4 REASONS Why you need a licensed Realtor® when buying a NEW home in Prairieville.

It’s exciting to walk into a new home with the possibility of being your next home. All the finishes are polished, The carpet hasn’t been stepped on looking worn, The granite counter tops would make any of your friends jealous, so what could go wrong by just buying it from the builders themselves. I mean, it is new. Well, as you probably could have guessed many things can go wrong and do go wrong when you go at it yourself. Below Ive listed 4 reasons why you should really hire a licensed local Realtor®. 

1. Contracts and Addendum’s

 When buying a new home in the state of Louisiana, many builders use their own contracts.  Realtors® always have clients sign a state contract as well,  so the buyer can understand their legal rights as buyer. Other builders do use the state contract but will add many addendum’s along with it. Those addendum’s vary from, explaining the elevation of the home, to explaining the flood zone the home is being built on. They can be extremely confusing especially if you haven’t seen anything like them before. Many buyers get so excited by the idea of the new home and just sign away before really reading through the papers they are signing. An experienced Realtor® knows the in and outs of what you should and shouldn’t be signing.

2.  Finding a reputable builder.

When a Realtor® has lived and worked in Prairieville like I have, we have seen the good, the bad and the really, really awful in home building. You should want to know who’s been building in the area for years, and who can be trusted to come back if you have any issues with your home after the closing date. 

*** I have a list of builders that have built homes for my clients in the past, I know they are completely trustworthy, and stand by their work. If you’d like some more information on home builders in Prairieville feel free to call or email me.***

3. Assist you in negotiations.

Generally here in Prairieville the listing price is the price and builders will not negotiate it lower but a savvy agent knows how to get you a sweeter deal with incentives. For example adding an appliance package or upgrading counter tops for the buyer to get a little extra for the same price. Some builders are still willing to work with agents to get the deal done. 

4. When something goes wrong.

Nobody likes to feel like they didn’t get what they paid for. When things go wrong your Realtor® should be going to bat for you. They know how to handle situations that can get pretty ugly if you don’t have someone in your corner protecting your best interests.

BONUS: When deciding on upgrades it can be difficult to know which one will give the best bang for your buck. Your Realtor® does, especially in our area. When it comes time to sell your home at a later date, it is always good to know what appeals to buyers to make your home sell quicker in the future.

New home buying can be smooth sailing, you just need to have someone on your side during the process. If you are looking in the Prairieville area and would like to talk,  feel free to call or email me with your questions. 

Because YOU matter

Your Real Estate Whisperer

Kristina Smallhorn Your Real Estate Whisperer

Buying a Prairieville home from out of state? Here are some tips to help you.

Buying a home in Prairieville from across the country has become a much easier task. I would have told you several years back,  “Anyone buying a home off the internet is crazy!”  Now, I’m eating those words.  As scary as it may sound,  I’ve had several clients do this recently and it has become more popular with easy access to video, virtual tours and signing documents with electronic signatures.  Buying across the world has become much easier, and all of my cross country buyers have been extremely pleased with their new home purchase. Here are some tips that can help you handle the process a little easier.

Investigate your Prairieville neighborhood.  

Its important to do your homework when buying in Prairieville or anywhere else for that matter. A Realtor® can help you with this and the Internet is your friend. You can get neighborhood market reports from your Realtor® and look up crime statistics from a quick Google search. Even if you don’t have children it is important to find out what the schools are like in the area so when you go to sell your home it will be appealing for future home buyers.

Budget your travel.

Not only will you need to know your moving expenses but you will need to create a budget to view your future home at least once. I strongly recommend this, even though I have had a few clients that bypassed my advice and went  through the process without ever seeing the home in person until after closing. The reason I recommend this is only because you really can’t get a feel of a neighborhood by pictures or video. 

Narrow down what you really want.

To make it easier for yourself,  it’s best to make a list of absolute “must haves” in your next home. After you have done your homework on location, price and size, you need to narrow down the list to things like, fenced in backyard, 2 car garage or open floor plan. This will make your choices more tailored to your specific needs and not have to sift through dozens of  listings. Working with a local Realtor® is essential with this aspect of cross country home buying. 

Overcoming Cross Country Home Buying.

For some home buyers the thought of buying across the country can be overwhelming. Even with all the technical advances, it does little to settle their nerves. Some folks have considered  renting for a period of time to get a feel for the area, including traffic and convenience. If this approach appeals to you, please consider how much it will cost to store the items that won’t fit in your rental Also, be sure you fully understand the terms of any lease, including any penalties. Any deposits that are required must also be added to your budget.

Clearly, Internet home buying has become a new way of life for many. Even my 84 year old Aunt recently bought a home that she saw solely in videos and pictures, and never saw the actual house until she moved in!  

In order to do this effectively, it is imperative to work with a Realtor® who has knowledge of the area, the ability to provide you with various visual displays, legal real estate expertise and one who will take the time to get you all the necessary information.

Because YOU Matter

Your Real Estate Whisperer

Kristina SmallhornYour Real Estate Whisperer

Buying a newly built home in Prairieville? Here are 6 important things to know.

In Ascension Parish we sell a lot of new homes, The area has grown by leaps and bounds, especially in the last 10 years.  Sometimes I forget how much it has grown until I get in my car to go shopping for groceries. Not too long ago, I would have to drive several miles just to get to a grocery store or a pharmacy. Now, we have much more convenience. It’s really become a convenient little town. No wonder why people are flocking here. We have affordable housing and fantastic public schools in addition to the convenience.  As the result, home builders have been busy scooping up large parcels of land and building new homes like little worker bees. I can hardly keep up with all the new neighborhoods that have been popping up throughout the parish.

To give you an example, last year there were 973 homes sold in Prairieville alone!  Of those 973 homes, 355 were new construction. These homes vary in price from the $160s to the high $400s.

So what do you need to know before buying a new home in Prairieville?

1. What is the builder offering?


Does the builder offer to pay closing costs? Do you have to use their preferred lender? Do you have to use their preferred title company? If you don’t use the preferred provider will you still get some kind of incentive like fencing, window blinds or upgraded carpeting?

Many larger builders do offer to pay your closing costs, sometimes as much as $5000, but with the caveat  that you have to use their preferred lender and title company. I would strongly recommend shopping the lenders so you are getting the best deal in the long run. Sometimes when you see that they are “giving” you $5000 in closing costs, the preferred lender simply puts that money into your loan somewhere else.

2. What are the standard finishes?

We all get impressed when we walk through a model home. Its impeccably decorated and has all the bells and whistles! It’s easy for anyone to envision themselves living there. So its very important to ask what is standard and what is considered an upgrade. Finishes like rubbed oiled bronze, crown molding in all the bedrooms, and tiled showers might all be considered an upgrade, which could add significantly to the price of the house.  Flooring is a very popular upgrade,  and if you are wondering if this is a good upgrade investment, the market seems to suggest that it is.   More and more people are asking for homes without any carpeting. 

3. What is the neighborhood going to be like when its complete?

Has the builder bought the whole neighborhood? You need to know this because if the builder owns the entire development, the unsold lots will most likely be filled with similarly designed and priced houses, whereas if the development utilizes various builders, the construction may be significantly different both in architectural design

and cost. You need to be wary of anything that might devalue your home.

Is this a large builder that will be able to finish what they have started? What is the timeline for it to be built out?  Not many people like living in a construction zone, as the sounds of noisy trucks, nail guns and other construction equipment can grate on your nerves, especially over long periods of time.

What are the amenities the neighborhood is offering?

When the neighborhood is finished it always nice to be able to be in an neighborhood that offers amenities for its residents like a manicured front entrance, play area for children and a community swimming pool.

4. Is there an HOA? 

You’ll need to pay close attention to this, so be sure to get a copy of the rules and regulations PRIOR to your new home purchase. Some HOA’s are extremely strict with many limitations placed on the homeowner.You need to look them over to see if these rules and regulations are reasonable for you and your family.

For more information on HOA’s in Ascension Parish, visit this post;


5. What kind of warranty does my home offer?

In the state of Louisiana your home is covered by The New Home Warranty Act, covering your home for several years on certain aspects like the foundation, plumbing and wiring. The link below will give you access to the details. No builder can opt out of this coverage.

To get a copy of the Louisiana New Home Warranty Act, Follow the link below


6. Check References.

Google, and the Internet in general, have made it so easy for the home buyer to get good referral without having to take the builders nicely packaged referrals that are sitting in their lovely glossy new home packet!   It’s not unheard of, to drive in a neighborhood and ask people what they think of their home and how the building process went. You can check Facebook to see if the builder has a business page with reviews. Also, ask your Realtor® what their experience with the builder has been in the past.

If you are considering building a new home, I have the name and number of several builders that I have worked with in the past. I know many bigger builders as well, so please, feel free to reach out to me to ask questions and get more information.. Looking forward to your call.  225-246-1812. Why, You ask……..

“Because YOU matter”

Your Real Estate Whisperer 

Kristina Smallhorn Your Real Estate Whisperer

Mardi Gras in Baton Rouge : Parade Dates and Krewe’s

Krewe of Artemis- February 17, 2017


see the above link to the parade route.

About: The Krewe of Artemis was founded in 2001 with the vision of bringing the Mardi Gras spirit and tradition to the Baton Rouge community with a female twist. Joanne Harvey, Krewe Captain, was born and raised in New Orleans and wanted to bring that city’s version of Mardi Gras to Baton Rouge. After experiencing the formation and success of the Krewe of Orion, through her husband, Charles Harvey (President of Orion), Joanne’s goal was to bring that same spirit and tradition but with a decidedly female angle to Baton Rouge. The Krewe made its parade debut in Baton Rouge in 2003 and has enjoyed tremendous support from the community.

Along with the Mardi Gras spirit comes service to community and the Krewe of Artemis is proud of its involvement with local charities. The Krewe has supported many community organizations, American Cancer Society, Baton Rouge Food Bank, Juvenile Diabetes Association, Race For the Cure and Dreams Come True to name a few.

Krewe of Mystique Mardi Gras Parade February 18th 2017




Founded in 1976, we are Baton Rouge’s oldest parading Mardi Gras krewe and throughout that time we have provided carnival fun for the whole family and people of all ages. We look forward to seeing you!

Krewe Mystique rides on Saturday February 18th, 2017 @ 2pm in downtown Baton Rouge.

Krewe of Mutts February 19th 2017


About: The CAAWS Mystic Krewe of Mutts parade is a fun filled way to spend an unforgettable day with your dogs Mardi Gras style while parading them in what has become one of Baton Rouge’s most beloved events. The parade is the largest fund-raiser for CAAWS and raises much needed funds for the CAAWS Community Outreach Spay/Neuter Program. This is a very special parade that allows dogs and their families to be a part of a Mardi Gras fun without spending a fortune. The parade is a walking parade where dogs and their owners stroll along North Blvd. in their finest Mardi Gras attire. Anyone can enter the parade. You only have to fill out an entry form and pay the entry fee. Dogs are also allowed to watch the parade on the sidelines, but it is not as much fun as being in the parade.

Parade entrants are encouraged to bring “throws” for the crowd. And don’t forget to register your FLOAT. Anything that you can push or pull such as a wagon is allowed but NO motorized floats. All dogs must be on a leash. FOR SAFETY PURPOSES, NO RETRACTABLE LEASHES ARE ALLOWED, NOR ANY LEASHES LONGER THAN 6′. Your dog should have a proof of current rabies vaccination tag. No puppies under 12 weeks, aggressive dogs, or dogs in heat are allowed.

Spanish Town Parade February 25th 2017


About: The Mystic Krewe for the Preservation of Lagniappe in Louisiana (doing business as SPLL – Society for the Preservation of Lagniappe in Louisiana) is a 501-C-3 non-profit corporation in the state of Louisiana. Its purpose is to undertake, develop, support and operate charitable, cultural and educational activities to unite all segments of the Baton Rouge community in the promotion of preserving and enhancing Baton Rouge and Louisiana traditions. SPLL is administered by a Board of Directors and sponsors 3 annual fundraisers. The Spanish Town Mardi Gras Parade, Ball and Golf Tournament. All proceeds, after expenses, are donated to local charities.

Your Real Estate Whisperer

Tankless Hot Water Heater Blues

Tankless Hot Water Heater Blues

I have a tankless hot water heater that I absolutely loved until the other evening when the temperature dropped into the 20’s. People up north are laughing at this I’m sure but here in Ascension Parish we don’t get this cold that often. With that being said my tankless water heater froze and I was panicked that it was going to explode. It didn’t, thank God but I was nervous for several hours.

For those of you that don’t know Ascension Parish is in the lower south area of the state of Louisiana and most new constructed homes with tankless water heaters have them mounted on outside of the home.

 I was told to wrap my pipes leading to the water heater and that should prevent it from freezing, which I did but it still froze for several hours and again the next evening. If anyone could tell me what I could do to make this not happen again during the next hard freeze please comment below. Any input would be appreciated to my clients and myself in the future.

What to look for when buying a home.


When searching for a home many buyers have a wishlist of items they want. Whether it’s a beautiful kitchen or a spacious yard it’s always something they want that gets them to settle on the home of their dreams. Buyers can get caught up with the bell and whistles of the home and almost dismiss things that can be future problems for them. I’m listing a few things that buyers in Ascension Parish and anywhere you move should look for.

roof damage?

How old is that roof?

This can be one of the biggest expenses of a home. You should always check the property disclosure on how old the roof is and if it has documentation of when the roof was replaced.

How old is the A/C, and when was the last time is was serviced?

I have seen it time and time again. A seller has had an air conditioning unit for the last ten years with no issue but when asked when the last time the air conditioning was serviced they don’t have a response other than to say they have no issues with it. An air conditioning until should be serviced a minimum of once a year to keep it in good operational order making it last for several more years than one that hasn’t been serviced.

What about the foundation?

As you look outside the home I suggest you take a look at the brinks for cracks starting at the bottom and going up the sides of the house. Trees can cause cracks in a foundation and with our weather patterns so can settling. If you are unsure of a particular crack I recommend you hire a structural engineer to look at the slab and give you a detailed report. Typically a home inspector can see these cracks but can’t evaluate if the cracks are a structural problem for the home.

The water heater.

Of all the major components to a home this one is not so hard on your wallet. But an age of a water heater can make a difference in your utility bills. The newest tank-less water heaters are more expensive, but the initial cost outweighs the future expenses, and they have endless hot water which in my house with two girls is a big advantage.


With newer homes generally they are ventless fireplaces, but with older homes they can be gas or wood burning. If the chimney hasn’t been cleaned in some time it can cause a fire hazard. I would recommend that a seller have the chimney swept and cleaned prior to closing the home. I write that in all my inspection repair requests even if it’s not mentioned in the inspection report.

Always have a professional inspection done on your home so you are aware of any defects that need to be resolved. As a buyer I also strongly recommend getting a home warranty. This will protect your investment for the first year you are in the home. It won’t cover the roof or foundation – unless you add coverage to the policy – but it will protect you for the HVAC system and the hot water heater in the cost of any repairs that may be needed. Every area has specific items that should be checked before signing on the dotted line, so please check with your REALTOR® to know those key items.

“Because YOU matter”


There is nothing SHORT about a Short-Sale.

The verbiage alone makes it sound simple and easy. I assure you that they are labor intensive transactions. Many people ask, when searching for a home and come across the listing that say’s “Short-Sale” what exactly it is. In the simplest terms in just means the sellers are going to sell the home for less than they owe to the lender. This sounds like a great buy for the presumed buyers of these homes, but here some things you should know about them from my personal experience as well as questions that should be answered before you dive into purchasing a short-sale home.

Has the short-sale been approved?

In our area of Ascension Parish we don’t see too many short-sales any longer since the housing bubble fizzled a bit in 2008-2009. Many agents who are not experienced with a short sale get a surprising education pretty quickly. If your sellers have to “short-sale” their home the sellers agent must fill out the proper paperwork with the sellers approval to speak with the lender about short selling the home. Comparable homes in the area must show the home is worth less than what is owed and the lender must “approve” the asking price for the home in its current condition. This can take weeks, even months.

If you find a “short-sale” make sure to ask if the home was “approved” for the asking price on the MLS.

You got an accepted offer from the sellers? Not a time to relax, not just yet….

Even though you have negotiated a price with the sellers, it still needs to be accepted by the lender. The seller’s agent has to put together a settlement statement to the lender that is then “approved” or “declined” by the bank. (I have even seen a lender turn down a full asking price short-sale). This approval can take weeks even months to come through. The agents working on this call, fax, email, and use sites to upload documents to make the sale go through.

Got acceptance from the sellers and lender, what now?

This is the time you want to do your inspections, and I STRONGLY suggest you hire a professional inspector. You are going to want to keep a running total of cost of repairs. In many cases the sellers are not in the position to make costly repairs or even minor ones so this is on you, the buyer. You really need to weigh out how much these things will cost you to do. Is the amount more than the reduction you got on the home? Then you may want to find another home.

Hurry up and wait!

You have sent everything 4 times to your agent that’s been required. The sellers have too but 10 times. What could possibly be taking so long? Nobody really knows why these take so long to get approved.  The theory is that only one person at each lending institute is doing these short-sale approvals, and they get a 3 hour lunch and several paid days off. (sarcasm). Kidding aside, this can take several months to get the rubber stamp that its cleared to close.

The patient will prevail.

The process can be long and exhausting but you can really get a great home for way less than the comparable’s in the neighborhood. If you have patience you can win out. It’s important you have an agent that is informed of the process and can explain the up and downs as they come along during purchasing a short-sale. There are many other things that can happen during the waiting period for approvals. I just touched on a few of the big ones. I’d love to be the one to help you with your short-sale purchase, Why?

“Because YOU Matter”

Your Real Estate Whisperer

"Your Real Estate Whisperer" What’s That!?

                                             Final Logo YREW 

I’m not really sure how other Realtors go about “blogging” but I don’t want to look like other realtor blogs. I just want to emphasize who I am, to you the reader first. I have often said, “I’m not the set the world on fire real estate agent”. I’m not looking to close 40 houses in a month, having a huge team behind me doing all the work. I have been and will continue to be a “hand holding” agent. I have tagged myself “Your Real Estate Whisperer” because that’s the simplest way to describe what I do for my clients. I love to work with people that are new to the idea of buying and selling, in turn, making those same clients into a relationship of a lifetime. Many of my clients have become close friends and I remember things about each and every one of them. Not one time would a client’s name come up that I wouldn’t know who they were talking about, because I take the time to invest time in each relationship I make with a client. Time is so very precious for everyone these days, we never seem to get enough in a day. So you can see how I work could benefit so many buyers and sellers out there. Home buying is stressful and if you had the agent that would call you just to check in on you during this process, it can and does ease your mind during the transaction.  I won’t say, every person that walks into an open house becomes my client but the ones that do become a client are a part of my life. I’m quick to respond to questions. My phone is at my side always and if I don’t answer it’s because I’m either with a client or I’m showing homes to potential new clients. That being said, Everyone gets a call back in a timely manner, never will you wait days for a response, I’m here for you. I know my job, I know my market, I know how to negotiate (my favorite part) but mostly I understand people and how they should be represented. So that’s it folks, my first blog post.