Why is Government Affairs Important?
Did you know the apartment industry in Mississippi helps contribute $2.5 billion to our economy? Personal contact between the Mississippi Apartment Association members and legislators is the key to achieving positive change for the apartment industry. The Government Affairs Committee helps oversee coordination of issues through grassroots efforts and helps bring awareness to local leaders about the importance of apartments in Mississippi. MAA works closely with the National Apartment Association to monitor issues on a federal level, such as fair housing and tax reform. The federal, state and local policy issues impacting the apartment industry are numerous and wide-ranging, and affect how property owners and managers provide safe, affordable housing. Issues can arise at any time.
Mississippi Delegation, Elected & Local Officials
The 2019 MS Legislative session will convene on January 8, 2019.
Senator Thad Cochran
Senator Roger Wicker
2nd District- Representative Bennie Thompson
3rd District- Gregg Harper
4th District- Steve Palazzo
Local & State Update
City of Jackson Proposed Ordinance
In February, Councilmen Kenneth Stokes introduce an ordinance that would require thatany property with 25 units or more to hire armed security guards to be present 24/7.
The ordinance was introduced though a vote was tabled; it has been sent to the Planning Committee who is expected to have a hearing before it can be brought up for a vote by the full council.
We received a copy of the proposed ordinance today; it includes a provision of either camera based or guard based security for properties over 25 units.
The GAC is planning the next steps and will keep you informed about how you can assist in defeating this ordinance. We welcome others who would like more direct involvement in planning the action to come
2017 NAA Lobby Day Recap
MAA was thrilled to have Ellen Maxime & James Burwell represent us in Washington DC on March 8, 2017 at the NAA Capitol Conference!
Why Is Lobby Day So Important?
Ellen & James were able to meet with our state senators and representatives to discuss issues currently before Congress of importance to the apartment industry.
Current issues that could impactour industry are Tax Reform, the Americans with Disabilities Act Right to Cure, and the National Flood Insurance Program Reform and Reauthorization.
The NAA Capitol Conference is the industry’s largest advocacy event. It is dedicated to educating grassroots activists on key issues and mobilizing them to advocate with their members of Congress on Lobby Day. Participants represent a diverse cross-section of the apartment industry from across the U.S
Mississippi has been churning through a steady growth as other states have struggled to recover in recent years. In some places, jobs are evaporating, and workers are looking for new cities to call home. But the good news is still coming out of Mississippi, where a healthy economy continues to expand and diversify. Investors are taking a second look at this business-friendly state. For the multifamily housing sector, now is a great time to be in Mississippi.
Mississippi creates business-friendly environment
Investors should first look at the price of doing business in Mississippi. In the end, the numbers tell the story:
- Low cost of doing business. The Magnolia State had the second lowest cost of doing business, according to a study by CNBC. Factors in that ranking include data like taxes, utilities, wages and real estate.
- Low cost of living. Mississippi has the lowest cost of living in the country, according to the same study.
- Favorable tax rates. The corporate income tax is 5 percent, the 12th lowest in the country. Also, Mississippi ranked No. 6 on the list of tax-friendly states last year by Kiplinger.
- Low energy rates. Electricity in Mississippi costs less than in most states, according to the S. Energy Information Administration.
The state is known for shipbuilding, aerospace and timber, and growth is strong in manufacturing and technology. Mississippi is rich in resources, such as water, timber, oil and gas. Issues like earthquakes, drought and overpopulation are nonexistent.
“Mississippi is the complete package,” said Jeff Rent, public relations manager for the Mississippi Development Authority. “We have a very supportive governmental structure that is very pro-business. Not every state is like that.”
What does that look like? Less red tape and more efficient government processes means business owners are up and running in less time.
“When companies come here,” Rent said, “they know they’re not going to be taxed to death. That’s a very favorable, pro-business environment.”
That’s why positive development news is coming out of Mississippi all the time. Just this month, Continental Tire announced it will invest $1.5 billion in a new manufacturing plant, a project that will create 2,500 jobs.
Growth like that stirs demand in other sectors, such as multifamily housing.
“There is going to be an immediate need for available housing at multiple levels, whether it’s multifamily or single family,” Rent said.
Hattiesburg relies on diversified economy for long-term growth
Hattiesburg is the regional hub of a nine-county trade area, which includes a population of nearly 300,000. People are drawn in by all the city has to offer: fun nightlife, area attractions, a robust arts community, historical districts and top schools.
Retail sales are $2.5 billion, the second highest in the state, even though the area is the fourth largest metro, said Todd Jackson, business development director for the Area Development Partnership.
Hattiesburg was ranked No. 24 for restaurant growth by Restaurant Business Magazine, and it has been a Top 50 city for five years in a row.
“This vibrant college town is a place for booming retail and restaurant sales growth,” Jackson said.
It’s truly the diverse economy that keeps Hattiesburg growing, Jackson said. Besides retail and restaurants, the medical, education and military sectors are robust.
- Nearly 6,000 workers are employed by three major medical facilities in the Hattiesburg area. A whopping 100,000 patients come through those facilities each month.
- About 27,000 college students attend the four colleges and universities in Hattiesburg: the University of Southern Mississippi, William Carey College, Antonelli College and Pearl River Community College. Those institutions employ more than 2,000 people.
- Camp Shelby is the largest state-owned training facility in the country. More than 2,000 people work at the base, and 100,000 personnel are trained there each year.
The population of Hattiesburg is growing at a rate of 0.8 percent annually. That’s more than twice as fast as the Mississippi statewide rate of 0.39 percent, and it’s also faster than the national rate of 0.68 percent, according to the census.
The combination of a solid economy and steady growth create a strong demand for multifamily housing, whether it’s military families in transition or college students going to school.
“It has to do with the diverse economy and the fact that this area was able to weather that storm better,” Jackson said.
This region’s ability to weather economic lulls has resulted in more investors from outside our market turning to south Mississippi. A healthy, thriving economy, has multifamily investments becoming a place of stability for investor yields. Southgate Realty has been a leader in Mississippi multifamily investment real estate for more than 35 years. We combine the local knowledge investors need with the industry-leading CCIM and IREM standards they expect
Those looking to rent a residence through Southgate Realty, LLC may wonder about the steps and purpose of the applicant screening process. It’s a comprehensive system that pays off in the long run for both residents and the property owners.
Southgate background screening looks at credit & criminal history
Southgate Realty puts each application through a series of screenings to ensure potential residents meet specific standards. Some multifamily property managers offer a “background check” or “credit check” for potential residents, but the Southgate screening process is much more in-depth. The entire screening process takes only a few moments once all documentation has been received.
We review three key areas in our screenings:
- Credit review. Southgate professionals are looking for the absence of a poor credit score, whether that is a high rating or a lack of credit. Financial requirements are tailored for individual properties. In addition to protecting the property owner, this process also safeguards residents. Rent that is financially burdensome could trigger additional financial problems for a struggling apartment resident. An applicant’s monthly income must be three times as much as the rent for the unit that applicant wants. Setting a minimum monthly income that’s three times as much as rent is a best practice, though not all property managers do so.
- Sex offender database. Applicants’ information is checked against a national sex offender registry. Anyone listed in that database is not approved.
- Criminal search. Some criminal convictions will result in automatic application rejection. Those convictions include drug distribution, violent crimes and sexual crimes not otherwise listed in the national sex offender registry.
Residents benefit from background screening process
No screening process can guarantee the safety of any single resident, but it can cultivate a positive, stable environment for residents.
Residents who can afford their home are less likely to leave or be evicted. Cutting mobility gives neighbors consistency, and long-term residents get to know one another.
Overall, the process tends to attract more responsible residents who care for themselves and others, so residents can live in a community with like-minded individuals who follow the rules.
Screening adds value for property owners
Also, checking applicants’ credit and criminal histories can benefit property owners financially.
For credit screenings, property owners want to know residents have the ability to afford their apartment home. Fewer moves means less wear and tear on shared property assets, such as stairways, elevators and parking lots. Turnover can cut into profits for multifamily housing investments. Not only do owners lose rent during the time when apartments are unleased, but they also pay to restore apartments to marketable conditions.
Too much movement can also drain curb appeal. Potential residents don’t want to see moving vans sitting in a community parking lot every week. Overflowing trash containers or eviction notices send negative signals as well. And residents who leave their rental properties under less-than-desirable conditions may give poor reviews of a property — both online and by word-of-mouth — even if the responsibility lies with those residents.
For criminal background screenings, reducing crime is not only good for residents, but can potentially cut insurance costs for owners. When done properly, warding off criminal activity can result in fewer police calls. Insurance carriers review the number of times police are called to an apartment community when analyzing risk and calculating insurance rates for multifamily housing owners.
Apartment screening benefits communities
The Southgate Realty screening process is designed to benefit both residents and property owners. For potential residents, it protects against leasing an apartment that could be unaffordable. For current residents, it helps provide a stable environment where long-term residents can build a sense of community. For property owners, less mobility means more consistent profitability. The screening process is quick but thorough, and it’s one that results in a better experience for everyone.