All posts by Eileen Saunders

A daughter, sister, wife, mom and friend. I am married to the love of my life, have two awesome sons and a dog. I hope you enjoy reading my blogs and remember that my photos are copyrighted; please ask first before using them. Thanks.

Renovating Floors: Carpet, Tile, Vinyl, Wood

With very few houses on the market, homeowners are opting to renovate a room or two to freshen up what they have.

Paint, window treatments, rugs, furniture; don’t forget the floor. There is a wide variety of flooring choices these days. Here are a few to consider:

WOOD FLOORS

Wood floors are popular. Wood flooring not only comes in great choices like pine and walnut but you can also get engineered wood, laminate and more.wp-1592275375447.jpg

The variety of wood finishes and colors provide even more choices. Wood floors can be stained, lacquered or painted.

Upkeep is easy as long as you use products for cleaning that your flooring store recommends. Certain finishes have specific needs so before buying that wax or cleaner, make sure it is compatible to your type of floor.

Soft wood doesn’t maintain the new look for long in a house with a dog or in rooms with high traffic. Hard wood holds up better. While your wood floor can be a “forever” choice, area rugs can be changed often to perk up the decor in a room and protect the wood floor in heavily traveled areas.

TILE FLOORS

Tile floors seem to be self-explanatory but think again.

There are ceramic tile floors, teracotta tile floors, marble tiles, textured tiles, high gloss, matte and now porcelain tiles that look like wood planks. These can look so close to wood you might be fooled when you walk into a house with these porcelain tiles on the floor.

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Tile comes in a variety of finishes and sizes, can be laid horizontal or diagonal to the lines in the room and can be set in designs.

Tile floors are great in rentals, coastal homes and high-traffic areas because they are low maintenance. Tile is also recommended for rooms with water features, like laundry rooms and bathrooms. Some builders, insurance companies and code inspectors do not like wood floors in these rooms because wood can damage easily from water, but always check first because you may be able to get the wood floors into your kitchen if you’d like.

An expanse of tile floors over a concrete slab can keep your home a little cooler in the summer.  But in the winter (depending on where you live), you may feel a chill so consider an area rug for the season, or wear socks.

VINYL PLANK FLOORS

Vinyl is a great choice for rental property. Today’s vinyl isn’t like your mom’s 1970’s kitchen vinyl; it’s better and comes in sheets, planks that snap together, peel-and-stick tiles, and vinyl tiles that you can grout. There are some great prints designs, wood grain looks and solids.

This flooring choice is easy to clean, said to be water and stain proof, and can last a long time. Set properly in a large room you won’t see the seams if you have vinyl sheets, and a wood grain vinyl looks fantastic.

CARPET FLOORING

Carpet gets a bad rap sometimes because the wood look is currently trending and highly sought out.  But carpet, the wall-to-wall kind, is a great option.

Put it in small rooms and ones that don’t get much traffic: bedrooms, music rooms and home offices. Carpet provides a warm spot to put your feet when you step out of bed each morning. Used in a noisy area, carpeting can absorb some sound rather than allowing all of the noise to bounce around the uncovered floors, walls and windows.

Carpeting can look attractive but needs more care than other types of flooring. Regular vacuuming and steam cleaning can be time consuming and costly. It might be easier to wipe up a spill from a wood or vinyl floor than from a carpeted floor, but, it is still a great option and many homeowners and buyers still like carpet.

Area rugs are great to use over all types of floors. They add a splash of color to a dull room. Rugs provide warmth under foot and a soft spot on the floor to sit. Be sure to add a rug pad if you place it directly over wood because, in some cases, fibers or the underfinish of  a rug can react with the finish on your wood floors. You can also place an area rug over a wall-to-wall carpet. What?? Yes, layering rugs is a trend and looks fantastic.

Whether you are staying in your home or buying a new one, flooring is an important consideration. What type of flooring is your favorite?

Eileen Saunders, REALTOR with Tommy Morgan, Inc – Oxford 2092 Old Taylor Road #101, Oxford, MS 38655  662-404-0816/662-234-5344 eileen@tmhomes.com

June is National Homeownership month

Homeownership is a goal of many people.

To get to that goal there are several things you should do and several things to consider.

THINGS TO DO TO REACH YOUR GOAL

When you make a plan to get yourself to your goal of homeownership, learn about first-time homebuyer savings accounts. This account, like any other, is trackable and you can see how you are building your savings toward a home purchase. NerdWallet.com has a list of of these programs available in each state and the District of Columbia.

The first step you should make in purchasing a house, before contacting a real estate agent, is meeting with a mortage loan banker who can tell you what kind of mortgage program you qualify for and what your spending limits look like.

You might find that you currently don’t qualify, but the loan officer can advise you of the steps to take that will qualify you. Check with your bank if they have a mortgage department. You already have a relationship with that bank so talk to them first about helping you purchase a home.

Search the internet for homes in your price range. If you’re purchasing in the town you currently live, drive around and familiarize yourself with neighborhoods if you haven’t already. If you have to commute to work, decide what neighborhoods are close enough that you can afford. Concerned about demographics? Search the web for information, call the local police department, contact a city or county representative. Follow the city or town’s social media pages.

Interview a few local real estate agents. Use word of mouth referrals from friends and co-workers to find your agent. Referral companies charge agents a large fee to help you. You get to pick from a pool of people who agree to pay it. Wouldn’t you rather pick from someone with a personal reference from a friend?

You’ll want to be able to work with the agent your choose and feel comfortable with them handling your personal information. Interview at least one who is C2EX Endorsed and/or has completed the e-PRO course to find out their point of difference. C2EX is the National Association of Realtors’ Committment to Excellence program. e-PRO is a certification course teaching Realtors how to protect your private information in a digital world. They are optional continuing education classes.

THINGS TO CONSIDER

As a first-time homebuyer, you will want to have a real estate agent to represent you through a transaction for the following reasons:

  1. Your agent can point out homes that you might miss on your search. Maybe the listing doesn’t say much about the property but your agent has been inside and feels it is something for you to consider.
  2. He or she belongs to an association with protocols for handling COVID-19. Whether your or the seller are concerned, agents have a responsibility to follow what you both feel is necessary.
  3. Agents are skilled in negotiating purchase pricing and earnest money, and navigating disclosures, inspections, appraisal issues, and the closing process.
  4. An agent that is not representing the seller, will have your best interest in their care so don’t be too quick to call the agent listed on the sign in front of your dream home or visit a new construction development without your agent.
  5. Real estate agents can work with FSBO sellers, too. Don’t call a FSBO, let your agent do it for you. The FSBO seller is going it alone; you shouldn’t have to.
  6. Homebuying is emotional; it’s the biggest purchase most people make and agents understand that. He or she is on your side and can help you with the joy, frustration, fear, and excitement that a first-time homebuyer can go through during a purchase.
  7. Agents make great, life-long friends.

The National Association of Realtors has a First-time Homebuyers Guide that you can watch and listen to with numerous resources to help you navigate the process to become a homeowner.

June in National Homeownership Month. Best wishes reaching your goal.

Eileen Saunders, SRES REALTOR with Tommy Morgan Realtors BOF-Oxford 2092 Old Taylor Road #101, Oxford, MS 38655  662-404-0816/662-234-5344 eileen@tmhomes.com

 

Leverage These Low Interest Rates

Many people dream of their next home. Could it be a larger home for your larger family? Maybe you want a bigger house to incorporate a home office. Do you dream of a home with more land?

Others are deciding on downsizing. Retirees who no longer care to keep up a garden, or  do not want exterior maintenance are thinking of a smaller home or condo. Empty nesters might be trying to figure out their next step to a smaller space but one the kids and grand kids and visit comfortably.

Right now, we have historically low interest rates which makes it a great time buy a new home.

If you are a new homebuyer, contact your bank’s mortgage department or find a lender in your town determine what mortgage programs work for you. What kind of rate can you get and what does a rate lock mean? Decide if you have the money for a down payment. If not, learn from your mortgage professional ways to secure one. Ask about taxes and insurance that will be added to the mortgage.

Get quotes on moving expenses and storage in case you need a short-term storage unit. Many people forget this part of the cost. Determine your budget and the price range to be searching for a house.

If the numbers work out and you find that this is the time for you to make a purchase, start your homebuying searches online by looking at neighborhoods in your price range. Keep a mortgage calculator, like one offered by Realtor.com, nearby to help you figure out the costs.

Look for a real estate agent to help you.

Ask for referrals from friends and family and the mortgage lender you are working with. Most of these people in your sphere know or have worked with an agent that they would want to recommend.

Online companies that pick an agent for you are really gathering your info and selling it to local agents; the agent you pick from this pool will have to pay a fee to the referral company for your business. If you go that route, be sure to interview several that call you. Make sure you pick an agent that you feel you can trust; one that you think you’ll get along with.

Check out non-referral companies, too, like Yelp and Realtor.com to investigate agent profiles. Do a browser search for local agents and read about the ones that populate on the search page. Find agents’ business pages on Facebook and profiles on LinkedIn.

If you want specifically to purchase short-sale or REO properties, search for agents that are educated in the process. There is significantly more paperwork and you really can’t do it alone.

A good agent will suggest more properties to visit and will walk you through the homebuying process: the contracts, addendum, inspections and negotiating for repairs including termites if they are present, attorneys, making sense of appraisals, the underwriting process, closing proceedures and more.

Use the agent you picked to help you with For Sale By Owner properties, too. You’ll want a coach and advocate to take this path with you.  FSBO sellers are only interested in their well being and generally won’t be able to help you with your questions. If you call a FSBO then you’re on your own. Once they have your name, they are not going to want to pay your agent, and your agent can’t help you any further. So let your agent call the FSBO seller for you.

Enjoy your home buying adventure.

Eileen Saunders, SRES REALTOR with Tommy Morgan Realtors BOF-Oxford 2092 Old Taylor Road #101, Oxford, MS 38655  662-404-0816/662-234-5344 eileen@tmhomes.com

 

 

 

 

How To Clean and Organize

While most of us are stuck at home with the Stay At Home orders this April, why not take the time to clean and organize? You know that you’ve had that To-Do list in the back of Stay at Homeyour head, or back of your junk drawer, for several years but haven’t had the time to do anything. This April we were all blessed with the ability to stay home and use our time to work on the inside and outside of our homes, so let’s take advantage of it.

So, where do you start?

I keep a To-Do notebook. I am a papryrophile (a.k.a. stationery hoarder) so I tend to pick the fancily-designed, spiral-bound, lined-paged books from the office supply store. It strangely makes me feel that the To-Do list is relatively important, so it belongs in an important looking book. But, you can use your kid’s spare composition book that isn’t getting used this school year.

Now that you have the paper for the list, let’s figure out what to do. You can get started by simply listing all of the spaces in your house on one sheet of paper: living room, bedroom, kitchen, hall closet, etc. Or, you could list each space on a separate sheet of paper and make sublists of exactly what you want to accomplish in each space. I’m calling them “space” because I want you to think of them that way instead of as rooms. For example list separately the closets in your house rather than putting “closets” on your list and lumping them together. If you’re like me, all of my closets serve different purposes and some don’t need spring cleaning. Another space to list could be the screened porch but the unscreen patio would also be a separate space because you can only do one space at a time. It’s really up to you, but I’m sharing what works for me.

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Photo by Polina Tankilevitch on Pexels.com

So, sublists for the kitchen could look like this: upper cabinets, lower cabinets, drawers, pantry, stove top, microwave, etc. Once you clean out the upper cabinets, put a line through it on your list and watch that To-Do list become a Done list. When you have completed a page, put a big X through it and you’re done in that space!

I find cleaning to be overwhelming especially when I find something that I want to spend time with, like a photo album I forgot I had. By making a detailed, room-by-room list I am less overwhelmed. I can also see my progress and if I get slowed down by something I wasn’t expected, I can make a new list to see my progress.

Some of you don’t need this kind of planning. Others do. It’s all your perspective on your time, your space and what you want to accomplish.

For someone who plans to sell their house or is moving to a new rental property in the very near future, this kind of To-Do listing might help a lot. If you are moving or plan to move, then get rid of the things you don’t need or want now. If disposing can wait until the Stay At Home orders are lifted, hold a yard sale in May. I have a feeling there will be a lot of yard sales when this is over.

Moving can be costly especially if you are paying a moving company. They charge by the pound so it is to your advantage to send that 3-foot high pile of magazines you haven’t touched in the past 5 years to the recycling bin. That extra weight removed, will save you money. It is surprising how many pounds your can shed and dollars you can save by purging before you move.

Forbes recently published an article about cleaning and organizing with some great tips. It, too, goes room by room, space by space, (see I’m not the only one to call it space) to help you organize. The article touches more on organizing your spaces with cabinetry, furniture, baskets and more, while my tips are more for getting the job of cleaning and clearing out done. But check out the article anyway here:

How to Clean and Organize Your Space for Spring

Need help preparing to get your house in Oxford, MS or surrounding areas listed? If you aren’t already working with a real estate agent, I can help you organize and get your home listed, too. I look forward to hearing from you.

Eileen Saunders, SRES REALTOR with Tommy Morgan Realtors BOF-Oxford 2092 Old Taylor Road #101, Oxford, MS 38655  662-404-0816/662-234-5344 eileen@tmhomes.com

Reasons To Use A REALTOR

The following is reprinted with permission from the Tommy Morgan Inc Realtors email newsletter March 2020 and the National Association of REALTORS website:

Why is Tommy Morgan Realtors the best choice?

REALTORS® aren’t just agents. They’re professional members of the National Association of REALTORS® and subscribe to its strict code of ethics. This is the REALTOR® difference for home buyers:

  1. Ethical Treatment
    Every REALTOR® must adhere to a strict code of ethics, which is based on professionalism and protection of the public. As a REALTOR®’s client, you can expect honest and ethical treatment in all transaction-related matters. The first obligation is to you, the client. 
  2. An expert guide
    Buying a home usually requires dozens of forms, reports, disclosures, and other technical documents. A knowledgeable expert will help you prepare the best deal, and avoid delays or costly mistakes. Also, there’s a lot of jargon involved, so you want to work with a professional who can speak the language. 
  3. Objective information and opinions
    REALTORS® can provide local information on utilities, zoning, schools, and more. They also have objective information about each property. REALTORs® can use that data to help you determine if the property has what you need. By understanding both your needs and search area, they can also point out neighborhoods you don’t know much about but that might suit your needs better than you’d thought. 
  4. Expanded search power
    Sometimes properties are available but not actively advertised. A REALTOR® can help you find opportunities not listed on home search sites and can help you avoid out-of-date listings that might be showing up as available online but are no longer on the market. 
  5. Negotiation knowledge
    There are many factors up for discussion in a deal. A REALTOR® will look at every angle from your perspective, including crafting a purchase agreement that allows enough time for you to complete inspections and investigations of the property before you are bound to complete the purchase. 
  6. Representing your interests
    By law, a designated seller’s agent must “promote the interests of the seller with the utmost good faith, loyalty and fidelity” and must “protect the seller’s confidences…” A smart seller will hire a good seller’s agent to work for them in this fashion – As they should. Simply put, the seller’s agent is only looking out for the seller. Understanding this, it is important to realize that what you say to a seller’s agent may compromise your ability to negotiate the best deal for you. If, for example, during an open house, you casually mention to the seller’s agent that your family must be relocated by the end of the month to accommodate the start of a new job, the seller’s agent, by law, must “promote the interests of the seller” by letting the seller know about your situation. As a result, the seller is now aware that you are somewhat desperate and must move quickly, thus compromising your ability to negotiate the best deal. 
  7. Your rock during emotional moments
    A home is so much more than four walls and a roof. And for most people, property represents the biggest purchase they’ll ever make. Having a concerned, but objective, third party helps you stay focused on the issues most important to you.
Eileen Saunders, SRES REALTOR with Tommy Morgan Realtors BOF-Oxford 2092 Old Taylor Road #101, Oxford, MS 38655  662-404-0816/662-234-5344 eileen@tmhomes.com

Reasons to Buy a House or Condo for your college student

Investing in real estate is always a good idea. Why not start with your college student’s housing needs for an investment while at Ole Miss?

Most upper-level students do not have on-campus housing available to them at the university since it is secured mainly for freshman and Greek organizations. Finding an apartment, condo or house to rent off campus is not always easy, especially when your student doesn’t have particular friends to move in with.

Off-campus housing will assign you to a unit in their complex and you meet your apartment-mates usually a week before school starts. While these student-housing facilities do try to match students with people of similar study habits, noise level sensitivities, and interests, it does not always work out. When the year is over, your student is back to looking for another place to live.  How many times do you really want to move?

Did you know if a student moves out of one apartment complex and into another for the next school year, move-out date is always July 31st by noon and move-in date is always the week before school starts. If you choose to rent, reserve a storage unit now for next July-August and find a place for your child to stay during those 3 weeks. Storage units, hotel rooms and moving trucks/trailers are hard to find during that time and once reserved, are subject to cancellation without you being told.

Off-campus rental rates are competitive with on-campus dorm rates but get expensive depending on the facility. A single-bedroom unit will cost much more than a 4-bedroom apartment.  Many off-campus housing facilities offer amenities your child may not need or use, but these are built into the rental price.

Before deciding to pay rent to someone else, consider purchasing a house or condo for your child while they are at college. Here are some benefits to purchasing:

  1. Rather than pay rent (which pays someone else’s mortgage) pay down a mortgage loan on the house or condo that your child can live in for the duration of their college experience.
  2. When your child graduates, you can sell the condo. You’ll most likely recoup your monthly payments, over the 3-4 years you own it, with the sale price. (You cannot recoup rent payments made to someone else.)
  3. If you have other children who might attend, you already have housing waiting for them.
  4. If your student wants a roommate, rent out one of the extra bedrooms for income. Use it toward the mortgage or as living expenses for your child. You stay in control.
  5. A condo purchase will give you a tax break on mortgage interest each year.
  6. Your child can live away from the hustle and bustle of the off-campus student apartments. While some students want the excitement, many others would rather enjoy the quiet for studying and decompressing after a tough school day.
  7. Choose a condo size wisely. Multiple bedrooms offer you a place to stay when you visit.  Ole Miss and the City of Oxford have many events throughout the year you may want to attend. These include: Music, Theatre and Art department events and performances, Homecoming, Parent’s weekends, sports games and tailgating, Double Decker Arts Festival and, of course, graduation. While there are hotels and short-term rentals available, why bother with the added expense or the chance of not finding a room. Rates are high for special event’s weekends and can book months, if not the year, before.
  8. Condos have assigned parking and usually one spot per bedroom in each unit. So a 3-bedroom condo will have 3 parking spots. And don’t worry about special events weekends; most have security guards to keep out non-guests so your parking spot is assured.
  9. Most condos are on the public bus route in Oxford so your child can leave their car at home. Commuter parking passes on campus are reasonably priced if using their car is a must.
  10. Condos have restrictive association rules so you know the other residents/owners will guard their vested interest and make the community a safe and respected place to live.

Oxford, MS is a rural community and you may qualify for a variety of mortgage loans not available in larger cities. Consult a mortgage banker in Oxford for more information. Meet with your financial planner to find out if purchasing a condo is a wise choice based on your current financial situation. And, talk to a real estate attorney or title company about pros and cons of putting your student’s name on both the deed and the mortgage. When you’ve decided to hunt for a condo or house for your student to live in, call me to show you what is available.

Eileen Saunders, SRES REALTOR with Tommy Morgan Realtors BOF-Oxford 2092 Old Taylor Road #101, Oxford, MS 38655  662-404-0816/662-234-5344 eileen@tmhomes.com
This article was written by me and previously published on Parents of Ole Miss website

A Realtor’s Gardening Project

The Tommy Morgan Realtors Oxford branch office has a vegetable garden.

The branch broker, Sean Hettinger, is the mastermind behind the healthy food activity.

He told me that in Ohio, where he moved here from, a woman in town had planted vegetables along the curb in front of her house when a tree was taken down. The spot was left bare and open, so why not put something useful there?

She grew vegetables and anyone was welcome to take what was ripe.

Back to the TM office, Sean has a view of the parking lot from his desk, and there is a little strip of dirt and weeds across the parking lot between the curb and the retaining wall that holds the parking lot up on the hill. He decided to get rid of the ugly weeds and put something more visually pleasing there. So that is how vegetables and sunflowers began popping up each year in that little strip of dirt.

There isn’t much there right now; just a few remaining late-season brussels sprout plants but he is surely planning the summer garden.

Sean is also our TM branch office resident chef, concocting healthy and creative breakfast meals for our weekly sales meetings. In the summer, though, we can feast on what ever is growing in the garden, so a salad gets added to the breakfast.

Not only do the agents in the branch office benefit from his generous gardening but he lets others in the office park take vegetables home.

I usually break off a couple of the small tomato varieties to snack on, but I’ve taken some squash home, too.

Do you have a small sunny spot at your office or near your home? Plant a garden to share with neighbors, friends and co-workers. Everyone benefits. Enjoy!

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Early garden view

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Midsummer garden view 1

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Midsummer garden view 2

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Sunflowers

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Tomatoes

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Late summer

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Late summer

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2020 winter: what’s left of the brussels sprouts

Eileen Saunders, SRES REALTOR with Tommy Morgan Realtors BOF-Oxford 2092 Old Taylor Road #101, Oxford, MS 38655  662-404-0816/662-234-5344 eileen@tmhomes.com

 

Social Distancing Activities in Oxford MS

Here’s an update to my 100 Things To Do In Oxford, MS, that I publish 4 times each year.

Since social distancing is a thing many people are practicing right now, I thought I’d distance my list of outside activities from those that may put you into a crowd. Activities like baseball games, going to the library and taking a class in person have been canceled for now but viewing outdoor art, reading a book on the Grove or taking a walking tour of Oxford are still available. And as of this writing there are still some events to look forward to on the list.

Check out this list and if you have any ideas I’ve missed please share them for my readers.

Things to do in Oxford MS Spring SDEdition

 

 

What Does MLK, Jr. Have To Do With Real Estate?

The following was from a free swipe file offered by Mike to subscribers of Lighter Side of Real Estate e-letter. He wrote it and I’m passing it along for you to read, this time as a letter to you from me. Thanks for the freedom to swipe it, Mike. Happy MLK Day.

So what does Martin Luther King, Jr. have to do with real estate?

“I have a _________…

I’m about 100% sure I can guess what word you chose.

Was it “dream”?

Good chance it was. We all know this line from Martin Luther King, Jr.’s famous speech. So when we hear those first three words, it sort of naturally comes to mind.

But what many people aren’t aware of is how much he affected the lives of real estate agents, buyers, and sellers.

It was his death that gave Congress the last push needed to pass the Fair Housing Act, back in 1968. It’s pretty involved, so I won’t get into it all here, but to put it simply…

Equal Housing Logo

This was put in place to ban racial discrimination in housing. You can’t be refused the rental or purchase of a house, based upon your race.

Seems simple enough to most people now. A given, if you will. But it didn’t happen overnight. And believe it or not, it still can and does come up.

But guess who’s a big part of making sure this Act is followed…

On the front lines, it is people like me. Real estate agents. We’re tasked with making people aware that discrimination based upon race (and many other things) are not acceptable, and we must refuse to work with anyone who wants to do so.

And I am proud to be a part of this ongoing history.

Just figured I’d take this appropriate moment to pay him some respect, and to give you some insight into how much more responsibility a real estate agent has than meets the eye.

That’s all for now…

…and may your dreams come true.

Eileen Saunders, SRES REALTOR with Tommy Morgan Realtors BOF-Oxford 2092 Old Taylor Road #101, Oxford, MS 38655  662-404-0816/662-234-5344 eileen@tmhomes.com