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Petal an up-and-coming place to live.

by Adam Watkins

Petal was recently named in the Top 10 in two seperate surveys ranking cities in Mississippi. One of those reasons was the growing real estate market.

Adam Watkins, broker associate at The DeLois Smith Allstar Team of Realtors, said in 2003, the average sales price for a house in Petal was around $107,000. By last year, that number had shot up to $147,000 — a 37 percent increase over a 10-year period.

“That period included one of the most difficult real estate markets we’ve experienced in recent memory, and in spite of that, the market has demonstrated strength,” Watkins said. “By and large, $147,000 for a house — based on the type of school system you get and the median income of the area — is extremely affordable, and I think that’s what those surveys are picking up on.”

For more on the story, view the full article in the Hattiesburg American. 

http://www.hattiesburgamerican.com/article/20140319/NEWS01/303190016/Petal-An-up-coming-place-live-

Adam's Thoughts - March 2013

by Adam Watkins

We greet March with thankfulness! Given the “Mississippi Miracle” or “Hattiesburg Miracle” that our community experienced on February 10th, we can’t help but be thankful! As we consider the miles of damage created by the EF-4 tornado that traveled through Oak Grove, Hattiesburg, Petal, and surrounding areas, the more thankful we become. Personally, I’m awestruck at the simultaneous manifestation of God’s power and God’s protection. The fact that there were no casualties amidst utter devastation is quite a miracle indeed! Especially when you consider that the tornado glazed by Forrest General Hospital and over several churches (on a Sunday) as well as a university where students were largely out of town because of a holiday.


In fact, several of our team members were actually hosting nearly two dozen open houses that afternoon during our monthly Tour of Homes - all within the general path of the tornado. We had team members criss-crossing the area between tour locations as the tornado sliced through the community. There were a lot of phone calls and text messages made to assure everyone’s safety. We praise God for His protection, and we stand ready to serve our neighborhoods as we recover. We know we can do this because we’ve done it before. Our Katrina experience taught us a lot of lessons that we can apply here, and we intend to combine that experience with our resolve to forge ahead!


In spite of all these events, we see the beginnings of sustained improvements within our local real estate market. The first 50 days of this year are pointing to a trend of increased market activity. Year-over-year data from the Hattiesburg Multiple Listing Service (MLS) shows the number of homes under contract, homes sold, and sales volume to be up 54%, 6%, and 11% respectively. These increases are offset to some degree as our level of supply remains elevated, with a 1% increase in homes actively on the market over the same time period last year. Prices in most price ranges also appear to have stabilized. How long this trend will last depends on a multitude of factors, as you can imagine. These factors include long term interest rates, the financial impacts on employers of the new health care legislation, and the employment climate of the Hattiesburg Metro area. Regardless of these unknowns, we certainly welcome the improvements.


We do recognize, however, that to hundreds upon hundreds of our community members and families, market trends and market improvements are not nearly as important as putting the pieces of their lives back in place. These families are experiencing a tremendous sense of loss as they grapple with the destruction of their homes, businesses, and places of employment - and for some - as they recover from any injuries they sustained. It has been heart-warming to witness our churches and volunteer organizations sweep in and offer aid with efficiency and tremendous support. These volunteers are a part of what makes our area a special place to live. We’re dedicated to being a part of that support system. Almost immediately following the February 10th events, we began receiving phone calls and requests to assist those in need of housing - whether rental or purchase. We’ve even had some investors step in and purchase properties that are suitable for storm victims to lease as they begin to pick up the pieces of their lives. We can’t help but be inspired by these community helpers, and are honored to join them.


One of our client couples had a particularly touching reaction to these events - I’ll call them Jim and Jane. Jim and Jane have the benefit of life experience, having lived in their Hattiesburg home for many, many years. After the events of February 10th, they were faced with the overwhelming loss of their home, and the widespread devastation of their neighborhood. They needed a “new place” to start again, and we are grateful to have been able to help them find that new place. As they stepped out of the elevator on their way to leave our office, Jane said, “Well Jim, let’s go start the rest of our lives.” Her words weren’t filled with bitterness or resentment. Instead, they were filled with a sense of wonder and resolve. How inspiring and humbling! We have a tremendous responsibility to the Jims and Janes out there, and we are ready to fulfill that responsibility. Please don’t hesitate to call on our team. We are anxious to help you and/or your loved ones “start the rest of [your] lives” just like Jim and Jane.


Moving forward…


Adam & The Team

Adam's Thoughts - January 2013

by Adam Watkins

Well, another Christmas and New Year’s Day is in the books! We hope your celebrations were filled with happiness and enriched with new memories. Our family enjoyed the additions of several little ones that enjoyed their first celebrations with us. This is a special time in our family, and we’re doing our best to build special traditions and experiences for these new souls. We feel more blessed than ever, even if we are a bit weary. Simultaneously, we think of those who, for the first time, experienced this season without a loved one(s). Most of us have experienced such a loss, and cherish those memories that we were able make. May God bless your home and family in 2013!


Your All Star Team spent much of 2012 growing to meet the demands of our present market. We’ve solidified our support staff team to handle client care, marketing, and closing and listing management with increased expertise. And, we’ve also grown our agent base to better serve our growing clients as well as niche markets that we’re developing and exploring.


Jerron Carney has joined our team specializing in Marion County properties. As a Marion County native, he’s deeply connected to the area through his work as Associate Pastor of Woodlawn Church. Jerron’s wife, Holly, teaches nursing at PRCC, and they have two children. Please keep our team and Jerron in mind the next time you or someone you know has a property in Marion County to sell or purchase.


As Hattiesburg has grown westward, the movement between Columbia and West Hattiesburg has increased. We can now offer our clients in-depth knowledge of the Marion County community with the addition of Jerron.
Another exciting addition occurred in December when Debra Pace joined our ranks. Debra has developed a proven track record in Greater Hattiesburg real estate since beginning her career here several years ago. Over the years, we’ve had dozens of opportunities to work with Debra as a co-op agent and have felt for some time that she would be an excellent addition to our agent team. Debra joined us in November at the National Association of REALTORS Convention in Orlando where she received additional training and the opportunity to enjoy our team culture. She officially began working as a team member the first of December and will be representing both sellers and buyers on a full-time basis. Her husband, Allen, works in the poultry industry, and they have two Golden Eagles – a son who’s recently graduated and a daughter who is currently a student at USM. Debra is one of our contributors to this month’s Star Chat. I hope you’ll check out her entry to this month’s edition.


So together, our team greets 2013 with as much enthusiasm as we can remember. We’re committed to serving you and anyone you know through the best service and marketing plan delivered by the best equipped and prepared team members available. We’re never too busy for your referrals, so please call us, find us online on Facebook and Twitter, or stop us in the grocery store. We’re eager to serve and thankful for your trust!


May 2013 be the best year yet!


Adam & Team

The DeLois Smith All Star Team, Realtors® just returned from the National Association of Realtors Convention where 18,054 Realtors were in attendance. Throughout the four days in Orlando, they attended many informative lectures and discussions regarding real estate and the housing industry. One of the most interesting events attended on opening day was the Economic Forum. Lawrence Yun, PhD; Chief Economist of the NAR and Mark Vitner; Managing Director and Senior Economist of Wells Fargo presided over the meeting. It was generally agreed that inflation would remain low through 2013 and 2014. As inflation plays a major role in determining interest rates, this is great news for anyone looking to buy a home because interest rates will also remain historically very low. It is generally agreed that housing demand is up, sales are up, and available inventory is down. All of this means that although we have been in a strong buyer’s market, the pendulum is swinging more to the middle between buyers and sellers as inventory declines.

Therefore, there’s no time like the present to sell a home. It was also stressed that with a fair amount of continuing market uncertainty, the rental market continues to be an excellent area for investors to concentrate. The housing recovery will be slow so long as the job market remains weak. Washington remains indecisive, but change is coming. One concern voiced throughout the convention was the pending implementation of the Dodd-Frank legislation and the effect it will have on the mortgage industry. Another major concern is home mortgage interest deductions and how they will be affected as a part of the overall anticipated revamping of the tax codes. “The DeLois Smith Team returned from Orlando recharged and with valuable knowledge and insight as to how to succeed in building our business. Our investment in sending so many of our team members to Orlando is needed due to the complexity of today’s real estate market,” said Associate Broker Adam Watkins. “Our commitment to our clients and community is for our team members to obtain the highest level of educational enrichment possible.” Team members attending the convention in Orlando were: Adam Watkins, DeLois Smith, Lavon Smith, Brenda Blackwell, Linda Seifert, Dennis Baum, Wendy Gay, Jerron Carney, Jennifer Beightol, Andrew Bird, Josh Bellew, and our newest team member, Debra Pace.

Adam's Thoughts - October 2012

by Adam Watkins

Sometimes I get a little jealous of my team members who make entries into this “journal” that we call Star Chat each month. Each of them have contributed some unique and compelling insights into their lives. After all, this is a business about relationships, and I look forward each month to reading what my team member shares with us and improving my relationship with them. DeLois and I usually spend our entries commenting on present market conditions, growth in our team, changes in our business, events we’re planning, or community events. When I was considering my entry for this month’s Star Chat, though, I had no doubt it would take on a different complexion that I hope you’ll be able to appreciate since it concerns the birth of our second daughter, Hannah Lois, on September 11th.

I frequently make the joke around the office that I’m waiting for us (our team and my family) to make our reality show debut on one of the prominent (or obscure) cable networks. In fact, I believe Wendy Gay, one of our talented Buyer Specialists, alluded to this ongoing joke in one of her recent Star Chat writings. Our team works very hard, but sometimes you just have to step back and chuckle a little (or a lot) at the events of our days. Maybe you can relate. It’s easy to take yourself too seriously in this business, so it’s healthy to laugh and keep things in balance. And, honestly, in our case, truth can be much more entertaining than fiction. I start imagining how funny all of this house selling and family life would be if someone were just watching it, and I catch myself feeling a little like Jim Halpert from NBC’s The Office, searching for the cameras.

Monday, September 10th at 11:26 p.m. was one of those moments that would have certainly made for great TV! Amelia and I learned in January that we were expecting our second child. We were excited and overwhelmed! Overwhelmed because the Watkinses really know how to create a lot of work and excitement. (Amelia would likely blame most of this on me, but she’s a mighty fine accomplice.) In addition to a new pregnancy, a 3-year-old, and more than full-time careers, we also decided it was a good time for me to begin an Executive MBA program at Tulane University as well as making our fifth house move in as many years by late Summer. (We’re done with house moving for a while, and this time I mean it!) Without the pregnancy, there was plenty of material for the cameras to catch. Fast forward to the evening of September 10th, and you’d find us successfully moved, half of an MBA under our belts, a 3 1/2-year-old sound asleep in her room, and me coming in late that evening from showing homes to some friends of ours. Amelia had been experiencing early signs of labor all day, but nothing consistent. In spite of this, I decided I could still squeeze in showing some houses that evening before dark, and before you scold me, Amelia also encouraged me to proceed as planned and keep the phone handy.

When I got home, things appeared pretty much the same: sporadic and widely spaced contractions and a great deal of discomfort. We decided to settle in bed for the night and see what happened. Then at 11:26 labor accelerated from 0 to 100 mph! And accelerated is no understatement. Let’s just say that my quiet and reserved Amelia was anything but quiet, and for good reason! I quickly called our Aunt June and my Mom to ask one of them to come to our house since we were becoming very aware that we did not have the time to pack up Abigail and take her to one of their homes. We quickly loaded into the car and waited. They arrived between 11:40 and 11:45 p.m. as Amelia and I raced to the hospital. Hazard lights on. Speeding. Calling Labor and Delivery to tell them we were on our way. The contractions grew so closely together you could not easily determine when one started and another stopped, and Amelia began saying aloud that she didn’t know if we would make it. I kept assuring her that we would make it to the hospital; we would get there! The thought of delivering the baby myself was a terrifying thought. We literally “wheeled” into the labor and delivery entrance at Forrest General right around midnight.

Things were moving so quickly, and there seemed to be no time to spare. I flung my car door open and helped Amelia out of the car. I didn’t even think to turn off the car, close the door, or lock it. There it sat, ready for someone to drive it away if they wished, and I couldn’t have cared less. Amelia wouldn’t even pause for a wheelchair - we stumbled down the hallway and finally reached Labor and Delivery. Bless the poor soul who began feeding paperwork and disclosures to a redhead in the advanced stages of labor. There were no nurses or doctors in sight. Just the sweet lady in charge of registration who was quickly becoming overwhelmed by all of this drama. Amelia struggled to sign the disclosures, and the lady behind the counter began frantically calling for the nurses and doctor as well as assigning Amelia to a room. In the very brief break between contractions, Amelia “encouraged” me to go park the car! I managed to do that and get back to find Amelia in a room just as they were hooking up the heart monitor for Hannah.

The time was 12:06 a.m. Initially, it seems the nurses didn’t completely understand how very close the delivery was, but quickly learned that we had only a few more minutes and rushed to assemble all the necessary “hardware” for the delivery. Dr. Glaze arrived shortly around 12:15 a.m., and at 12:19 a.m., a healthy Hannah Lois Watkins was born - all 7 pounds, 6 ounces, and 21 inches of her. If you calculate the time of all these events, you’ll quickly discover that delivery was 54 minutes from when advanced labor began; about 35 minutes from when we left our home; and only 13 minutes from when Amelia was placed in a room! We very literally almost did not make it! Had this occurred in the middle of the day, traffic would have surely prevented us from doing so. We are so thankful to God for this blessing and for once again taking care of our needs up to the very minute. We give Him the glory for that! I always brag on how efficient Amelia is at everything she does, but if there is a next time, I’m hoping we’re slightly less efficient. Thirteen minutes is a bit quicker than this daddy was expecting.

As the adrenaline began to wear off, I couldn’t help but remember all of the 80’s sitcoms I watched as a child where the father dramatically, frantically, and clumsily raced to get his very “vocal” wife to the hospital in just the nick of time for delivery. Not knowing very much about that entire process as a little boy, I asked my mom if that’s how it really happened. She would always assure me, “No, no. That’s not real. They’re being dramatic for television.” As it turns out, she’s wasn’t entirely wrong. The nurses at FGH quickly told us that rushed delivery events such as ours were very rare. For the Watkinses, though, it was very real. And, given the 54 minutes total that it took, it’s custom designed for a single one-hour episode of this reality show of life that we live everyday, a blessed and full life for which we thank God. Hope you enjoy these photos of Hannah and her super “Big Sister,” Abigail. Thank you for your words of support, encouragement, and good will! Thank you for allowing our family to serve yours again and again! Our best, always. Adam & Team

Real Estate Lessons with Adam

by Adam Watkins

Who’s ready for Summer?  The heat may sometimes be daunting, but Summer remains my favorite season of the year.  Perhaps it’s because I still revel in the memories of my adolescence when Summer signified fewer commitments and a less rigid schedule.  School was okay, but what kept me going from September to May was knowing that June, July, and August were going to come again at some point.  Of course, August no longer provides the same benefits as it did years ago…at least not in Mississippi where our schools begin each year in early August now.  Nevertheless, those memories of long, unstructured, and carefree days are resurrected each May as temperatures rise and our many friends in elementary and secondary education count down the days to “freedom.”  And, even though Summer may seem like a time to focus on other ventures like swimming, vacationing, or family reunions, there’s still time for a little learning.  Even if it’s not within the structure of a school environment.

This business teaches us something new everyday.  Some lessons we’re proud and eager to learn, and others we’ve learned the hard way and have the battle scars to prove it.  The same can be said for our clients and friends as well.  Every real estate market poses unique challenges and opportunities.  One unique attribute of our present market is the increased interest in leasing properties both large and small.  We receive dozens of calls or e-mails a day concerning questions about leasing properties, and what we’ve discovered in those interactions is how little the public knows about lease purchases and how pervasive rental scams are on websites such as Craigslist.  When I asked our team of a relevant, educational topic for me to share about this month in Star Chat, these two issues came up.  So, even though Summer is upon us and school is at its close, put your thinking caps on and hopefully the information that follows will save you or someone you know some heartache.

We’ll begin with lease purchases.  A lease purchase is when a purchaser contracts with a seller to BUY a home at some future date (usually 6, 12, or 18 months, etc. in the future). The purchaser’s need for a delayed closing could be for the purchaser to get affairs in order so they can close by the agreed time, address a credit issue, sell a property in another state, or any variety of reasons.  In our practice, the purchaser does meet with a mortgage broker to determine a plan of action for achieving financing by the agreed purchase time.  In the interim period prior to closing, the purchaser desires possession of the property and leases it from the owner until closing arrives, making monthly lease payments to the seller from the time of possession until closing.  Sometimes a small portion of these lease payments (5% to 10%) may accrue in escrow toward the purchase price of the home, but often no accumulation occurs if the lease amount is not large enough to justify it.  Additionally, the purchaser places a large sum of money on deposit toward the purchase that is non-refundable if the closing does not occur as agreed.  Depending on the overall sales price of the house, we usually see deposits between $5,000 and $20,000.  Again these terms are negotiated up front.  In most cases the purchaser/tenant has the property inspected prior to possession and accepts the condition of the property at the time of possession.

Some things that a lease purchase IS NOT:  It is NOT an opportunity to “try out a house to see if you like it.”  It is NOT an “option to close in the future.”  It is a contractual obligation to close by the agreed time.  It is NOT the same as “owner financing,” as the owner often has a mortgage of their own to payoff and can’t transfer title until that lien is paid off.

Now, about Craigslist scams.  Many of you are familiar with Craigslist – it is like a gigantic, world-wide, classified ad system where individuals can offer items for sell or rent, including goods and services.  People sell or offer to lease any number of things from pianos to palaces and everything in between.  A couple years ago, we would occasionally receive calls from people who were inquiring about a “home we had for lease.”  The problem was, we didn’t have the home they were calling about for lease; it was for sale instead, and what was most intriguing is that the rental price quoted was always grossly below what fair market rent would be.  For instance, a $350,000 home would be offered for $800 per month.  A scam artist somewhere would go online and copy photos of random homes listed by agents all over the country, post that information on Craigslist, remove the agency information, and insert their own.  When an interested party contacted them, they would give a story of being out of town and needing to lease the home quickly because of the challenging real estate market and economy.  They would follow with instructions to simply mail the deposit and they would promise to put the keys in the mail to them as well.  Of course, there were no keys to send to the potential tenant, and you can guess what happened to the deposits that were mailed.  The only reason folks wound up contacting us was because they just happened to use a search engine to search the address where they also found the property on our websites for sale and would call us by mistake.  We shudder to imagine the people who did not call us and discover the truth before sending off deposits to the scam artists.

As Craigslist scams have become much more prevalent, please be careful if you or someone you know is searching for a home to lease.  Here are some things to look for:  1) The rent amount per month seems like a significant bargain.  2) The contact person will not be able to meet you at the property.  3) The scammer will be in a hurry and will suggest all he/she needs is the first month’s deposit mailed to them and they’ll go ahead and mail you the keys.  4) They may create a cover story as to why there is a real estate agency sign on the property.   When in doubt, google the address of the rental and see if the details add up.

There is not enough space in these pages to provide all the details I’d like about these issues, but just remember these things.  In the case of lease purchases – it’s actually a contract to purchase the home.  For Craigslist lease properties, simply remember the adage, “if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.”  To our sellers, know that we diligently watch these events and take appropriate action to have the false ad removed as soon as we discover it.  And, if you have any doubts, our team is just a phone call or click away.

 

Best,

Adam & Team

Who Says Real Estate Isn’t Fun….

by Wendy Gay

Here at The DeLois Smith All Star Team, REALTORS we have so much fun it should be illegal.  In fact, sometimes we think we should have a Reality Show.  Why not, they make them about everything else.  It could be called, “The Go All Star Team Show”.

A typical week starts out with our Monday morning team sales meetings where we discuss the events of the previous week’s activity and status of properties.  We talk about our company goals in comparison to previous years’ production, and our strengths and weaknesses, and assessing where we can make improvements.

We talk about our clients’ housing needs as well as lift people up in prayer who are experiencing challenges.  As you all know, tragedy strikes, life is hard, buyers can be unpredictable and sometimes they lack commitment.  Sometimes sellers are grief stricken and having to sell their homes. We need to LAUGH, because we carry the burdens of others into our lives.

Sometimes laughter is the very thing that gets us through.  In Proverbs it says, “A joyful heart is good medicine but a crushed spirit dries up the bones”.  And making a difference in someone’s life lifts us up, especially in times like these.  Forgive us when we find those small things to carry on and laugh about.  Such as:

DeLois saying, “Oh My”, “Someone hit that house with an Ugly Stick”.  I say that jokingly because DeLois is the Matriarch of our team family, holding a high standard for professionalism and hard work, no matter how long it takes.  So, it was hilarious to hear that she said such a thing.

OR

Linda’s story from Sunday’s Tour of Homes, where a 6 year old little girl was joined by three other younger girls with wide eyes, exclaiming to Linda that she better not go into that house. “A bad man had taken a lady down in the basement and held her there.”  The house didn’t even have a basement.  It was simply children’s make-believe.

OR

Brenda stopping to share her Southern Hospitality with everyone she knows – Brenda knows someone everywhere we go.   She will make a call to someone for the first time and say, “HEY this is Brenda,” like she has known them all her life.  How does she do it?  She makes people fall in love with her every day.  It doesn’t matter if they are young or old, rich or poor, male or female.  Everybody loves Brenda!

OR

Sharon, now she’s one ally you want on your side.  Sharon is always…always rooting for the underdog.  She looks to protect and mother everyone and everything.  If you are hurt, let Sharon put a band-aid on it.  She’ll fix you right up.

OR

Scott,  our analyzer.  He figures everything out.  He wants to study it, be well informed about it, heck… become the expert about it.  He will find the best way to work it out where everybody will come out a “winner at the end”.  What a fantastic advocate to have working for you.  He makes sense of everything.

FINALLY

Adam, who is our optimistic leader, sets the pace for us all.  He is always growing with technology, pursuing knowledge, and maintains a keen sense of humility by acknowledging God in everything he does.  He is always light hearted and confident and will find something to laugh about even if he has to make a joke about himself.

On Tuesdays, the real fun begins.  This is our tour day where we get our first preview of new properties.  You should see us.  There are sometimes as many as 7 cars chasing around behind one another anywhere from Perry County to Columbia and from Collins to Lumberton.  We dedicate that day to our sellers.  What a resource to bring over 150 years of combined experience to collaborate about pricing, condition,

showmanship.  We start matching that property to our pool of buyers while we’re there.  We move furniture, pull weeds, open blinds, and discuss the best sales strategy for each individual property. It’s here, on tour, that many of our BEST listings; in a good location, in good condition, and priced right from the start, sell.  It’s not only a race to the next house on the tour list, but also a race to see who can sell that house first.

We always – always – cap off tour with a team luncheon at one of our favorite restaurants.  I love it when we end up in an outlying area and we get to experience the charms of an old mom and pop restaurant like The Round Table in Columbia.  We leave with a full belly and the mission that, “Nothing Happens until Somebody Sells Something”.

Wednesday through Friday is all about “stirring the pot”, as Adam calls it.  We work hard to make that something happen.  We spend Monday and Tuesday getting our resources and then Wednesday through Saturday sharing those resources with our Buyer Clients.  Sundays are set aside for the Lord and sometimes Tour of Homes.  REST…. I didn’t say Rest.  There is no such thing; ask DeLois? (Ha!)  Seriously, real estate affects everything.  It touches each of our lives and it makes money move within our economy.  I’m not a big economist, but even I know that.

So, let us bring our smiles and laughter into your lives, and let’s get that money moving.  May we all – our Sellers, Buyers, and our Team – expect great things to happen.

 

Psalm 16:11, “You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.

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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.