Saturday, December 12, 2009

November 2009 Lafayette Market Report

The following report was extracted from sold homes reported to MLS in Lafayette Parish only, courtesy of Van Eaton & Romero.

There was a 22.75% increase in closed sales reported in November 2009 compared to November 2008. Overall comparing the year to date in 2009 to Jan-Nov 2008, there was a .94% decrease. Respectively the days on the market have increased by seven days.

The average sales price decreased 1.69%. The median sales price increased .18%. The list to sold price ratio decrease by .15%.

I believe this to be uplifting news. When you speak of the real estate market, it is always good to have the facts.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Extended Tax Credit Information.

Senate Approves Tax Credit Extension, Expansion
The Senate yesterday passed legislation to extend the $8,000 home buyer tax credit to May 1, 2010, for first-time buyers and add a $6,500 tax credit for repeat buyers if they've lived in their home for five of the past eight years. Home prices are capped at $800,000.

The legislation was included in a bill to extend unemployment benefits and is expected to be passed by the House today or tomorrow. President Obama is expected to sign the legislation when it's sent to his desk.

Under the bill, income limits are expanded to $125,000 for individuals and $225,000 for joint filers. Individuals with incomes up to $145,000 and joint filers with incomes up to $245,000 qualify for reduced credits.

Households who have binding contracts in place by April 30 will be allowed an additional 60 days to complete their transaction. The deadline for members of the military serving out the U.S. for at least 90 days between Jan. 1, 2009, and May 1, 2010, has been extended one year.

Taxpayers can claim the credit on their federal income tax returns. If the credit exceeds their tax bill, the government will issue a check. Taxpayers will be able to claim the credit on their 2009 income tax return for purchases made in 2


1. Existing homeowner credit: Must the new house cost more than the old house?

A. No. Thus, for example, individuals who move from a high cost area to a lower cost area who meet all eligibility requirements will qualify for the $6500 credit.

2. I am an existing homeowner. On October 25, 2009, I signed a contract to purchase a new home. I have lived in my current home for more than 5 consecutive years and am within the new income limits. I will go to settlement on November 20. If President Obama has signed the bill by the time I go to settlement, will I qualify for the new $6500 tax credit?

A. Yes. The existing homeowner credit goes into effect for purchases after the date of enactment (when the bill is signed). There is no reference to the date of contract for the new credit. The provision looks solely to the date of purchase, which is generally the date of settlement.

3. I am a first-time homebuyer but was not within the prior income limits at the time I entered into my contract to purchase on October 30, 2009. I will be covered, however, by the new income limits. If the new rules have been signed into law by the time I go to settlement, will I be eligible for a credit?

A. Yes. The new income limitations go into effect as soon as the President has signed the bill. The income limit and other eligibility rules will look to your status as of the date of purchase, which is the settlement date. So if the new rules have been signed when you go to settlement, you should be eligible for the credit (or a portion of the credit if you're within the phase-out range).

4. I am an eligible existing homeowner. I have a fair amount of equity in my home. I have found a home with a non-negotiable price of $825,000. Will I be able to use any of the $6500 tax credit?

A. No. The $800,000 cap on the cost of the purchased home is firm at $800,000. Any amount above $800,000 makes the home ineligible for any portion of the credit. The $800,000 is an absolute ceiling.

5. I owned my home for 10 years, but sold it two years ago year and have been renting since. If I purchase a home, will I be eligible for the $6500 tax credit if I meet all the other eligibility tests?

A. Yes. Because you lived in the home for more than 5 consecutive years of the previous 8, you will qualify for the $6500 credit. For example, Say John and his wife bought a home in 2000 and lived there until 2008 when he got a divorce. Whether John has been renting or bought in the interim, he WOULD INDEED be eligible for the credit because he owned a home and occupied it as his principal residence for 5 consecutive years out of the last 8 years. The keyword here is "consecutive." As long as he lived in that house for 5 years straight what he did since 3 years doesn't impact eligibility.

6. I am an eligible first-time homebuyer. I entered into a contract to purchase on November 1, 2009. Do I have to go to closing before December 1? How does the extension date affect me?

A. You do not have to close before December 1. Once the legislation has been signed, it will be as if the Nov 30 date had never existed. Therefore, so long as the contract settles before April 30 (or July 1, worst case), the purchaser will be eligible for the credit.

Information provided by Bill Bacque' CEO of Van Eaton & Romero

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Market Stats January to October 2009

Lafayette Parish residential sales reported to the REALTOR Association of Acadiana’s Multiple Listing Service for September and October 2009 significantly outperformed the corresponding monthly sales reported in 2008. Typically, fourth quarter residential sales are the slowest for sales. The exception to that in our market was 2005 due to hurricanes Katrina and Rita which caused a enormous increase in sales for the end of that year. Also, last year with the national financial meltdown which began in July-August of 2008, closed sales for the fourth quarter were understandably slower beyond the normal seasonal dip. The sales numbers for September and October of 2009 for Lafayette Parish clearly indicates that stability has returned compared to last year. With Lafayette Parish cumulative sales reported through October 2009 just 2.89% below 2008 and the pace of the past two month’s sales well ahead of last year, we are becoming more confident that year end 2009 Lafayette sales will exceed those of 2008.

While Lafayette Parish residential sales have been surprisingly strong, those sales reported outside of Lafayette Parish (Acadia, Evangeline, Iberia, Jeff Davis, St. Landry, St. Martin, St. Mary and Vermillion parishes) continue to experience significant drops in sales when compared to 2008 levels. The cumulative January – October combined sales for those parishes declined by nearly 24% versus the same period in 2008.

Lafayette Parish new construction home sales reported through October 2009 are actually up by 1.25% over 2008 while re-sales are 4.5% below their corresponding 2008 level.

In comparing Lafayette Parish home sales to past years, 2009 sales are ahead of 2004 (pre-Katrina year) by 9.4%, but lag behind the post-Katrina boom years of 2005, 2006 and 2007 by 10.75%, 14.3% and 17.2% respectively.

Based on January – October 2009 sales reported, the average sale price for a home in Lafayette Parish was $195,777. The average sale price for the same period in 2008 was $199,420. That represents a 1.8% overall decline in average sales price of 1.8%. The median sale price for 2009 versus 2008 remained essentially the same with 2009 being $171,250 versus $171,500 for 2008.

The average sale price for Lafayette Parish new construction sales declined from $228,153 in 2008 to $207,062 in 2009. That is a 9.24% decline. The new construction median sale price also declined to $177,500 from $187,200; a drop of 5.2%. Caution should be taken not to interpret these figures as indicative of actual value loss for newly constructed homes, rather it indicative of the change in the product type that most builders have moved to over the past two years and what the consumer is purchasing – lower priced, entry-level homes. That conclusion is further evidenced in the data provided on page 16 which indicates that sales of new construction in the under $150,000 price range has increased over 2008 by 25%. Just two years ago it would have been difficult to find any new homes in Lafayette Parish available at all.

The number of months supply analysis for Lafayette Parish home sales, indicate that the demand/supply ratio remains quite positive in all price ranges except those above $300,000. That is consistent for both re-sales and new construction indicating that this segment of our residential marketplace remains significantly challenging.

Our overall forecast for the Acadiana residential marketplace remains positive. Certainly, Lafayette Parish appears more stable than our adjacent parishes. With interest rates remaining near or at historic lows and with the renewal and expansion of the housing tax credit, we remain confident in the value of home ownership in our area.

Provided & Written By: Bill Bacque', CEO of Van Eaton & Romero, INC

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Techinal Connection=Social Disconnection

We have each other at our fingertips. Now, more than ever, we are able to connect with friends and family within seconds. The internet and I phones have given us the ability to tell the world what we’re doing and find out what’s up with everything else. But has being technology connected somehow made us socially disconnected?
I have a twitter, myspace and facebook account. I’m connected to people from my past and new incredible people I wouldn’t have met in normal circumstances. I absolutely love it! But at the same time feel that it shouldn’t replace your social life. It should enhance.
I’ll give a few examples of what I’m talking about. Ever met someone online (or connected with an old friend) and clicked so well only to meet up in person and face awkward conversation? What happened here? We seemed to have so much in common chatting online? Is this online social networking affecting our ability to interact well with others in person?
Ever been out with friends and everyone was on their cell phone text messaging or on a social networking site and not talking? Very awkward feeling. You don’t want to speak because it seems as though you are bothering them. I see this a lot with a group of teenagers too. Everyone is sitting in silence consumed with the applications on their cell phones.
Ever had your children and spouse vying for your attention while you obsessively update your status? Ever looked around your house and saw everyone on technology devices, not interacting with each other?
I’m guilty of all of the above. I am aware of it. I still think that being technology connected has a lot of advantages. But I also strongly feel that the human touch is much more rewarding that the feel of a keyboard.
I do not want to be socially disconnected. When I have to wait during the day, (doctor’s office, in line at the grocery store) I do connect to the internet if I don’t have a book handy. But I also take time to acknowledge that there are other people in the room. I smile at them. I say hi if I feel compelled to do so. If they start talking to me, I talk to them, even if I don’t feel like it. They may need human compassion. They may be lonely. What is 5 minutes of my day? 5 minutes of my time may make that person’s whole day.
When I’m with friends, I’m not on social networking sites. I’m engaging with my friends. I don’t answer calls that I know will take longer than a minute. Otherwise doing so is just rude. You’re sending the message that they don’t deserve your attention. I will text but not excessively. That too is also rude.
I don’t stay on social networking sites while I’m at work so what makes me think it’s okay to do so while I’m while I’m with family? I update my status throughout the day but I don’t linger on. At night, I’m no longer staying online when I should be spending time with my husband and son. When my son looks back at his childhood, I don’t want him to remember his mom as a permanent fixture at the computer.
I think that staying connected via social networks is great because it exposes us to a lot of different types of people and opens our world to different opinions and inspirations. But if we become socially disconnected, we have a greater impact on the people around us whom we love. And not a positive impact.
My best suggestion is to be in the moment. Wherever you are, be there. If you’re sitting in class, be in class. If you are with friends, be with friends. If you are at work, be at work. Focus and savor each experience without being somewhere else mentally. When it’s time for technical time, then be there.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

July 2009 Residential Market Report

This report consists of residential home sales reported to MLS in all areas of Acadiana.

In comparison with June 2009, July 2009 has seen a decrease of 3.61% of new homes on the market. Comparing Jan-July 2009 to Jan-July 2008, there has been a decrease of 10.74%.

The dollar volume of July 2009’s closed sales increased 12.79% in comparison to June 2009 but decreased 12.68% overall comparing Jan-July 2009 to Jan-July 2008.

The following is comparing Jan-July 2009 to Jan-June 2008”
Average Sales Price increased .71%
Median Sales Price increased 2.56%
List to Sold Price Ratio increased 2.65%
Compared to June 2009, the number of sales for July 2009 increased by 13.88% but decreased 13.30% overall comparing Jan-July 2009 to Jan-July 2008.

There is a 12 day increase on the average days on the market for Jan-July 2009 in comparison with Jan-July 2008.

For a complete report or questions, please email

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

In the news....regarding appraising

Appraisal rules backfire in down market
By Jack_Guttentag
Created 2009-07-27 00:00
Enacting rules to curb abuses arising during a housing bubble, which don't take effect until the succeeding financial crisis, can easily do more harm than good. This is the case with new rules requiring that property appraisals be insulated from pressures exerted by any of the parties with a financial interest in an appraised value: primarily lenders, mortgage brokers and Realtors.
Appraisals are informed judgments regarding the value of specific properties. They are not perfect because appraisers must work with incomplete information. Further, appraisers are subject to bias, and more so if less complete information is available to them.
During periods of rising house prices, such as 2000-06, many appraisers erred on the upside because they were part of a community that expected further price increases. This tendency was sometimes reinforced by pressures exerted by lenders, Realtors and mortgage brokers. None of them wanted to see deals torpedoed by appraisals below the prices buyers had agreed to pay.
In late 2007, New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo sued the appraisal subsidiary of title insurer First American for allegedly conspiring with WaMu, a major mortgage lender at the time, to inflate appraisals. Because WaMu sold a large portion of its mortgages to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, Cuomo embarrassed the agencies into issuing a Home Valuation Code of Conduct (HVCC). The code declared that the agencies would then purchase only those mortgages supported by an "independent" appraisal.
The objective of HVCC was to insulate the appraisal process from influence by any of the parties with an interest in the outcome. Mortgage brokers and Realtors could no longer have any contact with appraisers, and lenders had to obtain appraisals in some manner that prevented them from exercising any control.
The problem with this well-intentioned rule is that it was issued in December 2008 to become effective May 1 of this year, or squarely in the middle of the worst housing market since the 1930s.
With house prices declining, the upward bias in appraisals that had prevailed during the bubble had morphed into a downward bias. Many deals are not getting done because appraisals are coming in too low, and HVCC is seriously aggravating the problem.
To protect themselves from liability, most lenders are ordering appraisals from appraisal management companies (AMCs), which intermediate between the lender and the appraiser. The AMC selects and pays the appraiser, receives and evaluates the appraisal, and passes it to the lender, which has no direct contact with the appraiser.

Because AMCs operate nationally but do not have appraisers everywhere, more appraisals are being done by appraisers who are not familiar with the local market. Appraisers working for AMCs are also paid less per appraisal than independents, which may induce them to invest less time.
Less knowledge by appraisers means more scope for bias, and in a declining-price market, the prevailing bias is toward lower values.
Intermediation by AMCs also lengthens the period required to complete purchase transactions. People involved in the process tell me that it can add an extra week. In an increasing number of cases, the paperwork doesn't get done by the contracted due date or the expiration date of the buyer's mortgage lock, either of which can derail the transaction.
The objective of HVCC was to prevent pressures being imposed on appraisers to raise values. But HVCC also prevents the loan officers, mortgage brokers and Realtors who work with borrowers from pressuring appraisers to get a deal done in time to meet a deadline. Further, they can no longer keep their clients informed about the status of an appraisal because they are no longer in the loop.
In addition, the loan officers, brokers and Realtors who fashion deals for consumers used to have access to informal value opinions from the appraisers with whom they worked. Such opinions allowed them to abort house purchases and refinances that clearly would not fly because of inadequate property value. This source of information is now closed to them, with the result that deals that previously would have been screened out are now going through the system to be rejected, imposing needless costs on everyone involved.
HVCC has also pretty much eliminated the ability of a borrower to use the same appraisal with multiple loan providers. Before HVCC, mortgage brokers could use one appraisal with any of the wholesale lenders with which they dealt, and lenders sometimes accepted appraisals ordered by others. Today, brokers are out of it and lenders using AMCs will not accept appraisals ordered by other lenders because they cannot be sure that the other lenders are following the HVCC rules. The upshot is that borrowers often have to pay for more than one appraisal.
In sum, the HVCC "cure" for the appraisal problem of overvaluation has been implemented in a market where the problem has become undervaluation, and HVCC is making that problem much worse. It should be scrapped. When normal markets reemerge will be time enough to reconsider how appraisals can be made independent without disrupting business relationships that have served borrowers well.
NOTE: I am grateful to Kevin Iverson for his insightful comments.
The writer is professor of finance emeritus at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. Comments and questions can be left at [2].

In the news....regarding real estate

Home sales show third month of gains
By Inman_News
Created 2009-07-23 09:10

Existing-home sales rose for a third month in a row in June, and prices may stabilize in many areas by the end of the year if inventories continue to decline, the National Association of Realtors said today [1].
Sales of resale homes, including single-family homes, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops, rose 3.6 percent from May to June, to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.89 million units -- virtually the same as a year ago, NAR said.
At that rate of sales, the 3.82 million homes on the market represented a 9.4-month supply, down from 9.8 months in May.
A six-month supply of homes is generally considered a healthier balance of supply and demand, but the "raw inventory" total, or number of homes on the market, is down 14.9 percent from a year ago.
A Wall Street Journal analysis of housing fundamentals [2] in 28 major real estate markets during the second quarter showed considerable variation in inventory, ranging from a high of 18.1 months in Chicago to just 2.7 months in Sacramento, Calif.
"If we can keep the volume of sales above the level of new inventory, prices could stabilize in many areas around the end of the year,” said NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun in a press release.
Distressed properties accounted for 31 percent of sales in June, a factor in the 15.4 percent decline in median home price from a year ago, to $181,800, the group said.
Appraisal issues
Yun repeated past claims by NAR that new rules for appraisals on loans slated for purchase by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac that took effect May 1 continue to dent sales.
In a survey of the group's members in June, 37 percent of Realtors claimed to have lost at least one sale because of the new rules, and 70 percent said consumers were paying higher fees, Yun said.
The Home Valuation Code of Conduct [3] was intended to protect appraisers from coercion by lenders to "hit the numbers" and produce appraisals that support a contractual sales price.
But critics say the new rules have shifted work to appraisal management companies, some of which are allegedly relying on inexperienced appraisers who are unfamiliar with the markets they are assigned to work in.
Some appraisers say market forces that continue to push home prices down in many markets are often to blame when appraisals don't support an agreed-upon sale price, and not the new rules (see story [4]).
The Federal Housing Finance Agency, which oversees Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, issued an update [5] Wednesday defending implementation of the code, saying it has not led to lower appraisals or encouraged the use of appraisal management companies.
But NAR, which has called for an 18-month suspension of the code, continues to push for change, saying inexperienced appraisers too often use distressed properties as comparable sales when valuing nondistressed properties without making appropriate adjustments.
"Clearly the process needs to be revised, but the most logical approach is to use appraisers with local expertise, industry designations and access to local data, who make a physical examination of the property and use apples-to-apples comparisons with nearby home sales,” Yun said.
Freddie Mac issued a bulletin to lenders [6] July 10 stating that appraisers "must be familiar with the local market" where they are valuing properties, choose "appropriate comparable sales," and certify them as the homes "most similar" to the property being appraised.
But the bulletin said appraisers must consider using distressed properties -- including short sales, foreclosures or real estate-owned properties -- as comparable sales if they are "representative of the properties available to typical purchasers for the market in which the property is located" (see story [7]).
This week, Fannie Mae updated a 10-page "frequently asked questions" (FAQ) on the Home Valuation Code of Conduct [8], making similar points.
The code "does not speak to foreclosure data," Fannie Mae said in a new section of the FAQ. "It is up to the appraiser to determine if the data is applicable and appropriate or not."
When appraisers sign Fannie Mae's residential appraisal report form, the FAQ noted in another new section, they are certifying that they "have knowledge and experience in appraising this type of property in this market area."
Freddie Mac also updated its Home Valuation Code of Conduct FAQ [9] this week, noting among other things that the new rules address "the relationship between the lender and the appraiser, not appraisal standards."
Housing breakdown
NAR said single-family home sales rose 2.4 percent from may to June, to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.32 million -- about the same pace as a year ago. Median price was down 15 percent from a year ago at $181,600.
Existing condominium and co-op sales grew 14 percent from May to June, to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 570,000 units, down 3.1 percent from a year ago. The median existing condo price fell 18.9 percent from a year ago, to $183,300.
Regionally, existing-home sales in the Northeast rose 2.5 percent from May to June, to an annual pace of 820,000 in June, down 4.7 percent from a year ago. The median price in the Northeast was $249,400, down 5.9 percent from a year ago.
Existing-home sales in the Midwest increased 0.9 percent from May to June, to 1.1 million a year, down 1.8 percent from a year ago. The median price in the Midwest was down 9.1 percent from a year ago, to $157,000.
In the South, existing-home sales rose 4 percent from May to June, to an annual pace of 1.81 million, down 3.7 percent from a year ago. The median price in the South was $163,200, down 11.9 percent from June 2008.
Existing-home sales in the West were up 6.4 percent from May to June, to an annual rate of 1.16 million, an 11.5 percent increase from a year ago. The median price in the West was $214,800, down 24.9 percent from a year ago.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Anti-pity party

I think that losing someone as a young child really puts things in perspective and sets the precedent for one’s ability to deal with issues. At least, it did for me.

I decided right then and there that nothing could hurt as much as having death capture someone you love. Everything else seems so insignificant in comparison. Consequently it has made me fearless. Knowing that I’ve been through the greatest thing that could ever hurt me, more than once, I know I can handle anything.

I used to think that grieving is the worst possible thing anyone can go through. Now that I’m older, I realize that everyone is different. Whatever anyone has been through, regardless of the tragedy, that is their most emotional experience. I’ve learned not to compare my definition of pain to someone else’s. We’re all on this journey together and have all experienced pain.

When I find myself feeling stressed, tired, lonely, angry, sad, confused, disappointed and broken….I remember that it could always be worse. I am healthy. I have loved ones who are healthy. I love everything about life. Even the bad stuff. I’m grateful to say that I have “inconveniences”. That means that I’m comfortable enough to recognize the aggravation.

I am appreciative that I have the opportunity to take what I don’t like and change it. As an American, there is no excuse not to succeed in what you set your mind to. All too often we feel sorry for ourselves for our shortcomings. Truth is, it’s probably your fault. Where you are in life now is a result of choices you’ve made. If you don’t like it, change it. We cannot control what happens to us but we can control how we react to it.

Whatever pains you bear, whatever you’re struggling with…know you have the power to overcome it. I don’t buy into excuses and I feel sorry for no one. No American at least. We have every opportunity at our fingertips and we take it for granted. People in this world don’t have what we have and we shouldn’t turn a blind eye to that fact. Even the poorest of the poor in America still have it better than third world countries. Most of my generation and the ones after have no idea what struggle is. Even in this recession, we are still blessed.

Happiness is not a result of the events surrounding your life. Happiness comes from within. Don’t wait to be happy. A common misconception is that one will be happy once they are financial secure. The sooner you deal with the fact that money will always be a constant worry in your life, the better. More money, bigger bills. If you cannot find joy in your current life, winning the lottery will not help you. You will be the same person with the same problems, only with more money.

I don’t really know where I’m going with this blog or what’s the purpose. But that’s what is in my heart at the moment.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Mid Year Real Estate Market Report 2009

The following report consists of residential properties reported to the MLS by all real estate companies in the Acadiana area. These are excerpts from Van Eaton & Romero's report. To view the report in it's entirety, please email me at

Closed Sales January to June: 1476 18.60% decrease from 2008

Average Days of the Market: 105 17 day increase from 2008

Average Sales Price: $176,726 2.09% increase from 2008

List to Sold Price Ratio: 96.78% 2.35% increase from 2008

Pending Sales Jan. to June: 1872 7.35 decrease from 2008

New Listings Jan. to June: 2936 11.25% decrease from 2008

In comparison with the other 80 companies in Acadiana, Van Eaton & Romero sells 25.56% in number of total sides and 32.29% in total dollar volume, making them #1 in Acadiana.

Based on solds in all of Acadiana on either side, reported to MLS:

#1-Van Eaton & Romero 753 sides $168,201,944 volume
#2-Coldwell Banker Pelican 474 sides $ 81,731,519 volume
#3-Era Stirling Properties 199 sides $ 40,142,579 volume

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Not caring what people think

People often wonder how I came to be the type of person that doesn’t care what people think. Either that or they wonder why I feel the need to pretend like I don’t care what people think. For those who think the latter, I can assure you that it’s not an act but very much factual. For the rest, here’s my take on the topic.

Here are a few things I truly believe in my heart and live every day.

#1: I do not care what people think of me. The reason: They do not live my life. Just because someone has an opinion of you (good or bad), it does not make it a fact. Face facts. People are going to talk about you whether you like it or not. Your best friends and your family WILL talk about you behind your back. It’s how people relate to other people. Keep in mind that this is an opinion based on third party observation. You know in your heart if their words hold any merit.
#2: I do not get offended by criticism. The reason: I look at it this way: It’s possible that this person is trying to help. Especially if it’s someone close to you, they may be telling you something that you need to hear no matter how much it hurts. I absorb criticisms with an open mind and if I believe it’s something that I can use to improve myself, I work on it. Then there are people who are criticizing things about you that they do not like within themselves. Almost always when people speak badly about one another, it’s regarding something that they, themselves are insecure about.

#3 I’m not flattered by praises/awards. The reason: I do not measure my self-worth by my income, my successes or my failures. When someone praises me, I appreciate it. But I view it with the same mindset as noted in #1. That’s their opinion. I would never refuse an award because the people/organization put time/money into presenting it to me. But I don’t have a shrine to myself hanging in my home either. Awards do not make me the best. And lack of recognition doesn’t make me the worst .

#4 I have no interest in fashion. The reason: I dress how I feel like dressing. If I like it, I’m wearing it. End of story. If people like or don’t like it, that’s okay. It’s fine to have an opinion. But it won’t dictate how I dress.

#5 Don’t ask me if you don’t want to know. The reason: I don’t give false praises. When someone compliments you, I accept it by saying thank you. . I also don’t lie when I’m asked for my opinion. I will not feed into your need for approval.

#6 I stay open minded. The reason: I do not know where these people have been. I usually try to understand where they are coming from to understand their outlook or thought process. I realize that my thoughts and opinions are not the “be all, end all to the universe. I respect the beliefs of others while still holding true to my own.

#7 I don’t keep up with the Jones’. The reason: I am not materialistic. I am not jealous of things that other people have. Material items do not make you happy. Happiness comes from within. I will not buy something because everyone else has it. And I’m really not impressed with the price of one’s possessions.

# 8 I am not bitter towards others. The reason: This isn’t a competition. We are here on earth for our personal journey. You don’t know what it’s like to be someone else. While things may look perfect from your point of view, there is always more to the story. It doesn’t matter if someone has a nice house, good career, happy marriage, etc. Everyone has their cross to bear. I have enough time dealing with my own crosses to want to wish to be in someone else’s shoes and deal with theirs.

#9 I treat everyone the same. The reason: You never know who you are talking to. First impressions can be deceiving. Everyone deserves to be treated with friendliness and respect unless proven otherwise. We are all equals regardless of race, religion, social status, etc.

# 10 I live my life the way I want. The reason: I’m living my life while people are sitting around talking about it.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Record Breaking Temps

In the Past Seven Days Records Have Been Tied or Broken at SeveralLocations in the Forecast Area. Records are Listed Below: New Record(2009) Old Record/year

Lake Charles
June 24 102 99/1937
June 25 102 99/1914

June 24102 97/1995
June 25 100(t)100/1902
June 28100 97/1969
June 29100 96/1969

June 24 102 99/1930
June 25 100(t)100/1930
June 28 99 98/1954
June 29 101 100/1930

June 23 102(t)102/1932
June 24 102 101/1930
June 28104 101/1932

New Iberia
June 23 100 97/1953
June 24 102 97/2005
June 25 101 97/2005
June 26 101 98/1951
June 27 97(t)97/1952
June 28 98 97/1950
June 29 100 97/1950

near Record High Temperatures will Persist Through Much of TheWeek. Additional Records May be Tied or Broken During this TimeFrame. Increased Rain Chances this Weekend Should Bring an End toThe Oppressive Heat.

7/1/09 4:15 PM
Lafayette, LA (latitude: 30.2159, longitude: -92.0904)

To the most amazing person I've met

I know being with me is a tall order… I write this to the man who can handle it

When I was younger, I imagined what my husband would be like
Or what I wanted him to be, rather
Then, shortly realized that I’d probably never marry
My ideal man was unrealistic for someone as difficult and complex as myself
I decided that the things I wanted to do in life didn’t have a place for someone who would bring me down
Little did I know that the only way to accomplish the things I wanted to do was to have the man I now call my husband
God sent him to me in spite of myself and my ideas about my life
I have joined forces with someone who completes me
My weaknesses are his strengths
I can confide in him without being judged
I always have his support in everything I go through
He understands me when I don’t understand myself
He challenges me to be the best version of myself
I’m very grateful to walk this earth with the most amazing person I’ve ever known
I can’t wait to see where our path will lead us as we grow and love together
I love you baby

To the most amazing person I've met

I know being with me is a tall order… I write this to the man who can handle it

When I was younger, I imagined what my husband would be like
Or what I wanted him to be, rather
Then, shortly realized that I’d probably never marry
My ideal man was unrealistic for someone as difficult and complex as myself
I decided that the things I wanted to do in life didn’t have a place for someone who would bring me down
Little did I know that the only way to accomplish the things I wanted to do was to have the man I now call my husband
God sent him to me in spite of myself and my ideas about my life
I have joined forces with someone who completes me
My weaknesses are his strengths
I can confide in him without being judged
I always have his support in everything I go through
He understands me when I don’t understand myself
He challenges me to be the best version of myself
I’m very grateful to walk this earth with the most amazing person I’ve ever known
I can’t wait to see where our path will lead us as we grow and love together
I love you baby

Monday, June 8, 2009

Real Estate Market Conditions

The following statistics were extracted from reported sales to MLS, courtesy of Van Eaton & Romero.

Analyzing sales from January to May of 2008 in comparison to January to May 2009. All residential sales in Acadiana in all areas were considered.

There was a 20.66% decrease in number of home sales.

The average days on the market have increased by 22 days.

The current average sale price is $175,458, a 1.63% increase.

The current average median sale price is $177,609, a 2.58% increase.

The average list to sold price ratio is 96.63%, a .57% decrease.

For a full report, email me @

Friday, June 5, 2009

Not all yard sales are created equal

Courtesy of Debbie Duplantis with Home Mortgage
Summer is one of the most popular seasons for holding a yard sale. But simply holding a yard sale doesn't necessarily mean you'll end the day with lots of extra money in your pocket. If you're planning on clearing out your clutter this summer, here are ten tips to help make your yard sale a success:

1-Start your yard sale earlier than other yard sales in your area so shoppers will start their shopping day with you.

2-Don't schedule your yard sale on a holiday weekend or during a big event in your area (like a sporting event or festival).

3-If it rains, take down your signs and reschedule your sale so you can maximize traffic on the day of your sale.

4-Before your own yard sale, visit other sales in your neighborhood to get an idea of typical prices.

5-Place all of your items (except for large items) on tables so shoppers don't have to bend.

6-If you plan to sell electrical items, have an outlet and extension cord handy so you can show shoppers that the items work.

7-If you want to sell larger ticket items, look for those items in a local circular and then attach the ad to your item so shoppers can see that they are getting a great deal.

8-If you have a variety of items that men would like, place them on their own table. If married couples stop by your sale, both parties will enjoy looking.

9-Advertise your sale ahead of time in your local newspaper classified section, on community boards at your local food stores, and online at places like

10-Wait until the morning of your garage sale to hang signs in your neighborhood, and make sure you take them down that day to avoid any fines from your homeowner's association or your town. You don't want to have to use all the cash you earn to pay a fine!

And remember, a successful sale is also a safe sale. Keep money in a pouch around your waist instead of in a cash box (which could get stolen while you are helping shoppers), don't accept checks (which could bounce), and never allow strangers inside your home to use the bathroom or telephone.

Follow these tips, and you'll be well on your way to having less clutter in your home, and more cash in your pocket!

Monday, March 30, 2009

Downtown Alive! 2009 Schedule


Downtown Alive! is now a 25-year-old community tradition and a popular staple in Acadiana’s cultural and social calendar. Downtown Alive! was first produced by Downtown Lafayette Unlimited in fall 1983 and has continued with a spring and fall season of free, family-friendly, outdoor concerts each year since.

The 25th Anniversary continues this spring, with a concert each Friday between March 13 and June 5 from 5:30 to 8:30 pm at two downtown park venues. DTA! is sponsored by Cox, Lafayette Coca Cola, and The Louisiana Campaign for Tobacco-Free Living.

Spring 2009 25th Anniversary Series features four Grammy nominated artists, and DTA! favorites of the past and present with genres from Cajun & Swamp Pop to Reggae and Rock.

Spring 2009 25th Anniversary Season Schedule

March 13 T.K. Hulin, Steve Adams & Smoke w/Special Guest Charlene Howard – Swamp Pop - Parc International

March 20 Louisiana Red - Classic covers & variety - Parc Sans Souci

March 27 Lafayette’s Bayou Boys - Cajun variety - Parc Sans Souci

April 3 Tab Benoit – Blues/Traditional Country/Vintage R&B - Parc International

April 10 Good Friday – No DTA!

April 17 Marcia Ball – New Orleans R&B/ Gulf Coast Blues - Parc International

April 24 Festival International de Louisiane

May 1 Rex Moroux – Roots Rock - Parc Sans Souci

May 8 Steve Riley & The Mamou Playboys w/Special Guest Geno Delafose – Cajun/Zydeco - Parc International

May 15 Krossfyre - R&B/Variety - Parc Sans Souci

May 22 Lil’ Buck Sinegal – Blues - Parc Sans Souci

May 29 Brass Bed w/special guests The Howdies – Rock/Americana - Parc Sans Souci

June 5 True Man Posse – Creole Reggae - Parc Sans Souci

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Acadiana Residential Market Stats February 2009 vs. 2008

In summary, the number of home sales have dropped by 25% and the time on the market has increased by 21%. The average sales price has only seen a 2% drop in price. These figures are rounded. For a full report courtesy of Van Eaton & Romero and prepared by CEO Bill Bacque...please email me @

Monday, March 16, 2009

Properties that my realtor can help me with....

Survey Question #6: A realtor can only help me with the homes that their company has listed:

A) True 11%
B) False 84%
C) They can only help me with the properties that they are the listing agent on 5%

I've covered most of this on the other survey Q & A blog. And most of the participants got this question correct. But I still constantly hear that people are confused about this. The correct answer is FALSE. Once again, your designated realtor can assist you with ANY home on the market. That includes homes listed with other realtors, other companies and even for sale by owners. So when you see a sign and you want information, call your realtor before the number advertised for the home. Your realtor can access all of the information and your interest will be represented.

On a different note, the GoGetters have a couple charities we are currently raising money for. Please let us know if you're interested in contributing.

Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. We will be walking in May to raise money to help find a cure for this disease. Our niece, Myla Mistric, was born with this. It is a disease that affects the lungs and causes children and peoople to live a life of constant medical attention. Currently there is no cure and the median life span for someone with CF is 40 years. We are selling donation "certificates" for $1 each.

We are also selling raffle tickets for the Catahoula Church Fair. This is my hometown. Tickets are $2 each and the drawing will be on April 26, 2009. Prizes are as follows:
1st place Homemade Quilt
2nd Cypress Gun Cabinet
3rd Gas BBQ pit
4th 20" digital LCD TV
5th Kitchen Aid Mixer
6th Canon Digital Camera
7th AM/FM/CD player
8th $100 Cash

Tuesday, March 10, 2009


Frequently Asked Questions

In 2008, Congress enacted a $7500 tax credit designed to be an incentive for first‐time homebuyers to purchase a home. The credit was designed as a mechanism to decrease the over‐supply of homes for sale.

For 2009, Congress has increased the credit to $8000 and made several additional improvements. This revised $8000 tax credit applies to purchases on or after January 1, 2009 and before December 1, 2009.

Tax Credits ‐‐ The Basics

1. What’s this new homebuyer tax incentive for 2009?

The 2008 $7500, repayable credit is increased to $8000 and the repayment feature is eliminated for 2009 purchasers. Any home that is purchased for $80,000 or more qualifies for the full $8000 amount. If the house costs less than $80,000, the credit will be 10% of the cost. Thus, if an individual purchased a home for $75,000, the credit would be $7500. It is available for the purchase of a principal residence on or after January 1, 2009 and before December 1, 2009.

2. Who is eligible?

Only first‐time homebuyers are eligible. A person is considered a first‐time buyer if he/she has not had any ownership interest in a home in the three years previous to the day of the 2009 purchase.

3. How does a tax credit work?

Every dollar of a tax credit reduces income taxes by a dollar. Credits are claimed on an individual’s income tax return. Thus, a qualified purchaser would figure out all the income items and exemptions and make all the calculations required to figure out his/her total tax due. Then, once the total tax owed has been computed, tax credits are applied to reduce the total tax bill. So, if before taking any credits on a tax return a person has total tax liability of $9500, an $8000 credit would wipe out all but $1500 of
the tax due. ($9,500 ‐ $8000 = $1500)

4. So what happens if the purchaser is eligible for an $8000 credit but their entire income tax liability for the year is only $6000?

This tax credit is what’s called “refundable” credit. Thus, if the eligible purchaser’s total tax liability was $6000, the IRS would send the purchaser a check for $2000. The refundable amount is the difference between $8000 credit amount and the amount of tax liability. ($8000 ‐ $6000 = $2000) Most taxpayers determine their tax liability by referring to tables that the IRS prepares each year.

5. How does withholding affect my tax credit and my refund?
A few examples are provided at the end of this document. There are several steps in this calculation, but most income tax software programs are equipped to make that determination.

6. Is there an income restriction?

Yes. The income restriction is based on the tax filing status the purchaser claims when filing his/her income tax return. Individuals filing Form 1040 as Single (or Head of Household) are eligible for the credit if their income is no more than $75,000. Married couples who file a Joint return may have income of no more than $150,000.

7. How is my “income” determined?

For most individuals, income is defined and calculated in the same manner as their Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) on their 1040 income tax return. AGI includes items like wages, salaries, interest and dividends, pension and retirement earnings, rental income and a host of other elements. AGI is the final number that appears on the bottom line of the front page of an IRS Form 1040.

8. What if I worked abroad for part of the year?
Some individuals have earned income and/or receive housing allowances while working outside the US. Their income will be adjusted to reflect those items to measure Modified Adjusted Gross Income (MAGI). Their eligibility for the credit will be based on their MAGI.

9. Do individuals with incomes higher than the $75,000 or $150,000 limits lose all the benefit of the credit?

Not always. The credit phases‐out between $75,000 ‐ $95,000 for singles and $150,000 ‐ $170,000 for married filing joint. The closer a buyer comes to the maximum phase‐out amount, the smaller the credit will be. The law provides a formula to gradually withdraw the credit. Thus, the credit will disappear after an individual’s income reaches $95,000 (single return) or $170,000 (joint return).

For example, if a married couple had income of $165,000, their credit would be reduced by 75% as shown:

Couple’s income $165,000
Income limit 150,000
Excess income $15,000

The excess income amount ($15,000 in this example) is used to form a fraction. The numerator of the fraction is the excess income amount ($15,000). The denominator is $20,000 (specified by the statute). In this example, the disallowed portion of the credit is 75% of $8000, or $6000
($15,000/$20,000 = 75% x $8000 = $6000)

Stated another way, only 25% of the credit amount would be allowed.
In this example, the allowable credit would be $2000 (25% x $8000 = $2000)

10. What’s the definition of “principal residence?”

Generally, a principal residence is the home where an individual spends most of his/her time (generally defined as more than 50%). It is also defined as “owner‐occupied” housing. The term includes single-family detached housing, condos or co‐ops, townhouses or any similar type of new or existing dwelling. Even some houseboats or manufactured homes count as principal residences.

11. Are there restrictions on the location of the property?

Yes. The home must be located in the United States. Property located outside the US is not eligible for the credit.

12. Are there restrictions related to the financing for the mortgage on the property?

In 2009, most financing arrangements are acceptable and will not affect eligibility for the credit.
Congress eliminated the financing restriction that applied in 2008. (In 2008, purchasers were ineligible for the $7500 credit if the financing was obtained by means of mortgage revenue bonds.) Now, mortgage‐revenue bond financing will not disqualify an otherwise‐eligible purchaser. (Mortgage revenue bonds are tax‐exempt bonds issued by a state housing agency. Proceeds from the bonds must be used for below market loans to qualified buyers.)

13. Do I have to repay the 2009 tax credit?

NO. There is no repayment for 2009 tax credits.

14. Do 2008 purchasers still have to repay their tax credit?

YES. The $7500 credit in 2008 was more like an interest‐free loan. All eligible purchasers who claimed the 2008 credit will still be required to repay it over 15 years, starting with their 2010 tax return.

Some Practical Questions

15. How do I apply for the credit?

There is no pre‐purchase authorization, application or similar approval process. All eligible purchasers simply claim the credit on their IRS Form 1040 tax return. The credit will be reflected on a new Form 5405 that will be attached to the 1040. Form 5405 can be found at

16. So I can’t use the credit amount as part of my downpayment?

No. Congress tried hard to devise a mechanism that would make the funds available for closing costs, but found that pre‐funding would require cumbersome processes that would, in effect, bring the IRS into the purchase and settlement phase of the transaction.

17. So there’s no way to get any cash flow benefits before I file my tax return?

Yes, there is. Any first‐time homebuyers who believe they are eligible for all or part of the credit can modify their income tax withholding (through their employers) or adjust their quarterly estimated tax payments. Individuals subject to income tax withholding would get an IRS Form W‐4 from their employer, follow the instructions on the schedules provided and give the completed Form W‐4 back to the employer. In many cases their withholding would decrease and their take‐home pay would increase. Those who make estimated tax payments would make similar adjustments.

Some “Real World” Examples

18. What if I purchase later this year but can’t get to settlement before December 1?

The credit is available for purchases before December 1, 2009. A home is considered as “purchased” when all events have occurred that transfer the title from the seller to the new purchaser. Thus, closings must occur before December 1, 2009 for purchases to be eligible for the credit.

19. I haven’t even filed my 2008 tax return yet. If I buy in 2009, do I have to wait until next year to get the benefit of the credit?

You’ll have a helpful choice that might speed up the process. Eligible homebuyers who make their purchase between January 1, 2009 and December 1, 2009 can treat the purchase as if it had occurred on December 31, 2008. Thus, they can claim the credit on their 2008 tax return that is due on April 15, 2009. They actually have three filing options.

• If they purchase between January 1, 2009 and April 15, 2009, they can claim the $8000 credit on the 2008 return due on April 15.

• They can extend their 2008 income‐tax filing until as late as October 15, 2009. (The IRS grants automatic extensions, but the taxpayer must file for the extension. See for
instructions on how to obtain an extension.)

• If they have filed their 2008 return before they purchase the home, they may file an amended
2008 tax return on Form 1040X. (Form 1040X is available at
Of course, 2009 purchasers will always have the option of claiming the credit for the 2009 purchase on their 2009 return. Their 2009 tax return is due on April 15, 2010.

20. I purchased my home in early 2009 before the stimulus bill was enacted. I claimed a $7500 tax credit on my 2008 return as prior law had permitted. Am I restricted to just a $7500 credit?

No, you would qualify for the $8000 credit. Eligible purchasers who have already claimed the $7500 credit on a 2008 return for a 2009 purchase may file an amended return (IRS Form 1040X) for the 2008 tax year. This amended return will enable them to obtain the additional $500 credit amount.

21. If I claim my 2009 $8000 credit on my 2008 tax return, will I have to repay the credit just as the 2008 credits are repaid?

No. Congress anticipated this confusion and has made specific provision so that there would be no repayment of 2009 credits that are claimed on 2008 returns.

22. I made an eligible purchase of a principal residence in May 2008 and claimed the $7500 credit on my 2008 tax return. My brother, who has never owned a home, wishes to purchase a partial interest in the home this spring and move in. Will he qualify for the $8000 credit, as well?

No. Any purchase of a principal residence (or interest in a principal residence) from a related party such as a sibling, parent, grandparent, aunt or uncle is ineligible for the tax credit. Since you and your brother are related in this way, he cannot qualify for the credit on any portion of the home that he purchases from you, even if he is a first‐time homebuyer.

23. I live in the District of Columbia. If I qualify as a first‐time homebuyer, can I use both the $5000 DC credit and the $8000 credit?

No; double dipping is not allowed. You would be eligible for only the $8000 credit. This will be an
advantage because of the higher credit amount, plus the eligibility requirements for the $8000 credit are somewhat more easily satisfied than the DC credit.

24. I know there is no repayment requirement for the $8000 credit. Will I ever have to repay any of the credit back to the government?

One situation does require a recapture payment back to the government. If you claim the credit but then sell the property within 3 years of the date of purchase, you are required to pay back the full amount of any credit, including any refund you received from it. A few exceptions apply. (See below, #24). Note that this same 3‐year recapture rule applies, as well, to the $7500 credit available for 2008.

This provision is designed as an anti‐flipping rule.

25. What if I die or get divorced or my property is ruined in a natural disaster within the 3 years?

The repayment rules are eased for many circumstances. If the homeowner who used the credit dies within the first three years of ownership, there is no recapture. Special rules make adjustments for people who sell homes as part of a divorce settlement, as well. Similarly, adjustments are made in the case of a home that is part of an involuntary conversion (property is destroyed in a natural disaster or subject to condemnation by eminent domain by an authorized agency) within the first three years.

26. I have a home under construction. Am I eligible for the credit?

Yes, so long as you actually occupy the home before December 1, 2009.


Note: The impact of estimated tax payments would be the same.

Situation 1: Sally plans her withholding so that her withholding is as close as possible to what she
anticipates as her income tax liability for the year. When she fills out her 1040, her liability is $6000.
She has had $6000 withheld from her paycheck. She also qualifies for the $8000 homebuyer credit.
Result: Sally’s withholding satisfies her tax liability and reduces it to zero. She will receive a refund of the full $8000.

Situation 2: Nick and Nora file a joint return. Nick is self‐employed and makes estimated payments; Nora has taxes withheld from her salary. When they compute their taxes, their combined withholding and estimated tax payments are $11,000. Their income tax liability is $9800. They also qualified as first time homebuyers and are eligible for the $8000 refundable tax credit.

Result: Ordinarily, their combined estimated tax payments and withholding would make them eligible for a refund of $1200 ($11,000 ‐ $9800 = $1200). Because they are eligible for the refundable tax credit as well, they will receive a refund of $9200 ($1200 income tax refund + $8000 refundable tax credit =$9200).

Situation 3: Cesar and LuzMaria both have income taxes withheld from their salaries and file a joint return. When they file their income tax return, their combined withholding is $5000. However, their total tax liability is $7200, generating an additional income tax liability of $2200 ($7200 ‐ $5000). They also qualify for the $8000 first‐time homebuyer tax credit.

Result: Cesar and LuzMaria have been under‐withheld by $2200. Ordinarily, they would be required to pay the additional $2200 they owe (plus any applicable interest and penalties). Because they are eligible for the refundable homebuyer tax credit, the credit will cover the $2200 additional liability. In addition, they will receive an income tax refund of $5800 ($8000 ‐ $2200 = $5800). If they owed penalties and/or interest, that amount would reduce the refund.

NOTE: This information was developed by The National Association of REALTORS Governmental Affairs Division. It is being distributed by Van Eaton & Romero, Inc. as a public service and is not intended to replace or supersede the advice of a competent tax professional.
We recommend that you direct any specific questions beyond the scope of the information contained herein to your tax advisor.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Shopping Experiment

I have a confession. I don’t cook very often. Everyone in my family cooks really well. For me? It’s a swing and a miss. I decided recently (as I’ve done before) that I want to start cooking. Not all the time. But I definitely want to contribute to my family’s meal experience. By doing this I’ve learned many things.

#1: I’m about to be banned from the kitchen. It’s quite funny how bad I am at it. Rather than learning how to cook, I’m actually learning what I can pull off and what to stay away from.
#2: The crock pot and I don’t always get along.
#3: My son loves to help me cook so I can get in QT with him
#4 My husband will eat anything….God bless him.
#5: It really takes strategic planning……….or shopping rather.

My typical shopping consists of a minimum of 3 weekly trips to the grocery store to buy items of need, as they come up. (this is in theory of course because I rarely do the shopping) That’s a lot of wasted time when you think about it. Each trip is a minimum of 30 minutes. 30 minutes x 3 times per week= 6 hours per month. Not to mention the cost of gas and impacting the environment with the trips. For people who are so pressed for time these days, 2 hours is a lot. That’s enough time for a monthly massage and a trip to the park. I remember my mother and grandmother taking weekly grocery trips. In which they would buy massive amounts of food, usually hitting sales. Sales were their thing. It was a sport for them. I remember them discussing what needs to be done (what meat to take out of the freezer) the night before, planning dinner for the next day. Everything was already there. I never remember them starting a dinner and then realizing that they were out of something. Well, I didn’t pick up this lifestyle. For New Year’s Day while cooking for friends/family, I sent my poor husband four, that’s right FOUR, times to the store. So I decided now I want to have more of plan like the women before me.

I have a tight nit group of friends whom I talk to about everything. A friend of mine told me her secret. Which, now I know, is not a secret at all, lots of people do this. She takes the weekly sales papers that come in the mail (I usually throw it directly in the recycle box, without even glancing) and brings it to Wal-Mart where she normally does her shopping and they match any sales price. I’m thinking that sounds like a lot of work. I want to minimize my time not add to it. But she claims it really saves money. So I decided to conduct a little experiment, because I was not convinced.

Next time the sales papers came in, I started looking at them. I found things we normally buy and started circling all these great prices. My husband saw me and wanted to know what I was doing. I told him and he pointed out that most of the items I circled are what Wal-Mart usually charges. This is when it hit me. I have no earthly idea how price of things. How is this possible? My hobby is planning and budgeting for crying out loud! I can tell you right now how much we spend per month, how much we save, how much we donate, how much we invest, etc but I can’t tell you how much individual items are such as gas, food, etc. It really hit me hard when I realized that a gallon of milk isn’t $2.16. I really thought I was close too. It’s embarrassing. I started surveying people to see if they knew the price of things and most of them did. It took me a week to get over this.

And the sale papers came once again. So my experiment began…again. This time, I circled everything we normally buy. I typed up a grocery list with the items, the sale price and which paper it’s from. I did this because I’m used of shopping with a list and didn’t want to dig in each sale paper for each item. I dragged my husband with me to Wal-Mart for help. He totally thought I was nuts trying to save a few cents here and there. But it was for research!
I had to find each item and compare. Wal-Mart was already cheaper than half of items on my list. As for the other half, I saved a grand total of $12.73. That was actually a lot more than I expected. The discount on each item varied from $.06 to $4.84. Still, I’m thinking that the time spent circling the items, typing the list, having to point out each discounted item to the cashier and holding up the line of growing disgruntled shoppers at the register isn’t worth the savings.

On the other hand, let’s look at the big picture. Let’s say that $12.73 would be the average savings per week. $12.73 x 52 weeks= $661.96 per year. A huge chunk of Americans don’t have a nest egg (savings account). Let’s say you take those savings and put it in a savings account that earns 4% interest. How much do you think it’ll grow? Yep, you guessed it, I researched that too.

Current Savings:
Years to Enrollment:
10 years
Interest Rate on Savings:
Contribution Frequency:
Amount Saved Per Period:
Total Contributions:
Number of Contributions:
Total Interest Earnings:
Interest Earnings Percentage:
Total Projected Savings:

This could help you in a number of ways 10 years from now. This is nothing but money you would have normally spent on food. Even if you’re not looking that far ahead, couldn’t you use an extra $661.96 per year? You can use it towards Christmas gifts, pay an extra mortgage/car payment, buy yourself something nice. Don’t care about having that extra money? Don’t need it? There are people in this world who greatly need it. You can donate it to the ones that do need it. Most people don’t donate money because they don’t have disposable income. Saving money that you normally spend on food can create disposable income to be able to give back.

Even in a recession, Americans are still very fortunate in comparison to the rest of the world. Yet we take our luxury for granted.

It’s not only about saving a buck. Most of us are fortunate enough not to worry about each nickel and dime. But I think it’s time for us to start thinking about how our actions affect us, our family and the world around us. Any small alteration to our lifestyle could greatly impact us, our family and others.

Will I continue to search for the sales? Maybe. Maybe not. But the research on this was fun and definitely a learning experience. I’m curious to hear your feedback.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Viewing Properties for Sale

I recently conducted a survey among friends, relatives and clients. There are many...many misconceptions about the home buying process. Here is one of the Q & A, which I elaborated on:

As a buyer, when I see a listed property I like, it's best to:

a) Call the listing agent/company who has the property I'm interested in 11%
Note: If the realtor currently represents the seller, and you don't have a buyer-agent agreement with that well are you being represented in the event you decide to buy the home? Were you even offered a buyer-agent agreement? Who's interest does the agent hold? Yours? the sellers? Is she/he just seeing dollar signs?

b) Call my realtor to ensure my interest are represented 74%
Note: This is the best answer possible and the majority knew this. Most people start their search online (which is great!). However, they usually end up with whatever realtor they get on the phone when calling/emailing to inquire or schedule a showing. What most buyers don't realize is that they have a choice of many realtors who provide different levels of professionalism and service. Before you start searching online on your own, you should interview realtors and choose the one that suits you and your needs. By doing this, you'll have a realtor to call in the event you find something (online or driving by) you'd like
to view. Realtors can help you with anything on the market regardless of what company it's listed with. And with a buyer-agent agreement, you will have mutual promises in writing to ensure your interests are represented. The GoGetters conduct interviews via phone, online chats, webcam and in person....whatever fits your lifestyle. Email us: or Call 337.291.4754 for a buyer counseling session.

c) Call the list agent/company to get info and look at the property, then call my agent to assist me in buying it 16%
Note: I cannot stress enough on how big of a "no-no" this is. By doing this, you are unintentionally leading another agent into thinking that you are their client. By doing this, it causes unneccessary problems that are easily avoidable by communicating only to your realtor for information and showings.

For more information, please contact us.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Mardi Gras, Charity & Opportunities

Acadiana’s Mardi Gras Parade Schedule
Carencro Mardi Gras Parade
Feb 21
The Carencro Mardi Gras Parade is held each year on the Saturday before Mardi Gras beginning at 11 a.m. The parade travels down University Avenue from Butcher Switch Road to Railroad Street.

Youngsville Mardi Gras Parade
Feb 21 1pm
Starts at the Public Works building and ends at Fountain View

Children's Parade
Feb 21
Mardi Gras parade featuring Lafayette's children's krewes.Lafayette. 12:30 p.m.

Krewe of Bonaparte Mardi Gras Parade
Feb 21Lafayette. 6:30 pm

Queen's Parade
Feb 23Mardi Gras parade honoring the Southwest Mardi Gras Association's
Queen Evangeline.Lafayette. 6 p.m.

King's Parade
Feb 24
Mardi Gras parade honoring King Gabriel, reigning royalty for the
Southwest Mardi Gras Association.Lafayette. 10 a.m.

Lafayette Mardi Gras Festival Parade
Feb 24
Mardi Gras parade honoring King Toussaint L'Ouverture and Queen Suzanne Simonn.Lafayette. 1 p.m.

Independent Parade
Feb 24
Sponsored by KADN Fox 15/KLAF UPN TV.Lafayette. 2 pm.

January Charity Event Report:
In January we collected donations for the Faith House of Acadiana. This charity helps abused women break free from their abuser and start fresh. Thank you to those of you who were kind enough to contribute. We were able to bring four bags of clothes/household items along with a monetary donation to the Faith House.

February Charity Event Goal:
Help us support the Big Brothers/Big Sisters of Acadiana. This program provides mentors to under privileged kids who are missing that adult figure in their life. Radim, Khaison and I will be bowling to raise money for this great cause. Please consider donating (even small amounts help). Minimum amount we need to raise is $105.
Please respond if you'd like to contribute.

Take advantage of every opportunity: The tax credit in the Stimulus Bill is $8000, or 10% of the value of the home for any first time homebuyers who purchase homes from the start of the year until the end of November. It starts phasing out for couples with incomes above $150,000 and single filers with incomes above $75,000, and buyers will have to repay the credit if they sell their homes within three years.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Slow down.....

What a gorgeous weekend Lafayette LA displayed! Perfectly clear blue skies, sunny and about 70 degrees with a breeze. Why the weather report? It has a lot to do with how I structured my weekend.

Normally, I work seven days a week. Even in my free time, I'm working. Filing paperwork, analysis, statistics...all which I consider fun. I can't sit still. I'm constantly in motion. And I'm not alone. We live in a very fast paced society. Everything was due yesterday and we are programmed to constantly do things quickly, with little to no tolerance for delay.

With today's technology, we are constantly connected. We are available to everyone all the time. But how connected are we to the things around us? Are we so immersed with our cell phone and the internet that we don't notice others around us? How often do we sit in silence? How often, when running from place to place, do we really notice the view?

I make it a point to be in the moment, no matter where I am. When I'm with clients, I don't answer the phone because I believe it's rude. Same when I'm having lunch or dinner with someone. When I'm attending a continuing education class...I don't text or email. I save that for the breaks, along with returning calls. I don't bring my phone down at all in church. You get the point. I'm pretty good about balancing "being connected" with "being in the moment".

But where I find I lack is enjoying the simple things. Paperwork and statistics will be there tomorrow. How often to I sit still and do nothing? The day was so gorgeous Saturday that I gave away my afternoon phone duty to venture out and do something different. I was going donate blood for a friend in need and couldn't go to the park if I showed up for phone duty (which is floor time at the office to answer incoming calls, for those of you not in real estate). So I packed up the car with a blanket, soccer ball, husband(who had to cancel his workout) and son and headed to the park. I thought about bringing a book because I knew I'd be bored otherwise but decided against it. The whole point was to do nothing. And not feel guilty for it. We did make a pit stop for sandwiches from Quiznos. (if you haven't realized, I'm not all that domestic and was not prepared for a real picnic)

The park was packed with people but not in an annoying way. There was plenty of space for everyone. We sat and ate our sandwiches. Then we sprawled out on the blanket. Sometimes talking, sometimes not. We stared at the sky. We watched other people. We even did yoga. Khaison, our son, didn't want to play on the playground. He was content kicking around a soccer ball.

The theme continued to the night. We didn't watch tv or play the Wii. We played Monopoly for three hours. Khaison seriously beat his two realtor parents....go figure.

For those of you that are thinking, "What is this chic writing about? My weekends are always like that." Good for you! You get it! You are already enjoying the little things in life. For those of you who can relate to should definitely try just doing nothing. I felt the grass beneath my feet yesterday. How often do you feel the grass beneath your feet? How often do you take in the scenery? How often do you play a board game?

I now feel rejuvenated. Remember that life is good but if you don't slow down and enjoy it, it'll pass you by.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Perception of a realtor

What do people think of when they picture a real estate agent? Most likely they will see a very busy individual that is constantly running around on the phone , emailing, texting and driving all at the same time. Most people probably see someone who is constantly in a hurry to make that next commission. People most likely will feel that there agent is overpaid. Why pay this person when I can do it myself for free?
Problem is…there is some truth to the perception, depending on what type realtor that person has dealt with. Bottom line is, the public has no clue what realtors do nor do they need to know exactly all what we do. What they do need to know is that we know what we’re doing when we are providing services to them.

How do the Real Estate GoGetters overcome the negative perception the public has of realtors?

Everywhere we go, people want to talk to us about real estate. We take that opportunity to listen and learn from it. People are quick to tell us negative experiences. We rarely hear of the positive ones. We try to take those negative perceptions and use them as a tool to perfect our services.
Effectively communicating is key. Most complaints are due to poor communication between realtor and client.
First off, before engaging in a realtor/client relationship…we conduct a counseling session, tailored for a buyer or seller, whatever the case may be. In this session, the process of buying or selling is broken down and explained to them. Our roles as well as theirs are identified. We feel that by doing this, the client knows what to expect.
Our services are systematic and consistent. Through continuing education, such as CRS courses…we have been able to put a system in place that allows us to cater to our growing clientele. Clients see that we are steadily busy but not frazzled nor overwhelmed.
Our means of communication is flexible and tailored to the comfort level and preference of each individual client. Our clients have the option of phone calls, internet chatting, text messaging, emails and webcam chats. Our clients also have our full attention when interacting with us. We do not answer our phone when we are with clients. We live in the here and now. It’s not necessary to constantly be “plugged” in order to be successful. We return calls and emails the same day. Clients respect that about us. They are okay with waiting on a return call because they are confident that it will be returned and with full attention.
Throughout any process, listing or selling, the client is constantly informed of what’s going on through weekly updates and copies of emails regarding the transaction.

As far as perception on honesty, integrity and ethics…there should be no problem. I’m appalled that this is not obvious. If you, as a client question your realtor’s honesty, integrity and ethics—run fast!
GoGetters on Honesty: Don’t ask if you don’t want an honest answer. It’s like diarrhea of the mouth for us…it’s coming right out! We don’t use “sales” tactics. We’re not in sales. We are service providers. We are here to assist you in accomplishing your real estate needs/goals.
GoGetters on Integrity: Our clients’ needs are put first. Seriously. We love what we do. We get paid for it. But our clients are not a paycheck to us. We only work with clients that are committed to us. We work with clients with different needs in all price ranges.
GoGetters on Ethics: We work with buyers and sellers by contract only. We pay close attention to our fiduciary duties. We do not steal other realtor’s clients. If we learn that you were working with a realtor prior to us, we are willing to work with you only if there services were unsatisfactory to you. We also give the realtor a courtesy call and possibly more depending on the situation. We don’t compete…we create! Maintaining professionalism is very important to us.

In a nutshell, we run our real estate services as a business. An honest, professional, successful real estate business. Money comes and goes but relationships last a lifetime.
Please contact me with questions or if you’d like for me to elaborate.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Home is where your heart is...

I'm from a small town. A really small town. I still have the same friends as I did in kindergarten and the ones I made in highschool. Our friendships have evolved. We don't spend alot of time with each other. We see each other at weddings, showers, funerals and occasionally out shopping. But there is comfort in knowing that we're there. A phone call away. I'd like to think that everyone has this but I know it's special and rare.

We recently started a supper club with just the girls from the actual graduating class (not including the ones who graduated elsewhere). Tonight was the first night. I really didn't want to go. I've been working alot. I'm tired. I'm worn out. I badly needed rest. I actually cried on the way there because I'm exhausted and depressed. Why do I put so much on my plate? I think to myself. I have a really fast paced high demand job that I love but leaves little to no time for a social life outside of work. But I'm determined to squeeze in charity work, family time, social activities and time for myself. Most of the time I love the chaotic lifestyle and the efficiency of the way I fit all corners of my life into my daily schedule. However, a day like today I was feeling sorry for myself and stressed.

I wiped my face before I arrived. I "pushed" through a 20 minute panic attack and ended up having a great time. No matter how much time passes between visits with my friends, it feels like yesterday when we get together. There are no awkward pauses. There is a constant flow of chatter gaining octaves as one tries to be heard over the other. These people know me. Really know me. No matter where I go in life, or how many people I meet, I only really feel comfortable with these people. Truly comfortable. We can laugh. Really laugh, not laugh to be polite. We can talk really fast without having to worry about our accents and dialect. I have changed so much yet stayed much of the same. We all except each other for who we are. We will always have each other in our hearts. And sometimes we have each other for a few hours of conversation and laughter.

I know they have there own lives that are just as busy and between work and kids it's hard to share themselves with others. But tonight they really lifted my spirits and reminded me that we all have to make time and share ourselves with others. Even simple things can make the world of difference in someone else's life.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Local Market Facts

I absolutely love to talk about real estate. Usually everywhere I go, I try to direct the conversation, at some point, towards real estate. It’s what I do, it’s what I know and it’s what I love. Lately, I don’t have to weasel real estate into the conversation. Now it’s the first thing people want to talk about when they see me. Fantastic! However, thanks to the national media (who is always just full of positive news) , I usually get “How’s the market?” asked gingerly with pity. When I respond, “Great!” They are shocked and may not even believe me.

Lately, I have buyers and sellers who are informed by peers and family members who watch and read the national news. It’s absolutely wonderful that everyone is concerned and taking an interest in real estate. One question that you should always ask yourself when being fed someone’s facts (opinions) about the market. What is their source? Are they a real estate professional? It is always wise to double check the information with your local real estate professional. I’m always open for questions.

Here are some local market facts for Acadiana, which is located in Louisiana and consists of the following parishes Lafayette, St. Martin, Iberia, Vermillion, St. Landry, Acadia and St. Mary.

Data was gathered from the Realtor Association of Acadiana’s MLS system. There is no implied warranty of the accuracy of the information. I can only go by what was reported to the MLS. Years studied were 1993 to 2008.

Today you can buy an averaged priced home for the price of $170,000 that was on the market for an average of 88 days. Rewind to 15 years ago in 1993, and you could have bought an averaged priced house for $90,000 that was on the market for 98 days. That is a 53% increase in average sales price over the course of 15 years. 1738 homes were sold in 1993 in comparison to 2008’s 3488. Here’s the last 15 years in review:

Year: Average Sales Price Comparison to previous year
1993 $90,037 N/A
1994 $94,353 5% increase
1995 $102,397 8% increase
1996 $108,623 6% increase
1997 $114,924 5.5% increase
1998 $120,808 5% increase
1999 $123,840 2.5% increase
2000 $124,283 less than 1% increase
2001 $129,536 4% increase
2002 $128,886 1% decrease
2003 $133,692 4% increase
2004 $142,171 6% increase
2005 $162,712 13% increase
2006 $175,837 7.5% increase
2007 $178,453 1.5% increase
2008 $169,858 5% decrease

After the one decrease in 2002, the rates dropped to similar numbers we’re seeing today in 2003 and business picked up again. Acadiana has always done their own thing, real estate wise, than the rest of the country. When parts of the nation were rising to incredible prices, were still gradually increasing. The only spikes you’ll see is 2005-2006 that were a result of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. Lots of newly homeless people had no choice but to relocate in Acadiana. The 5% decrease you see in 2008? That’s the market correcting itself from the unusual price spikes we saw. Overall, Acadiana’s market seems to increase 4% per year. We are still ahead! Although NO ONE can predict the future of real estate, one could assume the following: If history repeats itself, as it usually does, one could invest in a $170,000 home and in 15 years would receive a $102,000 return on investment.
My professional opinion of today’s market is this: It’s still a powerful investment. The rates are at an all time low and that is going to jump start sales. Lots of buyers are sitting on the fence waiting for “rock bottom” prices. But just like the stock market, you don’t know it hit “rock bottom” until it’s already on its way back up. Don’t delay. Buy when it’s the right time for you. Take advantage of the super low rates today because we don’t know how long it will last.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Hugs...good or bad?

A little before Christmas, the CEO of the company I work for sent me the following youtube video. I thought it was such a cool idea. How simple but hugs. I then visited and read what this was all about. My take on it was that it was a great way to show others that time and compassion are much more valuable than any gift that can be bought in a store. Lafayette, LA isn't the type of city that has heavy foot traffic. The only place I knew would be packed Christmas Eve day would be the mall. Even better!!! While people are running frantic to find that "perfect gift", a hug or the idea of a hug could shed some light and help them to remember that it's about people, not things.

So I went down to the mall on December 23rd with my great spinoff idea. I'm just smitten, thinking to myself that I'll make this an annual thing. For those of you who didn't click on the above's the plan, in a nutshell. I was planning to hold a sign that says "FREE HUGS". People who want or need one can approach and hug me. Those who don't want to can pass me by. Simple right?

I went to the mall office (i didn't even know one existed until I spoke to customer service). I met with a young man in his office. I asked permission for the above plan. He sat laid back with one foot propped (on a coffee table I think) and asked a series of questions. His main concern was that people were going to feel violated. Their personal space is at stake! To answer that concern, I explained that there is no violation of personal space. No one would be approached or spoken to unless they approached me. He decided to give me an example. The booths in the middle aisles of the mall where the salespeople use very aggressive sales tactics to where they stand in your way, violates people's personal space. HHmmm...okay...then why are they in the mall if that is a major concern of yours? I wonder to him. The response was that it's contractual and he has no control over it. Okay....

On the the next obstacle, which was that I would need a MILLION DOLLAR insurance policy to be able to do this on the mall premises. This shouldn't be a big deal I'm thinking to myself. I could make a phone call my my liability insurance agent and find out if it would cover this. But for what? So I inquired of the reason. He responded that I could get hurt such as slipping and falling. Again, I wondered aloud....Every person in the mall could potentially slip and fall, do you require your shoppers to carry million dollar policies?

My mission wasn't to inspire others to hug strangers. It was beyond that. I was hoping to inspire others to think outside the box. I was hoping to shock folks with the oddity of it all. My mission was to help people realize that ANYONE can do charity work. Think simple. Well, this guy didn't get it and he wasn't having it in his mall.

To shut me up, his bottom line was actually that he doesn't think that the mall is the best place to test drive this idea. Fair enough. I asked where would he suggest an idea like this would be more acceptable. He actually had a couple of good events and college campus. I thanked him and left.

Out of curiosity, before leaving, I asked what would have happened to me if I would have gave out free hugs in the mall without consulting him. He informed me that I would have been arrested on trespassing and assault charges. WOW!

I was in awe. My mind played back to when I visited YouTube and the site for Free Hugs. I read briefly on how Free Hugs were banned but didn't pay much mind to it. I thought that was absurd. How can you have a law against hugging people who want to be hugged? I realized that the guy I spoke to at the mall did his job well. I'm not criticizing him. He's doing what he knows needs to be done because of past experience, I'm sure. It just makes me sad that there is so much red tape for something as simple as this. Come to think of it, there is red tape and precaution for EVERYTHING. Why is that you think? I would love here others ideas on this....