Hurricane Preparedness for your Home

An aerial photo of Hurricane Irene (2011) from the International Space Station
Hurricane Irene from the International Space Station, 2011

Well, it’s that time of the year again! Just as we’re starting to feel a bit more free to move about after the peak of Covid-19, we stop in our tracks as we realize it’s now HURRICANE SEASON. The way 2020 has been going, it’s no shock that it’s predicted to be a busy season. We already have our first named storm- Cristobal– in the Gulf, and forecasts are showing it’s likely to head our way. What’s more, the NOAA is speculating 13-19 named storms will arise throughout the season. Of those storms, it’s predicted that 6-10 could be hurricanes, including 3-6 major storms. Yikes.

While this is all speculative, it’s always best to be prepared. That’s why we’ve made this list of essential ways to prepare your home when a hurricane is imminent. While we hope you never have to use this list, we hope it’s helpful in the unfortunate event a hurricane is bearing down on us.

Buying and Selling During a Pandemic

How We’re Meeting Your Needs


To all of our friends and clients, we want you to know that we are still here to meet your real estate needs and are eager to help you any way we can. While real estate is certainly different than it was just a couple months ago, we have adapted and are always evolving to maintain our client-first mindset.

For our buyers, we are more than willing to preview listings for you so that you can minimize your risk of exposure. We can take extra pictures and videos of homes and walk down neighborhood streets while face-timing you so that you can get a feel for the area. Of course, these are services we’d gladly perform (and have performed many times!) outside of a pandemic; however, we want to make sure you know we’re absolutely willing to continue serving you in this way while practicing social distancing for Covid-19. So, if you see us walking down the street wearing a mask, definitely wave and say hi– from at least 6 feet away! 😃

For our sellers, if you’re wondering about listing your home, but are unsure and unfamiliar with how it will work during social distancing, rest assured, we have answers for you. The real estate market, while it has slowed some in general, continues to thrive in our area. If you should choose to list your house right now, we would go out of our way to make sure your listing really stands out online, since now, more than ever, people are performing the bulk of their scouting online prior to making appointments. What does that mean for you as a seller? It means we will continue to hire a professional photographer for all interior and exterior photographs. We will also film and upload virtual tours to the MLS. We will produce a coheret, thoughtfully worded, and comprehensive description of your home to further attract buyers. If you are concerned about having strangers in your home, we are able to set strict showing guidelines that suit your comfort level.

While a great portion of real estate was conducted virtually even prior to the advent of the virus, the vast majority of it is virtual now. You can rest assured that we have all the tools and technology to make sure your buying or selling processs is as streamlined as it ever was.

If you’re thinking of buying or selling, right now might be a strange time, but that doesn’t make it a bad time for real estate. We’d love it if you’d let us help you navigate these tricky waters and prove our dedication to you, our client.

Thank you and stay well!

Lynn and Lauren

Neighborhood Spotlight: River Oaks Estates

Covingon, Louisiana

When I think of my favorite Northshore neighborhoods, one of the first that comes to mind is River Oaks Estates. Located conveniently close to everything both Mandeville and Covington have to offer, and within the premier Mandeville school district, River Oaks is the best of both worlds- an established neighborhood with the fresh-feel of a well-maintained subdivision.

Flanked by beautiful, mature trees, the winding streets of River Oaks are home to some 275 families. The lots are generously sized, giving the neighborhood an open, uncluttered feel.

River Oaks offers some fantastic amenities, as well. Their community pool is large and immaculately maintained and features a small kiddie pool. During the summer, lifeguards are provided for a large portion of each day.

River Oaks offers a large clubhouse that opens to the community pool, both of which can be rented by homeowners for private parties.

River Oaks also has a beautiful tennis court, which was freshly resurfaced in 2019, and a small playground area adjacent to the pool.

Tennis court, located adjacted to the pond at the front River Oaks Estates
Charcoal grill with small playground in the distance


Ask River Oaks residents, and they will tell you how much they adore their neighborhood. Close to shopping, hospitals and tons of restaurants, with easy access to 190 and the interstate, the location doesn’t get much better. Add blue ribbon schools and fabulous amenities to the mix, and you have a pretty perfect place to live!

Interested in finiding out more about River Oaks? Contact us!

2020 Northshore Parade Schedule

It’s that time of year again! Although we might not do it as big as NOLA, the Northshore has a pretty impressive 2020 parade lineup. Also, note that Mandeville’s Krewe of Orpheus will not be rolling this year, unfortunately. Check out the full Northshore parade schedule below…

2020 Northshore parade schedule

Which Northshore parade(s) are you most looking forward to and why? Comment below! Laissez les bon temps roule!

NYE on the Northshore 2020

Wondering where you can ring in New Years Eve 2020 on the Northshore? Here’s a list of some amazing (adult-only) parties to consider!

  • New Years Eve Roaring 20’s Speakeasy Party at Mandeville Social
    • 9PM-1AM
    • Includes small plates, appetizers, house special alcoholic beverages, music, beer tasting, giveaways, roaming photographer, midnight champagne toast and MORE!
    • 800 N. Causeway Blvd., Suite 1D, Mandeville, LA 70448
    • 985-951-2116
    • Advanced Tickets are $40pp or $70 per couple (plus EventBrite Fee)
    • Tickets at the door are $50pp or $80 per couple
    • Visit https://www.facebook.com/events/2593533677542851/ for more information
  • New Years Eve Great Gatsby Costume Party @ St. Ann Wine & Whiskey Bar
    • VIP Party Package is $125pp and includes open bar, cocktail buffet, and champagne toast. Seating is at 8PM
    • Doors open at 6PM for general admission- full bar and appetizer menu is available for purchase
    • Features live music by The Blenderz Band as well as Ny’s Special Effects
    • 22 St. Ann Drive, Suite 2, Mandeville, LA 70471
    • 985-778-0505
    • Learn more about it here https://stannwinebar.com/
  • Roaring Back to the 20’s: New Years Eve at the Southern Hotel
    • 9PM-1AM
    • Ring in the new year with live music by the Jimmy Maxwell Orchestra, party hats and favors, “pine cone drop,” and champagne toast @midnight
    • Includes open bar and a 1920’s-inspired cold supper
    • $175pp plus EventBrite fees
    • visit http://www.southernhotel.com/ for more info or to purchase tickets
  • Roaring 20s Great Gatsby, Harlem Renaissance New Years Eve Costume Party @ Jazz’Mines of Slidell

Looking for something holiday-related to do on the Northshore this weekend? Check out these fun activities!

Santa makes an appearance at all of these events!
  • Mandeville- Winter on the Water: This is the 22nd year of Mandeville’s Winter on the Water– presented by The City of Mandeville and the Old Mandeville Business Association. The fun begins at 11AM this Saturday, December 7, at the lakefront gazebo. Gather ’round to listen to the Mandeville Elementary bell ensemble play Christmas tunes. You can also take pictures with Santa, have your face painted, and listen to Benny Grunch and the Bunch! Santa’s Walking Parade will begin at noon. This is a free activity that’s fun for the whole family! 

  • Mandeville- Holiday of Lights @ the Koop Drive Playground: Celebrating its 20th year, the Holiday of Lights is a free, fun-filled event for the whole family. Festivities begin at 5:45 the nights of 12/6-7 and 12/12-14. Come out to the Tammany Trace Kids Town Pavilion & Kids Konnection Playground to enjoy spectacular holiday decor, twinkling lights, and free performances and kiddie rides. Santa pictures will be available and printed onsite for $20. While admission and rides are free, refreshments will be available for a charge.
  • Slidell- Christmas Under the Stars: On December 6 & 7 and 13 & 14, head down to Griffith Park in Olde Towne Slidell from 6-9PM for the 31st annual Christmas Under the Stars Celebration. You’ll have a chance to meet Santa and Mrs. Claus, tour life-size Christmas cottages, sing songs, and enjoy lights, decorations and the Parade of Trees. Admission is free!

  • Covington-Christmas at TerraBella: This friday, 12/6, from 6-8:30, head out to TerraBella Village for their annual Christmas at TerraBella celebration. Featuring free admission, live music, hot chocolate, Christmas crafts, letters to Santa, and rides on the TerraBella express, this is a holiday event that’s sure to please everyone! For $10, you can take a pic with Santa, too!

  • Madisonville-Merry Madisonville: This Saturday, 12/7, from 2-8PM, you can celebrate the 11th annual Merry Madisonville, a day of fun for the whole family. Head to the Madisonville Town Hall because Santa arrives by boat from the Lake Ponchartrain Maritime Museum. Admission is free and you will also be able to enjoy caroling, activities and photos with Santa.

Do you know of any activities we haven’t mentioned? Comment below!

Northshore 4th of July Festivities

4th2

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

 

fireworks2

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!

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.