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No bubble here....

by keepingcurrentmatters.com

Real estate is shifting to a more normal market; the days of national home appreciation topping 6% annually are over and inventories are increasing which is causing bidding wars to almost disappear. Some see these as signs that the market will soon come tumbling down as it did in 2008.

As it becomes easier for buyers to obtain mortgages, many are suggesting that this is definite proof that banks are repeating the same mistakes they made a decade ago. Today, we want to assure everyone that we are not heading to another housing “bubble & bust.”

Each month, the Mortgage Bankers’ Association (MBA) releases a measurement which indicates the availability of mortgage credit known as the Mortgage Credit Availability Index (MCAI). According to the MBA:

“The MCAI provides the only standardized quantitative index that is solely focused on mortgage credit. The MCAI is calculated using several factors related to borrower eligibility (credit score, loan type, loan-to-value ratio, etc.).” *

The higher the measurement, the easier it is to get a mortgage. During the buildup to the last housing bubble, the measurement sat at around 400. In 2005 and 2006, the measurement more than doubled to over 800 and was still at almost 600 in 2007. When the market crashed in 2008, the index fell to just over 100.

Over the last decade, as credit began to ease, the index increased to where it is today at 186.7 – still less than half of what it was prior to the buildup of last decade and less than one-quarter of where it was during the bubble.

Here is a graph depicting this information (remember, the higher the index, the easier it was to get a mortgage):

Bottom Line

Though mortgage standards have loosened somewhat during the last few years, we are nowhere near the standards that helped create the housing crisis ten years ago.

     Wow, what an exciting year it has been!  2018 was brimming with anticipation as our own Adam Watkins served as President-Elect for the MS REALTORS.  Amidst visits to local boards of REALTORS around our state and a full slate of committee meetings with the state leadership, Adam received the 2018 REALTOR of the Year award from the Hattiesburg Area Association of REALTORS in August, which was followed up by the 2018 REALTOR of the Year award from the MS REALTORS in October.  Beyond these two meaningful accolades, Adam was chosen by the 2018 MS REALTORS President, Karen Glass, as recipient of her President's Award for the year.  The President's Award is given annually to recognize outstanding contribution by a member of the association for that year, and Adam has been blessed to receive it twice - first in 2008, and now in 2018. 

     On October 10th, Adam was officially installed as 2019 President of the MS REALTORS at our annual convention, which was held this year at The Grand Hotel in Point Clear, AL.  We celebrated the coming year of service, and then Adam got down to business, planning board visits, executive committee meetings, and leadership retreat, among other action items for 2019.  The theme of Adam's presidency is "Take the L.E.A.D.," which represents four key areas of emphasis for our membership - Leadership, Education, Advocacy, and Dedication.  More can be found about these points of distinction at www.facebook.com/MARPresidentAdamWatkins or msrealtors.org.

     2019 promises to be a fun and full year of service, and we look forward to serving you, your friends, and your relatives with any real estate needs you may have!  Remember the REALTOR who remembers you, and give us a call, shoot us a text, or send us an e-mail.  We are never too busy for your family's needs, whether you are looking to expand your space or downsize; move across the country or across the county; add to your real estate portfolio or tweak your investments.  We appreciate and value the opportunity to bring you home...again and again. 

From 1964 and it's Still True <3

by

Most of the time, mold is just a sign that you need to throw out that sandwich at the back of the fridge. However, some household mold can be really dangerous.

A small number of mold species produce a substance called mycotoxin, which may lead to breathing problems, headaches, and even permanent neurological damage. Less severe but still aggravating symptoms include a runny nose, sneezing, or an annoying odor, according to the Clinical Microbiology Review.

Here are a few subtle signs that your house could be harboring harmful mold, according to the CDC and the EPA.

Your air conditioning or heating smells weird.

One subtle sign of mold is a nasty smell coming from your air conditioner or heating system.

Standalone air conditioning units, in particular, are prime spots for mold growth. They're damp, dark, and frequently exposed to warm temperatures when not in use. Placing an air conditioner in a heated basement or closet during the winter also increases the likelihood of mold developing.

To keep mold from growing in your heating or cooling systems, have them regularly checked out by an HVAC specialist.

The grout between your shower tiles is dark.

Surprise: that's probably mold. The good news is that it's likely the harmless type.

However, if there was recently a leak in the bathroom plumbing or flooding in an adjacent room, you might be dealing with a more toxic kind of fungus that should only be removed by professionals. Send a sample off to be tested so you can confirm your shower is safe.

Your wallpaper is peeling.

While some discoloration and scruffiness are bound to strike your wallpaper eventually, unusual peeling or surface abnormalities like bubbling or cracking can signal the presence of moisture in the wall. Moisture is a reliable precursor to mold.

Keep an eye on your walls and make sure to pay attention to any areas that feel damp or look warped.

You feel like you have a cold that just won’t go away.

Symptoms of a mold reaction can be as subtle as a perpetually runny nose and sneezing fits. That cold that you just can't seem to shake could actually be a sneaky sign of a mold problem.

Try to notice if your symptoms seem to worsen after spending time in a particular room or immediately after you finish doing laundry in the basement, for example.

You find dark or colored spots on your walls.

Mold can appear in many shapes, textures, and colors. It can look like anything from green, dripping slime - definitely something you'd notice - to an innocuous-looking grey fuzz. If your walls are coming out in spots, it's worth double-checking that there isn't a leak in the pipes or uncontrolled humidity in the room.

Your asthma mysteriously worsens.

If you have a pre-existing breathing problem that seems to flare up after long periods at home, mold could be the culprit.

Most species of household mold won't bother people without breathing issues but can aggravate asthma in individuals who already suffer from the condition. Consider scheduling a doctor's appointment and a mold inspection if your breathing problems seem to worsen without a clear cause.

You feel itchy.

Most people know that mold can grow in basements, but it's also perfectly capable of infesting clothing.

Specifically, damp clothing. If you have a tendency to leave your wet towel on the floor or drying your laundry on a rack indoors, mold growth on the fibers could be irritating your skin. To prevent this, always dry wet clothing as soon as possible and avoid allowing damp towels to accumulate in the bathroom.

Your seasonal allergies never subside.

If your seasonal allergies are dragging on and on, there might be a moldy reason for your endless sniffles.

Symptoms of mold exposure can mimic or even worsen existing seasonal allergies. If your symptoms seem to improve during the day while you're at work before worsening in the evening upon your return home, that might be a clue.

There’s a musty odor.

 If things in your home are suddenly smelling a bit mustier than usual, even after cleaning all the usual suspects, you could have a mold problem on your hands.

One clue that the funky odor in your home is mold and not just the result of going too long between vacuums is if the smell gets stronger in one area of your house, or even one corner of a room. If you've washed the carpet, steamed the curtains, and taken out the trash without dislodging the strange reek, it could be mold.

You use a humidifier.

That moist air might be doing wonders for your skin, but it also could be encouraging the growth of mold.

Using a humidifier on a low setting during the dry winter or summer months shouldn't cause you much of a problem, but if you're constantly humidifying, you should regularly check to make sure all that extra moisture isn't feeding any mold.

You live in a new home.

Yes, that's right - modern homes are actually notorious for harboring mold.

Unlike old, drafty stone homes, modern homes are actually built so tightly that water and damp tend to accumulate once it occurs inside rather than being naturally vented. Modern appliances like dishwashers and dryers can also generate the moisture and heat needed to feed a growing fungal colony.

You’re tired all the time.

Toxic mold affects everyone differently, and one possible sign of a reaction is a feeling of fatigue. If you're addicted to hitting the snooze button and can't seem to wake up during the day, mold could be the root of the problem.

Your sink or toilet flooded.

Any occurrence of flooding pretty much guarantees that mold is on its way. Most people know that a large basement flood can lead to mold, but even a smaller incident like an overflowing bathtub or constantly leaking sink pipes can create conditions ripe for a mold infestation.

If you suspect your home is infested with mold, the best thing you can do is seek out the advice of a professional mold remediation specialist. They'll be able to test your home and any samples to determine the species of mold and potential hazard to you and your family.

Food Tricks that will Speed Up Your Cooking

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What to do ASAP as a New Homeowner

by Houselogic

It’s finally yours. Your very own home. You can paint the walls whatever you like. Heck even knock out a wall! There’s no landlord to fight you.

But if you’re serious about developing good homeowner habits (so your home makes you richer, not poorer), you’ll use this worksheet the minute you close on your home — if not before. Easier to do now than suffer some head-slapping regrets later.

Security & Safety

These are the very first things you should do after buying a house (for obvious reasons):

1. Change locks. Spares could be floating around anywhere.

2. Hide an extra key in a lockbox. Thieves look under flower pots.

3. Reset the key codes for garage doors, gates, etc. The former owners might’ve trusted half the neighborhood.

4. Test fire and carbon monoxide detectors. Who knows when the last time was. Definitely install them if there are none.

5. Check the temperature on your water heater, especially if you have young ones, so it won’t accidentally scald. Manufacturers tend to set them high. (but the best temperature setting for hot water is 120 degrees).

6. Make sure motion lights and other security lights have working bulbs.

7. Put a fire extinguisher in the kitchen and each additional floor.

Maintenance Planning

Start your master maintenance plan (and good home-keeping habits) by setting reminders in your calendar to do these basic maintenance tasks:

8. Clean out the dryer hose and vent yearly. Clogged ones burn down houses. And you don’t know the last time the previous homeowner did it.

9. Change your HVAC filters at least once a season. You’ll save on heating and cooling — and your unit will last longer. (While you’re at it, go ahead and stock up on them, too.)

10. Schedule HVAC maintenance for spring and fall.

11. Clean your fridge coils at least once a year. It’ll run better and last longer. (Don’t see any coils? Lucky you! Newer fridges often have coils insulated, so there’s no need for annual cleaning.)

12. Drain your water heater once a year.

13. Clean your gutters at least twice a year.

14. And if all items on your inspection report were not addressed, make a plan to fix them — before they become bigger and more expensive repairs.

Emergency Preparedness

You really really don’t want to be figuring any of this out in a real emergency. Do it now. You’ll sleep better and be less likely to ruin your home.

15. Locate the main water shut-off valve. Because busted pipes happen to almost every homeowner at least once. And water damage is value-busting and pricey to fix.

16. Find the circuit box and label all circuit breakers.

17. Find the gas shut-off valve, too, if you have gas.

18. Test the sump pump if you have one. Especially before the rainy season starts.

19. List emergency contacts. You already know 911. These are the other numbers you often need in an emergency. You should have them posted where they’re easy to see.

Your utility companies

Your insurance agent

Plumber

Electrician

20. Assemble an emergency supply kit. Some key items are:

Flashlights and batteries

Non-perishable food and water

Blankets and warm clothing

A radio, TV, or cell phone with backup batteries

Home & Mortgage Documents

In case there’s a dispute with your mortgage lender or a neighbor over property lines, or if you’re a bit forgetful about due dates.

21. Store copies (the originals should be in a fireproof safe or safety deposit box) of important home documents so they’re readily available. Go paper, cloud, or better, yet, both.

Lender contact information

Property survey

Inspection report

Final closing documents

Insurance documents

22. Set mortgage and other bills to auto-pay so you’re never late.

Times have changed but Watkins still fully invested

by Mississippi Business Journal, Author Nash Nunnery

Adam Watkins officially launched his real estate career the day he graduated from William Carey College (now University) nearly two decades ago.

There were no smart phones, text messaging, Realtor.com or Zillow. The highest tech tool used in real estate transactions was the fax machine. Comparatively, the process of buying and selling homes now is immersed in technology.

Watkins, who earned his MBA from Tulane in 2013, recalls when the Multiple Listing Service was a printed book and each office held keys to listings, requiring agents to pick up and return keys prior to and after each showing.

Times have changed.

“When I started, the MLS was downloaded daily onto a computer, contracts were faxed (not scanned or e-mailed) and computerized lock boxes were being used,” said Watkins. “There have been so many technological changes, so the primary change in the real estate has been how we deliver and receive information and data.”

A Hattiesburg area broker/listing partner with The All-Star Team Realtors, Watkins was recently installed as president of the Mississippi Association of Realtors. He says his long-term involvement in the association side of the business coincided with his career as a licensee and Realtor.

“We want to strive to improve and protect the rights of our members to conduct their businesses in the most ethical way possible, as well as consumers and clients who are making their largest Investments,” he said. “The theme for the year is ‘Take the L.E.A.D. (Leadership, Education, Advocacy, Dedication)’. Our desire is to help each member connect with their calling as Realtors and to be leaders in their communities.”

For Watkins, the lure of the real estate business started early. As a boy, he was fascinated with land, homes and property. Growing up east of Petal in the tiny community of Runnelstown, Watkins began studying real estate guides and developing local knowledge of the Hattiesburg market in middle school.

“In hindsight, being drawn into the real estate business was almost inevitable,” he said. “My dad and his family were home builders and developers. As a little kid, I was always interested in home construction. I’d even ‘show’ the homes my dad built to anyone who was walking through – including his Realtor.”

During his college years, Watkins worked on the staff of Hattiesburg realtor DeLois Smith. After graduation, he earned his real estate license and made his first sale in March 2002. By 2007, Watkins partnered with Smith and formed The All Star Team, with offices in west Hattiesburg and Petal.

The Petal of Watkins’ youth is no more. Over 40 years ago, the former sleepy hamlet incorporated as a city and created the Petal Separate School District. A small community with very little industry or resources previously, Petal was transformed into a viable city, says Watkins.

“Much of Petal’s attractiveness and appeal can be linked to the consistent success of the school district,” he said. “Our growth also has been solidified with the addition of the Evelyn Gandy Parkway, which has really improved access.”

Regardless of the technology changes in the insurance industry, Watkins believes there is one constant – people.

“Ultimately, relationships and the sincere desire to serve others in an adaptive way is a uniquely human experience,” he said. “There is no technology or website portal than can adequately analyze the market and the individual needs of clients.

“I’ve actually found my greatest success in what some call a ‘down’ market. Why? People will always possess the need to buy and sell property.”

Real estate runs deep in the family, as Watkins’ wife Amelia also is a licensed realtor. Despite the 24-7 cycle of the realty business, the couple spend lots of time serving in their church, where the Watkins are involved in choral activities.

“Our church is like a family to us, and it’s where I learned about service,” said Watkins. “I find that is extends beautifully to our work as Realtors.”

Watkins began his term as MAR president Nov. 5. He praised the dedication and service of those before him, those that helped him understand the importance of advocacy for member realtors.

“When you’re fully invested in this business, it truly becomes a part of who you are,” he said. “It doesn’t ever leave you.”

Red, White, & Blue....

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The All-Star Team, REALTORS®
Bringing you home...again and again!
4 Willow Bend, Suite 2A
Hattiesburg MS 39402
601.545.3900
800.335.6477

The All-Star Team, REALTORS brings you over 200 years of accumulated experience along with the most innovative marketing strategies in the real estate industry. We specialize in the real estate properties located in Hattiesburg, Oak Grove, Petal, Sumrall, Purvis, Columbia, and the entire Pine Belt region. Put The All-Star Team, REALTORS® to work for you as you consider your next home sale or purchase. Experience the team approach to real estate and make us your REALTOR® for life! See how The All-Star Team, REALTORS® really is bringing the Pine Belt home again and again.