Friday, February 25, 2011

2011 Acadiana Parade Schedule

February 26
Krewe des Chiens Parade
Downtown, Lafayette. Costume contest at noon, parade at 2 p.m.

Krewe of Carnivale en Rio Parada
Downtown to Cajun Field, Lafayette. Lafayette's newest krewe parades with spectacular new floats and nearly 600 riders armed with over 60 tons of the coolest collection of beads and throws. 337-984-6522,

February 27

Courir de Mardi Gras - Old-Fashion Mardi Gras Run
Vermilionville, 300 Fisher Rd., 10:45 a.m. - 1 p.m. Lafayette. The Basile Mardi Gras Association returns to stir up mischief and fun by bringing their country Mardi Gras to the city. On Sunday, they will bring many of their deep-rooted traditions including costumes and begging for gumbo ingredients in a tradition "run" through the historic village. After the run, gumbo will be available for purchase. Don't miss out on the king cake demonstration at 12:30 p.m. or the Lafayette Rhythm Devils performance that afternoon at 1 p.m. Adults - $8, Senior Citizens - $6.50, Children - $5, Under 6 yrs. - FREE, Memberships honored. AAA Members receive $1.00-OFF admission. 337-233-4077,

Scott Mardi Gras Parade
1 p.m. 337-269-5155

March 4

Friday Night Parade
Downtown to Cajun Field, Lafayette. Featuring multiple krewes from the Greater Southwest Mardi Gras Association. 337-232-3737, 800-346-1958,

March 4-8

Le Festival de Mardi Gras a Lafayette
Cajun Field, Lafayette. Presented by the Greater Southwest Louisiana Mardi Gras Association, the festival includes an exciting carnival midway, native Cajun foods and an outstanding line-up of live entertainment. To make the festival a complete Mardi Gras experience, all of Lafayette?s parades roll through the festival grounds. 337-232-3737, 800-346-1958,

March 5

Carencro Mardi Gras Parade
Downtown, Carencro. 11 a.m. Organized by the Carencro Mardi Gras Association, the parade begins at Carencro High School. 337-896-4147.

Children's Parade
Downtown to Cajun Field, Lafayette. 12:30 p.m. Featuring Greater Southwest Mardi Gras Association children's krewes. 337-232-3737, 800-346-1958,

Youngsville Mardi Gras Parade *the Real Estate GoGetters will be on a float in this parade! Let us know where you will be standing and we’ll try to throw you something!*
Public Works building to Fountain View, Youngsville. 1 p.m. 337-856-4181.

Krewe of Bonaparte Parade
Downtown to Cajun Field, Lafayette. 6:30 p.m. 337-232-3737, 800-346-1958,

March 7 ~ Lundi Gras

Queen's Parade
Downtown to Cajun Field, Lafayette. 6 p.m. Celebrating Queen Evangeline and her Court. 337-232-3737, 800-346-1958,

March 8 ~ Mardi Gras Day!

King's Parade
Downtown to Cajun Field, Lafayette. 10 a.m. Celebrating King Gabriel, who reigns over the Lafayette Mardi Gras. 337-232-3737, 800-346-1958,

Lafayette Mardi Gras Festival Parade
Downtown to Cajun Field, Lafayette. 1 p.m. Celebrating King Toussaint L'Ouverture and Queen Suzanne Simmone. 337-232-3737, 800-346-1958, www.Lafayette.Travel.

Fox 15 Independent Parade
Downtown to Cajun Field, Lafayette. 2 p.m. 337-237-1500,

Thursday, February 24, 2011

What to look for in a buyer's agent

Excerpts from an article written By Reno Berkeley

Real estate agents may work exclusively with buyers or may switch between sellers and buyers, depending on preference. In some states, real estate agents must also work under a licensed broker. When you choose a buyer's agent, there are a number of things to look for to make your experience more pleasant and less stressful.

A Clear Cut Contract
Your buyer agent should offer you a contract that is clear and concise. Most agents do not require a retaining fee to work with you. The reason for this is because the agent will receive a percentage of the sales price from the selling agent. Some buyer's agents, however, do require a fee to work with you, and this should be delineated within the contract. The agent should also be upfront about any fees charged before you sign any paperwork. A fee or a lack thereof does not necessarily indicate an agent's skill or experience, and depending on your locale, a retainer may or may not be the norm.

Experience and Knowledge
A buyer agent should know how to do the following: locate and assess properties in your chosen price range, decide on the best offer amount based on fair market value, develop a negotiating strategy with you and prepare a purchase contract. Buyer agents should have your best interest in mind. Therefore, once a property is under contract, the buyer's agent should recommend the best home inspector for you if you don't already have one, and walk through the home herself to determine possible issues with the property.

Strong Credentials
•Buyer agents should have strong credentials that set them apart from uncertified agents or those without certain designations. For example, if you are looking for a home in a certain neighborhood, your best bet is to find an agent who is a neighborhood or residential specialist for that area. Most real estate agents are also Realtors. In order to be one, the agent must have a GRI designation, meaning "Graduate Realtor Institute." This entails more training and knowledge than agents who do not have this designation. Buyer agents who come with referrals from previous clients can also be a good indication of the level of service you will receive during your home search.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Become an educated buyer

This is an article By Rick Perkins
Stark County Asociation of Realtors
I wanted to add that as realtors we know that you want to do alot of research on your own, which is great! But you don't have to settle in dealing with whichever realtor is on the sign outside (the seller's realtor). You owe it to yourself to research realtors and find a buyer's agent who works for you, someone you trust. That buyer's agent can help you with any home on the market, regardless of what real estate company it's listed with, including for sale by owners. You just have to call your realtor first when you see something of interest. When visiting an open house, just be honest and let the seller's agent know that you have a realtor. Happy House Hunting!

With the prequalification and preapproval process behind you, now is the time to start doing your homework and taking some field trips. Consider using the remaining cold winter months to plan for your buying needs.

Become an educated buyer: Research neighborhoods, read ads and visit open houses.

If you were changing cities, the standard advice is to subscribe to the newspaper in the new town and start reading local news and classified ads to get a feeling for different neighborhoods. Although that is a good idea, you can simplify and streamline the house-hunting process by using the Internet to find a home, find a Realtor, find a neighborhood and find resources.

For local moves, you have the advantage of driving around neighborhoods that interest you and looking at lawn signs. Particularly on weekends, you will see “Open House” postings. Do not hesitate to visit open houses, as it is an excellent way to familiarize yourself with the market.

Your Wish List

Making sure you end up with the right home involves figuring out what features you need, want and do not want in a home. Before starting your search, make a “wish list” to decide which features are essential, which are nice “extras,” if you happen to find them and which are completely undesirable.

The more specific you can be in what you want, the more effective your home search will be. Keep in mind, that in the end, every home purchase is a compromise. Create your own personalized “wish list” and when you are finished, share it with your Realtor-partner.

Is it close to your favorite spots?

Make a list of the activities — movies, health club, church, etc. — you engage in regularly and stores you visit frequently. See how far you would have to travel from each neighborhood you are considering to engage in your most common activities.

Check out the school district. This is especially important if you have children, but it also can affect resale value. The Ohio Department of Education can provide information on test scores, class size, percentage of students who attend college and special enrichment programs. If you have school-age children, visit schools in the neighborhoods you are considering.

Find out if the neighborhood is safe. Ask the police department for neighborhood crime statistics. Consider not only the number of crimes but also the type, such as burglaries or armed robberies, and the trend of increasing or decreasing crime. In addition, is crime in only one part of the neighborhood, such as near a retail area?

Determine if the neighborhood is economically stable. Check with the city’s economic development office to see if income and property values in the neighborhood are stable or rising. What is the percentage of homes to apartments? Apartments do not necessarily diminish value, but do mean a more transient population. Do you see vacant businesses or homes that have been for sale for months?

See if you will make money. Ask your Realtor-partner to get information about price appreciation in the neighborhood. Although past performance is no guarantee of future results, this information may give you a sense of how good of an investment your home will be. Your Realtor-partner also may be able to tell you about planned developments or other changes in the neighborhood — like a new school or highway — that might affect value.

Make personal observations. Once you have narrowed your focus to two or three neighborhoods, go there and walk around the area. Are homes tidy and well maintained? Are streets quiet? How does it feel? Pick a warm day if you can and chat with people working or playing outside.

Buying a home can be one of life’s most exciting experiences — and one of the most challenging. The more prepared you are at the outset, the less overwhelming and the buying process will be.

If you have any questions about the home buying or selling process, or if you are having trouble making your monthly mortgage payment contact a Realtor with the Stark County Association of Realtors. A Realtor will help you in the process from start to finish. Keep in mind, legal questions regarding real estate should be directed to an attorney

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

The Truth about the Real Estate Market

You can watch the national news and think that you know what the market in Acadiana is like based on that. But here are the real statistics for 2010:

The number of homes sold in 2010 compared to 2009 increased by 3.44%.

The average days on the market increased to 104 from 96.

The average sales price decreased -2.48% to $168,847.

The average list to sold price ratio was 96.42%, which is a .12 decrease.

Van Eaton & Romero ranked number one in the market on sold homes, beating out Coldwell Banker Pelican-it's closest competitor by double the dollar volume sales.

Top Five in 2010: Company, Transaction Sides, Dollar Volume
Van Eaton & Romero 1772.5 $344,230,899
Coldwell Banker 1005.0 $166,919,868
Keller Williams 524.5 $ 85,810,048
ERA Stirling 392.5 $ 66,276,899
Remax Acadiana 338.0 $ 54,978,825

Information provided by market analysis prepared by CEO of Van Eaton & Romero, Bill Bacque'. For a full market report, email

Data compiled from MLS sales only in all GEO areas, both listing and selling sides.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Questions to ask realtors you are interviewing:

Came across this article online last week and these are MY answers:

1. How long have you been a real-estate agent? As with any profession, experience matters. The more seasoned the agent, the better representation you're likely to get. Kisha: I’ve been a realtor since June of 2003, so almost eight years.

2. Do you sell homes part or full time? The real estate industry has its share of part-timers hoping to stumble onto a few home sales a year. If you're considering hiring a part-time real-estate agent, ask yourself: Am I confident this agent has tracked local activity closely enough to understand today's unpredictable market? Will he or she be able to give my home sale the time and attention it requires? Kisha: I am and always was a full time agent dedicating all my business time to real estate.

3. What training do you have? Has the agent earned industry designations or completed specialized training in areas like negotiation or working with first-time buyers? If not, think hard about whether the agent is dedicated enough to the profession to acquire and develop the skills necessary to succeed. Kisha: I am constantly and consistently continuing my education as a realtor. I not only take the mandated 12 hours required by the Real Estate Board of Commission but also have received the following designations by completing and passing courses as well as maintaining a level of production.
CRS Council of Residential Specialist
GRI Graduate of the Realtor Institute
SRS Seller Representative Specialist
ABR Accredited Buyer Representative
GREEN Certified in Green Real Estate Education

4. How many homes have you sold in the past month, quarter and year? Sales statistics are a quick way to gauge real-estate agents' competence. "I asked three agents for sales statistics from the last six months, because I didn't think the last month or quarter were fair to evaluate in this economy and my home's market," says Gordon. "The agent I chose sent me a spreadsheet showing his statistics and his company's, compared to others within the last two years." Kisha: I have statistics available upon request.

5. What's the average "days on market" for your listings? The best real-estate agents know their clients and market so well that they sell homes faster than their competitors. Ask agents for data that compares the average time it takes them to sell homes with the average time it takes all other agents in the local market. Kisha: I have statistics available upon request, tailored to your area since I service all of Acadiana, market conditions vary by area.

6. What will you do to market my home? There's a debate among real-estate agents over the value of traditional marketing tools like open houses and newspaper advertising versus website advertising and virtual tours. "I was looking for a well-rounded plan with print and website ads and Internet virtual tours, along with information on how agents would follow up based on what their web statistics told them," says Gordon. If you're not sure which marketing tools are best, ask agents which tools they think will sell your home, and why. Kisha: In the age of technology and internet, we are able to exposed our listings on a much broader range than print ads ever could. Therefore, we spend most of our time and money generating leads and interest through our website, affiliate websites, facebook and craiglist. Although our listings are still present in local print ads.

7. How will you keep me informed? A common complaint among consumers is that after they've hired a real-estate agent, there's radio silence. "That was my biggest problem," says Gordon. "I had to call the agent to call to find out information. This time, I specifically asked agents, 'How am I going to know what's going on?' The agent I chose told me he'd send me market statistics every week. I also told him I wanted to chat every six weeks to see what was selling in my home's market."
Gordon knows that she asked a lot of her real-estate agent, but she offers no apologies. "I probably drove this real-estate agent nuts," she says. "But I've been very active this second time around." Kisha: Radim does weekly reports for sellers that include number of showings, inquiries, website hits, new competing listings and sold comparables. This helps our seller stay on top of the market as it constantly changes. When we receive feedback from showings, he also sends the feedback. Everything is done electronically for fast convenient service.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Buying is cheaper than renting in most cities

Provided by Van Eaton & Romero:

(SAN FRANCISCO) – Research conducted by finds that buying a home is actually cheaper than renting in 36 of the country’s top 50 markets, and it’s about break-even in most of the others.

The company said its study showed that only in New York, Seattle, Kansas City and San Francisco is it cheaper to rent than buy.

"Since the start of the recession, many former homeowners have flooded the rental market. Following the principles of supply and demand, renting has become relatively more expensive than buying in most markets," said Pete Flint, CEO and co-founder of Trulia.

The study was based on the cost of renting or buying a two-bedroom

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Sales Tax on your Home~ correct information

Information from Van Eaton & Romero:

A 3.8 Percent “Sales Tax” on Your Home?

Q: Does the new health care law impose a 3.8 percent tax
on profits from selling your home?

A: No, with very few exceptions. The first $250,000 in
profit from the sale of a personal residence won’t be taxed,
or the first $500,000 in the case of a married couple. The
tax falls on relatively few — those with high incomes from
other sources.

The sort of people who would have to
pay the tax might include, for example:
■A single executive making $210,000 a year who sells his
$300,000 ski condo for a $50,000 profit. His tax on the sale
of that vacation home would amount to $1,900, in addition
to the capital gains tax he would have paid anyway.
■An "empty nester" couple with combined income of over
$250,000 a year who sell their $1 million primary residence
to move to smaller quarters. If they cleared $600,000 on the
sale, they would be taxed on $100,000 of the profit (the
amount over the half-million-dollar exclusion). Their health
care tax on the sale would amount to $3,800 over and
above the usual capital gains levy.

However, a typical home sale would not incur any tax. In
March, for example, half of all existing homes sold for
$170,700 or less, according to the National Association of
Realtors. Obviously, none of those sales could possibly
generate a $250,000 profit, and so none would be subject to
the tax.

Thus, for the vast majority, the 3.8 percent tax won’t apply.
The Tax Foundation, in a report released April 15, said the
new tax on investment income (including real estate) "will
hit approximately the top-earning two percent of families"
when it takes effect in 2013.