Category Archives: Real Estate


Tips for Evaluating Schools Before Buying A Home

Shopping for a home leads buyers to consider an array of diverse factors, and one of the elements taken into account is the quality of the school districts. Navigating the world of real estate when deciding to buy a home can feel overwhelming, especially when shoppers are also examining school districts. Absorbing some pivotal information can make the process feel less overbearing. Be sure to check out our other Tips that every homebuyer should know.

The Connection between Schools and Real Estate

Individuals who attended private schools their whole lives, who are new to a real-estate market or who simply never thought much about school districts and homes before may not quite understand how the process works. In general, children will attend schools in the communities in which they live. Therefore, when current or future parents are purchasing houses, they need to know what the local schools are like. In other words, where a family lives typically determines where the children will go to school; for this reason, researching school districts along with prospective houses go hand in hand.

Varying Criteria

Some families who have decided to sell a home and buy another are in search of unequivocally good school districts. However, what’s important to understand is that the definition of a good school district can vary from family to family. For example, some parents want to send their children to schools that have the highest test scores or that boast the top graduation rates. In other cases, mothers and fathers are in search of schools with strong special-education programs or a focus on the arts or athletics. Before searching for a home based on the school district, families must determine exactly what it is that they want in a district.

Transportation Concerns

Before purchasing a home in a particular district, parents should find out how the district handles transportation concerns. For example, for working mothers and fathers, dropping the kids off and picking them up might prove problematic with scheduling; therefore, they would need to find a district that has buses available. Another issue here is where the children will go after school if their parents are not yet home. Parents should find out whether the school has late buses that will bring kids home from an after-school program. Sometimes, these services are available before the school day begins too. Families must also assess how far the house is from the school itself and if the distance will cause an issue. While the schools should certainly take up residence in the community, some houses are likely on the outskirts of the district.


Evaluating the safety of the schools in the district is of utmost importance. In general, the safety of a school is going to have a connection to the safety of the community in which it is in. In other words, schools in communities with high crime rates are likely to prove less safe than schools in communities with low crime rates. High crime rates in an area can also cause a number of other educational problems. For example, the schools may have low graduation rates, poor college-acceptable rates or too few resources to adequately educate the students. Crime statistics are available from Resources like or

Tours and Visits

Looking at schools on paper can make the process difficult. Instead, parents should find out if tours are available of the schools. While they may not have the ability to attend the school while classes are in session, they may have the option of going when the school is closed for a break. Taking a tour of the school can provide families with a sense of whether or not the school is the right fit for them. Also, speaking with school officials can help contribute to the decision-making process. Some schools host events that are open to the community at large. Attending one or two of these events can help parents to get a sense of what the school is like and what it may have to offer to their children.

Buying a house isn’t just about picking out the most spacious one with the most modern features, especially for people who have children or who plan to have children. Seriously considering these factors and evaluating the different school districts play major roles in selecting the right dwelling for the family.  For facts about specific schools, the best recommendation is to contact or visit the school and or district office personally. Contact your local Realtor for any questions about buying or selling homes or condos.

Find the best real estate markets in North America?

Special Ashley Bickford thanks to Stephanie Pepper of Coastal Properties of Cabo for these home buying tips.

Listing Agents or Buyer’s Agent

Listing Agents or Buyer’s Agent

Listing Agents or Buyer’s Agent, who works harder for their money?

The old debate rages on, who works harder a listing agent or a buyers agent? There are two checks paid at the closing, one for the listing agent and one for the buying agent. But the question is who worked harder for their check? Well I’m about to tell you and settle this once and for all.

Disclaimer, if you are indeed a Realtor reading this you are likely about to love me or want to punch me in the face.

Where listing agents have it easy is the old saying in Real Estate that “those that list, last.” The reason that is a timeless Real Estate saying is because whenever a Realtor “lists” a house for sale they almost always have “exclusive right to sell a property” as the listing agent. Effectively what this means is during that listing agreement, which is often 6 months to a year, if that property sells for ANY reason by ANY PERSON that Realtor is going to get paid the LISTING SIDE of a commission split. This is why Realtors LOVE listings because if its a sellable property they are going to get paid at some point. Once you have listed it you have effectively won its just a matter of when.

So what kinda craziness do listing agents have to deal with? Well first of all, you have to actually get the listings which isn’t exactly easy. You are fighting with every other Realtor in town to list a property and there is more than a little back stabbing going on. You sometimes lose listings you should have gotten because others are so willing to over promise their abilities just to get a listing. Then if you actually get the listing you are often dealing with clients who believe their house is worth more than it is, then you pay for professional photos, fliers, open houses, food, drinks, and lots of other marketing outlets all the while knowing its not going to sell until your client gets more realistic. Sometimes your client calls you and decides they don’t wanna sell at all!

So where to Buyer’s agents have it easy? Buyer’s agents do exactly what it sounds like they do. They are out trying to sell your home to people looking to buy properties. Well, sometimes you luck out and get those clients that buy immediately. You occasionally get those wonderful folks that go out for a weekend and find a property then write an offer on it the next day and love you for finding them the perfect spot so quickly and refer you business to all their friends. You aren’t paying for open houses, marketing listings, and all the other hoopla that a listing agent has to deal with. You simply find the properties then your client buys them and all is well right?

But how do they go about this? Well, they schedule appointments, drive buyers around, they show them properties, they often buy lunches or dinners, they scour the MLS (Multiple Listing Service) looking for properties for the more picky types, and countless other things. Eventually through hard work many home buyers fall in love with something and a deal is struck and then the Buyer’s agent gets paid the other side of the commission split so it all works out right?????

WRONG! The issue with Buyer’s agents is sometimes those people don’t actually buy anything. Sometimes, they decide not to move. Sometimes they get approved through a lender that didn’t really vet them so they can’t even buy anything. Sometimes you show them houses nonstop and then they use their “friend” or “Aunt Jenny” who’s a Realtor and really they were just using you. Sometimes you show them houses for a year but you aren’t available this weekend to show them houses so they go call someone else and completely forget about any loyalties they had to you. Sometimes they buy something and get cold feet and back out the next day, or during inspections, or worse.

So at the end of the day who’s in a better spot? Who would I rather be? The listing agent every day of the week and twice on Sunday. Sure they deal with their fair share of grief too but ultimately they are a lot more likely to get paid than a Buyer’s agent and they aren’t running the streets non-stop to do it. Their income is more reliable and their days are more predictable. But the real kicker is, that listing agreement guarantees your client has to be loyal to you and that is worth its weight in gold.

So if listing agents have it so easy do I have to pay 6% to one? Well that depends, if I was going to hire an agent I would make it a point to interview more than one and look for a low cost “discount” broker to include just to see what they have to offer you. You never know that might be your ticket to a quick sale and a lot of savings!

Vacation Rentals in Panama City Beach

Profiting From Vacation Rentals in Panama Beach

Panama Beach City, Florida is one of the fastest growing areas to buy property. If you are interested in not only living there but also want to own land, a condo, vacation rental homes or a resort property; as an investor, Panama Beach offers a wide range of possibilities. In 2016, a nationwide survey revealed that the area tops the US market for vacation rentals.

But, before you hop on a plane and scoop up beachfront properties, there are a few things to consider. Out of the 120 areas in the survey, Panama Beach City landed at Number One. It’s due to a number of attractive variables that include: affordability, prime location in the Panhandle, and it’s one of the largest tourist development areas. The market doesn’t cool off in Panama City Beach, because it’s a year-round travel destination. One of the most alluring features for investors is how people stay in vacation homes more than they do hotels in this tourist hotspot.

Getting Started

To invest in real estate doesn’t require making million dollar deals, but it does mean being privy to advanced knowledge about how to sell a home or how to buy a home. So, just what does it take to get started? Well, first off you need to have a steely determination to succeed, despite the trends. Because honestly, it doesn’t matter if it’s a buyer’s or a seller’s market. Why? Because market trends come and go, just as stock market fluctuations come and go.

But what doesn’t change is a smart, savvy local Panama City Realtor who can help you navigate the market. They know how to deal with the fickle nature of buying or selling trends. It’s easy to buy investment properties when you have a professional guiding you towards maximizing your profit potential.

Investment Rentals

So what does owning an investment rental in Panama Beach city bring? It brings a wealth of opportunities. What makes the area so popular is that there’s a dedicated advisory board, the Tourist Development Council (TDC). The TDC works hard to make certain that Panama Beach remains a top vacation destination, no matter what the season.

So, the opportunities include the possibilities of making your investment property yield high profits as a year round Airbnb. And the biggest plus is that you, your family and friends can also enjoy the property by planning vacations there as well.

Turnkey Properties

It’s a known fact that in general, turnkey properties means less risks than other types of investments. Investing in vacation rentals is especially appealing due to the profit potential.

And there are other added benefits. For example in Panama Beach City, you have the Tourist Development Council and then there’s The Florida Commission on Tourism and the Visit Florida partnership. All of which operate together to drive year round traffic to Florida. So, it’s like free advertising.

When you purchase a turnkey property as a vacation rental, with a few exceptions it’s ready to start earning you money right away. In an area such as Panama Beach City there’s going to be a mixture of old and new properties.

The old properties may also fit the bill as “turnkey,” but they might require some modifications, restoration or slight renovations.

5 Tips for First-Time Home Buyers

5 Need To Know Tips for First-Time Home Buyers

The journey to home ownership is an exciting one, but there are several hurdles to
overcome, and preparedness often gets lost amid high emotions. While the home-buying
process is pretty straightforward, addressing certain details in advance can mean the
difference between getting that new home now or being forced to wait a few more years.
Future homeowners can avoid the pitfalls that commonly prevent the dream from
becoming a reality. Here are five tips for the first-time home buyer.

Check your Credit Score

A recent survey of potential homebuyers indicated that nearly half of the respondents
were forced to delay the purchasing a home until their credit scores were improved. The
first thing any potential home buyer must do is evaluate their credit report. Home buyers
should pull a copy from all three major reporting bureaus or obtain an all-in-one report.
Once they have this report, they should examine each item listed and identify any
questionable items or areas with potential for improvement. Paying off small debts and
making payments to bring credit card balances as close to zero as possible will
immediately work toward increasing the credit score.

Avoid Making Large Purchases

A number of factors make up a credit score. One of the primary determinants when
evaluating the creditworthiness of home loan applicants is their debt-to-income ratio. The
debt ratio is a borrower’s monthly debt expressed as a percentage of their income. 43
percent debt-to-income ratio is the highest ratio a borrower can have and still get a
qualified mortgage. Borrowers should pay down what they can and avoid making large

Evaluate Assets and Cash-on-hand

The next step in the home buying preparedness is to determine how much money is
available to cover the down payment, closing costs, moving expenses, and any immediate
maintenance needs of the purchase property. Once they have arrived at this figure,
borrowers need to set saving goals accordingly. Most lenders require a 20 percent down
payment, which may vary based on the credit file report and loan product. Banks will
want to make sure at least that much is in the bank, and has been for more than 60 days.
Additionally, lenders want to see that home buyers have three to six months of reserves
set aside, enough to cover all of the bills and expenses for that time in case of a job loss.

Get a Pre-Qualification Letter from a Lender

Whenever an offer is submitted to a seller, the sellers’ first consideration is whether from
a buyer is qualified. Some real estate agents will not even accept an offer unless it’s
accompanied by a loan pre-approval letter. By contacting a loan officer and acquiring the
pre-qualification letter, prospective buyers can obtain the leverage needed to make an
offer and secure a contract.

While determining the eligibility, the loan officer will advise borrowers on the various loan programs
that are available. Shopping around and comparing rates and terms of the
different programs is another essential step. And borrowers should not limit their focus
only to the mortgage rate and interest costs. They should also inquire about related
expenses such as mortgage insurance, property insurance, and taxes, as well as appraisals,
surveys, and home inspections.

Find a Good Real Estate Agent

Hiring a real estate agent to help navigate the home-selection process is a no-brainer for
first-time home buyers. Real estate agents have access to the real estate listings for sale,
which allows them to eliminate a lot of the time and stress associated with house hunting.
They can also narrow a search to comply with the borrowers’ price range, neighbourhood
preference, and even square footage needs. The broker will act as a resource for
questions, ensure that the selection process runs smoothly, and they will also write,
submit, and negotiate the offers on behalf of the buyers.

The path to home ownership can be challenging to navigate, but by eliminating the
barriers, it can be a rewarding. Once potential homeowners check their credit score, avoid
large purchases, evaluate their assets, get pre-qualified by a qualified lender, and find a
good real estate agent, they will have successfully avoided the disappointments that have
plague many first-time buyers.

Financing Options for a First Time Home Buyer

In theory, there are numerous financing options available to anyone intending to buy a home. In reality (and perhaps ironically), the richer one is the more financing alternatives they have access to. That means first time home buyers especially those on the lower rungs of the income ladder will find it harder to zero in on financing avenues that they qualify for.

Fortunately, there are a number of possibilities, some well-known and some not as much, that a first time home buyer can pursue while charting their way to finally owning their first home. We look at these options below.

FHA Loan

The Federal Housing Administration (FHA) is an arm of the Department of Housing and Urban Development. FHA loans are referred to as such because the FHA insures the mortgage. The FHA is not the provider of the loan but simply gives commercial lenders the assurance that they’ll cover the cost in the event that the borrower defaults on the mortgage.

FHA loans usually have smaller down payments, attractive interest rates and relatively low closing costs. The better your credit score, the more you stand to gain from an FHA loan. Persons with credit scores of at least 580 could be required to provide as little as 3.5% of the purchase price as down payment.


Many Americans aren’t aware that the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) has a homebuyer program. Whereas the program is primarily geared towards certain rural areas, you don’t have to be a farm owner to qualify for a USDA loan. Just like the FHA loan, the USDA guarantees the loan.

Loan repayments are fixed and the buyer may not even be required to make a down payment. If you have a credit score of at least 640, you’re likely to go through the approval process quickly. Below that, the lender may ask for additional documentation to further examine your credit history.

Note that there are income restrictions on who can qualify though these will vary from region to region.

VA Loan

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) assists veterans, active-duty members of the military, and surviving spouses buy homes. The VA insures part of the loan thus enabling lenders to offer attractive terms.
VA loans have no down payment and have lower interest rates. There’s no minimum credit score for eligibility and applicants won’t be required to pay private mortgage insurance. In the event the home buyer falls on hard times and is unable to keep up with payments, the VA can negotiate new and more flexible terms on the borrower’s behalf.

Freddy Mac or Fannie Mae

Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae are funded by the federal government and work with commercial lenders to offer mortgage alternatives that are convenient for lower income households.

With the backing of Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, lenders can accept minimal down payments (as low as 3%) and offer friendly interest rates. Through the HomePath Ready Buyer program, Fannie Mae also provides education for first-time homebuyers.

EEM or Green Mortgage

An energy-efficient mortgage (EEM) is designed to finance the refurbishment and renovation of a home in order to make it more environmentally friendly. The US government supports green mortgages by insuring them through VA or FHA programs.

The key benefit of this loan is that it allows the homeowner develop an energy-smart home without the need to make the large down payment that would otherwise be required. The additional cost is aggregated into the primary loan.

Some of the improvements that can be covered by EEM include installation of modern heating-cooling system, new insulation or double-paned windows.

Loan Programs and Grants

The above programs are driven by the federal government. However, first time home buyers may also be eligible for various local financing programs and grants at the state and city level. As these will vary from one state or city to the next, it’s not possible to cover them all here.

Instead, a first time home buyer should spend time examining the relevant state or city department websites for information on housing programs and grants available in the area. If you find this search for information a little overwhelming, it would be best to contact a local real estate agent or housing counseling agency.

For instance, if you are looking to buy property in Dallas (you could start your search here – Dallas Apartments For Rent | Search By Neighborhood), engaging a Dallas real estate agent could help you understand the full spectrum of financing opportunities at your disposal.

In recent years, various news articles, reports and studies have indicated that the dream of owning a home is getting harder to realize. While this is in part due to stagnating wages, a significant part of this struggle is because of a lack of awareness. Owning your first home will require sacrifice but these financing options can make the journey more bearable.


Tips to buying your first home

Tips For Buying Your First Home That Everyone Should Know

Finally, you have made the critical decision of buying a home. Buying a home is a big step and the process can be daunting and exciting at the same time. Before you start scouting for homes to buy, there are several things that you need to put into consideration. Here are some tips that will help you make your home buying process hassle-free:

1.       Determine if you are ready to buy a house

Buying a home is an expensive undertaking because you will be required to cover all the repair as well as utility costs not forgetting the insurance and taxes that you will have to pay once you own the house. If you are not in a good position financially, you will have it rough meeting all the expenses that come with maintaining a house. To prevent this scenario, you should ensure that you clear all your debts, and save some funds which you can use in case of anything. You should also make sure that your credit card is clean because it can make it hard for you to get a loan down the road. Another major thing that most people tend to forget is the down payment. Make sure you save enough money for paying the down payment when you finally find a house that you want to buy.

2.       Organize documents

Ensure that all your income and tax documents are readily available. They can help you save a lot of time when you are buying a house.

3.       Decide which type of a house you want to buy

Knowing the exact type of house that you want will make it easier for you or your realtor to search for homes and ultimately shorten the home buying process.

4.       Find a good agent

Having a good real estate agent by your side will help you greatly because they can help you find the latest listing s and they can easily tell when a house has been deliberately overpriced and advice you on what to do.

5.       Get a loan

Get approved for a loan before embarking on the home search to have a clearer picture of the house to buy.

6.       Negotiate the offer

Find out the reasonable price range for a home. An agent can help you get these figures. Knowing the price to expect will help you negotiate for a fair offer with the seller.

7.       Have a home inspection

Doing a home inspection is important to you as the home buyer because it will prevent you from ending up with a home that requires serious and expensive repairs. Find out what the law says concerning home inspection in your state and make sure that you get a home inspector to do the inspection and have the seller do the repairs before finalizing the deal so as to be on the safe side.

boston real estate trends

The Booming Boston Real Estate Market

The Boston Real Estate Market is Booming!

To continue on with our recap of the Best Real Estate Markets in the Country — today we cover Boston MA.  Boston Mass has recently been mentioned in the news because of their high real estate prices.  Rising real estate prices are a double edged sword that cuts both ways.  Although higher prices make it harder for some to purchase their first home, for the existing homeowner — your real estate investment is really paying off.   With the home prices in Boston continuing to rise, we are seeing many home buyers purchase homes in nearby cities such as Quincy, Cohasset and Milton MA. Many of the Boston suburbs have done very well with the rise in Boston real estate prices.  One of the best tips for a first time home buyer may be to move to a Boston suburb and commute into the city for work.

Isn’t All Real Estate an Investment?

The real estate market in Boston appears to be improving into a kind of investor’s paradise. The prices of homes and the rates of appreciation have continued to eclipse the national average, and this has seriously benefited Boston investors.  The median home value in Boston is currently at $561,300. Over the past one year, the home values in Boston have gone up 8.5%, and the rise is expected to continue even higher.

The average price of a single-family home in Boston hit $410,000, having risen from $300,000 from a similar time last year. This is something that any potential home buyer must factor in when thinking of buying a home in Boston.

Current Trends in Boston Real Estate

Current fall trends compared with the summer, have seen a rise in rental prices with one-bedroom apartments in West Roxbury and Mattapan increasing by 8% and 12% respectively in the fall. This was higher than any other Boston neighborhood. This analysis also tracked vacant and available apartments, making the overall percentages more accurate. During the past few months, the area that saw the most decline was the West End. In West End, the price of apartments decreased by 6%. Generally, the rent of a median one-bedroom apartment in Boston was $2,200 a month as of the fall of 2017

On the other hand, two-bedroom single-house rentals were averaged at $2,610. In Beacon Hill, one-bedroom rent was at $2,575, while in Back Bay it was at $2,825 and was higher still in both South Boston Waterfront and South Boston, where the prices were averaging $3000 and $2600 respectively. From that analysis, it can be said that the most expensive areas for a one-bedroom apartment during the fall were the Back Bay, downtown Boston and the South Boston waterfront, which is also known as the Seaport District.

Boston Housing Market

In the first three quarters of 2017, the home prices in Bay Village soared up more than any other neighborhood in Boston. The median sale price in Bay Village, which happens to be the smallest official neighborhood in Boston, increased to $533,500. But Roxbury and East Boston should still be considered by those who want to stay in Boston.

During the past five years, the median sale prices in these two Boston neighborhoods have doubled. The second steepest price growth was witnessed in downtown Boston in the Financial District where the median sale price rose to $321,000 from the previous value of $294,500. The South End was number three in growth, and fourth was the Chinatown/Leather District with a median sale price of $285,000. Beacon Hill wasn’t so far from Chinatown with a median price of $280,000. One surprising fact is that the median sale prices in East Boston and Roxbury doubled from 2012 to 2017. Two of the Boston’s most affordable enclaves are twice as expensive as they were five years ago.

The ten most expensive and luxurious one-bedroom apartments in Boston vary in price starting at $1.2 million for a 948 square foot apartment. They are located in Millennium Tower, the recently developed apartment/condo complex in Downtown Crossing in a refurbished Back Bay brownstone. The other places where you’ll find luxury one-bedroom Boston condos: 80 Commonwealth Avenue – $2,100,000; 300 Boylston Street – $1,990,000; 50 Liberty Drive – $1,614,735; 22 Liberty Drive #3H, Seaport – $1,599,000.

The Pier 4-Condos in Boston

The longtime residence of Anthony’s Pier 4, an old-time Boston seafood joint, is slowly transitioning into a luxury condominium complex. The developer of the site recently signed a lease with Kristin Canty, a renowned farm-to-table restaurateur. Pier 4, a 9-story, and 106-unit luxury condominium building is expected to open in late 2018 at Boston’s former Anthony’s Pier 4 site. Having been designed by SHoP Architects and the Boston-based CBT, the condo property is currently being developed by Tishman Speyer.

The starting price for a two-bedroom unit at the Pier 4 will be over $2 million. Each of the homes developed here has its separate private outdoor space as well as water views, while the penthouse will feature private roof decks. Other facilities in this area include outdoor seating, an outdoor terrace, as well as a dining area with a fire pit. In addition to that, there is a 24-hour concierge service and as well as a virtual golf.

Boston is Currently Facing an Affordability Issue

Boston home buyers will soon have to consider a $2,000 studio as a very lucrative value. Although it appears like a scary situation, according to some experts, it’s right where it needs to be in the current economy. Boston has witnessed high cost of land and construction, and this has led to most developments being priced at $1500 per square foot.

Although not the current real estate market in Boston may not be the greatest thing for the first time home buyer, the Boston real estate market has proven to be a great investment if you can afford to get in or already own some of this prime real estate.

Enjoy our articles on the best real estate markets?  Check out what we had to say about New Orleans!

flood insurance

Flood Insurance….. Do You Need It?

The Price You Will Pay

The average price of flood insurance in the United States is around $600 annually, though it can depend on the flood zone in which you live.  In some flood plains, you are likely going to be required to purchase flood insurance even if the property has never flooded.  Flood Insurance is purchased through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP).  Shopping for an agent to provide flood insurance will not change the rate, as it is set by the  NFIP.

It Can Be a Safe Choicegutted home

But what if you aren’t required? Should you spend that extra money every year? What if the area you have lived in has never flooded?  These are all questions to consider. A Homeowner’s Insurance plan is not going to cover water damage from a flood. And flood damage can cost tens of thousands of dollars, and possibly more depending on the level of destruction.

Weigh the options—any place that has never flooded in recorded history can still flood, and it can cost you a whole lot of money (that you may not have) to get back into your home. You could pay a minimal (in comparison to the potential) fee every year and still be protected just in case.  Recently, areas of Louisiana that did not require flood insurance, flooded catastrophically.  Many homes did not have flood insurance.  The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) did have to step in and provide shelters, mobile housing and money.  LAflooding

Flood plain maps can also change—the land around you is constantly changing and one day you could be in a historically non-flood area,  and the next day your home could be in a flood zone.

Flood Insurance When Buying a Home

Buying a home can be overwhelming.  Whether or not the homes for sale in the area that you are looking in requires flood insurance will make a difference in your overall affordability.  When financing a home, your mortgage lender will let you know if you are required to have flood insurance.

For instance, if the homes in a particular area do NOT require flood insurance than even if you choose to acquire it, it will be much less expensive.  If the homes you are looking at DO require flood insurance, you will want to get that flood quote and factor that into the overall note of your new home.  In most instances, if you are purchasing a condo, the condo association will have flood insurance — but that may not cover your contents.  You will want to review the condo documents for your association to make sure.

Flood Insurance When Selling Your Home

There are a few things to keep in mind, about flood insurance, when selling your home.  For the same reasons as mentioned above, its important to let any potential home buyers be aware of not only what flood zone your home is in, but how much you pay per year for flood insurance.  Its also good to note that National Flood Insurance is assumable.  So in many instances, the new homeowner will request to “assume” your current flood policy.

There are a variety of reasons that may not be possible, such as your current flood policy insures the home for LESS than you are selling it for — or if the policy is about to expire.  Although as the home seller, you should work with any buyer in letting them assume your current flood policy, the act of acquiring the flood policy does fall on the home buyer.

What Flood Insurance Does & Does not Cover

Flood insurance covers both the structure and the contents of a home. Many plans cap out at certain amounts and are dependent on the amount of damage, but you can also purchase supplemental plans. If you have anything that is particularly valuable, it may be best to take out a separate insurance policy.  It is best to do your homework ahead of time on what is, and what is not covered.

Also, important to note is that not all water damage is created equal. In other words, flood insurance is going to cover water damage if your area floods. However, if your water heater leaks or your roof caves in during a storm, your regular Homeowner’s insurance should cover that.

Who Decides

Unless required by your mortgage lender, who holds the mortgage on your home, the question still lies with you—to get flood insurance, or to not? Whether or not you decide to purchase flood insurance, you should still set aside emergency money for repairs just in case of a disaster as seen in the recent Louisiana flooding of August 2016.

FEMA and Flood Insurance

Tips for Selling Your Home

Tips for Selling Your Home

Finding a good agent is definitely one of the first and most important things you can do when you are trying to sell your home. But, don’t think that getting an agent is enough. When placing your home for sale, there are many things that can help you to ensure that your home sells and sells quickly. Here are a few tips:

Monitor Your Agent

Monitor what your agent is posting online on sites like ActiveRain. Most homebuyers start shopping for a home online before they do anything else. Make sure your home is one the best real estate websites, showing many other homes for sale.  Many won’t even get in the car to see a home if the online listings aren’t compelling and compelling means pictures! According to Trulia, a popular real estate site, listings with more than 6 pictures are twice as likely to be viewed by buyers and listings with no pictures are at the bottom of the list.

Make A Video of Your Home

Post your own video about your real estate. Let buyers see your home and neighborhood through your eyes. Tell prospective buyers about what you like best and what your family loved about the house, your favorite coffee shop or a story about a good neighbor. Make it personal, home buyers want to know that a home was well-loved, and it gives them the opportunity to visualize living there too.

Tips to sell your homeGet the Neighbors Involved

Invite your neighbors to your open house to create an opportunity for your neighbors to sell the neighborhood. Encourage them to let their friends know who might be shopping for a home and who may want to live in the area.

Market on Social Media

Post your home on Facebook, the great connector of people. Do the math, if you have 200 friends and they each have 200 friends, imagine the power of that network in getting the word out about your house!

Include Extra Stuff

Leave some good stuff behind. Sweeten the deal by leaving behind personal property that you may have bought just for this house. Maybe the stainless steel kitchen appliances or a flat screen TV, or maybe the golf cart if your home is on a golf course, or a 4-wheeler. Buyers love the little extras offered.

WDIR – Termite Inspection

Get a termite inspection in advance of listing your home, and repair all the little things you can. Make sure that the little nicks and scratches, doorknobs that don’t work, and wonky handles are all repaired.


Finally, pack up all the personal pictures and personal clutter. Give the buyer an opportunity to see their pictures on the shelves. Clearing the space and decluttering will go a long way in getting your home off the market.

new orleans - downtown

New Orleans Real Estate Rebound?

New Orleans Real Estate Rebound?  

Apparently, it never lost it in the first place.

In our ongoing quest to bring you information on the best real estate markets in the country, we will be spotlighting New Orleans.  New Orleans has had its fair share of disasters in recent years, but fared quite well during the real estate crash of 2008.  So what has happened since????

Real Estate in New Orleans

While not quite back to pre-2007 recession levels, real estate values across the country are showing their strength and making a noticeable comeback.  At its worst, some of the nation’s hardest hit real estate markets lost more than fifty percent of their peak housing values in just a matter of months.  Places like Florida, Nevada, Arizona, and most of Southern California suffered the worst, while other real estate markets, buffered by strong local economies like Wilmington NC, Bentonville Arkansas (home of WalMart), Huntsville Alabama (a national technology hub), Tri-Cities Washington (a national energy and technology hub), Cohasset MA, Baton Rouge Louisiana,  and a number of smaller areas such as Granbury Tx, saw very few losses at all.  Even within some of the states that were hit hard – some cities seemed to be immune such as Panama City Beaches condo market.

What may come as a surprise to many is that, among the top cities least affected by the Great Recession, New Orleans, LA is also on the list.  This may seem baffling to many readers who recall the devastation and subsequent challenges faced by the Crescent City following the infamous and wide-spread destruction literally poured out by Hurricane Katrina in 2005.  Although the city’s population was greatly reduced following a mass exodus of many of the hardest hit residents, and a temporarily devastated tourism industry, New Orleans’ unemployment rate remained lower than national averages.  

To assist in bolstering its economy, a majority of New Orleans banks refrained from issuing many of the risky loans that contributed to the real estate housing boom and subsequent burst in 2007.  Following Katrina, many industries and businesses invested heavily in New Orleans re-construction, rebuilding and reinforcing levees, as well as rebuilding and expanding local oil refineries and many of the city’s small businesses.  Also, as the number one crude oil producer in the nation, and with New Orleans being the energy, shipping, and transportation hub for the state, it’s no surprise to learn that New Orleans is on the list of the top recession-proof cities in the country.  By the time the Great Recession hit, New Orleans was already mid-stream up its own river towards recovery.  

So Hows The Real Estate Market?

Is New Orleans a good place to invest for real estate?  Some experts say “Yes!”  Boasting one of the most diverse real estate markets in the entire nation, New Orleans and its surrounding communities have way more to offer than initially meets the eye.  Sure, you can find many traditional homes for sale in the greater New Orleans area, too.  But why bother with traditional when extraordinary is on the menu.  Known worldwide as a “Sportsman’s Paradise”, Louisiana has even adopted the phrase as their state motto.  Where else can you hunt for alligators in the morning, go boating in Lake Pontchartrain in the mid-day noon sun, seine muddy creeks for for Crawfish in the afternoon, and go frog gigging under the flickering glow of lightning bugs in the evening?  

There aren’t many places where you can buy a cabin in the swamp, a stilt-house in the bayou, or a floating houseboat on one of Lake Pontchartrain’s many canals or river tributaries.  Luxury lakefront homes, riverfront real estate, and floating houseboats on just about every type of water body imaginable are only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to homes for sale in the New Orleans area.  Don’t forget about the Northshore of New Orleans, just on the North side of Lake Pontchartrain.  Homes for sale in Covington and Mandeville have seen tremendous growth in both residential real estate as well as commercial.  People have flocked to the Northshore because of the new construction, great schools and low crime.  Areas such as Jahncke Street in Covington sports live oak trees that hang over the streets reminiscent of St. Charles Ave in New Orleans.    The Covington real estate market has been under priced for years and somewhat overshadowed by Mandeville, but is coming back strong. 

Visit New Orleans

So do yourself a favor… don’t come to New Orleans just for Mardi Gras, a quick trip to the French Quarter, to savor some world class Cajun cuisine, or to listen to the world’s most inspiring Jazz musicians.  Yes, that’s all fine and dandy, but don’t overlook its incredible real estate opportunities.  The next time you’re in New Orleans, make some time, grab a local REALTOR, and check out some of the most amazing and diverse real estate offerings available anywhere in the world.  In the words of the late, great, world-famous Cajun Chef, Justin Wilson, “I wanna told you something:  you’re gonna be glad you did… I gaw-ron-tee!”