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Markets seeing pick up in residential real estate activity

Although Mississippi has not had the extreme problems of residential real estate experienced by the rest of the country, home sales have not been jumping off the charts in most areas. Real estate professionals now see a thawing of the somewhat frozen sales with some state markets better than others. The general consensus is that the Jackson metro area, DeSoto County, Oxford, Hattiesburg and the Coast are among the state’s hottest residential markets.

Mississippi Association of Realtors (MAR) president Angela Cain says the association’s 21 local boards around the state track sales in their individual markets and MAR does not.

Local, local, local

“To generalize from a state perspective would be tough since we know all real estate is local,” she said. “But anecdotally, I’ll tell you that all of a sudden Realtors across the state are telling me business is definitely picking up. Buy-shy consumers are starting to realize that the negative media reports about real estate don’t necessarily apply to the real estate markets across Mississippi.”

She adds that it really is a great time to buy with more inventory on the market in some areas and money available for individuals with good credit. “I think buyers are starting to understand that real estate is, was and always will be a great long-term investment, not a place to make a quick buck,” she said.

DeSoto County professional Brenda McRae with 1st Choice Realty agrees it’s a good time to buy and also to sell. “People are getting market value. There’s not that much of a reduction,” she said, “but everything is different.”

However, she says home appraisals are lower so sellers have to set prices lower. Most bargains in her area are homes in bank foreclosures.

“There are more foreclosures than we’ve ever had, mostly smaller builders, but we are reducing inventory,” McRae said. “The first quarter of the year was slower than usual but larger homes are selling again, and we’re seeing an increase in sales in the $250,000 to $350,000 range. That’s the majority of sales with most from $275,000 to $300,000.”

In the business for 25 years, McRae says she turned to more Internet marketing as sales slowed and will continue to keep up with the times by being more technology savvy. She sees Olive Branch and Hernando as the fastest-growing markets in DeSoto County with relocations from Memphis still happening.

“Developments that have been sitting still are now beginning to move, but not as many as we had two years ago when a new one started every month,” she said.

Lifestyle amenities

Dee Denton of Denton Adkins Realty in Madison says Madison County is still a hot market in the metro Jackson area. Specifically, Reunion has remained a very desirable neighborhood there.

“These communities offer a competitive amenity package for home buyers of all stages in their lives. With playgrounds, tennis courts, pools, golf and equestrian centers it offers a well-rounded community atmosphere,” she said.

The area’s market on the lower end is good too with housing available under $200,000 in neighborhoods Denton considers hot.

Incentives for buying

“First-time home buyers, or any buyer for that matter, have some advantages for now that haven’t been available before,” she said. “Our FHA loan limits have been raised to $272,050, which means that buyers in this price range or below can get in a house with fewer down payments than other conventional loans. Some sellers are offering to pay closing costs for buyers, which aids in the ‘cash out of pocket’ for first time home buyers as well.”

Denton, who’s been involved with real estate on several levels, says the Jackson metro area doesn’t experience the extreme highs and lows reported in other markets, translating to the area having a more stable market than those noted in the national news.

Contact MBJ contributing writer Lynn Lofton at llofton656@aol.com.

About Lynn Lofton

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