I moved to Oxford in the month of June several years ago. It was after schools let out, which is a great time for the rental cycle in other cities my family has lived in, but not here. Rentals in Oxford generally start August 1. June was a difficult time for us to find either a home for sale (that particular year) or a rental. We opted for a home in Taylor that had a purchase option available. We took it. It was a beautiful home we were sure we’d love for years. Since our boys opted for Ole Miss, we eventually decided to move closer to campus so we didn’t buy the house, but it was a great house that we enjoyed.
The rental market in Oxford is competitive. It opens at August 1 which means that in the spring or maybe even earlier, you should have a game plan: either stay where you are or start agressively looking. Most real estate agents cannot help you although some can and will. Most landlords choose to advertise and manage their own homes which can make them hard to find. These homes are rented through word of mouth.
There are great rental companies in town with a lot of properties available but you’ll need to make friends with these people early and let them know as soon as possible what your needs are so they can add you to the list.
Most of the rentals in town consist of 2 bedroom/2 bath situations, few are 3/3 and usually rent per bedroom. There are cottage communities all over Oxford that fit this description because of the needs of the University’s population. Only Freshman can live on campus. Greek, students with families (spouse and kids) and a few others are allowed as well but basically once you finish your freshman year, you need to find an apartment, condo or cottage for rent, or purchase something.
This leaves out the families that are moving into town for job transfers, or just a new job.
Oxford’s housing market is hot. Few rentals available to families means people have to purchase or settle for something less. Homeowners that really want to sell, know they can sell rather than rent, so there goes that rental market. I get calls frequently asking me if any of my vacant listings would rent. The answer for these propoerties is always no. The homeowners want to sell and they know they can.
Like my family’s situation when we first moved here, you don’t get a long, advanced notice about your transfer, so you can’t act leisurely and plan your move for the perfect time. And, when you don’t know the area, it is really hard to find any rentals. You can visit Oxford and drive around and you start to wonder if there is a conspiracy of property owners who keep their rentals through word of mouth only. Sure this would keep the homeowner from having rent to the students, if they prefer not to, but it’s also illegal due to fair housing laws. But owners find it is more cost effective to manage their own properties instead of paying fees to a real estate professional.
Truly, there are homes that rent at times other than the school schedule. However, if you are coming to town expecting to find a home to rent, please understand that, for the most part, Oxford’s rental cycle starts August 1. Plan accordingly, or consult a real estate professional for some help as soon as you know you are coming to town. If he or she cannot help, you’ll be referred to someone who can.
If you insist on doing it yourself, here are some tips. After leaving the kiddos with a sitter:
1. Get a map of neighborhoods from either the Visitor’s Center on S. Lamar or the Chamber of Commerce on West Jackson Avenue. If you are worried about areas of crime, visit the local police department and ask them about high and low crime areas.
2. Use your phone or tablet’s mapping app to scope out the lay of the land and neighborhoods on the satellite view.
3. Consult facebook pages for homes for rent or sale in Oxford and in Lafayette County; very few rentals end up in the newspaper. They’d be rented by the time the paper was printed.
4. Call the local rental management companies. Call a real estate agency; Tommy Morgan Realtors in Oxford has a few agents that manage rental properties. I can certainly help you.
5. Consider an apartment for a temporary home. Get your family settled somewhere before all of the options are gone. There are plenty of storage units available for your extra stuff. I suggest looking outside of Oxford for storage solutions because they tend to be both available and less expensive.
6. If you’re stuck in a last-minute situation, pray first then proceed to the closest rental you can find that fits at least 50% of your needs. Like number 5, above, states: consider a temporary situation. Leases can always be broken or bought out or subleased if you find a home to purchase.
Need help finding a home in Oxford? Call me. I’m a relocation pro. My family and I have moved from state to state, renting, buying, packing, unpacking. I understand how to start over in a new town. I’m here to help.
Eileen Saunders, REALTOR(R)~Tommy Morgan Inc., REALTORS(R)~2092 Old Taylor Road, Oxford, MS 38655~662-404-0816 or 662-234-5344~Equal Housing.