana has a very rich history, one of the many reasons why Shreveport homes for sale have always been popular. Much of that history is reflected in its museums, so our real estate agents have taken the time to put together a quick list of our favorite ones in and around the city.

  • Louisiana State Exhibit Museum - 3015 Greenwood Rd., Shreveport, LA 71109
    If you want some insight into the state's rich history, then the Louisiana State Exhibit Museum is a wonderful place to start. Not only will you find a large collection of Native American artifacts and original works by local artists, but this museum is also home to more than 20 amazingly detailed dioramas. These dioramas will take you back in time so that you can see what life was like in 1940s Louisiana.

  • Sci-Port Discovery Museum - 820 Clyde Fant Pkwy., Shreveport, LA 71101
    The Sci-Port Discovery Museum is the perfect place to take the kiddos for a day of fun and education. Families come from miles around to give their children a taste of space technology and exploration. You'll be immersed in the world of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics while enjoying a planetarium, spacewalk, and even several animal enclosures. This museum will keep your family entertained while teaching your kids about the amazing world around us.

  • Shreveport Railroad Museum - 142 N. Common St., Shreveport, LA 71101
    Even if you don't share Sheldon Cooper's huge obsession with trains, the Shreveport Railroad Museum will definitely pique your interest. This quirky little museum will take you through the vast history of locomotives and how these wonders of technology were utilized to advance not only the state of Louisiana, but the entire country. It's located on the same property as the Water Works Museum, which didn't quite make our cut (honorable mention, we'd say) but is definitely worthy of checking out while you're there.

  • R.W. Norton Art Gallery - 4747 Creswell Ave., Shreveport, LA 71106
    The R.W. Norton Art Gallery may just be the most eclectic attraction in all of Shreveport and the surrounding areas. There are more than 400 pieces of artwork from well-known American artists ranging from Mary Cassatt to Frederic Remington, in addition to an antique doll collection, gun collection, and others. Throughout the year, you can enjoy special exhibitions such as a Mardi Gras celebration, music exploration, and what's known as the "Baby Trek" where parents are invited to bring their infants on a customized tour.

  • Touchstone Wildlife & Art Museum - 3386 US-80, Haughton, LA 71037
    Known to many for its stuffed animals (taxidermy, not toys), the Touchstone Wildlife & Art Museum also features a civil war exhibit, local Native American exhibits, and several other important highlights. For most visitors, the animals will be the biggest part of the museum, and that's one reason why this has become one of the great American roadside attractions. And if you're an art lover who's looking for Haughton homes for sale, there are plenty of exhibits painted by professional artists.

  • Meadows Museum of Art - 2911 Centenary Blvd., Shreveport, LA 71104
    The Meadows Museum of Art may be small, but it's home to a whopping 1,600 works of art, with a focus on the Indochina collection by French artist Jean Despujols. The museum is located at Centenary College, dedicated to creating original and diversified visual art programming opportunities. Here, you'll find a rotating contemporary art exhibition that showcases regional, national, and international voices in the art world.

Coldwell Banker Gosslee knows all the greatest hotspots in Shreveport and beyond. If you want to make this amazing area of Louisiana your new home, contact us today.

February
25

How to create a chill home atmosphere:

1. PURGE + ORGANIZE Is it just us or do you also only use the top-most layer of every drawer, closet, and cabinet? WHY! Let's purge the things we're never even considering and organize the rest - Home Edit Style!

2. MAKE IT PRETTY Now that you've purged and are in organization mode, you might as well make it pretty. Organized spaces give you endorphins, endorphins make you happy, happy people have 'chill' homes.

3. GIVE EVERYTHING A DESIGNATED SPOT If it doesn't have a home, it's going to create clutter (in your home and your head)! Make sure everything has an assigned seat. If you feel far off from this idea becoming reality, start by keeping a list of categories that need a "spot". This could be pieces of mail that need to be addressed, keys, accessories, backpacks, skincare products and paperwork piles.

Maybe what you need is a drop zone for when you get home for the day. A designated place to put all your "essentials"!

4. OUTSOURCE. OUTSOURCE. OUTSOURCE. Do you DEPISE cutting the grass? Check in your neighborhood for a middle or high school student who wants to make some extra money. Hire a monthly or even quarterly cleaning crew to do a deep clean of your home. What will make you feel more relaxed at home?

5. MAKE YOUR BED! The easiest, yet wisest advice that ever existed! I don't know what it is about making your bed, but it does make you feel more put together (even if you don't see it for the rest of the day)! This tiny task sets you up for success and takes less than 2 minutes!

6. TURN THE LIGHT, TURN THE LIGHTS DOWN LOW  Seriously, dim the lights! The lighting in your home contributes so much to the overall ambiance. If it's too bright and stark, it's going to feel cold. Warm it up by dimming lights and putting dimmer switches on all of the lights in your home!

HAPPY HOME CHILLIN'!

February
23

How To Prepare Your Home For New Buyers

Sometimes, the hardest part about selling your home isn't negotiating the home inspection or even packing up to move...it's saying goodbye to the home where you lived and made memories. 

After helping many home sellers navigate their way to the next chapter, I know how emotional this step can be. So today I'm sharing 3 things that you can do as a seller to prepare your home for the owners:

1. Pack A Box For Your House.

When you're packing for your move, designate one box for the house. Put inside anything that has to do with your home maintenance or upkeep: appliance manuals, smart home tech/electronics guides and passwords, garage door openers, home maintenance records, vendor business cards or contact information, remote controls. 

2. Leave It As Clean As Possible.

When you turn the keys over to the new buyers, your home should be "broom clean" -- you don't have to hire a cleaning service or spend hours deep cleaning the baseboards. But, it's still a good idea to leave your home in the same condition you'd want to receive it. 

Be sure all of your personal belongings are out -- including the attic, basement and crawl space and the top of your closet shelves, too! 
 
3. Pass On Your Home's History.

This isn't about telling your buyers when you last had your chimneys swept or your furnace inspected. This is all about giving your new buyer a glimpse at the history of your home. Do you know any fun facts about the original owners, or the time period in which your house was built? Pass those fun facts on to your buyer -- they'll want to know everything they can about your home! 

BONUS TIP: Welcome your buyers with a note or a small gift (wine or beer from a local brewery, local coffee or tea, or a gift card to your favorite restaurant). They'll be thrilled to know that the previous owners took so much care in their home!

February
22

Have you ever fantasized about pooling your funds with your best friend or family and buying your ultimate dream house? Maybe even on a tropical island!?

Good news: that dream might not be so far off! 

You don't need to be married to someone to buy a home together. The National Association of Realtors said that 9% of home buyers in 2020 wre unmarried couples, according to the National Association of Realtors. Although younger millennial (22-30 years old) represent 20% of unmarried purchasers, acquiring property as partners is a cross-generational trend. 

Co-buyers have fewer protections than married couples if the relationship ends or one partner passes away, so if you're thinking about buying a home with a friend, sibling, partner or loved one, here are a few things you'll want to consider:

1. Unmarried couples will apply for a mortgage as individuals, not a single unit. This means you'll each have to provide proof of income, employment, assets and funds. 
2. When processing your mortgage application, lenders will use the median credit score of the person with lower credit to establish a rate. This can be problematic if there is a major disparity in credit score between both parties. 
3. If you both want equal share in the property, consider holding the title as joint tenants. This means that if one of you were to pass away unexpectedly, the surviving partner would retain full ownership of the home vs. the deceased's share being passed on to their next of kin. 
4. In any situation, consider having an attorney draw up a cohabitation property agreement to outline what will happen in the event one of you wants to move/separate. 

Have you ever considered buying a home with a friend, or relative? Reach out to us today and let one of our experienced agents guide you along the way.
Bossier City Office 318-747-5411
Shreveport Office 318-861-2461
February
21

Checklists are helpful for running a well-maintained home, but they need their own organizing. A runaway checklist may only overwhelm a homeowner if not broken down into manageable chunks. So divvy up each task and assign it to the right season and calendar month. Warm weather chores are better left tackled in balmier weather, while inside jobs give you an excuse to hunker down indoors and get it tip-top.

Winter: The Season of Complete Content. Devote the first few months of the year to getting your home in order. Detail interior rooms like you would a car, deep clean them all over to white-glove standards, straighten closets, cupboards and declutter – the results will bring a sense of calm. Add these often overlooked items to your cleaning list: ceiling fans, fridge and freezer, humidifiers, carpets and rugs.

Spring Into Action. It's called "spring cleaning" for a reason. Spread out labor-intensive chores and give yourself only one big job to do each month in spring, such as rotating mattresses, replacing storm windows with screens, or maintaining the heating system and air conditioner by changing filters and cleaning. This is also the season to prepare flower beds, reseed and aerate lawns and service the lawn mower.

Take It Outside. Late spring to early summer is the time to bring out the patio furniture, planter boxes and garden art, prepare the grill for barbeques and the deck for entertaining. Use the start of the social season to wash the porch, clean the firepit, replace welcome mats and then send invitations to friends for an outdoor party. Play it safe and check home devices like smoke and carbon monoxide detectors and fire extinguishers.

The Inside Story. Prepare to take it indoors this time of year. Check doors for drafts and windows for cracks, clean out the gutters after the trees drop the last of their autumn show, deadhead flowers, wrap fragile shrubs and mulch garden beds to prevent heaving in cold temps. Chimney's require a thorough sweep prior to winter to enjoy a roaring fire safely, and servicing the snow blower is a must if there's a chance a blizzard may come to your town.

Take control of the many things to do around the house by making a clear-cut, year-long plan. You'll find you feel more organized, less stressed and have more time to sit back, relax and look at all you've accomplished throughout the year.

Guest Post written by Tracy Ellison.

Tracy Ellison is a creative content writer for The Studio, providing insightful information and ideas to enhance the art of living, with a background as an advertising photo stylist, designer, artist and copywriter.

February
18

No drive time, no waiting for machines, no monthly membership dues, just you and the workout of your choice. Home gym equipment and fitness streaming services have been off the charts over the last few years. It's a trend that looks like it's here to stay. Here are few ideas to help you create the home gym of your dreams.

Go big for less. You don't have to spend thousands of dollars in bulky gym equipment to get big results. Start with a $20 yoga mat, a couple sets of dumbbells, resistant bands and jump rope. Next, you can either YouTube some free workout videos or sign up for an inexpensive fitness streaming service. With this equipment alone, you have the perfect mix of strength training, cardio and stretching. The best part, it's just a few steps away.

Create a studio experience. All the rage are app-based machines. From rowing to biking to running, you can quickly burn calories and increase muscle with an interactive, trainer lead workout. Designed for every level, these on-demand workouts make you feel like you're in an actual class. Many people find them both motivating and addicting. Either way, you're going to work up a sweat in the comfort of your own home.

Smart gyms that really save space. For some people making room for a home gym means you might need to get a little creative. What if you're entire gym was attached right to your wall and looks just like a full-length mirror? Say hello to smart gyms. These space-saving, personal training smart gyms include access to a library of curated classes for every fitness level and workout type. Talk about a sleek and innovative way to work up a good sweat. You will pay a little more for these, but if space is an issue, it might just be worth it.

Whatever your needs are, you can always add equipment along the way. When it comes to a working out, consistency and variety are key, so don't be afraid to switch things up!

Guest post written by:  Rachael Carlson

February
16

Ready to cut some extra costs and live more sustainably? With just a few small changes, you can make a big impact on the environment and on your energy bills. Going green is a great way to minimize waste, help the environment, reduce your energy bills and just live healthier. To start, here are a few ways you can make your home more energy efficient:

Consider Energy Star appliances. Replacing your appliances with Energy Star certified appliances is a smart way to save money and reduce your overall energy bill. You'll also be helping the environment since these appliances are designed to cause fewer harmful emissions. Plus, you'll still enjoy the same great features, quality and performance you've come to know and expect.

Insulate your home. According to Energy Star, homeowners can save up to $200 a year in heating and cooling costs by air sealing their homes and adding insulation. You can start by simply sealing air leaks, installing weather strips and caulking your windows. If you happen to be doing a home renovation, it might be the perfect time to add more insulation.

Install a programmable thermostat. Programmable thermostats not only save money but relieve you of having to remember to adjust the temperature when you leave the house, go on vacation, or even go to bed at night. If you get yourself a smart thermostat, you can instantly change the temperature right on an app. These handy devices can save up to 10% on heating and cooling costs.

 Invest in energy efficient light bulbs. Replacing older incandescent lighting with highly efficient light bulbs or light-emitting diodes (LEDs) is one of the easiest and most profitable green technology investments you can make. Although these can initially cost more than traditional bulbs, they use up to 90% less energy, saving about $55 in electricity costs over their lifetime.

Go solar. You can make a big difference by installing solar panels. Solar power systems have decreased by nearly 70% in price over the last few years, making installation more attainable for homeowners. Plus, many states offer incentives for solar panel installation.

Plant a garden. A fun way to go green is to plant your own garden. It's a convenient way to save money on groceries while also enjoying the fruits of your labor. Remember, your garden doesn't have to be big or even outdoors. From container boxes to indoor grow systems, you can easily create the garden of your dreams while minimizing your overall carbon footprint.

These are just a few ways you can save more money over time, minimize waste and help the environment.  As you can see, it's really pretty easy to live more sustainably!

Guest post written by:  Rachael Carlson

February
14

How To Love Your Home Right Now

Are you curious to know what we mean by that? We can explain.

Our days are busy. Most of them consist of just getting through our to do list, getting kids fed, bathed and put to bed. We are lucky if we get to squeeze in 5 minutes to ourselves before making lunches.

But don't miss little opportunities to love your home in the midst of the busy. Here are some of our favorite (and super simple) ideas on how to do just that:

No. 1

Add a new piece of furniture to a room that feels like it's missing something. You could also shop your home and swap a piece from another room that better fits the space you're wanting to finish. Do you need a comfy chair for reading by the fireplace, a bookshelf to store the stack of books scattered around your living room, a plant to add life to your space? Fill in what's missing. 

No. 2

Go all out for dinner! Plate your meals, use your serving dishes, set the table, sit at the table (not in front of the TV), light some candles, turn up the ambiance with a good playlist in the background and take your time eating. 

No. 3

Pick one space to "refresh". We are not talking about a full-on renovation or tearing down walls, but a simple update. A fresh coat of paint, re-arranging the furniture, a new lamp or light fixture, updating the rug, or adding a piece of artwork from your own camera roll. Find a photo from your camera roll from a recent vacation or event to have printed and framed. 

No. 4

Make it a routine to set the scene. Think of the little things. Light the candle while you are watching a movie, diffuse lavender oil before crawling into bed, hang eucalyptus in the shower, turn on a good podcast to listen to while you working. Bring good vibes to whatever it is you're doing at home with the little things. 

No. 5

A clean home is guaranteed to help you love it more. Even if it's just picking up the clutter and wiping down the counters. So determine what your home needs most - quick clean or a deep clean. Turn on a Spotify playlist your love and get to work. When you are all done, sit down in your favorite chair and enjoy the feeling of a squeakly clean home. 

Now. It's time to show your home how much you love it!

February
11

Sure, location is important, but the three Ls in real estate are landscaping, landscaping, and landscaping.Whether you're thinking about putting your home on the market or just want to be prepared, you're looking for the best possible price. A clean, fresh place with a comfortable vibe, both inside and out, draws prospective buyers. And since the first thing to catch their eye is your landscaping, that's the place to start. Landscaping focuses on the lawn, trees, and plants in your yard, but architectural features also increase the value of your home.

Landscape Maintenance Program​

Curb appeal is the name of the game when you're sprucing up your home. A vibrant green lawn is what buyers want to see. A landscape maintenance program covers the basics to keep your lawn looking its best. This includes mowing, edging and trimming, fertilization, pest control, and leaf removal. The National Association of Realtors lists landscape maintenance as a priority when selling your home, with a return on investment, or ROI, of 100%. You can do it yourself if you are diligent, but it may be more cost-effective to hire a lawn care professional who knows how to keep your yard in tip-top shape.

Landscape Upgrade   

Since you're going to be taking meticulous care of your lawn, why not do an overall landscape upgrade? This can include switching up your front walkway from concrete to natural flagstone, adding large stone planters, mulching with landscaping bark, and putting in flowering shrubs and a tree or two. The estimated cost of these projects is $6000, with a return of around $5000. That's an ROI of 83%. And in a drought-prone area, take those upgrades a step further and help protect your property from fire. Surround your home with hardscaping, use fire-resistant plants and trees, and space them 5 to 30-feet away from your home.

Outdoor Living Spaces

The pandemic of the last couple of years forced many of us to spend more time at home. So today's buyers are focused on comfort and livability. Putting in a patio, or refurbishing an existing one, attracts buyers and increases your home's value. An outdoor kitchen and entertaining area extends your living space.

Set up cozy chairs and sofas made specifically for the outdoors. Add some colorful throw pillows, and don't forget an outdoor table to center the space. A well-designed patio with comfortable features has an ROI of up to 80% and adds 8-10% to a home's value.

Fire Pit

While you're busy making the outdoors all cozy and comfy, don't forget a fire pit. Nights around the fire, toasting marshmallows, or just chatting with family and friends create lasting memories and add an air of relaxation to your yard. Gas pits will add more value to your home due to ease of use, but wood-burning pits also boost the value. Both have pros and cons, and you'll need to do some research to see which works best for you. Adding a fire feature to your landscaping provides an ROI of about 70%.

Outdoor Lighting

Once you create a cozy outdoor living space, you want to be able to use it at night. That's where outdoor lighting comes into play. When deciding how to incorporate it into the landscaping, consider where light is needed for safety and security, as well as any features you want to highlight. Don't overdo it. You want to enhance your yard at night, not blind your guests with spotlights. Outdoor lighting done right can add up to 10% to your home's value.

Automated Sprinkler System

Automating your sprinkler system not only adds home value, it gives you one less thing to worry about and helps conserve water! You can come home knowing that part of your yard maintenance is already done. Or you can travel without worrying about whether your lawn is getting enough water.

While installing an irrigation system can be costly, you can recoup that money in the long-term. Monthly water bills will likely decrease, as sprinklers come on only during optimal times of the day and use just the right amount of water. Cost estimates for a 3000 square foot lawn are around $3500. With an estimated cost recovery at $3000, that's an ROI of 86%.

Making these landscaping improvements increases the odds for a faster sale and a better price. Buyers want to move in and relax, not have to make the changes themselves.

 

Zach Edwards is a lifestyle and landscape and design writer. He has refurbished a number of older homes and commercial buildings with a focus on spaces for entertaining.

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