HOUSING & REAL ESTATE
PLANNING YOUR MOVE
Relocating to a new home can be one of the most stressful situations in life. Whether moving across town or across the nation, preparation and organization can make all the difference. First, decide to use a professional moving company or make it a do-it-yourself (DIY) move.
For a DIY move, consider distance, labor help and the costs to rent the moving van, gas, lodging during the move and insurance. A transportable storage unit can bridge a professional and DIY move. When the unit is delivered to your residence, you load and secure it for transport and then unload it at your new residence.
Whatever the method, be sure to obtain as many quotes from professional movers as possible as well as cost estimates for a DIY move. Next, compare the costs involved for each type of move, weighing the stress and physical exertion involved.
Buying versus Renting
The decision to buy or rent is the most important step in your relocation process. Purchasing a home entails a long-term emotional and financial commitment with various pluses and minuses attached. The advantages include the possibility of building equity and the freedom to design and decorate your property or landscape. And don’t forget the tax benefits.
Disadvantages involve upkeep, property taxes and fluctuating property value.
Renting, on the other hand, makes moving easier and someone else maintains the property. Amenities, such as laundry rooms, exercise rooms, swimming pools and tennis courts, vary from one rental complex to another. The main disadvantage is loss of control over the residence. Some complexes, for example, restrict or prohibit pets and personal touches such as painting. And the landlord or property managers can also raise the rent with proper notice.
Before determining your best option, account for all of your needs, review your financial situation and research your options thoroughly.
Buying a Home
From dreamy waterfront homes to historic Southern mansions, Harrison County boasts a wide variety of housing choices. Visit the Gulf Coast Association of REALTORS Inc. at www.gulfcoastassociationofrealtors.com for more information. The website will connect you with the Mississippi Gulf Coast Multiple Listing Service which allows you to search up-to-date information for residential, condo/town home, multi-family and lots/acreage listings.
The median selected monthly owner costs for housing units with a mortgage in the county is $1,228 and the median gross rent paid is $844, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2006-2010 American Community Survey. Commute time to work is about 22 minutes on average throughout Harrison County.
Buying a home is a complex process and, as the recent housing crisis demonstrated, requires a thorough education on the part of the buyer. First, fully understand your financial position — credit score, available savings, monthly income and expenditures. Subtracting your expenditures from your income, for instance, will yield the amount you can afford for housing.
Be sure to account for all insurance costs associated with owning a home, possible home owner association fees and property taxes in your monthly expenditures. According to www.ginniemae.gov , loan program rules vary on the percentage of your income used for housing-related expenses. Most conventional loans allow 28 percent, with FHA at 29 percent and VA at 41 percent. Above all, avoid any advice about “affordable mortgages” from a real estate agent or a mortgage lender, rely instead on your own budgetary review to determine monthly housing expenses.
Next, research the different types of home loans to determine the right fit for your financial situation. The two main types of mortgages are fixed-rate and adjustable-rate (ARM). A fixed-rate loan offers one interest rate for the life of the loan, which means the same monthly payment. The adjustable-rate loan generally starts with a fixed rate but after the introductory period the rate will adjust periodically based on fluctuations in the interest rate. The fixed-rate loan offers stability to long-term homeowners. The ARM saves money in the short run as the initial interest rate is typically lower than a fixed-rate mortgage. Once the initial period ends, the ARM rate will rise and fall at predetermined intervals stated in the terms of the loan, sometimes above the rate for a fixed-rate mortgage. This mortgage favors short-term homeowners.
For a thorough explanation of these and variations of these mortgages, be sure to discuss your options with a lending professional. A preapproved loan before starting your search for a home can determine your spending limits and signal any potential issues in the way of receiving a loan.
Knowing your monthly budget and the amount of your loan are invaluable during the next phase, especially finding the answers to questions before the hunt for a home begins. First, determine your home preferences. Do single-family houses, condos, town homes and duplexes fit your needs and budget? Do you prefer a new home, an existing home or to build one? Though new homes generally cost more, existing homes may come with maintenance issues and renovation costs. What is the number of bedrooms and bathrooms you’d like? Do you want an attached garage? Will you live in the city, a suburb or in the country? How close to work, school, shopping or public transportation do you want to be? Answers to the majority of these questions will greatly assist your search and the next stage — hiring a real estate agent.
The ideal agent will help find your ideal home and guide you through the purchase process. First, interview potential candidates to ensure they understand your needs, know your home-buying preferences and neighborhoods and are readily accessible. You can find many local real estate agents in the yellow pages of this guide.
Once you have found the right home, have it inspected and have your offer accepted, initiate a purchase contract. This document should detail the final terms for the purchase of your home, including a description of the property, the price, the closing date and an estimate of closing costs. The contract also includes the standard clauses that specify the broker’s commission, inspection results and payment agreements for unforeseen damage and details of the closing documents.
Closing day ends your home-buying experience. Once you’ve signed all the documents, paid the closing and secured the keys, you now own a home. The escrow company, attorney or title company will record the sale with
Renting a Home
Much like purchasing a home, finding suitable rental housing begins with knowing your finances and monthly budget. And like purchasing a home, be sure to answer the many questions before your quest begins. What type of rental best fits your needs: single-family home, condo, town home or apartment? Do you want a roommate? How many bedrooms and bathrooms will you need? What about a garage? Do you prefer to live in the city, a suburb or in the country? Would you rather be close to work, school, shopping or public transportation? Are there specific must-have amenities like an exercise room, swimming pool or tennis courts? Knowing the answers beforehand will narrow the next stage — the actual search.
For starters, check this guide’s yellow pages or the Internet. Most online sites, such as www.rent.com and www.apartmentguide.com , feature detailed information, photos of the properties and search engines based on price, location and number of bedrooms. Many sites also offer rent specials and availability of units.
To find a house, condo or town home, property management companies and real estate offices will be more than glad to help. Or simply drive around the preferred neighborhoods and maybe snag an unadvertised rental. A network of local friends and relatives can also help.
Before deciding, you should learn as much as you can about your potential new home. Here are a few details to consider:
Understand the total financial commitment. What are the costs of deposits and applications fees? Are utilities included in the rent? How much is a typical monthly summer and winter utility bill? Will the rent increase when the lease expires? Is a pet deposit required? Also, determine the cost of renter’s insurance and impacts to your automobile insurance, which are often based on location.
Interview the management staff or property management company. If in a complex, are they located on site? How quickly do they respond to issues? What kind of issues are they working on?
Talk to nearby tenants or potential neighbors, if interested in an apartment or condo complex. What do they like best and least about living there? What is the parking situation? How are the noise levels both inside and outside?
Visit the neighborhood during the times that you would usually be home. How is the traffic around the area? Note the parking and noise conditions.
Ask for references to check a property management company’s past performance. Was the staff responsive when called?
Were there any issues in returning a security deposit in a timely manner?
Check with the local Sheriff’s office to review the crime rate in the neighborhood.
Review any association rules to be sure you can live within their guidelines.
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Read the lease carefully before signing. Do a thorough walkthrough of the residence and note issues with the property on the lease or a separate document. Be sure to have a member of the property management staff sign and date the document to ensure you don’t have to pay for damages you were not responsible for.
Make sure the lease specifies the length of the term with a start and end date, the monthly rent and when it is due, deposits and amounts paid. The lease should also detail the amount of notice required before moving out, the condition of the rental after moving out and the amount of time to expect the return of deposits.
CITIES OF HARRISON COUNTY
This beachfront city — the oldest on the Gulf Coast — is located on the Mississippi Sound and is home to Keesler Air Force Base. Biloxi was founded in 1699 by French explorers and named for the Native Americans for first lived there. After undergoing French, British and Spanish rule the city joined the Mississippi Territory in 1811. Its location on the Gulf of Mexico has been the foundation for Biloxi’s economy from seafood canneries to fine waterfront hotels and casinos spurring rapid growth for the city.
Biloxi’s Department of Parks and Recreation operates and maintains 51 facilities including parks, playgrounds, recreation centers, athletic fields, walking tracks, tennis and basketball courts, the Biloxi Community Center, the Biloxi Natatorium and the Donal Snyder Center for the enjoyment of citizens.
By Census Bureau 2011 estimates, 44,940 people resided in the city; 80.4 percent of the 21,278 housing units were occupied in 2010.
D’Iberville — the youngest city on the Mississippi Gulf Coast — incorporated as a municipality in 1988. It is located on the north shore of the Back Bay of Biloxi.
In 1699 Pierre LeMoyne D’Iberville explored the area to attempt to secure French footholds throughout the lower Mississippi Valley, but it was the Spanish who influenced the city’s early development.
The city is a bedroom community for workers in Biloxi, Pascagoula and New Orleans. Retail development has exploded to keep up with D’Iberville’s growth.
By Census Bureau 2011 estimates, 9,690 people resided in the city; 4,298 housing units were 88.6 percent occupied in 2010.
Mississippi’s second-largest city was founded in 1887 by Captains W.H. Hardy and Joseph T. Jones who saw potential for a great seaport with Gulfport’s natural harbor and temperate climate. While the city did grow to indeed become a strategic hub for transportation and business for the Mississippi Gulf Coast as well as the state, it also offers residents plenty of recreational amenities.
Gulfport residents enjoy 20 community and recreation centers as well as 34 parks and water recreation areas operated by the city’s Leisure Services Department.
By Census Bureau 2011 estimates, 69,220 people resided in the city; 31,602 housing units were occupied at 83.2 percent in 2010.
Located between Pass Christian and Gulfport the small city of Long Beach welcomes newcomers and tourists as the “Friendly City.”
The city — named for its wide, sloping beach — was originally settled in 1788. Today it is a popular residential community that enjoys strong neighborhoods and an impressive school system. Long Beach is attractive not only to those who work in nearby Gulfport and Biloxi but also to senior citizens who have made it a retirement destination as well.
By Census Bureau 2011 estimates, 15,110 people resided in the city with 6,695 housing units 85.7 percent occupied.
This resort community offers residents a quiet escape from city life. Pass Christian — named for a deepwater pass in the Mississippi Sound — was discovered shortly after the first French colony was established in Biloxi by French-Canadian explorers in 1699.
Today Pass Christian — known as the birth place of yachting in the South — boasts a harbor with large offshore oyster reefs, art galleries, boutiques and a state-of-the-art school.
By Census Bureau 2011 estimates, 4,631 people resided in the city; 2,494 housing units were occupied at 74.7 percent in 2010.
Coast Electric Power Assoc 228-388-3109
Mississippi Power 800-532-1502
CenterPoint Energy Entex 228-896-7500
City of Biloxi Water Dept 228-435-6240
D’Iberville Water & Sewer 228-392-2310
City of Gulfport Water Dept 228-868-5720
Long Beach Water Dept 228-864-8531
Pass Christian Water Dept 228-452-3312
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