Baton Rouge, LA Real Estate News | C.J. Brown REALTORS

Baton Rouge, LA Real Estate News

Baton Rouge, LA Real Estate News

November 18, 2014

Latter & Blum Companies Receives Prestigious Service Award

Latter & Blum Companies Receives Prestiigious Service AwardLatter & Blum, Inc. was recently awarded the prestigious Supplier Excellence Award from Lexicon Global Relocation last month at the Worldwide Employee Relocation Council’s Global Symposium in Chicago.

The Supplier Excellence Award recognizes the achievement of the supplier who achieves the highest customer satisfaction rating from Lexicon’s client surveys. Our company competed against hundreds of other companies from around the world for the honor.

“It is a huge accomplishment to receive this award and I would like to thank our phenomenal Agents, engaged Managers, and our wonderfully supportive Corporate Services Department staff who made this happen,” stated Director of Corporate Services, Maggie Kiesow.

In 2013, relocation business accounted for nearly $270 million in sales and 1170 transactions for our Agents. We are thrilled to have received this important award and excited about the international exposure it brings to our company and Agents.


November 5, 2014

REALTORS Conference & Expo, New Orleans

November 7-10, 2014

REALTORS Conference & Expo, New OrleansThe annual REALTORS Conference & Expo is being held in New Orleans this year and offers seminars and educational opportunities to learn about information critical to our industry. Learn about emerging tools and techniques available to improve services for your clients and to improve your productivity.

The Expo is the largest trade show floor in real estate, where 400 exhibitors will be on-hand with innovations and ideas.

Some of the real estate solutions showcased at the Expo include:

  • Tech tools
  • Real estate software
  • Internet advertising
  • Mobile devices and applications
  • Mortgage and financial services
  • Home protection and warranties
  • Professional development and training
  • Franchises and referral services
  • Office products
  • “Green” innovations
  • Real estate properties and developer referral programs

Most of the Conference & Expo activities will take place at the Morial Convention Center.

Download the official event mobile app, NAR Annual, to access sessions, meeting schedules, exhibitors and more.

  • For iOS devices and Android phones: Visit the App Store or Google Play, and search for “NAR Annual”
  • For all other phone types: While on your smartphone, point your mobile browser to .
    You will be redirected to the proper download for your device.

Welcome to our REALTOR visitors!

We hope you have a wonderful time while at the conference and that you enjoy the New Orleans experience. Check out exciting Things to See and Do while you are here in New Orleans.

October 30, 2014

Latter to Success

Designed Exclusively for Our Agents

We've made the investment in the educational development of our Agents with sales success training courses like Latter to Success. Our latest Agent training offering is designed exclusively for our Company from the teachings of international sales experts, and taught by expert trainers.

After 42 days, our Agents walk away with the skills and confidence to:

  • Generate at least two leads per week
  • Convert those leads into "gettable" appointments
  • Refine and perfect their Listings Presentation skills
  • Maintain a full pipeline of business for financial stability

Best of ALL…our Agents benefit from this for a fraction of the cost elsewhere. We do MORE for our Agents so they can do more for their clients.

If you have ANY questions, or to hear more about how you can get started on this program, please contact Leigh Ann Bogran at 504-569-9309.

October 27, 2014
By Jed Lipinski, | The Times-Picayune 

Bob Merrick of Latter & Blum to receive honorary doctorate from UNO 

Bob Merrick, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Latter & Blum Inc. REALTORS Robert Merrick, chairman and chief executive of Latter & Blum, Inc. will receive an honorary doctorate from UNO. (Photo by Ted Jackson, | The Times-Picayune)

Bob Merrick, chairman and CEO of Latter & Blum real estate company, will receive an honorary degree from the University of New Orleans at its fall commencement on Dec. 18 at the Lakefront Arena.  

Merrick, a noted philanthropist, has been a longtime donor to the university. He gave $100,000 to UNO in September, half of which went to the school's newly created graduate certificate programs in coastal science and engineering, and half of which went to scholarships.

UNO president Peter J. Fos said Merrick is "a true real estate visionary and one of our region's great humanitarians."


The Safety Talk You Need to Have With Clients

Keep all parties safe in a transaction by offering buyers and sellers these important tips.

Have you had the safety talk with your clients yet? It’s not only for their safety but for yours too.

It’s a conversation far too many real estate professionals omit from their discussions with home sellers and buyers. September is REALTOR® Safety Month, and most real estate safety information mostly centers on how to keep you safe when meeting new clients during showings or at open houses. But safety from your clients’ perspective presents an entirely new set of issues.

“When you go to listing appointments, do a security survey with your clients,” suggests safety specialist Tracey Hawkins, founder of Safety and Security Source and a former real estate professional. “Discuss with them how to make their home burglarproof when it’s on the market and how to keep their belongings safe. No other real estate agent is talking about that. This can be a way to distinguish yourself in a listing presentation. They may have already met with four or five other agents, but when you provide them with something different — a handout for a seller safety plan — you help set yourself apart.”

Learn More Safety Tips

Glean more tips to share with your clients to protect them against a crime. In conjunction with REALTOR® Safety Month, the National Association of REALTORS® will be hosting a free webinar at 1 p.m. CDT on Sept. 9, featuring Sgt. Preston Taylor on “Safety Tips to Share With Sellers.” Register for the webinar at . Also, view more safety tips on keeping you and your clients safe at

Hawkins provides a checklist for agents to use as they walk through homes with sellers, looking for items to tuck away during showings like those prescription medications and gaming systems and checking the adequacy of the home’s lighting and door locks. She also says safety is an important conversation to have with home buyers prior to viewing homes for sale, particularly vacant homes like distressed properties where squatters could be present or maintenance issues REALTOR.orgmay pose added dangers.

Safety Tips for Sellers: 6 Talking Points to Cover

Safety experts offer the following tips on the safety topics you should discuss with home sellers.

1. Prescription drugs: Remove or lock them up prior to showings.

A growing number of real estate professionals are reporting theft of prescription drugs from sellers’ homes during open houses. Indeed, nearly half of 164 real estate professionals recently surveyed at the Greater San Diego Association of REALTORS® Expo reported knowledge of prescription drug theft taking place at open houses. As such, SDAR has led a charge in raising awareness among the REALTOR® community about the dangers of leaving prescription drugs out or in unlocked cabinets during showings.

Earlier this year, SDAR teamed up with the law enforcement and medical communities to create theSafe Homes Coalition. The team created a public service announcement, airing on local television and radio stations, and has also been raising awareness by distributing more than 8,000 plastic prescription drug collection bags since March. Real estate professionals are being encouraged to have their home sellers use the bags to remove prescription drugs from the homes prior to showings or to properly dispose of expired prescription drugs (the bags include a list of drop-off centers for safely disposing of expired medications).

“Similar to asking our clients to remove clutter and valuables when holding open houses, this is another key item to protect that we want our REALTORS® to advise their clients on,” says Leslie Kilpatrick, president of SDAR. “It’s a safety issue for clients and real estate professionals. We don’t want to be confronting someone taking this in a home. We also want our sellers to be protected and to keep their medications safe.”

2. Stow away valuables: Remind clients that you can’t be responsible for thefts.

Valuables include everything from the mail left on the countertops (which may contain personal information and bank statements) to such items as jewelry, artwork, cellphones, and gaming systems.

Agents need to do their part, too. In capturing virtual tours or photographs of the home for marketing purposes, make sure such valuables are not photographed, like a seller’s priceless coin collection, wine cellar, or equipment in a fully outfitted media room.

“Too many people fail to consider that criminals nowadays can case houses from the comfort of their computer,” says Hawkins, who offers safety training for real estate professionals through herConsumer Safety and Security Specialist program. “They can see all the person’s valuables when you put them in fliers and on a website. If the valuables are not being sold with the house, why do they need to be shown anyway?”

Also, Hawkins urges agents to tell their clients at the forefront of their relationship: “I can’t protect your valuables.” Remind them that as a seller’s agent you won’t often be present at home showings, and if you are, you likely won’t be following prospective buyers all around the house, particularly if you’re hosting an open house.

“Before sellers leave the house for a showing, they need to be responsible for walking through the house and making sure everything of value is out of sight,” Hawkins says. “Then, if that antique ring or camera ever goes missing, you won’t get that angry phone call from your client. You already warned them. But if you didn’t say anything to them, they may assume you’re responsible.”

3. Remove family photos: It’s for your clients’ safety.

Many real estate professionals advise sellers to remove family photos from their home. But the conversations are often framed around staging and making it so prospective buyers can imagine themselves living there. Instead, Hawkins says, focus on the safety of their family.

“Clients may be reluctant to remove their family photos just because you say it will help new owners envision it becoming their house,” Hawkins says. “I tell agents to tell sellers: You don’t know who’s walking through the house. You have photos of your wife, teenage daughter, children displayed, and you could have a pedophile or stalker walking through your home. Who would leave their family photos up after you say that?”

4. Make a house safe for the buyers and the agent.

Turn on the lights prior to showings — whether it’s daytime or evening — so that agents and buyers can move safely through the home and not have to face any dark unknowns. (During the initial safety check of a listing, practitioners should ensure all rooms have adequate lighting as well.)

Also, sellers should make sure there are no potential hazards in their home, like loose floorboards or carpets. They don’t want to risk someone tripping and falling in their home and potentially open themselves up to liability.

Hawkins says it’s important to tell sellers to remove not only weapons like guns before showings but also not-so-obvious weapons too. For example, many home owners may have a block of knives on their kitchen countertops; remove these for the agent’s safety as well, Hawkins says.

5.Keep the house locked: Consider extra monitoring.

Another safety reminder for your clients: Doors need to be kept locked at all times. A home is being presented to the public, and it may attract intruders.

Hawkins tells real estate professionals to talk to their home sellers about deadbolt locks and explain to them why they’re safer. Also, sliding glass doors can be secured with bars and extra locks. Motion-sensor lights can be a good option for outdoor areas for added security. Windows should be checked to make sure they are locked securely.

Some real estate professionals are taking an extra step with some of their properties, particularly vacant ones, and talking to sellers about installing a wireless security system. A company called Presence allows you to turn your old smartphone device into a home security system, for free. By uploading the video-monitoring app, you can use your old smartphone to feed videos remotely to your current phone to keep an eye on the listing. You can also use a motion-detection sensitivity feature to alert you to any detected movements in front of the camera and send a video clip to you via e-mail.

6. Beware of unexpected visitors coming to your doorstep.

You may need to warn your clients that when their house is for sale, they may also get some unexpected visitors who ask to see their home.

“I’ve heard agents talk about clients who have had homes on the market, and a couple may knock on the door and just hand them a business card and ask to see the house, and the seller lets them in,” Hawkins says.

Instruct your clients of the proper procedures for showings: Only real estate professionals using the lockbox should gain access to their home.

What’s more, a growing rental fraud scam is causing more home sellers to report renters who are showing up at their doorsteps, too, ready to move in. Real estate professionals say their for-sale listings are getting scraped from websites by scammers who then place them as a rental listing on sites like Craigslist.

Besides their efforts with the Safe Homes Coalition, SDAR also has recently launched a fraud awareness campaign aimed at countering such real estate rental fraud. San Diego had the sixth highest level of rental fraud in the country for 2012, according to SDAR. The association has distributed red and black stickers to its members, which can be placed in the windows of vacant for-sale homes announcing that the home is “Not for Rent.”

“The stickers will make it clear to anybody viewing the outside of the home that it is a for-sale home only,” Kilpatrick says. “The stickers include a phone number for the listing agent and the district attorney’s office, and also a link to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center.”

For Your Buyers: 3 Safety Lessons for Home Shoppers

Safety needs to be an added component in your discussions with buyers, too.

1. Educate yourself on the safety of an area.

You may quietly have some concerns over the safety of a neighborhood, and your buyers might express concerns of their own. As a real estate professional, you can’t be viewed as steering them to avoid certain communities. But you can tell them the importance of educating themselves about neighborhoods. For example, you might advise them to drive by the property at different times of the day to get a better sense of the neighborhood for themselves and to talk to neighbors.

Some real estate professionals provide a list of third-party resources for their buyers to check on crime statistics in an area, such as Family Watchdog to locate registered sex offenders in an area;’s mobile app to uncover crime activity near your current location; and sites like that reveal if any deaths occurred at the property in the past.

2.Take extra precautions in distressed, vacant homes.

As real estate practitioner, you’ve been told to take extra precautions in viewing distressed properties, but you may need to warn your buyers too.

First, when showing an REO, make sure it’s safe to go in, Hawkins says. Do a perimeter search around the property before entering. Do you see broken windows, a kicked-in door, or any signs of someone living there through the windows (such as a sleeping bag on the floor or food left out)? If you see such signs that a squatter may be present, don’t go inside.

Also, homes that have been vacant may have maintenance issues. Buyers and agents may need to watch their footing as they tour the house, navigating away from any loose floorboards, steering clear of a rotted deck, and avoiding loose railings. Loose gutters or lighting fixtures may pose added dangers.

Abandoned animals might be inside too. In an REO, pets can sometimes be left by the previous owner, or wild animals may find a way in. Never approach an animal. It can become hostile. Contact your local humane society or shelter.

“These are not things you usually need to worry about in a home,” Hawkins says. “But in a distressed home that may have sat vacant, you need to be careful and prepare your clients to be more careful too.”

3. Prevent buyer regret — and illness.

Another growing concern reported with REOs: drug contamination, and how a home’s tainted history can get lost if it sits in foreclosure limbo. The number of meth- or clandestine drug-contaminated homes is growing, according to the Drug Enforcement Agency. These drugs can seep into a home’s surfaces, and unsuspecting buyers who move in may face not only a range of respiratory illnesses or neurological problems but also a costly decontamination process of the home.

The risk from meth and clandestine contamination in homes is a rising concern that has prompted more real estate professionals to raise the issue to their clients. For example, homes where marijuana was produced may be more prone to mold damage. Rewired electrical work also can present fire dangers too.

No federal disclosure law exists for meth or marijuana grow houses, and the disclosure regulations vary greatly by state. Oftentimes, standard home inspections won’t turn up drug contamination problems either, but requires extra testing by specialists.

Some real estate professionals have been trained to look for the signs, like the strong smell of urine or chemical smells like ammonia or acetone; trash filled with products like paint thinner, lighter fluid, drain cleaners, and cold tablet containers; and chemical stains on the toilets and bathtubs. Or, buyers and agents sometimes may feel some of the signs when they step inside the property, such as a burning sensation in the eyes or throat.

Buyers can be encouraged to check the Drug Enforcement Agency’s National Clandestine Laboratory Register, a searchable database of addresses that have been uncovered by law enforcement agencies to have clandestine chemicals or drug labs. Some counties and states also have databases to track such homes. They can also purchase meth-testing kits or have a professional test for contamination.

Remember, It’s For Your Safety Too

Having a safety talk with your clients is an important element in REALTOR® safety too. If sellers keep valuables out and prescription medications out in the open during showings, you may find yourself in that potentially dangerous situation of having a criminal in your midst and being unsure what to do.

In those cases, do nothing, Hawkins says. “The person is a criminal and they could attack or assault you if you confront them,” Hawkins says. “That puts you in a bad situation.” Let law enforcement later handle it.

Educating buyers and sellers about safety issues helps avoid trouble and, in the end, keeps everyone safer in a transaction.


Real Estate's 6 Most Dangerous Everyday Situations

If you work in real estate, you undoubtedly do the following tasks all of the time, but did you know that you could be putting yourself in danger? Here's how you can stay on guard and protect yourself.

As a real estate professional, you put yourself at risk every day — you just might not realize it.

Meeting new clients, showing properties, holding open houses, letting strangers get into your car, and even your marketing may be jeopardizing your personal safety.

Such everyday tasks seem harmless, but as some real estate professionals have learned the hard way, these situations can expose you to danger.

Real estate is considered by security experts as a high-risk profession, says Robert Siciliano, CEO of in Boston, and author of The Safety Minute: Living on High Alert (Safety Zone Press, 2003).

“The root of the issue is that you have real estate agents with no formal security training who are then meeting with complete strangers at odd times of the day and in vacant homes,” Siciliano says. “Real estate professionals put themselves at risk at so many points. The industry opens itself up to predators.”

Below are tasks common to practically every real estate professional. Learn the risks associated with each and what precautions you can take to stay safe.

1. Entering foreclosed or vacant homes

The Risk:Foreclosures may attract unexpected house guests — such as squatters — or former home owners refusing to leave. The homes also may be damaged and poorly lit or attract wildlife since it’s abandoned, leading to more potential safety hazards.

Safety Tips:

  • Inspect the exterior. Walk around the perimeter before you enter the house and make sure the door hasn’t been kicked in and no windows are shattered, suggests Tracey Hawkins, owner o fSafety and Security Source in Kansas City, Mo. Call police if you suspect someone is in the property. (Read: Be on the Lookout for Clues)
  • Don’t confront a squatter. If a squatter is in the home, leave immediately, Siciliano says. Call law enforcement once you've left and allow police to deal with any trespassers.
  • Use the buddy system. Ask a coworker, spouse, friend, or family member to come with you when you show the home.
  • Let others know where you are. Before you leave, tell your coworkers, family, or friends where you are, whom you are with, and when you expect to return.
  • Visit during the day. Visiting homes at night makes it more dangerous, Siciliano says. Try to make appointments during daylight hours only.

2. Meeting with a new client for the first time

The Risk:Meeting with people you don't know can put your safety at risk. You don’t know whether this person could potentially be a criminal, stalker, thief, or worse.

Safety Tips:

  • Meet at the office first. Get them on your territory before you visit any property with them so you can learn more about them and collect personal information about them for your files.
  • Ask for identification. The public is used to having their identification checked, so don’t be reluctant to ask because you’re scared you’ll offend someone, Siciliano says. Tell clients it’s company policy that all clients' driver’s licenses are photocopied. “This will significantly reduce your risk because the bad guys don’t want to give you their I.D. or get their picture taken,” Siciliano says.
  • Have all clients fill out a customer identification form. You can find an example of this at Click on “Prospect Identification Form” under the Office Safety Forms heading. The form asks for car make and license number, contact information, and employer information, and also requests a photocopy of the driver’s license.
  • Introduce them to a coworker. When you meet them at the office, introduce them to at least one other person in your office. Criminals won’t like that others have seen them for identification purposes, according to tip sheets provided by the Washington Real Estate Safety Council.

3. Showing a property alone

The Risk:You’re touring vacant properties with strangers.

Safety Tips:

  • Use the buddy system. “There’s always strength in numbers,” Siciliano says. Whether you bring a coworker, spouse, or even your German shepherd, avoid going alone.
  • Don’t go into confined places. Avoid basements and attics — it’s too easy to become trapped. Instead, know the selling points of these rooms and remain in the foyer on the first floor with the front door open as the buyer tours these areas, Siciliano suggests. If you must join them in each room, always stay by the door, leaving doors open so you can flee more easily if necessary, the Washington Real Estate Safety Council suggests.
  • Walk behind. Let potential buyers take the lead when exploring a home, with you always following behind.
  • Let others know where you are. Tell them where you are going, when you will be back, and who you’re with. Better yet: Share this information while the client is with you so they know someone else knows where you are.
  • Have an excuse. If you feel uncomfortable, tell the person your “cell phone or beeper went off and I have to call the office” or “another agent with buyers is on his way,” suggests the Washington Real Estate Safety Council in their tip sheets. (Read what one real estate professional said to get out of an uncomfortable situation she experienced at a client’s home.)

4. Open houses

The Risk:You’re inviting the public to a property, which is an invitation to anyone, from thieves to those who might want to harm you.

Safety Tips:

  • Promote security in your advertisements. When you advertise the open house, note that identification will be required at the front door and video surveillance will be in use. “The bad guys will be less likely to show up,” Siciliano says.
  • Partner up. When would-be assailants see two people at the front door, they’ll be less likely to go in. (Read one agent’s story how the buddy system protected her).
  • Introduce yourself to neighbors. Let them know you’ll be showing the house so others know that you are there.
  • Watch for patterns. At an open house, note any patterns in arrivals, particularly near the end of the open house. One common scam: Thieves come near the end of the open house, working as a team. They have “buyers” distract the agent as others steal valuables in the home. (Read what happened to one sales associate.)
  • Stow away your valuables. Never leave your purse, laptop, or wallet unattended on the counter in plain view. Keep them in the trunk of your car. However, always keep your cell phone on you so you can call for help if you need to. Also, before the open house, tell your clients to put away all of their valuables, prescription drugs, and mail.

5. Flashy personal marketing

The Risk: Marketing materials that contain photos of yourself may attract the attention of criminals. Police have found criminals circling real estate professionals’ photos in newspapers and marketing materials (Read one agent’s account of this.)

Safety Tips:

  • Avoid provocative photos in your marketing. Low-cut blouses, full-body photos, and looking over your shoulder in a sexy pose can send the wrong message to criminals. “Why do you have to have photos anyway? What are you selling?” asks Hawkins, who advises against ever using a photo for business reasons; she uses a caricature. “You make a living meeting complete strangers in empty houses. They see your photo and if you’re exactly what they’re looking for — whether that be an older or younger agent, blonde hair, blue eyes, whatever — they know all it takes is one phone call to meet you in a house. A picture can be dangerous.”
  • Watch what you wear. Only wear shoes that you can run in. Avoid short skirts, low-cut tops, and expensive jewelry. “Predators don’t have the same boundaries as you do. They look at you like that and say ‘She’s asking for it,’” Siciliano says.
  • Protect your personal information. Use your cell phone number and office address in your marketing so it can’t be tracked back to your home address. Never use your home address or home phone number. Also, don’t reveal to your client personal information about your children, where you live, and who you live with — you can still build a relationship with clients without revealing all of your personal information, recommends the Washington Real Estate Safety Council.

6. Transporting strangers in your car

The Risk: You’re showing houses to potential buyers and chauffeuring them in your car from house to house. Most people don’t pick up hitchhikers, yet real estate professionals put strangers in their car all of the time and don’t think anything of it, Siciliano says. There’s a risk of being robbed, your car being stolen, and you victimized and thrown to the side of the road.

Safety Tips

  • Drive separately. Have the client follow you from listing to listing. If you absolutely have to take one car, then you should drive.
  • Watch where you park. Make sure your car won’t be blocked in and that you park in a place where you’ll be able to get out quickly. Park on the street or the curb, if possible, suggests the Washington Real Estate Safety Council. You’ll attract more attention if you run and scream when fleeing, and it’ll be easier to escape than having to back out of a driveway, experts say.

“Security is all about layers of protection. Open house signage, notation in ads, using the buddy system — everything that you do is an extra layer of security,” Siciliano says. “The more you do, the more secure you’ll be. Do nothing and the more vulnerable you’ll be.”

August 29, 2014
Greater New Orleans, Inc


Katrina Anniversary: Reaching New Heights, Staying Grounded

Michael Hecht, President & CEO Greater New Orleans, Inc.Nine years ago the levees failed and Greater New Orleans was inundated. Yet from the depths of Katrina – more than a storm, a human catastrophe – Greater New Orleans has not only come back, but has, by many measures, come back better than ever. 

As we recognize the anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, it is appropriate that we pause and reflect on how far we have come.

We are #1 for: population growth; school reform; “brain-gain”; in-migration of workers; tech growth; export growth; airport growth; business climate; and, economic development wins over the past decade. Travel + Leisure named us “America’s Favorite City” and a “Top 10 Global Destination.” 

What makes these rankings so impressive is not only that they come so soon following Katrina, when mere survival was in question, but that they would have been unimaginable before the storm. We have not only recovered – in many cases, we have transcended. 

This does not exculpate Katrina. But it does mean that through smarts, spirit and extraordinary effort, we are honoring those who lost all or part of their lives by creating something better out of the loss, and now reaching new heights as a region. 

Even so, challenges remain. Our rapid business expansion is causing growing pains in workforce and infrastructure. Our quality-of-life improvements are real, but fragile. Not all of our citizens are yet fully participating in the recovery. And long term, stabilizing the coast is a binary imperative. 

So, upon the ninth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, let’s be proud of our progress – and redouble our effort. Let’s be encouraged but not excused; let’s feel rewarded but not relaxed. To the contrary, let’s continue to aggressively press for improvements, and to honestly confront problems. In short, let’s never confuse encouraging “progress” with enduring “success.” 

As the memory of Katrina fades, the need for disciple grows. Each of us has a responsibility to lead in our own way, and to be part of the greater team. Nine years after Katrina, we can be happy, but not on cloud nine. There is hard work to be done, right here on the ground.

Michael Hecht
President and CEO
Greater New Orleans, Inc.

August 13, 2014

Lake Charles, Louisiana

Industry expansions now top $70B


Estimated capital expenses for the region’s proposed megaprojects have topped $70 billion, according to an updated report released Tuesday by the Southwest Louisiana Economic Development Alliance.

Southern California Telephone & Energy’s proposal for a $9 billion LNG plant on Monkey Island and Axiall’s $3 billion plan for an ethane cracker and monoethylene glycol facility in Westlake are two additions to the report. Both megaprojects had a significant impact on the report’s revised $70 billion figure, which is up from $65 billion, a number the American Press reported in April.

David Conner, the alliance’s vice president of economic development and international commerce, said SCT&E’s LNG project is listed at $2.4 billion, which was its initial cost estimate prior to the company’s decision last month to triple the size of the proposed facility.

Conner said new megaprojects and revised capital expenses are not added to the list until company executives verify the information in writing with the alliance. He said the alliance cannot list SCT&E’s project at its current $9 billion estimate until the company authorizes it to do so.

“That could happen any day now,” he said.    Magnolia LNG’s capital expense increase from $2.5 billion to $3.7 billion was also factored in the report’s most recent total, Conner said. He said several megaproject proposals, including Cheniere’s Sabine Pass LNG plant and Sasol’s ethane cracker and gas-to-liquids facilities, have seen increases in their estimated capital expenses over the past five years.

“The first announcement from Cheniere Energy was $6 billion for their LNG terminal,” Conner said. “Now it’s up to $20 billion. As they were doing their planning, they realized that the market demand was greater than they anticipated. So they went ahead and did expansions.”

Sasol’s combined megaprojects, Conner said, began at $8 billion and are now at $16 billion-$21 billion.

“Most of these projects are moving towards final investment decision,” Conner said. “We add projects on this list at different states. Some of them are under construction. Some of them have just announced their project through the media.”

The list also takes into account the estimated cost of many ancillary services that will be needed to support the region’s industry expansion projects. Hotels, casinos, temporary and residential housing projects and rail improvements are among the non-industry capital expenses listed in the report.

Conner said the region’s “massive boom” in project announcements is an anomaly and not a trend.

“This is so far above and beyond anything that’s going on in this country right now that you really can’t call it a trend,” he said. “It’s market conditions being right for these projects right now.”

August 8, 2014

Fatal tragedy after open house reminds Realtors of dangers

10 steps every real estate agent should take to protect themselves

Trey Garrison - HousingWire

Fatal tragedy reminds Realtors of danger.

Philadelphia police arrested and charged two men this week in connection with the July 25 carjacking of a Realtor.

Tragically, the criminal act ended with the death of three children, one adult and the injury of several others in the city’s Tioga section.

Jonathan Rosa,19, and Cornelius Crawford, 23, are being charged with three counts of murder in the second degree, conspiracy, robbery, robbery of a vehicle, kidnapping, sexual assault and other related offenses.

Police said the two men carjacked a 45-year-old real estate agent at gunpoint and forced her into the backseat. 

The two suspects allegedly alternated between getting behind the wheel and sexually assaulting the real estate agent, who was held in the backseat of her own SUV. 

The car subsequently crashed, hitting a pedestrian and her three children. The children died immediately and the mother died of injuries later.

This tragic incident serves as a reminder to all real estate agents and Realtors that they must take care and precautions to protect themselves, given the exposed nature of the business.

“The National Association of Realtors works hard to promote safety awareness  and protect its Realtor members, unfortunately like many other jobs that require interacting with the public, selling real estate involves some risk,” a NAR spokesperson told HousingWire on Friday. “NAR remains committed to its members’ personal safety by continuing to help educate Realtors about potential threats and provide them with resources to protect themselves and stay safe."

NAR reminds those working in housing that open houses can be a great sales tool—but hosting one also exposes you to numerous unfamiliar people for the first time.

They encourage real estate agents to take these 10 steps to stay safe.

  1. If possible, always try to have at least one other person working with you at the open house.
  2. Check your cell phone’s strength and signal prior to the open house. Have emergency numbers programmed on speed dial.
  3. Upon entering a house for the first time, check all rooms and determine several “escape” routes. Make sure all deadbolt locks are unlocked to facilitate a faster escape.
  4. Make sure that if you were to escape by the back door, you could escape from the backyard. Frequently, high fences surround yards that contain swimming pools or hot tubs.
  5. Have all open house visitors sign in. Ask for full name, address, phone number and e-mail.
  6. When showing the house, always walk behind the prospect. Direct them; don’t lead them. Say, for example, “The kitchen is on your left,” and gesture for them to go ahead of you.
  7. Avoid attics, basements, and getting trapped in small rooms.
  8. Notify someone in your office, your answering service, a friend or a relative that you will be calling in every hour on the hour. And if you don’t call, they are to call you.
  9. Inform a neighbor that you will be showing the house and ask if he or she would keep an eye and ear open for anything out of the ordinary.
  10. Don’t assume that everyone has left the premises at the end of an open house. Check all of the rooms and the backyard prior to locking the doors. Be prepared to defend yourself, if necessary.

On a side note, HousingWire also encourages Realtors, agents and others in the industry to adopt these practices to help stay safe.

August 6, 2014

Latter & Blum Inc./REALTORS Expands into Lake Charles Market

New Orleans, LA – LATTER & BLUM Inc. announced today that it has acquired Lake Charles-based ERA Moffett Realty Inc. Effective immediately, the merger increases the size of LATTER & BLUM’s residential operations to 29 offices with more than 1,400 Agents across the Gulf South region.

Today, LATTER & BLUM Inc. is a Top 40 Real Estate brokerage and home services company with sales of over $2.92 billion in 2013 and is also one of the fastest growing Louisiana-based private companies. It is the first independently-owned New Orleans-based residential brokerage to enter the Lake Charles market.

“Our expansion into Lafayette in 2013 and today’s entry into the Lake Charles market uniquely positions our company to benefit from the unprecedented growth in Southwest Louisiana,” stated Chairman & CEO Bob Merrick. “Both LATTER & BLUM and ERA Moffett Realty have a long tradition of serving the Real Estate needs of the energy sector. I’m very excited about what the future holds for our company and Agents.”

“Throughout the years, both LATTER & BLUM and Moffett Realty have shared similar values,” commented Rick Haase, President of LATTER & BLUM Inc. “Our shared vision of providing excellent  customer service allows us to work together in effectively addressing the rapidly changing Real Estate needs in the Lake Charles market. Industry Experts project over $70 billion in industrial expansion with projections as high as 17,000 permanent and 30,000 construction jobs over the next few years in Louisiana. Population shifts and rising property valuations are going to generate significant opportunities for our Agents and Clients.”

“Looking into the future of the residential brokerage business, we believe that being part of a regionally dominant, well-respected brand will best position our people for success for the long term,” stated Judy Moffett, Manager of ERA Moffett Realty. “This alignment with LATTER & BLUM, allows us to capitalize on the growth in our market.”

LATTER & BLUM Inc., established in 1916, is the largest full-service real estate brokerage in the Gulf South and operates LATTER & BLUM Inc./REALTORS®, C.J. Brown REALTORS Inc., Van Eaton & Romero REALTORS, Noles Frye Realty (all four owned by Latter & Blum Inc.), while Latter & Blum Classic Homes & Properties, Latter & Blum Shaw Properties and Latter & Blum Hometown, operate under franchise agreements. All are networked nationally and globally as ERA Powered Companies. Additionally, LATTER & BLUM Inc. operates NAI Latter & Blum Commercial Real Estate, Latter & Blum Property Management, Latter & Blum Insurance Services, Platinum Title and Essential Mortgage Corporation.


Why people in Louisiana are so happy (and how you can be too)

Today Travel

By Dana McMahan
TODAY contributor

If you're happy and you know it, you probably live in Louisiana. At least that's what “Unhappy Cities,” a paper recently released by the U.S. National Bureau of Economic Research, indicates. Lafayette, Baton Rouge, Shreveport and Houma landed on the list of top 10 U.S. metropolitan areas with the highest reported happiness. No other state claimed more than one spot.