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.

How To Help Senior Parents Downsize

Helping a Senior parent, or parents, downsize and move on to their next home can be stressful but it can also be a joy. The joy comes from spending the time with them to find out about what they have and why, where it came from and who they were with when it was acquired. There are more memories and stories in that old vase on the book shelf then you might realize.

FAMILY STORIES

I was recently visiting my in-laws and sat with my 80+ year-old mother-in-law for a while. She is filled with stories but the thing that got her really going at that moment was her address book. By the end of the conversation neither of us could remember why she pulled it out but we were both glad she did.

You see, every page had a story on it. There were friends from her childhood and from her first neighborhood after she married. There were family members, dead and alive written in and some scratched out and rewritten several times because they moved. She had doctors and housekeepers, car repair specialists and her hairdresser in that book. There were friends from churches she attended in both her home up north and the one in Florida.

And she told me all about these people and some events that they shared. I learned how nice most were, how comical some could be, and generous they all were.  I also learned about their children, who was in college and who was married.

My mother-in-law had a wonderful time conjuring up the memories to tell me and it brought her alive and happy. She normally is quite happy, but it was great to see her even more elevated.  She has had a great life so far and I’m glad to have been in that room with her at the moment she pulled out her address book.

 

RECORDING MEMORIES

There are things you shouldn’t get rid of … memories. And, I believe the address book is the story book of our memories. When going through your senior parent’s things, get a joyful mindset, do it with them, ask questions and make notes. We all have cellphones these days so why not take a photograph of some items with your parents holding them for your memories? Make some notes using your voice recorder or, better yet, record them telling you about special items. If you have a writer, like the Samsung Note phones (my phone of choice and so handy), write out your notes. When the entire process of going through their items to downsize and move on it complete, you have great photographs that you can us to make a photo book. Companies like Snapfish, MyPublisher, your local big-box drug store, and several apps on your phone can help you make a great memory book. Just be sure to add photos of your notes, too, so you have the whole story. Retain an SD card with the photos and downloads from the voice recorder, in case you need to make more copies at some point in the future. Then you have a great collection to pass on to your kids; a family history.

SENIORS VS. MILLENNIALS

Seniors are more likely to want to keep things than Millennials. In other words, Baby Boomers helping aging parents downsize and move, need to understand that what your parents have is not likely to be passed down. However, the memories would be great to hold, and can be stored digitally, too. The old sofa, china set, art display will most likely not be embraced by the Senior parent’s family members so help your aging relatives understand that they don’t need to save it all. Downsizing and getting rid of things can be good for the parent and a relief for the children.

I recently explained this to my 80+ year-old mom. She still has her parent’s old couch and several other items displayed in her house. She was once a contestant on The Price is Right, in the 1950s, and still has her furniture and accessories that she won. She’s hoping to pass them on to me and my brothers. She also has 3 large, plastic tubs in an extra bedroom upstairs with smaller items she wants each of us to have.  Do we want them? Only time will tell.

While you are working through the “memories” items, decide what to get rid of and how. The “HOW” includes, appraising and selling, holding an estate sale, giving some things now to family members. Then, with the “what’s left” pile of items, these either go to your parents new home and stay with them, get donated or consigned, or thrown away.  If you aren’t doing any of the heavy lifting or appraising/consigning immediately, make sure you schedule a time to have this done, so the process doesn’t get drawn out. There is also the chance that if you wait too long, you’ll run out of time before the big moving day and get stuck moving unnecessary things or having them go to storage … or your garage. Tackle this project head on with a sense of urgency, but enjoy your time with your parents as you work along side each other.

SENIOR RESOURCES

Need some help? I am a Seniors Real Estate Specialist and member of the Seniors Real Estate Specialists Council and can provide assistance as you go through this process with your aging  parents. There are great resources for you on the SRES Council webpage and you can find local assistance if you or your parents live outside of the Oxford Mississippi area, where I am located.

If I can offer one piece of unsolicited advise to you as you help your parents: help them with joy in your heart.

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

Moving Checklists

Moving?

Look on the internet, especially Pinterest, and you are likely to find hundreds of Moving Checklists, that is lists filled with activities to help you get your household packed, shut down and moved to a new location.  These checklists tell you when to do what before you move. Most are 6-week lists and a few start sooner and give you more lead time.

I have moved over 15 times in 25 years and pretty much have my own way to prepare. I don’t believe that you need to take your time and do certain things each week.  I do understand that some people, who haven’t moved often, will need a little more guidance, but most events on the checklist can be done at one time.  If you know the date of your move, sit down at once and make all of your phone calls or fill out your internet forms to end or move services, let the teachers know, order doctor and prescription records and more. Do it all at once, then focus on other things.

Because of my experience as a mover and as a professional real estate agent, and because of my own opinion that not all lists are perfect for everyone, I have made my own to share with you.  These lists give you things to do as soon as you plan the moving date. Where most lists end the day of the move, my Moving Checklists end a  month after the move is complete. There are plenty of things you don’t need to do before you move, but need to be done in the first month at your new residence.  Remember, these lists were made based on my personal experience. If you need to tweak them a bit, feel free.

My checklists come in two designs: one is made specially with sentimental value for the Oxford MS mover (moving in or moving out). The other has a garden design and can be used by anyone. The In-Town Moving Checklist is one sided while the Distance Moving Checklist is two pages, or two sides, long.

You can download them here:

In-Town Moves Garden Design:

In-Town Moving Checklist garden-page-001

In-Town Moves Oxford:

In town moving checklist Oxford-page-001

Distance Moving Checklist Garden Design:

Distance Moving Checklist Oxford:

Later this year (2017) my book, tentatively titled The Ultimate Guide to Moving, will be available both in bookstores and online.  It’s an adventure in moving with lots of tips. The book, with the use of anecdotal experiences, is also a commentary on moving over the years and how it has changed. These in-town, long-distance moving checklists and more will be a part of the book. For now, I’m passing these along to anyone who needs to move in a short amount of time, like I usually had to do, and needs some organization to ease the overwhelming task ahead.

And if you are moving to Oxford, download my 100 Things To Do In Oxford MS and get busy enjoying this great little college and retirement town in Mississippi.

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

Deadline for Filing Homestead Exemption Approaching

In Lafayette County Mississippi, homeowners who purchased a house can file for Homestead Exemption between Jan-Apr 1 of the following year. So if you live in and around Oxford and bought your house last year and currently live in it, you can file and should file for this tax exemption benefit. But don’t delay; if you miss the April 1 deadline you  must wait until next January to file.img_1015

Non-exempt taxes are higher taxes. You may have city and county taxes and it makes sense to file for the exemption.

Here are the rules and what you need to file for exemption, below. Click here for a printable version. When you are ready, head to the big white building in the center of the Oxford Square and on the first floor you will find the Tax Office for filing homestead exemption.

HOMESTEAD EXEMPTION

Homestead must be filed between January 1 and April 1 to take effect. The home owner must occupy the property as a primary residence for the exemption to apply.

Filing a New Homestead

When filing a new homestead, you must have the following information:

  1. Copy of your recorded warranty deed
  2. Social security numbers of both husband & wife
  3. Purchase price of your house & land
  4. Tag numbers of all vehicles in your possession

Special Exemption

If you became 65 or were declared 100% disabled on or before January 1, you need to file for the special exemption.

  • 65 or Older
    • Know your date of birth
    • Tag numbers on all vehicles in your possession
  • 100% Disability
    • Social security awards letter stating your disability & the date you were declared disable or
    • Two detailed letters from two different doctors stating your disability and the date.
    • Tag numbers of all vehicles in your possession

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

College-Town Retirement

College towns can offer a lot to retirees:

  1. Cultural & sporting events20161110_195040.jpg
  2. Life-time-learning programs
  3. Diverse nightlife
  4. Infinite dining options
  5. Exercise trails and fitness facilities
  6. Public transportation and a cab system

Those are some of the things that make Oxford, MS attractive to retirees.  Not only is the University of Mississippi in the center of town, but Northwest Mississippi Community College is just a quick bus ride across Hwy 6. Additionally, Oxford is home to a regional medical facility and several Senior’s housing options.

So, what if you are considering retirement to a college town? Will you be purchasing a house or condo to age-in-place? Will you be joining a retirement community with an assisted living facility for future use? Here are a few things to consider:

  1. Know the cost. From single family housing to condos, what will be your fixed costs: HOA or condo fees, lawn maintenance, etc. Can you afford the cost of living
  2. How close to campus and the town’s amenities can you live? Does public transportation exist in the area you are considering to live?
  3. Know restrictions: visitors, pets, cars/RVs/boats, and gardening.
  4. Investigate the true benefits of the college or university if you want to take courses: tuition waivers, limit on classes per semester, online access and accessibility to campus events.

For more information about choosing a retirement destination, Click Here

“You can count on an SRES to guide you through the process of buying or selling your home, making the transaction less stressful and more successful.”

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

Home Sellers’ & Home Buyers’ Guides Are Now Available

buyingahomewinter2017-coversellingyourhousewinter2017-coverFour times a year I have a new and current Home Seller’s Guide and Home Buyer’s Guide available free. They’re here; just click the picture for a downloadable version.

Now is a great time for both Buyers and Sellers and here’s why:

Buyers

Interest rates are still relatively low. The rates are projected to go up and are higher than they were this time last year so now is the time to lock in a rate you can be happy with.  Still, rates are a lot lower than they have been in the past and have been the lowest since 1971. Before you start looking, meet with your banker or mortgage company to get pre-qualified for a loan. Then you will know exactly how much you can afford and you won’t be wasting your time or spinning your wheels in the wrong price range. You may be surprised at how much you can afford. Then, call your REALTOR and start looking. I would love to be your REALTOR so check out my profile online and on Facebook.

Sellers

Why Wait???? Typically, inventory builds in March and if you wait until then you’ll have a lot more competition. Right now we have both an inventory shortage and a sudden uptick of buyers in Oxford and surrounding areas. The political season is over, the Dow is at a record high and there is market confidence. Wouldn’t it be great to get it sold quicker?  Make sure your house and yard are in great condition because curb appeal sells and so does a house that is move-in-ready. It is proven that sellers who utilize real estate professionals get their houses sold faster and for more money.. If this is something you want, schedule an appointment with me for more information.

I hope these guides can help you. Enjoy! And, best wishes.

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

Home Safety: Lock Your Car Doors

What does locking your car doors have to do with home safety?

A ton.

design-63

I live in a house with a two-car garage. I have to drive toward my house on the driveway and turn a sharp left into the garage. But I don’t use the garage. It’s our storage room and so our three cars are parked on the driveway, lined up across the front of my house. It works out; none of us have to park on the street and no one has to move their car to let one out of the garage.

I park closest to the garage door so it’s easiest to enter the garage with groceries and stuff. I can easily plop the frozen food into the freezer and go inside of the house. But one day I left the car unlocked so my son could bring in the rest of the groceries. With that done, I did not lock the car immediately.

Our dining room window looks out at my car. That night we closed the blinds and ate dinner. Then I remembered the car was unlocked and clicked my remote only to hear the car horn twice.  It only does that when a door is open, so I looked outside and the interior lights were on.  My son and I went out of the garage door to check on the car and found it had been rummaged through; my coin tray emptied and left on my front seat. All else was in tact.

But what I went for first was to see if my garage door opener was still in its “secret” compartment.  I was relieved and grateful it was still there.

Back in the late 1990s, a neighbor in S.C. had left her garage door opener in her car and left the car unlocked.  Her garage was on the opposite side of the house from any of the bedrooms. One night thieves went through our upscale subdivision and found her garage door opener, opened the garage and emptied it out. Golf clubs, tools, and more were missing the next morning. Heartbreaking yes but there is a lesson here.

If you have a garage door opener, carry it in your purse, briefcase or hide it somewhere in your car. Most thieves, I’m told by police officers, don’t spend too much time going through cars. They know where the important spots are and take the other stuff they see. But a garage door opener is a key to your house and if that is available to them they will use it now or take it and come back later, even if your car is stolen or broken into when it is parked somewhere else.  If  your car registration info is in the glove box, you’ve just told the thief where you live and they have a key.

Be leery of cars with built-in garage door openers, too, that you can program to your house. It can’t be stolen but if you’re on vacation, and the car left at home has the garage door opener in it, be aware of the consequences.

design-64

So here are some tips to keeping your house safe:

  1. keep your garage door opener with you and not in your car
  2. if you keep it in your car, hide it but not in a high profile spot like the center console or glove box
  3. when you go away or if you don’t need to use your garage door often, keep it locked. There is a lock button on the garage-door wall panel in your garage
  4. lock your car immediately when you get out of it
  5. keep the door between the garage and the house locked, just in case you happen to forget tip #1 and #4
  6. if you leave a key to the house in the garage for the kids or pet sitter, hide it. Don’t put it on a hook next to the door or under the mat…to easy to find.

Unfortunately, every neighborhood, even an upscale neighborhood, is a target for thieves. Keep yours less of a target by keeping your house safe.

Lock your car, keep your house safe. Keep your family safe.