Crawford Realty Group
- story by Ellis Anderson
Families have migrated between New Orleans and Bay St. Louis for generations — sometimes for work, sometimes for play, and sometimes for good: People often relocate to the coast full time to raise families or retire. The only thing that’s really changed in the last century is that travel between the two places is now easier and faster.
So like many Bay St. Louis residents, Stephen Crawford grew up with feet firmly planted in both the city and the coast. He formed the Crawford Realty Group as a way to “help families find that place in the world where they can create those genuine memories.”
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Holding real estate licenses from both Louisiana and Mississippi gives Crawford lots of options when assisting clients who are shopping for commercial, investment, or residential property. And since Crawford came to real estate with a degree and years of experience in both management and marketing, he’s got the knowledge to get maximum exposure for properties he lists for sale. Crawford even holds the trademark to advertise as a “waterfront specialist.” In fact, he will sometimes take prospective clients on his boat so they can look at properties from the water.
“There’s not a tributary or waterway in this entire area that I haven’t been on,” says Crawford. “Here on the coast, we all have salt in our veins.”
Much of the realtor’s knowledge of local waterways he learned as a boy. While Crawford went to school in New Orleans, his grandmother had a house in Pass Christian, so he spent every holiday boating, crabbing or fishing. His father also rented a cottage every summer in the Bay and an uncle built a home just past Cowand Point near the Dunbar Avenue Pier.
After graduating from Ole Miss with degrees in marketing and management, Crawford moved to the coast full time and began investing in the area. Eventually, he started studying real estate to better understand “what agents were doing on my behalf.”
When he obtained his license, he immersed himself in the business. “I knew if I wanted to be successful, I’d have to give it 110 percent, so I ate, slept and breathed real estate for years.”
While he believes that all real estate agents care about their clients, he says that his job is just beginning at the closing table.
“The reality is that my clients are coming to me to establish a relationship, so I can offer guidance throughout the time they own their investment. It’s a way to set myself apart.”
Crawford also believes in continuing education: “No one knows everything.” He’s currently signed up for a program at the Harvard Graduate School of Design and is part of an advance management development program in real estate. “I love learning,” he says. “I can’t help my clients unless I’m constantly trying to be better and that’s what I strive to do.”
Crawford has been married to Laura Gleason Crawford for eleven years, and the couple has two children they’re raising in the Bay. They’re both active in the community, with Stephen serving as one of the co-organizers of “Pirate Day in the Bay.” The event, produced by The Mystic Krewe of Seahorse earlier in 2015, engaged locals and attracted thousands of visitors. He’s vice president of the Seahorse Krewe, which was formed specifically to help promote economic development in the downtown Bay St. Louis area.
“Being involved with things like the Krewe of Seahorse is a fun way to build relationships and let everyone know they’re included,” he says. “It’s not an exclusive club. It’s just a wonderful vehicle for families to take part in unique events.”
With an eye to the future, Crawford sees the recent growth coming from a new source: young families wanting to live in the area full time. Crawford calls that new uptick “incredibly encouraging.” The time-tested historic model of families living between the city and the coast is also back in full swing.
While the realtor says that a community always wants positive economic development, he understands that the unique culture of Bay St. Louis, Waveland and the rest of the coast is what has “people pouring in.”
“In a time when everything is so vanilla, it’s not about getting a Starbucks on every corner, or a strip mall that looks like every other one in the country. The answer is in embracing what we have so that it keeps its charm and its culture.”
Calling Bay St. Louis “one of the most unique small towns in the country,” Crawford thinks that while change is inevitable, it can be “smart growth.”
“It’s like watching a young person growing up and entering adolescence. You hope that moral fiber has already been instilled. In the rejuvenation of Bay St. Louis, we hope we’ve done a good enough job and have given the community enough guidance to protect its core values. I believe we have done that here.”
Crawford says that while people are attracted to the Bay because of the water, the art and the small town charm and the easy-going, family-friendly social scene, he believes one asset rises above the rest.
“It’s the undercurrent of the goodness of the people in this community that makes this place wonderful. That is our biggest asset.”