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Travel and Learn with the All-Star Team

by Brenda Blackwell

Anyone that knows me knows that I love to travel.  I never dreamed that when I got into real estate over 17 years ago that I would not only find a career that I love but would also get the opportunity to travel to major cities in the U.S. and abroad!  What many people do not know is that The All-Star Team is very determined that our agents keep up with the newest trends, statistics and advances in the real estate field.  Therefore, we have not missed a National Realtor’s Convention and Expo since I have been employed.  You may ask “What is so great about the National Association of Realtors Conference and Expo”?  Well, It is by far the largest and most important real estate conference in the United States.  It has been described as the Super Bowl, World Series, and Game of Thrones finale all in one!   For 4 days we mix and mingle with the top producing real estate professionals, industry experts and corporate executives.  There are over 100 education sessions spanning from topics of current real estate technology, law, staging, time management techniques, safety, marketing and sales strategies, fixing and flipping homes, nabbing the online leads, personal growth, investment forums, team-building …I could go on and on!  Plus they are all taught by powerhouses of the real estate industry.  And I cannot forget to mention the Realtor Expo which has 400 industry vendors and more classes on how to use all the new gadgets and gismos!  I’m telling you…we are pumped when we get back to Hattiesburg and loaded with new ideas and inspiration!   And to top it off…this year, Adam and DeLois have ordered the NAR Convention Sessions, because who could possibly attend everything?  Each Monday at staff meeting one of us presents a synopsis of a session that they have listened to the past week.  We just keep on learning!!!

 The conventions are always held in fantastic locations to draw as many attendees (20,000 +) as possible and to have a convention complex big enough to hold everyone.   Past conventions have been held in Orlando, Anaheim, San Diego, San Francisco, Chicago, New Orleans and Boston.   I joke with Adam and DeLois every year saying I may be retiring soon but I have to check out where the convention will be held before I make that decision!  The Boston NAR Convention 2018 was worth the wait!  And the 2019 convention will be held in San Francisco.  Even though it has been located there twice in the past, I am going to hold out on retirement at least one more year!  Linda and I always go a few days early to explore the surrounding areas.  We’ve explored Napa Valley, Sausalito, Muir Woods, Alcatraz and of course, The Fisherman’s Wharf.  But Carmel, The Hearst Castle and Yosemite National Park are on my bucket list.  Hummm… I hear they have day trips to each of these places from San Francisco.  So I bet they will be on our itinerary!

Another opportunity that working with this team has afforded me is the chance to travel abroad.  When our team makes our yearly goal, we are awarded a team trip anywhere we choose!  Past trips have included Paris, London, Hawaii, Caribbean cruises, New York City, Washington D.C., Jamestown, Williamsburg and Charlottesville, Virginia.  Going on these trips as a team is a great tactic because we truly bond with our co-workers and feel like one big family.  Ha!  I think that’s good!  No really, working here has been one of the best choices of my life and I love my co-workers!

So, in 2019 we will be using all that knowledge gained from all the classes we attended at convention and especially working hard to reach our goals.  (I’ve never been to Italy! Lol!) Just give us a call if you or someone you know is thinking of buying or selling a home!  We will be sure to give you and your referrals the All-Star treatment! 

Ringing in a New Year!

by DeLois Smith

Dear Friends,

     New Year’s Greetings! 2019 will lead us to begin a new era- ending the 2000 teen years right into the 2020s, a new decade of Change! Change! Change! AND new opportunities!

     According to a very recent Kiplinger Letter, we will soon see new jobs that barely exist now. Small commercial drones will soar to 500,000 by 2022. Drones will inspect buildings and pipelines, monitor farms for disease and crops, help police spot crime and help firefighters conduct search and rescue missions. Of course, we have been using drone photography for 2-3 years to better market certain properties.

     The satellite industry is expanding by leaps and bounds. New satellites will beam fast internet to hard to reach regions. Driverless cars will make progress in the next five years. By early 2020s, you will be able to buy a car that can drive itself for long intervals. Resulting jobs will be drone pilots and drone fleet managers, driverless vehicle repair, traffic monitors, and home-delivered groceries.

     Noting that Greater Hattiesburg is #1 in net job growth among metros in Mississippi, and Hattiesburg ranking in the Top 10 places to live on a six-figure salary (as per our local Area Development Partnership), we will be seeing more and more evidence of these new industries expanding into our area in the coming months.

     Our team average sale for 2018 was $258,000, about $100,000 above our local MLS average. We are grateful to have served clients at the very top of our residential market at $1.3 million for 2018 as well as all other price ranges.

      A big change is the new trend toward smaller homes. The soaring number of millennials who have been delayed by heavy education debt and the growing number of seniors who are served best by the 1600-1800 square foot size range has caused a severe shortage of available properties. By 2030, one in every five Americans will be over the age of 65. These special needs include:

  • Single floor living                                                                    
  • Extra-wide doorways and hallways                                   
  • Lever-style handles                                                                 
  • No step entryways                                                                  
  • Two main entrances- front & side
  • Low landscape
  • Accessible outlets and lights
  • Low cost energy

     A first-of-its-kind home adhering to the standards of “ageless design” was unveiled recently in Memphis, TN. The home is part of a ground-breaking effort by AARP Home Matters and Wells Fargo Housing Foundation, which challenged architects nationwide to create new standards in housing design that allows adults to stay in their homes throughout their lives.

     Hats off to the talented and skilled leaders of our area who have made Midtown happen. This past year has been encouraging, as we have watched this pivotal project unfold into the upscale creative venues serving USM students, faculty, guests, and our community at large.

     In early 2019, the attractively designed Regions Complex at Lamar and Lincoln Extension will be completed and 420 Regions employees and management will move from the downtown location to the new site. New creative design for a downtown condo development will begin where Regions is vacating.

     As the new year begins my 46th year as a Hattiesburg Realtor, I want to share with you how very much I love my role as a listing agent with The All-Star Team, Realtors. First, I love the support and working relationship with my positive, trained, talented, and focused teammates. Secondly, I love the rich life experiences of serving memorable, kind, and gracious clients. Several times this past month I was brought to tears by some of those very special clients. One such family came from out of state a day before their closing to insure that every detail was taken care of in regard to leaving the home in perfect condition for the new buyers. They brought their four young daughters and a tiny puppy dog to closing. Even though the sale represented a financial loss to them, they expressed sincere love and gratitude toward everyone involved.

     Another touching experience came with an estate sale in Glendale where a 90 year-old grandmother had lived until she passed recently. The neighbors had delighted in supporting the family and helping to care for the grandmother in order that she could remain in her home. Her daughter and granddaughter who had grown up there lived out of state. One special neighbor had done the maintenance of the home and lawn as well as helping the 90 year-old lady personally. As I drove away from this neatly kept “home sweet home” to the closing, I was grateful that we still have such wonderful neighborhoods where both black and white families live together safely, peacefully, and lovingly.

     Thank you again and again for your continual support and encouragement. Many of you have dropped by or received your new, user-friendly calendars in the mail. If somehow you have missed the 2019 calendars, please call our office at 601-545-3900 to request yours.

May you and your family be blessed with good health and a very happy New Year!

With much gratitude,

DeLois & Team

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

by

 

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.

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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.