Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Greater Baton Rouge Real Estate Market Update

This graph shows how steady the Greater Baton Rouge Real Estate Market remains. Our average price has remained this steady pretty much for the past 5 years. Of course, after hurricane Katrina we did see a bump in prices, but those leveled out pretty quickly. We have a very healthy real estate market with an average days on market now of about 92, if you look at East Baton Rouge, Ascension, and Livingston grouped together.

We do have more homes on the market but plenty are selling. If you want to keep up with homes for sale and sold with 1/2 mile of your house in the Greater Baton Rouge Area, you can sign up for an automated, monthly service from Market Snapshot.

As always, please let us know if you have any real estate questions you would like us to answer or, if you are planning a move, give us a call to help you make it as smooth and stress free as possible!! Pat Wattam

Monday, February 22, 2010

Downsizing? Consider a Condo!

Shopping for a Condo? Ask These 4 Questions before You Buy

Condominium homes have always been, and will likely always be, an efficient and economical route to becoming a first-time homeowner. They can offer the comfort, prestige, and even luxury appointments that apartment living may lack, often at a cost that is not much different than rent. With the current first-time home buyer tax credit and the deadline for the move-up tax credit fast approaching, I advise you move fast on any condo purchase you may be considering.

With my experience as Member of the Top 5 in Real Estate Network®, I am well aware that not all condominiums are the same, however, so make sure you ask the following four questions before you buy:

What will you own? Read the bylaws and be sure you understand what you will be responsible for and what belongs to the condo association. Will you own the boat dock at the back of your unit? Can you elect to build a spa on your patio? Generally, unit owners own and are responsible for the interior of their condos, while costs for outside maintenance including common areas and sewer lines are the association’s responsibility.

Who lives there? Are the majority of residents owners or renters? Owners generally take more interest in proper maintenance and are more willing than renters to serve on the association board and enforce complex rules and regulations–including the regular collection of homeowner dues.

How effective is the homeowner’s association? Do they have legal counsel, reasonable funds and a capable, caring volunteer board? One way to judge is to check with residents about restrictions, oversight and timeliness of repairs and upgrades. Another is to take a hard look at the grounds and be wary of signs of neglect.

What about special assessments? The association should have the power to special assess for needed, one-time large expenditures. Otherwise, things that need to be done may never get done at all, leaving the complex vulnerable to disrepair and lowered property values.

Don’t miss this great opportunity to become a homeowner or to downsize by buying a condo (remember, the move-up tax credit does not require you to move to a larger or more expensive home). Please e-mail me for more tips on buying a condo and forward this information to any family and friends who may be in the market as well.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Top 5 Facts You Need to Know about the Expanded Home Buyers Tax Credit

Our real estate market has really heated up due to the expanded tax credit. I wanted to make sure everyone has as much information as possible. One of the requirements for becoming a Member of the Top 5 in Real Estate Network® is to provide my community with critical real estate information so you can make the best possible decision when buying or selling a home. To that end, I wanted to pass along some key facts about the extended and expanded tax credit that are critical for you to understand in order to take advantage of this opportunity:

1. Eligibility: The tax credit is now available for first-time home buyers and eligible current homeowners. A first-time home buyer is an individual who has not owned a principal residence during the three-year period prior to the purchase. This law applies for both parties in a married couple; if you haven’t owned a home for three years, but your husband has, then neither one of you can qualify for the tax credit. A qualified current homeowner who wished to move to a different home, must have owned and resided in their residence for five consecutive years out of the last eight.

2. Salary requirements: Single taxpayers with incomes up to $125,000 and married couples with a joint income up to $225,000 qualify for the full tax credit. Single taxpayers who earn between $125,000 and $145,000, and married couples who earn between $225,000 and $245,000 are eligible to receive a partial credit.

3. Amount of credit: The maximum credit amount for first-time home buyers is $8,000; the maximum credit amount for current homeowners is $6,500. The federal tax credit amounts to 10% of the cost of the home, up to a maximum credit of $8,000 for first-time home buyers and $6,500 for current homeowners. Under the new legislation, a tax credit may only be issued for homes purchased for $800,000 or less. The tax credit is a true credit—it does not have to be repaid unless the homeowner sells or stops using the home as their principal residence within three years after the purchase.

4. It’s refundable: The tax credit is fully refundable, meaning the credit will be paid out to eligible taxpayers, even if you owe no tax or the credit is more than the tax owed. The credit is claimed using Form 5405, which you file with your original or amended tax return.

5. Timeline: The credit is available for homes purchased on or after November 7, 2009 and before May 1, 2010. The federal income credit can be claimed on one’s individual or joint tax return for the purchase of any single-family home (newly-constructed or resale, single-family detached, townhomes or condominiums) between the dates of November 7, 2009 and April 30, 2010. Home purchases subject to a binding sales contract signed before May 1, 2010 will also qualify for the tax credit as long as closing occurs by June 30, 2010.

For more information on the home buyer tax credit, e-mail me or visit

Time is of the essence since properties must be under contract by the end of April 2010. For sellers who want to take advantage of this, they need to get their homes on the market ASAP. Please contact me or visit my web site at for more information.