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December
6

Prep Your Home For Guests With These Tips

The holidays are a special time of year when joy and laughter fill the air. We decorate the house with festive ornaments, string lights along the rooftop, shop for holiday gifts, and celebrate the season with family and friends who come to visit.

Whether your holiday guests are visiting overnight or staying for a few days, they need a cozy place to relax and sleep. Hosting guests requires some preparation, but you don't need to stress. With a little effort, you can make your guests feel comfortable and welcome for the holidays.

Create a Warm Welcome

Welcome your guests to your home with a festive entry that showcases the holiday season. Starting outdoors, adorn the trees and shrubs with holiday twinkle lights, line the front walkway with poinsettias, hang a seasonal wreath on the front door, and greet your guests with a cup of hot chocolate. As guests step into your home, welcome them with scented holiday candles, a roaring fire in the fireplace, freshly-baked muffins, and a beautiful holiday tree filled with ornaments, tinsel, and wrapped gifts.

Stock the Kitchen

When you're hosting overnight guests, make sure you stock the kitchen with extra food and beverages. A self-service style layout will keep you from playing short-order cook, especially when guests are staying for several days. Set up an area in the kitchen for a coffee bar with mugs, spoons, and sweeteners. Provide a convenient countertop area for making toast, sandwiches, salads, and plate lunches. For late-night snacks, fill a big basket with fresh fruits, snacks, and sweets so guests can munch at their leisure.

Prepare the Guest Bedroom

A beautiful, inviting guest room is a sure way to make your holiday guests feel welcome. First, create a comfortable, cozy bed with fresh linens, puffy pillows, and warm blankets or quilts. As a welcoming gesture, leave some mints or chocolates on the pillows and a good book on the nightstand. Next, make room for your guests' personal belongings:

  • Find space for suitcases
  • Clear a shelf or drawer
  • Clear out space in the closet
  • Make room for a laptop
  • Buy an extra shoe rack

If your guests are staying for a while, make sure they have easy access to wall plugs and consider sharing your wi-fi password. To create more restful sleep, put a sound machine, a small fan, or a humidifier in the room. If there's no TV in the guest room, leave some magazines, a pack of playing cards, or a puzzle on the dresser. In case of an emergency, make sure there's a flashlight near the bed.

Prepare the Guest Bathroom

Whether your guest bathroom is directly off the bedroom or down the hall, make sure your guests have everything they need. Before you start gathering essentials, clean the bathroom spic and span, clear out non-essentials, fill the room with fresh scents, and put down non-slip rugs. Once the bathroom is sparkling, you can put out guest essentials:

  • Fresh towels and washcloths
  • Rolls of extra toilet paper
  • Toiletries (toothbrushes and toothpaste)
  • Liquid or bar soap
  • Shampoo and conditioner
  • Air freshener
  • A first-aid kit

Some people travel with their own beauty essentials, so put a decorative basket on the sink or vanity where they can conveniently store them during their visit. For fresh scents and a relaxing atmosphere, place a few holiday candles on the tub or the vanity.

Above all, remember it's the personal attention you show to your guests that really matters, so welcome them to a comfortable holiday home filled with warmth, laughter, and lasting memories.

December
5

5 Things to Do Before Your First Showing

You work hard to get potential buyers into your home. Whether you've scheduled a last-minute viewing or a daylong open house, your home should be ready when they arrive.

Every room should be neat, clean, aired out, comfortable, and bright. Your entire home should be a silent invitation to buy. It's important to hide the stuff that sends a different message.

  • Your Identity
    When a potential buyer looks at your home, they want to consider what it would be like if they lived there. Your presence during a viewing would make it difficult, which is why you're not invited. Things in your home that present the same dilemma should be hidden.

    - Family photos may tell potential buyers, "this is their"
    - Cultural or ethnic mementos can send a divisive message.
    - Guns and political mementos are controversial and may inspire anger.
    - An odd smell can be the only thing a potential buyer remembers about your home.

  • Pets and Pet Evidence
    Potential home buyers see dogs and cats as smelly little creatures that leave behind a permanent odor. You're not likely to get rid of your beloved pet just to sell your home. However, you should eliminate tell-tale pet evidence before each showing.

    - Make pet odor and hair removal an ongoing project.
    - Take litter boxes, animal habitats, and food and water dishes with you.
    - Get a pet carrier for quick getaways.
    - Light a mildly scented candle to cover left-behind odors.

  • Clutter
    Your clutter might be irreplaceable knick-knacks, beautiful collectibles, or a must-have shoe collection. Still, these things make your home look less roomy, less neat, and less desirable than its decluttered version.

    Remember:
    - Clear your stuff from every surface unless it serves a specific purpose.
    - Clean out and organize your closets.
    - Remove belongings stored under a bed. It gives the impression of too little storage space.
    - Clear kitchen counters except for high-end appliances.
    - Remove throw rugs. They're clutter-ish and also a trip and fall hazard.
    - Store removed items away from your residence.

  • Valuables
    You have no idea who is in your home during an open house. It's impossible for your real estate agent to watch everyone every moment, so it's best to be cautious. Take your jewelry and other valuables with you, or consider storing them in a safe deposit box.

  • Toys
    Toys are often hard to manage because they're everywhere, and children aren't big fans of decluttering. If you're tidying up your home to put it on the market, now is a good time to establish a donate-toys-to-charity habit with your kids.

    Your children's generosity will make it easier to keep your rooms neat during the marketing process.

Keep these tips in mind when prepping for your first showing, and you're sure to attract the attention of promising buyers.

December
2

5 Holiday Decorating Tips for Small Spaces

Are you in the process of getting your decorations up and realizing you're running out of room? Maybe you are starting to outgrow your current home? Today, we are sharing 5 decorating tips for small spaces.

Keep It Simple

A Christmas tree is a must but opt for something smaller that won't take up a ton of space. When it comes to your Christmas decor theme, use lots of neutrals. Winter White looks so pretty againt a tree and won't overwhelm small spaces. 

Create Ambiance

Candles are your best friend when it comes to making smaller spaces festive and cozy. You might not have tons of extra space for strands of garlands and lights without feeling overwhelming, but candles can be added to decorative trays, countertops and your mantle, if you have one. 

Chunky Linens

Swap out linens and blankers with cozy, chunky textures. Think chuny knut blankets, sheepskin rugs and comfy pillows. If you don't want to totally replace what you have then bring on the layers! Festive flannel sheets are a fun way to add decor to your bedroom without taking up any additional space.

Festive Framed Artwork

One of the easiest ways to add holiday cheer to your home is to swap out current framed photos or art with fun Christmas prints. You can even print your own Christmas quotes in pretty font and frame them for the season.

Bring The Outdoors In

Evergreen clippings, berries and birch logs for the win! You can add berries to a pretty vase, and use evergreen clippings to accent the fireplace, kitchen table, a mirror - really anywhere! Lean birch logs against a corner wall or throw into a woven basket for some easy decor.

What do you think of these simple holiday decor ideas? What is your favorite way to make your home festive for the holidays?

November
29

Buying a House for a Blended Family

When the step-siblings of The Brady Bunch made their TV debut in 1969, the concept of a blended family was something of a novelty. Today, according to data from the U.S. Census Bureau, approximately 75 percent of divorced people remarry and 65 percent of those remarriages include children. In addition, a study by Pew Research Center indicates that 16 percent of kids under the age of 18 are living in blended families.


By definition, a blended family increases the number of household members, making it unlikely that either of the current homes is suitable options. If you're buying a house for a blended family, start off on the right note with these helpful tips.

  • Get Professional Financial Advice
    In first marriages, couples are generally building a financial profile together. Couples who come together later in life have already established careers, credit histories, and tolerance for risk. Consult a financial advisor who can help create mutually compatible goals and budgets.
  • Be Realistic about Space Considerations
    What seems doable in theory often turns out to be impractical in reality. How many kids can reasonably share a bedroom? Will everyone have to stand in line to shower in a single bathroom? Give your blended family room to breathe as they become accustomed to their new living situation.
  • Choose Location Strategically
    If real estate is all about "location, location, location," that applies double to buying a house for a blended family. Instead of having only one side relocate, you may decide on a "neutral" neighborhood to put everyone on equal footing. Proximity to kids' other parents is also a vital factor in shared custody arrangements.
  • Involve the Kids
    When partners in a new relationship have children, kids may often feel they are along for the ride. They may find themselves in the middle of changes completely out of their control. Bring kids along as you view houses and solicit their input to emphasize that it's their home also. Once you've made the move, assign each child a designing "project" to put their own stamp on the new home.
  • Plan Timing Carefully
    Coordinating the process of buying a house with the sale of your existing home can be tricky enough. When you add in the sale of a second home, it becomes a real juggling act. Prepare a backup plan, such as renting out one of the homes or moving into a short-term rental, in case the timing hits a snag.

The definition of family continues expanding to include previously non-traditional forms, but the idea of home as the center of family life remains constant. Buying a house that accommodates the needs of a blended family is the first step toward creating happy memories together.

November
28

The Ultimate To-Do List For Home Sellers

Selling your home involves a lot of details — some you probably haven't even thought about. There are a few main areas most of these fall under, and having a list can help you plan and prepare effectively.

The Planning Stages

You've made the decision to sell your home, and now it's time to work out all the details.

  • Determine your timeline. How fast do you need to sell? Do you need to find another home first? How much time will you need to prepare your home?
  • Make a list of all repair or upgrade projects. Big and small inside and outside. Estimate completion time and cost.
  • Have an idea about pricing. You probably don't want to decide on the final figure without talking to your agent first, but do some research and think about a range that takes into account any major repairs or upgrades.

Work on Curb Appeal

The first thing buyers notice about your house is the outside, so start here. Walk toward the street and look at your house to see what kind of first impression buyers are getting. What can be improved? 

  • Remove clutter. Branches and debris, trash cans, bikes, tools, and toys should all be removed or put away.
  • Mow and edge the lawn.
  • Trim trees and shrubs. Make sure they aren't blocking windows or the view of the house.
  • Add flowers or plants and mulch.
  • Repair or add a walkway.
  • Paint. You may not need to paint the entire house. A fresh coat or color change on the trim, shutters, front door or garage door may be enough.
  • Update a curbside mailbox.
  • Replace, relocate or repaint house numbers.
  • Repair, replace or add exterior lighting.
  • Add or refresh porch furniture.

Getting the Inside Ready

You'll want the inside of your home to look just as amazing as the outside. Consider hiring a professional home stager. Having someone who doesn't have an emotional attachment to anything in the home can be helpful.

Here are some other things you can do.

  • Declutter. Dispose of, donate or store unnecessary items. Remember, buyers will look everywhere. The less you have to hide or reorganize, the better. 
  • Remove your personal touches. Flashy décor and artwork, family photos, and collections should be removed. It's hard for buyers to envision themselves in the home when your belongings are visible.
  • Detail clean. Wash walls and baseboards and molding to remove scuff marks and fingerprints. Clean inside cabinets, corners, and window tracks. Every house has those areas that get passed over. Now is the time to make sure they're clean.
  • Paint. Freshening up the color or repainting in a neutral color can give your home wider appeal.
  • Make small repairs. Potential buyers see burned-out light bulbs, loose handles and doorknobs, and dripping faucets and wonder what else may have been neglected.
  • Take a sniff. Weird smells are a major turn-off. Clean, sanitize, or get rid of the source.
  • Lock up or relocate valuables.
  • Wash windows.
  • Redo caulking in the bathroom and clean the grout. 

Meet with Your Real Estate Agent

It's a good idea to use a real estate agent when selling your home. An agent will list your home, publicize it, and schedule tours. They can also advise you on pricing. 

There are a lot of details involved in selling your home. Being well organized and planning ahead can save time and help you get the price you're looking for.

November
23

You Just Might Have Seller's Remorse

No matter how much you're looking forward to turning over your house keys to a new owner, selling your home can lead to deep soul-searching.

Did I get a good price? Will the new owners love my home the way I do? Did I really want to sell in the first place? If you're asking yourself these questions, you just might have a case of seller's remorse.

When you walk away from a place you love, it can feel like abandoning an old friend. Fortunately, the emotional attachments will likely fade with time. The financial regrets that settle in after closing can be even more difficult, but you'll have to let them go as well. Those wordy closing documents you signed are contracts. They're difficult to break, no matter how much remorse you feel.

The best time to manage seller's remorse is before you put your home on the market. Begin the process by asking yourself these questions:

Am I listing for the right reason?

Empty nest? Divorce? Financial gain? Impulse? Exactly why are you selling your home? If you received a big job offer with a deadline to relocate to a new city, selling your home can feel like lifting a weight off your shoulders. If you list your home because Uncle Bob said you could make a ton of money, you might not realize it's a bad idea until the deal is done. 

Only you can decide if selling your home is the right decision for you. 

Am I listing for the right price?

Pricing your home can be tricky. It's not an exact science, but your real estate agent can help. Review recent home sales and research comparables — homes similar to yours in similar neighborhoods. Also, when calculating the potential net return on your sale, don't ignore these and other before-sale and after-sale costs.

  • Home repairs and upgrades
  • Cleaning and landscaping
  • Staging and photography
  • Commissions
  • Relocation costs

Your price should include enough wiggle room to negotiate with a serious buyer. If your price is too high, you'll attract few potential buyers. If you price your home too low, you may lose money on the deal. That's a sure trigger for seller's remorse.

Have I found my next home?

Whatever the cause of your seller's remorse, it will likely fade with time. The healing process may take longer to begin if you sign the closing documents on your old home but don't have a new home to go to.

Sellers do that sometimes when a buyer's purchase is contingent on a quick closing. You can do it too. But if you don't have a backup plan, the sensation of temporary "homelessness" can leave you with an acute case of remorse. It's important to think before you list:

  • Find a home before you put your home on the market.
  • Consider what you'll do if your home sells quickly.
  • Locate movers and storage facilities that require little notice.
  • Research temporary housing options.
  • Offer the buyer incentives in exchange for a delayed closing.

Seller's remorse happens

The sense of having made the wrong choice can happen any time you make a decision with long-range consequences. That's why it's important to work with a real estate professional when you decide to sell your home. Your real estate agent can work with you from pre-listing through closing. You'll gain confidence in the home-selling process, and that will minimize your chances of succumbing to seller's remorse.

November
25

Make Your Home Smarter Without Spending A Fortune

Everything from security cameras and thermostats to light bulbs and locks is now available with wireless connectivity, and when multiple devices communicate, they join an "Internet of things" that instantly makes life more convenient and customizable. Some even learn your preferences and household habits, then adjust themselves accordingly. However, some homeowners still assume that "smart home" technology is still out of their price range.

If you want to smarten up your home and take advantage of the latest gadgets, you don't actually have to invest in a six-figure rewiring job. Instead, just take some of the following steps to keep your home compatible with the 21st century.

  • Swap Out Your Light Bulbs for Smart LED Bulbs
    Traditional light bulbs generate heat, use electricity, emit one color, need to be replaced every so often, and only respond to physical switches. Smart LED bulbs, on the other hand, generate no heat, use far less electricity, may change colors, last much longer, and can be controlled wirelessly. Whether you care about the planet or you need more lighting options, WiFi LED bulbs like the Philips Hue system or single LIFX bulbs are the way to go. If you want to spend less than $20 per bulb, opt for Bluetooth-enabled bulbs like the GE C-Life instead.

  • Plug Your Appliances into Smart Plugs
    Do you want to control your oven, computer, TV, or any other appliance remotely? You don't have to wait until a "smart fridge" is in the budget. Now, it's possible to connect your mobile devices to anything that plugs into your wall, thanks to pass-through plugs like the Belkin WeMo Insight Switch or the mydlink Home Smart Plug. Download an app to turn appliances on and off, monitor usage patterns, and more.

  • Invest in a Nest
    It's hard to overstate the value of a programmable thermostat, especially when it's as striking as the popular Nest. This wireless-enabled thermostat is easy to plug into your existing HVAC wires, and once it's installed, you can use your phone to adjust the minimum and maximum temperatures, set specific temperatures, program fluctuations, and more. Best of all, the Nest knows where you are and adjusts your temperature accordingly. You can even set it to conserve extra energy by turning off its screen until you walk up to it.

  • Greet Visitors with the Ring Video Doorbell
    Who's at the door? If you had a Ring doorbell, you would never have to ask that question again. Ring integrates two-way audio for speaking back and forth through the door, a camera that allows you to see your visitors in HD from anywhere in the house (or the world) in any lighting, and motion sensors that make it easy to start recording when someone arrives. With Ring, you can even set up mobile alerts when someone rings the bell or comes near your door. Ring's doorbells range from $150 per doorbell to more than $600 for whole camera systems, but peace of mind is priceless.

How will you turn your house into a smart home? Investing in a few wireless gadgets now may save time, money, and energy for years to come, but let's be honest: it makes your house look a whole lot cooler, too. Whether you hope to attract buyers soon or you want to make life in your new home more convenient and futuristic, these smart products are a great place to start.

November
22

Savvy Ways to Increase Your Home's Value

Whether you plan to be in your home for just a few more months or many more years, there are plenty of efficient ways to maximize your space and increase its value. This type of investment needn't require a loan, nor does it have to span any great length of time. From green living to greenery in your yard, here are a few impactful and straightforward means of boosting your home's value and appeal over the short or long term.

A Smart Move

Green is the new black. Any form of energy efficiencies and conservation in your home will inevitably be a fiscal gain. Whether you install energy-saving window treatments or solar panels, both options can reduce utility expenses for you and any future inhabitants. When it comes time to replace appliances, a prudent decision would be to select a "smart" model of said item, which can significantly lower long-term energy costs.

While on the topic of efficiency, a wise investment would be installing "smart" devices throughout your property. Think digital features such as automated blinds or shades, security cameras, door locks, security lighting and thermostats. When you're ready to sell, the smart tech will appeal to buyers with a penchant for the added value of convenience and connectivity.

Wide Open Spaces

Create visual space in rooms by keeping them clutter-free and organized, which can be solved by simply installing a stylish shelving unit to keep extraneous items out of sight. Seek the help of a professional organizer who will be bursting with innovative ideas to optimize the storage areas in your dwelling.

Another way to increase square footage without a renovation is to let the sunshine in! Avoid heavy drapes and instead, use modern window treatments that add height such as roller, Roman or cellular shades. Similarly, you can position a decorative floor-to-ceiling mirror in any room to visually double your space.

From the Bottom Up

Explore the possibility of replacing the flooring in a few key spaces. A unique, beautiful and buzzworthy material is cork, which is also known to have antibacterial properties. If you opt for new surfaces under your feet, consider installing radiant heating simultaneously. These systems not only add optimum comfort, but are also aesthetically pleasing and energy efficient.

Make an impact through your lighting choices. Utilize contemporary or dramatic fixtures to complement each room. Whether you choose minimal or eye-catching designs – the right piece in the optimal locale can add intrigue and substance to your residence.

Kick It Up a Notch

Significant updates to your kitchen and bathroom are sure to boost value. Modern appliances and updated décor increase appeal to buyers, so consider a new backsplash or that roomy farmhouse-style sink you've been eyeing. Think one step further and install a water filtration system to add practicality and luxury to your dwelling. Additional elements like stylish sconces, a new vanity or a vintage mirror can elevate functionality and increase allure.

It's Only Natural

Consider your front and backyard. If there is an area that would benefit from some striking landscaping or creative plantings, explore your options or consult with a professional landscape architect or designer. Executed well, a garden or other natural elements in your yard can become lovely extensions of your home's indoor atmosphere.

When you look around, there are many ways to enhance the comfort and appeal of your property that will serve you well as a resident – and add value one day when you're ready to sell.

 

November
21

LAWRENCE YUN IS NOT TALKING ABOUT US
By Brad Gosslee, President, Coldwell Banker Gosslee

We are coming to a very special time of year as we celebrate Thanksgiving and the holidays with our friends and loved ones. And, of course, as a former football player who played at Byrd High School, I'm also pumped up that it's almost time for the Independence Bowl! I can't wait to see which teams and their fans are coming to Shreveport!

This is also a great time for me to take a moment and once again salute our Coldwell Banker Gosslee agents. For those of you who have worked with them, especially over the last couple of years during the pandemic-fueled real estate frenzy, you saw how dedicated and exceptional they are. Now with mortgage rates rising, their value will grow even more! As our company has been a fabric of the region for more than 60 years and the market leader for three-straight decades, our agents have been through numerous market changes. They are well-trained and ready to support buyers and sellers in a uniquely different market.

The story of rising mortgage rates is everywhere. It's obviously big news. But I came across a quote from National Association of Realtors Chief Economist Lawrence Yun that makes a lot of sense:

"More potential homebuyers were squeezed out from qualifying for a mortgage in October as mortgage rates climbed higher. The impact is greater in expensive areas of the country and in markets that witnessed significant home price gains in recent years."

Because our home prices are nowhere near San Jose's $1.4 million, Seattle's $750,000 or Austin's $550,000, the financial challenges may not be as severe for our buyers. While no one wants to pay more, Lawrence's point is valid. It's likely harder to pay $2,700 more a month for a loan than $400.

I say this because the median price for a home in Caddo, Bossier and Desoto Parishes is currently $212,000. Using Lawrence's views as a guide, here is a breakdown of what monthly loan payments would be in several markets – compared to earlier this year - assuming no extra fees or having a down payment.

Market

Median Price

Monthly Payment with 3.5% Mortgage

Monthly Payment with 6.76% Mortgage

Difference in Monthly Payment

San Jose

$1,400,000

$6,287

$9,034

+$2,747

Seattle

$750,000

$3,368

$4,840

+$1,472

Austin

$550,000

$2,470

$3,549

+$1,079

Northwest LA

$212,000

$952

$1,368

+$   416

 

His theory seems to be true in Northwest Louisiana judging by home sales too.

While the National Association of Realtors reports that home sales are down 28.3% in October nationally, we are down 24%. The reason it is so far off is because we were in blistering times a year ago. And to provide a comparison, I looked at some markets in uber-expensive California. The San Francisco market is off 37.5% and Los Angeles is down just about the same (39.8%).

Locally, for all of 2022 so far (not just October which I just described), there have been 4,475 home sales in our three parishes which is down 12% from the blistering pace of a year ago. But we are still up compared to more traditional times like 2018 (4,074) and 2019 (4,152) prior to the pandemic:

Price Range

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

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

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

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

Total

4,475 (-12%)

1,835 (-10%)

2,842 (-15%)

158 (+0%)

$100,000 & less

671 (-23%)

    166 (-1%)

479 (-16%)

26 (+4%)

$100,000-$200,000

1,407 (-10%)

436 (-26%)

925 (-22%)

    46 (-15%)

$200,000-$300,000

1,350 (-6%)

671 (-9%)

648 (-11%)

    31 (-3%)

$300,000-$400,000

578 (-1%)

351 (+1%)

198 (-5%)

29 (+12%)

$400,000-$500,000

251 (-3%)

138 (+8%)

99 (-14%)

14 (-13%)

$500,000-
$600,000

   1 04 (+25%)

    44 (+13%)

51 (+19%)

9 (+800%)

$600,000+

114 (+14%)

29 (+0%)

82 (+22%)

3 (0%)

 

As I said earlier, obviously higher interest rates are not what buyers or sellers want. Hopefully as the nation overcomes inflation, mortgage rates may come down. If you want to geek-out, pay attention to the 10-Year Treasury Note which is the greatest indicator of where mortgage rates are likely headed.

But in the meantime, our agents are working closely with our friends at Fairway Mortgage to show prospective buyers that 30-year-fixed rate loans are not the only option. In fact, here are some terms and loan options to understand:

  • You can refinance; "Marry the home…date the loan." I don't know who originally said this, but it's a brilliant line. The belief is that you can always re-finance your loan when they drop. Most economists predict this will likely occur in the middle of 2023.
  • Adjustable Rate Mortgages (ARMs): Because mortgage rates dropped so low during the pandemic, most took 30 or 15-year fixed rate mortgages. But ARMs give you a lower rate for a sizeable time period, usually 5, 7 or 10 years, before readjusting.
  • Buy Downs: Along with having a down payment to lower costs, you can also pay more upfront in your loan. This can lower your interest rate and thus the monthly payments.
  • Other options: There are several loans that aid buyers including those from the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).

We have to remember that the need for a home will always be there. This is because life events will dictate moves including happy occasions like engagements and marriages, children and growing families, job promotions and new jobs. If you are considering buying a home, you owe it to yourself to speak with one of our agents. Northwest Louisiana is a very different place than the rest of the nation and having someone who understands our current market conditions will be a huge help to you. I promise!

Let's now get into the nitty gritty of what IS occurring on the real estate front in our wonderful area.

The first thing we have to understand is that home prices are slowing their pace of appreciation. You may remember that I've always referred to Northwest Louisiana as a "Steady Eddie" market where we would usually see a 2-3% increase in home prices each year. But because of the recent historically-low mortgage rates, the ability to work from anywhere and our amazing affordability, we saw demand far exceed supply and therefore home prices went up locally in dramatic fashion over the last couple of years.

We are now starting to slow down. We have had back-to-back months where prices were less than they were at the same time a year ago. This could be expected because we could not sustain such a red-hot market and the price declines are off of record highs.

In fact, if you compare the median home price we had in October 2021 of $218,500 to this year of October-only sales, we are down 17%. But remember that even at this reduced price, we are still ahead of 2018's $165,000. While I don't have a crystal ball, I don't see prices dropping to those levels.

Even with the slowdown, our annual price appreciation is 7% for all of 2022

But here is the rub. We still do not have enough homes for active buyers to consider. Sure our buyer pool has decreased and we don't have multiple bids at the same levels we had last year and into the early part of 2022, but we still have only 1,072 homes on the market which is 51% less than we had available at this time in 2018.

While I am excited to see our inventory increase, we do need more homes to come on the market. This is why the monthly supply stat is valuable. We know that over the last 12 months we have been averaging 447 sales a month. Therefore, as you will see in the next chart, our 1,072 homes on the market would only last 2.4 months.

And while buyers don't have to choose a home at the same quick pace they did previously and have a little more negotiating wiggle room today, we are still in a sellers' market.  A balanced market locally – where neither buyer nor seller has a negotiating advantage – is about 5-6 months. You can see we are still a long way from that mark:

Price Range

October 2022 Available Homes/Month Supply

October 2018 Available Homes/Month Supply

Total

1,072/2.4

2,173/5.5

$100,000 & less

215/3.3

456/4.6

$100,000-$200,000

253/1.7

697/4.4

$200,000-$300,000

271/2.0

489/5.3

$300,000-$400,000

128/2.3

245/7.8

$400,000-$500,000

71/2.8

125/13.4

$500,000+

134/6.3

161/26.

 

We are especially tight in the mid-tier price ranges. And, if/when mortgage rates retreat and more buyers came back into the market, we would see our supply dwindle further. This is why we also encourage potential sellers to talk with one of our agents. While we have moved past the top of the market, you may be surprised to know how your home has maintained its value.

One of the reasons for the market's slowdown is that higher rates pull out buyers at the lower end of the market. Also buying power dwindles and therefore others are forced to purchase less expensive homes. That appears to be occurring in Northwest Louisiana.

We saw 95 October sales at the $100,000 or less price point, the strongest October in this range since 2019. We had 18 more homes sold in this price range this year than last year, which is one of the main drivers for our lower median sales price. Remember, the median is the middle of all 1,072 homes sold last month. We also had 11 fewer $500,000+ homes. Therefore, our median price may be a bit skewed.

Here is a look at how we compare to the overall U.S.

 

U.S.

(change over October '21)

Northwest LA

(change over October '21)

Median Price

$389,100/+6.5%

$181,500 /-17%

Number of Sales

4.43 million/-28.5%
(annualized)

401/-24%

Inventory

1.22 million/-0.8%

1,072/+18%

Month Supply

3.3/2.4

2.4/1.8

Median Days on Market

21/18

20/10

 

I want to close by reminding you that the last two months of the year are normally two of the slowest in real estate. And while many buyers will take advantage of less competition, this is normally a time where families don't make changes and instead plan for the following year. In this case, a potential move.

I encourage you not to overwhelm yourself with everything you read on the web, including what we see on the national sites like Zillow and Realtor.com. It might create "paralysis by analysis." Instead, I encourage you to spend time talking to one of our agents. Get comfortable with the buying and selling process and what is occurring in your neighborhood today.

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

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

November
18

(November 18, 2022) Sarah Ramsey has joined Coldwell Banker Gosslee, the #1 Real Estate firm in NW Louisiana.

"As a recent first-time homebuyer, I really look forward to helping others learn the process of home buying, take the fear out of it, and just be there for them for their first and biggest purchase of their life!" -Sarah

Sarah is from Haughton, Lousiana, where she graduated high school. She then went on to earn a Bachelor degree in Mass Communications. She is self-motivated, organized, and well-versed in marketing and mass communications - which she feels will all be perfect for a successful career in real estate. 

"I enjoy the creative aspect in everything I do. With real estate, I would love to be a part in improving our area. A goal of mine if to invest in neglected homes and bring them back to life. I would love to help my clients along that journey as well. I would also love to put my artsy side to work by helping my clients stage their homes."

When Sarah isn't making real estate dreams come true for her clients, you'll find her creating handmade jewelry, reading, painting or traveling.

You can contact Sarah at 318.747.5411 or you can email her at sarahramsey454@gmail.com

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

November
16

Meet Your Neighbors with these Three Party Ideas

If your strategy for meeting the neighbors is a quick hello while walking the dog or picking up your mail, you need a better approach. Here are three ideas for neighborhood get-togethers that are easy to organize, inexpensive and a lot of fun. 

  1. Progressive Dinner – Organize a progressive dinner party that involves traveling to several homes, each serving up a different course to the meal. Start with hors d'oeuvres at the first home, then move on to soup or salad at the next, an entrée at the next and then end with dessert at the final home. Leisurely pacing out the evening in this way is the perfect way to encourage lively chit-chat between bites and en route to the next destination. And because everyone chips in, no one host is burdened with the cost, preparation or clean-up for the entire meal.
  2. Progressive Party – Put an engaging twist on the traditional cocktail party by applying the progressive concept to adult beverages: each stop can feature its own signature drink. There are all kinds of ways to spice things up, such as establishing an imaginative theme to the evening or having each home come up with a quirky name for its individual concoction. Once the creative juices start flowing, so will the conversation!
  3. Game Night – A small group of eight or fewer can meet up for a rousing game night. Everyone has their favorites, whether it's trivia that tests your knowledge or a drawing game that gives you a chance to exhibit your artistic prowess. Teaming up and encouraging a little bit of healthy competition among friends (and soon-to-be-friends) is a sure way to get further acquainted while having fun in the process.

Since you already share a neighborhood, you may as well find out what else you have in common. This spring, assemble the troops and plan some creative festivities to mix and mingle.

November
15

6 Tips For A Stress-Free Home Closing

Whether you're buying or selling a home, closing day can be a stressful part of the process. The closing day is when everything related to your real estate transaction becomes finalized. Luckily, closing often goes smoothly — especially when you have a great real estate agent working with you throughout the process.

Once the sale is final, there are often still a few things you need to do. None of these steps are as big or as complex as what you've already been through but making sure they are taken care of will go a long way toward protecting you from last-minute hiccups.

Let's review some of the most important considerations you shouldn't forget:

  1. Take Utilities Out of Your Name – Fast!
    Remove your name from all utilities as soon as possible after closing. Contact every utility and service provider, preferably on the day closing takes place. It could be much more difficult to get this done once you move out. Don't forget about insurance: You may be eligible for a refund of any prepaid premium on your old homeowner's policy.

  2. Change Your Address
    Change your address with the post office about two to four weeks before your closing date. If you forget or decide to wait until things are really final, don't forget you can file your change of address with the USPS online. The IRS also offers an address change procedure. Check in with your local DMV to ensure your license will have the correct address, too.

  3. Make Moving Out Easier
    Take a close look at any moving company estimate, especially before a long-distance move. Most movers will only insure what they pack themselves, so consider supplemental insurance for anything else. Be present during packing to ensure a higher quality of service. Excessive packing material can raise the weight of your items, leading to heftier charges.

  4. Double-Check Your Settlement
    Even in a detail-oriented situation like closing on a home, mistakes do happen. To be certain everything is accurate, get out a copy of your closing disclosure and compare it to your loan estimate. You might save hundreds or even more if you happen to spot a discrepancy. The best time to do this is right away, so you can report any problems within 24 hours of the closing day.

  5. Your Closing Documentation
    The worst-case scenario is this: A tiny typo leads to a situation where mortgages that should be paid off aren't. Reread all closing docs to ensure mortgages are fully paid and payoff amounts are correct. Also, keep your eyes peeled for any additional fees added by the title company. As closing approaches, fees become easier to estimate and should be disclosed well in advance.

  6. Empty the Escrow Account
    Don't forget: Unused funds that you placed in escrow belong to you. There are two situations where this can cause headaches. More commonly, the title company fails to release escrow-held funds in a timely manner so you can access them. Occasionally, sellers make the mistake of leaving sales proceeds in a new escrow account, leading to complications down the line.

Closing day is a huge milestone for anyone — it marks true success in selling your home. To maximize your profits and minimize frustration, plan on two extra days to manage these last six issues. You'll be glad you did!

November
9

7 Factors to Consider When You're Selling Your Home

When you've made the decision on selling your home, the fun really starts!


Selling your home involves a lot of different moving parts. When you take things one step at a time, however, it all gets easier. Going into the selling process with a clear idea of what you need to do will reduce your stress and prevent you from overlooking key details.


Here are seven things you need to consider while selling your home:

  1. You Need a Real Estate Agent
    First and foremost, you'll need a terrific real estate agent to help make your goals a reality. A local real estate expert will help you manage and accelerate the process: Pricing the home right, finding motivated buyers, and getting you to closing without a hitch. By contrast, sellers who try to go it alone often spend many extra months on a sale and get a much lower final price.
  2. Gather Your Paperwork Early
    You'll need a ton of paperwork to make sure your sale goes forward on schedule. That includes lots of things you may not think much about: Warranty paperwork for your roof and major home systems, instruction manuals, details of home improvement projects, permits and certificates of compliance, mortgage information, and more. Get started early to get it all together.
  3. Get a Professional Inspection
    A pre-sale inspection will save you time in the long run and put you in a superior negotiating position. An inspection is intended to help you uncover problems with the home. Things like the roof, septic, and electrical issues can make potential buyers wary. Having the information in front of you, however, allows you to work on repairs or adjust your approach to selling.
  4. You'll Need to Prepare the Home
    When you're finally ready to sell a home, you can't simply open the doors. Cleaning it from top to bottom is imperative. That should include steam cleaning carpets and drapes and remove about half of the items from closets. Sometimes, it's also a good idea to remove certain furnishings and to make lighting a bit brighter. This can make the space seem larger and more inviting.
  5. "Price it Right" from the Very Start
    Pricing a home correctly is one of the most challenging things for a homeowner to do. When you try to price a property after living there, your own feelings inevitably play a role. A real estate pro will produce a research-based price after looking at recent sales in the area and other factors. This is the best way to ensure you reach your goals on the timeline you want.
  6. Perform Staging Before Showings
    Staging isn't the only aspect of selling a home, but it is very important. Your real estate agent should be versed in staging techniques or use an expert stager at no additional cost to you. The purpose of staging is to make your home show better, and there are hundreds of little ways to do this: From simple things like opening the blinds to more complex tactics like baking cookies.
  7. Yes – Hold Weekly Open Houses
    Forget about any "controversy" you might've heard: Holding open houses is the most effective way to meet motivated buyers fast. Yes, your real estate agent should still be marketing your home proactively online, and yes, a vacant home is more challenging to show than one that's still occupied. Even so, the time and effort of weekly open houses are almost always well spent.

Selling your home starts with a firm decision. Once you've made that choice, give yourself every advantage you can by reaching out to a local real estate agent you can trust.

November
8

The Best Tips For Buying A Home In Your 20s (Or Early 30s)

The follow-up to the Millennial generation, the eldest members of Gen Z are aged 25 today. Research shows most of this up-and-coming cohort see buying a home as a major goal — one they plan to achieve earlier than their parents and grandparents.

Although they're an exciting new generation, Gen Z is in some ways a blast from the past. They think of homeownership as an important way to build wealth, just as their grandparents did. On the other hand, many Millennials remain wary of buying, especially among the older set.

Both older Gen Z and younger Millennials made a strong showing in the seller's market of 2021. There are many would-be buyers aged 25-35 who haven't settled on a property just yet, but their dreams are within reach. They just need to take the right steps to get there!

So, how can you buy a home in your 20s or early 30s?

Start with these tips:

  • Handle Debt with Care
    Mortgage lenders use the debt-to-income ratio as a crucial factor when deciding what loan package you qualify for – so the debt you accrue along the way makes a big difference. Always pay bills on time, and do your best to avoid taking on new debts within six months of applying for a mortgage.

  • Develop a Household Budget
    A household budget can help you save the money you need to pay off debts and accumulate a down payment, which is usually not less than 10% of a home's sale price. It will also come in handy when you need to decide whether the fixed costs associated with a given home are right for you.

  • Find the Right Real Estate Agent
    The right real estate agent is your best ally as you navigate the housing market. Remember, it's okay to talk to several agents before choosing one. An agent should help you clarify your goals and put you in touch with the right resources to make an informed decision at every fork in the road.

  • Connect with First-Time Homebuyer Programs
    First-time homebuyer programs provide buyers like you with the inside insight to make the most of the process. Check out government-backed mortgage programs such as those offered by the VA, USDA, and FHA. These often offer favorable lending terms and lower down payments.

  • Prequalify for a Mortgage
    In prequalification, you submit income information to a mortgage lender and get a firm commitment on a funding package you then have the option to use within 30 or 60 days. This empowers you to make a move on the home you want as soon as you find it, helping you be more competitive.

  • Set Your Priorities from the Start
    In general, it's a good idea for everyone who will be living in a home to set 1-3 "must-haves." This makes it easier for you to know when a home does or doesn't meet your needs. It also ensures your real estate agent can support you with listings that really work for you, potentially accelerating the process.

  • Negotiate with Care
    It won't be a seller's market forever. As buyers gain clout, it becomes easier to negotiate for better terms. Never be afraid to walk away from a home, and be wary of properties sold "as-is." A mortgage lender usually won't fund a home with serious issues, so you'll need to have it inspected anyway.

Buying a home might seem intimidating, but your real estate agent is in your corner from start to finish. Use these tips in conjunction with your agent's advice, and you will be on your road to homeownership.

November
7

Are You The Reason Your Home Isn't Selling?

If you thought your home would sell quickly, but you haven't had a single offer so far, could you be the reason?

That's a hard reality to consider, but it's important if you're serious about selling your home. You should examine everything you did or did not do before and after your listing went live. Sometimes a single change can make a big difference.

When you've lived in your home for a long time, it's easy to miss conditions that might be obvious to a home buyer. That's why it's important to seek other opinions when re-evaluating your home. Sometimes you simply need a second pair of unbiased eyes to pinpoint obvious issues. Other times you may require professional input. Use this list of questions as a guide.  

Did you price your home unrealistically?

The selling price is a primary consideration for most home buyers. If your asking price is unreasonably high, buyers may just move on to the next listing. You can still recover from high pricing expectations.

  • Adjust your asking price. 
  • Be more flexible in negotiating a deal. 

Is your home ready for the market? 

If your home lacks the curb appeal that draws buyers to your door, do something. When you're selling your home, do whatever you must to make it a home buyer's magnet.

  • Re-Landscape: Have a professional redo your DIY landscaping.
  • Repair: Fix exterior and interior areas in need of attention.
  • Repaint: Brighten interior rooms with lighter walls.
  • Declutter: Remove unnecessary stuff for a less junky look.
  • De-personalize: Remove personal photos, artwork, and mementos so homebuyers can visualize themselves in your home.
  • Restage: Consider hiring a professional to rework your interior spaces.  

Is your home not quite clean enough?

When you're giving home buyers free rein, they'll find whatever you missed in your spotless home. Before putting your home on the market, have a professional do a deep cleaning. It will cost you, but they will eliminate problems you might not have noticed.

  • Lingering odors: You might be "nose blind" to smells like mildew, pets, and garbage.
  • Dust: Soil accumulates on surfaces high and low.
  • Windows: Dirty windows keep natural light from entering.   
  • Pet problems: Little Fluffy's litter scatterings and carpet stains may disgust a potential buyer.

Are your listing photos a turn-off?

Buyers respond to great photos. If your home has curb appeal, beautiful landscaping, and bright, spacious interiors, your listing photos must show it. It's worth the cost to have them done professionally.

Do you have bad Open House etiquette?

If you've scheduled only a few private showings and had no feedback from your open houses, eliminate yourself as a cause.

  • Be available: Say yes to all private showings, even on short notice. Tidy up, leave, and let your real estate agent handle it.
  • Open up your home: Establish an Open House schedule. Publicize your events to buyers outside your neighborhood.
  • Ge out!: With you hovering and watching, potential buyers will feel more like trespassers than future owners. 

Your Real Estate Agent Matters

Most of your problems wouldn't be problems if you'd vetted your real estate professional. When selling your home, you need a real estate agent who will work with you throughout the process.

  • Inspect your home
  • Make recommendations
  • Recommend stagers and photographers
  • List your home only when it's ready
  • Market traditionally and on social media
  • Work with buyers and their representatives
  • Execute bid, buy, and closing documents

While no real estate agent can make magic happen, a professional will work hard to minimize problems so you can sell your home.

November
2

5 Decluttering Hacks to Get Your Home Buyer-Ready

If you're thinking about selling your home, the next few months may be a great time to do it.

Selling a house requires presenting it in the best possible light. For some, that means spending time, money, and effort on cleanup and repairs. For others, the project starts with decluttering. Don't cringe... decluttering your home doesn't have to be a headache. These cleaning hacks will get you well on your way to a home that anyone would be happy to call their own.

  1. Work on one room at a time. If you try to clean your entire house at once, you're likely to wind up feeling overwhelmed and defeated. It's much better to break it up into manageable chunks. Tackle one room per day until your whole house sparkles. If you don't have time to polish every square inch to a high shine, focus the bulk of your efforts on the most important areas – kitchens, bedrooms, bathrooms, and entryways.

  2. Focus on horizontal surfaces. One shortcut to making your home immediately feel less cluttered is to zero in on horizontal surfaces like counters, shelves, tabletops, kitchen islands, mantels, and dresser tops. Clear off these surfaces, leaving only a few basic decorative items. You'll be amazed at how much more open your house feels after performing this one simple trick.

  3. Look with a buyer's eye. It's hard to emotionally disconnect yourself from a place that has been home to you for years, but it's important to do so. Look at your house dispassionately, and ask yourself, as a potential buyer, what do you see? Chances are, you'll notice little things to clean or fix that had gone unnoticed for ages but would jump right out at someone who had never been in your house before.

  4. Clear out personal items. Sellers often leave lots of family photos and other personal items on display, with the idea that they make the place look more lived-in and homey. Unfortunately, that's not usually a good tactic. Your house should appear to the buyer as a blank slate for their future life. Hard as it may be to pack up all your personal belongings, remember that the buyer should be able to envision their family photos on the walls and their kids' drawings on the refrigerator, not yours.

  5. Don't forget the yard. The first thing a potential buyer sees isn't your clean kitchen or your perfectly organized entryway. It's your front yard. So it pays to make sure the outside portion of your house is just as thoroughly decluttered as the inside. Make sure the porch is clear, put kids' toys away, and stow all your garden tools in the garage. A clean front yard makes a lasting first impression.

When the time comes to sell your house, remember that presentation counts. Making repairs and improvements can definitely increase your home's resale value, but these simple decluttering tricks will go a long way toward presenting your home in the best way possible.

November
1

The Price is Right...Until It's Not

Of all the choices you have to make when it's time to sell your house, none are more important than setting the right asking price.

Unfortunately, zeroing in on that magic number can be tricky.

Set the price too high, and your home could languish on the market for months, or worse — maybe not sell at all. Set the price too low, and you could be cheating yourself out of thousands of dollars. Here's what you need to know about setting the perfect price for your home. 

  1. Forget What You Paid for Your Home
    It's easy to recall what you paid for your home and think of that number as a rule by which to measure your asking price. But taking the price you paid and adding a little extra doesn't always add up to the right number. Some homes appreciate in value more than might be expected, and some appreciate less. The best thing you can do is not even think about what your home was worth when you bought it.

  2. Look at Other Homes in Your Area
    Consider what other homes on your street and in the surrounding neighborhood typically sell for. If there are any other homes on the market now, that's a good starting point, but also look at the sale prices of homes similar to yours in the past months and even years to gain an understanding of market values in your neck of the woods.

  3. Be Unemotional
    Letting go of a place that has been your home for many years is difficult, and you might be tempted to overestimate the financial value of your home based on what it's worth to you on an emotional level. But for better or worse, you can't put a price tag on memories, so it's best to approach pricing your home with as little emotional attachment as possible.

  4. Leave Room for Negotiation
    Buyers love to negotiate, and that's something you should factor into your pricing. It pays to price your home with just enough wiggle room that a buyer can "talk you down" to a price that's fair to both of you. This can be tricky, as you can overshoot and end up with a high price that buyers balk at. That said, one of the biggest mistakes you can make is to start out by asking a rock-bottom price.

  5. Keep Online Shoppers in Mind
    Once you've settled on a ballpark price range, you can fine-tune the number. This is when it pays to consider how your home will be listed on the internet. Many potential buyers browse online listings by price range. That means that if they search for homes in the $250,000 to $300,000 price range, for example, and your home is listed at $305,000, they won't even see it.

  6. Talk With Your Real Estate Agent
    A real estate agent's experience can be invaluable when it comes to setting the price for your home. A good agent has in-depth knowledge of the local real estate market and years of experience selling homes in your area. Ask your agent to run a comparative market analysis to zero in on the right asking price.

As with so many things, first impressions are everything when it comes to selling a house. The longer your home stays on the market, the less likely it is to sell. Setting the right price is the key to selling your home quickly and making sure you get the amount for it that you deserve.

October
31

Real Estate Tricks and Treats

It can be hard to tell the real estate tricks from treats, so let's clear the confusion once and for all. Here are some of the most common real estate myths, debunked: 

MYTH: "You don't need a real estate agent to buy a home."

TRUTH: Buyer agents 1) Are duty-bound to put your interests first, 2) Will ensure you stay organized (and calm!) through the buying process, and 3) Use their local knowledge and expertise to help you realize the perfect home at a price you feel great about. Why would you want to skimp on that?

MYTH: "You should start the buying process by looking at homes." 

TRUTH: It's critical to start the process by getting your financial ducks in a row. First stop? A preapproval letter from a trusted lender. You'll thank yourself later when you're able to put in that offer lightning fast.

MYTH: "You need 20% down plus closing costs to buy."

TRUTH: While 20% is ideal, most buyers don't have that amount of cash lying around. There are many loans that have down payments as low as 3.5% (or even 0%!), so ask your agent or lender what's right for you.

When it comes to buying and selling, knowledge is power. Never blindly follow the advice you've heard from the internet or your friends without talking with an experienced agent. Have other thoughts or questions about buying? Reach out to us today! 

Bossier City Office: 318.747.5411    Shreveport Office: 318.861.2461

October
26

Let's Talk About Paperwork: What You Need To Buy A Home

From securing mortgage pre-approval through your lender to closing on your new home, the process of purchasing a home involves plenty of paperwork. You can make your life much easier by being prepared. Here are some of the key documents that you may need to provide or review throughout the process of purchasing your next home.

  • Proof of Income
    In order to apply for loan pre-approval and determine how much you may be able to borrow, your lender may request a variety of documents to prove your income. These documents may include pay stubs, tax returns, bank statements, and retirement account statements.

  • Proof of Employment
    Your lender wants to know where your down payment will come from and verify that you will be able to pay your mortgage, so they will also request proof of employment. Documents required may include pay stubs, 1099s, and W-2s.

  • Debt Information
    Your lender will also want to be aware of any debts that you already owe, to ensure that you can pay those debts while also covering your mortgage. That could include information on student loans, car loans, and any other debts that you may be carrying.

  • Loan Estimate
    While it's not an indication of your loan status, the loan estimate that your lender is required to send by law provides a broad outline of the terms of your potential loan. It's helpful to have this document available when you're comparing loan terms from multiple lenders.

  • Loan Pre-Approval Letter
    Once you've provided your lender with all of the necessary documents, hopefully the next step will be receiving your pre-approval letter. While it doesn't mean that you've definitely secured the loan, this important piece of paperwork gives you a better idea of your budget.

  • Purchase Agreement
    Once you have found a home you love and negotiated with the seller, the purchase agreement outlines the terms of the agreement. You won't need to create this document, but you'll need to be familiar with it in order to know your responsibilities before closing.

  • Seller's Disclosure
    In some states, the seller is required to disclose any known issues with the home. The seller's disclosure, if required, provides important details on the home's history.

  • Inspection Report
    The home inspection report provides detailed information on the condition of the home. If the inspection reveals problems, you might decide to negotiate with the seller for repairs or for a credit at closing that reflects issues with the condition of the home.

  • Home Appraisal
    The home appraisal, which will typically be arranged by your lender, details the value of the home in the current real estate market. If the appraisal comes in significantly below your offer, you may have to pay the difference in cash or try to negotiate a lower price for the home.

  • Proof of Homeowner's Insurance
    Your lender won't commit to a loan without proof that you have home insurance, so you'll want to have that ready to go in order to secure your loan.

  • Government ID
    Sometimes, the simplest things are also the easiest to forget. You will need a government-issued ID like a driver's license or passport on closing day. Before closing, check that your ID isn't expired and that all of the information is up to date.

The exact documents you will need depend on your location and other factors. If you have any questions about exactly which documents will be needed in your market, your real estate agent should be a great source of advice.

October
25

What to do Now If You Plan on Selling Your Home in 2023

You might have pumpkin spice on your mind, but we're thinking about SPRING today! Why? Because if you want to sell your home during the next spring market, it's time to get to work!

Here are 5 things to do NOW in order to set yourself up for success in 2023.

PREP FOR SUCCESS.
Clean, donate, declutter and organize your closets and cabinets. And sell any furniture you plan to replace when you move into your new home. The more you do now, the less stressful the prep will be for showings.

MAKE A PLAN.
Once you sell, where will you go? What will you do if your home sells before you find a new one? Do you know what to do in a multiple offer situation? (Pssst: I do!)

HIRE A PHOTOGRAPHER.
Homes present much better in photographs and video when skies are blue and trees are full. (Pro tip: wait to put up seasonal decor! You don't want to market your home with a pumpkin on the front steps in February).

CONSIDER A PRE-INSPECTION.
Especially if your home is older and needs repairs. A knowledgeable inspector can help identify the red flags buyers will be on the lookout for so you can get them fixed prior to showings.

MEET WITH YOUR AGENT.
We can talk through your goals, priorities, and develop a good strategy to help get it done. If you're ready for a consultation, reach out to one of our agents today to set up a time to chat! They will be happy to answer all of your real estate questions.

Bossier City Office 318.747.5411  Shreveport Office 318.861.2461

October
24

THE REAL ESTATE CONUNDRUM
By Brad Gosslee, President, Coldwell Banker Gosslee

I love the word "conundrum." Not only does it sound cool, but its meaning has always fascinated me. It means "a confusing and difficult problem or question." I guess I've always loved challenges. I get to use one of my favorite words in this month's blog because our current housing market is definitely a conundrum.

As you already know, I love analyzing the numbers of our real estate market while comparing and contrasting us to the overall U.S. And I am fascinated with what is going on today. And because the market is complex, I wanted to use more of a "bulleted" style to help explain what is going on as easily as possible:

First, let's address interest rates:

  • For a variety of reasons, mortgage interest rates have risen dramatically and quickly. While this is a huge shock for so many who got used to the rates being in the 3% range, we are still at relatively normal mortgage rate levels:
    • 1981 17.00%
    • 1985 12.96%
    • 1990 10.31%
    • 1995 9.13%
    • 2000 8.25%
    • 2005 5.66%
    • 2010 4.98%

Next, the supply of homes:

  • At the national level, there are currently 1.25 million homes for sale in the U.S. This is down 0.8% from a year ago.
  • In Northwest Louisiana, we are a bit different. We have 1,078 homes currently for sale. This is up 22% over last year's 881. While we are encouraged that the number is rising, we are still a long way from the 2,153 we had in September 2018.
  • The lack of inventory is one of the dramatic differences from the "Great Recession", the last time the real estate industry endured a downturn. In its Existing Home Sales Report, the National Association of Realtors made a point that the low inventory levels today are in stark contrast to the 2009-2010 downturn when inventory was 4-times higher than it is today.
  • Nationally, the supply of homes equates to a 3.2-month supply. This is up from 2.4 a year ago.
  • Locally, we are at 2.4 months which is up from 1.8 months a year ago. For comparison, it was 5.2 months prior to the pandemic. Remember, in most markets, including ours, we remain in a "seller's market" nowhere close to the 5–6-month supply we traditionally call a balanced market where neither buyer or seller has a competitive negotiation advantage.
  • Essentially the reason for the increase in month supply is not solely because of more homes coming on the market. We still need more supply. It's largely because the number of sales has declined.

This chart looks at our housing supply and breaks down where we stand at each price point compared to four years ago. Notice how low we are in the lower price ranges.

Price Range

September 2022 Available Homes/Month Supply

September 2018 Available Homes/Month Supply

Total

1,078/2.4

2,153/5.5

$100,000 & less

226/3.5

423/4.4

$100,000-$200,000

265/1.8

696/4.4

$200,000-$300,000

265/1.9

491/5.4

$300,000-$400,000

121/2.1

245/8.0

$400,000-$500,000

70/2.7

130/13.4

$500,000+

131/5.9

166/26.6

Let's get into sales:

  • Nationally, this was the 8th straight month of decline in the number of home sales. The annualized number of September sales was 4.71 million, which was down 1.5% from August and 23.8% over last September. Remember, last year was one of the most active real estate markets ever.
  • Locally, there were 416 September sales which was very similar to August (417). Last September there were 474 home sales. Our 5-year September average is 439. September marked the third month in a row where our sales were below that month's 5-year average.
  • And for the entire year, there have been 4,071 homes sales in Caddo, Bossier and Desoto Parishes. This is off 11% from 2022, which was our strongest year ever. We are currently at the second-best year ever locally.
  • In the U.S., homes stayed on the market for 19 days. It was 17 a year ago. 70% are still selling in 30 days or less. Locally, we are at 20 days, up from the ridiculously quick 8 days a year ago.
  • There are several reasons for the slowdown in sales:
    • The hot, pandemic-fueled market was not sustainable and had to slow at some point. And it has.
    • Mortgage rates.
    • We also must understand the cyclical trend of homes sales that slow after the spring/summer months.

The next two charts show what is occurring with sales for all of 2022 in the different price points and just September. You will see that sales at the lower price points are really off.

Price Range

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

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

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

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

Total

4,071 (-15%)

1,668 (-9%)

2,225 (-14%)

148 (+2%)

$100,000 & less

576 (-15%)

    146 (-5%)

407 (-19%)

23 (-4%)

$100,000-$200,000

1,280 (-23%)

394 (-27%)

843 (-22%)

    43 (-16%)

$200,000-$300,000

1,242 (-6%)

608 (-7%)

603 (-5%)

    31 (+4%)

$300,000-$400,000

535 (+1%)

325 (+3%)

184 (-3%)

26 (+7%)

$400,000-$500,000

235 (+4%)

126 (+11%)

96 (-4%)

13 (0%)

$500,000-
$600,000

99 (+36%)

    42 (+31%)

48 (+20%)

9 (+800%)

$600,000+

104 (+24%)

27 (+17%)

74 (+28%)

3 (0%)

 

Price Range

September 2022 Sales

September 2018 Sales

Total

416

358

$100,000 & less

73

89

$100,000-$200,000

132

133

$200,000-$300,000

122

86

$300,000-$400,000

50

36

$400,000-$500,000

16

10

$500,000+

23

4

 

Now, let's look at how supply vs. demand has impacted home prices:

  • The median home price in the U.S. in September was $384,800, up 8.4% from a year ago but behind June's all-time record of $413,800. This was the third-straight month of price declines.
  • September was the 127th-straight month of year-over-year price gains which is a record.
  • Locally, our median home price for all of 2022 is $215,000, up 9% from a 2021. In September only, the median price – the middle of all homes sold – was $200,000. This was up 4% from a year ago.
  • My belief is that while prices will likely continue to slow a bit, we will still finish year ahead of last year. But the percentage increase will likely not be in double-digits which we have seen for the past couple of years.

This chart compares much of what I just shared comparing us to the U.S.:

 

U.S.

(change over September '21)

Northwest LA

(change over September '21)

Median Price

$389,500/+7.7%

$200,000/+4%

Number of Sales

4.80 million/-19.9%
(annualized)

416/-12%

Inventory

1.28 million/unchanged

1,078/+22%

Month Supply

3.2/2.6

2.4/1.8

Median Days on Market

16/17

20/8

 

Now I can address the conundrum of the real estate market. We are not seeing a normal shift.

What traditionally occurs is that home prices rise to a point buyers begin to pull back. When this occurs, the number of sales drop and inventory increases. This increased competition "levels the playing field" as buyers have more choice and seller's who overprice their home won't attract buyers.

But today things are drastically different, largely because of our post-pandemic world. And the challenges are complex. Allow me to go back to the bullet-style to explain:

  • Unemployment is low and wages have increased. This gives us a robust potential buyer pool.
  • Until the rise in mortgage rates, buyers were incredibly active and multiple bids were routine. While there are fewer buyers today, there are still plenty of buyers looking for homes.
  • With higher monthly payments, many potential buyers need to look at lower price points. But, as I explained earlier, those are the ranges where we have the fewest choices thus limiting sales.
  • While there are also many at the lower end of the wage scale who may no longer be able to afford a lower-priced home, those with good jobs, while not happy at the rates, can still afford to purchase a home. They recognize they can always refinance their loan if rates drop. This is one of the reasons we are still seeing active sales rates in the upper-end of the market.
  • Current homebuyers, who likely have enjoyed great appreciation in their homes likely have historically-low mortgage rates. Many therefore are not willing to move.

The result of all of this is a bit of a stalemate. We are not yet seeing inventory rise to a level that equates to a buyer's market with lowered prices and plenty of choices. We still have a historically low supply of homes. And because the supply levels are low, the diminished pool of buyers still face competition.

With all of this, we must remember that we will always have home buyers and sellers. Engagement, marriage, births, new jobs and promotions, divorces, illness and unfortunately the loss of loved ones will always be there – the drivers of moves.

The market is complex. It is confusing. It can be hard to navigate. It is a conundrum.

I strongly encourage those interested in buying or selling a home to talk with one of our Coldwell Banker Gosslee agents to learn what is going on today. It can be overwhelming to understand current market conditions locally, along with what is happening in the market you might be moving to. Our agents are well-schooled in what is occurring in the market and working closely with their buyers and sellers.

So please, do yourself a huge favor and don't panic or become overwhelmed. Learn from our agents and get comfortable with the buying and selling process and what is occurring today.

While there is a lot of information available today, no national site or news outlet can properly explain what is happening here. Our agents are incredibly skilled at knowing what is happening community-by-community and neighborhood-by-neighborhood.

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

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

October
21

(October 21, 2022) Thomas DuBois has joined Coldwell Banker Gosslee – the #1 Real Estate firm in Northwest Louisiana.

 

After working in the travel management business for 30+ years, Thomas is ready to spend his retirement in the real estate business.

 

Thomas began investing in real estate in North Texas in 2015. He then expanded his investments into Central Texas in 2018. When he moved back to Shreveport in 2020 to be closer to family, it was only natural for him to start investing in HOME.

 

"My passion is urban renewal! I am focusing on affordable housing and improving neighborhoods. I love being able to take distressed properties and turn them into completely beautiful rehabs." With Thomas' extensive background in investing, another one of his goals is to help his clients grow their investment portfolios.

 

Thomas and his partner recently purchased a home in the Fairfield Historic District in Shreveport and are excited about the renovation. You can contact Thomas by phone at 318.215.5531 or by email at thomas@thomasdubois.homes.

 

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

October
21

Windows that Wow

What's one of the fastest and easiest ways to update a room? You guessed it – window treatments. Gone are the days of heavy, dark, drab curtains. Instead, you can refresh just about any space with a variety of modern options to fit every style and budget.

Now Trending
Whether you're creating a home office space, looking to be more eco-friendly or moving into a new home and want to add your own personal touches, window treatments can make all the difference.

If energy efficiency is on your list, you have many options to choose from. High-tech cellular shades offer temperature control capabilities in a variety of innovative designs. Roller shades have a modern, minimal look and provide UV ray protection while allowing ample natural light in. Blinds have also come a long way, now designed with modern patterns, textures and materials to enhance any space.

 Bring on the Drama
If you're ready to breathe new life into a room and add a little drama, consider luxurious curtains. Depending on how much light you want, a sophisticated, patterned drape can set the mood and make a bold statement.

By introducing a pop of color, like a bold orange or deep red, you can give your space a dramatic new look. Not into vibrant tones? White window treatments can be just as impactful. Layer white shades with a gauzy curtain to create a romantic and whimsical feel. You could also inject a little boho chic into a room by pairing classic woven or bamboo shades with patterned drapery. Whatever you choose, curtains can easily give your home a whole new look in a matter of minutes.

 Smart Tech
Who would've thought that you'd be able to open and close your curtains with the touch of a button? Say hello to smart windows, which let you control your blinds, curtains or shades through either a remote control or handy app. You can easily set up a schedule or use the setting to adjust your window treatments without even having to leave your comfy couch.

Giving your interiors a fresh new look is easier than ever by simply by changing out your window treatments. Whether you're creating a space that's soft and serene or bright and bold, these ideas should help set you off on the right path.

October
19

Finding a Home Loan Right for You

Whether you're buying a home for the first time or have navigated the process before, choosing the right home loan is key to long-term financial happiness with your next home. The number of loan options available can feel daunting to sort through, but the good news is there's a loan available to suit the needs of nearly every buyer. The trick is finding the right one for you. Get started with our guide to some of the most common types of home loans and how they might fit your needs.

  • Conventional Mortgages
    Conventional mortgages rank among the most commonly used loans, and there are two types available. Conforming mortgages are backed by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac, with maximum loan limits set by the county. Borrowing with a conforming, conventional mortgage will allow you to make a lower down payment but may require a higher interest rate than other loans. In most cases, you will be required to pay private mortgage insurance (PMI) if your down payment is less than 20 percent.
  • Jumbo Mortgages
    The second type of conventional loan is a non-conforming mortgage, often referred to as a jumbo mortgage. A jumbo mortgage is typically used to purchase homes in affluent areas, where home values are higher than the limits for conforming loans. A jumbo mortgage requires excellent credit, a significant down payment, and extensive documentation to prove that the loan will fit within your finances.
  • FHA or USDA Mortgages
    There are also a variety of government-insured loans available, including FHA and USDA mortgages. FHA mortgages are a popular tool for first-time buyers because they require low down payments and are available to buyers with less-than-perfect credit. USDA loans are primarily used to purchase homes in low-income or rural areas and may not require any down payment for buyers who meet certain income limits.
  • VA Mortgages
    The final type of government-insured loan is a VA mortgage, which is available to military members (active or veteran) and their families. VA mortgages are very flexible, with low interest, no down payment needed, and no requirement to purchase PMI. These loans are generally considered a great option for military buyers because of the flexible terms and minimal requirements.
  • Fixed-rate Mortgages
    When analyzing mortgage options, it's also important to consider how your loan terms might change over time. If you want financial certainty and have the opportunity to lock in a low rate, then a fixed-rate mortgage may provide just what you're seeking. With a fixed-rate mortgage, your interest rate is locked in for the duration of the loan, with terms that usually last for 15, 20, or 30 years. It takes longer to build equity with a fixed-rate mortgage, but choosing a fixed rate allows you to budget precisely for the life of the mortgage.
  • Adjustable-rate Mortgages
    Unlike with a fixed-rate mortgage, your interest rate on an adjustable-rate mortgage can change over time based on market conditions. Some adjustable-rate mortgages will offer a low, fixed interest rate for the first few years, followed by fluctuating rates after the initial term. While adjustable-rate mortgages can offer lower interest rates to start, they also come with risks. Higher interest rates can make your payments unmanageable over time and may also make it harder to refinance if home values drop.

Choosing the right type of home loan is a big decision, so it's crucial to gather as much information as possible and seek advice from trusted advisors. By fully understanding the options available, you can make the right choice for your financial future.

October
18

How Much Home Can You Afford?

You've been dreaming day and night about it: Buying your first home. It's a thrilling prospect for everyone, especially first-time homeowners. With countless properties available online at your fingertips, it's easy to begin house hunting as soon as the idea strikes. But it's critical to determine your budget as a homebuyer before you start shopping seriously.

Determining your creditworthiness can help you learn what size mortgage you'll qualify for and lead you to a realistic homebuying budget. When you obtain a pre-approval from a mortgage lender, you'll know exactly what you can afford. Having a pre-approval letter will also make your offer more appealing to sellers. To ensure you are set for success for the homebuying journey, contact your Coldwell Banker-affiliated agent, who can connect you with a trusted loan officer.

Prior to any significant purchase, it's important to set a realistic budget, and buying a home is no exception. Do a reality check on your personal finances. Scrutinize your monthly income, expenses and debt-to-income ratio, so you can assess what funds you'll have available for a down payment and a monthly payment once you move into your new home.

Another important piece of this puzzle is your credit history. Check your current credit report for any debts you need to pay off so you're in a stronger position when it comes time to apply for a loan. The higher your credit score is, the more access you'll have to loans and lower interest rates.

Refer to a handy, online mortgage calculator to study property purchase prices. Do a quick search online and you'll find a variety of free options. In fact, many allow you to figure in important, relevant factors such as property taxes, down payment amounts, interest rates and home insurance to provide a detailed breakdown of what your monthly payments would look like.

To be really savvy, factor in related expenses such as upfront costs, closing costs and other fees you'll have prior to closing on a home. Also, budget for standard property maintenance expenses such as homeowner's insurance, taxes and repairs that may be needed in the short term after closing.

Comfort and joy in your first home start with setting realistic financial expectations ahead of time. Buying a home will likely be the biggest purchase of your life, after all.

October
17

10 Easy DIYs To Do Before Selling Your Home

One of the best parts of homeownership is the great do-it-yourself projects you can enjoy.

When it comes time to sell your home, it's even more important to apply the DIY spirit. The more time and energy you invest — known as sweat equity — the better your odds of getting the sale you want faster.

Consider these ten projects:

  1. Painting the Exterior
    There's a reason "curb appeal" is so important: It's the first impression! A coat of exterior paint is the perfect way to help prospective buyers see themselves in the home. Plus, you can tone down unusual colors.
  2. Power Washing the Exterior
    The best way to enhance your new paint job is to make sure the outside walls are clean as can be. This only takes a few hours of work and can take ten years off the apparent age of a house. Effects continue long after the average house is sold.
  3. Manicuring the Lawn
    It can be tough to maintain a lawn. In some areas, scorching heat and restricted water use lead to brown patches. In others, weeds grow like — well, weeds! Before putting your home on the market, break out the mower and hedge clippers.
  4. Steam Cleaning the Carpets
    This is vital if you have a cat or dog. Even the nicest carpets are bound to accumulate stains over time. The more of these you can remove, the better. A clean carpet is softer and more inviting.
  5. Adding a Closet
    When you add a closet, you're really adding a bedroom. You don't have to outfit the room with furniture, but taking a weekend to install a closet can have a big impact on your sale price.
  6. Cleaning the Gutters
    It's important to clean gutters at least twice yearly and whenever the weather gets heavy. Still, it's a chore that easily gets put off. When gutters clog, they can damage the roof and foundation.
  7. Patching the Roof
    Roof issues are high on the list of problems many would-be buyers are keen to walk away from. Since so many buyers get inspections, beat them to the punch by fixing leaks or weak spots.
  8. Replacing the Windows
    Broken windows not only age a house, they can make the whole neighborhood seem less desirable. Fix cosmetic damage and treat windows with coatings that reduce heat loss.
  9. Tidying Up
    Get clutter out of the way — into closets or storage — to make things easier on yourself now and in the future. Buyers can envision their stuff in the space and you'll have less to do at sale time.
  10. Replacing Air Conditioning Filters
    Washing or replacing AC filters helps to keep your ductwork functioning and improves air quality inside the house, which can be ten times worse than the air outside.

DIY projects are fun, exciting, and make a difference in your sale. Try these ten, and your buyers will really be wowed by what you have to offer.

October
13

Bossier City, Louisiana - October 14, 2022 -

Zedrick Tinsley has joined Coldwell Banker Gosslee – the #1 Real Estate firm in Northwest Louisiana.

 

"I'm a people person with a relentless work ethic and I have a passion for helping others!"

 

Zedrick has lived in Bossier City his whole life and loves his community. He even holds back-to-school drives, Easter egg hunts, and health & wellness fairs for them!

 

"I got into real estate so that I can help the people in my community and to make an impact on the world. I also see this as a personal goal – of being really good at the job and succeeding in this career."

 

Zedrick graduated from Airline High School. He has four beautiful girls. He enjoys watching football on Sundays. He also owns 'We Haul Hauling Services' – they can haul anything you need.

 

He looks forward to being your honest, knowledgeable, and helpful agent. You can contact Zedrick at (318)762-5372 or by email at zedtinsley1@gmail.com

 

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

October
12

A Young Family's Guide to Buying a Home

Many young families find themselves ready to buy a home--often for the first time. Buying a house that not only suits your own needs but also those of your child--and possibly future children--requires some planning, but the payoff is well worth it.

The following are some homebuying tips for young families:

Consider the Future
Buy a home that will not only suit your needs now but also in the future. Think about what you'll need in a home when your child is older. Consider the neighborhood and what the schools like. Is there a park nearby? Does the neighborhood have a lot of other kids that could be potential friends for your child?

Also, think about whether you'll want to add to your family in the next few years. How many bedrooms and bathrooms will you need? Could you use a bonus room to help provide a play space?

Budget Carefully
When you have a child, it can be harder to budget. Try to keep a larger cushion between your expenses and what you expect to earn in order to make sure you can handle your mortgage payments and other obligations.

For example, you or your spouse may want to reduce the number of hours you work, take a less demanding job, or quit work entirely. This will reduce your household income. Even if you keep your work schedules the same, you may have daycare costs. And whether you continue to work or change your employment situation, you'll also need to pay for everything from diapers to clothes to activities.

Make Sure Your Home is Safe for Children
A home should be a safe haven for your family, so make sure the house itself and its immediate environment area are child-friendly. Take a walk around the neighborhood to determine whether you feel safe. Do you live on a busy road, or in a quiet subdivision where your child could ride their bike? Is there a pool in your yard, and if so, are you comfortable making sure it's gated and has motion-detectors and also ensuring your child doesn't get near it if they're unsupervised? If you have a yard, is it fenced in, or will you take care of having this done yourself?

In addition, consider the inside of your home. Are there stairs, and if so, are you OK with buying and navigating your way past baby gates? And if you're buying a house that's older, make sure to have it tested for lead paint and asbestos before making a commitment.

Take Your Time
You may want to buy a home before you have your first child, but don't be in a hurry. Take your time and make sure your finances are in good shape and that you'll be able to be approved for a mortgage at a favorable interest rate.

And when you're ready to look for a home, don't settle for a house just because you're in a rush. Take your time and find a home that's right for you and your family. No home will probably include every single thing that you want, but if you're realistic, you should be able to find one that has the vast majority of attributes you're looking for.

Buying a house will help your family have a place of your own to bond and build memories. By planning, taking your time, and knowing what you're looking for, you'll find the home that's right for you.

October
14

How to Remove Dog Odors From Your Home

There are plenty of home improvement projects that will add value to your home if you're selling and add comfort to your home if you're staying put. One of these home improvement projects is clearing out pet odors from your house. Lingering smells from dogs are particularly unpleasant — and worst of all, you may have become so desensitized to them that you can't sense them at all! Regardless if you're planning to sell or planning to entertain guests, here are a few easy home improvement tips for removing dog odors from your home.

  • Regularly Steam Clean Carpets
    Carpet fibers will trap pet odors and require much more than a simple vacuum treatment to remove them. Steam clean your carpets regularly, ensuring they are completely dry before your dog gets back on them.


  • Wash Hard Flooring Weekly
    Although solid flooring won't trap odors as strongly as carpets do, they can still hold onto these smells. Along with vacuuming your floors for pet hair, wash them every week or two with soap and water.


  • Use Furniture Covers
    Even if your dog is not allowed to sit on your bed or couch, your furniture can still hold onto pet odors. One home improvement hack is to purchase washable furniture covers that you can clean periodically to remove the smells and prevent them from getting on your clothing.  


  • Clean Dog Beds Regularly
    No matter how often your dog uses their bed, it only takes one long nap to make it smell. Another home improvement hack is to purchase a dog bed that either has a washable cover or that can be cleaned easily to remove smells and stains.


  • Throw Away Stinky Items
    Unfortunately, some of your items may be too stinky to save even with the most thorough of home improvement cleaning projects. Don't be afraid to throw items like dog beds or blankets away and replace them with fresh items.


  • Purchase Specialty Cleaners
    Not all cleaning products are strong enough to remove pet odors. However, pet-specific cleaners are. Purchase specialty cleaners designed to remove dog odors for maximum effectiveness.


  • Create Natural Cleaners
    Many pet owners don't want to use artificial chemicals in their home, especially on surfaces where their pets lay. Thankfully, you can create safe, homemade cleaners to remove pet odors. For instance, let baking soda sit overnight on the carpet, then vacuum it up or spritz surfaces with a little vodka, which will remove odors as the alcohol evaporates.


  • Locate Problem Areas
    Since pet odors can linger, dogs may gravitate to those spaces and make them smell worse. Locate and treat these problem areas to eliminate the smell.  


  • Purify the Air
    One way to eliminate odors without completing a home improvement project is to purify your home's air. Open windows to air out your home and change your ventilation filters regularly to cut down on unpleasant smells. You should also consider purchasing an air purifier if the smell becomes too much.


  • Keep Your Pup Clean
    Keeping unpleasant odors away involves more than home improvement cleaning projects. You should also make sure your pet is regularly groomed and bathed so that they smell fresh and stay healthy.

Your home doesn't have to smell like you own a dog! Clean your home and four-legged friend consistently to eliminate strong odors from your house.

October
11

Curb Appeal Tips for Fall

First impressions are everything when it comes to selling your house.  When a potential home buyer drives by your home, what will they see?  The outside of your home should serve as a preview for the inside of your home.

"WOW" home buyers from the curb with these tips perfect for the fall. 

  1. Spruce up your lawn
    Brilliant fall foliage can automatically "sell" your home for showings, but that doesn't mean you should forget about raking the leaves and mowing.  Keep those leaves raked and give your lawn the TLC it needs to look great. Patch any brown spouts, and water the lawn as long as possible to keep it green and vibrant.
  2. Plant fall flowers
    Once lawn maintenance is handled, add a splash of color to your landscape by planting fall flowers.  Some of the best fall flowers include vibrant mums, yellow marigolds, sedum, or goldenrod.  You can also place fall flowers in pots near your front door along with a few pumpkins as accents.
  3. Highlight the front door
    Calling attention to your front door is a good selling tactic no matter what season when you're selling your house.  Your front door is like an invitation to your home. Hang a fall wreath for added color and a festive touch.  A fresh coat of paint in a vivid color can make your entrance stand out.
  4. Tidy up the exterior
    During the fall, your home becomes more exposed making its exterior appearance even more important.  Before listing your home for sale, pressure wash your siding, sidewalks, and walkways.  Clean the windows.  Apply a fresh coat of paint as needed.
  5. Clear out the gutters
    Being diligent about home maintenance tells buyers you care about your home's upkeep.  Keeping your gutters and downspouts clear from leaves and debris protects your home from water damage and ups the ante for curb appeal.
  6. Invest in outdoor lighting
    Days get shorter during the fall.  Exterior light adds a touch of elegance and sophistication to your landscape and improves safety. Illuminate your walkways, front door, and important landscaping elements so the home shines no matter when people drive by.
  7. Keep outdoor decorations simple
    A simple fall wreath on the door and seasonal flowers make your home look inviting to potential homebuyers.  However, scarecrows and spooky Halloween decorations may "scare off" homebuyers and distract them from the gorgeous exterior you've worked so hard to otherwise create.
October
5

Shreveport, LA – October 5, 2022 – Erika Wysong has joined Coldwell Banker Gosslee - the #1 Real Estate firm in Northwest Louisiana. Wysong's expansive and diverse background in sales, marketing, public relations, facility management and community involvement serves her well in this new role.

 

Wysong is a 27-year veteran of the hospitality and facility management industry in Northwest Louisiana. Most recently, she was the General Manager of the Shreveport Convention Center and Shreveport Municipal Auditorium (managed by ASM Global). She also previously served as the Director of Sales & Marketing for the Convention Center and Municipal Auditorium. Prior to joining ASM Global, Wysong's professional experience includes various other public relations, community relations, sales and marketing positions at Harrah's Entertainment/Horseshoe Gaming and Harrah's Louisiana Downs, and she has worked tirelessly to promote the Shreveport-Bossier area as a destination during her career. With a Bachelor of Arts in Communications and Public Relations from Louisiana State University in Shreveport, Wysong has strong ties to the market, and has been instrumental in attracting and negotiating with top-tier talent such as Bob Dylan, Tyler Perry's "Madea", Jerry Seinfeld, Cole Swindell, Harry Connick Jr., Luke Combs and Dancing with the Stars to name a few.

 

Erika has served on many local boards and has participated in many community events throughout her years in this area. She lives in Stonewall, La with her husband Walter Scott Wysong IV, along with her two sons Alex and Conner Roberts and their dog Sadie.

 

"I truly believe that my vast business experience will enhance my ability as a new Realtor® in our market. I will provide exemplary service to my clients and always negotiate to get them the best deal possible. I am honored and excited to join such an incredible team such as Coldwell Banker Gosslee," says Wysong.   


You may contact Erika at (318) 207-7203 or email at wysongrealty@gmail.com

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

October
5

Closing Costs That Might Surprise You

Selling your home soon? As you look at your finances and list your home, it's probably tempting to focus on your potential earnings. However, every real estate transaction comes with closing costs for the buyer and the seller.

You probably already know you're responsible for the agents' commissions, but what about the rest of your closing costs?

Before selling your home, make sure you understand all the closing costs you'll be expected to cover. Here are some common costs that may surprise you:  

  1. Pro-Rated Property Taxes
    You're responsible for all property taxes up to the date of the sale. That means if you're selling in July, you need to pay your property tax for the first seven months of the year — not wait until next year to file. Make sure you're aware of the final number because you must provide this to the buyers. This is required because buyers will get a bill next year for the whole year, including the months you still owned the home.

  2. Transfer Taxes and Fees
    Real estate transactions are essentially title transfers from one owner to another. Before your sale is complete, you must pay state and county or city fees in order to process this transfer. You may also need to pay transfer taxes. While most sellers are aware that it costs money to transfer a title, many are surprised by the final percentage, which can fluctuate wildly depending on your location. Make sure you're aware of the local requirement beforehand.

  3. Title Insurance
    If you think buyers are always responsible for buying a title insurance policy, think again. Many states now require sellers to cover the new homeowner's title insurance policy. This coverage is designed to protect the mortgage lender from any future claims, and they won't approve the transaction without it. Find out now if you will be responsible for the buyer's title insurance coverage.

  4. Home Preparations
    Staging a home for market success is about more than just cleaning thoroughly and rearranging the furniture. Your real estate agent will know which services are the most valuable, especially to sellers who want to ask for more money or sell more quickly. For example, renting a storage unit will make it much easier to clear out a third of your clutter and personal possessions, leaving a more neutral and walkable space for potential buyers. Carpet cleaning, painting, lawn care, and professional photography services are also important investments for serious sellers.

Of course, your final closing costs before selling your home will depend on a lot of different factors. From zip code and loan terms to the buyers' willingness to negotiate, these factors will help you figure out just how much to set aside for closing. Understand your responsibilities and prepare yourself for every possible expense.

October
7

Moving In? 9 Ways to Feel More at Home

Buying a house is one of the happiest feelings of your adult life. Although this exciting time will have you grinning from ear to ear, your first few nights in your new place can feel a little weird — almost as if you're staying at a hotel or friend's home. When you're moving in after buying a house, use these ten tips to make it feel more like home right away.

Hang Photos & Mementos
One of the fastest ways to feel at home after buying a house is to immediately hang up photographs, mementos, and other personal items. Seeing your family portraits on the walls or your décor of our favorite sports team hanging in the living room will make the space truly feel like your own.

Unpack Everything
As long as you have boxes sitting around your house, you won't 100 percent feel at home. Unpack as much as you can as fast as you can while making sure to stay organized and orderly, so you don't create a larger mess.

Let Your Children Decorate
If your children are having trouble getting comfortable in this new space, let them call the shots when it comes to setting up the house. Allow them to unpack and decorate their own rooms.

Engage All Five Senses
Feeling at home after buying a house requires engaging all five senses. Turn on your favorite music while you unpack and make sure you have plenty of natural light streaming in. Bake cookies, light candles or bring in fresh flowers to fill the space with pleasant smells. As you unpack, make sure you're wearing comfortable clothing. Don't forget to buy a few of your favorite foods to snack on while you work!

Create Comfortable Spaces
After you've unpacked, make sure you set up specific spaces to cater to your comfort. Purchase new pillows for your couches or soft sheets for your bedroom, where you can snuggle up and get comfortable in your new home.

Clean, Clean, Clean
When buying a house, it should be relatively clean when you move in, but don't underestimate the power of a deep clean. Once you give the home a thorough cleaning from top to bottom, you'll feel more comfortable in the space.

Get Rid of Old Items
Buying a house is a perfect time to say out with the old and in with the new. Take this opportunity to sell, donate, or throw away old items that you didn't love in your previous home, such as clothing, furniture, and décor. 

Decorate for the Holidays
Though it may not be high on your priority list, decorating for the upcoming holiday is a great way to feel more at home after buying a house. Whether it's the winter holidays or even the 4th of July or Valentine's Day, it is a perfect opportunity to create new family traditions. 

Relax!
Take a load off! Buying a house is a huge project, and you deserve some time to enjoy all of your hard work. Settle in, kick back, and relax, knowing that you've finally found your dream home.

After buying a house, you may not feel at home right away. This is a normal feeling that will disappear as you finish unpacking and get back into your normal daily routine.

October
4

8 Reasons Why Real Estate is the Best Investment

Real estate has long been considered a solid investment for many reasons. It is a relatively safe and easy way for people to build wealth beginning with a small amount of money. If you are interested in investing in real estate, I'd be happy to help you find the right properties.

Here are some of the ways investing in property can help you build an investment portfolio.

1. Real estate investments can provide you with a reliable and steady cash flow. Investing in rental properties is relatively easy as expenses are predictable and if your properties remain occupied you know what to expect in terms of profit margin.

2. Real estate appreciates in value. Real estate consistently appreciates, even during economic downturns, making it one of the more reliable investments. On average, real estate in the US appreciates between 3-5% annually.

3. Real estate investments help you retire. If you have been paying on your mortgage throughout your working years, you will experience greater cash flow as you near the end of your mortgage term and the principal is paid off.

4. Real estate sales are taxed at a lower rate than other income. When you sell your property, you are taxed short- or long-term capital gains which are usually lower than income tax brackets.

5. Real estate equity can be leveraged. One of the most attractive reasons for investing in real estate is the ability to leverage your money. When you take out a mortgage to purchase property you reduce the amount of capital required. As you build up equity in the property, you borrow against the equity or refinance the original loan, freeing up cash to buy another property.

6. You have control to improve upon your asset. Unlike an investment in stock, where you have no control over how it performs, you can improve upon your real estate investment. Updating or upgrading systems, finishes, appliances, and landscaping helps build value in your investment.

7. Real estate gains taxes can be deferred. Under the 1031 exchange tax code, you can invest the gains from the sale in one property to the purchase of another property without paying taxes on the gains.

8. Real estate investments are depreciable. This is confusing, but you can legally claim a depreciation expense on an investment property even though the value of your investment property is actually appreciating. The depreciation deduction allows investors to generate a higher cash flow while reporting a lower income for tax purposes.

Ready to start building your real estate portfolio? Call us today!

Bossier City Office 318-747-5411

Shreveport Office 318-861-2461

October
3

Pros and Cons of Selling During the Holidays

If you are thinking about listing your home this fall, you might be concerned about showing it, and possibly having to move, over the holiday season. The holidays are already a busy time of year for most families, so you would be right to wonder if you are making a good decision by marketing your home between Thanksgiving and New Year's Day. Some sellers even take their homes off the market temporarily during the holiday season, but, before you make that choice, consider all the pros and cons to selling during this festive time of year.

Pros:

1. Buyers are serious. Buyers looking for a home during the holiday season are usually serious about getting under contract, or else they'd put it off. Often, they are starting a new job at the beginning of the year, or they want to get their children registered in school by the end of the holiday break, or maybe they want the tax break in the current year. Regardless of their reasons, if they are out looking in November or December, they are serious buyers.

2. There are not as many homes on the market. As a seller, you benefit from having fewer homes on the market to compete with. Less inventory combined with serious buyers means sellers get higher offers.

3. You can take advantage of holiday season curb appeal. While it's recommended that you not over-decorate while showing your home, you can take advantage of the warm and festive vibes that holiday decorations add. Some white twinkle lights, a wreath on the door, and poinsettias lining your porch can add just the right cozy and inviting feel to win over buyers.

4. Cooler weather may invigorate buyers. The only thing worse than house hunting in the dead of summer is moving and unpacking in the dead of summer. On the other hand, the cooler temperatures of the holiday season may fuel buyers' desire to get out on the hunt.

5. You can use a holiday theme to ramp up an open house. Instead of offering the same old plate of cookies and bottled water, let your prospective buyers feel the warmth of your home with a cup of hot chocolate and warm gingerbread in front of the fireplace, or let them wander through your rooms listening to holiday music and enjoying the scent of pine or cinnamon candles.

Cons:

1. You won't have as many lookers. We noted that buyers shopping during the holidays are serious ones, but there will definitely be fewer buyers looking than later in the New Year.

2. Showing your home may be more inconvenient. Again, it's a busy time of year for most families, so do consider the inconvenience of having showings while you are preparing for the holidays or enjoying time off from school or work.

3. Business closings may slow down transactions. Many businesses have shortened hours or holiday closings, which means you or your buyers might have delays with such things as scheduling inspections and appraisals, clearing title or escrow payments, or getting repairs completed.

Ready to sell your home today? Our experiences agents can guide you through the holiday hustle and bustle. Just give us a call!

Bossier City Office 318-747-5411

Shreveport Office 318-861-2461

September
26

BUYER RETREAT AT THE LOWER END
By Brad Gosslee, President, Coldwell Banker Gosslee

I'm a numbers guy. I always have been since my days at Byrd High School. I used to love when my dad Jimmy, who headed our company for many, many years, came home and talked about what was occurring with buyers and sellers – everything from the number of sales to home price increases.

I'm really lucky that my dad is still very visible in our company and we often talk about the real estate markets of today vs. yesterday. I believe our company, and are agents, are extremely well prepared for the market shift we are seeing today, largely because in our company's 60-year history and through the nearly 30-straight years of leading the Northwest Louisiana real estate market, we have lived through quite a few market shifts.

Our agents have the benefit of years of experience and understand that each market brings different buyer and seller behaviors. This knowledge is showing itself in the educated conversations we are having with our clients – and potential clients - today.

We are being proactive and transparent, sharing what is occurring today. Prior to July, our local real estate market remained in an overheated state. But in such a short time, we have seen things shift quickly, especially at the lower end of the market.

Yes, the real estate market story is now all about mortgage rates. Specifically, the rise of a 30-year fixed rate mortgage to near the 6% range that has caused many to abandon their search for a home.

The rise in mortgage rates is hitting especially hard for those looking to purchase homes at the $200,000 price point and below. This makes a lot of sense. Not including fees or other payments tied to a loan, when rates were 3.0% late in 2021 and into 2022, a monthly payment on a $200,000 home was $843. At 6%, this payment jumps to $1,199. Therefore, we can understand that unfortunately there will be some unable to afford that jump.

This shows in the number of area home sales. We are down 16% year-over-year in the $100,000-and-under category and 23% in the next highest bracket.

Last August, there were 542 homes sold in Bossier, Caddo and Desoto Parishes compared to 417 last month. This was dramatically below the five-year August average of 487. Along with July, this marks the first two months since COVID hit that we have seen home sales lag behind a month's 5-year average.

And while we are now down 11% in overall sales for all of 2022, we are still on pace for this to be the second greatest sales year ever in Northwest Louisiana. Our decline is not as severe as what the National Association of Realtors recently shared for the entire nation which is off 19.9% in sales to an annualized rate of 4.8 million.

The below chart for all of 2022 shows, the retreat is not as pronounced at the higher levels. Again, this makes sense. While those with larger incomes may not be happy with higher rates, they seemingly are able to be able to afford a higher monthly payment.

Price Range

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

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

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

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

Total

3,652 (-11%)

1,500 (-8%)

2,026 (-14%)

126 (-2%)

$100,000 & less

504 (-16%)

    121 (-8%)

365 (-19%)

18 (-14%)

$100,000-$200,000

1,496 (-23%)

358 (-25%)

754 (-23%)

34 (-26%)

$200,000-$300,000

1,194 (-6%)

551 (-7%)

539 (-6%)

    27 (+4%)

$300,000-$400,000

468 (+4%)

292 (+5%)

169 (0%)

24 (+20%)

$400,000-$500,000

219 (+7%)

118 (+13%)

88 (-2%)

13 (+18%)

$500,000-
$600,000

88 (+35%)

    35 (+21%)

45 (+29%)

8 (+700%)

$600,000+

93 (+26%)

25 (+32%)

66 (+27%)

2 (100%)

Let's look a bit closer into just August sales to see exactly where the high mortgage rates are having an impact. As you can see, overall there were 30 fewer sales last month compared to a typical August (2018). But the market was off by 75 in the below $200,000 range. Yet in every other price point, we are dramatically higher, a theme that has repeatedly played out since the pandemic began.

It will be interesting to watch how this plays out. We would expect that if there are fewer sales at the lower end of the market, that could create a lack of move-up buyers into the mid-range and above, and the higher price points might see a decline.

Price Range

August 2022 Sales

August 2018 Sales

Total

417

447

$100,000 & less

40

91

$100,000-$200,000

123

147

$200,000-$300,000

123

117

$300,000-$400,000

67

41

$400,000-$500,000

31

16

$500,000+

24

6

There is another thing that usually happens when market corrections like this occur. The number of homes on the market will rise. We are starting to see this happen, although we still have a long way to go to get back to traditional inventory levels. Yes, we have jumped from a record-low 667 available homes back in April to 1,032 today, but our monthly supply is still incredibly low at just 2.2 months overall. It was 5.4 months prior to COVID which was a solidly balanced market where neither buyer nor seller had a negotiating advantage.

Today, we remain in a seller's market – still far from the 5–6-month supply that equals balance in Northwest Louisiana. Remember, our inventory is much lower than what NAR shared about the nation overall where there are currently 1.28 million homes on the market which equates to a 3.2-month supply. It was 2.6 months last August.

Based on the below chart, it appears that while our inventory is rising, the demand – even if it is lower – is still strong enough. Homes that come on the market are still selling quickly. A year ago, homes were selling in an unheard of eight days. Today, we have jumped to 12 days, which is still off-the-charts low.

Price Range

August 2022 Available Homes/Month Supply

August 2018 Available Homes/Month Supply

Total

1,023/2.1

2,247/5.8

$100,000 & less

211/3.3

466/4.9

$100,000-$200,000

259/1.7

726/4.5

$200,000-$300,000

232/1.6

503/5.5

$300,000-$400,000

125/2.1

266/8.9

$400,000-$500,000

71/2.7

122/12.4

$500,000+

126/5.8

166/24.6

Nationally, 81% of homes that sold in August come off the market within 30 days with most doing so in 16 days, one day more than a year ago. Here is a full look at how we compare to the national scene.

 

U.S.

(change over August '21)

Northwest LA

(change over August '21)

Median Price

$389,500/+7.7%

$235,000/+16%

Number of Sales

4.80 million/-19.9%
(annualized)

417/-23%

Inventory

1.28 million/unchanged

1,032/+8%

Month Supply

3.2/2.6

2.2/1.9

Median Days on Market

16/17

12/8

I brought a new set of stats into the blog last month and want to revisit the updated Fannie Mae Home Purchase Sentiment Index (HPSI). Every month since 2010, Fannie Mae showcases what buyers think about buying and sellers about selling.

It's interesting that buyers believe that rising interest rates benefit them as the HPSI shows an uptick in positive responses on the "Good Time to Buy" column. That suggests surveyed potential buyers think that if rates rise and some retreat, that will slow the pace of the market, reduce multiple bids on a home and therefore greater opportunity.

Sellers were not as thrilled with the market changes as August showed the least confidence among potential sellers this year. Obviously, there is disappointment that we have moved from the top of the market:

Date

Good Time to Buy

Good Time to Sell

August

22%

59%

July

17%

67%

June

20%

68%

May

17%

76%

April

19%

72%

March

24%

74%

February

29%

72%

January

25%

69%

While market stats give insight into our local housing market, it is important to remember that people will always buy homes. While COVID allowed many to leave urban centers for more affordable surroundings and others "moved up," we may enter a more traditional market where people move because of life events – engagement, marriage, children, promotions, new jobs, and other moments.

Therefore, I want to provide some suggestions to both buyers and sellers:

  • Sellers: You remain in the negotiating driver's seat. While you may have missed the absolute top of the market, prices remain strong. You likely have seen your home equity increase dramatically over the course of owning your home. Homes that are priced right and in good condition are selling at a strong pace. We are also seeing the list-to-price ratio remain at 98% meaning that they are selling within 2% of the list price. Clearly, sellers and their agents are choosing the correct listing price that buyers can meet. If we see that number drift down quickly, that might indicate an unexpectedly fast shifting market.

Sellers are benefitting in an interesting way in today's market when they enter the buying phase. In many markets around the nation, the inventory levels are increasing at a swifter pace than here, giving buyers more options than they had months ago. Our agents are helping connect many sellers – and potential sellers – to great agents in their next destination so that they can get questions answered.

  • Buyers: I encourage you not to panic because of the rising mortgage rates. Not only will our agents provide you excellent counsel and represent you well, but they can also help answer your mortgage questions and connect you to a great mortgage professional including those at Fairway Mortgage. Remember, there are different ways to finance your home outside of the rising 30-year-fixed rate mortgage. This lending option was great when rates were at historically-low levels and you could lock in for years to come. But in other years, in other markets, buyers turned to other types of loans. And that is what is occurring today.

It's also important to remember that home prices will likely not return to pre-pandemic levels. Instead, the rate of increase will slow from the double-digit price gains we had over the last couple of years to more traditional numbers.

I want to close this month's blog by encouraging ALL who are considering buying or selling a home today to start the process by talking to one of our Coldwell Banker Gosslee agents. While there is a lot of information available today, no national site or news outlet can properly explain what is happening here. Our agents are incredibly skilled at knowing what is happening community-by-community and neighborhood-by-neighborhood.

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

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

September
28

Ring in the New Year in a New Home

Are you looking for a fresh start in 2023? You can ring in the new year in a new home if you start now. The holiday season is the most wonderful time of the year, especially when it comes to selling your home and making a move.

Here are some of the best reasons to consider selling your home during the holiday season:

Lower Inventory
There are typically fewer homes on the market during the holidays, so there's less competition from other sellers to attract buyers. And if you're also looking to buy, you can be assured that sellers are motivated to close by the end of the year.

Timing is Everything
Whether they're moving for a new job or a new school, end-of-year house hunters are more likely to be motivated and committed to making a strong offer.

Faster Closing
With the end of the year approaching, everyone involved in the transaction is eager to wrap up the closing process as soon as possible.

It's an Emotional Time
Anyone who has purchased or sold a property knows that emotions are a big part of the process. Listing your home during the holidays, where rooms look festive and inviting, can appeal to buyers' sentimentality. As the saying goes, "There's no place like home for the holidays."

If you're interested in selling, contact a Coldwell Banker® affiliated agent today, who can expertly market your home so you can get the most out of your sale. Your agent will plan open houses and showings around your schedule, so it doesn't get in the way of your holiday celebrations.

With motivated buyers making strong offers, the market can work in your favor during the holiday season – don't miss your chance to earn a great return on your investment.

September
27

How To Sell Your Home Despite Those Problem Neighbors

You've scrubbed every surface, trimmed the hedges to perfection, and baked some cookies to make your home smell warm and inviting, but there's a problem.

Every time someone comes to view the house you're trying to sell, the first thing they notice is the unkempt mess next door. 

If you're selling your home, you have enough to worry about without adding troublesome neighbors to the mix, but sometimes life just isn't fair. Luckily, there are plenty of ways you can smooth things out with your neighbors and get back to more important things — like selling your home.

  • Be Nice, But Firm
    When bringing a complaint to your neighbor's attention, it's always best to start out by being calm and friendly but also firm. Approach your neighbors as if they have no idea that they're causing a problem, and work from there to find a solution.

    Taking legal action should never be anything but a last resort, partly because it can make your relationship with your neighbors even tenser, but also because courts seldom provide a timely solution. You don't want to be tied up in legal wranglings for months while your house sits on the market.

  • Noise Problems
    Noise complaints are the most common problems that cause tension between neighbors. Again, set out with a friendly demeanor, and assume that your neighbors haven't realized how much of a headache they've been causing. Stop by and have a chat about the issue, and offer to work together to reach a solution.

    Visit again if the noise continues to be a problem. If the noise persists, follow up with a written warning (in as friendly a manner as possible). You might also want to enclose a copy of the local noise ordinance. Threaten legal action only as a last resort if the written warning doesn't work.

  • Upkeep Issues
    When your neighbors don't take care of their property, it doesn't show your house in the best light. In this case, you do have another option if a friendly request to make improvements doesn't generate any results.

    This problem can often be alleviated by offering your own services to clean up the neighbor's property. If you don't have the time to tackle it yourself, offer to have a professional come by to cut the grass, pack up any trash, and generally make your neighbors' property a little easier on the eyes.

  • Full Disclosure
    If there's a problem with your neighbor, you may be wondering what your responsibility is when it comes to disclosing the issue to potential buyers. Obviously, you don't want to scare buyers away, but you most likely have a legal obligation to tell prospective buyers about ongoing disputes with neighbors. When in doubt, always disclose.

Selling your home is hard work, so don't let pesky neighbors hold you back. From noise problems to unruly lawns, patching things up with the folks next door will make the process of selling your home infinitely easier.

September
23

5 Simple Ideas for Fall Home Makeovers

Whether your fall interior design aesthetic is spooky, sophisticated or somewhere in between, it's the ideal moment to implement some fresh ideas to spectacularly enjoy the season. If you're ready to deck out your home for fall, here are five easy, creative ways to infuse fall colors and textures into your décor:

Add Seasonal Wreaths

Not only do fall wreaths add beauty to your front door, they can also add a touch of the season inside your home. Try a playful twist on the traditional fall palette with unique "statement" fall wreaths, which are a must-have this fall. For the crafty, DIY wreaths are a whimsical way to add some vibrancy to your usual autumn décor. Remember, wreaths are versatile! Display a colorful wreath as a table centerpiece or hang it from a pretty ribbon to enjoy it from a different perspective.

Update Pillows

Switch out summer pillows in lightweight fabrics in your family or living rooms for luxe, velvet ones in rich, fall shades. Think burgundy, cinnamon or caramel velvets and warm brown brocades, or classic fall colors in strong hues like burnt orange or exotic chinoiserie red.

Swap Out Rugs

Change area rugs throughout your home, replacing lightweight summer jute rugs with thick, plush rugs in rustic, autumn colors to make rooms look and feel warmer.

Add Flowers

Create a beautiful fall table with distressed and repurposed containers filled with your favorite fall lowers and dark-hued berries. Or make a cornucopia of fall colors by arranging autumn blooms on a chic serving tray. Mimic nature's fall transformation by introducing dried floral arrangements into your home – adding a rustic vibe to match the season. Add some beautiful fall-colored flowers, like mums or cockscombs, to your front porch or patio.

Cozy Up Outdoors

Make the most of fall's cooler evenings by creating a small conversation area around a firepit on the deck or in the backyard. Bring out a few pillows and autumn-inspired throws for the chairs and keep a large basket nearby so you can easily bring the linens indoors if inclement weather threatens.

These are just a few of the many ways to fill your home with autumn beauty without overhauling your holiday décor stash.

September
19

Retiring Soon? How To Decide If You Should Sell Your Home

Selling your home upon retirement is a question millions of people grapple with. While it might seem logical to scale down when you retire, is it really the best option? 

There's no "one size fits all" solution for selling your home. Most people will find there are pros and cons to the choice they have to weigh before making a decision.

  • Pro: Selling Can Give You Retirement Income
    If you've worked hard to build equity in your house, selling it could be exactly the step you need to take to ensure a comfortable retirement. Plus, if you've been living in the home consistently in recent years, you may be eligible to shield much of the sale's proceeds from taxation. This can be the solution for retirees who find themselves without enough savings.

  • Pros: Selling Means Fewer Recurring Costs
    No matter how well-maintained your home is, there'll always be costs involved in keeping it running. Your HVAC system, plumbing, electrical wiring, and much more can all fail without much warning. By selling, you avoid all these inevitable challenges of home ownership. Plus, you may find that you can reduce the overall costs of your utilities.

  • Pros: Selling May Mean More Accessible Accommodations
    With age, many people face security and safety concerns they did not have in their youth. One of the most serious ones is the risk of a serious slip and fall, particularly when your home has many stairs. The cost of remodeling a home to make it more comfortable in retirement may be greater than what you are willing to invest in your retirement income.

  • Pros: Selling May Mean More Flexibility in Retirement
    Your desires in retirement might be very different from what you wanted from your home years or decades ago. You might want to move closer to relatives, for example, get into a community more in keeping with your needs, or even move to another country. In all these situations and more, maintaining your home can make it harder for you to focus on the present.

  • Cons: Renting May Not Be Worth It
    One of the biggest questions about selling is whether it makes financial sense. While your home might be appreciating in value, the cost of rent in your community is probably rising as well. If you know where you want to live after selling, take a close look at the nearby housing and the financial resources it will take for you to live comfortably there.

  • Cons: Sentimental Value Matters
    By the time they reach retirement, many people have spent decades in one home. There's simply no way to put a price on the sentimental value such a property can offer. It may make more sense to keep the home in the family if you consider it an important part of your legacy. This may be a matter to bring up with adult children or others with a close connection to the place.

  • Cons: It May Not Be the Right Time for Selling Your Home
    If your home is appreciating in value — or a minor improvement could substantially raise its sale price — it may be worth it to wait a little longer before making your move. In a "seller's market," a delay of just three months can make a big difference in what you can expect from your sale. If conditions are ideal, it may make sense to wait six months or even another year.

Ultimately, selling your home is a deeply personal decision. It's best made with input from a real estate agent you can rely on.

September
19

(September 19, 2022) Sandi Martin has joined Coldwell Banker Gosslee, the #1 Real Estate firm in Northwest Louisiana.

"I have a great empathy and understanding for people. My heart is with serving people. Everything I have done in my career has been in a field of service. As a Realtor in Texas for many years, my reputation was one of dedication and perseverance and I have maintained that attitude for all the years to follow. My friends and family would tell you that I just refuse to give up. For every problem there is a solution."

"I love being a Realtor because it gives me an opportunity to meet many different people. I believe that being a Realtor is not about selling houses, but rather about helping people achieve their goals, drams and ambitions. Home ownershiop is such an important part of our heritage and being able to assist folks in the buy/sell process is just about the greatest occupation in the world."

Sandi has lived her life helping others. Not only has she helped so many families find home; she has also fostered about 25 children and was part of the Bossier Parish School Board for 10 years with English skills enhancement.

Sandi and her husband live on Lake Bistineau in a house that has been in her husbands family for over 60 years. She is enamored with the natural beauty and easy-going lifestyle of Louisiana. Sanid is a strong supporter of programs to help maintain our natural beauty while working hand in hand with industries that thirve here. She currently serves on the Lake Bistineau Advisory Committee.

She has a large family and her children have attended college everywhere from UT Austin, Texas A&M, La Tech, ULM, and LSU - so "football season is interesting at our house and our sofa looks like a rainbow of school colors"! She is also proud to say that she has a large family and has 10 grandchildren - with the eldest being a sophmore in college and the youngest at 6 months.

You may contact Sandi at (318)205-2051 or email at sandimartin.cbg@gmail.com

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

September
13

5 Tips For Improving Your Home Security

Whether you're new to homeowning or have been a homeowner for a while, improving the security of your home is a good idea. It can provide peace of mind and help you keep your property secure while you're away. These 5 tips will help you know where to start.

  1. Upgrade your locks. The first thing you can do to improve security as a new homeowner is to change the locks. You can take this opportunity to install smart locks which allow for changing entrance codes and locking or unlocking remotely. Many even integrate with security systems to provide video. If you don't want to go with a smart lock, you can probably upgrade the standard lock on your door. Most residential locks have an ANSI rating of 3, which means you have room to upgrade to something more secure.
  2. Invest in a home security system or upgrade your current one. They can vary in price and go from basic to complex, but a security system still makes a big difference. Today's systems protect against break-ins and have plenty of other advantages that will help you improve security and provide you with peace of mind when you're away. Integration with smoke alarms, carbon monoxide detectors, and leak sensors can help avoid dangerous situations as well. You can also add cameras and home automation features to many systems, and a system may even save you money on your homeowner's insurance too.
  3. Eliminate outdoor hiding places. It's obvious you want to keep sheds, garages and other ­buildings on your property locked, but you should also have these areas decluttered and well-lit to deter anyone from snooping around your property. It's also a good idea to eliminate or prune any extra-large landscape bushes.
  4. Add or improve outdoor lighting. If you don't have outdoor lighting, adding some is a good idea. It not only deters intruders but improves outdoor safety as well. There are lots of energy-efficient options available, and you can use motion sensors or solar lighting to decrease energy costs. One of the best places to put motion-sensing lights is above your garage door, especially if you have additional cars that sit outside.
  5. Don't make your home vulnerable during home improvement projects. These projects often involve things like ladders and tools that can provide an easy route to theft. You may also be leaving areas of your home such as windows, doors, or sheds unsecured. Put away tools and ladders when not in use, and lock everything back up when you're done.

Improving your home's security isn't difficult. With these tips, a little work can go a long way to giving you the peace of mind that your home is safe.

September
14

5 Can't Miss Tips When You're Buying A Fixer Upper

Buying a fixer-upper offers you an amazing investment opportunity and provides an endless assortment of projects for those who like to work with their hands.

No matter if you plan to flip the property quickly or live there for some time, you shouldn't cross a fixer-upper off your list when buying a house. Still, we all know that buying a house can be a complex challenge and fixer-uppers add a bit more for you to think about.

So... What do you really need to know when buying a fixer-upper?

Get off to a running start with these five tips:

  1. Start with Location
    Location is one of the most important things to think about in any home purchase. There are two strategies that may be effective here: One is the traditional "central location" that has the potential for a lot of curb appeal. The other is talked about less, but can still be a savvy choice: A more secluded and private property set back from the main road.

  2. Set Up a Sound Renovation Budget
    The perfect location can still be undercut if the needed repairs exceed your budget. The best way to get the real facts about what needs to be done is to get a complete house inspection. Then, get bids for the things you can't do yourself and figure out the cost in time and materials for those you can. When you have a figure that seems accurate, add 10% for the unexpected.

  3. Identify the Biggest Issues First
    Making repairs to the roof will not only add value but remove a major stumbling block that can easily scare potential buyers away. Working on the foundation isn't nearly as glamorous — it may add nothing at all to your future selling price — but you should double-check to see if it is necessary. What else can you look out for? Electrical, heating, and pest issues are important.

  4. Negotiate Hard
    So, you've done the calculations on what renovating your new find might cost you. Now, you can use that information as leverage in negotiating a better price. It's not unreasonable to ask for 20 percent or even 40 percent off the asking price. What other factors play in your favor? A property that's been on the market for a long time — or a good amount of cash to offer upfront.

  5. See if You Qualify for a Renovation Loan
    There are several different types of renovation loans, including the popular 203(k) loan backed by the federal government through the Federal Housing Administration. Many different banks can offer this loan as long as they follow federal rules. Homebuyers can get low-interest rates on a 203(k) and may be able to qualify even with less than perfect credit scores.

Buying a house can be the greatest step you ever take for your peace of mind, financial security, and yes — your enjoyment. The choice to make that house a fixer-upper can be considered a bold one. Still, for some people, there's simply nothing better.

Use our tips, and you'll find it's easier than you ever imagined to make the right decisions for buying a house. In just a matter of months, your very own fixer-upper could become the home of your dreams. If you go in with a clear view and realistic expectations, you can't lose!

September
16

6 Easy DIY Projects To Boost Your Home's Value

Home improvement is the key to enhancing your home's value and increasing its ever-elusive curb appeal.

Of course, you probably already know that, but what you might not know is that upgrading your property doesn't have to be expensive or time-consuming. The right DIY home improvement projects improve your home, add value, and bring buyers to your door.

  1. Improve Your Landscaping
    Why hire a professional landscaper? You can save money by trimming, mulching, planting, and decorating your own home into a garden showplace. With one trip to your local garden shop or hardware store, you can get everything you need to give your landscape the wow factor home buyers love.

    • Design your dream landscape, and then bring it to life.
    • Seed your lawn. Cut back overgrown bushes so buyers can see your home.
    • Add seasonal color with potted and hanging flowers.
    • Enhance your landscape with solar lights and pavers that save energy.

  2. Beautify Your Bathroom
    You spend an awful lot of time in the bathroom. It should be a beautiful sanctuary that increases your home's value, not a shabby refuge. Change your perceptions and add value with these DIY home improvement projects.

    • Install trendy light fixtures.
    • Replace your sink with a designer vanity and a marble bowl.
    • Install a copper or chrome faucet and metal-coordinated accessories.
    • Eliminate unfortunate color choices with white wall paint.

  3. Welcome Light into Your Home
    If you have large windows that allow natural light into your home, lucky you. If you don't have large windows, try these light-enhancing projects.

    • Install brighter light fixtures.
    • Paint your walls white and replace your drapes with neutral-colored blinds.
    • Remove some furniture to open up your space.

  4. Up Your Energy Efficiency
    Green technologies save money, increase home values, and reduce your carbon footprint. When a potential buyer queries your utility company about your average energy bill, they'll like what they hear. You can perform several green upgrades yourself.

    • Replace light bulbs with energy-efficient versions.
    • Replace your stove, refrigerator, and small kitchen appliances with models rated high for energy savings.
    • Install solar-powered exterior lights.
    • Repair window seals to minimize hot/cold air exchange.

  5. Modernize Your Kitchen
    Home buyers love grand spacious kitchens. Even if your kitchen isn't as big as a buyer desires, you can complete these DIY projects to make it irresistibly grand.

    • Redo your kitchen floor with trendy wood-look, gray, wide-plank, or natural wood tiles.
    • Upgrade your stove, refrigerator, and dishwasher with popular stainless steel or black steel models.
    • Install a farmhouse sink and faucet for a country modern workspace.
    • Replace your countertops with granite. You'll need someone to measure and cut the openings and a buddy to help you lift them into place.|

  6. Make Your Home Intelligent
    Guys like gadgets. Okay, ladies like gadgets too. With a little time and effort, you can make your home gadget central. Internet-connected and digitally enhanced appliances and devices give your home an intriguing, high-tech feel.

    • Install a Wi-Fi-connected refrigerator.
    • Replace your stove with an intelligent version that lets you control cooking remotely.
    • Upgrade your home security system with cameras that let you watch your home and interact with visitors wherever you are.
    • Connect your coffeemaker to your alarm clock to brew your coffee when you wake up.

With these fixes, buyers will be flocking to your property and making top offers. And remember, it's not always the costly changes that give the best ROI, so consult your real estate agent about which home improvement changes will be better suited for your home.

September
12

Let's Talk About Paperwork: What You Need To Buy A Home

From securing mortgage pre-approval through your lender to closing on your new home, the process of purchasing a home involves plenty of paperwork. You can make your life much easier by being prepared. Here are some of the key documents that you may need to provide or review throughout the process of purchasing your next home.

  • Proof of Income
    In order to apply for loan pre-approval and determine how much you may be able to borrow, your lender may request a variety of documents to prove your income. These documents may include pay stubs, tax returns, bank statements, and retirement account statements.

  • Proof of Employment
    Your lender wants to know where your down payment will come from and verify that you will be able to pay your mortgage, so they will also request proof of employment. Documents required may include pay stubs, 1099s, and W-2s.

  • Debt Information
    Your lender will also want to be aware of any debts that you already owe, to ensure that you can pay those debts while also covering your mortgage. That could include information on student loans, car loans, and any other debts that you may be carrying.

  • Loan Estimate
    While it's not an indication of your loan status, the loan estimate that your lender is required to send by law provides a broad outline of the terms of your potential loan. It's helpful to have this document available when you're comparing loan terms from multiple lenders.

  • Loan Pre-Approval Letter
    Once you've provided your lender with all of the necessary documents, hopefully the next step will be receiving your pre-approval letter. While it doesn't mean that you've definitely secured the loan, this important piece of paperwork gives you a better idea of your budget.

  • Purchase Agreement
    Once you have found a home you love and negotiated with the seller, the purchase agreement outlines the terms of the agreement. You won't need to create this document, but you'll need to be familiar with it in order to know your responsibilities before closing.

  • Seller's Disclosure
    In some states, the seller is required to disclose any known issues with the home. The seller's disclosure, if required, provides important details on the home's history.

  • Inspection Report
    The home inspection report provides detailed information on the condition of the home. If the inspection reveals problems, you might decide to negotiate with the seller for repairs or for a credit at closing that reflects issues with the condition of the home.

  • Home Appraisal
    The home appraisal, which will typically be arranged by your lender, details the value of the home in the current real estate market. If the appraisal comes in significantly below your offer, you may have to pay the difference in cash or try to negotiate a lower price for the home.

  • Proof of Homeowner's Insurance
    Your lender won't commit to a loan without proof that you have home insurance, so you'll want to have that ready to go in order to secure your loan.

  • Government ID
    Sometimes, the simplest things are also the easiest to forget. You will need a government-issued ID like a driver's license or passport on closing day. Before closing, check that your ID isn't expired and that all of the information is up to date.

The exact documents you will need depend on your location and other factors. If you have any questions about exactly which documents will be needed in your market, your real estate agent should be a great source of advice.

September
9

(September 9, 2022) Cindy Vanhoof has joined Coldwell Banker Gosslee, the #1 Real Estate firm in Northwest Louisiana.

"In my real estate career, I have chosen to partner with Coldwell Banker. Their professionalism, international reputation for excellence, award-winning website, and full-time marketing staff give me the edge in providing you with the kind of professionalism and personal service that I require for my clients." 

Cindy was born in Dallas, Texas, and is the youngest of 14. Growing up in a large family, her parents instilled in every one of them to love unconditionally. Cindy takes this to heart in all that she does. Having 5 brothers that served in the military, she was able to witness the common comradeship, devotion, and endurance they maintained while faced with the most challenging circumstances in their lives. Because of that, she is humbled and proud. So, for those that have served our country, she thanks you!

She is married to Matt Vanhoof, a Journeyman Lineman for IBEW International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers. They have one of life's greatest gifts: one daughter who is married, and two grandchildren. Cindy's hobby is ancestry research. She is amazed on the findings on what makes us resilient in life. 

"I will leverage my strategic consultive approach gained in my 16 years' experience in the following markets: Education, Healthcare, Hospitality, Manufacturing, Building service contractors, and Woman-owned businesses. With my extensive Real Estate training, we can discuss your desires and goals in either listing your property or conducting a propery search - whether it be residential or investment. When you choose me to represent you, you gain someone by your side every step of the way to capture and listen to your needs."

You may contact Cindy at (707)790-3091 or email at cindydiaz.vanhoof@gmail.com

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

September
9

Home Staging Mistakes to Avoid

If you've talked to real estate agents or watched any home selling show, you know that prepping your home for potential buyers means decluttering, depersonalizing and deep cleaning. But these are only the basics, and there is so much more you can do to stage your home. Successful home staging can make a huge impact and help you get top dollar for your home.

The first thing you want to do is to appeal to as many buyers as possible. The next thing is to use these tips ensure you do.

Clutter-Free, Please

From knick-knacks to pet toys, freeing up space is the first rule of staging. Clutter can be very distracting to buyers, and you want them to be drawn to the room, not your personal belongings. It's important that buyers can envision themselves living there. Plus, extra clutter can make a room appear smaller. Baskets are excellent for throwing items in that you need but don't necessarily want out for everyone to see. Consider renting a storage unit if you require more space to store things.

 Picture This
Buyers are online, so making sure your home photographs well is vital to grabbing their interest. A professional photographer will look to windows and fireplaces as a focal point, so stage your furniture around that. It's important not to block windows and remove unnecessary furniture so the photos are all about the room, not your personal things.

Call In the Experts

You can save valuable time by calling an expert. Hiring a professional stager or interior decorator is a smart way to make sure every room in your house shines. They can also save you a great deal of money, time and energy. Since they bring a third-party view to your home, they can focus on helping your property appeal to a wide variety of buyers. And if it sells your home faster and for more, it's totally worth it.

Neglecting Your Outdoor Space

Sellers are often so focused on the inside of their home that they forget to also stage the outside. This includes your front and back yards. Think of a patio or deck space as an extension of your living space and add furniture that best fits it. Maybe a bistro style table and chairs are perfect for dining on a small city balcony, whereas a large outdoor sofa and chair is great for a sociable family household.

Lighting is Key

A bright and airy room can make all the difference, so make sure you think about how each room is lit. You really want to maximize a room's natural light with window treatments that let plenty of light in. One way to boost brightness is to pay attention to curtain placement. Many designers will tell you to hang your curtains two inches from the ceiling as this helps make the windows seem bigger and the room taller, which are two big positives. Think about changing outdated lighting fixtures and brighter bulbs. Updates to ceiling lighting and those in your kitchen and bathrooms can make a world of difference.

Getting your home ready to sell can feel overwhelming at times, but try to remember all your hard work will pay off. Use these tips to make sure your home is ready to wow buyers!

September
8

Home Renovations that Offer the Best ROI for Resale

Looking to make some upgrades and wondering which will have the biggest pay off? If you guessed kitchen and bathrooms, you're spot on. Another good one is landscaping. Whether they're big or small, a few upgrades can pay big dividends when it's time to sell your home. Follow these tips to prioritize and put more money in your pocket when you're ready to sell.

Before you do anything, make sure you consider the value of your house, the neighborhood, the housing market where you live and how soon you will sell after you make the improvements. If you live in a neighborhood where properties are selling for $300,000, doing a $150,000 renovation may not add as much to your property value as you might think.

Kitchens and Baths
One thing to keep in mind is that just because a remodel is expensive doesn't necessarily mean it will give you the best return on investment. Even minor updates can yield a big return. Consider painting, refinishing surfaces and upgrading appliances, which can lead to a big pay out.

Sticking to a budget is always important, and keep in mind that an average, medium-sized kitchen remodel can cost between $20,000 – $50,000, while the average bathroom remodel is $10,000. In most cases, homeowners see a return of a 100% or more with a kitchen or bath remodel, so it's definitely well worth the investment. Plus, you get to live in a beautiful new space.

A Finished Basement
If finishing your basement is something you've been putting off, now might be the perfect time. According to cost versus value surveys conducted annually by Remodeling magazine, "The average return on investment for a basement project is around 75 cents on the dollar. Besides the financial gains, refinishing a basement will add new functionality to your home: more bedrooms, more efficient storage and more space for entertaining." Seems like a sure-fire win, win.

Add Curb Appeal
When buyers see that the outside of the property is taken care of, they'll be more excited to see the inside. Remember, first impressions make lasting impressions. According to Anji, "Curb appeal can increase your home value by 7%. Buyers are increasingly prioritizing outdoor living spaces and an attractive lawn has the biggest ROI at 256%. Trees can add $1,000 to $10,000 to your home value and simple landscape maintenance tasks usually pay for themselves."

Whether you're in the market to sell your home or just want to make some budget-friendly renovations that you and your family can enjoy, making the right upgrades can help enhance your quality of life and add a few more dollars to your bank account down the road.

September
7

(September 7, 2022) Melanie Foster has joined Coldwell Banker Gosslee, the #1 Real Estate firm in Northwest Louisiana. 

Melanie loves meeting new people and being able to help out where she can. She is excited for her new career in real estate and all of the people that she will get to help along the way. 

Melanie earned her Bachelors Degree in Business Administration from the University of New Orleans. For the last 28 years, she has had the opportunity to spend her time in management in the retail industry. 

She is a mom of 2 boys and a grandmother to a precious little boy. She is also the best bog mom around! She has been happily married to her husband for 16 years and they reside in Haughton. 

If you are looking for an agent to help you buy or sell, give her a call! You may contact Melanie at (505)628-0913 or sur5vrstrong@yahoo.com

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

September
6

Mortgage 101: Home Loan Basics

Buying a house is one of the most significant financial commitments most people make in a lifetime. Most home buyers don't make their purchase with one lump sum of money. A mortgage makes it possible to pay for a home over time. If you're buying a house for the first time, it's essential to understand how mortgages work, and what to expect from your loan. Fortunately, there's plenty of help available, starting with our guide to home loan basics.

  • How Does a Mortgage Work, and Why Is It Necessary?
    A mortgage is a loan used to purchase a home, and in many ways, it's similar to loans for a smaller purchase. The difference – aside from term and overall cost – is that a mortgage is specifically for buying a home, and it's customizable. You borrow an agreed amount, pay a set or adjustable interest rate to the lender, and have a predetermined time to pay back the loan.
  • Key Steps Toward Qualifying for a Mortgage
    There are a wide variety of mortgage types available when buying a house with varying qualification standards. In addition to conventional mortgages, the three types of government-backed mortgages are VA loans, FHA loans, and USDA loans. To qualify, you'll need to meet a minimum credit score requirement, verify your income with documentation, and deal with any errors/issues on your credit report. Getting pre-approved for a mortgage gives you an idea of your buying power, and shows sellers you're serious about buying a house.
  • How Your Down Payment Impacts Your Loan
    The size of your down payment will impact the size of your monthly mortgage payment, and with conventional mortgages may also influence your interest rate. Making a larger down payment means you borrow less money, which may let you pay the loan off faster.
  • Interest Rates and Your Mortgage
    Every mortgage type has a set, base interest rate. Your rate will also be influenced by how much you choose to pay in closing costs – paying more closing costs means a lower rate while opting to pay less can increase your rate.
  • Calculating Monthly Mortgage Payments
    Your monthly mortgage payment depends on three key factors: how much you borrowed, how much interest you're paying, and how long you have to pay back the loan. Plug those three data points into a mortgage calculator, and you can calculate your monthly payments. Remember that if you opt for an adjustable-rate mortgage, your payments are subject to change over time.
  • Speeding Up the Process of Paying Off Your Mortgage
    If you wish to pay off your mortgage ahead of schedule, there are two main options. Either you can refinance, allowing you to pay off the loan more quickly, or you can pay more than required each month. If you want to pay off your loan early, work with your lender to find the path that's best for you.

Working with a lender you know and trust makes life much easier. If you're not sure where to start, your real estate agent can help you find a lender. By consulting trusted sources, doing your research, and asking key questions, you can navigate the process of securing a mortgage with confidence.

September
2

5 Golden Rules For Staging Your Home

Selling your home can be an exciting adventure full of surprises and pitfalls. Taking the time to properly stage it can make selling your home less of a chore and allow you to get the best price possible. Follow these five tips from the pros to help you prepare your home and set the stage for a successful sale.

  1. Start Outside
    The first impression a buyer has of your home can make or break a sale. To make the buyer eager to step inside your home and see more, make sure the outside of your home looks fabulous. It doesn't cost a lot to cut the grass, pull weeds, prune the hedges and plant some flowers. Put away all bikes, toys, and trash cans. If you can, pull your cars out of the driveway, so there's a clear view of your home and property. A freshly painted door and prominent house number can also make your home more appealing.

  2. Clean and Get Rid of Clutter
    The most important thing you can do when getting ready to sell your home is to get rid of clutter. Removing your stuff and making your home less personal makes it easier for buyers to imagine themselves living in your space.

    Take a good look at each room and ask yourself what you really need to keep. Remove personal items like family photos, knickknacks, awards, and collectibles from tables, windowsills, shelves, and other surfaces. In the kitchen, put away towels, refrigerator magnets, sponges, paper towels, and dish soap, and remove small appliances from counters. It's also a good idea to remove pet beds, toys, and bowls.

    In the bathroom, remove all toiletries, hairdryers, and trash cans, open the shower curtain, and close the toilet lid. Keep closets and cabinets tidy throughout the house. Messy, packed-full closets are unappealing and will make the buyer think they are smaller than they are.

    Too much furniture can also contribute to a cluttered look. Professional stagers often remove half the owner's furnishings and put them in storage. Consider boxing up things like books and pictures and putting them in storage as well.

    Once you have removed the clutter, give your home a deep cleaning. Hiring a cleaning crew to come once every two weeks while selling your home will keep it looking fresh and cut down on stress. If you're doing the cleaning, don't forget windows, behind the toilet, grout, and under sinks. Move furniture and vacuum behind and under it.

  3. Make Repairs
    Repair squeaky doors, hinges, broken fixtures, and fittings. Replacing light fixtures, light switches, outlets, and door & cabinet hardware is an affordable way to give your home a more modern look. If you don't have time to refinish, inexpensive area rugs can also disguise the look of old hardwood floors.

  4. Keep it Neutral
    Use a fresh, neutral paint color like beige or taupe for living spaces and neutral green or blue hues for bathrooms. Stay away from bold wall colors, which are often a turnoff to buyers. If you want to make a room pop, add colorful accents with pillows and simple vases of flowers. Keep wall art and paintings neutral and simple.

  5. Accentuate Architecture
    Arrange furnishings to highlight ceilings, windows, views, fireplaces, and other architectural features. Put tall objects such as large bookshelves against walls, and hang art a bit lower to make ceilings look higher. Experiment with different ways to arrange your furniture; create cozy seating areas instead of lining couches and chairs along the walls. Open up blinds and draperies to make sure there's sufficient natural light throughout your home.

Staging doesn't have to be scary. After these fixes, you'll be excited to show people how great your property really is.

August
31

5 Reasons to Buy Instead of Rent

While renting a home is a rite of passage for most people, there comes a time when most of us get tired of stroking a check to the landlord every month. If you've started thinking about joining the 65 percent of Americans who own their own homes, you'll be glad to know that now is a great time to do it! 

Not sure if you're ready to take the leap into homeownership? Check out these five huge advantages of buying a house over renting.  

It's a Great Long-Term Investment
It's true that buying a home adds some expenses you won't have as a renter. You'll have to pay for things like closing costs on the mortgage, taxes, insurance, and maintenance expenses. However, when you're paying down your own mortgage instead of paying monthly rent, you're investing in your future.  Buying a house allows you to build equity that you can later pull out if you need it. Owning a home also gives you an asset that you can sell when you get older or pass onto your loved ones. 

You May Qualify for Tax Benefits
Although tax laws are complicated, many homeowners are able to take deductions for the mortgage interest they pay. This gives those who buy a home a clear advantage over those who continue to rent.

Buying a House Give You More Control
When you sign a rental lease, there are usually a ton of stipulations you'll need to follow. You may not get to decide what color to paint the living room or whether you'll add a dog to your family. Want to put a pool in the backyard or add an extra bathroom? If you rent, you're out of luck. Buying your own home gives you the power to make all of these decisions and more. You can control the landscaping and all of your home's interior and exterior features. You also get to decide who stays in your home with you, and for how long. 

Homeownership Gives You More Security
As long as you make your mortgage and property tax payments on time, no one can throw you out of a home you own. As a renter, however, there's always a chance that the property owner will decide to sell the property, and you'll have to move. When this happens, it's almost never at a time that's convenient for you.

There's also the chance that your landlord will eventually raise your rent as the cost of living continues to rise. Homeowners who have locked in a fixed mortgage payment are creating extra stability in their lives. While your homeowner's insurance, utility expenses, and property taxes will likely rise, you'll at least have the peace of mind in knowing that your mortgage payment will never go up. Even better, once you pay off the mortgage, you can eliminate that expense from your budget. As a renter, you'll never have that opportunity. 

You'll Feel a Huge Sense of Accomplishment
For many people, buying a house is one of the biggest accomplishments of their lifetime. You'll be able to feel proud of what you've done, and know that you've done what it takes to make your dream of owning a home a reality! 

August
30

Have You Outgrown Your Current Home?

Has selling your home crossed your mind? For many homeowners, the thought of selling their house is quite conflicting. On one hand, it's the space where your family and friends gather to celebrate the moments of life, both little and large. On the other, sometimes relocating to a new space is the change you need to accommodate your current finances and lifestyle. One way that you can identify if it's time for you to move is when you notice that you've outgrown your current home.

Have you outgrown your current home? Here are ten signs it is the perfect opportunity to sell your home.

  1. Your children are growing up.
    As your children grow, so will their needs. Sharing bedrooms and bathrooms may not be practical anymore, especially if you have boys and girls of different ages.
  2. Aging adults are moving in.
    The birth of a new child isn't the only way your family can grow. If you or your partner have aging adults that need to move into your home, you'll need more space. Often, a spare bedroom isn't enough to accommodate their needs. Parents and grandparents may need a separate living space in addition to their own bathroom, bedroom, and even kitchen.
  3. There is no dedicated space to work.
    Are your kitchen counters covered with paperwork? Do your children struggle to do their homework at the dining room table as you're trying to set places for dinner? If there is no dedicated office or space in bedrooms for your family to work, you may need a larger home.
  4. Your family needs room for playtime, hobbies, and activities.
    Additional space is required for more than just paperwork and homework. If there's no room for children to play with their toys or adults to engage in their hobbies, the house can feel quite cramped. This is especially problematic when you realize that dedicated spaces like a garage, basement, or attic can't adequately double as activity spaces and storage spaces.
  5. Storage is increasingly limited.
    Are your possessions neatly tucked away or are they always in the way? If you're having trouble finding adequate storage space for your family's items, it will make your home feel much smaller.
  6. You need more — or less — outdoor space.
    While it's common for many families to desire a larger yard space for outdoor entertaining, there are just as many homeowners that have outgrown their lawns. Whether you're in need of more space or less lawn care, a new home may accommodate your outdoor needs.
  7. There are major life changes occurring in your family.
    Selling your home is sometimes the best option when you find yourself entering into a major life transition such as a change in finances or occupation.
  8. You're outgrowing your neighborhood or neighbors.
    Even though you love your home, you may feel the need to change your surroundings. If you desire a neighborhood or neighbors that align with your lifestyle, selling your home is an option.
  9. You've been passively looking at other homes.
    Do you catch yourself browsing listings even though you're not "actively" looking? That's a firm indicator that you're ready for something new.
  10. You're not in love with your home anymore.
    Simply put — if it's not the home of your dreams anymore, you should consider selling.

Selling your home is a major decision that shouldn't be made lightly. Consider these points, have an open discussion with your family, and reach out to a real estate agent if you believe now is the right time to sell.

August
29

It's always hard to predict the future, especially with the housing market. But one thing is for sure – real estate remains a sound investment. If you're looking for your dream home, here are some tips to help set you up for success and guide you through this buying season.

Assess Your Financial Health
Before you fall in love with your dream home, make sure you're prepared to purchase it. Take a look at your bank accounts along with your monthly spending, so you have a clear and realistic picture of your finances. This will also help you figure out how much you can afford to put toward a down payment. It's also a good time to check your credit score. Most importantly, you'll want to meet with a loan officer to get pre-approved, so sellers take you seriously and you're in a better position to make a strong offer.

Tip: A pre-approval gives you more negotiating power because it tells the seller and real estate agent that your funding is in place and ready to go.

Stay Flexible
Whether it's time or money, be prepared to give a little more. Say for instance, there's competition on a house and you've been outbid, but you have the flexibility to give the seller the extra time they need to close and move out. That can make a huge difference and could even put you ahead of the competition. Showing the seller that you're willing to go the extra mile to purchase their home could earn your offer a second glance, especially if it helps make their life easier.

Tip: Try to refrain from asking for favors. This is not the time to ask the seller to give you the refrigerator or washer and dryer, part with playset or paint the front door.

You Found the One
You found a home that meets all or most of your wish list, it's within your price range and you've stalked the neighborhood to make sure it's right for you. Now's the time to make an offer. Keep in mind that your opening offer should be based on two things: what you can afford and what you really believe the property is worth. Sure, there's always a possibility that there will be other offers, regardless of the time of year and the market, but try not to let that influence you to pay more than you should.

Tip: Offer more earnest money. While it's not always required, it could help you stand out in this competitive housing market. Sellers like buyers that make these good faith deposits because they want assurance that the sale won't fall through.

Buying a new home is an exciting time and can also be a stressful time, but if you're prepared and keep these tips in mind, you should find it a much smoother process. And finally getting the keys to your new home makes it all worth it!

 

August
22

Shifting Seasons and Shifting Markets

Every year at this time my juices really get flowing. While I love the summer, this is my favorite time of the year. It's football season! LSU and the SEC, LA Tech and our other nearby schools, and, of course, our high school football season is here. Go Byrd!

Speaking of area football, how about the splash that our own Decoldest Crawford made promoting SOS Heating and Cooling in Lincoln, Nebraska! If you are an athlete with "house," "home," "bedroom," etc., in your name, give me a call and we can talk!

As our season turns to fall, we are seeing our real estate market also showing signs of turning. I want to start this month's blog by looking at the current supply vs. demand equation and what it means:

  • Demand
    • There were 433 homes sold in Northwest Louisiana in July. This was way below the 521 sold in June and the 598 sold last July. We also came in below the five-year July average of 505.
    • This was the first month since the pandemic began that we had come in a month compared to that same month the year before. This had to happen because the pace of the past two years was unsustainable.
    • The slowdown occurred for one simple reason: higher mortgage rates. When the pandemic began, mortgage rates reached all-times lows. But they have crept up. For a variety of economic reasons, they recently rose to the 6% range. But, over the last couple of weeks, we are seeing them come down and that is creating increased demand again as we near September.
    • Looking at the entirety of 2022 so far, there have been 3,231 homes sold in Northwest Louisiana, which is down 9% from this time in 2021 – the best year ever! But we are still tracking to have the second strongest sales year in history!
    • This chart shows exactly what is occurring at our different price points in Caddo, Bossier and Desoto Parishes. You will notice the biggest reasons for our sales decline is because of the lack of activity in the $200,000-and-less range. There were 59 sales of homes under $100,000 last month and 135 priced between $100,000-$200,000. A year ago, at this time, there were 320 homes sold combined in these price ranges:

Price Range

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

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

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

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

Total

3,231 (-9%)

1,300 (-7%)

1,830 (-11%)

101 (-6%)

$100,000 & less

464 (-14%)

    114 (-3%)

338 (-16%)

12 (-33%)

$100,000-$200,000

1,022 (-21%)

317 (-23%)

678 (-19%)

27 (-31%)

$200,000-$300,000

983 (-4%)

469 (-9%)

491 (-1%)

    23 (+15%)

$300,000-$400,000

418 (+4%)

250 (+6%)

149 (-1%)

19 (+19%)

$400,000-$500,000

188 (+5%)

100 (+10%)

78 (+1%)

10 (-9%)

$500,000-
$600,000

74 (+30%)

    28 (+17%)

38 (+19%)

8 (+700%)

$600,000+

82 (+28%)

22 (+47%)

58 (+23%)

2 (0%)

 

  • Supply
    • Northwest Louisiana entered August with 1,010 homes on the market. This was up 8% over last July. That is great news.
    • This equates to a 2.2%-month supply. Although way better than the 1.6 months we had in May, this is still really low. In fact, two years ago, it was 3.4 months and before COVID it was 5.4.
    • But it is still not enough supply and therefore homes continue to sell at an astonishingly fast pace. Our median "days on market" is just 9 days. This is the same number as a year ago. We are 5 days faster than the national average.
    • Take a look at this chart which breaks out our supply at the various price points compared to 5 years ago. The lower the month-supply, the greater a seller's market. Remember a 5/6-month supply is considered balanced.:

Price Range

July 2022 Available Homes/Month Supply

May 2018 Available Homes/Month Supply

Total

1,010/2.1

2,3,04/5.8

$100,000 & less

200/3.0

467/4.8

$100,000-$200,000

254/1.6

722/4.4

$200,000-$300,000

232/1.6

529/5.7

$300,000-$400,000

125/2.1

283/9.7

$400,000-$500,000

66/2.5

133/14.5

$500,000+

133/6.3

170/24.9

 

  • Prices
    • We've established that there is still buyer demand – although not at the record pace we once had.
    • We've established that our supply is still not enough to meet demand and provide enough choice for potential buyers.
    • Therefore, it is no surprise that our median price (middle of all July sold homes) was $220,000, an increase of 16% over last July.
    • Our region is just like 80% of the U.S. where we have seen double-digit price appreciation compared to last year.

Let's look at how our region compares to the U.S. utilizing the National Association of Realtors most recent Existing Home Sales Report. We are up in prices, off a bit in sales and selling at a faster pace with less inventory:

 

U.S.

(change over July '21)

Northwest LA

(change over July '21)

Median Price

$403,800/+10.8%

$220,000/+16%

Number of Sales

4.81 million/-20.2%
(annualized)

433/-28%

Inventory

1.31 million/unchanged

1,010/+8%

Month Supply

3.3/2.6

2.1/1.8

Median Days on Market

14/17

9/9

You may have noticed I bolded the price appreciation of 16%. I did this for a reason. While we have enjoyed record appreciation over the last several years, double-digit increases are not the norm. In fact, I used to call Caddo, Bossier and Desoto Parishes "Steady Eddy." We would creep along with small annual gains. We were the turtle to the hare of the East and West coasts which would see dramatic gains and losses.

Both buyers and sellers should understand this. A 3-5% price increase every year here has been the historical norm. That would mean today's $300,000 home would likely sell between $309,000-$315,000 a year from now.

Buyers have to understand that while we don't have a crystal ball, history tells us that the $300,000 home will not come down in price. Instead, it will increase in price by a bit.

This message is important for sellers too. We have likely passed "the top of the market" and seem to be returning to more normal times. Therefore, if you have been thinking of selling, you are still in a good position right now. You have likely made a lot in equity in your home. And the supply vs. demand imbalance remains in your favor. Also, for those looking to leave the region, the supply of homes in your next market is likely increasing. You may have more choices. Our Coldwell Banker Gosslee agents can help you connect with a great agent in that next community so you can get a handle on what's happening there.

What I have just been talking about is a fact-based, in-the-moment discussion. But home buying and selling a home is also an emotional decision.

That's why I would like to spend a few moments talking about Fannie Mae's Home Purchase Sentiment Index (HPSI). Every month since 2011, Fannie Mae showcases what buyers think about buying and sellers about selling.

Currently both buyers and sellers are at their most pessimistic points of the year. While in February, 29% felt it was a good time to buy a home, that number has dropped to 17%. That is clearly because of higher home prices coupled with higher mortgage rates. On the sales side, back in May 76% felt it was a good time to sell a home. Today it's just 67%. Obviously rising rates pulling some buyers out of the market is the rationale.

Here is what Fannie Mae has found for this year so:

Date

Good Time to Buy

Good Time to Sell

July

17%

67%

June

20%

68%

May

17%

76%

April

19%

72%

March

24%

74%

February

29%

72%

January

25%

69%

But we must put this in perspective. I went back and reviewed the HPSI for each July back through 2011. Looking at the below chart, it appears that unless home prices are at rock bottom, which they were as we came out of the Great Recession, buyers never really think it's a great time to buy. Especially today.

On the seller side, back in 2011 and 2012 when prices were at their historic lows, sellers knew it and therefore only 9% and 14%, respectively, said it was not a good time to sell. But as we came out of the recession, confidence returned and hit a peak last year – at the height of the pandemic-fueled boom – as 75% felt it was a good time to sell a home.

July

Good Time to Buy

Good Time to Sell

2021

28%

75%

2020

53%

45%

2019

26%

44%

2018

24%

41%

2017

23%

28%

2016

33%

20%

2015

61%

45%

2014

67%

43%

2013

74%

40%

2012

73%

16%

2011

69%

9%

If you are considering buying or selling a home – or even had a thought about doing so – I strongly encourage you to reach out to one of agents. The only way to learn is to ask questions. Your situation is going to be different from the next persons. Don't be afraid to ask.

Buying and selling a home is a major financial and emotional decision. Knowledge is powerful. We want to help!

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

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

Geaux Tigers!

August
22

Bigger Isn't Always Better

Do you love your house, but not necessarily the chores or costs that come with it? Are you living comfortably, but you'd like the luxury of a bigger budget or a different lifestyle? Selling your home and moving into a smaller space might be exactly what you need. Unlike the board game that goes by the same name, real life isn't always about the size of your house. In fact, sometimes downsizing is the smartest way to upgrade your life. Instead of measuring your success in square footage, consider these advantages of downsizing your real estate investment.

Downsizing Means Decluttering

Clutter can accumulate in any sized space. However, if you've lived in a big house for years, it's easy to misjudge how much unused — or downright useless — stuff is filling your home. Downsizing gives you a great excuse to declutter and get rid of everything you don't need, use, or like. Do you have unworn clothes hanging at the back of your closet? Time to donate them. How about that extra furniture filling your crawl space? Time to get rid of that too. Even old documents, photos, albums, and videos can be digitized to downsize your storage needs and decrease the risk of damage.

Of course, some of your unused belongings may still have value, so consider selling furniture, appliances, books, jewelry, clothes, and anything else that is still functional. You'll have extra money for your next chapter, but the real benefit is psychological. Stowing things away "for later" creates a pattern of excess and clutter, and getting rid of them is a decision to live in the moment. It also helps you focus on the most significant parts of your life and surround yourself with items that truly make you happy or serve specific purposes in your life.

Smaller Spaces Are Cheaper to Clean & Power

When you downsize, it's not just your mortgage payments that get smaller. While this isn't always the case, bigger houses usually cost more to heat, cool, power, and clean. If your utility bills skyrocket every summer and winter, you could be wasting a lot of money controlling the temperature of rooms you don't even use. Extra windows and doors make it even easier for leaks to occur and energy bills to rise higher. Of course, more square footage also means more floors, walls, and windows to clean. All those surfaces require time and money to maintain, even if you outsource the actual chore.

You may be able to afford your cleaning and cooling costs, but why not make room in your budget for more enjoyable expenses? If you'd love to have smaller energy bills and fewer cleaning requirements, consider selling your home and finding a space with fewer rooms. High ceilings, multiple stories, and particularly sunny or dark spots are all energy-intensive, and if you upgrade to a newer space with more efficient windows and electrical requirements, that's even better.

Buying a home you love was a wise investment, but letting go might be just as wise. It's hard to overestimate the value of financial and physical freedom, especially if you're used to certain responsibilities and expenses. But without a big house to maintain or a big mortgage bill to pay, you'll have more time and money to focus on places, people, and hobbies that truly make you happy. Whether you're experiencing big life changes or trying to jump-start a change at long last, consider selling your home and buying a smaller one.

August
26

Why Some Pending Home Sales Fall Through

The vast majority of home sales are successful transactions that make it to the final closing stage. However, now and then a pending sale for a home will fail to make it to the final closing stage. Failure to close out on buying a home can be the result of a wide variety of reasons, whether it is buyer's remorse or related to financial issues. Here are the top five reasons why pending home sales never make it to the final closing stage. 

  1. Mortgage Loan Rejection
    Buyers with plenty of income and a strong credit score are not always guaranteed to qualify for a mortgage loan. Losing a job at an unexpected time or going through a divorce can cause the application for a mortgage loan to be rejected. Failure to provide enough money for the closing costs can also result in a mortgage loan denial.
  2. Low Appraisals
    Not all home loan application rejections result from the failure to meet strict standards. A lower than expected appraisal can make it difficult for a buyer to purchase a home, as it will force the buyer to make up the difference or renegotiate for a lower price with the seller. If the seller is unwilling to lower the price, and the buyer doesn't have the extra money to make up the difference, the pending sale will fail to reach the closing stage.
  3. Home Inspections
    Most homes look similar to an untrained professional, but a home inspector can pinpoint troubling details that may cause a buyer to hesitate on purchasing a home. Any cracks in the wall or a leaky roof can cause hesitation and make a buyer reconsider the purchase of a home. A buyer can ask for additional compensation for these issues, but a seller may refuse to negotiate. Ultimately, this will result in the fail of a pending sale before it can reach the final closing stage.
  4. Buyer's Remorse
    A standard contract usually allows a buyer two to three weeks to do additional inspections and take care of other details before the deal is finalized. A buyer can cancel the agreement at any time during this period, and some first-time buyers get cold feet and do not feel that they can afford the long-term commitment of purchasing a new home. However, an experienced real estate agent can provide the necessary guidance and help first-time buyers avoid feeling overwhelmed throughout the process.
  5. Buyer Fails to Sell Home
    Many home contracts are dependent upon a buyer selling their home within a specific time period, such as 30 or 60 days. Depending on the area, some homes are much more difficult to put on the market. Failure to sell a home during this time period will result in the cancellation of a contract, as the vast majority of homeowners are unable to pay for two mortgages at the same time.

Purchasing a home is a lengthy process that is dependent on the completion of various steps throughout the home buying stage. Understanding these common roadblocks to pending sales can help clients overcome any obstacles and purchase a home without any complications.

August
24

Buying a Home? Minimize the Time & Maximize the Results

Make the Most of Your Home-Buying Efforts

When you're ready to buy a home, you don't want the process to drag on indefinitely. Of course, you can't necessarily avoid traditional home-buying steps such as showings, negotiation, home inspection, mortgage approval, and closing. But if your mission is to minimize the time and maximize the results, you'll have to plan and organize every step.


Prepare Financially


Long before you decide to start looking for a home, you must get your financial life in order. It eases the mortgage approval process.

  • Clean up your credit - Access your three credit reports at annualcreditreport.com. Straighten out any errors or problems.
  • Get out of debt - Mortgage companies will see you as more creditworthy.
  • Build a cash cushion - A healthy bank account will give your credit image a boost. You'll have the money you need for closing and moving expenses. You'll be ahead when taxes, utility bills, home maintenance, and other homeownership costs start rolling in.
  • Get Pre-Approved - Your mortgage company will review your credit-worthiness and issue a letter explaining how much they're willing to finance. Homeowners will be more willing to negotiate when you're pre-approved.
  • Determine your home-buying budget - Run the numbers through the Fannie Mae "Know Your Options" app or another online mortgage calculator.
  • Investigate alternative loan sources - Check out FHA, VA, USDA, and other loan programs. Some have lower down payments and less stringent work history and credit requirements,


Figure Out What You Want


Assuming you've made peace with the idea of giving up your weekends to perform homeownership chores, the next step is figuring out what kind of home you want.

  • What neighborhood do you prefer?
  • What's important as far as home style, bedrooms, features, and amenities?
  • What do you not want?
  • How much can you afford to pay for heating, cooling, and home maintenance?


Connect with a REALTOR®


A REALTOR® can move your homeownership dream forward by first telling you if what you want exists in your neighborhood of choice.

To find the right professional, ask friends and family for referrals. Visit nearby open houses and meet the listing agent.  Before you call for an appointment, consider the traits you require.

  • Knows the real estate market in the area where you want to live
  • Has a consistent sales history
  • Is willing to show you only homes that meet your requirements
  • Has negotiation skills
  • Has time to work with you


Don't Waste Your Time


If you want to maximize your results, you must minimize time wasters. Don't spend too much time evaluating a home with problems you know you won't want to deal with. Put it on your "No" list and move on. Also:

  • Never waste time looking at homes you don't like.
  • Look for any conditions you consider unacceptable.
  • Take photos so you don't forget the problems.


And when you find a home you love, check existing records before concluding a deal.

  • Ask for a copy of any seller's inspection reports.
  • Check county records for tax issues or liens.
  • Ask for any current land surveys or appraisals.


The best way to maximize your home-buying effort is to connect early on with a real estate professional. A real estate professional can negotiate a purchase that includes a quick closing so you can move in as quickly as possible.

August
23

Is Buying an Energy-Efficient Home a Top Priority?

As you compare different features when looking for the perfect property, you have a lot to consider:  Is energy efficiency on your list?

From price and location to square footage and architectural style, your new home's features will affect your everyday life, so it's important to make the right decision for you. Some factors will affect your comfort, others will affect your home's function, and others will afect your budget. However, one plays a bug role in all three: your home's energy efficiency.

Here are some of the most valuable reasons to prioritize homes with energy-efficient features.

  1. Efficient HVAC Systems Could Cut Future Energy Bills in Half
    Programmable thermostats make it much easier to develop efficient heating and cooling habits, but it all comes down to your HVAC system. Inefficient systems can double a home's energy use, because they have to work overtime to stabilize indoor temperatures. Because older units are less efficient and may need to be replaced in the near future, it's important to know the age and maintenance history of every HVAC appliance. However, only an energy audit can reveal the efficiency of the whole system. If you're in the process of buying a house, make sure your inspection also includes an energy audit from a certified home energy rater, who will evaluate the duct work, seals, and other factors that affect how much energy it takes to heat or cool your whole home.


  2. Low-Flow Plumbing & Plants Lower Your Water Bills
    The average household wastes a lot of water on everyday tasks like flushing toilets, brushing teeth, and watering lawns. While you need water, you don't need to pay for water that runs down the drain or feeds plants that don't belong in your climate. Whether you care about saving the planet or reducing your monthly payouts to the water company, it's time to consider indoor and outdoor ways to minimize water waste. Low-flow, dual-flush toilets use only as much water as they need, while drought-resistant landscaping choices reduce your outdoor irrigation needs. Look for homes with tankless water heaters, water-saving sink faucets, and rainwater irrigation systems too.


  3. Extra Insulation Keeps Your Home Comfortable All Year
    Newer windows and roofs should always stand out when you're buying a house, and not just because they won't need to be replaced any time soon. Today's options are more insulated, sun-resistant, durable, and efficient than ever, with materials specifically designed to reduce indoor-outdoor temperature transfer and withstand the elements better. For example, insulated glass units (IGUs) are windows with two or three glass panes, which have moisture-absorbing spacers between them for even more insulation. Reflective shingles keep roofs significantly cooler, preventing hotbox effects in the attic and reducing the strain on the HVAC system. As you look for your next home, look for newer features that increase insulation and prevent huge seasonal fluctuations in your HVAC usage.


  4. Energy Star Appliances & Lights Have Exciting New Features
    Buying a house with greener features isn't all about sacrifice. Energy Star makes it easy to tell which appliances meet recommended efficiency standards, but you'll probably find that these efficient fixtures are more fun, too. For example, LED light bulbs prevent heat gain and use far less electricity, but some also come with innovative features like mobile connectivity and changing colors that respond to music. Energy Star appliances often make cooking and cleaning easier too, so look for that label.


As you weigh different priorities and consider homes with different types of appliances, windows, and more, it's important to make sure energy efficiency is always on your mind.

August
17

Buying A House? Try Our Home Buying Workout

If buying a house is on your bucket list, there's no time like the present to "get into training" for your house hunt. Here are seven steps to follow so you can hit the ground running this year:

  1. Required Reading – So it's not really required, but researching real estate tips online is free, easy, and informative. Read blogs, peruse forums, and watch videos. Checking out real estate tips from various sources will allow you to consider the market from new perspectives and is sure to yield a few tricks that will come in handy when it's time to close the deal.

  2. Find the Right Real Estate Agent – Working with a trusted real estate agent will make life much, much easier when shopping for a home. Your agent should be reliable, answer your questions promptly, understand the realities of your local real estate market, and has a plan specifically for you.

  3. Set a Budget – Setting a budget and sticking to it are two very different things. It's important to choose a number that fits comfortably with your overall finances. With a clear idea of what you have to spend, your real estate agent can help you find the best value for your investment.

  4. Check Your Credit Report – When working to secure a loan, the last thing you want is to find out that some old debt that you'd completely forgotten about or an error on the part of the rating agency is now causing trouble with your credit score. Avoid those unpleasant surprises by checking your credit score ahead of time and taking care of any outstanding issues.

  5. Get Pre-Approved – Having your finances in order from the start is a great way to gain an edge in competitive markets. In addition to being very appealing to sellers, pre-approval will give you a very clear idea of the funds you'll have available to purchase your new home.

  6. Become a Neighborhood Expert – When shopping for a house, it's good to remember that you are also shopping for the right neighborhood. Fortunately, researching neighborhoods is one of the more fun aspects of house hunting. Start your research online, then take the opportunity to get out, meet your potential neighbors, and sample the local businesses that make a neighborhood special.

  7. Think Twice Before Opening New Credit Cards – If your credit is in good shape, the end of the year is a common time to be solicited for new credit cards. Even if the terms really are favorable, you'll probably want to take a pass. Opening new cards can cause issues when it's time to secure a loan.

With these tips, you'll be in perfect shape to buy your new dream home.

August
16

Declutter To Sell Your House Faster

Everyone has a little "clutter" lying around the house — and some of us may have more than others. When you're selling your home, managing your home's look and feel is one of the best ways to maximize your chances of selling quickly and for the most amount of money.

Real estate pros know decluttering allows potential buyers to see your home as "their home" and makes it appear bigger with more storage space. Use these steps to get started:

  • Set a schedule. Sit down and look at your time. Don't worry about how much you have, just find some — twenty minutes a day, an hour, and five— whatever you can put in. Add it to your schedule, and set aside time specifically for decluttering. Determine deadlines as well. For example, plan on finishing the kitchen in a week and the bedrooms in two. Or have an overall deadline for the whole house. Decide what works best for you. Once you have your schedule, stick to it.

  • Move room by room. Looking at the whole house can feel overwhelming, so take it room by room, area by area. There are always trouble spots, like closets, desks, or cabinets. Tackle those first. Move steadily through each room until you're done.

  • Make three piles. As you go through things, make three piles: a keep, get rid of, and maybe pile. Once you've finished each area, put back the things you're keeping in an organized manner. Implement any organization systems as you go. The maybes should be put in a box and stowed for a few weeks. Revisit them and decide whether you really need them or not. Address the get rid of right away.

  • Get it out quickly. The key is to remove things as they come up. Have a plan — donate, garbage, or sell. Set aside time each week to do those things. List items on Craigslist, take a trip to the dump or run by the thrift store to drop items off. If you keep it around, clutter has a habit of working its way back into your home.

  • Learn to let go. One of the hardest things can be to let go of stuff. It may be sentimental; you may be saving it for when you really need it. Research on the web, or read a book about decluttering. Many resources have a series of questions to ask yourself to see if something is really worth holding onto. You can also ask if it is something you'll actually use and find time limits as to how long to hold onto certain things (like paperwork and clothes).

Decluttering Before You Sell Your Home

Not only can decluttering help you prepare for a move, but it also gives you a boost mentally. You'll be one step closer to staging, and you reduce the amount that you'll need to transport to the new house. In a way, it prepares you mentally to make a change. Decluttering gets you in the mindset to embrace a new setting, and you can make that new setting a new home.

It's true-decluttering is hard, but the rewards you'll reap are more than worth it.