Classic Succotash

Prep: 15 mins
Servings: 8
Start-To-Finish: 30 mins

2 cups fresh shelled butter or lima beans

Kosher salt

2 large ears fresh corn (about 2 cups)

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

Freshly ground black pepper

¼ cup heavy cream


Place butter beans in large saucepan. Cover with water; add about 1 teaspoon kosher salt. Bring to boiling. Skim surface until clear. Cook, partially covered, 30 to 40 minutes, until tender. Strain beans into sieve. Set aside.

Shuck corn. Using clean terry cloth kitchen towel gently rub corn to remove silks. Using sharp knife, cut corn kernels from cobs.

In large skillet heat butter over medium-high heat until melted and foaming. Add corn. Lightly season with salt and pepper, stirring to coat corn in butter. Cook 1 to 2 minutes. Add beans. Lightly season with salt and pepper. Cook 1 minute more, taking care not to overcook corn and beans.

Add cream and ham. Cook just until heated through and slightly reduced. Season to taste. Makes 8 (1/2 cup) servings.


If fresh beans are not available, substitute 2 cups frozen baby lima beans. Cook beans according to package directions.


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Join us in supporting with Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation (ALSF), dedicated to raising funds for research into new treatments and cures for all children battling cancer. We’ll donate $8.50 from the sale of each When Life Gives You Lemons Warmer to Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation.




A UNIQUE SPINNING DESIGN combines with patterned screens for a fluid, hypnotic display that’s truly one of a kind. The screens are imprinted with intriguing geometric patterns that are made for motion, so you get two distinct looks with one warmer.


TS Barry Puts 70% of US LNG Capacity at Risk

Bloomberg) — Tropical Storm Barry is highlighting the risks that Gulf of Mexico storms pose to America’s newly expanded liquefied natural gas export capacity.

Cheniere Energy Inc.’s Sabine Pass export terminal and Sempra Energy’s just-built Cameron facility are potentially in the path of the storm as it churns toward Louisiana. Together, the terminals account for about 70% of America’s capacity to ship LNG overseas. Two gas tankers are waiting to approach Sabine Pass, while a third recently departed, according to ship tracking data compiled by Bloomberg.

Another terminal, Venture Global LNG Inc.’s Calcasieu Pass in Cameron Parish, is under construction. Sabine Pass continues to operate and Cheniere doesn’t expect major impacts to operations from Barry, the company said Thursday. Gas flows to the facility via pipeline have dropped about 20% since July 9, BloombergNEF data show. Sempra said it’s monitoring the storm, while a Venture Global spokeswoman didn’t respond to a request for comment.

LNG exports from the U.S. have surged, reaching buyers from Mexico to Japan, with three new terminals starting up since December. The cargoes provide an important outlet for gas producers as supply from shale basins soars, pressuring prices lower.

Sabine Pass has five tanks for storing super-chilled gas, but two have been unavailable since the beginning of last year, when plant workers discovered a crack in one of the them. Investigators later found that a second tank had also had LNG released from its inner wall.

Earlier this week, U.S. regulators told Cheniere that more work is needed before the tanks can be returned to service. That means the company has less flexibility to stock up on LNG when ships can’t reach the terminal to load cargoes during bad weather.

–With assistance from Ryan Collins, Naureen S. Malik and Rachel Adams-Heard.


6 Vegetable Gardening tips every new food gardener needs to know

1) Let there be light – Most veggies, especially those that bear fruit (tomatoes, cucumbers, squash, and peppers, for example) need sun, and a lot of it. Ideally, you want a site with at least 8 hours of direct sun per day. In less light, you can still grow some edibles; mainly leafy crops and herbs. Check out my shady crop suggestions here.

2) Soil is everything – Healthy, rich soil is the key to a successful and productive vegetable garden, so don’t skip this step! A soil test will give you an idea of your existing soil fertility and pH, and offer suggestions of what types of fertilizers or amendments will get your plot up to par. In my own garden, I rely on homemade compost, organic well-composted animal manures, and organic fertilizers like kelp meal and alfalfa meal.

3) Keep it small – A vegetable garden can be low-maintenance, but it’s not no-maintenance. Therefore, do yourself a favor and stick to a small plot for the first year or two. A 4 by 8 foot bed is ideal for a starter veggie garden and will give you enough space to grow a handful of crops (see the next point). If you wish to start even smaller, try planting container-friendly veggies and herbs in pots or window-boxes on a sunny deck.

4) Pick your plants – With your first veggie garden, it’s very tempting to want to grow everything! But, for your own sake, I’d suggest you pick 4 to 5 types of vegetables and grow them well. Trying to cram too much in a compact space is asking for trouble and you’ll end up with a smaller, not larger harvest. However, you can boost yield by succession planting. When your initial crops have been harvested, follow up with a second sowing. For example, follow spring lettuce with summer beans. Succession planting allows you to stretch your harvest season for the longest possible time.

5) Bring on the blooms – Ok, this might be hard to believe, but most bugs are your friends! Yup, it’s true. Think bees, butterflies, tachinid flies, ladybugs and more! To attract these good guys to your garden – and boost crop pollination – include clumps of insect-friendly plants like sweet alyssum, zinnias, cosmos, and sunflowers between the veggies and herbs.

Related post: 4 flowers for the veggie garden

6) Water, weed & feed – This might seem to be one of the most obvious vegetable gardening tips, but new veggie gardeners may not know when or how much to water. Newly seeded beds will need frequent watering, but most established crops can get by on one to two inches of water per week. To conserve water and reduce the need to irrigate, mulch your soil with several inches of straw or shredded leaves. Side benefit: the mulch will also suppress weeds! As for feeding, quick growing crops like radishes and lettuce won’t need supplemental fertilizers if grown in in fertile soil. Long-term veggies like tomatoes, winter squash, and eggplants, however, will appreciate a boost several times over the growing season. Give them an occasional dose of a water soluble organic food to support growth and encourage the biggest harvest.


Keto Enchilada Meatball Skillet

I love meatballs and this Keto Enchilada Meatball Skillet is one of my new favorite meals! My favorite part is the enchilada sauce, but I’m a sauce loving kind of guy. There are plenty of pre-made store bought enchilada sauce options that are keto-ish or you can make one at home, like this one.

I used a pound of ground chicken for these and rolled them out into 16 meatballs so each meatball has roughly 1 ounce of ground chicken. This may seem trivial, but I like it because it allows me more control over my protein intake as opposed to a “one size fits all” breast or thigh. It allows me to make two or more almost identical plates, with greater control over my macros.

You can also adjust the spice in these by adding more or less jalapeno or for the brave replacing the bell pepper with a spicier alternative.



1 lb ground chicken 1 bell pepper, minced1 jalapeño, minced1/2 white onion, mincedHandful cilantro, minced1 tablespoon taco seasoning1/2 lime, juiced1 cup Mexican blend cheese3 tablespoons oil, for frying
8 ounces enchilada sauce (we use fronterra)1/2 cup Mexican blend cheese1/4 cup sour cream1 jalapeño, thinly slicedCilantro, minced


1. Preheat the oven broiler to high. 
2. Combine all of the meatball ingredients except for the oil in a medium bowl and mix until combined. 
3. Heat the oil over medium high heat in a 10.5″ cast iron skillet until hot. Add in the meatballs and cook 2-3 minutes per side until browned and cooked through.
4.  Pour in the enchilada sauce and top with the 1/2 cup of Mexican blend cheese. Place under the broiler for 3-5 minutes until the cheese is melted. 
5.  Top with sour cream, sliced jalapeños, and cilantro to serve. 


fat (grams)18

sat. fat (grams)4.3

carbs (grams)9.4

net carbs5.4

protein (grams)19.8

sugar (grams)4.8


Add Porch Curtains

Accent your porch with curtains to give the front of your house a dramatic look that will create an outdoor private hideaway. The addition of curtains, will make your front porch an extension of the interiors, giving off a warm and welcoming vibe.


Install a New Door Knob

An eye-catching door knob can punch up the design of the front of your house. With a wide range of prices and styles, you have endless options. Today, there are several safety door locks on the market, that have cameras or numerical codes that will unlock the door. If you’re into more of a low-tech option, check out this article:


Paint the front door

Most exterior paint will cost you approximately $30 a gallon. Painting your front door can definitely add some brightness and revive your house. Pick a bold color that makes your house stick out, but make sure to match it to the rest of the colors on your house. Properly prep all surfaces before you paint so you’ll get great results that will last for years to come.


Eye-Catching Charm on a Small Budget

There are dozens of small, inexpensive home improvements that you can do to up your home’s curb appeal. Adding curb appeal to your house not only makes it easier to sell, but it also gives your house that nice and finished look in which you can take pride in. When deciding on which upgrades to make to your house, consider what your house currently looks like and what will look best with it.


New Construction Home | Rayne | Louisiana

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Air Fryer Recipe |Bacon|By Tomme

Air Fryer Bacon

Cut the Bacon strip in half

Place about 6 pieces of Bacon in the Fryer pan so that the Bacon is overlapping, this should prevent it from curling up.

Once the Bacon has cooked for a few minutes flip, and separate the Bacon and flatten any curled pieces.

Directions :

Heat Air Fryer to 400 Degrees

Cook for 8 minutes or until Bacon is as crispy as you like


Property For Sale – New Construction in Beau Savanne Phase II – Lafayette, LA

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New Construction in Beau Savanne Phase II!! The Danielle Heritage II plan offers 3 bedrooms with 2 baths. Kitchen includes a stainless gas range, large island with 3cm granite, custom built cabinets, custom backsplash, custom hood vent, open shelves and more! Large master bedroom and bath with walk in closet including a built in dresser. Utility room connects to master closet for easy accessibility. Flooring includes wood laminate and tile.


Property For Sale in BEAU SAVANNE PHASE – Lafayette, LA

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The Viola French II plan has 3 bedrooms and 2 baths. Kitchen features wood beams, large island, custom cabinets, custom backsplash, stainless gas appliances, undermount sink and 3cm granite. Flooring will include wood laminate and tile throughout. Cubbies at rear entry for a convenient drop zone. 


Easy Diy Pond

How would you feel about having your own pond in your backyard? Sitting near it, listening to birds humming and drinking a nice glass of wine. If you can already imagine yourself chilling near the pond, then you should know that you can make it yourself, with your two hands. You can use different materials to make the pond, from an old baths reservoir to concrete bases. But then again, you need to decide what purpose will this pond have? Will it be a fish pond or just a decorative pond? Decorative ponds are much easier to maintain and clean and you can even spice them up by building a small fountain or waterfall. To help you make the right decision and build the most suitable pond for you, visit the following link for a lot of useful tips and tricks.

See more at: http://www.goodshomedesign.com/easy-diy-pond/


7 Ft. W x 8 Ft. D Hobby Greenhouse

What’s Included?

  • Installation Hardware
  • Ventilation
  • 1 Door(s)


  • Heavy duty, anthracite powder coated and rust resistant aluminum frame
  • Galvanized steel base included – Adds structural stability
  • Integrated gutter system included for effective water drainage and collection
  • Wide double hinged door with lockable door handle 
  • Three season greenhouse: Yes
  • Can be used in the winter
  • snow load capacity of 30 lbs/square feet

Product Details

  • Product Type: Hobby Greenhouse
  • Frame Material: Aluminum
  • Panel Material: Polycarbonate panels
  • Weather Resistant: No
  • Assembly Required: Yes
  • Year-Round Use: No

Ventilation Included

  • Ventilation Location: Wall Vent

Is It Time For Your Scentsy Party? Earn FREE Items!

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Reach out to let them know you’re interested in hosting!

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Your Consultant walks you through your party options, then you can start inviting your friends and family.

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Lead A Team

Your Consultant will bring products to sample and share, answer questions and take orders while you get your mingle on.

The Perks

Get your Scentsy fix!

Earn Host Rewards — free and half-price products — as soon as your party hits $200 in sales. The bigger the party, the bigger your rewards!

No matter what party style you choose, use our Party Page to share it on Facebook so you can spread the love far and wide (and increase your party sales for more rewards).

Here’s a look at the rewards you can earn, based on total sales:


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Connect with friends to sample Scentsy fragrances and see products in-person.

Lead A Team

Pass around a Scentsy basket at work or school, then return it to your Consultant.

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What happens when you get off Facebook for four weeks? Stanford researchers found out.

By Simon Lambert and This Is Money at 12:34 PM UTC on 13 February 2019

There are a lot of consequences to giving up Facebook — and many of them are positive.

How much would you need to be paid to give up your Facebook account for four weeks?

That was the question a group of researchers from Stanford asked thousands of Facebook users last year in an effort to better understand how the social network affected issues such as political polarization and mental well-being.

The study — which paid some users to abandon Facebook and encouraged others to give it up by using just their self-control — found that cutting Facebook out of your life has a number of consequences. Many of them are positive.

The study, which was published late last month, led to four key findings:

People who gave up Facebook spent less time online — their Facebook time wasn’t just replaced by other apps and websites. People spent more time watching TV, but also more time with family and friends.

People were less informed — but also less politically polarized.

Giving up Facebook improved people’s health. The study found that, on average, those who gave up Facebook reported “small but significant improvements in well-being.” The study also found “little evidence to support the hypothesis suggested by prior work that Facebook might be more beneficial for ‘active’ users.” In other words, engaging on Facebook didn’t make people feel better, as Facebook has suggested.

Those who left Facebook temporarily said they planned to spend less time on Facebook after the study concluded.

This isn’t the first study to explore the health effects of social networks. But in a world where Facebook is now used by more than 2.3 billion people per month, studying its impact on mental health, news distribution, and tech addition has never been more important.

“We were having [those discussions] without really clear-cut causal evidence of what was the real effect,” said Matthew Gentzkow, a Stanford economics professor who is one of the study’s authors. “So we were hoping to provide that.”

Recode spoke with Gentzkow about his findings, and about how social media might be “fixed” down the line. You can read the full study here and an edited version of our conversation below.

Kurt Wagner: You timed this to coincide with the run-up to the midterm election last year. Why was it important for you to study social media impact during that specific time period?

Matthew Gentzkow: I wouldn’t say it was essential. I think we could’ve done this at a different time. But we felt like looking at things like how Facebook affects polarization, or whether people are learning any real information from it related to politics. It would be great to do this at a time where that was really in the front of peoples’ minds, and a central part of what was going on on Facebook.

The polarization element has been a knock on these social networks for a long time. Were you able to detect how much of the polarization is really caused by Facebook — their product, Facebook’s technology — and how much of it is a result of people simply surrounding themselves with like-minded people?

I don’t think we can really tease those things apart. You either have Facebook or you don’t. You can’t randomly assign people different flavors of Facebook. I think it’s notable that you see polarization go down at the same time that people’s overall news knowledge and news consumption goes down. How extreme people’s views are tend to be very correlated with how much they’re engaged in politics. For a lot of these people, being on Facebook led them to just be reading more, consuming more, talking more about politics, and that doesn’t have to be specific to anything about Facebook’s algorithm or to what’s fulfilling people.

When I hear that deactivating Facebook impacts your news knowledge — on the surface that sounds like a bad thing, that people are less informed. Is there a benefit to being less informed?

I think in some ways that reduced polarization is the benefit. It’s a pretty deep question on some level: Would we rather have people who know less, are less engaged, and are also less upset? Or would we rather have people be talking about politics more, be more engaged with it, know more about it, and thereby also have deeper divisions in society? I don’t think there’s any simple formula either way.

The real goal is: How do we get more of the good information while maybe dialing down the extent to which everything gets weighted towards more extreme, more inflammatory [interactions]? We would need to recognize that fundamental trade-off — that people being upset and polarized, to some extent, is part and parcel of having a democratic society.

What it is about the internet, or Facebook in particular, that tends to create an environment that leads to extreme interactions that might not exist elsewhere?

Here I’m just speculating, but … we know from other research that people’s social networks are much more segregated by ideology than any other media sources, say either traditional media or television. You’re much more likely, if you’re a conservative, to be watching the same cable TV station as a liberal, or reading the same online news sites as a liberal, than you are to have a liberal who’s your friend, or your co-worker, or your family member.

So the fact that social networks are very segregated by ideology means if we set something up, where now we’re going to filter all the political content people see through their social networks, that’s going to, in a very simple way, tend to make it more extreme.

The other thing I think is important is that [social media] weights what people share and what people like. What people share on social media can be very different from what they value, what they think is important — even what they think that their friends ought to be reading or would benefit from reading. The motivations for sharing stuff are just quite complicated.

The front page story on the Wall Street Journal that says, “The unemployment rate is up this month,” or that says, “Donald Trump has agreed to go have a summit in Vietnam with Kim Jong Un,” those stories, they’re not really exciting to share with people on Facebook, and those sorts of stories tend not to get shared that much. But that doesn’t mean people don’t think that they’re relevant, or important, or valuable.

Just because that’s not inflammatory enough? Or it’s not shocking enough?

What exactly are people’s motives when they click “Share”? That, I think, is something we need more research on. It’s not just that I’m choosing for my friends to see this. I’m just choosing for my friends to see that I shared it, and so that means content that kind of signals my identity is going to get shared a lot more. If we’re all on the blue team, kind of rah-rah cheerleading partisan content that favors the blue team might be something I’m going to tend to want to share in that sense, because I want everybody to see that I’m part of the team. If I read a story that I think is actually quite thought-provoking and interesting and important from the other side, I might be much more reluctant to share that, just because I don’t want people to misunderstand that I’ve become some kind of red-team supporter.

I think it would be interesting to imagine an experiment where you asked people anonymously, “What would you like your friends to read more of?” I suspect that what people would say they would like their friends to read more of might be quite different, actually, than what they share on Facebook.

Facebook has always argued that people need to use their true identity because that cuts down on things like bullying or harassment. But you bring up an interesting point, which is that if I didn’t necessarily have to make everything I post a part of my online reputation, maybe I’d be a little more authentic in what I’m saying or what I’m sharing. Twitter obviously has anonymous accounts, and I think that you could argue that anonymity creates a lot more problems. But do you get a sense that true identity is better than anonymity, or do they both come with their own sets of problems?

I actually think the problems with anonymity are bigger. I would not at all recommend that Facebook move to some anonymous sharing system.

A real solution is something kind of old-fashioned — and I think we’ve seen some sort of move towards this in the last couple of years — which is just human curation. The basic premise of social media — that we can cut out the human curators and just have this crowd-sourced algorithmic determination of what people should see — I think we’ve learned that while that works great for certain things, it works fairly poorly for other things. It works fairly poorly specifically for things like news and politics in a way that gets pretty predictable.

For the whole rest of history, more or less, the way we have solved this problem is, basically, I pay somebody to think hard about what content I ought to read today and give me a recommendation. So that could be a newspaper editor or the person putting together the nightly news on TV. This has underlined most media for most of history. The healthiest settings in which news and politics content can be consumed need to have a substantial element to that.

These companies have long argued, “Hey, we’re not media companies.” They don’t want to be media companies. But if they truly care about people’s health, and they truly care about people being informed, can they be a hands-off platform and accomplish those goals?

I think they have become media companies by accident, not at all by design. The new platforms were not designed for the purpose of being a news media vehicle. It hasn’t worked out so well. I don’t know what that means for what they should do going forward … But certainly if we were designing things from scratch, the platform we would design for the purpose of news consumption and political information, would be quite different and would look much more like traditional human-curated content.

One of the things I thought was really interesting was that you found that deactivating your Facebook account did not have a “detectable effect on fake news knowledge.” Can you explain what you mean by that? Does that mean that this whole notion of “fake news” is actually a smaller deal than we made it out to be?

I would be careful with that. We went through the most-shared, most-viral false stories on Facebook during that period, pulled out a few of them, and asked people, “To the best of your knowledge, is this claim true or false? Or you’re not sure?” If it was right that lots and lots of people on Facebook would be exposed to those things and were also being led to believe them, you might have thought the people who were still using their Facebook accounts would be like, “We believe those false claims.” And those people who deactivated would be either more likely to say they were false, or likely to say that they weren’t sure. We didn’t see any clear pattern in that direction.

However, the precision of those exponents is pretty low. We can’t rule out some meaningful number of people having been exposed to those [false stories]. Or that maybe that, on average, not that many people are persuaded, but small numbers of people are persuaded, and that still matters. If a tenth of a percent of people are convinced, say, not to give their kids vaccines, then we would care about that from a social perspective. Even though the percent sounds like a small number, it’s still a bunch of kids who are at risk of getting sick.

You found that people reported more positive social well-being when they deactivated their account. Do you think that was specific to Facebook use, or do you think that was reflective of our dependence on technology more broadly? Can you distinguish between the two?

So, we can’t distinguish between the two, and I think the results are entirely consistent with it being at least in some part the latter. People were using Facebook an average of an hour a day. So that’s for sure some big chunk of it. Contrary to what some people would have predicted, people use all digital stuff less when they deactivate their Facebook accounts. You might’ve thought that if you turn off Facebook, people will switch to using Twitter more, or switch to using Instagram more, or switch to reading Recode more. They don’t do any of that — they’re just on their phones less.

We asked a handful of people this question for Facebook’s 15th anniversary, which was just a couple weeks ago: Do you think that Facebook has been a net positive or a net negative for humanity?

[Chuckles] I don’t think I’m going to answer that one. The truth is, I really don’t know, and I think our research gives you a long list of positives and negatives, but it doesn’t really give you a metric to add them up. I think how you add them up depends on a lot of things, including your personal values and how much of a problem do you think political polarization is, how much of a benefit do you think people having social connections is. Those are tough things to aggregate.

You asked how much people would need to be paid in order to deactivate their account for four weeks. When you asked that, what was the general feedback you got from people? Were you surprised by what they said?

The median valuation was around $100 dollars a month. But there’s a lot of spread. There’s a lot of people all the way from $0 to $100, and then a lot of people who gave really big numbers. Sort of like, “You couldn’t pay me enough to give up Facebook.” I can’t say conclusively, “Has Facebook proven good or bad for society?” [but] what is clear is that the people who use it value it a lot.


How to get the best mortgage deal for you

By Simon Lambert and This Is Money at 12:34 PM UTC on 13 February 2019

The days of banks falling over themselves to give you a mortgage are gone. But borrowers can boost their chances of taking advantage of the current crop of homeloans by giving themselves a mortgage makeover.

In the heady days of the property boom securing a mortgage often simply involved a quick hunt online, a phone call and filling in a form.

But with lenders tightening their criteria as a result of regulatory changes, demanding bigger deposits and cherry picking the best borrowers, potential homebuyers or remortgagers now need to put in some hard work. 

The Mortgage Market Review, brought in by City watchdog the Financial Conduct Authority in April 2014, is an attempt to clean up the home loans market and ultimately means two things.

The first is the official shift from old-fashioned salary multiple lending to affordability calculations, but in reality many lenders have been pushing this since the financial crisis.

This means weighing up your essential spending, alongside your income and asking questions about your outgoings. A mortgage lender will look at the gap between what you have to spend each month and what you have coming in – and then do its sums from that.

So expect to be quizzed on habitual spending on things like feeding the family, childcare, a car loan, your energy bills and even a mobile phone or gym contract. Mortgage lenders will also need to take a stab at working out what will happen to you in the future and stress test for theoretical interest rate rises.You will need to provide documentary evidence of regular outgoings and what they set you back.

The good news is that there are good homeloans out there and three simple steps can increase your likelihood of mortgage success

There are some simple things you can do to make yourself a more attractive proposition to a lender  and remove anything that will put them off.

Make sure that you are on the electoral roll and everything is in order with your address. Lenders will check your name against your address and everything should match up perfectly.

Check your credit file, with the major credit agencies Equifax, Experian and CallCredit and make sure everything on there is in order. Challenge anything that is wrong, or any financial links to other people that are not correct. 

Also take out a credit card, spend some money and pay it back. Lenders like people with a history of  borrowing money and paying it back on time.It may not be within your control but mortgage brokers also recommend that if you want a mortgage to buy a home, don’t switch jobs or rental properties. 

In uncertain times, lenders like stability. That means the same job for at least six months or a year, the same home lived in for six months and a steady income shown on your bank statements.

Free trial: Check your credit rating

The days of casually being able to add a couple of thousand to a mortgage at the last minute are over.

If you want to get a loan you need to know exactly how much you need to borrow, how much your home is worth and what percentage the mortgage is of your property’s value  known as loan-to-value. 

You can work out your home’s value using similar properties for sale, remembering to take off a reasonable discount, and This is Money’s house price calculator.

The best mortgages  are available for those with larger deposits of at least 40 per cent – ie 60 per cent loan-to-value and below.

Don’t worry if you cannot stretch to this most lenders also offer good deals to those borrowing 75 per cent or less, while above this it is trickier to get a good rate but still possible to find a mortgage. 

The higher the loan-to-value you are at, the more expensive you can expect mortgages to be.

Therate is also set according to how long the deal is. You will see lower rates on two year deals and higher ones for five years. 

Mortgagerates are influenced by a number of interlinked things, the Bank of England base rate and its expected path, the rate a bank or building society has to pay savers to attract their cash, so it can then lend it out as mortgages and the cost of funding on the money markets.

Youneed to weigh up all these factors when choosing a mortgage.

 You need to work out whether you want the security of a fixed rate, advisable forthose who would struggle if their monthly payments shot up, or are happy to risk a tracker and paying more if base rate rises.

Youalso need to consider whether you think you will save money by changingrates after two years, or are happy to pay a bit more for five years ofcertainty.

But it is not just the rate you need to consider. Lenders also make money from fees they attach to mortgages. 

Thesecan amount to anything up to £2,500 and can make a seemingly cheaper mortgage actually work out more expensive. So it is important to add this to the total cost of the loan when comparing mortgages. 

The best mortgage is not always the one with the lowest rate. The arrival of super-fee mortgages, which offer low rates in exchange for a big arrangement fee, means that those with smaller loans could end up out of pocket by opting for a bargain rate. 

The general rule is the bigger your mortgage the better a high fee/low rate deal will be – but watch out for percentage-of-loan fees that are more expensive for larger loans.

Also watch out for any charges at the end of the mortgage, such as early repayment charges and exit fees.

Therewill also be costs for getting your property valued and for the legal process of a purchase, these can mount up and some deals that offer to pay these for you can work out well.

You will also need to work out all your other financial commitments, as lenders will ask about these to evaluate how much you can afford to borrow.

Under the new rules, almost all mortgages will have to be taken out with financial advice.

This can be from a bank adviser who will only recommend their employer’s own products, in which case doing your own research across the whole of the market is vital, or via a mortgage broker that can search the whole of the market for you.

Using a broker can be beneficial as they can help you through the whole application process and should know what type of applicants a lender will accept. This can speed up the process and means you don’t waste time with other lenders.

A broker may have access to exclusive deals and could help find lenders that cater for niche cases such as those with a poor credit history or who are self- employed.

Some brokers will not charge any upfront fees and will instead get paid from commission if you take out a mortgage with them. If you don’t take out the mortgage they recommend, and there is no obligation to do so, you should not end up paying.

This can be from a bank adviser who will only recommend their employer’s own products, in which case doing your own research across the whole of the market is vital, or via a mortgage broker that can search the whole of the market for you.

Using a broker can be beneficial as they can help you through the whole application process and should know what type of applicants a lender will accept. This can speed up the process and means you don’t waste time with other lenders.

A broker may have access to exclusive deals and could help find lenders that cater for niche cases such as those with a poor credit history or who are self- employed.

Some brokers will not charge any upfront fees and will instead get paid from commission if you take out a mortgage with them. If you don’t take out the mortgage they recommend, and there is no obligation to do so, you should not end up paying.

Other brokers will charge you for searching for products and for the application process. There are some banks such as HSBC and the Post Office that do not work through brokers so it is still worth keeping an eye on the wider market.

All mortgage brokers should be listed on the FCA register – if a broker doesn’t appear there then they are not authorised to provide mortgage advice.

Before you even get to this stage, you can use the internet to research what the best deals look like, you can then go into the process well informed.

The quickest and easiest way to compare mortgages is online. This is Money’s mortgage finder can help you search with your criteria.

The big choice is whether to fix or track your mortgage. A fixed rate gives stability and the knowledge that your payments will remain the same for a set period, whereas a tracker allows you to take advantage of any further Bank of England rate cuts.

 Tracker deals may appear attractive when the Bank of England base rate is low, but rates will eventually go back up, making these types of products more expensive.

You could also go for an offset mortgage, which allow borrowers to balance savings against their mortgage and only pay interest on the balance in return for not receiving interest on their savings. 


Is facial scanning technology in public an invasion of privacy?


Walgreens is the latest company to take advantage of facial scanning in order to learn more about customers. The retailer is installing “smart coolers” into select stores to analyze customers’ faces, noting what draws the eye of certain demographics. Some say facial scanning technology used in public is an invasion of privacy, as no one gives consent to the facial analysis. Others say facial recognition in public will help keep everyone safe.What do you think?


When the first Amazon Go store opened in 2018, protestors joined eager shoppers. Amazon Go stores employ no human cashiers, making privacy experts and advocates question the level of personal detail Amazon would be collecting on is customers via surveillance.

Amazon has been decidedly quiet about the technology it employees in order to make this new-age shopping experience possible. According to the Washington Post’s Drew Harwell andAbha Bhattarai:

Amazon has not shared details on the methods involved in its “Just Walk Out” technology, but says it mimics some of the techniques seen in self-driving cars, including machine-learning systems that improve over time, as well as computer vision, the image-processing technology used in Facebook photo tags.

Meaning, the technology Amazon is employing behind its sleek, black-box cameras could be collecting everything from your gender and age to what products you buy, as well as what products you “almost” buy. When you head into one of these stores to do your shopping, you’re revealing your desires to the many companies who want to take advantage of them, without even realizing it.

Alvaro Bedoya, the executive director of the Center on Privacy and Technology at Georgetown University’s law school, suspects Amazon is collecting more customer data than any other retailer:

“But Amazon is tracking you throughout the store. Are they really only tracking you when you lift the item off a shelf? Or are they tracking where you move throughout the store, what you’re looking at, what sections you’re dwelling in?”

Inside Amazon Go: The camera-filled convenience store that watches you back

Walgreens is joining the ranks with its new “smart coolers.” According toThe Atlantic’sSidney Fussell, the chain will try out “fridges equipped with cameras that scan shoppers’ faces and make inferences on their age and gender” in select locations as of early 2019.

Obviously, it’s valuable for both brands and retailers to know what shoppers are buying and to categorize those buying habits by demographics like age and gender. But at what cost? Most feel knowledge of customer buying patterns should not violate the privacy of shoppers by scanning their faces without explicit consent.

As far as Walgreens is concerned, the company is safe when it comes to violating customers’ privacy. The Atlantic’s Fussell makes clear:

Crucially, the “Cooler Screens” system does not use facial recognition. Shoppers aren’t identified when the fridge cameras scan their face. Instead, the cameras analyze faces to make inferences about shoppers’ age and gender.

Meaning, images of shopper’s faces are not collected and stored. As Fussell says:

It’s analysis, not recognition.

Facial scanning is the natural next step for brands to learn more about their target customers and future customers. In a supersaturated marketplace, this kind of detailed analysis is necessary in order for companies to keep expanding.

Walgreens Tests New Smart Coolers

Facial recognition not only has the power to improve relationships between brands and customers, but it could also make huge improvements in public safety.Forbes’Michael Xie reports:

In education, school districts in Arkansas and New York are already looking to facial recognition technology combined with machine learning algorithms to identify people, objects and even behaviors that could present safety threats.

In the event of a tragedy like a school shooting, the technology’s power becomes more clear. It could identify a figure approaching a school and not only confirm if the person should be on the school campus but also use object detection to determine whether the person is holding a weapon or acting suspiciously.

This technology is for the greater good of the people. Although privacy laws should be handled with care, there’s no need to turn away from facial scanning and facial recognition completely. In reality, this technology could change the way we live for the better.


Close To 2,000 Manufacturing Workers Just Went On Strike In Pennsylvania

After a merger with GE Transportation, the new employer “wants to turn this into an Amazon warehouse,” the union says.

Nearly 1,700 workers at a GE Transportation plant in Erie, Pennsylvania, went on strike Tuesday, marking the first large-scale work stoppage in the U.S. manufacturing sector in three years.

Union members with the United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America (UE) say the factory’s incoming owner, Pennsylvania-based Wabtec Corp., is trying to impose mandatory overtime, a lower pay scale for new employees, and the use of temporary workers in the facility.

Wabtec just closed an $11 billion deal to merge with GE’s transportation division, which includes the Erie plant where locals have built locomotives for decades.

Workers authorized the union to wage a strike after they failed to secure an interim agreement with Wabtec extending the terms of their contract with GE. As the new employer at the plant, Wabtec is obligated to recognize the union but has the freedom to negotiate its own new contract.

Union members felt they needed to go on strike in order to protect the middle-class wages and high working standards inside the facility, where pay averages around $35 an hour, said Jonathan Kissam, a union spokesman. He added that many workers already volunteer for overtime work but don’t want it to be mandatory, fearing it could ruin weekends with their families.

He also said introducing lower pay for new hires would create a two-tier system inside the plant, causing rifts between different generations of employees.

“This is a multi-generational plant. Some of them, their grandparents worked there,” Kissam said. “So they’re unwilling to sell out their own children.”

He added, “Wabtec wants to turn this into an Amazon warehouse.”

Wabtec proposed maintaining the same payscales for current employees, while new hires would come in at a “competitive wage” for the industry, said Deia Campanelli, a Wabtec spokeswoman. She said the company wanted the flexibility to require overtime “only when necessary” to hit production goals.

Campanelli described the company’s offer as on par with the terms at a separate Wabtec facility in Pennsylvania that’s also unionized by UE.

“We are disappointed in their decision,” she said. “These are great-paying jobs for that community, for that region.”

Unions are leery of two-tier systems for good reason. As older workers under the established pay scales change jobs or retire, the share of employees under the lower payscales grows. The differing rates can sow friction within the union, as newer workers know they’ll never make the same money as their veteran counterparts. A controversial two-tier proposal became the primary sticking point in the Teamsters’ recent negotiations with UPS for a contract covering 260,000 workers.

Under Wabtec’s proposal, new hires would make around 38 percent less than current workers, according to Kissam.

Companies often say they need to institute two-tier systems in order to stay competitive. In an op-ed on the Erie strike, Greg Sbrocco, a Wabtec senior vice president, argued that global pressures necessitated it, calling the lower rates for new hires ”a standard practice by U.S. manufacturing companies to aggressively compete with competitors in low-cost countries like China or Mexico.”

Many workers were initially hopeful the takeover by Wabtec would be a good thing, said Scott Slawson, the president of UE Local 506 who’s worked as a welder at the plant. There had been plenty of anger in recent years under the ownership of GE’s transportation division, which opened a new facility in Texas, a right-to-work state with lower pay, and sent hundreds of Erie jobs there.

But Slawson said much of that optimism faded when the union couldn’t secure a new contract with Wabtec or a temporary agreement extending the terms of the old GE one.

“We feel the terms and conditions they put forth on our members were unacceptable,” Slawson said, adding that an overwhelming majority of members voted to approve the strike. “We felt it was best just to stand the picket line.”

Sen. Bernie Sanders, the Vermont independent who is again running for president in 2020, on Tuesday urged Wabtec to honor the terms of the GE contract. He said he was “proud to stand” with UE members in their “fight against the Wabtec corporation to maintain decent wages and working conditions.”

The number of worker strikes in the United States has shot up in the past year, most notably among teachers, who have led walkouts in states around the country. The improved economy has also given many workers in the private sector more bargaining power, as unemployment stays low and qualified workers are harder to come by.

The last large work stoppage in manufacturing was a lockout of United Steelworkers members at Allegheny Technologies, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The last time workers at the Erie GE plant went on strike was in 1969, when they were off the job for more than three months. Kissam said as of Tuesday afternoon there were no negotiations scheduled with Wabtec, suggesting a resolution wasn’t imminent.


Price Reduced – Build Your Home on this Lot Located in Abbeville, LA

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Janet Jackson Announces Las Vegas Residency, Celebrates 30 Years Of ‘Rhythm Nation’

Janet Jackson has announced a forthcoming Las Vegas residency titled “Metamorphosis” on social media Tuesday.

The global superstar shared that the residency, which will take place in May, July and August, will include a celebration of her legendary concept album, “Rhythm Nation 1814.”

“Hey u guys, I’m so excited to announce my new Vegas residency, ‘Metamorphosis’!” she wrote on Twitter. “A celebration of my journey and the 30th anniversary of #RhythmNation!”

“’Metamorphosis’ peels back the layers of the immensely private lifeof Janet Jackson, sharing her transformation from a young girl with issues of self-esteem to global Icon,” the announcement for the residency read, per Variety.

It continued: “Fans will follow her path to self-love, empowerment, motherhood and activism, amidst the challenges faced along her personal journey. She encourages her audiences to find their own light within themselves through her ‘Metamorphosis.’”

Jackson’s residency announcement comes ahead of her induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, slated to take place on March 29 at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.It was Jackson’s third time receiving a nomination for the honor.

The “Rhythm Nation” icon released anew single “Made For Now”with Daddy Yankee last summer.

Fans on Twitter have begun celebrating the news that Jackson will be joining the list of starswith Las Vegas residencies:


Home Depot sales cool along with real estate market

Atlanta – Strains in the nation’s housing sector emerged in the aisles of Home Depot in the last few months of 2018 and appear likely to carry over into this year.

In the fourth quarter, Home Depot fell short on profit, revenue and same-stores sales as rising real estate prices cast a chill over U.S. home sales.

Shares fell 3 percent Tuesday at the opening bell as more disconcerting news about the U.S. housing market continued to roll out.

The number of homes being built in December plunged to the lowest level in more than two years, the Commerce Department reported Tuesday, a possible sign that builders anticipate fewer new homes will be sold this year.

Housing starts fell 11.2 percent in December from the previous month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate 1.08 million. It’s the slowest pace of construction since September 2016.

Supply stores like Home Depot can often thrive when new home sales dip because people will buy existing homes, rather than new.

However, the National Association of Realtors said last week that sales of those homes dropped 1.2 percent in January to their worst pace in more than three years, signaling that the weakness in the U.S. housing market more broad.

Would-be homebuyers are increasingly priced out of the market as years of climbing prices and slim housing inventories put ownership out of reach for many Americans.

Those declines can ripple out to companies that sell materials like Home Depot and its rival, Lowe’s, which slid in tandem with Home Depot in early trading.

“A material slowdown in the housing market – where both sales and prices have been under pressure for some time – has stymied demand for home improvement products,” wrote Neil Saunders, managing director of GlobalData Retail. “In our view, this has likely affected the momentum of growth at Home Depot.”

For the three months ended Feb. 3, Home Depot earned $2.34 billion, or $2.09 per share, for the three months ended Feb. 3. That’s far short of the per-share earnings of $2.22 Wall Street was looking for, according to a survey by FactSet, though an extra week in the period helped push profit and sales higher.

A year ago the Atlanta home improvement retailer earned $1.78 billion, or $1.52 per share.

The current quarter was also nicked by a one-time charge or 16 cents per share.

Revenue climbed to $26.49 billion, from $23.88 billion, with the extra week adding approximately $1.7 billion in sales. But that that too, was short of forecasts.

Sales at stores open at least a year rose 3.2 percent, also missing Wall Street projections of a 4.5 percent bump. In the U.S., same-store sales increased 3.7 percent.

Comparable-store sales are a key indicator of a retailer’s health because it excludes volatility from stores that were recently opened or closed.

Its profit guidance for 2019 issued Tuesday was for $10.03 per share, which is also below Wall Street projections for $10.26.

There was some optimism from Home Depot Inc. about the year ahead.

The company announced Tuesday that it is raising its quarterly dividend 32 percent to $1.36 per share. It also forecast strong sales growth of about 3.3 percent and announced a $15 billion stock buyback program.

Home Depot, under CEO and Chairman Craig Menear, has been steady in delivering outsized profits and revenue quarter after quarter and he voiced optimism about the current year on Tuesday.

“Our view on the health of the economy and the consumer, as well as the momentum of our strategic investments, supports our belief that we can deliver comparable sales growth of 5.0 percent in fiscal 2019,” Menear said in a prepared statement.

That’s better than the 4.3 percent increase that Wall Street analysts had been expecting, but it’s not as strong as the 5.2 percent increase seen in 2018.

Despite the early sell-off in shares, industry analysts like Saunders were still impressed with the way Home Depot has operated in a worsening housing environment.

“Home Depot’s comparable sales increases actually look even more respectable – in essence, they show the company is able to pull other levers to secure growth, even as economic fundamentals weaken,” Saunders said.
Read more here: https://www.miamiherald.com/news/business/article226795234.html#storylink=cpy


New Construction For Sale, Carencro, LA

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NEW CONSTRUCTION IN WOODLAND TRAIL! The Elisabeth French I floor plan offers 4 bedrooms and 2.5 bathrooms with an open layout. Living includes a brick arch opening into your dining room. Kitchen includes custom wood cabinets, custom backsplash, undermount sink, stainless appliances, and an island with 3cm granite. Crown molding is in the main areas of the home. Exterior of the home will include a sodded yard and landscaping along the front of the home.


New Construction For Sale, Carencro, LA

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NEW CONSTRUCTION IN WOODLAND TRAIL! This 4 bedroom 2 bath Rosette Heritage III plan features an open split floor plan. Large island in the kitchen with 3cm granite countertops, undermount sink, custom built cabinets, custom backsplash and a walk in pantry. Wood laminate, 18” ceramic tile and carpet flooring. Exterior of home will include a sodded yard and landscaping along the front. 


New Construction For Sale, Carencro, LA

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MOVE IN READY! The Olivia French I plan is 3 bedrooms and 2 baths with an open floorplan. Foyer leads into the living room with a brick arch opening! Kitchen will include island with 3cm granite, undermount sink, custom wood cabinets, custom backsplash and gas stainless range. Wood laminate, ceramic tile and carpet flooring throughout.


6 Reasons You Should Never Buy or Sell a Home Without an Agent

It’s a slow Sunday morning. You’ve just brewed your Nespresso and popped open your laptop to check out the latest home listings before you hit the road for a day of open houses.

You’re DIYing this real estate thing, and you think you’re doing pretty well—after all, any info you might need is at your fingertips online, right? That and your own sterling judgment.

Oh, dear home buyer (or seller!)—we know you can do it on your own. But you really, really shouldn’t. This is likely the biggest financial decision of your entire life, and you need a Realtor® if you want to do it right. Here’s why.

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1. They have loads of expertise

Want to check the MLS for a 4B/2B with an EIK and a W/DReal estate has its own language, full of acronyms and semi-arcane jargon, and your Realtor is trained to speak that language fluently.

Plus, buying or selling a home usually requires dozens of forms, reports, disclosures, and other technical documents. Realtors have the expertise to help you prepare a killer deal—while avoiding delays or costly mistakes that can seriously mess you up.

2. They have turbocharged searching power

The Internet is awesome. You can find almost anything—anything! And with online real estate listing sites such as yours truly, you can find up-to-date home listings on your own, any time you want. But guess what? Realtors have access to even more listings. Sometimes properties are available but not actively advertised. A Realtor can help you find those hidden gems.Find homes for sale on 

Plus, a good local Realtor is going to know the search area way better than you ever could. Have your eye on a particular neighborhood, but it’s just out of your price range? Your Realtor is equipped to know the ins and outs of every neighborhood, so she can direct you toward a home in your price range that you may have overlooked.

3. They have bullish negotiating chops

Any time you buy or sell a home, you’re going to encounter negotiations—and as today’s housing market heats up, those negotiations are more likely than ever to get a little heated.

You can expect lots of competition, cutthroat tactics, all-cash offers, and bidding wars. Don’t you want a savvy and professional negotiator on your side to seal the best deal for you?

And it’s not just about how much money you end up spending or netting. A Realtor will help draw up a purchase agreement that allows enough time for inspections, contingencies, and anything else that’s crucial to your particular needs.

4. They’re connected to everyone

Realtors might not know everything, but they make it their mission to know just about everyone who can possibly help in the process of buying or selling a home. Mortgage brokers, real estate attorneys, home inspectors, home stagers, interior designers—the list goes on—and they’re all in your Realtor’s network. Use them.

5. They adhere to a strict code of ethics

Not every real estate agent is a Realtor, who is a licensed real estate salesperson who belongs to the National Association of Realtors®, the largest trade group in the country.

What difference does it make? Realtors are held to a higher ethical standard than licensed agents and must adhere to a Code of Ethics.

6. They’re your sage parent/data analyst/therapist—all rolled into one

The thing about Realtors: They wear a lot of different hats. Sure, they’re salespeople, but they actually do a whole heck of a lot to earn their commission. They’re constantly driving around, checking out listings for you. They spend their own money on marketing your home (if you’re selling). They’re researching comps to make sure you’re getting the best deal.

And, of course, they’re working for you at nearly all hours of the day and night—whether you need more info on a home or just someone to talk to in order to feel at ease with the offer you just put in. This is the biggest financial (and possibly emotional) decision of your life, and guiding you through it isn’t a responsibility Realtors take lightly.


8 Design Trends Your Clients Will Crave in 2019

Shifting economies, demographics, and land shortages are issues altering how we live and what buyers are looking for in a home. Going smaller has become bigger—a trend Not So Big House author and architect Sarah Susanka first advocated more than 20 years ago.

A desire for greater affordability, convenience, healthfulness, sustainability, and old-fashioned comfort are still on the wish lists of many clients. But Connecticut architect Duo Dickinson says he’s witnessing another trend: a renewed willingness to remodel.

With a mind to resale value, here are eight interior design trends that experts anticipate becoming more dominant in the new year, and advice on how you can apply these predictions to your real estate business.

1. Light, Views, and Fresh Air

Wall of windows in home

Why it’s happening: Research shows that natural light can boost healthfulness, both physical and emotional, so architects and window manufacturers are responding. Dickinson’s top suggestions to clients are to repair or reglaze windows, add more windows, build a deck, or add on a screened porch. “It gives them an important connection with the outdoors,” he says. Manufacturers like Marvin Windows and Doors are debuting new product lines, such as windows mulled together for a wall of light, and the company’s new Marvin Modern collection minimizes framing for maximum sightlines. Rick Gehrke with RE/MAX Executives in Boise, Idaho, says he’s seeing more roll-up garage doors fitted with glass for views outdoors.

How you can take action: Let clients know that new glazing can make a big difference to the enjoyment and efficiency of a home, and it’s an affordable update. Dickinson says a quality single window or door with glazing might cost $1,000. An entire wall of glass may run $5,000 to $10,000, but the return on investment can be huge if it captures a view or lightens a dark space.

2. Healthier Houses

family at home

Why it’s happening: With reports of contaminants in drinking water, toxic levels of formaldehyde being released from laminate flooring, and other home health scares, consumers are increasingly concerned about how their home may affect their health. But rather than compromising health and wellness, homes can provide an opportunity to enhance lives.

Building experts await the U.S. debut of the DARWIN Home Wellness Intelligence platform at the January 2019 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. The platform focuses on air filtration, water purification, circadian lighting, and comfort-focused technologies, all to simulate the natural outdoor environment. “We wanted to get rid of stagnant air that’s two to five times worse than outdoor air, contaminated water that runs through old corroded pipes, synthetic materials that offgas, and artificial light that disrupts natural circadian rhythms,” says Paul Scialla, founder and CEO of Delos, DARWIN’s developer. “It also responds to changes it detects, such as pollutants coming in on the bottom of our shoes.” The first fully integrated DARWIN home was launched two months ago in Australia, with the platform adding only $2,000 to the cost of the project, he says. Eventually, Delos plans to make the technology available for retrofits of existing single-family homes.

How you can take action: Staying abreast of new building techniques and smart home developments will help you better serve clients who are eager to make their homes healthier.

3. Bathrooms for Aging in Place

accessible bathroom design

Why it’s happening: According to a 2018 Houzz Bathroom Trends Study, baby boomers now account for the largest share of home owners choosing to renovate—and their top project is redoing the master bathroom. “A significant proportion of boomers (56 percent) are aware of the needs that arise aging in place,” says Nino Sitchinava, Houzz economist. “They are proactive about integrating accessibility features that address these needs during renovations.” Popular changes include removing tubs that are difficult to climb into and out of, adding accessible shower seats and grab bars, and installing zero-threshold entries between rooms.

How you can take action: Knowing the costs will help you serve as a trusted adviser to buyers. The median cost for a large master bathroom renovation was estimated at $16,000 by Houzz. If that’s too much, suggest piecemeal changes. Grab bars, for example, range between $140 and $300, depending on whether the wall includes blocking support or if it must be added, says Richard Duncan, a universal design expert and co-founder of the Better Living Design Institute in Asheville, N.C.

4. Resiliency and Sustainability

rendering of sustainable home

Why it’s happening: Natural disasters are occurring more frequently and sometimes with little warning. The most forward-thinking homebuilders are developing resilient solutions for new and existing homes. “The weather is getting almost biblical, and homes that don’t address that run a legitimate risk of being seriously damaged or destroyed and having their resale value put in question,” says Nathan Kipnis of Kipnis Architecture and Planning Solutions in Chicago. His designs include oversized gutters and downspouts that direct water to rain gardens or other landscape features that can handle intense rain. He also recommends an ice and water shield on the roof to create a rain barrier, so the interior has greater protection. Coastal homes should add hurricane straps where the roof and walls intersect, he says, to reduce possible wind damage. Sustainable features are also critical to decarbonize the built environment and conserve resources. Kipnis favors all-electric systems, including induction cooktops, mini-split HVAC systems, and heat pump water heaters. Homeowners could take it a step further and have the garage wired to be a charging station for electric cars and add solar panels to the roof.

How you can take action: Direct clients to experts who know how to build and remodel houses to withstand the weather and keep energy costs down. Also, know how and where products and materials are made, since more buyers are asking, says Amanda Mason, senior design director at Chicago-based Belgravia Group. You can increase your knowledge by obtaining the National Association of REALTORS®’ Green Designation or attending a green-building conference.

5. Away With Gray

kitchen cabinets in teal and beige

Why it’s happening: Color swings keep rooms fresh, but what may appeal often depends on how trend-focused the locale is, along with the age and style of the home. According to Sue Wadden, director of color marketing at Sherwin-Williams, “Grays are now in the midst of a warming trend.” In Chicago, real estate pro Jennifer Ames, with Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage, says, “It’s back to more white and off-whites.” Her clients are seeking a more neutral, calm background. In Boise, Idaho, beige appeals to the broadest range of buyers, but millennials moving downtown favor a statement wall of bright turquoise or magenta, says real estate salesperson Gehrke.

When it comes to cabinetry, colors are becoming more robust nationwide. Manufacturer MasterBrand Cabinets has found blue tones are becoming more popular, while teal, sage, and olive colors are making inroads. But when it comes to selling, color expert Amy Wax generally recommends being more cautious and favoring lighter colors that convey an easy-to-decorate, move-in atmosphere.

How you can take action: Learn preferences of buyers in your market, which may require asking paint store salespeople, designers, architects, and color experts. Then share what you learn with clients. “You can help buyers find a look by showcasing an updated aesthetic that doesn’t feel contrived,” Wadden says.

6. Natural Materials and Motifs

living room with natural accents

Why it’s happening: After so much focus on clean, spare Scandinavian design, there’s yearning for more warmth and comfort with natural touches. In fact, Miami-based designer Antony Chandler, president of Archiforma Group, thinks sitting in your living room should evoke the feeling of lying in a hammock under a great tree on a breezy summer day. To get the look, Chandler suggests prints and florals in natural-colored tones. Butcher block kitchen countertops and a mix of warmer natural materials such as wood, leather, silk, and stone will help capture the natural feel. Chicago designer Steve Kadlec suggests open grain oak cabinetry, metallic linen draperies, saddle leather, and woven cotton rugs. A warmer, more natural glow can also be illuminated through new LED lights, says Chicago designer Tom Segal, of Kaufman-Segal Design.

How you can take action: Your sellers don’t have to revamp rooms completely. Make suggestions on incorporating a few pieces to get the look. “You can capture a concept with a single well-chosen piece. Make it bold, beautiful, and memorable, and your listing will stand out in buyers’ minds,” Chandler says.

7. Affordable Microhouses

Micro Home

Why it’s happening: Affordability is in great demand, with rising home prices and a shortage of desirable downtown locations. “What’s needed is more dense land planning, common outdoor space, greater acceptance of attached homes, and sometimes doing without a garage,” says architect Bill Ramsey with KTGY Architecture and Planning’s Denver office. What’s considered livable yet affordable often needs to be larger than tiny homes, most of which are less than 500 square feet. John Hunt, president of Atlanta-based MarketNsight, a research firm focused on the building industry, thinks there’s a more viable option: microhouses, which range from 500 to 1,000 square feet. They fit community codes for permanent housing, unlike tiny homes that often must be built atop trailers due to their modest square footage. Microhouses also offer equity, unlike rental microapartments. They can be constructed as narrow townhouses or as a one-story, single-family designs. Home builder Jim Chapman Jr. recently received approval from the city of East Point outside Atlanta for 40 microhouses, each between 500 and 1,000 square feet on a 7.69-acre historic downtown site. Prices will start in the high $100,000s.

How you can take action: This small livable option can be a good investment for your buyers. Find out if there are any developments in the works in your market. “Many pay higher prices for lower-square-foot rentals,” Hunt says.

8. High and Low Decor

Cozy bedroom

Why it’s happening: For the millennial generation, quality supersedes quantity. But this isn’t limited to their desire for smaller, better homes, says Chicago designer Rebecca Pogonitz of GOGO design group. It also applies to what they choose to put inside their homes when they decorate. “It’s not about keeping up with the Joneses. How they live dictates their choices,” she says. “They’re very practical about the money they spend, often researching and gathering ideas from sites like Houzz and Pinterest that mix high and low, and then asking experts to cull and complete a look.”

Finished projects might translate into a combination of luxury vinyl planks—which are more practical than expensive real wood boards—and furnishings from readily available online resources like Wayfair, Crate and Barrel, and Arhaus. The benchmark isn’t how fancy or rare something is, but if it’s practical, gives them the right experiences, and nourishes their spirit.

How you can take action: When buyers ask for guidance once they move in, communicate that practicality should be their main mantra. Good readily available resources they might consider, Pogonitz says, come from Room and Board, West Elm, Crate and Barrel, Ethan Allen, HighFashionHome.com, Perigold.com, Ruelala.com, and Houzz.com.


Bonus Points for Bonus Rooms: 8 Ways to Make Buyers Fall in Love With Your Flex Space

By Wendy Helfenbaum

Home buyers love to get the most space for their money. In fact, a recent survey revealed that 66% of millennials cite more living space as the No. 1 reason for buying a house. So if you’re selling a home with a bonus bedroom, a finished basement, or an extra-large landing on the second floor that could be used for something, you’re adding a lot of extra value.

But are you really highlighting the glorious potential of that space to buyers?

Remember, you’re not just selling a house; you’re selling an aspirational lifestyle! So whether you’re showcasing an attic hobby room, a gamer’s paradise in the basement, or a wellness retreat on the second floor, consider these strategic staging tips to make that flex space shine.

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1. Avoid giving rooms a split personality

For optimal results when selling, execute a single theme in your bonus room, says Howard Andrews, a licensed broker with Knipe Realty in Portland, OR.

Someone who craves a spot to paint landscapes probably doesn’t want one that also crams in an elliptical trainer and a double bed. And a young couple imagining a sweet nursery won’t be impressed if their future baby’s room is also a makeshift potting shed with hydroponic herbs sprouting below bright lights.

“You really want potential buyers to be able to imagine themselves in your house,” Andrews says.

2. Get physical with a yoga studio or gym

The number of Americans practicing yoga and meditation has surged in the past couple of years, according to a recent study from the National Institutes of Health. So staging your bonus space as the perfect spot to get healthy makes it an attractive alternative to the gym (and a budget-savvy one, too), says Michael Sinatro, broker-owner of the Sinatro Co. and an accredited home stager in West Hartford, CT.

“When buyers come across a home that has a meditation or yoga room—a calming, Zen kind of place—people’s gut reaction is how they wish they had one,” he says. “In our overscheduled digital world, people are yearning for peace, mindfulness, and a moment of quiet.”

Sinatro suggests keeping the decor simple: a yoga mat or two, some plants, and a nook in the corner piled with comfy pillows.

“A home gym is also appealing, especially when you have things like rubber mats, a water cooler, and mirrors on the wall,” he adds. But skip the giant stair-climbing machine if the room has low ceilings—it will only draw attention to that feature.


Watch: Home Staging Secrets the Experts Wish You Knew in Advance00:0800:57 


3. Consider getting crafty

There’s no reason to spend piles of cash to stage an extra room for a nonexistent purpose, but if you’re passionate about a hobby and can showcase the space attractively, do so. A new survey conducted by the Pew Research Center showed that 1 in 5 Americans finds hobbies make their lives more meaningful.

“My wife would probably fall in love with a house that has an organized sewing and crafting space, and I think that’s true for a lot of couples, because we’re seeing a lot more of the do-it-yourself crowd becoming more mainstream,” says Andrews.

“Buyers also value extra storage everywhere, so built-in storage is a great asset for a hobby space. Good lighting is also a must.”

An industrial-style long table and freestanding bookshelves also help define a hobby room.

4. Gear up for a gaming room

One recent survey reported that 65% of U.S. households regularly play video games. Buyers who love gaming will appreciate a space with plenty of electrical outlets that can accommodate consoles or charge wireless joysticks, gaming computers, and even vintage arcade machines.

“A gaming space has to be a large enough to accommodate a table with about 3 feet around every side of the table—it gives people enough room to get around each other,” says Andrews.

5. Trick out an office with awesome storage

With nearly 4 million U.S. employees telecommuting at least half the time, home offices are hugely desirable. But don’t just stick a cheap desk in a room, slap a lamp on it, and call it an office. Create the kind of office where people can picture themselves producing their best work.

“You’re selling what buyers picture themselves to be,” Sinatro explains.

Add some tall storage with lots of shelving that’s well-designed, plus a small seating area, and you’ll show all the options in a nice space, he says.

6. Create a dream closet and dressing room

According to the National Association of Home Builders, more than 40% of first-time home buyers consider a walk-in closet essential. So if your home’s master bedroom is short on storage, consider spending about $1,500 to transform an adjacent bedroom into an Instagram-worthy walk-in closet, with tons of hanging space and shoe cubbies—and maybe even a storage island in the center of the room.

7. Don’t forget the Big D’s: Declutter and depersonalize

Spare rooms that just showcase piles of things you can’t find space for is a surefire way to tank a sale, no matter how great your home is.

“People might be very forgiving when they see a cluttered garage, but if your third bedroom is full of boxes, it’s really hard to get past that cluttered impression,” Andrews  says.

8. Downsizing? Stage your space authentically

If you’re new empty nesters planning on moving to a condo, you might be tempted to stage your home so a young family sees themselves there. But resist the temptation to revamp the entire house.

“While you want to appeal to as many buyers as possible, you don’t want to fake a playroom if you don’t have children,” Sinatro says.

Similarly, if you’re not an artist, staging a bedroom as a bright art studio just won’t work.

“If something is genuinely your passion, that will come across to buyers, as long as it’s clean and simple,” he adds.


Yes, You Can Even Feng Shui Your Yard for Maximum Curb Appeal—Here’s How

We’re sure you already know that using the tenets of feng shui can result in a home that hums with harmony. But while you might think of this ancient Chinese philosophy as a way to improve your indoor space, you might not realize it can be directed toward your home’s exterior, too.

Good feng shui outside allows you to welcome visitors peacefully—and even entice potential buyers.

“Curb appeal is an important feng shui principle because the energy that a house exhibits from the outside can attract prosperity and good fortune—such as buyers,” explains Anjie Cho, a feng shui educator and author of “108 Ways to Create a Mindful and Peaceful Home.”

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Ready to take the feng shui outside? Here are seven spots to focus on when it comes to your home’s curb appeal, and the feng shui reasoning behind each one.

1. Front door

Photo by Rachel Greathouse 

A focus on your entryway is key because this spot is the main portal for energy to enter your home.

“Feng shui dictates that a welcoming doorway calls both energy and opportunity into the home and the lives of those who live there,” says Trisha Keel, director of education at the International Feng Shui Guild.

If your entrance can’t be easily found from the street, try to figure out why (you might need to get bigger house numbers or trim back some bushes). If good energy, or qi, can’t find your door, a buyer won’t either, Cho adds.

“Paint the front door red, which is an auspicious color in feng shui that attracts the eye,” Cho suggests.

And don’t forget about the walkway or sidewalk that leads to your home, points out Katie Weber, a feng shui practitioner and creator of the Red Lotus newsletter. Both should be in good repair because, like a flowing river, they bring beneficial energy to the house.

2. Plants and flowers

Photo by Mirage Landscape 

To boost your curb appeal, you probably already know some of the old tricks—like adding lush plantings, blooms, and colorful trees to your yard and front stoop. But following these tips does more than pretty things up.

“Flowers are the yang [positive] expression of a plant, which indicates its health and confers it to the home,” Weber says.

In fact, if you focused on feng shui only outside your home, it would be enough to raise your house’s overall energy and bring in growth and vitality, she explains.

Not the season for planting where you live? Keel recommends bushes and grasses in front, with seasonal color in pots at the door.

But a word of caution: Nix any kind of cactus in your planters.

“Avoid pointy plants at the entrance, as they foreshadow pain within.”


Watch: 5 Genius Landscaping Tricks That Will Pay Off in Spades00:0001:02 


3. Exterior paint

Photo by Vic’s Masonry LLC

“Peeling paint indicates problems coming to light,” Keel says, so make sure to tackle any problem areas before an open house.

Good feng shui depends on a house that’s in the best shape, so be sure to keep up with small—but significant—maintenance tasks.

4. Lawn care

Photo by Tom Howard Garden Design and Landscaping 

A pristine lawn that’s mown, with healthy plants and free of leaves and branches, says, “I care about my home.” But it also adheres to feng shui principles.

“An unkempt lawn indicates that the home does not cultivate good energy,” Cho says.

5. Garage and driveway

Photo by Doug Abbott

We’ve got news for you: House hunters will peek inside your garage—and traverse your driveway to get there. Clean up these hot spots before it happens.

“If you have a lot of clutter or your pathways are blocked, potential buyers will feel heavy, scattered, and overwhelmed—and this is not what they want to feel in their new home,” says Kim Julen, a certified feng shui practitioner.

And don’t get us started on those garbage bins haphazardly sitting in your driveway. Your refuse has negative energy (plus, it stinks). Leaving those bins out in the open can bring down your entire home’s qi, Cho says.

“Garbage is only attractive to flies, so create a trash can corral and you’ll sell easier than if you just throw the bins in the garage,” Keel says.

6. Exterior windows

Photo by WA Design Architects 

It may sound hokey, but windows are the eyes of your house—and sparkling-clean ones are critical to feng shui curb appeal.

“Clean windows represent clear thinking and understanding, and dirty ones can make buyers wonder what else isn’t maintained,” Cho says.

Plus: “Dirt doesn’t reflect light, and it’s light that attracts people,” Keel adds.

7. Fixtures

Photo by Pillar & Peacock 

Got a sticky door or wobbly hinges? These point to carelessness and may deter a buyer.

“When things fall into disrepair, it indicates stagnant energy and it pushes life away, rather than bring it in,” Cho says.

Take note of rust around your home’s exterior, too.

“Rusty doorknobs point to a challenged career or difficult, untended relationships,” Keel says.

A wise buyer may pick up on these vibes—and move on.


5 Big Reasons to Sell Your Home This Year (Because It Could Get Tougher)

By Rachel Stults | Feb 20, 2019


It’s no secret that life’s been pretty good to sellers for the past several years. Even if you had no need—or desire—to move, the housing landscape might have seriously tempted you to put your house on the market anyway. After all, it’s hard not to see visions of dollar signs when your neighbors are unloading their homes for tens of thousands over asking price.

But as they say, all good things must come to an end. And you’ve probably heard that the white-hot housing market of years past is finally beginning to cool.

So if you haven’t listed your home before now, did you miss the boat? Absolutely not. But with each passing month, the experts say, you can expect the housing climate to shift a bit more in buyers’ favor.

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“It’s definitely still a seller’s market in most of the country. But it’s not the same seller’s market that you saw in the last couple of years,” says Danielle Hale, chief economist of realtor.com®. “You might have to think about how your home compares to the competition that buyers are going to see when they’re shopping. And you might have to price a little bit more competitively, or think about other enticements to attract buyers.”

There’s still a chance to cash in for top dollar, though, if you move quickly. Here are the biggest reasons to sell ASAP in 2019.

1. You won’t be the only listing for long

The top reason sellers have been in the catbird seat for the past several years? Inventory. There simply weren’t enough homes on the market to keep up with buyer demand. And when a “For Sale” sign did go up, you can bet a bidding war would soon follow.

“You might have been the only listing in your neighborhood, and you could put your home up at a certain list price and you would likely see multiple offers at or above that list price,” Hale explains.

That tide is turning this year, Hale says. That’s because the number of homes for sale is finally increasing, albeit slowly. For now, buyers still outnumber inventory. But if you’re thinking about selling and don’t want to compete with your neighbors, it’ll pay off (literally) to list earlier rather than later. (This is particularly true in pricier markets, where inventory is increasing at a faster rate than more affordable areas.)

“It’s going to depend on what neighborhood you’re in, but we expect it to be more common this year that you won’t be the only listing,” Hale says.

2. You still stand to make a ‘handsome profit’

Home prices have been on a meteoric rise for the past seven years. In January 2012, the U.S. median home price was $154,700. Today, that figure has nearly doubled—to $289,300—and sellers have rejoiced.

Now comes a twist: 15% of all home listings saw price cuts in January, according to realtor.com data.

That might sound like bad news if you’re thinking of selling. But hear us out: Those moderating prices, combined with today’s mortgage rates (more on that below), mean increased buyer demand for your house.

Plus, it’s not that home prices aren’t still increasing—they’re just not increasing at the frenzied pace of previous years, which often featured multiple offers at or above asking price, Hale says. So even though you might have some more competition as a seller, things are still looking pretty sweet for you when it comes to cold, hard cash.

“Even if you don’t get an offer above your asking price, you’re probably still going to come away with a handsome profit from being a seller in 2019,” Hale says.

But again, it’ll pay to put your home on the market as soon as you can—before conditions change.

“Sellers who list their homes earlier in the year tend to get a higher sales price, often above list, and shorter days on market,” says Ali Wolf, director of economic research at Meyers Research.


Watch: This Totally Ordinary House Sold for $782K Over Asking (Yes, You Read That Right)Volume 0% 


3. There’s high demand for homes under $300K

There’s more good news if you own a home below the national median price of $289,300. Not only is that inventory increasing at a slower rate than its luxury counterparts, but there are more buyers shopping at those price points.

“If you’re a below-median-price seller, you will see a seller’s market that is as good as what you saw in previous years—maybe even better,” Hale says. “You might still see multiple offers coming in quickly, maybe even above asking price.”

4. Mortgage rates are at a new low

Something strange has been happening over the past few months. Experts predicted mortgage rates would rise—and at the end of 2018, they were indeed ticking upward as expected.

But since the start of the year, rates on a 30-year fixed mortgage (the most popular home loan) have been fallingsliding last week to a new 12-month low of 4.37%. And of course, those historically low mortgage rates mean you could have more buyers knocking on your door.

Plus, this temporary dip in rates creates an opportunity for trade-up buyers as well. After all, if you’re selling your home, there’s a good chance you’ll need to buy another one.

Bottom line: Now’s the time to hustle and get both transactions done.

“Sellers need to take advantage of low rates as much as buyers do,” Wolf says. “Sellers don’t want to get stuck in their homes when rates go up and the math no longer makes sense to move.”

5. Millennials are flooding the market

Historically speaking, people tend to buy their first home around age 30. And guess what? We’ve got a whole bunch of people turning 30 in the next two years—nearly 5 million, in fact, according to realtor.com data. So you can count on those millennials to be a driving force in the housing market.

“Millennials want to own a home as much as prior generations,” Wolf says. “We saw millennial shoppers scooping up homes in 2018—and 2019 will be no different.”

What’s more, Hale adds, is that you won’t just be seeing demand from first-time buyers. Older millennials in their middle to late 30s have already owned a home for a few years, and could be looking at now as a prime time to trade up.

“From a seller’s perspective, you’re going to have possibly more interested buyers,” Hale says. “So that’s motivation to put your house on the market.”


Commercial Property For Sale, Lafayette, LA

This package includes two properties!! 2501 & 2505 Verot School Rd and is where you will find this 13,740 combined space for sale. 2501 Verot School Rd is a retail space that offers 3 suites (currently all leased, great income potential) with a combined space of 4250 sq ft.(one @1250 sq ft and two @1500 sq ft) and 2505 Verot School Rd is a beautiful 9540 sq ft stand alone building that could have many purposes such as a school, a medical facility, physical therapy, or it’s current use a gym, the possibilities are endless for an owner occupier or investor. Sellers would consider leasing OR selling the larger stand alone building separately so call listing agent for details!!


Property For Sale, Brousard, LA

Full Details Click Link – https://bit.ly/2GKIfCK

STUNNING is one word to describe this rare find in Broussard! Situated on 1.6 acres in Nellies Acres Subdivision is where you will find this amazing custom built home adorned by beautiful mature oak trees. This speculator home has 2931 s ft of living area with 4 bedrooms and 3 full baths, huge front porch and back porch complete with outdoor kitchen area, wood burning fire place, recessed lighting, ceiling fans and surround sound. Custom features inside include beautiful wood flooring in the living area, gas fireplace, large open kitchen w/ breakfast nook and beautiful brick arch, custom real wood cabinets, gas cook top, center island w/ storage, and a wall of windows facing the backyard! 2 of the guest rooms share a jack and jill bath and have ample closet space. The large master suite… has dual walk in closets w/ built ins and a master bath with garden tub, dual vanities with storage, water closet and separate walk in shower. The generously sized laundry room has a built in counter that could be used for folding, crafts or homework! The 2 car garage has over 900 sq ft and the there is also a 3rd garage for lawn equipment. Next to the garage you will find a 1500 sq ft cement slab that you could build on or use as you wish. This is a magnificent home please take a look at the virtual tour attached to this link and see for yourself!!



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