Should I Stay or Should I Go? Moving for a New Job

Many people live in small towns where the job market just doesn’t quite fit their needs but they enjoy living there.  Others have a specialty job which may require moving to a new city in order to stay in the career field of choice, especially when tele-commuting is not an option.

These people might be homeowners in the town where they went to college or grew up. The kids are in a good school system and the whole family is connected someway to the community: church, soccer, scouts, volunteer work.

But the job!  A new one comes along, an hour away. What to do? Should you continue living in your current home and commute or should you move? In a large metropolitan area, commuting might be the norm but where your small town is separated from others by miles and miles of highway, moving might be necessary.commute to work

Consider a few things:

  1. the commute time and cost,
  2. the housing market,
  3. the school system,
  4. amenities of each town,
  5. career advancement and financial security,
  6. personal fulfillment.

Commute time and cost

Since the job is just an hour away it might be a great thing to consider the commute, at least temporarily. Make sure you like the job and the opportunity it provides. Sure, you’ll be away from the family 2 extra hours a day but once you get a feel for the job and the new area you can make the determination to move or stay. Be sure you have a fuel efficient car to help ease the pain of the additional gasoline cost during this time. You might find that commuting works for you and your family.

The housing market

Although the new job and your current home are just an hour apart, the housing markets could be very different. One could be robust; the other stagnant. You could find both doing well at the same time.  Review the cost of living in both towns using websites that can give you accurate cost of living comparisons.  Then ask for the help of a real estate professional in each town to give you a market analysis which can also help you decide if moving or staying is the best financial choice.  You need to know if you stand to lose money on your current house or would benefit by selling and moving on.

School system

With the kids in school, comparing the school systems is another important consideration. Also, do you have a high school student nearing graduation? Do you want to pull your children from their current school at this time or can you wait to move after graduation? Consider, too, that if you decide to move just over the state line and the graduating child wants to attend a college in the state you are leaving, you will lose resident status for tuition. On their own, at least in Mississippi, they need to be 22 or married (if younger) to obtain their own resident status. Otherwise they are under the parent’s resident status until a year after they become 21 as long as they are living in Mississippi. Grandparents who live in the same state as the college must take legal guardianship of the student in order to use their residency status and save tuition. There are some loopholes and other states may have different rules but be prepared in case you do choose to move across state lines.

Amenities

Look into the cultural, entertainment and shopping aspects of each town. Consider dining options and grocery stores. Will the children be able to continue their sport of choice? Investigate church options. And, is the new town easy to get around?

Career Advancement, Financial Security, Personal Fulfillment

Talk about this new adventure with your spouse and children. If senior parents are living with you or provide a hand in raising the kids, they’ll need to be in the loop as well. What are the benefits of moving or staying? How will your decision to stay and commute affect career advancement and personal fulfillment.  Getting your spouse and the kids on board and having them ask questions about your decision or even help you make the decision is an important family exercise.  It’s important to find out how your decisions affect the family. It’s important to get their questions and feedback. Lack of communication within the family structure can cause tension which, in turn, can affect your personal fulfillment and job performance.

Sometimes, the situation is an easy no-brainer…move on. Many times, there are so many “what-ifs” that it is a hard choice to make. Should I go or should I stay?  Only you and your family can make that decision, but once made, stick with it. No regrets.

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

 

 

 

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Adopt A Shelter Dog

October is Adopt A Shelter Dog Month

It is truly amazing the love a dog can bring to you and your family. And a Shelter Dog is even more special because it is a homeless pet that you have rescued.  I won’t go into the statistics or the horrors of a shelter life or the life of an abandoned dog. But I will help you get your house ready for your new pet.

Things You Will Need

While all dogs are so different in personality, size and demeanor, there are basics that you will need before welcoming your new dog to your home.

  • Collar
  • Leash
  • Food Bowls
  • Containers for dog food and treats
  • Crate
  • Comfy bedding your dog can grow into
  • Lots of chew toys

These are the bare necessities. I’m sure you can find other things to purchase for your new dog. When it comes to crates, older dogs generally do not need one unless you want one. Puppies will need one if not for a safe place away from energetic children in the house, also for a safe place while no one is home.  Crates also make travel safe if you have one that can fit into your car.

Protecting Your Investment (your house) From Your New Dog

Dogs get bored. Some breeds need to chew on things.  To avoid damage to your home, be sure to keep your dog busy with chew toys.

As I show houses that are for sale to clients, there have been several times recently when I’ve seen an interior door frame, door, the trim at the base of a support pillar or even the baseboard in any given room that was chewed by the seller’s dog.  This is the kind of damage a bored dog can do to a house so watch your dog carefully the first year (if a puppy) or the first few months (an older dog) to avoid this type of problem. On a personal note, one of my puppies chewed the carpet off the bottom step in my house one day when we forgot to leave him gated in the kitchen. Anything can happen.dog-167663_1920

If your dog chews your house, discourage the behavior and fix the damage. Leaving it may encourage further chewing.  And you may forget it’s there is the damage is partially hidden or easy to hide. If you need to sell your house, fixing old damage is necessary. It’s best to fix it quickly after it happens.

Raw hide has been controversial lately as it has been found hard to digest and can cause some health issues. If your dog’s stomach cannot digest a rawhide treat or any other “digestible” chew, you will find it thrown up on your floor which isn’t good on carpeting. Carpeting will need to be checked regularly for any pet damage from body functions, including throwing up. Carpets can hold in bacteria, too, so with a pet try to steam clean the carpets on a regular schedule. Wood floors can also damage when “accidents” are not cleaned up timely. Tile and both the new porcelain and the vinyl wood-look floors are the easiest to keep clean. So be diligent and perhaps limit your new dog’s time to certain rooms until his personal habits have been satisfactorily been trained.

The Outdoor Dog

A good fence in the back yard provides safety for your dog. It may also add some value to your house when you decide to sell it. Up-keep is important, though. A digging dog can escape under the fence.  Fixing the areas correctly the first time will eliminate further compromise to the integrity of the fence and keep the backyard looking nice.  Poorly maintained fencing can be a hazard to the dog. And remember the added value?  Not with poor or damaged fencing! If you decide to sell the house, repairing the fence will either fall on you or the purchaser and with the added expense to the purchaser, the amount offered for your home might be lower than you expected. So stay on top of maintenance for your dog and your bottom line, should you need to sell your house.

Your New Dog

Enjoy your new shelter dog. I’m so excited for you to rescue a homeless dog and hope you have many years of enjoyment with the furrball. I’ve got my shelter dog…straight from a shelter in W. Tennessee 11 years ago. She’s been a joy.

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

 

 

 

How Many Times Have You Moved?

How many times have you moved in your life? Count the times you moved as a child into that number.

My adventures have included 20 moves in my adult life and 4 as a child. This does not include moving to college and back home since my main residence was my mom’s house during that time. That’s 24 total moves and I’m definitely not done yet.  I started in Towson, MD and currently live in Oxford, MS.

Can you beat that?  I’m sure many of you can so share your number with me and my readers stating where you started and where you are right now.  It’s fun to learn people’s moving habits and where they go.

Here is a map of my major moves. Screenshot_20171010-124313.jpgAs you can see, I’ve mostly stayed south of the Mason-Dixon line.  Some states I’ve moved in and out of a few times.  Several involved multiple moves within the area so I can’t place them all on this little map. These short moves were times we went from a rental to a home we purchased.

Moving is an adventure. The logistics are just a beginning. Then there are people involved; new friendships and business associations. New things to do can keep you busy. I have generally viewed each new location as a vacation, or a stay-cation, but one that is fresh and new.  If you view your new home as a place you may never get to again, you will be more apt to take the time to explore.  For example, neither my husband nor I expected to stay in Illinois very long or ever need to get back to that part of the country so we made sure we went to Chicago and St. Louis. We visited small towns with history along the Mississippi. To make sure I got a particular state on my bucket list, we made day trips or weekend trips out of the way so we could cross a state line.  We hit some state parks, historical centers, ate local food we knew we wouldn’t eat again and found ourselves in some cool places.  When the next move opportunity came, we didn’t regret not exploring.

Find out what there is to do in and around Oxford (if you live here) by downloading the “100 Things To Do In Oxford MS Fall 2017”.  Check this list of day trips, too. See how  many things you can do before your next move.

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

Plank a Popcorn Ceiling

Popcorn ceilings are a thing of the past.  At one time spraying a white textured goop onto the ceiling in a new house was cool; it was different and added that modern touch.  It was also an easier and less costly way for builders to finish a ceiling.  You may think it would cost less to have a plan ceiling but it’s actually the opposite. Spraying on popcorn texture meant the drywall contractor and painters could finish the job quicker, affordably and move on to another job sooner.  I was home shopping in the late 1990s and wanted the ceiling flat throughout the 20160701_080631house. The builder said it was not an option because it would cost too much to mud the drywall at the tape and apply paint evenly on the ceiling. So for that house we had no choice.

Now days the sight of those textured ceilings makes a home buyer cringe. But, alas, that texture is easy to remove; well, relatively.  Wet it and scrape and it comes off.

But I noticed a disturbing trend in some homes that were remodeled maybe 10 or so years ago.  Rather than removing the popcorn, they painted over it.  Maybe there was a stain from a roof leak or the owner just felt like the ceiling needed some freshening up. Oh my, that causes a big problem.

You see…scraping the popcorn off leaves a surface that can easily be sanded smooth and painted over.  Leaving the popcorn seals it to the ceiling.  It won’t come off because it is now under a layer or two of paint.  The only way now to remove the texture is to take down the drywall and start over. This can also cause potential damage to the top of the walls. 16714470544_5fe01c5dff_b

There is one other way to fix this and update your house. Add wood planks to your ceiling.

Wood planks come in all widths and finishes. You can plank the length of the room or the width of the room. If the ceilings are tall enough add a few decorative beams. Paint the whole thing white or a neutral color or stain it to match your floors. Try a pattern: herringbone or alternating pattern of squares. There are no limits to what you can do with the plank ceiling and you can find dozens of ideas here on Pinterest.

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

Updating Your Kitchen: Doors vs. Drawers

I have had the pleasure of assisting my mom with the renovation of her 50+ year old kitchen.  She lives in Maryland, I’m in Mississippi so any help I provide is strictly over the phone. Her research and ideas are coming from the remodeling company she has hired and a couple visits to the store to look at flooring, counters, paint, tile and appliances. She’ll tell me what she saw and I’ll look it up on line with some comments, questions and advice.  Most company websites have a virtual-room program so you can pick your colors to see how it works out. My mom is not wired in on the internet which presents a challenge: I can see the finished room, she cannot, but she now knows that her stores can log into the websites to help her out.

It’s going well so far with only one problem: the refrigerator compressor is not working properly.  She’ll get it fixed using the home warranty company I advised her on.

Mom is not doing a total renovation. She had the floors pulled up and the walls painted. She is using her old cabinets with new counter tops and having the cabinets refinished with new doors and fresh paint.  While it fits her budget much better than creating completely new cabinets I did have to question her about her choice of drawers versus cabinets for the lower cabinets.  You see, lower cabinets require bending over, stooping down or kneeling on the floor to find that pot, pan or tray that is stored down there. And for most Seniors, that can be a challenge.  It wouldn’t have been an issue except that I have drawers in my kitchen in the lower cabinets and, having a challenging back problem, the drawers are most convenient for me for storing and retrieving items. I wanted to offer her that option, at least to think about, before her cabinets were completed.20170914_112808

The drawers are a little more costly and she opted to keep the cabinet doors instead but we got the conversation going about what types of things she needed to store in those lower cabinets to make her life physically easier. What does she have that she doesn’t used often?  What types of larger items can she store down there that would be out of the way? Does she have to use up the entire cabinet space or just the front area which would keep her from having to kneel down on the floor to rummage through her things?

For many Seniors, the kitchen they have now is most likely the kitchen they have had for years. It has gone from a room functioning for a family to one functioning for just one or two people.  Usually, the same pots, pans, cookie sheets, storage containers, glass- and dinnerware are still making that kitchen their home. So in most cases Mom and Dad haven’t thrown or given away anything. Considering a lifestyle change involving kitchen cabinets is not on their bucket list.20170914_112924

This is where the kids come in, or a consultant who specializes in Senior lifestyle and living space.  For my mom, when she renovated everything she owned was removed from the kitchen. It won’t all go back and it will now be placed differently by her consultant.

Are your parents still using their same kitchen with items in the same place as you remember them? Hire a cleaning person to remove everything and wash out the cabinets.  Go through the items with your parents and decide what hasn’t been used in a long while and what won’t be used in the future. Arrange the cabinets now buy placing the most used in the most convenient spaces. What is left, that your parents refuse to get rid of, can now go into the harder-to-get-to cabinets like the very-high shelves or the back of the lower cabinets.

Consider some drawers in the lower space; at least one cabinet of drawers large enough for the heavy items, like pots and pans.  Leave the top shelves empty or put seasonal items there.

If your Senior parent has a separate pantry, consider leaving the top shelf empty and putting in some drawers for the lower shelves. That will keep your loved ones from climbing a step ladder or chair and risk falling. I realize there are grabbers on the market for higher shelved items but I feel these can add an element of danger to your Senior parent. What if they lose their balance grabbing that 5 pound bag of flour from the top shelf?  See what I mean?  So your goal is to make your Senior parent’s access to items in their kitchen as easy as possible and with their safety in mind.

Having drawers in my current kitchen, I have come to appreciate the ease they offer to my life.  The heavier pots and pans go in the middle drawer to make lifting them in and out easier on my back since I don’t have to bend down very much.  Lids go in the bottom drawer since they aren’t used as often and are lighter in weight.

For my mom, there is an optional cabinet she is considering, as of this writing, next to her wall oven where she currently has a stand-alone pantry. There she may put two middle-to-lower drawers for pots and pans that she uses often.

If you insist on leaving the cabinet drawers, there are drawer inserts you can use for your pots and pans and other items. These will help keep down the cost of totally new cabinets and can be installed at any time during or after the renovation.

Mom did pick out new stainless steel appliances…much prettier I’m sure than the old brown enamel appliances. She’ll enjoy it.

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

 

 

 

 

Decorating for the Fall When Your House is For Sale

The smell of Fall is all around. Leaves are changing colors, mums are blooming everywhere, outdoor fire pits and wood-burning fireplaces are sending comforting smells through the air. And depending on what part of the country you live in, you may be spending more time indoors. Traditionally, in America, we decorate our homes more in the Fall — bringing the outdoors inside to enjoy. We decorate for the upcoming holidays at the end of the year as well.

Decorating a house that is on the market for sale can be challenging, especially if the homeowner is prone to extreme seasonal decoration. When a house is staged properly, buyers can see the indoor space in a more practical way, but with seasonal decoration, advent-1821740_1920the potential buyers may not be able to get past your Nutcracker collection or other bric a brac. If they leave your house referring to it as the pumpkin house or the turkey house, you may have lost their attention and probably the sale. They just couldn’t see the house as theirs.

I generally recommend during any time of year that sellers start packing things they will not need in the next few months and place them in storage or the garage. Since they plan to move anyway, why not get a head start on packing? Packing up unnecessary items minimizes clutter so potential buyers can view the house, not the stuff in it.

If you must decorate your for-sale house this Fall, remember this: you are going to sell the house. Everything you pulled out to decorate with needs to get packed again. Think minimal. A simple pumpkin display by the front door or on the fireplace is appealing. Perhaps a bouquet of fall-colored flowers or a pot of mums on the dining table will add a festive touch.

If a Christmas tree is necessary, consider keeping the size of the tree and decoration minimal. A tree too large will make a room look smaller. You want your rooms to look big.

Leave hand-railings free of decoration. It allows buyers to view the railings in their natural and beautiful state. Additionally, some buyers may need to hold onto the railing to get safely up and down the stairs. If garland and stockings block their grip, it’s a safety risk.

Is yours the house in the neighborhood known for the lights and blow-up characters on the lawn? Maybe this year you can start a new tradition in the neighborhood. Chances are that the new homeowners will not carry on your family’s enthusiasm for lighting, so this season, with your house on the market, keep your items in storage and let the christmas-21966_1920neighbors get used to a low-light holiday.  It’s less for you to pack up, too, if the house sells quickly. You will also save money on your electric bill that you can use toward your new home.

When your house is on the market for sale, think minimal decoration during the Fall and Holiday seasons.

 

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

Six Things You Should Put In Storage While Selling Your Home

Well, you decided to sell your house. You are definitely going to move. You’re downsizing, upsizing, relocating…what ever the reason, you have to pack up your things, sell your house and move on.

Wait a second! Don’t most people sell their house first, THEN pack up and move?

Most of the time, this is the order of things but I want to introduce to you a little twist in the method.  You see, many of us have too many things. Large furniture, many pieces that can be fit into a room. Prints and paintings can sometimes be so large it’s hard to tell if that is the frame around it or the wall behind it. Kids toys are generally piled high in the corner of the play room or stuffed in the closet when guests come over.

Well, think this way. If you are moving, why not pack now?  I know that sounds extreme to some people but really, your house could sell tomorrow and then you have less time to get your things together.  In any case, it is a good idea to start the packing process early; as soon as you know you are moving. Here’s how:

Go through your items and take those things you do not want anymore to either the neighborhood consignment shop or donation center. Throw away the junk you’ve collected but do not need. Then rent a storage unit for a month or two and fill it with the following:

  1. Books. Your huge book collection looks great on your built-in cabinets but to a buyer it looks like clutter. A buyer might not be able to see the house as theirs, with their things in it, when all they can see is your book collection. Clear your shelves and stage them to look open and spacious. A few photos, a short stack of horizontal books, a glass jar or vase can still decorate and look appealing.booksm-collection-2578237_1920.jpg
  2. Music. CDs and record albums are more fragile than books and can take longer to pack sufficiently. And a large music collection will leave most buyers stopping to see what kind of music you like and compare their collection with yours. It’s fun to look at but distracting and by packing them away, you can free up a lot of space that can make a room look larger.
  3. Knickknacks. These collectibles take a while to pack up: individually they must be wrapped and packed so there is no chance of breaking them. If you don’t trust yourself, it’s o.k. to hire someone to come in this early in the game to help you get started.  Other knickknacks include trophy collections, other displayed collections and a wall filled with framed awards.  These are just some examples. Pack them up; you don’t need them out right now. Plus, trophys and awards are distracting to the buyer.
  4. Kids toys. Let’s say your house is competitively priced. It shouldn’t last long so take the toys your children don’t usually play with and pack them up. Well…if they don’t really play with them it may be time to pass them on to another family. If these are items that your children will pick up again after you move, box them up now; get rid of some of the clutter to show how big the rooms in the house are.toys-2165123_1920.jpg
  5. Out of season clothes. Buyers want to know how much storage is available inside the house. If your closets are packed full with not only stuff but also clothes for all seasons then it is time to get them cleared out. Take the stuff and box it up. Separate your clothes by season and pack what you don’t need for now. Moving during a season change? Then pick the clothes you will most likely need in the next month.  If you are going from Spring to Summer, you certainly don’t need your coats, sweaters, heavy blankets, skis and snow boots. Pick what else you don’t need and pack it away.
  6. Excess furniture. You might love that wall to wall cabinet in your keeping room but if it isn’t staying with the house the room looks so much smaller than it really is. You might need that extra long dining room table for the holiday dinners but take the extra leaves out and shorten it to make the dining room look larger.  Are there more dressers and tables than you need in your bedrooms or living room?  Take some out to storage and show off the space available in those rooms. It might seem strange being without some of your furniture but in the long run, buyers can see the interior as it is meant to be which might help your house to sell quicker.

Now that you have packed some of your things, store them away in a storage unit…not your garage.  Buyers would want to see the space available to them in the garage and that would be hard to do if it is packed full.

The point is: you’re moving so why not pack what you don’t need. If your house is cluttered, even with the things you love, it can be distracting to a buyer. The clutter can make the space look smaller than it is. Once cleared out and staged, call your REALTOR and put your house on the market so you can move on.

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

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