Monthly Archives: January 2016

Starting a Shade Garden

When it comes to creating a beautiful outdoor space, your yard isn’t likely to change—but your tactics can. Many plants thrive in shady environments, but pinpointing the right ones for your particular yard requires a bit more investigation. Before hitting your local nursery or garden center, ask yourself these questions to ensure that your shade garden has a bright future.

shade garden

Shed some light. Is your garden bed fully shaded, or only partly? Spend a day observing the light in your yard—you may be surprised to learn that a patch you thought was shrouded actually gets several hours of sun. Either way, you’ve got options, but it’s best to know exactly what you’re working with.

Get the dirt. Is your soil dry or moist? Acid or alkaline? Its composition will greatly affect the kind of plants that can thrive. You can purchase a commercial test to determine your soil’s specific pH, or try this DIY alternative: Fill two small dishes with soil; add vinegar to one and a mix of water and baking soda to the other. If the vinegar dish fizzes, your soil is alkaline; if the baking soda fizzes, your soil is acidic. (If neither fizzes, your soil likely has a neutral pH of 7—the ideal growing condition for most plants). From there, you can condition your soil accordingly.

Plot your plot. What exactly will you be planting? Although they usually won’t produce big, showy flowers, shade plants can boast a striking array of texture, color, and form. Good planning will help give a woodland-like garden interest and intention. For example, placing a simple blade shape next to a broad, leafy plant makes both varieties pop, and varying plant heights creates visual drama and allows for mutual growth.

Courir de Mardi Gras

Head over to Vermilionville tomorrow to experience a traditional Cajun Mardi Gras run held by the Basile Mardi Gras Association!

courir de mardi gras begging

The run will take place from 11:30 AM to 12:30 PM, featuring the Basile Mardi Gras Runners as they visit the six historical homes in the village, begging for ingredients to make a communal gumbo and performing other traditions.  After the performance, children will be able to participate in a chicken chase, and the one who catches the chicken will win a special prize!

courir de mardi gras music

From 1 PM to 4 PM, attendees will get to enjoy themselves with gumbo and live music by The Pine Leaf Boys, as well as view the “A Tale of Two Mardi Gras” exhibit, demonstrating the vastly different but equally meaningful ways Mardi Gras is celebrated across the city, state, and country.

Admission is $5, and children under 3 get in free.  If you bring a bag of beads to the event, you’ll get $1 off admission price!

Le Festival de Mardi Gras a’ Lafayette

Who’s ready for the parades, the music, the food and the fun of Carnival season in Southwest Louisiana? That’s right, it’s Party Gras time! And next weekend, the place to be is Le Festival de Mardi Gras a’ Lafayette, a five-day festival dedicated to the continuous celebration of Mardi Gras in a festive and safe environment.

le-festival-des-mardi-gras-630x419

The Greater Southwest Louisiana Mardi Gras Association will host the annual Le Festival de Mardi Gras a’ Lafayette from Friday, February 5 through Mardi Gras day at UL Lafayette’s Cajun Field. The Festival will include an exciting carnival mid-way, native Cajun foods, and an outstanding line-up of live music. To make the Festival a complete Mardi Gras experience, the route for all of Lafayette’s parades will pass directly through the Festival grounds. This popular festival features a robust line-up of live music, a gigantic carnival midway, ample parking, and terrific viewing spots for all of Lafayette’s parades.

What’s the best part about Le Festival de Mardi Gras a Lafayette? IT’S FREE! There is a $10 charge for parking at Cajun Field. All of the money generated from the Festival will be used by the Greater Southwest Louisiana Mardi Gras Association to develop and promote Lafayette’s Mardi Gras parades and activities.

Tips for Buying a Foreclosed Home

Buying a foreclosed home is a little different from buying a typical resale.

In many cases:

  • Only 1 real estate agent is involved.
  • The seller wants a preapproval letter from a lender before accepting an offer.
  • There is little, if any, room for negotiation.
  • The home comes as-is, and it’s up to the buyer to pay for repairs.

On the upside, most bank-owned homes are vacant, which can speed up the process of moving in.

foreclosure

Buying a foreclosure is definitely a bit of a grind. You’re getting fantastic pricing, but sometimes it takes going through a lot of houses and writing a lot of offers to get the home you want.  If you’re considering buying a foreclosed home, here are some tips that may ease the process.

Get a realty broker and a lender

The first 2 steps in buying a foreclosure should happen almost simultaneously: Find a real estate broker who works directly with banks that own foreclosed homes and get a preapproval from a lender.

A good way to start searching is to first visit any site with a database of foreclosed homes. You also could look at a local real estate website that lets you filter the results to see only foreclosures. You might find the acronym REO, which means “real estate owned” (owned by a bank, that is). This signifies that a home has been through foreclosure and the lender is selling it.

Get a broker on your side

The goal of combing through foreclosure listings is not to find a house; it’s to find an agent. Banks usually hire one or a few real estate brokers to handle their REO properties in a market. In a lot of cases, the buyer works directly with the bank’s broker instead of using a buyer’s agent. That way, the commission doesn’t have to be split between 2 brokers.

Most of these Realtors have a long-term relationship with these banks, and they know of listings that haven’t even come on the list yet. Call them about the listings that you’re interested in, but also ask them about listings that may be coming up because sometimes it may take a day or two or even a week before a listing actually comes onto the database.

Such a request might not always pan out. In places where thousands of foreclosed properties are for sale, you might not get much one-on-one attention from overloaded agents. To prove that you’re serious about buying, meet with the lender right before or after you meet with the agent.

Get a preapproval letter

preapprovedUnless you plan to pay cash, you’ll need a recent preapproval letter from a lender. The letter will describe how much money you can borrow, based upon the lender’s assessment of your credit score and income.

Consider your financing options before you make an offer.  All too often, a buyer wants to find the house first, and then they think they’ll work out the financing. But a really good deal on a bank-owned home will go quickly, and the buyer won’t necessarily have time to try to work out the financing afterward.

Some first-time buyers make the mistake of assuming that the bank selling the home will also finance the mortgage as part of the deal. Banks view this as a totally separate transaction, so don’t assume it will be included. The people in the bank’s REO department are not loan officers. They are getting rid of bad assets.

Pricing depends on sales pace

There’s no rule of thumb on what the bank’s bottom line is on price. Just as with any other real-estate purchase, you have to look at the recent sales prices of comparable properties, or “comps.”

You have to look at the comps in today’s current market conditions and write a competitive offer based on that. Sometimes the bank prices the homes really low, and the home will have multiple offers over list price within hours. Other times it’s priced too high, and you can come in lower. However, be reasonable with your offer.  If it’s unreasonably lower than the listed price (as much as half price), your offer won’t be taken seriously.

Don’t expect a repair discount

repairsKeep in mind that foreclosed houses generally are sold as-is. That means that you shouldn’t expect to get a discount to compensate for repairs. Consider a house listed for $200,000. All the comps are $200,000, but the home will need to be repainted, re-carpeted and treated for mold damage. Despite the impending repairs, a client’s request to take $15,000 off the price to cover the costs will be denied.

You should also look at the absorption rate for your product class, meaning you should find out how quickly comparable houses are selling. In foreclosure, a 3,500-square-foot house with a pool in a gated community might sell within days or hours, whereas more modest homes might sit on the market for weeks. Or vice versa, depending on market conditions.

If homes in your product class are selling swiftly, the best advice on a bank-owned property is to come in at your highest and best, unless the property has been sitting on the market forever with no activity. If you’re going to be upset because you would have gone $5,000 more, but you lost the property, just bid the higher price in the first place to ensure your chances.

Find tradespeople ASAP

Because repairs are almost inevitable with foreclosed houses, it is recommended that you get to know tradespeople who can assess and repair damage from pests, mold and leaks. Assume that the air conditioning needs to be fixed, and possibly the heating system, too.

It all sounds daunting. But at least you don’t have to wait for the owner to move out of the house.

Monthly Archives: January 2016

Starting a Shade Garden

When it comes to creating a beautiful outdoor space, your yard isn’t likely to change—but your tactics can. Many plants thrive in shady environments, but pinpointing the right ones for your particular yard requires a bit more investigation. Before hitting your local nursery or garden center, ask yourself these questions to ensure that your shade garden has a bright future.

shade garden

Shed some light. Is your garden bed fully shaded, or only partly? Spend a day observing the light in your yard—you may be surprised to learn that a patch you thought was shrouded actually gets several hours of sun. Either way, you’ve got options, but it’s best to know exactly what you’re working with.

Get the dirt. Is your soil dry or moist? Acid or alkaline? Its composition will greatly affect the kind of plants that can thrive. You can purchase a commercial test to determine your soil’s specific pH, or try this DIY alternative: Fill two small dishes with soil; add vinegar to one and a mix of water and baking soda to the other. If the vinegar dish fizzes, your soil is alkaline; if the baking soda fizzes, your soil is acidic. (If neither fizzes, your soil likely has a neutral pH of 7—the ideal growing condition for most plants). From there, you can condition your soil accordingly.

Plot your plot. What exactly will you be planting? Although they usually won’t produce big, showy flowers, shade plants can boast a striking array of texture, color, and form. Good planning will help give a woodland-like garden interest and intention. For example, placing a simple blade shape next to a broad, leafy plant makes both varieties pop, and varying plant heights creates visual drama and allows for mutual growth.

Courir de Mardi Gras

Head over to Vermilionville tomorrow to experience a traditional Cajun Mardi Gras run held by the Basile Mardi Gras Association!

courir de mardi gras begging

The run will take place from 11:30 AM to 12:30 PM, featuring the Basile Mardi Gras Runners as they visit the six historical homes in the village, begging for ingredients to make a communal gumbo and performing other traditions.  After the performance, children will be able to participate in a chicken chase, and the one who catches the chicken will win a special prize!

courir de mardi gras music

From 1 PM to 4 PM, attendees will get to enjoy themselves with gumbo and live music by The Pine Leaf Boys, as well as view the “A Tale of Two Mardi Gras” exhibit, demonstrating the vastly different but equally meaningful ways Mardi Gras is celebrated across the city, state, and country.

Admission is $5, and children under 3 get in free.  If you bring a bag of beads to the event, you’ll get $1 off admission price!

Le Festival de Mardi Gras a’ Lafayette

Who’s ready for the parades, the music, the food and the fun of Carnival season in Southwest Louisiana? That’s right, it’s Party Gras time! And next weekend, the place to be is Le Festival de Mardi Gras a’ Lafayette, a five-day festival dedicated to the continuous celebration of Mardi Gras in a festive and safe environment.

le-festival-des-mardi-gras-630x419

The Greater Southwest Louisiana Mardi Gras Association will host the annual Le Festival de Mardi Gras a’ Lafayette from Friday, February 5 through Mardi Gras day at UL Lafayette’s Cajun Field. The Festival will include an exciting carnival mid-way, native Cajun foods, and an outstanding line-up of live music. To make the Festival a complete Mardi Gras experience, the route for all of Lafayette’s parades will pass directly through the Festival grounds. This popular festival features a robust line-up of live music, a gigantic carnival midway, ample parking, and terrific viewing spots for all of Lafayette’s parades.

What’s the best part about Le Festival de Mardi Gras a Lafayette? IT’S FREE! There is a $10 charge for parking at Cajun Field. All of the money generated from the Festival will be used by the Greater Southwest Louisiana Mardi Gras Association to develop and promote Lafayette’s Mardi Gras parades and activities.

Tips for Buying a Foreclosed Home

Buying a foreclosed home is a little different from buying a typical resale.

In many cases:

  • Only 1 real estate agent is involved.
  • The seller wants a preapproval letter from a lender before accepting an offer.
  • There is little, if any, room for negotiation.
  • The home comes as-is, and it’s up to the buyer to pay for repairs.

On the upside, most bank-owned homes are vacant, which can speed up the process of moving in.

foreclosure

Buying a foreclosure is definitely a bit of a grind. You’re getting fantastic pricing, but sometimes it takes going through a lot of houses and writing a lot of offers to get the home you want.  If you’re considering buying a foreclosed home, here are some tips that may ease the process.

Get a realty broker and a lender

The first 2 steps in buying a foreclosure should happen almost simultaneously: Find a real estate broker who works directly with banks that own foreclosed homes and get a preapproval from a lender.

A good way to start searching is to first visit any site with a database of foreclosed homes. You also could look at a local real estate website that lets you filter the results to see only foreclosures. You might find the acronym REO, which means “real estate owned” (owned by a bank, that is). This signifies that a home has been through foreclosure and the lender is selling it.

Get a broker on your side

The goal of combing through foreclosure listings is not to find a house; it’s to find an agent. Banks usually hire one or a few real estate brokers to handle their REO properties in a market. In a lot of cases, the buyer works directly with the bank’s broker instead of using a buyer’s agent. That way, the commission doesn’t have to be split between 2 brokers.

Most of these Realtors have a long-term relationship with these banks, and they know of listings that haven’t even come on the list yet. Call them about the listings that you’re interested in, but also ask them about listings that may be coming up because sometimes it may take a day or two or even a week before a listing actually comes onto the database.

Such a request might not always pan out. In places where thousands of foreclosed properties are for sale, you might not get much one-on-one attention from overloaded agents. To prove that you’re serious about buying, meet with the lender right before or after you meet with the agent.

Get a preapproval letter

preapprovedUnless you plan to pay cash, you’ll need a recent preapproval letter from a lender. The letter will describe how much money you can borrow, based upon the lender’s assessment of your credit score and income.

Consider your financing options before you make an offer.  All too often, a buyer wants to find the house first, and then they think they’ll work out the financing. But a really good deal on a bank-owned home will go quickly, and the buyer won’t necessarily have time to try to work out the financing afterward.

Some first-time buyers make the mistake of assuming that the bank selling the home will also finance the mortgage as part of the deal. Banks view this as a totally separate transaction, so don’t assume it will be included. The people in the bank’s REO department are not loan officers. They are getting rid of bad assets.

Pricing depends on sales pace

There’s no rule of thumb on what the bank’s bottom line is on price. Just as with any other real-estate purchase, you have to look at the recent sales prices of comparable properties, or “comps.”

You have to look at the comps in today’s current market conditions and write a competitive offer based on that. Sometimes the bank prices the homes really low, and the home will have multiple offers over list price within hours. Other times it’s priced too high, and you can come in lower. However, be reasonable with your offer.  If it’s unreasonably lower than the listed price (as much as half price), your offer won’t be taken seriously.

Don’t expect a repair discount

repairsKeep in mind that foreclosed houses generally are sold as-is. That means that you shouldn’t expect to get a discount to compensate for repairs. Consider a house listed for $200,000. All the comps are $200,000, but the home will need to be repainted, re-carpeted and treated for mold damage. Despite the impending repairs, a client’s request to take $15,000 off the price to cover the costs will be denied.

You should also look at the absorption rate for your product class, meaning you should find out how quickly comparable houses are selling. In foreclosure, a 3,500-square-foot house with a pool in a gated community might sell within days or hours, whereas more modest homes might sit on the market for weeks. Or vice versa, depending on market conditions.

If homes in your product class are selling swiftly, the best advice on a bank-owned property is to come in at your highest and best, unless the property has been sitting on the market forever with no activity. If you’re going to be upset because you would have gone $5,000 more, but you lost the property, just bid the higher price in the first place to ensure your chances.

Find tradespeople ASAP

Because repairs are almost inevitable with foreclosed houses, it is recommended that you get to know tradespeople who can assess and repair damage from pests, mold and leaks. Assume that the air conditioning needs to be fixed, and possibly the heating system, too.

It all sounds daunting. But at least you don’t have to wait for the owner to move out of the house.