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Keeping things local

by Adam Watkins

Here we are in our second month of 2014!!! So far, 2014 promises to be much different than last year. Things feel different. Not worse or better, just different. For starters, how about this weather??? As I write these words, freezing rain is piling up outside the office, and there are winter storm warnings in the Mississippi Gulf Coast of all places!!!


The weather isn’t the only thing that feels different, the market feels different as well. Again, not worse or better necessarily, but different. And, those differences can sometimes show up in some market segments more than others. I’ll try to explain. The other day I bumped into a friend who also happens to be a past client and was asked the first question that I’m often asked: “How’s the real estate market?” He’s considering listing his home; it’s an obvious question, and one that I’m asked often. It should be easy to answer, and I should roll off my thoughts on the market in a matter of seconds (which I did, to a certain degree, and perhaps to the dismay of the listener). The interaction reminded me of some things about answering such a question, though. The answer could be a simple one or two-word summary, I suppose. Some professionals might use descriptives such as “great, steady, challenging, slow, or fast.” These are the simple summaries that are often batted about as people “talk real estate.” Most sales people are trained to be quick to assert that things are “fantastic.” Personally, I always had a problem with a standard answer like that, because I found it to be disingenuous, and sometimes dishonest at a certain level, at least without some clarification.

Of course, it’s really not as simple as just “fantastic” or “challenging” (even if folks who ask are only looking for a quick summary or conversation starter). Why? Because real estate is inherently local in nature. What do I mean by that? I wish I had a better example to illustrate my point than the one that follows, but it’s the best example I know of to describe what I mean of real estate being “local,” so please forgive me for using an example that may seem upsetting. Several years back, I began to notice something in one of our area’s more prominent neighborhoods. There was one particular street within the neighborhood that was not performing as well as the balance of the neighborhood. In fact, while other homes in the neighborhood would sell relatively quickly, multiple homes on this single street remained up for sale for lengthy periods of time, and the ones that sold did so for less than the average sales of the homes within the same neighborhood - even homes only a couple streets over. There wasn’t anything conditionally superior to the homes throughout the neighborhood - in fact, several of these homes were lakefront! I wondered why this could be, and did some searching and asking and found the answer. I was dismayed by my discovery that a registered sex offender had moved into a home on that street. Subtly, people had become aware of this fact, and it started to have an effect on the sales of the properties on this single street.

You see, local can be as specific as a single street within a neighborhood. The point is that no matter what is happening in the nation, the state, the metro area, the city, or the suburb, there are still environmental and economic factors that come into play for a single neighborhood and even a single street within that neighborhood!!! The result is a lot of conflicting information out there. For example, you may read that sales in the country have increased 20%, but in your own neighborhood, you notice that homes are taking longer to sell (or perhaps they’re flying off the shelves).

You find evidence of this conflict in certain price ranges too, where at certain times a particular price range (or market segment) is more aggressive than others even though the market conditions appear to be the same. For instance, last year there was roughly a 50% increase in sales of homes in the $140,000 to $160,000 price range over the previous year. I suspect this was a result of first time home buyers entering the market once more with aggressive interest rates and renewed fervor in the market.

So what does that mean for 2014? Overall, the final quarter of 2013 dealt the market a lot of distractions including a rise in rates (only into the 4% range, incidentally); the government shutdown that affected VA, FHA, and USDA loans; grappling with the ramifications of Obamacare on the finances of families; and the expected focus on the Thanksgiving and Christmas seasons. As a result, the difference between the beginning of 2013 versus 2014 was there seemed to be less wind in our sails as January 1st rolled around. And then, like magic, on January 3rd, we started feeling upswings in buyer activity in several price ranges in our market place, which is an encouraging sign that these “distractions” may have run their course for now. Spring inventory is coming on, and the best property selections will be available for purchasing. Rates are in the low 4% range for most purchasers.

When it comes to serving our friends and clients, we hope that one of the things for which you can count on us is truly in-depth knowledge of the market and how that relates to making the best decisions possible regarding your home and property. Things like knowledge of the nuances of local markets that I’ve written about in these paragraphs along with countless other things. In the end, it’s what we hope sets us apart from anyone in our market as we serve you and those you care about.

To the best year ever!

Adam & Team

New adventures with life long friends

by Linda Seifert

January brought not only a new year but a new trip for the All Star Team! We were blessed to reach our team goal in 2013 and were rewarded with a week long Western Caribbean cruise. Our stops were Falmouth, Jamaica, George Town, Cayman Islands and Cozumel, Mexico. Many of us were able to go and share our trip with family and friends while a few of us stayed behind to ‘mind the store’ and brave the cold weather.

My traveling companion this year was my oldest friend, Judy Stechmann who lives in Mobile, Alabama. Judy and I went to high school together and bonded with our mutual credo of ‘laughter being the best medicine’.

Over the years we’ve shared our lives, watched our children grow and seen them have families of their own. In our ‘mature’ years we find ourselves not only reminiscing about our youthful adventures but, when possible, adding a few new adventures to the history book! It was Judy’s first cruise, my third and we had a blast! My co- workers and fellow cruisers all threw themselves into soaking up as much fun and sun as possible and whenever we could we shared a meal and some relaxing times together.

Many years ago my husband labeled me ‘a professional shopper’ and this cruise offered ample opportunity to shop ‘til you drop! I’ve never seen so much jewelry in my life! In fact it was almost overkill to the tune of a self imposed ban on shopping until next Christmas! However, upon returning home, my resolve had vanished in a week! Oh...... the trying times of being a shopaholic! :-)

It’s now back to the business of helping home buyers and sellers make their dreams come true. This is a job I love and I look forward to helping many of you with your next real estate transaction!

Live and love well!

What is an All Star?

by Ben Williams

I’d like to start off by introducing myself, as this is my first time writing for Star Chat. My name is Ben Williams and I’m the photographer here at DSAST.

A few months ago when I was asked to write an article for Star Chat, I was excited. However, when I got to typing that article I spent some time staring at the blinking text cursor wondering what I could convey to the reader. I considered talking about photography and different techniques I use on a shoot but after thought, “Nah, too techy” . I looked over some previous issues hoping to find some sort of direction, and finally found myself zoomed in on the term “All Star”. Most of us associate that term with some sort of sport, and a quick Google search will yield the same results along with our website if you’re local.

all-star - adjective -composed wholly of outstanding performers or players.

Bam! I don’t think a better term could’ve been used to describe the colleagues I work with. A combined 200+ years of experience in Real Estate, accompanied by another 50+ years of combined experience from our support team. Wow.

Our agents, client care coordinator, listing coordinator, closing coordinator, marketing director, stager and I put quality and customer service at the forefront of our day to day operations around the office and in the field.
What is an All Star

Google

See what's going on in downtown Hattiesburg!

by DeLois Smith

Have you been downtown Hattiesburg lately? If not, you are missing out on some fantastic events happening all the time. Here is a great video produced by the Historic Hattiesburg Downtown Association. 

 

For more information on what there is to do in downtown Hattiesburg, visit http://downtownhattiesburg.com/. 

Star Chat from DeLois - January 2014

by DeLois Smith

Dear Friends,


The new is wearing off of 2014! It is now time for all of us to consider what impact our lives will have on our families, churches, community, state or nation in 2014. In that reality, I have been contemplating growth in three main areas – spiritual value, family values, and high performance team impact.


“In appreciation of Remarkable Lives”, an article in the Wall Street Journal grabbed my attention. A good way to start a new year is by reflecting on remarkable individuals who died the year before. Margaret Thatcher was a prime minister who reversed Britain’s decline. She then modernized and strengthened her nation.


The recent memorial service for Frank D. Montague, Jr. was a beautiful tribute to a local giant. After suffering from polio in his 20’s, he was declared disabled by the U.S. Navy. His retort was that he would make his own decision about his future. For over 60 more years, he accomplished unbelievable results in all of his personal and professional endeavors. These successes included 64 wonderful years of devoted marriage, three devoted sons who are also very successful attorneys, and pages of leadership roles in Westminster Presbyterian Church, educational institutions, and civic and professional organizations. I personally loved and respected this remarkable man and was abundantly blessed to call him my friend.


Dr. Donna Wheeler was another dear local friend who devoted selfless service influencing thousands of William Carey University students for 47 years. For Donna, the Rotary motto “Service Above Self” was her life. My husband, Lavon, and I had the privileged joy to participate in four of Dr. Milton Wheeler’s famous international trips. Donna found strength to encourage and nurture everyone on the trips even when she had serious health issues. I shall never forget the day she and I ran the “real” Olympia track together in pouring rain – not very fast, mind you, but we finished the track!


This week our team will be setting the course for high performance impact on the local Hattiesburg market in 2014. The team just arrived back from a refreshing and relaxing cruise which they earned for 2013 success in meeting our team goal of $62 million closed including 325 transactions. Each of the 14 full time team members are setting their personal and professional goals this week. This accumulation of each of the team roles will be our combined 2014 team goal. Next week we will announce the goal and the special theme for impacting the lives of those we serve in 2014.


Your grateful Realtor,


DeLois Smith

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.

Petal named a top town for young families.

by DeLois Smith

Petal was recently named a top town for young families. Check out this report from WDAM featuring our very own Adam Watkins.

WDAM.COM - TV 7 - News, Weather and Sports

November 2013 Star Chat from DeLois

by DeLois Smith

Autumn Greetings!

   Pretty fall mums with pumpkins scattered about, v-shaped formations of geese making their happy sounds on their journey south, cooler breezes and sunny days, black and gold and many other sporting events, Live-at-Five Downtown, pumpkin parties, and up-coming Heavenly Art Exhibition on November 14th at Sarah Gillespie Art Museum at William Carey – these are reflections of this Hub City Autumn of 2013.

   These reminders of our blessings help us to “look up” rather than looking  around at the alarming events of recent weeks – both local and national. This week’s “ Make A Difference” campaign is a step in the right direction.

   Larry “Doc” Harrington, father of our dear friend Brigadier General Larry Harrington, led a most exemplarly life. Several generations of USM athletes and thousands of Army officers have been impacted by his model. His devotion to USM aided in bringing about an economic boost to the school equalling millions of dollars.  

  Our goal with each Star Chat edition is to provide some local and national information impacting the real estate industry – especially focusing on our homes and residential real estate investments.  This article focuses on the realities of ObamaCare, the recent government shut down, and other economic factors affecting the current real estate market.

 

Housing affordability is at 156 which means good market conditions for buyers.

Interest rates have been bouncing between 4.3% to 4.7% and are projected to be 5% by spring of 2014.

Local residential MLS supply is 8.84 months.

Average days on the market for the area MLS is 95.4 days; average for our team is currently 69 days.

Foreclosures Sales in our local MLS closed year-to-date are 299 of the total 1237 single family houses sold or 24.1%. Nationwide the foreclosure  accounted for only 14% of the September sales. This directly correlates with the fact that our area entered the recession period behind other parts of the US; and we are trailing coming out.

Locally and nationally we are experiencing delays in processing loans which is a direct result of the government shutdown.

USDA financing is frozen now and we do not know when it will be funded.  Our team currently has two sellers and buyers who cannot move toward closing. This delay costs everyone concerned; and of course this delay will cause some contracts to terminate.

Higher flood insurance rates went into effect October 1st.  Realtors nationwide have reported approximately 10% of transactions in September were located in flood zones, and that one out 10 of those transactions were delayed or canceled due to concerns over rising flood insurance rates. Another issue is the ever-expanding boundaries of FEMA’s flood zones.

The 3.8% and .09% new taxes designed to fund $240 billion over the next ten years into “ObamaCare” and Medicare became effective January 1, 2013. For the 95% of Americans who make less than $200,000 as individuals or $250,000 as a couple adjusted gross income, the tax does not apply.

Gains on a personal residence will seldom be affected because the tax is on gains exceeding the $250,000 individual exemption or $500,000 exemption for a couple.

The 3.8% or .09% will more often apply to the sale of second or third homes, investment property or inherited property. It applies on interest, dividends, rents and capital gains. Below is an example of a how this may apply to certain individuals.

 

Always, when considering any real estate transaction, whether it be buying or selling, get advice from your own tax professional.

 

 Thank you again for your many acts of kindness, loyalty, and encouraging remarks to us and to your friends and family.  We always want to hear from you anytime we can be resourceful or helpful.

 

Blessings to you and your family,

 

 

DeLois and Team

Fourteen years of change for the better

by Josh Bellew

Fourteen years ago I moved to Hattiesburg to attend The University of Southern Mississippi. When I moved here I had no intention of staying after I graduated. I was going to leave town right after I received my diploma and only visit during Homecoming. I didn’t have any negative feelings toward this town, I just could not see myself living here. I grew up on The Coast and viewed Hattiesburg as a small town with not much to offer in terms of jobs and what I considered to be good quality of life factors. 

I remember my parents telling stories about how everyone questioned when they built Roses and University Mall (now known as Mid-Town Market)  “out in the country”. When I was in high school I visited my brother for a few days to get a feeling for the college life. While visiting he took me to the new Turtle Creek Mall. Once again everyone was wondering why they built in so far out. 

When I was enrolled at USM it was known as a suitcase college. Every weekend the students would head out of town as quickly as they could, only to return late Sunday night or early Monday morning. There was little for young adults to do, much less a place for many of them to work. It seemed that everyone wanted it to change, but nothing was being done to fix this. 

Little did I know that there were plans in the works from various groups in the area. During one of my internships I was asked to attend a networking meeting hosted by The Area Development Partnership. It was during this meeting that I learned I was not the only one that wished for change in the area. A spokesperson for The ADP spoke about plans to bring more jobs into the area and ways to keep young adults from moving away once they graduated. I thought it was a lofty goal and probably just a few talking points to make everybody feel better. 

Luckily, I was wrong. Over the past 14 years I have seen this city transform leaps and bounds to a place that I am happy to call home. 

What was once a dwindling downtown area with vacant buildings and empty lots is now beginning to thrive thanks to the efforts of the Historic Hattiesburg Downtown Association and several forward thinking business owners and developers. Thanks to these groups downtown Hattiesburg is bustling with numerous restaurants, shops, art events, and festivals that create exciting experiences for all involved. 

The student life at USM has changed for the better. The improvements made to the campus since I graduated have been phenomenal. It is a joy to walk around the campus now. There are also more activities to keep students on campus and bring alumni back to campus. Does anyone remember USM tailgating 14 years ago? I sure do, and it was absolutely boring. 

The medical community in Hattiesburg has blossomed to be one of the leading medical communities in the Southeast. For the population size of Hattiesburg, we are very fortunate to have access to the quality health care professionals that have decided to practice in our area. With the addition of the College of Osteopathic Medicine at William Carey University, Hattiesburg has become not only a place for quality doctors to practice, but also a place to train future doctors. 

With the growth of Camp Shelby into one of the United States military’s major training facilities, Hattiesburg has seen a tremendous population growth. Because of the strong education, military, and medical community that we have it is no wonder that other business decided to locate in Hattiesburg, bringing more job opportunities and an excellent quality of life this town.  

From looking at future development plans by both the local governments and private developers for each part of town, I am confident in knowing that the best is yet to come. Community progress can often seem slow, but when I think back on the past 14 years I have seen what can quickly be done by groups of people that have a deep passion and love for their community.Perhaps I’m getting older, but the more I see Hattiesburg change, the more I think we are heading in the right direction.

Fall brings accomplishments in education and sales

by Adam Watkins

Fall is in the air!  What a tremendous year this has been thus far with a lot of accomplishments and life-changing events for members of our team and the clients we serve.  As we look toward the final quarter of 2013, our team is encouraged by the market activity we have experienced over the first 3 quarters of 2013. 

Average sales prices per unit have remained about the same when compared to 2012, but total sales volume and number of sales is up about 20% over the same period of 2012.  Interest rates remain near record-lows, and inventory is quite healthy.  We presently have new construction opportunities throughout the Oak Grove and Petal markets between $120,000 and $365,000 that will be available for purchase in time for celebrating the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays.  Many of these can be purchased with $0 Down/$0 Closing costs if the purchaser qualifies for USDA or VA financing.  Contact one of our team members who can connect you with the appropriate lenders making these offers as well as the homes that qualify.

As usual, The All-Star Team is making investments in education of our team members so that we may provide our clients with the most highly-credentialed real estate sales team in the Pine Belt.  Sales and Support team members will attend training courses in San Francisco at the beginning of November at the National Association of REALTORS’ annual convention.  This annual experience will be the capstone to a year’s worth of educational accomplishments.  Jennifer Beightol and Andrew Bird completed coursework for licensure earlier this year.  Jennifer is presently completing courses that will allow her to attain her G.R.I. designation (Graduate REALTOR Institute) as well as attaining her brokers license.  She began her new role as Team Administrator at the beginning of September as well.  And, much to the relief of Amelia, DeLois, and the Team, I completed my Masters in Business Administration (M.B.A.) with Finance Concentration from Tulane University in New Orleans back in June, after 20 grueling months of study.   When complemented by over 200 years of combined experience in the real estate industry, these educational investments provide a wealth of knowledge for our clients that is unmatched in our region.  You can expect us to continue fine-tuning our skills as practitioners both in the field and the classroom.

Congratulations are in order to DeLois and The Team for recording the largest sale of 2013 for the HAAR MLS this past month.  It is one of only two sales recorded over $1 Million in the current production year, and the highest-valued sale ever recorded for Canebrake subdivision.  So far this year, The Team has been involved in 50% of the recorded sales over $700,000 in Canebrake.  We remain thankful and honored by the opportunity to represent some of the finest homes in our marketplace.  At the same time, we are keenly aware of how important each home purchase is, whether it’s a starter home or a luxury residence.  You can’t bring families home again and again (and generation after generation) without recognizing that within every price range is someone’s dream home.  That’s why we make it a point to seek out the best homes in all price ranges to serve every life stage.  Just ask Andrew Bird, our newest Buyer Specialist, who recently helped close a sale for some excited first time home buyers!

Our campaign to increase our social media presence and be accessible to our friends and clients in multiple ways is growing.  In the last two months, our official team page on Facebook has grown by nearly 150%.  Increasingly, our monthly Tour of Homes is being promoted through online mediums - including Facebook.  If you haven’t already done so, please be sure and “Like” us on Facebook and join our real estate conversation.  You can find our page by logging onto our webpages, www.GoAllStarTeam.com or www.allstarteam.com, and clicking on the Facebook icon.  Or, direct your web browser to www.facebook.com/AllStarTeamREALTORS.  Hope to see you there soon!

We look forward to serving you or someone you know in the near future.  We’ll have the perfect opportunity to do so at our final Tours of Homes for 2013, scheduled for October 6th and November 3rd.  For the complete schedule, be sure and check our website and/or Facebook page.   As always, we remain ready to earn and keep your trust again and again.

Adam & Team

Displaying blog entries 141-150 of 173

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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.