GulfCoastPowerSearch.com will be posting articles that relate to real estate along the Mississippi Gulf Coast. As the coast grows, so does the Biloxi, Gulfport and Ocean Springs real estate markets! Stay tuned here for details on news and topics that will impact our area. If you are interested in becoming a contributor on our Blog, please fill out the Contributor form at the "Contribute" link at the bottom of the page. We'd love to hear from you!
Areas covered: Biloxi, Woolmarket, Gulfport, Ocean Springs, D'Iberville, St. Martin, Gautier, Moss Point, Pascagoula, Long Beach, Pass Christian, Bay St. Louis, Waveland, Diamondhead, Harrison County, Hancock County and Jackson County.
Are you a first time home-buyer? Has it been a while since you’ve purchased a home or refinanced? Don’t worry, we’re here to help! Our team at Gulf South Mortgage is prepared to walk you through your loan step-by-step; however, borrowers have the best chance for a smooth transaction when they understand more about the mortgage process. Below are a few helpful tips to assist in your preparation.
Your loan officer will undoubtedly help you achieve a monthly payment that you are comfortable with, but you can think about this in advance. We all have our own definition of “affordable”. Consider all your monthly bills and decide approximately what amount you’d like your total mortgage payment to be. Just because you can qualify for a certain amount does not necessarily mean you are willing to pay that each month. Other factors such as taxes and insurance affect your monthly note and must be considered. You may also want to take into account furnishings, maintenance cost & cosmetic changes or repairs. The long term goal is for you to be happy with your monthly mortgage payment.
Not only do sellers prefer buyers who come pre-approved by a lender, which makes your offer more attractive, but a pre-approval also gives you confidence to shop accurately and efficiently. You can typically have an answer within the same day and be equipped with a vital instrument for an accepted contract.
When your loan officer takes your application, it is very important to be accurate and forth coming. You are responsible for truthful representation. Each applicant is unique and specifics matter.
Complete 2 year employment history listing ALL jobs with specific dates
Recent life events such as divorce, relocation, bankruptcy, etc.
Changes in income or specifics of overtime pay (exact timeframes & amounts)
Don’t fudge numbers or hide information as this will only delay, or possibly even derail, your loan. Providing accurate information in the beginning ensures a smoother process and timely closing. Be honest, and your loan officer will gladly help navigate you through any potential obstacles.
Some general documentation is required for every borrower. On your first appointment with your loan officer, you will always need 1 month’s current paystubs, 2 month’s bank statements on all checking/savings accounts, and the last 2 year’s FILED tax returns and W-2s. Also, please bring a photo id and social security card. Additional documentation may be requested, but these items will certainly get the process started. We will be happy to make copies for you or assist where possible.
Obtaining a mortgage may feel a little intrusive at times, but you are not alone. Lenders analyze every corner of your financial life in order to qualify you for a mortgage. You will be asked many questions that might feel financially invasive, but rest assured this is protocol, and no one is picking on you or your situation. We will do our best to keep this to a minimum, but be ready to be forthcoming with your loan officer, provide needed documentation and sign letters of explanation approved by you. Don’t feel anxious about the process. We are here to help, and we’ll work through it together!
During the loan process, additional documentation may be required by the underwriter. Information may include sourcing deposits, providing a copy of the cleared earnest money check, completing employment & residential history, etc. Please know in advance that this is completely normal, and respond as promptly as possible to these requests. The quicker you can get needed documentation to your loan officer or processor, the quicker your loan can be underwritten and cleared for closing. Your timely cooperation is very helpful in making the process go smoother and is greatly appreciated!
In the months leading up to your pre-approval try not to make major changes to your finances. This includes moving money from one account to another, making cash deposits, or receiving gift funds from a friend or family member for your down payment. Since lenders require extensive paper trails and funds to be sourced, it is best to speak with a loan officer before taking these actions. No question is a silly one and your loan officer will be glad you asked!
Your credit has a significant impact on your ability to qualify for, and what terms you receive, on a mortgage. To improve your credit, get current on your payments and stay current. Approximately 35% of your credit scores are based on whether or not you pay your bills on time; 30% of your credit scores are based on how much debt you owe. You might even want to consider paying down some of your debts. If you are unsure of your credit scores or what debts to pay off, your loan officer will be happy to discuss this subject in detail and guide you to make the right choices.
Contact your loan officer immediately should anything arise related to your employment, income, assets, financial obligations or major life events.
These tips come from our friends at Gulf South Mortgage in Gulfport, MS. Please give them a call at (228) 831-0933 or start your application by clicking on the image below.
Purchasing a home is one of the most exciting moments in anyone's life. Not only is homeownership a right of passage, but purchasing a home is also a major investment. As such, it is essential to do everything possible to ensure the process goes smoothly. While a lot of the photos online make the home look fantastic... there are other features that can make the home unappealing like location, proper zoning, restrictive covenants, school ratings, foreclosure comps, taxes and insurance.
One step homebuyers can take to ensure the home buying experience is a good one is to enlist in the services of a Buyer's Agent. A "Buyer's Agent" will have access to information that you will not. This access will make your decisions more informative and you will have less surprises after you move in. While there are numerous advantages to working with a Buyer's Agent, here is a look at the Top 5.
One benefit to working with a Buyer's Agent is that it can help you save a significant amount of time in your home search. Let's face it, searching for the perfect home is a time consuming process. With the help of an experienced Buyer's Agent, however, you can more effectively narrow down your choices so that you only spend time looking at those homes that genuinely meet your needs and budget. Nothing can be more frustrating than to find your perfect home and then find out it is under contract or already has multiple offers. A Buyer's Agent can also narrow down your favorites and then give you "the skinny" on each home... making it easier to only view the homes for sale that really meet your needs, not just look like they do online.
Another benefit to working with a Buyer's Agent is that it gives you someone who is working on your behalf. When it comes to buying a home, working with only the Seller's Agent puts you at a distinct disadvantage. This is because the Seller's Agent is obligated to represent the best interest of the person who is selling the home. A Buyer's Agent, on the other hand is bound to represent the best interest of the person who is doing the buying. When it comes to negotiations, having someone who is in your corner can make all the difference in the final outcome. A Buyer's Agent has access to the listing's history to see what price changes have happened, how many days it has been on the market, if it has been listed and expired before, and access to the Seller's Property Condition Disclosure which discloses all information the seller knows about since they have owned the property.
Purchasing a home is an emotional experience. At times, it can be difficult to separate those emotions from reality. A Buyer's Agent acts like an impartial set of eyes that can look more critically at the options in order to provide meaningful and helpful feedback. By acting as an extra set of eyes, the Buyer's Agent can also make certain the paperwork is properly completed in accordance with what was agreed upon. Comparing properties can be tough, but your Buyer's Agent will see them for what they are... an investment that you may need to resell later. A good Buyer's Agent will know they may get the call to help you sell and they don't want to look stupid later by trying to justify their recommendations when you purchased your home.
Even with the help of a Buyer's Agent, buying a home can be a stressful experience. From looking at numerous homes, to securing the necessary financing, to negotiating a deal, it is not unusual for you to feel overwhelmed by the process. With the help of an experienced Buyer's Agent, however, stress can be reduced by handing many of the headaches over to the agent. Furthermore, by working with a Buyer's Agent, homebuyers have someone available at all times to answer any questions that they might have. Knowing where to get the best mortgage, insurance quotes, closing attorney, and home inspector are just some of the things that an experienced Buyer's Agent can help reduce stress as you get closer to closing.
While it may be counterintuitive, getting your own Buyer's Agent actually helps most buyers save money. With the help of the negotiating skills that a Buyer's Agent brings to the table, most buyers are able to pay a lower price and/or have more items included in the purchase price. From having the appliances stay in the home to having certain repairs made before the purchase is finalized, you can potentially save thousands of dollars with the help of skilled Buyer's Agent. Remember, price isn't the only thing that matters. Actually, lowering your offer price too low can insult the Seller to the point where they won't negotiate. The reason for this is they feel that you don't see the value they see in their home and don't feel comfortable selling it to you. A better strategy can be to gain better terms instead of price. Getting terms like having the Seller pay your closing costs, insurance, taxes and depending upon your mortgage lender, a portion of your down payment.
HB1337 amends Section 83-2-3 of the Mississippi Code to require that any homeowners’ insurance policy that offers a deductible for the peril of windstorm from a named storm event shall be a cumulative deductible for named storms occurring in the same calendar year. This act will take effect and be in force from and after July 1, 2014. When applying the wind deductible to a loss, Claim handlers will need to check the insured loss history to verify the number of named storm losses in a calendar year to ensure that the deductible is appropriately applied. In essence... insurance companies can't charge you two separate deductibles in a calendar year due to damages from two or more hurricanes. The deductible will be cumulative for the year.
There are numerous changes to the lien law with different provisions for commercial and residential construction.
Some of the key points on the lien law are as follows:
SB 2622 was needed in response to constitutional issues created in the Noatex vs. King Construction case. In 2012, Judge S. Allan Alexander ruled that the Mississippi stop notice law is unconstitutional. The 5th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the ruling in the fall of 2013. As a result of the ruling, sub-contractors and material providers had no expedient way to pursue construction disputes involving nonpayment from contractors and a new law must be created as a remedy.
While some people feel they can do it on their own, many choose to use a real estate agent. Why? Well, there's many reasons... but, the biggest reason is that Realtors have access to much more exposure for your home than just putting a for sale sign out and putting an ad on Craigslist. While you may get lucky to find a buyer that way, the best way to get the most value out of your home is to find the perfect buyer that falls in love and will, therefore, pay top dollar. The five biggest reasons why most homes don't sell are listed below. We will be looking at these five from the point of view of the buyer because ultimately, their impression matters... and matters big time!
When you hear this phrase you usually think of a new business opening and they have to find the best location for their restaurant, car lot or nail salon. In residential real estate this refers to a few key points. The first being proximity to where you work, play and worship. The second is the neighborhood being on the upswing or downward spiral depending on the curb appeal of all homes on your street and recent foreclosure sales in the area. The third is the school zone which can cut out a lot of your buyers instantly. The better the schools in your area, the better value you will keep in your home. While not all people have school aged kids, this still matters to a lot of people for future resale value.
The thing about pricing which makes for a longer time on the market is to overprice it. This is how the usual seller thinking goes... "We'll price it high at the beginning and if it doesn't sell within a few months, we'll drop it at that time. We don't want to miss out on any extra equity in case there is someone that wants it right away." This is generally how sellers approach pricing their home. The problem with this is that the buyers out there are very informed these days with all of the online content available. Between the public info available and the real estate agent they are working with, you are out leveraged for this type of selling strategy. What happens is that the home sits on the market for 2-3 months and then gets a price reduction. The buyers in the market see a price reduction and immediately believe that there is something wrong with your home... and sometimes will cross it off their list to view simply because of this reason. Again, put yourself in their shoes. They have a lot of homes to view and the earlier they can cross some off the list, the better. The best way to price your home is to see what homes like yours have recently sold (last 6 months) for in your area. Then price it comparatively and stay firm. This will result in a better negotiated offer and less time on the market. The longer on the market, the more open you are to a lowball offer.
Unfortunately, most sellers are emotionally attached to their home and the buyers that view your home are not. Buyers just want the best deal that fits their criteria in a new home. One quick way to get buyers to see themselves in your home is to declutter and remove most personal items from your home. It helps buyers to see past your stuff and see themselves living there. The more the buyer can get emotionally invested in your home, the more they will fall in love and offer you more. This is Sales 101 for any business... get the buyer emotionally attached to the product or service and they will buy more often than most and pay more for it. So, if you want to get more for your home, stage it so that any buyer can walk in and immediately see themselves living there and not seeing personal photos, old furniture, clutter and any items that makes a space feel small. While the inside visual impression is important, many buyers today are looking for "Move-In Ready"... not a "Fixer-Upper". Yes, a lot of buyers are watching HGTV... but not for the fix-up shows. They are watching to see trends in what to buy, what not to buy, and what will bring them the best value in their upcoming home purchase. One of the biggest things on buyer's minds these days is energy efficiency. With utility costs on the rise, make sure your home is as energy efficient as possible with still recouping the cost of any improvements you make.
Functionality pertains to the way the home feels and flows as a buyer walks through. It also pertains to the room mix. A bad room mix would be a 4 bedroom / 1 bath home. This setup can be another instant "cross off" their list just from seeing the MLS listing information. Generally in South Mississippi, if a bedroom doesn't have a closet... it's not considered a bedroom and the appraiser won't give you its value. Another functionality problem that commonly exist in older ranch styled homes is that they are more closed off and feel boxy. These homes usually have 8 foot ceilings too which makes the layout less open and less desirable. Most buyers these days are looking for open plans with split bedrooms which means that the master bedroom is on the opposite side of the house as the other bedrooms.
If you have a functionality problem with your house, sometimes your biggest competition is a new construction home. Builders know exactly what buyers today want and they are building their business future around it. Smart home features and energy efficiency are at the top of the list... not to mention everything is new and carries a new home warranty. Click on the great room pic above from Elliott Homes to see the open plan layout of the Allen Plan.
Yep! Even though exposure is listed at #5, it's a big reason why a house doesn't sell. The reason is that no one knows it's for sale. Yes, you have a for sale sign in the yard (FSBO or Realtor), but that's not enough. Putting it on Craigslist and taking out an ad in the local real estate magazine or paper isn't enough these days either. This is where having a listing agent pays off. Once your agent has all of the "correct" information about your property, they should be using syndication hub to provide the widest cast of exposure your house can get. This is a service that only a real estate agent can provide. Our brokerage, Smart Design Properties has over 100 participating publishers reaching homebuyers on more than 900 websites. You should receive a listing report on how your house is performing on these sites every two weeks as well. This way you can see sooner than later to make changes to your price or how your home is listed. One website that continues to be the #1 local real estate search solution is this one... GulfCoastPowerSearch.com. Click on the image to get a better view of some of our partners.
Before you do any improvements to your home, visit all of the homes in your area to see what your competition really is... not what you've heard. Be the buyer... step into their shoes! After all, if you sell your home you will be a buyer. While making improvements is great, only make the improvements that you can see a return on. Also, only make the improvements that will put you ahead of your market competition and not any more. When we see people over improve their home, its usually when they didn't ask an experienced agent about what they were going to do. They just did the improvements and assumed that their listing agent would be able to sell their home for more. As you can see above, there are 5 main reasons why your home will sell or not sell. While some of these reasons listed you can't change, like location, you can change some of the others. Before you make any of these changes, call us to get a CMA (Comparative Market Analysis) to get started. We can help you with all of these 5 areas and give you the most optimal chance at selling your house in the least amount of time and at the best price possible!
The Harrison County School District is adding a new elementary school located on Three Rivers Road in Gulfport, MS. It will be called River Oaks Elementary (K-6) and will be open in August, 2014. Over 75,000 square feet will welcome over 900 new students. Also new to this location are administrative offices, library, combo cafeteria/auditorium and a full size gym.
Some students from Woolmarket Elementary, Three Rivers Elementary, Bel-Aire Elementary, and possibly Crossroads Elementary, will be transferred to the new $12.4 million school. The district is in the process of adjusting those attendance zones and will notify parents before school lets out for the summer. Additionally, there is already talk of more new elementary and/or middle schools for the district as well according to Henry Arledge, Harrison County Schools Superintendent.
A few new construction home communities are welcoming the new elementary school including, Hunters Chase, Hatten Farm, Plantation Estates and Turtle Creek.
The cities of Biloxi and Gulfport have reached an agreement that will end several years of annexation litigation and will see Biloxi annexing the easternmost part of property that was in dispute.
Under the agreement, property owned by Pitcher Point Investments will become part of Biloxi, and Gulfport will end its appeal of its 2011 annexation case that a court had been dismissed.
“This Pitcher Point property was important to Biloxi because is it contiguous to another large development currently underway in the northern part of the city, a development that extends all the way to the current city limits,” said Biloxi Chief Administrative Officer David Nichols. “As a part of the agreement, Biloxi agreed to withdraw its attempt to annex the western part of the disputed area.”
And, perhaps most importantly, Nichols said, “the two cities have also agreed that neither will initiate another annexation proceeding for approximately the next three years and two months, which is the current term of office of each city’s elected officials. As a result of the agreement, only the property owners who wish to be annexed will be brought into the City of Biloxi.”
For those of you that are finding it very hard to find the Post Hurricane Katrina Flood Recovery Maps, click on the maps below for Hancock County, Harrison County and Jackson County. The correct name for these maps are "Hurricane Katrina Surge Inundation and Advisory Base Flood Elevation Maps".
FEMA has developed two sets of detailed maps to aid Harrison County property owners to repair or rebuild structures to the newly determined advisory coastal flood elevations. To locate a particular property, the first step is to determine which map panel applies to the area of interest. The paneling scheme (or index) for the Mississippi Gulf Coast counties is shown on the Overview Map (PDF 0.9MB). For example, parts of Bay St. Louis are shown on panels F11 and G11, the open coast of Biloxi spans many panels near I22 to I26, and much of Pascagoula appears on H36 and H37.
The City of Biloxi is planning to replace the Popps Ferry Bridge and also widen Popps Ferry Road sometime in the future. As the North Biloxi area continues to grow, this will happen. The current plan (not approved yet) is to buy homes located on either side of Popps Ferry Road in the narrow residential section west of the Margaret Sherry Library and continue south of the Popps Ferry Bridge to Pass Road. Please see the pics below to see which properties would be purchased under the current proposal. This is not a new concern... this was first introduced in 2004. The second concern for this same area is a new exit that would come from the south end of the current Woolmarket Interstate 10 exit and would connect into Popps Ferry Road through the Sunkist Subdivision and Sunkist Country Club and Golf Course. A community webpage has been created to update the public from a "watch dog" point of view. Click HERE to view. Visit the City of Biloxi municipal website for updates by clicking HERE.