8 Steps to Buying a House in Louisiana

Thomas O'Shaughnessy

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Thomas O'Shaughnessy

September 16th, 2022
Updated September 16th, 2022

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8 Steps to Buying a House in Louisiana

Save for down payment | Find a real estate agent | Get preapproved for a mortgage | Choose your neighborhood | Go house hunting | Make an offer | Inspections and appraisal | Final walkthrough and closing

Buying a house in Louisiana is an exciting milestone, but the process can take some time. Several factors, like your financial situation, market conditions, and the local economy can affect both how long it takes you to find a home and how much it costs you.

For example, homes in Shreveport are hitting the market at $219,900 and selling within 50 days — 16 days faster than the state average! — so you'll need to move quickly if you want to beat out the competition.

The more you know about the home buying process and Louisiana's current real estate trends, the more prepared you'll be to navigate this complicated process as quickly and smoothly as possible.

No matter where you are in your home buying journey, Clever can connect you with local real estate pros who will help you purchase your Louisiana dream home!

The best part? Clever's service is 100% free! You can meet local lenders and real estate agents with no obligation. If you don't find the perfect match, you can walk away at any time.

» START: Find top local agents today!

Step 1: Save for a down payment

🔑 Key takeaway:

Your down payment can be less than 20% of the purchase price — $43,270 for the typical home in Louisiana — but you'll have to purchase mortgage insurance and pay more interest over the life of your loan.

Your down payment is the first part of your home's purchase price that you pay at closing. Your mortgage lender will pay the remaining balance.

Typically, mortgage lenders in Louisiana want you to contribute 20% of the purchase price as a down payment. That would be $43,270 for a $216,350 home — the typical home value in Louisiana.

However, you have options to lower your down payment amount.

Government backed loans, like VA and FHA loans, allow you to contribute 0% and 3.5% of your home's purchase price respectively. Even conventional loans allow for down payments as low as 3-5% (though the minimum varies by lender).

Mortgage type
Minimum down payment (%)
Down payment ($)
VA Loan
0%
$0
FHA Loan
3.5%
$7,572
Conventional
3%
$6,491
Based on typical home values from Zillow (August 2022)

But making a down payment of less than 20% comes with some risks.

First, because you're borrowing more money, you'll have a higher monthly payment and pay more in interest over the life of your loan.

Down payment
Monthly payment
Total interest
Total Cost
5%
$1,179
$218,772
$435,122
20%
$993
$184,229
$400,579
Based on home values from Zillow (August 2022) and a 5.59% interest rate for a 30-year loan.

Second, you may have to purchase mortgage insurance.

Conventional loans require private mortgage insurance (PMI) until your loan balance reaches 80% of the purchase price. FHA loans, on the other hand, require a mortgage insurance premium (MIP) for the life of your loans.

Mortgage insurance costs around 1% of your mortgage balance annually. However, rates vary based on your down payment and credit score. Typically, your mortgage insurance payment is added to your mortgage payment each month.

VA loans don't charge mortgage insurance. Instead, you'll pay a VA loan funding fee at closing, which can range from 1.4% to 3.6% of the purchase price.

» READ MORE: Everything you need to know about low-income home loans

Louisiana down payment assistance programs

There are several down payment assistance (DPA) programs throughout the state that can help you out with a government grant or a second mortgage. These programs may have deferred or forgiven payments to give you the flexibility you need to purchase your own home.

Here are a few DPA resources for you to check out:

LHC Market Rate Conventional Program

The Louisiana Housing Corporation (LHC) offers numerous options for homebuyers. Its Market Rate Conventional Program can provide up to 4% assistance for a down payment or closing costs, along with a competitive 30-year fixed mortgage.

The program is available to first-time and repeat homebuyers who earn no more than 80% of the area median income. Borrowers must have a credit score of at least 640 and the loan cannot exceed $453,100.

LHC Market Rate GNMA Program

LHC also offers a Market Rate GNMA (Government National Mortgage Association) program that can provide financial assistance of up to 4% of a home's purchase price. This program is available to first-time and repeat homebuyers who meet income limits and have a credit score of at least 640.

LHC MRB Home Program and Assisted Program

LHC's Mortgage Revenue Bond (MRB) Home and Assisted programs both provide down payment assistance to eligible first-time homebuyers. Both programs require participants to have a credit score of 640 or higher and meet maximum income limits.

The MRB Home program offers between 5% and 9%, depending on the home's purchase price. The MRB Assisted program offers a soft second mortgage equal to 4% of the total mortgage amount.

U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development

You can find additional programs and resources on the Louisiana HUD page here.

Step 2: Find a great real estate agent in Louisiana

🔑 Key takeaway:

Interview multiple agents to find one who knows your target neighborhoods, has experience in your price range, and communicates well.

Your real estate agent will be your main ally during the home buying process. Besides finding and showing you properties, your agent will help you make offers, negotiate contracts, and navigate the closing process. Plus, they can recommend other service providers like title companies and inspectors to help you buy your home in Louisiana.

Don't rush into choosing an agent. Instead, take the time to research and interview multiple real estate agents who have experience in the neighborhoods you're interested in. You should pay attention to a realtor's:

  • Years of experience
  • Number of transactions in the last year (the more the better!)
  • Experience in your price range
  • Overall review score
  • Individual reviews and complaints

Top Local Agents Hand-Picked for You!

Clever matches you with multiple agents in your area so you can interview, compare, and choose the best one to help you buy your next home.

Step 3: Get preapproved for a mortgage

🔑 Key takeaway:

Once you're preapproved for a mortgage, it's imperative that your financial situation doesn't change. If your credit drops, it can derail the process and keep you from closing on your house.

Here are some easy ways to ensure your credit doesn't change after you receive your preapproval letter:

  • Avoid opening new credit accounts
  • Don't close any accounts that have been open for a long time
  • Make all of your credit card payments on time

» LEARN MORE: What factors do mortgage lenders consider?

A mortgage preapproval letter is an offer to lend you up to a certain amount of money to purchase a home. It shows sellers that you are a serious buyer who is financially qualified to make an offer on a home.

Most sellers in Louisiana will require preapproval before showing you their home.

You don't have to decide on one lender right now. In fact, you should compare interest rates and preapproval amounts from several lenders to make sure you're getting the absolute best terms when you buy your Louisiana home.

Get Pre-approved Today!

Get matched with a lender who can tell you how much house you can afford. To get started, where do you plan on buying?

Step 4: Choose the right location

🔑 Key takeaway:

Search for neighborhoods where:

  • Home prices are within your price range
  • Home values are on the rise
  • The local amenities support your lifestyle

Currently, the typical home value in Louisiana is $216,350, but don't worry if that doesn't perfectly match your budget. Home prices vary dramatically from city to city and even from neighborhood to neighborhood!

Also, look at past home value trends. This will give you an idea of how much your home's value could go up over the next few years.

To give you an idea of how appreciation could impact what your house is worth in the future, consider these examples from three neighborhoods in New Orleans:

Home value appreciation in New Orleans

Neighborhood
2015
Current
Appreciation
Little Woods
$151,642
$202,565
25.1%
Old Aurora
$160,140
$253,617
36.9%
Audubon
$710,020
$977,028
27.3%

Step 5: Start house hunting in Louisiana

🔑 Key takeaway:

Listing prices in Louisiana have barely climbed, but inventory in the state continues to drop. This may make finding a house that fits all your requirements a bit more difficult, and you may have to lower your expectations when house hunting. Be open to the listings your realtor shows you — you may find a pleasant surprise worth your time and consideration.

Searching for homes in Louisiana is the fun part of the home buying process! You'll get to look at a variety of homes and discover what you really want in a home.

Make a list of everything you want in a home and prioritize them. At the top of the list should be the items that are most important to you. This will help you separate your "must-haves" from your "nice-to-haves."

Your agent can help you understand if your wants are realistic for your budget and favorite neighborhoods or if you need to rethink what you're looking for.

Look at current housing inventory

The timing of your house hunt in Louisiana can have a big impact on your number of options. For example, in Louisiana, June has historically seen the most homes for sale. Searching in this season could give you more options and a greater likelihood of finding your dream home.

On the other hand, December gives you the fewest choices in Louisiana. Historically, there are 34.2% fewer homes for sale than during Louisiana's peak season.

Housing inventory in Louisiana by season

Season
New listings per month
Spring
5,320
Summer
5,207
Fall
4,389
Winter
4,348
Based on data from Realtor.com (August 2022)

Step 6: Make an offer

🔑 Key takeaway:

Homes are sitting a bit long on the Louisiana market, but the limited inventory is leaving very few open listings at the end of each month. You may find some fierce competition when you find a great listing, especially in larger urban areas. To have a better chance of getting a house you love, work with your agent when writing your offer. They’ll make sure you come up with a competitive offer that will still be a good deal for you.

Once you find a Louisiana house you love, it's time to make an offer. Your real estate agent will help you write a compelling offer that gives you the best shot of convincing the homeowner to sell to you.

Currently, in Louisiana, homes stay on the market for 79 days before going under contract. However, every market goes through seasonal changes. During busier months, homes get snatched up more quickly than others.

Historically, Louisiana homes sell fastest in April, where the average property is only on the market for 71 days. If your home search falls around this time, you should be prepared to move quickly and potentially make offers on several homes before yours is accepted.

On the other hand, if you buy in January, you have a bit more time to search. Homes typically stay on the market 16 days longer than Louisiana's annual average.

Average time homes spend on market in Louisiana

Annual average
79 days
January
91 days
February
87 days
March
74 days
April
67 days
May
67 days
June
68 days
July
68 days
August
70 days
September
77 days
October
81 days
November
82 days
December
86 days
Based on data from Realtor.com (August 2022)

» LEARN MORE: What should an offer include?

👋 Next Steps: Talk to an expert!

If you're weighing your options for buying or selling a house, Clever can help!

Our fully-licensed concierge team is standing by to answer questions and provide free, objective advice on getting the best outcome with your sale or purchase.

Ready to get started?

Give us a call at 1-833-2-CLEVER or enter your info below. Our concierge team will be in touch shortly to help.

Remember, this service is 100% free and there’s never any obligation.

Step 7: Inspections and appraisals

Inspections and appraisals are an opportunity for you to better evaluate the home's condition and value before officially purchasing it. You may have an opportunity after this step to renegotiate the terms of your contract with the seller if something unexpected pops up.

🔑 Key takeaway:

  • Inspections: A licensed professional checks the house for any unseen, unexpected, or potential issues.
  • Appraisals: An appraiser hired by your lender examines the house to determine how much it's worth.

Home inspections in Louisiana

Having your Louisiana home inspected by a licensed inspector gives you peace of mind about the condition of the property before you commit thousands of dollars to purchase it.

Your inspector should check out the following parts of the property:

  • Roof
  • Foundation
  • Electrical system
  • HVAC system
  • Plumbing

If the home has a septic system, you should also pay for a septic inspection to make sure it doesn't have any problems that wouldn't be covered in a typical home inspection.

Louisiana-specific inspections

Louisiana requires sellers to provide a disclosure report to potential buyers. Although the report tends to cover most property issues, it's still recommended to do additional tests before closing. In addition to a general home inspection, Louisiana homebuyers should strongly consider having the following tests done before buying a home:

  • Radon testing: If the seller hasn't had the house's radon levels tested within the past year, think about doing a test prior to closing. Radon is toxic in high levels and can easily enter a home undetected.
  • Termite inspection: Some lenders require borrowers to have a pest inspection completed before closing. However, even if you're not required to do so, it's a good idea to avoid a future infestation.

Appraisals

Appraisals determine the value of the property. If you're using a mortgage to buy your new home, your lender will order an appraisal to make sure the home is worth the money that it's loaning you.

» LEARN: 3 options for buyers after a low appraisal

Step 8: Close on your new home!

🔑 Key takeaway:

Before you close on your new home, you and your agent will do a final walkthrough of the property to ensure that it's still in the expected condition.

To close on your Louisiana home, you'll need to meet at the title company to sign some paperwork and pay your closing costs.

It's important to carefully review each document before signing anything. Since these papers will finalize your loan and the title transfer, it's vital to make sure all of the information is correct. Most buyers take at least an hour to read and sign these documents, which will include:

  • The final loan application
  • The mortgage promissory note
  • The deed

After finishing the paperwork, you will have to settle your closing costs. The title company will collect the total amount you owe and then distribute the funds to the right parties.

If you want to know where your money is going, closing costs for homebuyers can generally be divided into four categories:

  • Lender fees: Fees paid to your mortgage lender for preparing your loan. Lender fees may cover other costs connected to your loan as well, such as appraisal fees and survey fees.
  • Prepaid costs: Ongoing costs of homeownership. Lenders sometimes require new homeowners to pay for certain expenses up front, such as property taxes and homeowners insurance.
  • Title and escrow charges: Fees paid to the title company for conducting the closing process, performing the title search, and providing title insurance.
  • Other closing costs: Miscellaneous expenses that vary from buyer to buyer. A few costs in this category may include natural disaster certification fees or real estate attorney fees.

Buyers in Louisiana typically pay 3–5% of the purchase price in closing costs. For a $216,400 home — the typical home value in Louisiana — that's between $6,492 and $10,820!

» LEARN MORE: Closing costs for buyers in Louisiana

Should you hire a real estate attorney?

In Louisiana it's required for a real estate attorney to be part of every home sale. While your agent can make recommendations, remember you get to make the final decision. Interview lawyers before hiring them to make sure they have the experience you need.


Frequently asked questions

  1. Save for down payment
  2. Get pre-approved for a mortgage
  3. Choose your preferred Louisiana neighborhoods
  4. Partner with the right real estate agent in Louisiana
  5. Go house hunting
  6. Make a strong offer
  7. Inspections and appraisals
  8. Do a final walkthrough and close

Yes, the Louisiana Housing Corporation offers several first-time homebuyer programs, including the MRB (Mortgage Revenue Bond) Home Program and the MRB Assistance Program.

The MRB Home Program can provide first-time buyers with a loan of up to 9% of their home purchase price. To qualify, you need a credit score of 640 or better, and your income must not exceed 80% of the county's median income.

The MRB Assistance Program offers first-time buyers a loan of up to 4% of their mortgage amount. Participants must have a minimum credit score of 640, and buyers in target counties cannot exceed 140% of the area's median income. Purchase price limits and income limits apply and vary by county.

» READ: What are the top first-time homebuyer programs?

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