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Hurricane Sends Eric to Orange Beach, Alabama vacation.

    Hurricane Gustaf calls off New Orleans real estate for at least a week. Everyone had left the Gulf Shores area except those from Louisiana that have made there way East.  That makes it very quiet.  The wind and waves are dying down with rain here and there.  We are about 2 miles to the Florida line.  New Orleans is only a 3.5 hour drive during normal times.  It took us 7 hours to get here and that was arriving about 3am Sunday morning. 

     Being an agent I can update my clients via e-mail on their various searches.  Just take time off to do nothing.  You take very little when you leave thus you have very little to keep up with. Camera, laptop, shorts, and a couple of shirts.  None of your clients expect anything of you as they are all gone to other places North, East and West. 

    No need to go home at this point. No power, no sewerage, no stores or services.  The service stations have all run out of gas so most should stay a couple of days till things get back to a more normal time. Schools out for the week.

    We are all glad that the area was spared the damages of Katrina. 

New Orleans Sailing

     Arrived home again after being almost a week.  We got power back Thursday nite.  We were lucky, no damage other than cleaning up the yard and such.  Everything in the frig and freezer is gone.  Over 500,000 still have no power.  Many times without power you have no sewerage.  Parishes southwest of here are still in the dark with 80% or more without power, retail, gas and the things we take for granted.  I hope the jobs are not washed away.  Got a few things at the store.  Glad to be home again!

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New Orleans Condos and the foreclosure Market, Louisiana ranks 40th!

    According to City Business “Louisiana was ranked near the bottom of the National Foreclosure list, a not so good list, at No. 40.  The state had 650 properties with foreclosure filings, for a decline of 15.25 percent from February 2007 and a 9.72 decline from last month. ” Many of these could be Katrina related but it does not breakdown the reasons for foreclosures. 

    I have yet to see a foreclosure on a condo in the areas of New Orleans that I work and very few homes.  There was one that was getting ready for the Sheriffs sale last August but it was pulled at the last moment.  There was not a lot of speculation in this market and thus the downturn will be less.  This is not to say the condo market is robust as it is not.  Most of the units are holding onto gains. 

   Condo purchases are going to be less affected than homes in the New Orleans market as the buyers were more upscale and had large down payments, cash transactions, and very few were in the sub prime category.  I only know of one unit that I sold in the last 5 years where it was a B paper loan.  The person oddly enough was a mortgage orginator for a sub prime lender.  He had also no business in the areas where I worked which was a good omen as I look back.

     Its good to be on the bottom of some lists.  Louisiana then ranks near the top in growth for 2008.  Primarily due to increase in exports , high prices for oil and gas, rebuilding after Katrina and a positive effect of lower taxes compared to other states.  Our new Governor is lowering taxes on businesses and making the state more business friendly.  It does not hurt to have a billion dollar tax surplus which is being put into roads, coastal restoration and education. Solid principles for job growth.  He happens to be a conservative Republican in a Democratic state.

New Orleans Condo foreclosures

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New Orleans Condos, The Homestead Exemption is yours! But You have to file for it?

    If you live in your condo and consider it your Louisiana residence you are qualified to receive a homestead exemption of $75,000,  exempting $75,000 of value from your property taxes.  The only caveat is that you have to file for it at your assessors office in your Parish after you have gone to an act of sale.  If you have a condo that you paid $175,000 and you file for the homestead exemption then the millage rate is times $100,000. $75,000 time a mileage rate of .1288 is a savings of $966 for every year.

     The rules are different in each Parish as to what you need to bring with you. In St. Charles Parish you can bring your HUD statement and that is all you need.  In Jefferson Parish the assessor has to have the copies of the stamped property filing.  In New Orleans you may be able to fax the paperwork to the assessor depending upon its rules.  Its a saving on your property tax bill.  If the millage rate is 12 mills then you save $900 per year.  The tax rates or mileages will vary by community, city and Parish.

     I  listed home at the end of last year  where the seller had never filed for the exemption.  He did not get it and thus overpaid their property taxes.  This was a recent case where the young doctor was doing his residency and did not file for his exemption costing him over $5000 for his four years that he was here. Ouch!  Trying to get money back is harder than getting brain surgery.   This only has to be done once so do not forget!!! See a related article on New Orleans Reduces Milleage Rates and Homestead Exemptions.

Federal Fibre Mills Courtyard in New Orleans Warehouse District

Federal FibreMills Courtyard , Winters Title Millage Rates.

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Restaurants near the Warehouse District Condos, No Wendy’s or Golden Arches!

     Keep in mind, the tips Eric and Jack have on restaurants in areas of New Orleans usually skip the famous ones.  This information is to help you eat with the locals.  For a quick breakfast at a reasonable price to ward off hunger until lunch, Deanie’s is tough to beat.  They also do a nice job on plate lunches and sandwiches.  its on the corner of Poeyfarre and Annunciation across the street from the Cotton Mill Condos.  It opens for 6 am and closes at 3 pm.

Deanies in the Warehouse District

     Across the street in the Cotton Mill Condo building sits the Sun Ray Grille.  Imagine a restaurant where I have never tasted a main course!  I have yet to make it past the appetizers like Crawfish Bruschetta, Crab and Portabella Stack, and black bean soup.  The Sun Ray Grill is in the corner of the Cotton Mill Condos on the Annunciation corner nearest the bridge.  The Sun Ray Grill has a parking lot on John Churchill Chase.  “Failure to Launch” a movie filmed in New Orleans had a scene that was filmed in the Sun Ray Grille.

Sun Ray Grill

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New Orleans Condos, Who owns the Courtyards of your condo association?

     The answer to the ownership of the common areas is simple, its you.  The common areas can be many or few depending upon the size of the complex or the type.   You however do not have an equal ownership in most cases as the most common method is to give each unit,  a % ownership based on the square footage of your unit to that of the total complex.

     Common areas include courtyards,  parking areas for visitors, lobbies, hallways, swimming pools, gyms, elevators, roof top areas, and land.  You pay for the upkeep, taxes and insurance of these areas in your monthly condo fees.  You can find your ownership per centage in the condo docs.  Common areas are part of your value as it makes your condo complex more in demand than others. 

     Its very seldom that land value becomes an issue as to value but it happened to a friend of mine whose condo in Destin, Florida was destroyed by a hurricane several years ago.  The Hurricane wiped out the entire complex destroying all the units. There were 36 units that collected the damages from the insurance.  They all had an equal share.  The location on the beach was so good that they were offered 18 million for the land.  They all agreed and sold the property for 500k each plus the insurance.  The numbers were far better than the pre destruction value of the units.  You could have never gotten all to agree to sell under normal times, but being destroyed it was much easier. 

   New Orleans Condos, the common areas

     Some of the condo have very large common areas as living areas.  The Cotton Mill Condos has a 25,000 sq. ft. courtyard, large lobby, pool, exercise room and plenty of hall ways.  It is  different in each building. Keeping the condo areas clean and well maintained will increase the value of your units. Not keeping the common areas will have a negative effect on every-one’s value.  You own the common areas so keeping them up to standards is in your best interest.

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Eric Bouler Realtor
Gardner Realtors
Metairie - New Orleans, La. USA