Hattiesburg — He says he had a choice about becoming a Realtor.
Still, for Kris Williams there was a powerful family tradition drawing him to real estate in this South Mississippi city. His father, Kim Williams, is a Realtor along with his uncle. His late grandfather, Bodie Beard, was a Realtor for many years and had a working office until eight years ago.
“My dad always told me I had a choice, but I chose real estate and I absolutely love it,” Williams said. “It’s something I’ve been around all my life.”
He entered the field in 1992 and says it was a lucky time as many of his friends were returning to the area from college and were in the market for houses. “Every three or four years they’re buying new houses,” he said. “Most of our business is on referrals and we get a lot of repeat business.”
One on one
Kris Williams, 36, has the GRI (Graduate Real Estate Institute) designation and takes 16 hours of continuing education classes each year. There’s a lot of marketing, financing and appraising to keep up with in the constantly changing real estate world. He’s associated with his dad, a commercial Realtor, in Kim Williams Realty. Kris works with Tom Chambliss in the residential office located in University Mall.
“My style is personal; one on one,” he said. “Tom and I don’t pass off clients. We walk everyone through and get them set up. That’s what we enjoy the most and we can see that it comes back to us in repeat business.”
This residential Realtor says his own taste runs toward a personal look, not clinical. “I love houses that you can tell a family lives there when you walk through the door. It’s not a clean, slick South Florida look,” he says. “I tell people not to take down personal pictures when they’re getting ready to sell a house. It should be clean but look lived in.”
Other advice for clients selling homes is to get rid of clutter. “If you don’t put your hands on it for two weeks, put it away,” he suggests. “I encourage them to keep it as clean as possible but still live in it. In Hattiesburg the sterile look is not popular. I don’t suggest paint and new carpet unless it’s bad. New buyers want to do it themselves. I don’t suggest an enormous amount of remodeling but every house is different. We treat every house like it’s the only one we have.”
After a sale, Williams and Chambliss do follow up with their clients by sending out some type of letter, such as a reminder to file for homestead exemption, once a month for years.
“We don’t want them to forget us, and we want them to know we’re still here for them.” Williams said. “We also have other marketing tools like pens with our name on them. We’ve sent out thousands of those. We have people walk in all the time that we sent something.”
There are amusing experiences in selling homes. “Walking in people’s homes you can see most everything. Some I couldn’t say for publication,” Williams said. “I have shown houses with someone asleep in bed or on a couch. I just tiptoe around them.”
For this Realtor the most rewarding aspect of his work is guiding homebuyers through the process. “I can sit down with a young couple who don’t have a clue what to do and see them get a home they absolutely love,” he said. “That makes all the bad things good again. I like to see those who think they can’t get a home get one. Your heart has to be in it.”
On the other side of the coin, he doesn’t like not finding the home a client wants. “It’s very frustrating. We’ve had that a lot with Katrina evacuees here,” he said. “Many people are sharing houses while looking for something to buy. We have 35 to 40 people on a list and we want to help them.”
Williams says houses can’t be built fast enough in the Hattiesburg area, something he believes will exist for a long time and will affect all the careers associated with real estate. In addition to Hattiesburg, the market includes Petal, Oak Grove, the Seminary-Collins area and the Purvis-Lumberton area. The rapidly expanding area keeps Williams running and means a lot of driving to cover all the bases.
“I see the Hattiesburg growth just exploding and moving in every direction,” he said. “I also hear a lot from my dad about commercial growth and big companies locating here. I see more of a challenge to find places for people to live.”
Ten years ago, Kris Williams knew everyone in town. That is changing with the area’s phenomenal growth. “This is still home. My roots are here and I have a lot of family here,” he says. “I run in to people all the time that my dad and grandfather did business with.”
Asked what he likes to do to relax, he jokingly answered, “I like to bury my cell phone three feet in the dirt.”
Then countered with, “It’s hard to plan anything in this business but Tom and I cover for each other. We’re dedicated to our clients and one of us is always on call. I like to go to the beach and travel; just get away for peace and quiet.”
Contact MBJ contributing Lynn Lofton at firstname.lastname@example.org.