As we embrace Cyber Monday and the digital age, it’s clear that Artificial Intelligence (AI) is revolutionizing the real estate industry. From predictive analysis to virtual tours, AI is reshaping how we interact with property markets. Athena Real Estate is at the forefront of this transformation, leveraging AI to enhance our services and client experiences.

Property Listing Optimization

AI-driven property listing optimization is changing how real estate businesses market properties. By analyzing data to highlight the most appealing aspects of a property, AI ensures that listings resonate more effectively with potential buyers. This advanced approach not only improves visibility but also provides valuable insights into consumer behavior, guiding future marketing strategies.

AI Personalized Marketing

AI personalization in marketing has significantly increased the effectiveness of our campaigns. By analyzing customer interactions and preferences, we can tailor property recommendations, ensuring a higher rate of client satisfaction and retention. This level of customization not only streamlines the marketing process but also deepens client relationships.

Predictive Analysis

Predictive analysis using AI offers invaluable insights for real estate professionals, allowing them to anticipate market trends and property values accurately. This information guides our agents in advising clients on strategic buying, selling, or renting decisions, ensuring informed investments and maximizing returns.

AI Virtual Tours

AI-powered virtual tours have transformed property showcases. These interactive experiences allow clients to explore properties in detail from anywhere, enriched with comprehensive information and insights. This technology not only enhances client engagement but also provides data on consumer preferences, shaping our marketing strategies.

AI Automated Lead Generation

Automated lead generation through AI is revolutionizing client outreach. By efficiently identifying potential leads, we can focus on delivering personalized and relevant marketing messages. This automation streamlines our lead nurturing process, enhancing our sales efficiency and success.


AI chatbots in real estate are redefining customer interaction, handling routine inquiries while providing instant, personalized responses. This efficiency allows our agents to focus on complex tasks, thereby enhancing overall client service and experience.

AI Image Recognition

Image recognition technology offers a deeper analysis of property images, aiding in identifying key features and potential issues. This advancement not only streamlines property inspections but also enriches virtual tours, making them more informative for potential buyers.


AI is more than just a technological advancement; it’s a game changer in the real estate sector. At Athena Real Estate, we’re harnessing the power of AI to provide our clients with cutting-edge services and unparalleled market insights. As we celebrate Cyber Monday, let’s embrace the potential of AI in transforming the real estate landscape.

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Exploring Owner Financing in Louisiana: An Insight into Bond for Deed Transactions

In the current real estate market, where inventory lingers and buyers are sparse, sellers are increasingly exploring alternative methods to facilitate property transactions. One such method gaining traction in Louisiana is owner financing, specifically through Bond for Deed (BFD) agreements. This blog post from Athena Real Estate aims to shed light on how BFD transactions can be a strategic solution for sellers in today’s challenging market.

Understanding Bond for Deed Transactions

A Bond for Deed contract is a unique form of owner financing specific to Louisiana. In essence, it allows a seller to finance the purchase of their property directly to the buyer. The buyer agrees to pay the purchase price in installments, and upon the completion of these payments, the seller transfers the title of the property to the buyer.

Advantages in a Sluggish Market

In a market where buyers are hesitant or unable to secure traditional financing, BFD offers several advantages:

  1. Wider Pool of Buyers: BFD opens up the market to buyers who may not qualify for traditional loans, thereby increasing the chances of selling your property.
  2. Negotiable Terms: Sellers have the flexibility to negotiate the terms of the sale, including the down payment, interest rate, and the payment schedule.
  3. Continued Property Rights: Until the final payment is made, the seller retains the title and legal rights to the property, offering a layer of security against default.

Legal Considerations

While BFD transactions provide an alternative route to traditional selling methods, they come with legal nuances that must be carefully considered:

  • Due-on-Sale Clauses: A BFD agreement might trigger a due-on-sale clause in an existing mortgage, allowing the lender to demand full payment.
  • Default Procedures: Louisiana law requires sellers to give a 45-day notice to buyers before terminating the contract in the event of default.
  • Risk Management: Sellers should be mindful of the risks, including the potential need to reimburse the buyer in specific default scenarios.

The Role of Athena Real Estate

At Athena Real Estate, we understand the complexities of owner financing and are equipped to guide sellers through the intricacies of BFD transactions. Our team ensures that all agreements are compliant with Louisiana law and that the terms are favorable for our clients.


In today’s market, where selling challenges are prevalent, a Bond for Deed transaction can be an effective strategy for property sellers in Louisiana. It not only broadens the potential buyer pool but also provides flexibility in terms and conditions. With Athena Real Estate, sellers can navigate these agreements with confidence, knowing they have expert guidance every step of the way.

If you’re considering owner financing for your property, reach out to us at Athena Real Estate to explore your options and make informed decisions in this unique market landscape.

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House Hunting with Athena: Celebrating Realtor Stephanie Henne’s HGTV House Hunters Feature at Our New Lakeview Office

This past Saturday, the Athena cofounders and several of our agents gathered at our new
office in Lakeview to watch the recent “House Hunters” episode featuring our realtor
Stephanie Henne. We celebrated with Athena balloons, a bartender serving beer and
wine, and a photographer with an actual red carpet. As a firm, we could not be more
pleased with this success.

Our blog previously discussed how, following five years in real estate—all of them at our
brokerage—Henne’s online marketing skills hit the jackpot in April. That’s when HGTV, the
home renovation network and ratings heavyweight, discovered her thanks to TikTok. Now,
just half a year later, we had the chance to enjoy the finished product together as a team.
The episode told the story of a couple hunting for a house in New Orleans, guided by
Henne’s expert knowledge and intuition. Would they pick the husband’s storied childhood
home, the quirky shotgun with all the fireplaces, or the new house with a big backyard
complete with a swimming pool? It turns out the answer—but that would be spoiling things.
“I think it came out great,” Henne said. “The show was very authentic to our interactions.
And all the support at this premier party feels incredible. I had a few close clients of mine
from this year show up, people who have been buying and selling with me, and that really
meant the world. Everyone seems to love the episode; it shows a true side of me, how I
really am as a real estate agent.”

Cofounder Everett Fineran said, “I was proud. Stephanie Henne represents exactly what
we want to see from our brokerage. She knows what she’s doing. She made it seem fun to
pick out a house, not too pushy, and guided her clients in the right direction. The whole
show was great.”

The new Lakeview office was a huge hit, too. Partygoers praised the artwork, the decor,
the pristine, clean building. “Everyone commented on the new office,” Henne said.
“Everything about it, from the floor to the ceiling, the walls to the windows.” Laughing,
people took turns walking the red carpet. Meanwhile, kids decamped to a conference room
to color and watch PJ Masks on the Vibe board.

Henne is grateful for the night to remember, the photographs to enjoy again and again. “I
really appreciate Athena’s support in throwing this premier party for me and offering to host
all of my clients and friends and family. It just speaks volumes of the brokerage I’m with.
Not a lot of real estate firms do this for their agents.”

If you missed the show, or simply want to watch it again, HGTV’s page for the episode
provides scheduling information for upcoming airings—or check out their HGTV GO app to
catch up at your convenience.

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Unpacking the Burnett v. NAR Verdict: A Game-Changer for Real Estate

Today, we’re delving into a major legal development in the real estate world that’s poised to shake things up. Let’s take a closer look at the Burnett v. NAR et al case and its potential impact on the industry.

Legal Battle Royale

In a pivotal legal showdown, a federal jury in Kansas City delivered a verdict in the Burnett v. NAR et al case. The National Association of Realtors (NAR) and other major players, including powerhouse Keller Williams, were found liable for an alleged conspiracy to manipulate real estate commissions. The plaintiffs were awarded a whopping $1.78 billion, a sum that could potentially be tripled by the presiding judge, resulting in an amount just under $5.4 billion. Additionally, the judge may mandate the NAR to dismantle its purportedly anti-competitive regulation. This development throws a curveball at the traditional structure governing compensation for buyer’s agents.

The Plaintiffs’ Claim

At the core of the dispute lies the assertion of the plaintiffs, who argue that existing real estate commission rates are excessively high. They contend that buyer brokers receive an unfair share, and that the rules and practices of the NAR and its corporate counterparts artificially inflate pricing. Central to the debate is an NAR rule stipulating that home sellers must offer to cover the commission of the agent representing the buyer when listing their property on a local Multiple Listings Service.

Four-Year Legal Odyssey

The case has been a protracted affair, spanning four years in the federal judicial system and culminating in a two-week courtroom showdown. The jury, after deliberating for just under three hours, rendered their verdict. All defendants have expressed their intention to appeal.

What Comes Next?

Should the court opt to invalidate the NAR’s commission-sharing rule, it could potentially mean that buyers would directly compensate their agents. The underlying rationale is that this shift would compel buyer’s agents to compete for commissions, theoretically resulting in cost reductions for both buyers and sellers.

Differing Viewpoints

The NAR offers an opposing viewpoint, asserting that the century-old rule shields buyers from incurring immediate costs for brokers, which some may find financially burdensome. They argue that without the commission-sharing system, many buyer’s agents may find it financially untenable to continue offering their services. Conversely, the plaintiffs point out that in other countries, buyers seldom engage brokers, with negotiations, appraisals, and closings predominantly overseen by mortgage lenders and seller’s agents.

Charting a New Course

It’s too early to tell how, but the Burnett case seems sure to disrupt the entire real estate industry. The NAR and local realtor associations are actively exploring alternative avenues to clarify how buyer’s agents are compensated. This may include offering buyers the choice to proceed without representation or to negotiate for a reduced commission. Notably, the Louisiana Realtors Association is contemplating legislative measures in the 2024 Louisiana Legislative Session to mandate the use of Buyer Broker Agreements.

In conclusion, the real estate landscape stands on the cusp of transformation. As stakeholders navigate this uncharted territory, we’ll continue to monitor and provide updates on this evolving saga. Stay tuned for further developments!

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Stephanie Henne in the Spotlight – Where She Belongs

To film a forthcoming Greater New Orleans episode of their hit show “House Hunters,” HGTV turned to Kenner native Stephanie Henne, an Athena top producer for the past four years in a row. The home renovation network could not have picked a realtor who better exemplifies the empathy, problem-solving know-how, and facility for generating interest that real estate requires.

HGTV initially found Henne in April via TikTok, home to one of her several social media accounts dedicated to real estate. It’s a contemporary example of a realtor spreading the word of her abilities far and wide through online savvy, but it’s also a milestone rooted in the longtime Louisianan’s history of hard work.

Whether over the Internet or face to face, Henne’s approach to real estate traces back to her eight years as a nurse.

First in medical-surgical, then in presurgery, nursing taught Henne how to combine critical thinking with care. If an ill person’s blood pressure dropped, she had to use her intellect to solve the problem, and fast. If patients misunderstood instructions for surgery prep, she had to determine how best to re-explain them for maximum clarity. Nurses absolutely must understand complicated situations correctly.

But left-brain knowledge was not enough in the hospital: for Henne’s critical thinking and advice to matter, patients had to not only comprehend what she was saying but also believe her. Every day, someone’s life was on the line, and she had to earn their trust. That’s why she paid attention to their human needs beyond the textbook technicalities. Empathic, she connected with their emotional situation. Patients, out of their element and dependent on the surrounding medical experts, found they could trust Henne.

Now her compassion and knowledgeable problem-solving allow Henne — who earned her real estate license in June 2018 — to advocate for her homebuyers and -sellers. For instance, recently, inspections revealed an older house’s aluminum wiring needed replacement before her hopeful homebuyers could obtain insurance. The $30,000 repair quote presented a roadblock. But since brokers across New Orleans trust Henne, she was able to explain the issue to the listing agent, who quickly procured the thirty thousand from the seller and put it toward the task. Henne’s warmhearted ability to sense the right way to interact with others in sensitive circumstances, coupled with her understanding of the underlying facts, secured for her clients a very successful outcome.

Another factor behind her success, according to Henne, is Athena, because the firm supports her in creatively marketing to audiences through her nurse’s blend of logic and sensitivity. She says, “Athena is very selective about who’s on the team; Athena agents are professional, trustworthy, and share a close-knit, family-style culture of co-workers, not competitors.” Henne feels nourished by a boutique brokerage that “is so creative and innovative with their marketing and with figuring out the next thing others haven’t yet caught on to.”

As her “House Hunters” spot demonstrates, Henne’s marketing aptitude is certainly impressive. Her website offers helpful insights — like the gentle instructions from her nursing days — through popular blog posts, an ongoing endeavor suited to Athena’s ethos of thought leadership and creative outreach. Among Henne’s most well-received writings have been “The Bucktown Boom” and “Moving With Kids.” That last notably provides left-brain tips even as it connects heart-to-heart with homebuyers, beginning this way: “Moving is one of the most physically and emotionally exhausting things we do in our lifetime. Moving with kids is even harder” — and she continues from there, perceptively.

Where will Henne go next? In the upcoming two to three years, she aims to assemble a team. A buyer’s agent, a listing agent, an assistant. Organizing such a squad would let her mentor real estate entrants remotely while devoting more time to her own family.

But don’t be surprised if, with her nursing strengths and marketing chops, Stephanie “House Hunter” Henne accomplishes that and, before you know it, finds another stage to step onto.

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Athena Agent Spotlight: Stacie Carubba

Eminent, Thoroughgoing, Results-Driven

There came a time, not too long after finishing college, when Stacie Carubba no longer wanted to be under anyone else’s umbrella. She wanted financial independence and she wanted to carve out her own path in life. That’s why she turned to real estate.

As she was earning her license in 2015, she wasn’t expecting the new career to skyrocket.

But it certainly has; there’s no question Stacie has found her path to success. In 2021, Marquis’ Who’s Who in America chose her as one of the top 1% of professionals in her field, and Biz New Orleans selected her as a top 10 real estate influencer. She’s consistently named a top producing agent in the city, closing multi-millions annually. Stacie even went from being Athena’s very first agent to becoming, in 2021, a partner in the firm.

The grand total she’s closed? More than $70 million — and counting.

Stacie attributes her success to following the motto of her grandfather, a band director: Results, not excuses. “Even my personal logo has a trumpet in it,” she adds. “That’s a nod to him because he was a trumpet player.”

To get great results, Stacie combines covering all the bases, focusing on sellers’ bottom line, and thinking outside the box. Meticulously staying on top of the details herself allows Stacie to give her clients the best service possible. She tailors every deal to the client’s needs, and for sellers specifically, Stacie hones in on maximizing their bottom line with a robust marketing plan and listing package she’s refined over the years.

As for creative problem-solving, Stacie emphasizes impressive visuals and unique listings. Capitalizing on her advertising and marketing background, she designs her own brochures and stages homes. “I add decor items to make listing photos really pop,” she says. “I plan my posts based on how they’ll look on Instagram. Social media is where I get a lot of my business.” Not every house is ready to be staged, of course. “For those,” Stacie explains, “I’ll go in and spend eight hours myself, decluttering and organizing, to make it a Wow! first impression.”

Listings can be further customized by including financial assistance or incentive options. “I think of a lot of things that other agents just aren’t going to do,” she says.

With a successful track record behind her, and a recent newborn in her arms, Stacie’s current focus is on streamlining, time management, and working smarter, not harder. Walking away from a bad deal whenever necessary, continuing to improve — she received her broker’s license in 2020 — and staying at the cutting edge of marketing and technology. She appreciates Athena’s help in prioritizing innovation. “We’re always one step ahead, and others are taking notice. I love Athena’s forward-thinking attitude.”

Let the trumpet sound: Results, not excuses.

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Athena Agent Spotlight: Jamie Magee

Jamie Magee has been a top producer for Athena for two years in a row. The secret to her success? Her belief in herself, in her faith, and in her clients.

Jamie was raised to appreciate horses from an early age. Her parents and other relatives drove carriages. She took up the occupation too, serving as a guide on French Quarter mule rides. The tours deepened her understanding of New Orleans, enhanced her people skills, and kept her near horses, but after more than a decade on the carriage line, there seemed little left to learn. She wanted a self-development challenge.

Conversations with other drivers inspired her to pursue a real estate license. She studied late at night, after her kids went to bed. In 2017, she earned her license, a major milestone on the new path she’d envisioned for herself.

Jamie had always been interested in different parishes and architectural styles, but she says working as a real estate agent “turned out to be a far more intense undertaking than it initially seemed.” She worked hard to bring herself up to speed. “I built my business watching what people did, how they worded emails, how they responded to offers,” she explains. The Preservation Resource Center of New Orleans certified her as a Historic House Specialist in 2019.

Now she’s been an agent for over five years, and she still loves meeting the challenges. “With real estate it’s a matter of yourself. You can be your own hindrance or your own success.” She’s lately found her edge by working smarter, not harder. That includes thinking through how to make the most of her existing relationships.

She steers her own success, but Athena helps as well. Jamie appreciates the collaboration among Athena’s highly motivated agents and the state-of-the-art emphasis on technology and marketing. “They do a ton for us,” she says, “and they have my back.”

Jamie also relies upon her belief in the Christian faith. It teaches her to serve her clients with compassion and integrity and to hold in high regard homebuyers’ desire to make a house their home, their refuge. She’s active in her church, where her husband is a Deacon and his father is a Bishop.

Her religious faith and self-improvement passion add up to an experienced, enthusiastic real estate agent who cheers her clients on. Jaime believes in her clients — even after the deal has closed. Several have invited her over after the purchase to demonstrate how they’ve customized their new home. “Clients have shown me their decorations and family photos,” she says. “It’s a pretty big honor to be invited.”

The effort Jamie puts in kindles benevolent feelings among her clients and herself for their homes. She’s turned a job into a faith-fueled calling. “For me,” Jamie concludes, “it’s about being a resource for people, what they want and need — as opposed to just working for a paycheck. Real estate is very much something you have to have your heart in.”

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November Agent Spotlight: Katie O’Leary

Katie O’Leary combines school smarts with people skills to minimize the stress of real estate transactions—and maybe even make them fun.

A fifth-generation New Orleanian, Katie is well-versed in the Big Easy’s different neighborhoods. “I’ve lived all over the city,” she says, “so I’m a New Orleans hometown kind of girl.” In 1998, she graduated from the longstanding local high school Mount Carmel Academy.

Higher education achievements paved her path to success. Katie earned her bachelor’s in education psychology from Mississippi State University in 2002, matriculating magna cum laude. In 2006, she graduated from Loyola University New Orleans College of Law—in the top eight percent of her class.

These impressive credentials led to an administrative position that shaped her approach to real estate. Before earning her realtor license in 2017, Katie worked for a decade at Tulane Law School in charge of student life. That meant advising stressed students on job hunting, judicial clerkship applications, and even their grades and relationships. While her legal background helped her draw up real estate contracts—a critical skill—it was her experience counseling ambitious future attorneys that really sharpened her knack for supporting people by removing stress.

“My job at Tulane involved meeting with high-strung students and counseling them on their problems,” Katie explains. “I enjoy helping people. Real estate is a similar sort of problem-solving.” She loves listening to families’ various needs and figuring out ways to meet as many of them as possible within budget.

Like law school, buying a home is a huge expenditure; it’s understandable to feel tense over it. “But,” she says, “my aim as an agent is to make the process as stress-free as possible. If people are patient, calm, and remember their goals, they can pretty much always accomplish what they’re looking for.”

Now that she’s been a realtor for nearly six years, she counsels beginning realtors, too. “I enjoy mentoring new people,” she adds. “It’s fun!”

What advice would she give herself about her own future? “You have to evolve. I got better at social media recently, trying new things. I take marketing and social media courses as extra education to learn how to best market my listings. I had a goal this past year to up my social media presence and I did!” She finds that Athena’s encouraging, tech-savvy atmosphere facilitates such self-study.

And remember the fun. “Many of my clients are law school grads I still talk with,” Katie points out. “I used to counsel them in school and now I counsel them in this. You really must keep in touch with people and build long-term relationships. It makes the job fun.”

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October Agent Spotlight: Lauren Crain

Lauren Crain’s career as a realtor exemplifies the go-getter’s knack for turning local ties into opportunities. A top producer for three years and counting, she looks forward to further expanding her network in a world where historic homes and rapid change coincide.

Born in Metairie, Lauren grew up learning an appreciation for old-world Louisiana architecture from watching her father, a woodworker, restore centuries-old plantation houses by hand. Just as attentive, Lauren today takes time to understand each home’s unique quirks and pass that knowledge on to prospective buyers.

Lauren understands Greater New Orleans properties like only a local can. She graduated from Mount Carmel Academy in 2003. In 2007, she received her bachelor’s in small business management and entrepreneurship from LSU. Following some years in franchise operations and event planning, both in the region, she earned her real estate license in 2017. “Local is a different view of the community,” she says. “You have a different view of neighborhoods: how they’ve changed, how things work.”

To help families fulfill the dream of a new place, Lauren leverages her area connections to uncover little-known opportunities. For example, if a client works in a certain occupation, they may qualify for regional grants or other assistance. Continuing to deepen her hometown roots empowers Lauren to discover these hidden gems. “I like helping families find exactly where they can be comfortable, in a way that makes both emotional sense and financial sense,” she says.

Prioritizing her network has fueled Lauren’s achievements for more than half a decade, even in the face of economic fluctuations. “Working through booms and slowdowns, through COVID and other uncertainty, develops a great perspective,” she points out. “With experience, you see how things turn around, what’s important and what’s not important.” After all, local homes — and Lauren’s local connections — have been here far longer than any particular headline.

Having grown her business year after year, Lauren still focuses on strengthening her network to keep ahead of the times. She singles out marketing and communications as innovative fields where she would like to meet more people. Working for Athena, a boutique brokerage, gives her greater flexibility to pursue such goals. That matters because ultimately knowing the people of New Orleans has made her career a success.

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Alicia Lagarde Craig Joins Athena

Even after more than 16 years in the industry, Alicia Lagarde Craig still loves to learn about real estate—and apply this knowledge to serving her clients. Athena proudly welcomes this dedicated agent to our brokerage.

Growing up in St. Bernard Parish, Alicia demonstrated an early passion for education by graduating from Mount Carmel Academy high school summa cum laude. In 2007, at the University of New Orleans, she completed a double major in finance and business administration. On top of that, she added a minor in real estate.

Before finishing college, she already had her real estate license, earned in 2006. She enjoyed seeing how properties are styled, and also pricing them, a complex art incorporating her finance background.

Alicia entered the market during hard times—Hurricane Katrina, the 2008 financial crisis—but credits those challenges with forcing her to learn everything possible about the business. To this day, she regularly attends industry conferences, subscribes to trade publications, and takes extra continuing education hours.  The Preservation Resource Center of New Orleans certified her as a historic home specialist in 2010, a designation in which she takes special pride.

The opportunity to keep building her skills drew her to Athena. The boutique firm is staffed with quality agents while staying small enough that no one gets lost in the mix. “That’s good for collaboration and coming together on ideas,” Alicia says. “Communication has been top notch during the transition.”

Athena is grateful for Alicia’s knowledge and the chance to collaborate with her.

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