Northshore 4th of July Festivities

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Looking to celebrate the 4th on the Northshore? Here are a few great options!

  • WED. JULY 3 from 6-9PM: SPARKS IN THE PARK- COVINGTON- BOGUE FALAYA PARK.
    • According to their website: “This fun, family event includes patriotic music and fireworks at Bogue Falaya Park in downtown Covington. Festivities begin at 6:30 p.m. Attendees will an exciting fireworks display beginning at dusk (approximately 8:45 pm). Free for kids are face painting and balloon twisting, and concessions will be available for purchase. You can also join in the 2nd annual Hot Dog Eating Challenge, starting at 7:30 p.m. Attendees are welcome to bring their own chairs and picnic. This event is free and open to the public.”
  • WED. JULY 3 @6PM: PEARL RIVER 4TH OF JULY CELEBRATION– PEARL RIVER- DOWNTOWN
    • Opening celebration is at 6PM and fireworks will begin at dusk.  Admission is free and there are multiple activities for children.
    • Click here for all the details!
  • THURSDAY, JULY 4 11AM- TIL 10PM: MADSIONVILLE OLD FASHIONED 4TH OF JULY CELEBRATION– WATER STREET ON THE MADISONVILLE RIVERFRONT
    • Fireworks begin at 8:30PM, admission is free
    • parade, pageant, kids activities, contests, prizes and food!
    • Schedule of Events
  • THURSDAY, JULY 4 4-6PM: THE MANDE MILKSHAKERS INDEPENDENCE DAY EXTRAVAGANZA– MANDEVILLE LAKEFRONT

 

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Northshore Neighborhood Spotlight: Riverwood

(Covington, LA, 70433)

The Northshore is filled with so many beautiful neighborhoods! We want to spotlight different neighborhoods each week to show what the Northshore has to offer. What’s so great about our area is the ability to choose between newer neighborhoods and older, more established neighborhoods. There are benefits to both and it ultimately comes down to your personal preference. Love mature trees and a mixture of architectural styles? An older neighborhood might be for you. Prefer the low maintenace of fewer trees and more modern homes? You might want to concentrate your home search on a more recently built subdivision.

The Neighborhood of Riverwood

Today we are going to spotlight Riverwood subdivision. Riverwood is one of the most established subdivisions in Covington, having been founded 1964, but it is one of the most beautiful neighborhoods, as well. It borders both the Pontchitolawa Creek and the Tchefuncte River and its 344 homes are all situated on at least 1/2 acre lots. Located in Covington, but close to Mandeville and the Causeway, Riverwood offers great convenience to New Orleans commuters, as well. Driving through Riverwood, its easy to see why its one of the most beloved Northshore neighborhoods. The beautiful, mature trees make for a serene and park-like setting while the large lots lend a feeling of openness and space.

Tree canopy in Riverwood

Amenities

Riverwood offers many amenities to its residents, including a pool, clubhouse, playgrounds, boat dock and boat launches. Riverwood does have a governing body called the Riverwood Improvement Association. Membership is mandatory for residents and the annual dues are $160. The pool, however, requires an additional annual fee of $230 for a family membership and $130 for a senior/single membership- not a bad price for the convenience of swimming right down the street from your home!

Home Ownership in Riverwood

As the square footages of homes in Riverwood vary greatly, so do the home prices. Currently, there are homes listed in Riverwood between $240,000 (with 2085 sq ft) and $620,000 (with 5307 sq ft)! So Riverwood presents home ownership opportunities for a wide range of potential homeowners. But one thing is common among every Riverwood resident- pride of ownership!

Check out some pictures of Riverwood and its great amenities!

Playground area with basketball court
Playground
clubhouse with pool
gated entry to clubhouse/pool/boat docks/playground

Do you live in Riverwood? What else is special about it? What other neighborhoods would you like to see spotlighted? Leave us a comment below!

*New Listing* 78371 Old Military Road (Hwy 1082), Covington LA 70433

Welcome to Trinity

$2,195,000

Our newest listing, the 20-acre estate known as Trinity, is not just a house.

It’s an experience.

With a 3+ acre stocked pond, beautifully landscaped gardens, and gorgeous outdoor kitchen and entertaining area, Trinity offers what few others can: a relaxed, country atmosphere that is only 10 minutes from the heart of Covington, LA.

This home boasts over 5,700 square feet of living area and has been recently renovated so it feels like new construction. The downstairs features 3 bedrooms plus a very large office/playroom and upstairs you’ll find a huge bedroom with its own bath and closet. This could easily be a 5 bedroom house.

Every detail of this home was carefully considered, from the kitchen with the Wolf gas cooktop and Subzero refrigerator to the French oak flooring in the bedrooms. For additional space (not included in total square footage), this home features a separate storage barn with guest house. The guest house has one bedroom with living room, full kitchen and full bath.

Trinity really does have it all. Imagine driving through your gated entrance with beautiful, flowering crepemyrtle trees flanking either side of your private drive, catching a glimpse of your lush garden and serene pond in the background, and calling Trinity your home.

Separate guest house and storage barn:

Are you interested in viewing Trinity? Call Lynn @ 504-577-6802 or Lauren @ 985-602-9597 for your private tour.

5 Low or No Money Down Home Loans in 2019

Buying a house is a major decision. It might be the biggest financial decision you’ll ever make. However, I’m often suprised when people tell me they’ve just assumed they cannot afford to buy a house due to not having a ton of cash saved up. If you’ve been on the fence about buying a home because you fear you’ll need a hefty down payment, read on. You might discover buying is more within your reach than you’d originally thought.

But aren’t big down payments required?

Nope, not necessarily. One of the major factors keeping many from buying is the (often incorrect) mindset that it’s simply not financially attainable. The average down payment for first time home buyers, according to the National Association of Realtor’s Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers, is only 6%. Yet, when polled, 87% of people think at least a 10% down payment is needed. But did you know there are loans that require a down payment even less than that? Some even require ZERO down payment. Let’s talk about 5 of the major options in 2019.

FHA Loans

The Federal Housing Administration (FHA), which was created to make home ownership more attainable to the average American after the Great Depression, only requires a 3.5% down payment. FHA loans are guaranteed (insured) by the federal government and are a very popular option because federal backing allows lenders more flexibility in the challenging and often frustrating underwriting process. These loans require not only lower down payments but also a less stringent (580) credit requirement. Many people who assume they can’t afford the down payment on a house might actually be within easy reach of home ownership because of the FHA option.

USDA Home Loans

Maybe you feel like you’re ready to be a homeowner but would prefer not to put anything down at all. If that’s the case, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has the USDA Rural Development Guaranteed Housing Loan Progam that requires zero down payment. These loans are available to eligible to persons buying houses in rural or suburban communities. Besides requiring no down payment, the interest rates are low, as well. Like FHA loans, participating local lenders issue these loans and the USDA guarantees the mortgages. Also like FHA loans, Rural Development (RD) loans will require buyers to pay a mortgage insurance premium. The USDA also issues loans directly (not through a lending institution) for low and very low income applicants. The interest rates on these loans can be as low as 1% after subsidies are factored in. To qualify for one of these loans, income limits apply and are different according to where you live and the size of your household. To find out more about RD loans, and to determine eligibility, follow this link:
https://www.rd.usda.gov/la

VA Loans

Guaranteed by the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs, VA loans are available to active duty and honorably discharged service personnel, spouses of service members killed in the line of duty, and men and women who spent 6 or more years in the Reserves or National Guard. VA loans require zero down payment and no mortgage insurance. They also allow for loan sizes of up to $726,525 in high-cost areas.

HomeReady Loan

This loan is different from the previous 3 in that it is a conventional loan; meaning it is not government insured. The goal of the Fannie Mae HomeReady loan program is “to put low- to moderate- income borrowers with good credit in homes for as little as 3% down.” According to Fannie Mae, the ideal HomeReady borrower-

  • has low-to-moderate income
  • is either a first time or repeat home-buyer
  • has limited cash for a down payment
  • has credit score greater than or equal to 680
  • has supplemental boarder or rental income
  • is looking for low-cost refinancing option

Unlike FHA and USDA loans, the HomeReady loan has mortgage insurace that is cancellable once the borrower’s equity in the home reaches 20%.

Conventional Loan 97

While at least 5% down was once a standard requirement by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, borrowers can now acquire a conventional loan with as little as 3% down. While FHA loans can be a great option, it’s nice to have an alternative with lower upfront fees and non-permanent mortgage insurance. Here are the guidelines to qualify for this loan:

  • debt-to-income of 41% or lower
  • $424,100 maximum loan limit
  • minimum credit score of 620
  • one of the borrowers can not have owned a home within the past 36 months
  • owner-occupied buyers only (you can’t buy it to flip or rent out)
  • can be single family, PUD, condo, town homes and CO-OP
  • maximum loan-to-value ratio of 97%

For the Conventional 97, a friend or family can gift the cost of the down payment, which is not allowable under certain other loans.

So, there you have it. These loan programs are current and some are relatively new and gaining popularity. It’s easy to see why. Gone are the days of parting with every penny you have saved for your down payment. I hope you’ve found this article enlightening. Questions about any of these programs? We’d be happy to assist. We want to make home ownership a reality for as many people as possible!

*all information contained in this article is deemed reliable but not guaranteed.

Northshore Easter Bunny Photo Opportunities

Hi all! With Easter quickly approaching, I thought it might be helpful to share some of the upcoming local opportunities to take pictures with the Easter bunny. We are lucky to live in an area that affords us ample opportunities to carry out this much-loved tradition. Please note that the popular Southern Hotel in Covington’s bunny photo sessions have completely SOLD OUT. Here are some other local opportunities that are still available:

Friday April 5 from 5-10PM-OLDE TOWNE CRAWL– located in Olde Towne Slidell across from the soda shop. Pictures are free!

Saturday April 6 from 1-4pm- THE CANDY BANK– 201 Carroll Street in Old Mandeville. Photographer Steve Randon will be offering 4×6 photos.

Saturday April 6 from 9-11AM- CROSSGATES SPRING FLING– Gause Blvd location in Slidell. The bunny will be available for photos and an $8 admission includes lots of other fun activities!

Saturday, April 13 10-12:30AM- EASTER AT THE MARKET– located at the Mandeville Trailhead. Photos and many other activties for the family to enjoy.

Saturday and Sunday, April 13-14 from 12-4PM- PETSMART– The Mandeville PetSmart will offer free bunny photos with your pet and the rest of your family!

Saturday April 13 from 10-12- NORTHSHORE PARENT EASTER EGG HUNT- your $5 admission (for everyone over age 6 months) will include activites and a picture taking station with the Easter bunny.

LEARNING EXPRESS MANDEVILLE– will host a second round of bunny pics at a date and time to be announced, so stay tuned for that information.

Did I miss one? Fill us in below! Take care and Happy Easter!

St. Tammany Parish Public Elementary Schools: Quick Reference Table

St. Tammany Parish has one of the top rated public school systems in the state.  According to the STPPS official website, 100% of teachers are certified and 53% have a masters degree or higher. Every classroom is internet accessible and all campuses are wireless.  What’s more, all schools have perimeter fencing and a visitor photo ID system, and there are 1,250 security cameras in schools throughout the parish. Additionally, every bus is equipped with security cameras with 2 way radios.  Last year, the 2, 419 St. Tammany Parish graduates were offered more than $100 million in scholarships and TOPS funding, and the average composite ACT score was 21.7, which exceeds the national average.

We are often asked for information on the various public schools within the parish.  For many, public schools are an important factor in deciding where to purchase a home. In fact, people often make the move to St. Tammany specifically to access high quality public education.  However, with 55  public schools, it can be an overwhelming task to compare each school. We have compiled data from various sources into a concise table, so that each public school within each city can be easily referenced. Included is the school name, location, rating (as assessed by greatschools.org; 10 being the highest and 1 being the lowest), grades served, total number of students, and the number of students to each teacher. The table presented below contains the public elementary schools in St. Tammany Parish.  Middle School, Junior High and High School tables will be presented in subsequent articles, so stay tuned!

Do you have information on any of the schools that are currently unrated, or would you like to add something about any of the schools? Drop a comment below!

**The ratings for each school are from greatschools.org, a nonprofit organization whose mission is, “to help all parents get a great educaton for their children and for communities to ensure that all students receive a quality education.” While these ratings are backed by the research of this nonprofit, they do not necessarily reflect our opinions; we are providing them as an objective way to assess each school. All information contained in these tables is deemed reliable but not guaranteed.

Sources for this content include www.greatschools.org, www.schooldigger.com, and www.stpsb.org

10 Home Staging Tips


Staging your home is crucial to selling your home quickly and for the highest price. A well-staged home allows potential buyers to see everything your home has to offer and really picture themselves in the space. This makes home staging a critical pre-listing first step. Below is a list of helpful and easy to execute tips for staging your home for maximum impact:

  1. DECLUTTER: Nobody likes a crowded, disorganized space. In fact, research shows that clutter actually contributes to anxiety and stress. The last thing you want is for buyers to enter your home and immediatly feel overwhelmed by “stuff.” If it seems as though your house is packed full, buyers might perceive the home doesn’t have enough storage space or is simply too small. If you’re having a hard time deciding what to part with, consider renting a storage unit temporarily. It might be an added expenense, but just think about the fact that a cluttered house will most likely increase your house’s time on the market. Time is money, right?
  2. REMOVE EXCESSIVE PERSONALIZATION: There’s no need to remove every single family photo. After all, there’s nothing wrong with buyers seeing a happy family currently resides in the home they’re considering purchasing. But, take a look around and see if perhaps you have too many personal artifacts about. Remove children’s artwork from the front of your fridge; pare down from 10 picture frames on your mantle to a couple of well-positioned frames; move collections of personal memoriabilia to storage for the time being. We want buyers to know it’s a happy space, but we also want them to be able to picture themselves in the space, and that’s hard if they’re seeing signs of someone else at every turn.
  3. ERASE SIGNS OF PETS: Every pet owner loves his/her animal. I, myself, have 2 toy poodles I adore. But our love for our pets can’t blind us to the fact that pets are animals and thus create odors and mess. Try to objectively look at your house for signs of pets living there and do all you can to mimimize the impact they leave on your home. Because you might be so used to the smell of your own house, ask your most honest friend to come over and tell you if your house has a pet odor. If she says yes, take steps to remedy the problem. You might need to rent a carpet cleaner. Consider getting an essential oil diffuser with a fresh, pleasing aroma. Erasing signs of pets will go far in leaving a postive impression upon potential buyers.
  4. GO NEUTRAL: Neutral colors have a broader appeal than bold, loud colors. While you might love your bright orange accent wall, not everybody will, and that could cost you a potential buyer. Most buyers have a difficult time seeing past certain design choices and might outright elimitate your home based on one dramatic feature.
  5. INCREASE NATURAL LIGHT: Natural light greatly improves the look and feel of any space. You might love your dupioni silk drapes and want to showcase them, but you’d be far better off opening the drapes and allowing natural light to flow through. Go through rooms and look to see where you can increase natural light. Be particularly mindful of this in your living space, as it’s usually the first area a buyer will see and first impressions are lasting impressions.
  6. REPLACE OLD FIXTURES AND DECOR: You want your home to feel as fresh and new as possible. Walk through your house and look at the lighting fixtures, faucets, door knobs, etc. Are they old, tarnished and dated? If so, consider investing in some updates. Updating fixtures is a relatively inexpensive way to aesthetically improve your home and will go a long way in making your home feel fresh and clean. Look at your kitchen and bathroom towels. Are they stained and ragged? Even if they look OK but have been used for a long time, you might consider getting some plush new towels. Even the seemingly smallest thing could help create a favorable impression of your home.
  7. ENLARGE THE SPACE: Now that you’ve decluttered your space, you should look around and find subtle ways to make your space appear larger. Does your table have a leaf in it? Consider removing it to make your dining room or kitchen feel more spacious. Do you have several accent chairs or large recliners in your living room? Remove some to open up the space. You’d be shocked what removing just one large chair can do to increase the feeling of size. Also, mirrors are a good way to make space feel larger because they reflect light. Purchase a couple and arrange throughout your space.
  8. ORGANIZE TOYS/BABY GEAR: If you have a house with children living in it, you undoubtedly have tons of toys and baby gear. Buyers will appreciate a well-organized kids’ or playroom. If they see you can keep a tidy, organized space with your kids living there, they’ll be able to envision themselves doing the same. Buy cubbies with baskets, bookshelves, or maybe some under-the-bed storage bins to help contain everything. Make sure baby gear, such as swings and pack-in-plays, are folded and put away prior to showings. Even though these things are functional and necessary for you, buyers might not be able to appreciate their necessity and only see a cluttered, tight space.
  9. STAGE EXTRA ROOMS: If you have extra rooms that aren’t in use, try to find a way to make them functional. Put in a small bed with a night stand, or an office desk with filing cabinet, rather than keeping a room completely empty. Although it seems counter-intuitive, the right amount of furnishings can actually make an empty space look larger.
  10. ENHANCE CURB APPEAL: The exterior of your home is equally important. It’s the first thing a buyer sees and can make or break a house showing. You want buyers to pull up and see a well-manicured lawn and garden and a fresh house facade. Go outside and, with an objective eye, look at the entire exterior of your home. Pull weeds and trim errant branches on bushes. If your garden is sparse and dull, consider spreading some fresh mulch. It’s a relatively inexpensive way to make your garden look fresh and new. If you don’t feel like planting flowers directly in your garden bed, purchase some potted plants and flowers (in pretty planters and pots) and arrange them throughout for pops of color. Pressure wash the exterior of your house and driveway/sidewalk. This is a surefire way to make your house look fresh and clean. Also, remove debris from your roof. Buyers are usually wary of roofs because they are such an expense to replace. If they see collections of leaves and pine needles on your roof, they might assume the roof hasn’t been properly cared for and need replacing.

This list is an excellent starting point if you’re considering selling your home. Take it one step at a time and you’ll be on your way to show-stopping showings. Do you have any staging ideas I haven’t suggested? Please share them in a comment!