Category Archives: Buying a home

Out of this World Property

So you want to buy property but can find anything you can afford.  There is nothing on this great Earth of ours that fits your budget. What do you do?

You could save more money, build, visit your mortgage banker for advice, keep searching or buy something out of this world.

Yes, there are companies around the world that can sell you property on Mars, Venus, one of Jupiter’s moons, our Moon, or somewhere else located in the heavens above.  These include Lunar Embassy, Buy Mars, Moon Estates and more.

I’ve searched around for you already and starting at just $15 (Groupon deal this week, limited time only) you can own an acre of property on Mars. The usual price starts around $35. For other celestial properties you’re looking at $99. You get a map, deed, photos, and more.

Now, getting there might be a little difficult.  It won’t be an easy commute so you have to keep looking here on  Earth for a realistic place to live. You’ll have to plan ahead for travel and weekend getaways might be out of the question until further technological advances in transportation (like “Beam me up, Scotty”) are made but, through one 045company, you can purchase an extraterrestrial passport to use once you lock in your ride.

Is this legal? Well, you can check out the legal basis for the ability to sell space property on the Lunar Embassy website.  It’s an interesting story.

Purchase directly from these companies, if you wish. They do not use real estate agents. However, if you want to look at property in Mississippi, North Mississippi specifically, give me a call.

You know the phrase “I’ll give you the moon”? Well, here’s a way to give someone the moon, or part of it. What a great Valentine’s Day gift.

Disclosure: I am not an affiliate of any company mentioned in this article. I am a licensed real estate professional in Mississippi.

Eileen Saunders, REALTOR® with Tommy Morgan REALTORS®, 2092 Old Taylor Road, Suite 101, Oxford MS 38655. 662-404-0816 | 662-234-5344 Equal Housing

 

 

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Bedroom or Bonus Room?

When listing your home for sale, what actually constitutes a bedroom?

Does it need a closet? Does it need a window? Does it need an easily accessible bathroom?

Oxford MS has adopted the International Residential Code (IRC) which does not require a bedroom to have a closet or its own bathroom.  But it does require the following:

  • An entrance from inside the house
  • An escape to the outside of the house (the HUD handbook specifies size, height and location details of this escape route)
  • A latchable door
  • At least 50% of the ceiling height is 7 ft. or more
  • The area of the room must be at least 70 sq ft and not less than 7 ft in any horizontal direction
  • It cannot open to the garage
  • Must have functional utility; direct access to a common area
  • Must be above grade

If there are other requirements in Oxford MS or any other town, they are because of local ordinances.  However, when determining whether a room in your house is a bedroom, consider common sense.  If the room meets these requirements, would you still definitely use the room in question as a full-time bedroom for a family member?  Is it more likely a room set off from the main living quarters that you can put a bed into for Grandma to use when she comes to visit?  Is it actually the den near the front door with double-glassed windows that you’ve furnished as a sleeping quarters?

I see many homes listed for sale that I simply scratch my head about in wonderment over the extra bedroom. But this may be a matter of my opinion, experience and common sense.

If the room is far removed from the nearest bathroom, would you call it a bedroom?  If the only two full-size bathrooms are a master bathroom and a jack-and-jill bathroom, but there is a half bath, does that room have real bathroom access?

Under the IRC, closets are not a requirement, however, homebuyers expect them in modern homes.  That older Victorian will not have closets unless they were added but that is expected of a vintage house. If you don’t have closets in your modern-era home, you’ll have to use furniture to house your clothes and to many buyers that is a turnoff.

Another issue I see is with the “bedroom” over the garage. The stairway from that room can come into the house at any point: hallway, living space, kitchen, and laundry room to name a few, as long as it comes into the house separated by a latchable door and does not go through the garage, patio or other outside area first. Let’s say there are no closets and no easy bathroom access. You currently use it as an office or a playroom.  Why?  Because to you it is not really a bedroom. It is an extra room that you wanted in the house.  So to list it as a bedroom would be an exaggeration, wouldn’t it?  Should this room simply be listed on the MLS or any FSBO listing platform as an extra, or bonus, room? Now let’s throw in a “guest bed” for when Grandma or an occasional friend comes to town.  Is it now a bedroom?  If there is no easy bathroom access and Grandma has to navigate stairs in the middle of the night, would you actually put her up there? Is it still a bedroom or guest bedroom?

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I have a wonderful room over my garage, however, it is accessible through the garage only. Under IRC, HUD and Oxford MS municipal rules, this room does not qualify as a bedroom.  It is a bonus room, an office, or whatever we’d like to make it.  If we put a bathroom up there and add a closet, under the rules it is still not legally a bedroom.  While it has 2 access areas (door and window), latchable door, ceiling height and square footage requirements, it goes through the garage so it cannot be a bedroom.

Let’s say a client/family asked me to find for them a 4 bedroom house because they have 3 children that want their own rooms. If I showed them a house listed with 4 bedrooms but it was actually one with 3 bedrooms downstairs and a single room upstairs without a closet or bathroom, I’d be wasting their time.  Experience tells me that regardless of the child’s age, this set-up is less than desirable.  Sure a teen might think it’s pretty cool to be upstairs by themselves but the reality of no bathroom or no closet will soon become a bummer.  Having to run downstairs in the middle of the night to use the bathroom might be dangerous for a sleepy person or a sick child.

So, when you decide to list your house for sale, either with a professional real estate agent or as a FSBO, remember these guidelines and ask yourself if it is really, truly and without a doubt a bedroom.

*Sources for this article:  Oxford MS Municode, International Code Council, Sacramento Appraisal Blog, National Appraiser Roster 

Eileen Saunders, REALTOR (r) ~Tommy Morgan REALTORS (r) ~2092 Old Taylor Road, Oxford, MS 38655~662-234-5344 or 662-404-0816~Equal Housing

Home Owners Association

For some home buyers, a home in a community with an Home Owners Association (HOA) is ideal.

The rules provide a security for the homeowner with regards to appearance of the neighborhood, tolerated landscaping, exterior house color choices, pet rules, street and yard parking, noise, and much more. HOAs work hard to keep the quality of life in the neighborhood and the value of the homes at, what they consider, their best. An HOA, with an active board can be a homeowner’s best friend.hoa-board-meeting-clip-art-1884232

But, not all home buyers look at the HOA rules before they close on a new home.  Some are shocked at the rules, while others start out as a homeowner unintentionally breaking the rules.

In Oxford, as in many towns, you will find HOA rules and guidelines stating the following:

Pet rules: Your community may or may not have leash laws but the HOA can have additional rules. These may include that all pets must be on leashes. This includes cats.  Pet rules may also include the type of pet that is not allowed in the neighborhood. For example, some may not allow Pitbulls.

Parking rules: There may be no long-term on-street parking allowed, except for guests, or maybe not even guests.  You may have to use your garage and driveway for your car, your spouse’s car and each of your children’s cars.

Architectural: There may be standards for your landscaping. For example, all gardens must use a particular mulch, every house must have a particular tree by the street, all mailboxes are standard, houses must have a standard lampost that remains on 24/7.  There are also standards for paint color, fences, driveways, shutters and more.

Renting: In Oxford, homeowners know that a football weekend is a money maker, IF you can rent your home for the weekend to a family or group of die-hard Ole Miss football fans.  Homeowners that can rent their homes for the weekend may be able to earn a month’s mortgage payment in just 3 days.  But, many HOA rules prohibit this.  Other HOA rules prohibit annual leasing.  Be sure to read the HOA rules if you are purchasing a home that you want to lease to families or students.

These are just an example of what you might find in the HOA rules. When buying a house, always request a copy of the HOA rules before you make an offer.

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

 

Paperwork Required for a Mortgage Application

When making a mortgage application in Mississippi the following documents are needed for loan approval.  Each person involved in the one loan needs to submit this documentation.

With the new laws taking place October 1, 2015 this list is subject to change so I will update it when I find out what you will need. For now, have the following ready for your mortgage lender:

  • Copy of each borrower’s drivers license
  • Copy of each borrower’s social security card
  • One month of pay stubs for each borrower
  • Last two years W2 forms for each borrower
  • Last two years tax returns and proof of income on all residents
  • Last two month bank statements: all pages numbered
  • Most recent 401K statements, money market and/or stock statements for each borrower

Be aware the additional documentation might be requested from the loan officer.

Eileen Saunders, REALTOR(r)~Tommy Morgan REALTORS(r)~2092 Old Taylor Road, Oxford, MS 38655~662-404-0816 or 662-234-5344~Equal Housing

Earthquakes

The area around Memphis TN sits on the New Madrid fault line. Earthquakes, small and large, are felt throughout the region.

Two earthquakes were felt just yesterday, May 2,  in the Canton/Madison MS area. One happened last month in eastern Missouri. The most famous of all the New Madrid earthquakes happened in 1811 when, it is reported, the Mississippi River flowed north for a short while. There is a great book about this event titled, “When the Mississippi Ran Backwards…” by Jay Feldman. It’s a little political, and seems a little fiction-like but it’s true and still a great read.

The quakes that happened today registered in the lower 3 range. According to a Richter Magnitude Scale chart on Wikipedia, a range of 3 on the Richter scale generally means: Often felt by people, but very rarely causes damage. Shaking of indoor objects can be noticeable. A range of 4 means: Noticeable shaking of indoor objects and rattling noises. Felt by most people in the affected area. Slightly felt outside. Generally causes none to minimal damage. Moderate to significant damage very unlikely. Some objects may fall off shelves or be knocked over. A 5 is generally when you start seeing structural damage.

Oxford, MS is part of the New Madrid Fault area.

What does that mean?

Well, there is the possibility of earthquakes in this area.

The most recent earthquake that was close to Oxford, MS happened in February 1999 near Enid Lake. It was a  2.9 magnitude.

As a homeowner you can inquire with your insurance company about additional insurance to cover any damage that could occur from an earthquake. Your insurance agent can advise you.

Disclaimer: I make no money endorsing the book listed above. I simply enjoyed reading it and recommend it.

Eileen Saunders ~~ Tommy Morgan Realty, 2092 Old Taylor Rd., Oxford, MS~~ 662-234-5344 (o) or 662-404-0816

Real Life House Hunting

According to my Pinterest, I need a house with 14 bedrooms, 20 bathrooms, 11 kitchens, 5 bonus rooms, 6 garden areas, 32 screened porches, 100 closets …

~  ~  ~

My husband and I enjoy watching the home shows on television such as Beach Front Bargain Hunting and International House Hunting.  If you are not familiar with these shows, I’ll explain. A couple or family decides to move overseas or to the coast. A Realtor shows them 3 options, some within the budget and almost always there is one above the budget.  After seeing 3 homes, the couple makes a decision. Meanwhile, they critique the home’s livability, outdoor space, bathrooms and need for repair.  One home definitely gets the “X” and they pick between the 2 left over. Rarely do they have to wait and find something unscripted, which ends up on the “update” at the end of the show.

While it is fun to see what they picked, also it is fun to see what is available around the world. However, this type of home-buying experience is not the real world.

When shopping for a home your Realtor should have a great selection in your budget to show you.  It should not be unusual for him or her to show you a house that is more than your budget; remember, you can always make an offer lower than the asking price.  However, if the inventory in the area is low, you may only have 3 choices.  If none fit your needs, wait if you can because there is always tomorrow and something to your liking will pop up.  Ask your Realtor to investigate FSBO homeowners that will work with Realtors.  But beware: if you are working with a Realtor and have signed State-required papers that essentially exclusively hire that Realtor, do not go to a For Sale By Owner home seller on your own. You may end up having to pay the broker’s commission if you purchase the house.

The rules may differ from state to state but they are made to protect the consumer, so pay attention to what you sign and let your Realtor do your work for you. Remember this, the seller always pays the commission, unless you go behind your Realtor’s back and find something on your own.  Then in most cases you will pay it.

Working with a Realtor benefits  you in the following way:

As the buyer:

  • Realtors can save you time by searching for your specifications and making the appointments for you to view houses
  • Realtors are professional negotiators
  • Realtors have access to the local MLS containing accurate information about what is for sale in your price range
  • When you work with a Realtor, other Realtors will leave you alone
  • When you work exclusively with a Realtor, the seller pays the commission

As the seller:

  • National statistics show that Realtors can get more for homes than homeowners
  • Realtors are familiar with the necessary paperwork
  • Realtors can pre-qualify prospective buyers and know what similar homes in your neighborhood sold for
  • Realtors can market your house more effectively
  • You reach more home buyers with a Realtor lock box on your front door.

If you go it alone, be sure you have an attorney to help you out with the contract, the contingencies, the disclosures, inspections…your rights.

Happy house hunting!

Eileen P. Saunders, Realtor
Tommy Morgan, Inc., Realtors
2092 Old Taylor Rd., Suite 101
Oxford, MS 38655
662-234-5344, 662-404-0816