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.

Know What You’re Working With

Consider your walls as one cohesive piece to decorate and remember proportions. “It’s just like when you’re looking at a floor and deciding what size rug to put on it,” Paulus explains. “With a huge wall, you want to create an area of interest that’s proportionally appropriate.” She also explains, “How much of this wall do we need to fill for it to feel the right scale?”

No Need To Cover Every Inch

Paulus warns that too much hinders the design of the space. She says that negative space can be very important to have. “I always tell people you don’t have to put something on every wall,” she says. “We don’t want things to fight.”

Embrace Layering

“People are always like, ‘I want my home to feel warm,’’’ Paulus notes. “Well, warmth comes from what you see, but also what you hear. So if we can soften the acoustics of the space through textiles—adding more rugs, bringing drapery up—we can lessen that echo and make it sound warmer.”

Consider Fewer, Bigger Pieces

“People think, ‘Oh, it’s bigger, I can put in more shelves,’” she says. “But they actually make it feel smaller. When you step away from it, it feels like you’re looking at shutters, instead of the massive built-in that it is.” She goes on to explain, “Less is more in this case, but it’s larger accessories,” she says. “You want big things instead of trinkets. Everything scales up.”

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Ways To Landscape a Grassless Yard

Not every yard has grass, in fact, some yards sans grass have great curb appeal. If you have a yard that doesn’t have grass, you can still use innovative landscaping ideas. Here are some of these landscaping ideas from professionals in the industry,

Implement Artificial Turf

Let’s face it, grass is a lot of upkeep and there can be many benefits of having a yard without grass. A great nice green alternative is artificial turf which can look and feel almost like natural grass. This is the perfect low-maintenance yard which is great for reducing water usage and is eco-friendly in many other ways. Synthetic grass is not only weep-proof but also doesn’t attract any pests.

Grow Moss

Moss is a very pretty source of greenery. It is a great groundcover that saves not only water but time and fertilizer as well. Grass can go dormant during the cooler season, however, moss will stay green all year long. Most grass will not grow in the shade but moss will grow in the shade, and will grow in poor soil conditions. There are tons of varieties of moss so you have many choices to pick from.

Consider Other Groundcovers

Moss is not your only option, as there are other groundcovers that can be good substitutes for a grass lawn. These include Creeping thyme, Chamomile flowers and clover lawns which can grow great in soil. Remember that there are both tall growing and low growing ground covers, so you will need to choose which is best for you. Other factors to consider are your soil conditions and the amount of sun, shade and rainfall.

Plant a Native Flower Bed

This is a perfect eco-friendly option for your landscaping needs. Not only will this take the place of green grass, but a native plant garden will also add color to the landscaping. A good tip is to plant perennial beds so they will come back each year.

Use Gravel, Mulch & Bark Chippings

This is the perfect option for those who do not have to upkeep growing plants. Gravel, mulch, or bark are the perfect alternatives to create a beautifully landscaped yard. Gravel helps with keeping pests away and can withstand harsh climates. There is very little upkeep with gravel yards. Another great organic option is rubber mulch. This is made from recycled tires and holds up over time. If you go for pine chippings, use pine cedar or black walnut.

Install a Water Feature Or Build a Firepit

Water features are relaxing to listen to and pleasing to the eye. These can include a pond or a water fountain to name a couple. They add style and personalization to a grassless yard. A fire pit is another nice way to decorate your yard without using grass. Combining a fire pit with outdoor furniture, or nice green plants can make a perfect outdoor living area.

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A New Orleans Favorite – The Creole Tomato Festival

Fertile, alluvial (made from sand and/or earth left by rivers) soil south of New Orleans in St. Bernard and/or Plaquemines Parishes is what truly defines a Creole tomato in the Greater New Orleans area. The plants are grown and harvested all over the Southern Louisiana region, but true Creole tomatoes get their unique color, shape and flavor from the type of soil in which they are planted.

“It’s a more intense, stronger taste, and the flavor has more acid; to me, it kind of has an earthy taste that you don’t get from any other tomato,” says Ben Becnel Jr. is a sixth-generation farmer at the family-run Ben & Ben Becnel’s Farmstand in Belle Chasse.

Because of the semi-tropical, coastal, southern climes in Plaquemines and St. Bernard Parishes, Creole tomatoes can also grow and be picked from mid-April, all the way to the next January, weather permitting. This differentiates this unique tomato from others grown in the state as well.

These tomatoes were featured in the 37th Annual Creole Tomato Festival, held June 10th and 11th at the New Orleans French Market. Originally founded in 1986, the weekend’s festival included live music, artists,surrounding restaurants offering Creole tomato special dishes, kids’ activities and cooking demos.

Live music was held on 3 stages throughout the weekend, and fifteen vendors sold locally sourced tomatoes in culinary delights, such as fried green tomatoes, shrimp remoulade and seafood gazpacho. The French Market in New Orleans is the oldest open-air market in the United States, and the weekend’s events reflected that unique history and heritage.

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Mortgage Rate Decreases to Lowest Levels Since March

Between home prices and home inventory, the housing market has been a struggle for those home buyers interested in buying a new home for sale or a previously-built resale. Home inventories has not rebounded from being “wiped out” during the pandemic when interest rates dropped to the lowest levels ever seen. The amount of homes being built by new home builders have not recovered enough to supply the demand that is in the market. Also, homeowners who were thinking about selling their homes are in a holding pattern because the interest rates have been so high that it has been prohibitive to sell a home and purchase a new one with a loan which would have more than double the interest rate of their current home loan.

Good news came to home buyers though when mortgage interest rates dropped to their lowest level in 5 weeks. The average interest rate dropped to 6.35%, down from 6.73% in March, according to mortgage buyer Freddie Mac. Interest rates which are closer to 6% versus 7% are always good news.

“This week’s decrease continues a recent sideways trend in mortgage rates, which is a welcome departure from the record increases of last year,” said Sam Khater, Freddie Mac’s chief economist.

The focus of interest rates is the debt-to-income ratio which lenders calculate to see how much a home buyer can afford to buy. The increase in interest rates has shown a huge discrepancy in monthly payments because of the difference of hundreds of dollars in monthly loan payment cost. The same house at the same price could be priced out of a home buyer’s affordability range due to it changing the debt-to-income ratio.

So, the decrease in mortgage rates is good news for now. Nationally, inflation is also down, so it will be a game of wait-and-see to see what the Federal Reserve with interest rates now that inflation is cooling.

For now, home buyers have a couple of choices to deflect the high interest rates. The first one is to buy now and refinance later. There are buyers who think that these high rates will eventually come down, so they will go ahead and buy a home at a higher rate and then refinance it later when the rates drop. Another option to purchase a new home is called a mortgage rate buydown. Buyers who qualify can get a lender program, where they pay for a couple to few years at a lower interest rate with an agreement the rate will go up. When the rate goes up, the home buyer has the option to refinance to stay at a lower rate.

So, overall, the decrease in interest rates, no matter how slight, can be a sign of better days to come in the real estate market.

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Gretna City Park $7 Million Overhaul

Gretna City Park was awarded a $7 million overhaul to take 80 acres of undeveloped green space and turn it into a place for stormwater to go. The park now collects an additional 6.5 million gallons of stormwater. This is the perfect example of how we can use nature to help with water management. Mayor Belinda Constant describes it as “nature-based solutions for water management and ecosystem restoration.”

The $7 million was granted to the project by federal funding from Louisiana’s Strategic Adaptations for Future Environments (LA SAFE). There are 10 other projects that are also receiving funding that are located throughout Louisiana. The improvements include 1 1/2 miles of pedestrian trails, a 1,500-square-foot open-air pavilion, a kayak launch, fishing piers, a bog garden, a wildflower meadow, and hundreds of new trees.

“What you’re looking at today is a secret high-performance landscape. This is one of the highest-performing stormwater landscapes in the city, if not the region, if not the state,” says Andy Sternard of the architecture firm Waggonner & Ball.

According to Gretna officials, Gretna Park is located in the area that is described as the city’s resilience district. This district is among the highest concentration of properties with multiple National Flood Insurance Program claims in the state.  The park will also receive a $10 million grant to improve the drainage network along the 25th Street Canal from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

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