In Shreveport-Bossier City
The Dense Pine Woodlands and lazy rivers and bayous of the Shreveport-Bossier City region offer newcomers an ideal place to call home. Residents of northwest Louisiana enjoy a low cost of living, low housing costs and low unemployment rates, all of which contribute to a high standard of living. The local cost of living is only 90.7 percent of the national average, and property values have remained stable or continued to grow despite the national real estate crash, according to the North Louisiana Economic Partnership. The Shreveport-Bossier City area is also the most affordable location in the state of Louisiana.
Shreveport-Bossier City’s communities give newcomers plenty of choices when selecting a home. Enlist the help of a reputable real estate agent to help you sort through the area’s home options. The Northwest Louisiana Association of Realtors is a central source of local real estate information and services for those interested in purchasing a new home. Visit www.nwlar.org for more information.
620 Benton Road
Bossier City, LA 71111
Bossier City’s vibrant history dates to the 1830s. The city was originally a cotton-exporting river landing for James and Mary Cane’s Elysian Grove Plantation with a plantation port known as “Cane’s Landing.” The city transitioned into a railroad town, an air base and an oil-boom center as the years passed. Today, the home of Barksdale Air Force Base is known for its vibrant tourism industry, with recreational gaming establishments on the city’s developing riverfront.
Bossier City’s land area is 42.34 square miles, and with a population of more than 68,000, it averages about 1,500 people per square mile. Mean travel time to work is about 18 minutes. Median rent is $887, and the selected monthly owner costs of housing units with a mortgage are $1,140.
Bossier City’s parks and recreation department maintains several neighborhood and community parks, playfields, playgrounds and sports facilities. Facilities include an athletic complex, a tennis center, swimming pools and a senior citizens center. The parks and recreation department also offers youth and adult sports programs, recreation center activities and numerous special events.
505 Travis St.
Shreveport, LA 71101
Shreveport was founded in 1836 by the Shreve Town Co. at the juncture of the Texas Trail and the newly navigable Red River of the South. Home to historic districts and landmarks, the city is also known for fine arts and entertainment, outdoor recreation and world-class gaming ventures.
Shreveport’s land area is 105.38 square miles, and with a population of nearly 200,000, it averages about 1,890 people per square mile. Mean travel time to work is 19 minutes. Median rent is $764, and the selected monthly owner costs of housing units with a mortgage are $1,142.
Shreveport Public Assembly & Recreation maintains more than 29,000 acres with parks, recreation centers, swimming pools, playgrounds, flower and rose beds, and cemeteries. Major facilities and parks include Independence Stadium, C. Bickham Dickson Park, and RiverView Hall and Theater. SPAR also offers youth and senior programs and classes for a variety of interests, including gardening, fitness, martial arts and computer skills.
Planning Your Move
Relocating to a new home can be one of the most stressful situations in life. Whether moving across town or across the nation, preparation and organization can make all the difference. First, decide whether to use a professional moving company or make it a do-it-yourself operation.
For a DIY move, consider distance, labor help and the costs to rent the moving van, gas, lodging during the move and insurance. A transportable storage unit can bridge a professional and DIY move. When the unit is delivered to your residence, you load and secure it for transport and then unload it at your new residence.
Whatever the method, be sure to obtain as many quotes as possible from professional movers, as well as cost estimates for a DIY move. Next, compare the costs for each type of move, factoring in the stress and physical exertion involved. Ask any company you are interested in for references and use them to inquire about reliability and customer service.
Regardless of which method you choose, the first step should be to inventory your personal belongings. The list, with photographs of any valuables, will be important for both insurance purposes and to help keep you organized during transit.
Plan for one full day to pack each room — though the kitchen and garage may take longer. Make a rough estimate of your packing schedule and then add 50 percent more time. It always takes longer than predicted to pack. Toss or donate unused items to lighten your load. Visit www.goodwill.org, www.salvationarmyusa.org or www.clothingdonations.org for locations near you or to arrange a pickup.
Pack for success:
- Consider what you’re packing and control box weight. Books should go in small boxes while bedding can easily fill a larger box.
- Wrap fragile items with cardboard dividers, tissue paper or air bubble wrapping.
- Use bright colors when wrapping small items so they don’t get thrown out accidentally.
- Use crumpled paper or newspaper to line the top and bottom of boxes.
- Tape a copy of your inventory list to boxes to identify what’s inside and where it should go.
Buying Versus Renting
The decision to buy or rent is the most important step in your relocation process. Purchasing a home entails a long-term financial and emotional commitment with various pluses and minuses attached. Advantages include the possibility of building equity and the freedom to design and decorate your property or landscape. And don’t forget the tax benefits. Disadvantages include upkeep, property taxes and fluctuating property value.
Renting, on the other hand, makes moving easier and someone else maintains the property. Amenities such as laundry rooms, exercise rooms, swimming pools and tennis courts vary from one rental complex to another. The main disadvantage is loss of control over the residence. Some complexes, for example, restrict or prohibit pets and personal touches such as painting. And the landlord or property managers can also raise the rent with proper notice.
Before determining your best option, account for all of your needs, review your financial situation and research your options thoroughly.
Finding an Apartment
Find local apartments listed in chamber of commerce membership directories, local newspaper classifieds, online or through referrals from family or friends. A guide to Louisiana landlord and tenant laws can be found at https://tinyurl.com/y8qbr2kd.
Be prepared when you meet with the leasing agent, property manager or owner. Bring a list of what you are looking for in a rental; it is important to be clear about your needs and to get all of your questions answered. You will also need to provide information and verification about your job, your income and your past rental history. Dress to make a good impression and treat the meeting like a job interview — be polite and arrive on time.
Before you decide to rent, inspect the apartment with the landlord. Look for the following problems:
- Cracks, holes or damage in the floor, walls or ceiling.
- Signs of leaking water, leaky fixtures or water damage.
- Any signs of mold or pests.
- Lack of hot water.
- Inadequate heating or air conditioning.
Use a written checklist with the landlord to document the condition of the rental before you move in, and keep a copy of the completed checklist to use when you move out.
Buying a Home
Buying a home is a complex process and, as the recent housing crisis demonstrated, requires a thorough education on the part of the buyer. First, fully understand your financial position — credit score, available savings, monthly income and expenditures. Subtracting your expenditures from your income, for instance, will yield the amount you can afford for housing.
Be sure to account for all insurance costs associated with owning a home, possible homeowner association fees and property taxes in your monthly expenditures. Overall, loan rules changed in 2015, but according to www.ginniemae.gov (Government National Mortgage Association) and www.homebuyinginstitute.com (the Home Buying Institute) loan programs continue to vary on the percentage of your income that can be used for housing-related expenses. Lenders balance debt against income to decide if an applicant will be able to repay a loan. Most conventional loans require borrowers to have no more than 43 percent total monthly debt versus their total monthly income, though there are exceptions, such as for those with significant savings. The Federal Housing Administration has a two-tier qualifying system: FHA sets its top thresholds at 31 percent front-end debt (housing expenses as a percentage of income) and 43 percent back-end debt (all debt as a percentage of income) for a 31/43 qualifying ratio. Like commercial lenders, Veterans Affairs combines front-end and back-end debt for a 41 percent limit against income.
Next, research the different types of home loans to determine the right fit for your financial situation and discuss your options with a lending professional. Lenders are diverse today, and not all homebuyers obtain their mortgage loans through their banks and credit unions. For example, you may choose to work with an internet lender, a mortgage broker, a homebuilder or a real estate agency lender. To determine which lender is best for you, get recommendations from friends and family members and check credentials as well as Better Business Bureau ratings.
A preapproved loan before starting your search for a home can determine your spending limits and signal any potential issues in the way of receiving a loan. For any home loan application, the mortgage company will order a credit report, so it would be good to get a free report in advance to determine your credit status and make sure the report contains no erroneous information.
To order your free annual report from one or all of the national consumer reporting companies: Visit www.annualcreditreport.com and complete and submit the request form online.
Home Loan Application
To complete a home loan application you’ll need: photo IDs (such as a driver’s license); Social Security numbers; residence addresses for the past two years with landlord contact information if you rented; names and addresses of your employers for the past two years; your current gross monthly income; recent financial institution statements with names, addresses, account numbers and balances on all checking, savings, CDs, money market, bonds and mutual funds accounts; recent financial institution statements with names, addresses, account numbers, balances and monthly payments on all open loans (including student loans) and credit cards; addresses and loan information of all other real estate owned; estimated value of furniture and personal property; W2s for the past two years and current paycheck stubs; copies of all divorce decrees, child support documents or any other court proceedings that affect your financial status; verification of any child support payments; and evidence of any retirement or pension benefits. VA or military forms include DD 214 (veteran), Form 22 (National Guard), DD 1747, Off-base Housing Authority (active duty) and Certificate of Eligibility (active duty).
For more information, visit www.consumer.ftc.gov/topics/credit-and-loans.
Knowing your monthly budget and the amount of your loan is invaluable during the next phase, especially finding the answers to questions before the hunt for a home begins.
First, determine your home preferences. Does a single-family house, condo, town house or duplex best fit your needs and budget? Do you prefer a new home, an existing home or to build one? Though new homes generally cost more, existing homes may come with maintenance issues and renovation costs. How many bedrooms and bathrooms would you like? Do you want an attached garage? Will you live in the city, a suburb or the country? How close to work, school, shopping or public transportation do you want to be? Answers to these questions will greatly assist your search and the next stage — hiring a real estate agent.
The ideal agent will help find your ideal home and guide you through the purchase process. First, interview potential candidates to ensure they understand your needs, know your homebuying and neighborhood preferences, and are readily accessible.
Good luck and happy hunting!
Louisiana provides housing programs and incentives to help residents with home ownership. For more information, visit http://portal.hud.gov and select Louisiana from the “State Info” drop-down menu.
Shreveport-Bossier City Programs
The Housing Authority of the City of Shreveport provides information on housing programs and services to help residents with home ownership. For more information, visit www.shvhousauth.com or call 318-227-8174. Additional information on homeownership assistance can be found on Shreveport’s website at https://tinyurl.com/y9ter2j7.
Bossier City’s Department of Community Development website, www.bossiercity.org/153/Community-Development, offers information on house rehabilitation programs.