It is our goal at The Parks at Plaquemines to keep our buyers informed about the latest information from the local, state-level, and national real estate industry. We post content to our blog that we hope that you as our custom home buyer will find helpful. Look here for information about financing your new home, building restrictions for new homes, and real estate legislation that will impact you as you are looking to buy or build a new home in the Greater New Orleans area.

U.S. Home Builders Beat Expectations for July

According to data from the Census Bureau home building increased 3.9% in July from June. This stems from the buyers’ interest in new homes since the market is so low on existing home inventory. New home starts bumped up to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.452 million which beat out the expectation from the Census Bureau of 1.448 million.

Single-family homes rose 6.7% in July with a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 983,000. This makes the number of units started up to 5.9% from July of last year.

“Buyers embraced new homes in the first half of this year as a welcome alternative to the massive shortage of existing homes. Homebuilders responded to the rebound in demand by ramping up production in the first five months of 2023 and rolling out incentives. The latest readings show activity skewing noticeably toward the single-family space,” said George Ratiu.

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Are the Home Prices Dropping Faster Than We Expected?

The second quarter of 2023 in Louisiana saw a drop in home prices. In fact, this is the fourth quarter in a row that prices have declined. According to professionals in the industry, year-over-year growth was at 0.4% in the second quarter, down from 5% in the first quarter and the high of 13.8% in the second quarter of 2022. Growth over the next four quarters is expected to be flat

The good news for Louisiana is that employment looks better and it is estimated that the state will add another 27,000 jobs over the next year. Job growth plans to be around 2% over the next half a year. The gains are predicted to be the best in Baton Rouge, New Orleans and Alexandria. Louisiana’s unemployment rate will also remain flat for the next year and is set at 3.6%.

All over the country consumer spending is still going strong with an inflation-adjusted disposable income growth that is over 4% in the past couple of months. Household purchases of durable goods are up as well and are projected to stay strong for the next three years.

“Home price growth statewide has slowed more than projected in each of the last two quarters,” reports Gary Wagner with University of Louisiana Lafayette.

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Make Your Front Yard More Appealing Yet Private

You want to show off your lawn, but you also want privacy when you are enjoying it. A great way to do this is by using natural landscaping along your wall or fence. Here are some ways to enhance your privacy and curb appeal at the same time.

1. Install Light and Airy Decorative Screens

A decorative screen is a nice way to add some privacy without saying keep out to everyone. Strategically placing decorative screens is a common tool used to make your front yard a bit more private. A lattice-style wall is both private yet lets light pass through and does not entirely close off a space. Using a lattice-style wall will allow you to add decorative designs, hang things up or run a vine through the wall.

“Decorative screens are a gem. When positioned right, screens can give you much-needed seclusion. The trick isn’t just about hiding away. Instead it’s about creating privacy stylishly without losing the essence of your space,” explains Brian Pal, CEO of Green Pal.

2. Combine Lush Planting with an Ornamental Gate

Iron gates are a nice touch to any front yard. They are welcoming and look great, especially for a Spanish look. Tropical plants are another way to create a private setting in your front yard. These lush green plants help you feel like you are in a tropical oasis.

“Plant fast growing shrubs (like hydrangeas or weigela) either in the ground or in pots that you can move around. This can help block prying eyes while maintaining the natural appeal of your yard, plus it means you can place them strategically,” says Miguel Camperos with SunVara.

3. Choose Evergreen Hedging for Year Round Screening

Evergreen hedges are a great way to create a private setting. You can decide the height that you want. These are fast growing and include Italian cypress, arborvitae or privet.

“Evergreens are my personal favorites too. They’ve got your back throughout the year. If you’re leaning towards hedges, boxwood or privet can be your green guardians, and they’re super moldable as well,” says Clayton.

4. Put Up a Wire Fence and Grow a Pretty Vine Over It

A tall link fence is a perfect way to create some privacy and enjoy nature. All you have to do is install a tall link fence and intwine a vine through it to cover the fence for privacy. This way the fence will look like it is a part of your natural landscaping.

“Vines are one the best plants to cover a fence as they provide a lot of coverage, can grow quickly, and will provide blooms that attract birds and butterflies. Cross-vine is part of the trumpet creeper family, and a super star for being fast growing and giving great coverage, plus it’s super hardy too,” says Amy Hovis of Eden Design and Barton Springs Nursery.

5. Pair a Smart Hedge with a Picket Fence

Having both is a great idea! If you are adding a hedge to outline your front yard, then pair it with a nice picket fence. Make sure you read up on how big the plant that you choose gets.

“Native plants are useful, if possible, and ‘adapted’ plants offer an alternative option. Use something that has proven successful in your area and utilize local nurseries who can help with selecting plants that need minimum care and are adapted to your soil, climate and watering frequency,” says Mike Teal with SSC Services for Education.

These are some great ideas to make your front yard look natural and welcoming with a little privacy. Call in the experts if you are having a hard time with what works best with your home. Remember, there are plenty of creative solutions to enhance front yard privacy landscaping.

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Music and Fun During Bayou Classic Weekend

Contemporary R&B star Maxwell will also take the spotlight the weekend of the Bayou Classic. The performer will be at Smoothie King Center the night before the annual game. The game is being played at Caesars Superdome between HBCUs Grambling and Southern universities.

The concert tickets start at $63 and part of the proceeds will benefit the Southern University System Foundation. The open act for the concert will be Leela James.

Gerald Maxwell Rivera was born in Brooklyn and is part Haitian and part Puerto Rican. His first album came out in the 90s and was the catalyst for the neo-soul movement. Since then he has released many other albums and is still on the rise today.

New Orleans is a place that the singer has performed in for a long time. Maxwell has a long-standing association with NOLA’s Essence Festival. He has filled the Saenger Theatre to the Smoothie King Center.

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Five Things To Consider Before Building a Pool

A swimming pool is a plus during those hot summer days, especially if you just have to go out your backdoor the enjoy. If you do have a pool or want to build a pool, make sure you have money, time and attention to maintain a pool. A swimming pool will add value to your home, but might be a selling point buyers just don’t want. If you want to take the plunge, consider these five factors before deciding.

A well-maintained pool can add value to a home

According to Zillow homes with a saltwater pool will sell for 1.5% more than a home without one and sell two days faster. In warmer climates, inground pools add more value to a home. An older pool that needs updates and repairs will have a negative impact on your home’s value.

Utilities and maintenance add to the cost of owning a pool

Not only can pool maintenance cost money but it can cost on time too. You cannot just fill your pool with water and then sit back and enjoy, a pool takes constant cleaning and chemical treatments. You can do it yourself or hire someone to maintain your pool. According to Thumbtack, it costs around $148 a month to hire pool maintenance.

Pools can be made more sustainable

Energy-efficient pool pumps and heaters are one great way to make your pool more sustainable. A solar-powered pool heater will heat a pool with only the sun as its energy source. Chemical-free pool treatments are another option that can help keep your pool lasting longer. If you are building a pool, use eco-friendly materials such as LED lights.

Pool safety requires vigilance

Pool safety is extremely important and it is your responsibility as the homeowner to keep it safe. Not only can a child drown but a pet can also drown in a pool. Many states around the country have laws in place that require homeowners to install a fence around their pool.

You can pay for a pool in several ways

There are a lot of ways to pay for a pool if you are in the market for one. This makes it a little less intimidating when trying to budget for a big purchase like a pool. Finance options include a cash-out refinance, a home equity loan, a home equity line of credit (HELOC) or a credit card.

Remember a pool might be worth it for some but not always the best option for others. If you are worried about resale value, check with a local realtor who can tell you the pluses and minuses of owning a home with a pool in your area.

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