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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-

Contentment in today

by Wendy Gay

It’s true! I have a hard time seeing the Big Picture. I guess you could say I’m a little self-absorbed in my own world.


Most people, I guess, have an idealist type view of their future, an idea of who will be in their lives, places they will go, and activities they will accomplish, or at least try.


My vision is pretty limited at this time. This is so ironic because I have spent most of my life “For someday when, and one day if.” Could it be that I’m satisfied and content with my present? Or could it be fear of what lies ahead so therefore I won’t look? I’m pretty well known for not reading the newspaper or watching the news, which I agree is not very wise.


But honestly, I feel my efforts are spent more on the things I can control that hopefully impact the world, one person at a time and those efforts are as menial as making sure Josie Lee Gay has washed behind her ears or as important as the family from Ohio, that has four days to find a home, will have a place to lay their heads next month.


I choose to believe that it’s contentment in today and right where I am at. I’ve finally stopped struggling against the things and events that are outside my control and I’ve found the silver-lining in the gift of Today.


- Today God has granted the gift of freedom.
- Today God has granted the gift of health.
- Today God has granted me the gift of forgiveness followed by grace and therefore hope over my future.

I would like to close with a quote from my good friend and client Hao Xu…

“NO WORRIES”

Thank you God for today. “Trust that the events of today carry you to the future, tomorrow.” –Psalm 23:1-6.

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 - 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

Tech$mart homes are now available from AAA Homes

by DeLois Smith
In recent years innovation in construction technology has led to smart home solutions that save both energy, time and money. AAA Homes of MS is now building new homes in the Pine Belt that include their new Tech$mart application. The DeLois Smith All Star Team, REALTORS, has recently Listed for Sale and toured several new homes with Tech$mart application. AAA Homes has taken the smartest construction solutions and implemented them into their new home constructions. These solutions have been tested over the years and meet the high quality and functionality that is expected from AAA Homes. With the new Tech$mart application AAA Homes is able to provide homeowners with a home that is 40-45% more energy efficient than other new standard code constructions. FOAM INSULATION: The most important part of an energy efficient home is the insulation. Fiberglass has been an industry standard for many years. Tech$mart homes, however, use Open Cell Spray Foam Insulation. The spray foam insulation seals all of the gaps, cracks and crevices in the homes exterior walls and attic, creating an air barrier that keeps exterior moisture, unconditioned air and allergens, and outside pollutants outside. Tech$mart homes also utilize a Polyurethane Construction Adhesive Sealant that provides 90% reduction of air infiltration. ROOF DECKING: Radiant energy from the sun accounts for up to 93% of the heat that enters a home. Tech$mart homes feature Tech Shield Roof Decking. This innovative product helps block 97% of radiant heat from entering the attic, keeping the attic cooler, lowering energy costs and making the home more comfortable. Tech Shield Roof decking lowers attic temperatures up to 30 Degrees. The result is up to 17% lower heating/cooling costs. WINDOWS: Tech$mart homes also keep heat from flowing into the house by using Thermal Vinyl Windows. These windows provide 31 Greater U Value and are 35% more resistant to the flow of heat than aluminum windows. HVAC: All Tech$mart homes include an Energy Star 13 SEER HVAC system. The HVAC systems are 30% more energy efficient than systems built before January 2006. DIGITAL THERMOSTAT: Coupled with a Digital Programmable HVAC Thermostat, the cost of operating your HVAC system is reduced by 55%. APPLIANCES: Energy Star Appliances enhance performance and often outperform standard appliances due to improved design and advanced technologies. Each Tech$mart home includes certified Energy Star Appliances to help lower the overall cost of utility bills. DIGITAL TIMER: A unique addition to the Tech$mart homes is a Digital Programmable Water Heater Timer. These timers create up to a 75% reduction in water heater operation by allowing you to control when the water heater actually reheats the water in the tank. CABLES: As technology progresses, Tech$mart homes are ready for any future upgrades. Industry standard Cat V cable is run through the entire home. This allows for easy networking of technology products and is expandable to meet any future needs. The homes that currently offer the Tech$mart package include 16 & 20 Chapel Hill Blvd. in the Chapel Hill Subdivision in Oak Grove and 86 Sunline Drive in the Pecan Lakes Subdivision in Petal. All of these homes are listed with The DeLois Smith All Star Team, REALTORS. To setup your own personal tour of the Tech$mart homes, please call The DeLois Smith All Star Team, REALTORS, at 601-545-3900. You can also view these homes on their website, GoAllStarTeam.com.

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

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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.