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

 

 

 

 

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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

Multi-Generational Living

A current trend in housing is multi-generational living.  Home buyers are seeking properties or remodeling their current homes to accommodate themselves and their parents. Multi-generational living can also accommodate the Millennial who is living at home after college.

There are great advantages to this.  With Seniors living longer, many want to be near their families and help with the kids but do not want the mortgage of a new home involved when they relocate. Others, single-Seniors who want independent living, are not interested in being alone or living in a Seniors-only facility.

Parents who want to help their grown children, who are paying off college tuition bills or just getting themselves back on their feet after a difficult time, are also living the multi-generational life.

The single-family home with the additional bedroom, or a cottage on the property are interesting to these families.

How to find the best multi-generational home.

You don’t have to have a large property with two homes on it for multi-generational living. What you do need, though, is to look for a home with features that serve both adult generations. These features include:

  1. two areas that can provide a master suite. Your Senior parent(s) should have their own bathroom that isn’t shared by the rest of the family. Why? Privacy. Older adults have different health issues and should be honored with privacy.
  2. space on the main floor for the older generation. That upstairs bonus room/bedroom works great for the Millennial who moved back home but the stairs could be a challenge to an older resident. Perhaps the upstairs bonus room could be the second master suite. Be sure there is a bathroom and ample closet space. Make the downstairs master suite home to the older generation.

    Garden Patio Handrails Building Flowers
    Handrails
  3. a separate cottage would give Senior parents their own space, privacy and the feeling of independence not gained through living in the main household. And a noisy house for a Senior could be a stress builder and lead to confusion. Seniors, like all of us, need down-time and quiet. But for a older person who has already raised a full house of children, why not give them a quiet space? Be careful about the apartment above the garage. Remember what I just mentioned about stairs? However the above-garage apartment would be perfect for the adult child who just moved back home.

Sharing your home with a Senior parent.

Once you’ve found that home to share with a Senior family member be careful with the interior decor.

  1. throw or scatter rugs can be a hazard to the elderly who may not be steady on their feet. These rugs are generally used in bathrooms, kitchens, and near entry doors. If you have to use them, secure the rugs with a double-sided rug tape so it stays in place.

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    clean design, no rugs
  2. hand railings are crucial for safety, inside and out. Any where there are steps, install a hand rail for older residents and visitors to use.
  3. bathroom fixtures should also include hand railings in the tub and near the toilet.
  4. universal design guidelines can assist you with remodeling or finding the perfect home to share with multiple generations.

Here are some great resources that can help you with multi-generational living, remodeling, aging in place and more.

For more information about finding the right type of home for your multi-generational family here in Oxford, MS, call me. I love to talk about this topic.

Eileen Saunders, Seniors Real Estate Specialist (SRES), REALTOR | Tommy Morgan Realtors          2092 Old Taylor Road, Oxford, MS 38655 | 662-404-0816 or 662-234-5344
Equal Housing

Buying New Construction? Get An Agent to Represent You.

Dual Agency is having the same real estate agent represent the buyer that represents the seller.

There are only 8 states that BAN dual agency. Mississippi is NOT one of them. Mississippi allows for it. So, when you are looking for a house with an agent, this might be an issue only if the agent shows you a house that his or her broker has listed AND you like it enough to purchase. Then that agent is working for both you and the seller.

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Before you start looking at houses with an agent you should be handed a disclosure of agency form. This will explain to you the fiduciary duties in both a single agency and dual agency situation. Know your rights. Know what that agent can and cannot do for you.

If you are a buyer and really do not like this dual agency situation, talk to your agent about it.  There are solutions for everything. For example, I have an agreement with an agent outside of my broker’s office who will help any of my buyers in this situation.   If she shows the house and the buyer doesn’t like it, I continue to help the buyer. If they do like it, than that agent can work to get the house sold.  So, please don’t assume that you have to deal with dual agency if it is against your convictions. Talk to your agent.  You may also find that it works o.k.

Likewise, in a situation where you go to a neighborhood to look at the new construction and sit down with an agent representative, you have just entered into a dual agency situation. You want to buy into the neighborhood and the agent is now helping both you and the builder/contractor.

I want you to be aware of this before searching for a new home in a new development.

Your own agent will have your best interest in mind.   Your agent will:

  • help you negotiate
  • know the law and will work it in your favor
  • make sure custom orders and upgrades are delivered as ordered
  • inform you of warranties
  • handle documentation of everything
  • identify issues you might not be aware of
  • keep confidential information
  • advise you on what personal information not to disclose to the listing agent
  • encourage inspections

These are just a few things your own agent can do for you.  Shop around for an agent; there is plenty of information on the internet these days so that you don’t have to sit for hours interviewing each agent until you find one you like. Trust your instincts and enjoy the company of an agent you has your best interest in mind. If you do find a personality conflict or find that the agent you hired is not helping you as you wish, providing you haven’t signed a Buyers Agency Contract, simply fire your agent in writing and move on. This rarely happens but can.

The best thing you can do as a buyer is know your rights, have an agent working for YOU and communicate fully with him or her.

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

Seller’s Market Stats

It is a seller’s market in Oxford, MS.

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That means there are fewer homes than buyers, even during this typically slower time of year, so higher demand can mean higher prices. In some cases buyers are scrambling and often competing for the same house which means the seller gets the price they want. There are exceptions based on a house that is definitely overpriced in its neighborhood. Mostly, and unfortunately, this overpricing is done by the for-sale-by-owner crowd because these sellers don’t have the advantage of a professional’s pricing strategy. But once in a while the overpricing is done by the buyer who doesn’t quite trust his or her agent. Consequently the house sits for a while waiting to be sold. Since Mississippi is a non-disclosure state, selling prices are kept as private information. Popular on line, national real estate websites do not have this information. The local Oxford real estate professional does have that information and the statistics to help their sellers price homes appropriately.

For the seller, even if you know the overall uptick of housing sales prices for the general area, the individual neighborhoods may have their own statistics. A popular neighborhood may increase in sales value quicker than an older, stable neighborhood. Homes that need extensive interior updating (new kitchen, bath) may find themselves accepting a lower price than their neighboring homes which are updated. Your real estate professional can guide you through that process.

Oxford sees housing price upticks differently in each housing category: condos, single-family homes, land and commercial. Condos might be super popular at a particular time of year; single-family homes might show their uptick during another time.  And land seems to be at a premium at any time.

The following chart shows a sample of the uptick in housing for just the years 2015-2016 in the entire Lafayette County area but it is not the whole story. This includes houses in both the county school district and Oxford school district and does not include condos. Twenty-sixteen was an interesting year in real estate and the stats for 2017 aren’t in yet. So please don’t think you can sell your house at 14% higher than you purchased it just by looking this chart. You really need the whole story which could be a 5-year trend analysis by school district or by housing type or, in some cases, simply a neighbor comparative analysis for the past 6-12 months. If you are interested in condos, this chart doesn’t apply. So reach out to your real estate professional that you trust, or me if you don’t have one, for more information so you can price your home appropriately before trying to sell it.  There can be nothing worse than having your house sit for a while on the market and then have a price reduction. Buyers may wonder what’s wrong with it.

 

Year Average List Price Average Selling Price Average Sold/List Percentage Average Price Per Square Foot Average Number of Days on the Market
2015 $255,827 $249,495 97.57% $115.89 139
2016 $292,129 $283,624 97.71% $121.49 139

 Oxford, Mississippi, Real Estate Trend in Single-Family Home Sales

Source: North Central Mississippi Board of Realtors® MLS

Includes single-family homes exclusive to Lafayette County and both Lafayette and Oxford School Districts

© 2017 Market Trends in Oxford MS   All Rights Reserved

Information Herein Deemed Reliable but Not Guaranteed

If your property is currently listed with another real estate broker, please disregard this notice.  It is not our intention to solicit the listings of other brokers.

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