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Home buyer questions and answers. Q:   What is a Buyer's Representative? Do I need one?
A:   Not long ago, all brokers represented the seller in a real estate transaction and "let the buyer beware." Today most buyers want a good agent to represent them during a home purchase. A buyer's agent works for the buyer and can show the buyer all properties listed by any broker, for sale by owners, or even properties not currently on the market.

A buyer's agent can offer professional advice on selecting a property and negotiate to get the property for the buyer at the best price and terms. And, best of all, since sellers generally pay the brokers' commissions, these services are free to the buyer.

  • Although we live in an age of information, a buyer's agent can also tell you things the Internet never will such as:
  • Helping you clarify your priorities.
  • Suggesting sources of financing and other service professionals, such as inspectors and exterminators.
  • Providing sources of accurate and lawful information on neighborhoods, schools, and communities.
  • Selecting and arranging property showings.
  • Evaluating particular properties.
  • Explaining forms and agreements.
  • Suggesting contract contingencies to protect you, rather than the seller.
  • Assisting in the negotiations for a favorable price and terms.
  • Keeping all information confidential that could weaken your bargaining position.
  • Monitoring the entire purchase process, assisting with issues that arise through closing.

Surfing the net to look for houses is fine but you need an agent to help you decide which properties are really a good match for your specific needs. And, since you can use the services of a buyer's broker for free, why wouldn't you? If you see a home on the Internet or while driving around, and want more information, please contact us.

Q:   Can you help me buy a new home from a builder?
A:   You Bet! Anyone considering the purchase of a new construction home should work with a realtor that can represent you in negotiations with the home builder. Remember, the sales agents in the model homes work for the builder and represent his interests. We can protect your interests. There's no cost to you for this service (the builder pays our commission fees). For more info on assistance with new homes and new home builders, including incentives that are available, please contact me.

Frequently asked questions for homebuyers.Q:   Can you help me with homes for sale by owner?
A:   Yes! Home owners selling their own homes are usually very happy when a real estate agent brings them a buyer. In addition, we can provide you with invaluable assistance in negotiating the price and terms of the sale and helping you through a process that can sometimes be confusing. It's always best to have a buyer’s agent looking out for your interests. Just contact us with the address and phone number of the owner and we’ll take it from there!

Q:   I would like to preview a home for sale. How do I do that?
A:   If you have not already signed a buyer agency agreement with another real estate agent, I can show you any home listed for sale in the New Orleans Northshore area - including new construction homes. Regardless of where you find a home (on the internet or driving by), you can call me to find out all the details and schedule a preview. Call Kim Higgins @ 985-705-1910.

Q:  What programs are available for first-time home buyers?
A:   There are several programs, such as Rural Development, available to first-time homebuyers in the Northshore Louisiana area. The programs vary depending on your location, your mortgage source, and your income. The requirements and benefits of each program will also vary. Please contact me or call me at 985-705-1910 for more information on what’s available in the area you are interested in.

Q:   What are your qualifications as a Realtor?
A:   I have been working full time in real estate in the Northshore area since 2006. My husband and I have raised two children here. I am a top agent and pride myself on top level customer service.

Some of my Certifications and Designations are:

  • Accredited Buyer Representative (ABR)
  • Certified Residential Specialists (CRS)
  • Internet Real Estate Professionals (ePRO)

These are all continuing education based programs.

Memberships (and subscribe to their code of ethics.)

  • National Association of Realtors (NAR)
  • Northshore Area Association of Realtors
  • The St. Tammany Parish Chamber of Commerce

Q:   If I call or e-mail you, will I be pressured?
A:   NO WAY. Like you, I despise high-pressure sales tactics and people. You have my assurance that neither I nor my team members will ever pressure you to do anything. We are here to provide real estate advice and hopefully earn your business. And we won't promise something we can't deliver.


Q:   What’s the weather like in the Northshore Area?
A:   The climate for the Northshore is fairly mild. Daytime temperatures range from an average of 61 in January to a high of 91 in July. July is typically the wettest month as well as the highest temperature.

Average Daytime Temperature

January - 61
February - 65
March - 72
April  - 78
May  - 84
June  - 89
July  - 91
August  - 90
September  - 87
October  - 79
November  - 70
December  - 63

Average Precipitation

January  - 5.15
February  - 5.65
March  - 5.36
April  - 4.66
May  - 4.63
June  - 5.89
July  - 6.53
August  - 6.09
September  - 4.66
October  - 3.93
November  - 4.47
December  - 5.24

While St. Tammany Parish is located on the northern edge of Lake Ponchatrain, and about 50 minutes north of New Orleans the weather may be affected by both the Lake and the Gulf of Mexico. The climate, while generally mild is a bit humid and heavily influenced by both bodies of water.

Q:   What are average home prices in the Northshore market?
A:   The average price of all homes sold (single family and condo combined) was $194,500 in 2012.


Homes for sale. Buyer Questions and Answers.Q:   How do you know the best type of financing for my situation?
A:   The best way for me to determine your situation is to have you speak with a lender. They will consider family size, how long you plan to stay in your home, your current and projected income and debt, your credit history and your cash for down-payment and closing costs.

Q:   What is earnest money?
A:   Earnest money shows good faith and that you are serious about buying the property. Typically, sellers ask for one percent of the sales price, and it is credited toward the purchase, unless there is 100% financing. The contract will spell out the conditions for when earnest money is refundable and when it is not.

Q:   If I buy a house through you, who pays you?
A:   Since the seller generally pays the brokers' commissions, our services are free to the buyer.

Q:   Can the seller pay for my down payment or closing costs?
A:   The seller cannot pay your down payment, but closing costs may be negotiated.

Q:   Should I get pre-qualified or pre-approved for a loan?
A:   When you submit a purchase offer, unless you will pay cash, you must provide evidence that you qualify for the loan. Otherwise the seller won't take your offer seriously. There are two types of evidence you can provide:

Prequalification. This means you have spoken with a lender and, based solely on the information you told them, the lender is willing to provide a written statement that they believe you will qualify for a loan. It only takes a few minutes and can be done over the phone. This is not as strong as pre-approval.

Pre-approval. If you are serious about buying, this is the way to go. You get pre-approved for a loan by submitting a formal loan application and having the lender verify your credit, employment, etc. Once you are pre-approved, all that is needed is an appraisal on the property that you choose. Pre-approval makes you look like a cash buyer in the eyes of a seller and gives you more negotiating clout.

Please feel free to contact any of our partners in business below and let them know we referred you.

GMFS Lending: Carrie Sanders- (504) 416-2653

NOLA Lending Group: Mike Ceravolo- (985) 612-2789

Integra Lending Group: Guy Jones- (985) 789-4389

Q:   How much do I need to put down?
A:   The greater the down payment, the less the monthly mortgage payment will be and the more immediate equity you will have in your home. The lenders we work with offer programs that feature down payments as low as 0% to qualified individuals.

In most cases a down payment ranges between 0% and 20%. This amount will vary depending on the cash you have available and what payments are affordable for you.

For 97% loans and 100% loans, rates really jump up, so be ready. If there is anything you can do to get at least 5% down, you will save quite a bit of money down the road.

Q:   How much will my Closing Costs be?
A:   In addition to the down payment, the amount of closing costs will depend on several factors, such as the selling price of the home and the type of mortgage. As a rule of thumb you will have closing costs of approximately 2 to 3 percent of the sales price. Contact Us and we can give you more specific information on the items typically paid by buyers.

Q:   How much are Property Taxes in the Northshore LA area?
A:   Taxes vary by location, but a good rule of thumb is 1% of the value of the house. Taxes are typically included in your mortgage payment along with insurance.

Q:   Should I get an inspection on the home I'm thinking about purchasing?
A:   Definitely! You need to know exactly what you are buying. It could be very disappointing to find out after you have purchased your new home that you are going to have to spend lots of money for unexpected repairs.

The cost of a professional home inspection could be the best money you ever spend on your house. Not only does the home inspector look for any defects from the roof to the foundation, but the inspector will often give you tips on maintaining and repairing your house. Home inspections are also recommended for newly constructed homes.

Q:   When should I begin searching for a home?
A:   If you have a specific date that you must be in your next home, you should begin your search at least two months prior to that date. Two months will allow enough time to find the perfect home and enough time for inspections, loan approval and processing. If you have a home to sell, you should list your home for sale before starting your search.

Q:   How long does it usually take from the time I find a house until I can move in?

A:   It depends on the situation! A home can close in less then 10 days if the buyers have met all of their lender's requirements. Generally, you should allow between 3 to 6 weeks; maybe longer, depending on how soon the seller can vacate the house and how quickly you can close on the home.

Q:   What is an appraisal? Will I need one?

A:   An appraisal is a detailed analysis by a licensed appraiser of the market value of the home you want to purchase. Lenders will require an appraisal as part of the loan approval process.

Q:   What is a contingency?
A:   A contingency is a provision included in a sales contract stating that certain events must occur or certain conditions must be met before the contract is valid. A common example would be requiring that an existing home be sold first.

Q:   What is title insurance?
A:   Title insurance is insurance that protects the lender and buyer against any losses incurred from disputes over clear title of a property.

How much home can I afford? What is a contingency? Do I need an appaisal?Q:   What is a Short Sale?
A:   A short sale is when the mortgage holder/lender agrees to accept a payoff that is less then the amount owed on a property. Mortgage holders are more and more leaning towards short sales, rather then foreclosing because they can recover at least part of amount owed on a property. Foreclosure is usually the last thing anyone involved wants to do. The mortgage holder may 1099 the borrower for the difference between the actual payoff and the short sale amount. If this happens there will be tax implications. This is still usually a better situation for the borrower then a possible judgment filed against them for any short fall in a Foreclosure Sale.

Q:   Can I search for Short Sale properties on your website?
A:   Yes. Our system does not search other areas of the state or out of the state. Sometimes when you see properties on other sites but not ours, it’s because the property has already been sold. Our database is updated every morning around 4:00 am and has all the updates that are in the main MLS database.

Contact Information

Photo of Kim Higgins, Broker/Owner Real Estate
Kim Higgins, Broker/Owner
Realty Executives NOLA
1742 N. Causeway Blvd.
Mandeville LA 70471
Northshore: 985.231.3130
Southshore: 504.564.7676

The information contained in this web site is provided by the listing agent or broker for the sole purpose of consumers' personal use and to assist consumers in identifying properties for potential purchase. This information is deemed to be reliable, but is not guaranteed. You should independently verify the information regarding property that interests you. Neither the listing agents/brokers, Kim Higgins, nor Realty Executives NOLA, shall be responsible for any typographical errors, misinformation, misprints or other mistakes. This information is subject to change without notice. All properties are subject to prior sale, change or withdrawal without notice. You should know that, given the volume of listings, delays in removing or posting listings, in correcting misinformation, or in supplementing information on this web site are inevitable. If you have an interest in certain properties, then please confirm their availability and facts as soon as possible. Neither the listing agents/brokers, Kim Higgins, nor Realty Executives NOLA, make any express or implied warranties for any of the information provided herein to a potential purchaser of a listed property or any consumers.

Kim Higgins, ABR, CRS, ePRO
Licensed in Louisiana, USA

Realty Executives

Each office is independently owned and operated.