Countertops: What’s In and What’s Out in Oxford MS

 

Counter tops can really define your kitchen.

The surface can make an elegant statement. It can be simple. It can be warm. It can be casual.

The surfaces to choose from include wood, stone, concrete, laminate and much more. Many kitchen designers even mix counter surface types within one room.

Wood Surfaces

Wood surfaces are not your regular butcher block from the 1980s. I had a eucalyptus counter in a house I rented several years ago. It was lovely and warm. The wood needed annual upkeep with a specific oil treatment but it was one of my favorite counter tops. Just be sure not to use that space as a cutting board.

Many local homes I’ve viewed had a single counter space in wood and the rest in another surface type. Other wood choices include bamboo, walnut, cherry, mesquite.

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Stone Surfaces

Stone surfaces vary widely and include popular choices like granite, quartz, soapstone, travertine, Jerusalem stone and slate.  Most require particular cleaners as some may damage easily from improper care.  Stone surfaces also come in a variety of color choices to add personality to your kitchen.  The downside to stone is that the busier the design of the stone the easier crumbs and dirt can hide on the surface. However, solid surface colors can only accent the fact you need to clean it.  My favorite counters were black quartz in another house I lived in.  I loved the look when they were clean but I was constantly wiping them down (there were children in the house which accounted for the dirt and crumbs).

New Trends

New trends in counter tops are concrete, copper-wrapped and recycled-glass counters. Copper-wrapping seems to be popular on counters that are separate from the main countertop in the kitchen but not necessarily on the island. Recycled-glass counters are higher-end because of the process to make them. A mix of colorful glass chips from various broken glass items are blended with concrete and sealed for a smooth finish. Terazzo is making a comeback in both flooring and countertops for homeowners making that mid-century modern statement.

Other trends include eco-friendly counters like composite countertops. These can be made of recycled paper or fly ash and are sealed to resist bacteria. They are heat resistant, too. Engineered stone, stainless steel, solid surface and “upscale” laminate are also popular choices.

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Tile Counters

Tile counters are still popular although most people I had shown houses to do not like them. Tile can be a less expensive way to have an expensive looking counter. And while it is pretty, there is the grout to consider when cleaning. Scrubbing stains out of an unsealed grout can be tedious, so be sure to seal it. Grout can also crack, leaving the homeowner to maintain it more often than they would need to with solid surfaces. With these factors in mind solid stone is an unoffical winner of my countertop experience.

But you decide. When choosing your counters go to a store that specializes in stone for their expertise, and visit some other kitchen design centers for their expertise. Be sure to investigate wood as well.

Although I suggested mixing surfaces in your kitchen, do consider matching your other counters throughout the house to the dominant kitchen counter surface. These would include bathrooms and laundry.  If you ever have to sell your house, this is a design issue that comes up often with buyers. Buyers like to see continuity of design and most of my buyers, who have passed on a house, stated that it was because of the expense to match counters.

And my last piece of advice is this: a desk built into the kitchen is a great space to have but consider not using stone on the desk surface; it gets cold. I speak from experience on this matter.

For more info on picking your countertops read this great article on countertops and your personality.

All photos courtesy of Creative Commons.
Eileen Saunders, SRES REALTOR with Tommy Morgan Realtors  2092 Old Taylor Road, Oxford, MS 38655  eileen@tmhomes.com  662-404-0816 or 662-234-5344 Equal Housing

 

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Rent vs Own

you pay for housing whether you buy or rent

Renters often are able to purchase a home but do not for several reasons.

Many feel that they can’t afford to purchase a home.

But, as a renter, what are you doing each month?  You pay for your housing. And who benefits?  Well, you do have a roof over your head, but the homeowner is really benefiting.  The homeowner is building wealth.

A smart homeowner would charge at least their monthly mortgage for the renter to pay.  So, renter, you’re paying someone’s mortgage, at least. Why not pay your own?

With each rent payment, the homeowner’s mortgage balance goes down and soon he will own the house out-right. He can sell it and make money. If he was a wise investor, he will sell his house for more than he paid for it.  But regardless, the homeowner didn’t make a mortgage payment with his own money because he had renters pay it and when he sells the house, he will make all of the money back (unless he still has a balance that he needs to pay the bank, but he’ll get the rest.)  When you, renter, move out, you’ll be lucky to get your deposit back and so you’ll basically have nothing for all of the money you paid for housing.

If  you own your house, you are paying your monthly payment and paying down your mortgage balance. When you sell your house for the same or more than what you purchased it for, you pay the bank what you owe them and you get the rest.  You’ve been paying into it, you should get something out of it.

Many don’t have enough for a down payment.

There are many mortgage programs that your mortgage banker can tell you about and she can figure out which works best for you.  Some can get you into a house with 3% down. Others can get you into a house for even less. Of course, consider you might be paying an extra percentage in interest or paying a PMI cost. PMI is Private Mortgage Insurance and you can learn about it here.

There are many apps you can use to check your credit score. There are others that tell you what your estimated payments would be for a particular property or price.

Talk to your banker about receiving gift money from a relative for  your down payment.

Mississippi and a few other states offer a First-time Home Buyer’s Savings Account. Check with your bank to get your account started and set a goal.

Many would rather have someone make repairs or pay to replace faulty appliances for them.

I hear this a lot. An old apartment or an old house will most likely have old appliances which will go out.  Who knows how the previous renter took care of the appliances also. So many renters often call their landlords for repairs.

If you purchase a new home, you have new appliances. Your home has warranties including a 1-year builder warranty in Mississippi.

Should you purchase a pre-owned home, you’ll see on the seller’s disclosure the age and condition of appliances.  If they are all old or approaching that magic year things start breaking down, you can negotiate a seller-paid home warranty for the first year you own the home.  Most service calls are under $100 for repair or replacement. If you cannot negotiate it into the purchase, warranties run around $500 per year so you can set that aside to purchase yourself.  I have one and it has paid for itself many times.

Many do not think their credit score is good enough.

You never know what you can afford or what you can qualify for until you investigate. Go see your banker or check in with a local mortgage company.  A “ding” to your credit report for mortgage purposes is not the same as a “ding” to your credit report for a new credit card or car loan. Find out now so you can plan. Or, find out now, so you can be pleasantly surprised and can start shopping for a new home.

Do Not, I repeat, Do Not make any large purchases until after you close on your new house.  An washer, a new car, a sofa charged on a credit card will change your debt-income ratio and may cause you to lose the house if you don’t still qualify for that mortgage on closing day.

The whole process of purchasing a house and all of those steps to take along the way are scary.

It is a lot of fun looking online at houses for sale in your town.  It would be a lot more fun to actually look at them in person, on a mission to purchase one. That’s why you need to get a real estate agent to help you from the start.  Once you find out your financial status, start interviewing real estate agents. Don’t settle for the first one you talk to. You are hiring someone to help you make one of the most important, emotional and stressful purchases of your life. Make sure you feel comfortable with the agent you have helping you.  The agent with a ton of sales, and therefore experience, under their belt may not have the personality you need to work with. Find one with a lot of training. Find one you can trust.

So, you pay for housing whether you buy or rent. Which would you rather do?

Eileen Saunders, SRES REALTOR with Tommy Morgan Realtors  2092 Old Taylor Road, Oxford, MS 38655  eileen@tmhomes.com  662-404-0816 or 662-234-5344 Equal Housing

100 Things To Do in Oxford MS

Oxford can sometimes have amazing weather in January. Average temps are usually in the 50s. So what do you do when the weather is great? Get outside and enjoy Oxford. Explore. Hike. Walk around the Square. Go to the park. Walk to the museums. Did you know there are 100 things to do in Oxford MS?

There are really over 100 fun and interesting things to do in Oxford but when I compiled a list of things to do for my family, I had to stop my list at some point. This is a list I want to share with you and I publish it 3 times a year: Winter/Spring list, Summer edition and Fall/Christmas.

The Winter/Spring 2018 edition of 100 Things To Do In Oxford MS is available. Download a copy of it here, today or pick up a copy from the Visitor’s Center on Jackson Avenue at the Square.

Here’s just a sampling of some things to do and what events you can participate in this month:

January Events

  • Pop Up Oxford January 22-23
  • Oxford Fiber Festival January 26-28

February  Events

  • Oxford Film Festival February 7-11

GET OUTSIDE

  • Bike or hike the Whirlpool Trails/Thacker Mountain Rail Trail
  • Picnic on the Grove or Rowan Oak
  • Go Geocaching
  • Play golf or frisbee golf
  • Hike the Bailey Woods Trail
  • Enjoy the Parks: Lamar, Avent, Stone and the skating park on Bramlett Blvd.
  • Take a walking tour of Oxford, a tree tour or get a list of haunted landmarks and visit them.

RAINY DAY FUN:

  • UM Museum, Burns Belfry, Cedar Oaks and others
  • Hang with friends at a coffee or yogurt shop
  • Go bowling
  • Catch a movie

MORE FUN:

Click here to download list

Eileen Saunders, SRES REALTOR with Tommy Morgan Realtors, 2092 Old Taylor Road, Oxford, MS 38655  eileen@tmhomes.com  662-404-0816 or 662-234-5344 Equal Housing

Home Safety: Garbage

Merry Christmas. It’s that wonderful time of year for families and friends to gather and celebrate the Christian holiday commemorating the birth of Christ.

BOXES:  It’s also that time of year for major purchases and some of those purchases contribute to the trash pile at your curbside.  Televisions, video game consoles, tool sets, furniture, ping pong tables, large toy sets for the kiddos all come in big boxes that end up in the trash for pick up the week after Christmas.  Did you ever stop to think about what other people see when they pass by your house on trash day?

Keep your home secure with these simple tips.

  1. break down any large box with descriptive pictures on them. Better yet, cut the boxes, turn them inside-out and  stack them together. Tie them tight with a string.
  2. rather than leave the boxes at your curbside to attract attention, take them directly to the recycling center.

WRAPPING PAPER:  You spent time shopping this Christmas season for eco-friendly, recycled wrapping paper.  Would it make sense to through it away in a plastic garbage bag? Not really. Here are some tips for eco-friendly disposal:

  1. recycle your paper. Simply fold it and place it into the recycling bin.
  2. if you don’t have recycling where you live, you’ll have to put the used paper in the trash.
  3. re-use your paper. Salvage what you can, fold it and store away for next year.
  4. use it for crafting paper, decoupage or decorative art cards. Donate it to an art classroom; some teachers would love quality, decorative paper scraps for their students.

Remember to keep your home and family safe during the holidays with these simple garbage tricks.

Merry Christmas!

Getting Your Condo Ready to Sell… While Your Student Still Lives There

College-town residents come from a variety of backgrounds and parts of the world. While these unique towns are home to full-time, year-round residents, college towns also host part-time residents who own second homes for retirement vacations or to have a place to stay for college, conference or other cultural events. There are, of course, the short-term residents as well. These are the college students whose parents bought a condo for them to live in during their studies at the college or university. The condo purchase serves many functions: student housing, a place for parents, family and friends to stay when they visit and provides an investment. An extra bedroom can be rented to another student for income. Mortgaged condos provide tax benefits and the condo or house can possibly earn equity income when market values rise.

Most condos are bought and sold on an average of a 4-year cycle. Families that choose to keep a home in the college town after their student graduates may move up to a bigger or newer property, although some choose to stay with the property they’ve owned for years.living-room-2155376_1920

Each spring offers a market demand for condo sales in a college town. Buyers of this type of property generally do not need to move in right away, like a single-family house would. This allows condo sellers to put their property on the market early with a closing date after the graduation date.  The student can stay in the house through that time and the family has a place to stay during graduation weekend to save on hotel costs.

So, when is the best time to put the condo on the market?  Buyers start looking after the first of the year for their student’s fall-semester housing needs. The season can pick up in February.  Benefits of early listings include getting sold quicker and alleviating your student from having to deal with showings during exam week.  Later listings may get a higher price due to perceived lack of inventory, but showings may hassle the student during exam time.  Waiting until after graduation means the house is cleaned out and showings do not necessarily need appointments. However, buyers might not be as plentiful at the end of this selling season.  Any way you look at it, when to sell completely up to you, the seller.

Here’s how to get your condo ready to sell.

  1. Professionally clean carpets. If they are very nasty and stained, replace them.
  2. Pack up and send home the extra stuff to eliminate clutter. You want to show how big the closets are, not how much stuff you can force into them. Remove kitchen counter appliances that aren’t used and décor that collects dust. Minimal is best for staging.
  3. Whether your condo is a stand-alone, a townhouse or multi-unit building, meet with your condo association to look at any exterior surfaces that condo fees cover and are in need of repair: these could be soffits, railings, paint on doors, missing screens, non-functioning lamps, broken roof shingles, fences surrounding your patio, etc. You’ve been paying condo fees so these items should be cared for. A buyer wants to know they are purchasing into an association that utilizes its fees to properly care for its properties.
  4. Have the HVAC unit serviced and change the filters. In my experience, this is usually an item an inspector finds issues with so unless you have an annual service contract, make sure the system is working properly.
  5. Look to see if the walls look fresh. If not, paint them or at least the one that looks bad. If you need to paint the entire interior, use a popular, neutral color.
  6. Check for leaks in any faucet and have these fixed.
  7. Professionally clean the interior and the windows
  8. Declutter patios and porches. Remove any broken chairs and tables. If you have use of a garden hose, roll it up out of the way.
  9. Find out if your association allows REALTOR signs. Some do not.
  10. Find a great real estate agent and put the house on the market

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Reasons you should not sell your student condo by yourself.

  1. The student is inconvenienced to make time to be at the house to show it each time.
  2. It limits the available time for potential buyers to view it. If they cannot get in when they want, they might move on to a property they can see on their time. Most condo buyers are parents who are in town for a short time to view what is on the market with their real estate agent.
  3. FSBO properties are not represented by a real estate agent so legally in Mississippi, an agent needs a signed One-Time-Showing Agreement in order to enter the condo with one client. A FSBO owner would have to sign a new one for each agent that wants to show it and for each new client. Arrangements must be made to pick up a key.
  4. There may be several showings in one day. Your student should be spending the day in class or at the library rather than showing the house.
  5. It may also put your student in danger since an unrepresented buyer will know your student lives alone.
  6. Your student would have to let inspectors and contractors into the condo.

The most your student should worry about is keeping the condo clean until it is sold.  By hiring a real estate agent your student should be a student and work toward graduation day.

For more tips and to learn my point of difference, contact me for an appointment.

Eileen Saunders, SRES REALTOR with Tommy Morgan Realtors 2092 Old Taylor Road, Oxford, MS 38655  662-404-0816 | 662-234-5344 | eileen@tmhomes.com |   equal housing

Scavenger Hunt Idea Through Oxford, MS

Here’s a way to get a group of friends together and have fun outdoors: hold a scavenger hunt.

There are many things you can put on your list to check off, or find and take back to the group: business card of an attorney, a yellow cupcake, an acorn, an item in a shoe store made of wood.  Tons of ideas can be found on Pinterest.

Did you know there are 43 historical markers in Lafayette County?  Some are on the University of Mississippi campus while others are inside the city of Oxford. More markers exist way out in the county. Why not do a search including all of them?  Benefits of an historical marker hunt include:

  • having fun with friends and family
  • getting to know your county’s geography
  • teaching younger family members how to read a map
  • learning valuable history of the area
  • getting out of the house or dorm room

You can find the list here. Now go find them and read all about why that spot is important to local history.

How long will it take?  Plan to spend the whole day. Start early, take photos of each one. Don’t forget that while most signs are one-sided, some have information continuing on the other side. Since many are within walking distance of each other, consider a walking tour. Stop for lunch to talk about what you’ve found. If you have a large group going in separate cars plan to meet up mid-day to share which ones you’ve located.

As with any scavenger hunt you do, be respectful of property including neighboring property and businesses. Park in designated areas. Be aware of traffic and stay safe when you approach a sign, that sits near a busy road, to get a photo.

The Blues Trail Marker, located in the city of Oxford, is one of many related to the Blues Trail around the state. Finding all of them might be a cool day trip in your region or definitely road trip for several days. Check out the map for a complete list. Plan to visit the blues museums as well.

Have fun and comment below when you’ve done your search. Be For more ideas on what to do around Oxford download the list of 100 Things To Do Oxford MS 2017 #100ThingsOxford

Eileen Saunders, SRES REALTOR with Tommy Morgan Realtors 2092 Old Taylor Road, Oxford MS 38655 | 662-234-5344 | 662-404-0816 | Equal Housing
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