Category Archives: Home for Sale

Getting Your Condo Ready to Sell… While Your Student Still Lives There

College-town residents come from a variety of backgrounds and parts of the world. While these unique towns are home to full-time, year-round residents, college towns also host part-time residents who own second homes for retirement vacations or to have a place to stay for college, conference or other cultural events. There are, of course, the short-term residents as well. These are the college students whose parents bought a condo for them to live in during their studies at the college or university. The condo purchase serves many functions: student housing, a place for parents, family and friends to stay when they visit and provides an investment. An extra bedroom can be rented to another student for income. Mortgaged condos provide tax benefits and the condo or house can possibly earn equity income when market values rise.

Most condos are bought and sold on an average of a 4-year cycle. Families that choose to keep a home in the college town after their student graduates may move up to a bigger or newer property, although some choose to stay with the property they’ve owned for years.living-room-2155376_1920

Each spring offers a market demand for condo sales in a college town. Buyers of this type of property generally do not need to move in right away, like a single-family house would. This allows condo sellers to put their property on the market early with a closing date after the graduation date.  The student can stay in the house through that time and the family has a place to stay during graduation weekend to save on hotel costs.

So, when is the best time to put the condo on the market?  Buyers start looking after the first of the year for their student’s fall-semester housing needs. The season can pick up in February.  Benefits of early listings include getting sold quicker and alleviating your student from having to deal with showings during exam week.  Later listings may get a higher price due to perceived lack of inventory, but showings may hassle the student during exam time.  Waiting until after graduation means the house is cleaned out and showings do not necessarily need appointments. However, buyers might not be as plentiful at the end of this selling season.  Any way you look at it, when to sell completely up to you, the seller.

Here’s how to get your condo ready to sell.

  1. Professionally clean carpets. If they are very nasty and stained, replace them.
  2. Pack up and send home the extra stuff to eliminate clutter. You want to show how big the closets are, not how much stuff you can force into them. Remove kitchen counter appliances that aren’t used and décor that collects dust. Minimal is best for staging.
  3. Whether your condo is a stand-alone, a townhouse or multi-unit building, meet with your condo association to look at any exterior surfaces that condo fees cover and are in need of repair: these could be soffits, railings, paint on doors, missing screens, non-functioning lamps, broken roof shingles, fences surrounding your patio, etc. You’ve been paying condo fees so these items should be cared for. A buyer wants to know they are purchasing into an association that utilizes its fees to properly care for its properties.
  4. Have the HVAC unit serviced and change the filters. In my experience, this is usually an item an inspector finds issues with so unless you have an annual service contract, make sure the system is working properly.
  5. Look to see if the walls look fresh. If not, paint them or at least the one that looks bad. If you need to paint the entire interior, use a popular, neutral color.
  6. Check for leaks in any faucet and have these fixed.
  7. Professionally clean the interior and the windows
  8. Declutter patios and porches. Remove any broken chairs and tables. If you have use of a garden hose, roll it up out of the way.
  9. Find out if your association allows REALTOR signs. Some do not.
  10. Find a great real estate agent and put the house on the market

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Reasons you should not sell your student condo by yourself.

  1. The student is inconvenienced to make time to be at the house to show it each time.
  2. It limits the available time for potential buyers to view it. If they cannot get in when they want, they might move on to a property they can see on their time. Most condo buyers are parents who are in town for a short time to view what is on the market with their real estate agent.
  3. FSBO properties are not represented by a real estate agent so legally in Mississippi, an agent needs a signed One-Time-Showing Agreement in order to enter the condo with one client. A FSBO owner would have to sign a new one for each agent that wants to show it and for each new client. Arrangements must be made to pick up a key.
  4. There may be several showings in one day. Your student should be spending the day in class or at the library rather than showing the house.
  5. It may also put your student in danger since an unrepresented buyer will know your student lives alone.
  6. Your student would have to let inspectors and contractors into the condo.

The most your student should worry about is keeping the condo clean until it is sold.  By hiring a real estate agent your student should be a student and work toward graduation day.

For more tips and to learn my point of difference, contact me for an appointment.

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

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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

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

Tips for Moving After the Elections 2016

 

Have you heard?

Millions and millions of Americans are planning to move after the up-coming election. This news is all over the internet: Facebook, Twitter, blogs. And, if it’s on the internet it must be true.

I’ve read that some people will move overseas. Some will go to Canada or South America or Europe. Some will stay in the U.S. but just want to go somewhere to “get away from it all.”

So I’m here to help.

First of all, if you plan to stay in the U.S. and haven’t decided where to go yet, consider Oxford, MS. Oxford is a wonderful, college town with a retirement community. There are plenty of things to do: arts, culture, sports, dining, outdoor activities. Oxford has great schools in both the county and city limits, is a designated bike-friendly community, has a world-class food scene, ranked #1 Smartest Place to retire, is home to the #1 bookstore in the country, ranked #2 of the top ten small towns in America and has literary charm. There are literally over 100 fun things to do in Oxford and if you don’t believe me, request my quarterly list of 100 Things To Do In Oxford MS.

So if Oxford seems like the place you want to move to, please call me and I’ll help you find your dream home. I am a REALTOR and work with Tommy Morgan Realtors in the Oxford office. We are a full service brokerage and can assist you through the entire process of buying a home here.cropped-dscn7959.jpg

Now, if you are one of the people leaving Oxford, know that we will miss you and wish you well. Again, please call me and I will help you sell your house. I am quite experienced with sellers that relocate due to jobs, mostly, and will take great care to keep your house watched over until it sells. Don’t worry about the paperwork; we can send it to you and most forms you can e-sign or sign before a notary or local attorney. With all of these people moving around I just might have a buyer for your house in the very near future.

Moving? Time is of Essence

Well, let’s get down to the business of all of this moving that is about to happen. There is much to do so it is wise to start preparing now. With the election just a few weeks away, you’ll have to be quick.

  1. Update or get your passport if you plan to move out of the country. With all of these people moving, you won’t have to stand in line if you do it now. Get up to date on those necessary shots, too.
  2. If you are a renter, get your notice in that you are leaving so you don’t get charged that extra month. You may have to pay to break your lease if it does not end for a while, but that’s ok. Add the extra cost to your moving budget so you won’t have any financial surprises at the end.

If you are a homeowner, get your house on the market fast while there is little competition. You’ll want your house to be the first to sell. Of course, if the house and yard are in disrepair it may take longer to sell than a spiffy new building with hardwood floors and the latest appliances and counter tops. But that’s ok; since you have no place to go yet you will have time to make some repairs and upgrades.  I have a list of local contractors and handymen that you could pick through to hire to help you, but do it fast to schedule them or you may be put on a waiting list…or DIY.

  1. Regardless of whether you rent or own, since you are moving, start packing. There might be a run on supplies and that would be horrible if you move but cannot pack your things. Boxes, tape and packing materials are expensive; add it to your budget. This is a good time to purge your belongings, too. I mean, really, if you’re one of the millions heading overseas, it will be so much cheaper for you to get rid of all that you have and lighten your load. Go shopping once you find a new hometown.

I have also read many times on the internet that many kind people will help you move. Specifically, I saw one woman’s Facebook post about her friend that wanted to leave the country after the election and she was offering to help her pack. How sweet and neighborly. So my point is, if you need help, there seem to be a lot of people that will give you a hand. And if you decide to purge your belongings, maybe those helpers would like them, too.6140787735_d253bfd60a_o

  1. Make arrangements for a truck. There are only so many to go around and if all of those people move at the same time, it will be difficult to get a truck when you need it, so make your truck reservations now. You could, in fact, order a storage container for the short term. The company you choose can bring the container to you, you pack it up and they’ll store that unit until you need it. When you find a new home just call them to deliver it. Remember that extra storage time and long-distance travel will cost you, so make note of that in your budget.
  2. Cancel your utilities, lawn care service, pest control, your daughter’s ballet lessons, pet walking service, and any upcoming doctor appointments. Empty your aquarium and give away the fish. Reptiles that you aren’t taking with you should go to a pet rescue service or a good friend. Have your mail held if you do not know your new address yet; have it forwarded if you do. Magazines don’t get forwarded so be sure to call them each about your move. Students will need to fill out the necessary paperwork to withdraw from school (sorry but tuition is non-refundable at most schools by this time of year). Notify your bank and other financial institutions, credit card companies, safe deposit box and credit monitoring subscriptions. These might put a hold on your accounts if they see unusual movement. You can’t move without money so make sure they know you are moving. Schedule car maintenance asap so you can get where you want to go in a safe car, even if it is just to the airport. Make sure your tags and ID cards are current. Of course if you are a homeowner, keep the utilities on so the house doesn’t mold over while it sits vacant waiting for a buyer. You can switch the utilities to the new owners. Get your children’s school records, doctor records, and stock up on prescriptions. Call your insurance company to let them know you are moving. They can advise you on keeping your stuff safe during the move.
  3. Empty out the refrigerator and pantry. Eat down your inventory and have friends handy on moving day to take the stuff you couldn’t eat. If you are using a moving company, drink all of your liquor now! They won’t pack or move liquids.
  4. Pack your bags for as many days as you’ll need until your stuff arrives at your new home or until you can get to the nearest shopping district in your new hometown. Keep valuable items with you at all times.
  5. Consider what to do with Fido or Miss Kitty. Make arrangements now.
  6. Hire a cleaning service to come in after you so you leave your place the way you originally found it.

Whew!  Are you sure you want to do this?

Just remember, I’m here to help whether you want to move away from or move to this great little town of Oxford, MS.

Bon Voyage.

Eileen Saunders is a Realtor® with Tommy Morgan Realtors in Oxford, MS. She is an expert at moving,  having moved 15 times in 23 years, buying, selling, and renting houses along the way. Her soon-to-be published book, tentatively titled “Moving,” chronicles her family’s adventures over the past years and includes tips to make your moves smoother and less stressful. You can reach Eileen at her office, 2092 Old Taylor Road, Oxford MS 38655 or by phone: 662-234-5344 or 662-404-0816. Eileen is a certified Seniors Real Estate Specialist® and believes in Equal Housing for all.

photo credit: libertygrace0 Moving House via photopin (license)

Just Listed in Windsor Falls Subdivision

4 Bedroom/3 Bath house in popular Windsor Falls subdivision located just south of the famous Oxford Square and Baptist Memorial Hospital. Fenced yard, wood floors, granite counters. Oxford School District.

Home Owners Association with additional fee for neighborhood pool access.

Call today to see this house.

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

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20 Ways to Prepare the Exterior of Your House For Sale

The first impression people have of your house is earned from what they see on the outside. If you house is kept well and looks inviting, chances are the inside is, too, and buyers will gain an interest in seeing what’s inside.

The truth is that some buyers will decide whether to go inside or drive by to the next house by seeing the outside.  I have actually cancelled appointments shortly after arriving because the outside of the house wasn’t in good condition and the buyers didn’t want to waste their time going in.

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Photo courtesy of Creative Commons

Here are some tips to make buyers want to come inside:

  1. Spruce up the lawn by cutting, trimming, weeding and removing all yard clutter.
  2. Weed and apply fresh mulch to flower beds – it gives a fresh and maintained look for a low cost.
  3. Trim your trees and bushes.
  4. Apply fresh paint to wooden fences or power wash them to look fresh.
  5. Power wash the home’s exterior, driveway, walkway, patio and deck.
  6. If the house needs it, consider painting the exterior or at least the trim.
  7. Caulk around all doors and windows to give a tightly built appearance.
  8. Clean gutters and make sure all gutters and downspouts are attached.
  9. Paint the front door.
  10. Place potted plants near the door.
  11. Tighten and clean all door handles.
  12. Clean windows.
  13. Make sure your house numbers are easy to see.
  14. Buy a new welcome mat.
  15. If your shutters hardware has rusted, clean it up.
  16. Replace a dented/rusted mailbox.
  17. Plant seasonal flowers for extra color.
  18. Decorate gently during the holidays.
  19. Roof stains can be easily washed off and give a “new roof” appearance.
  20. Update outdoor lights or at least make sure the light bulbs work.

Squatters in Vacant Homes

You may have recently heard the story of the family in Idaho who had a renter move into their home they were selling and wasn’t renting from them.  The renter saw an ad for the house, signed a lease and paid some guy to rent it. But it doesn’t belong to that guy, they never authorized a renter and now the owners can’t evict her.

Apparently this has been happening to other homeowners around the country, too. They’ve moved and left their home vacant waiting for a buyer or waiting for the closing date on a pending contract.  Each state has laws pertaining to squatter’s rights and acquiring ownership of property through a process called “adverse possession” which all homeowners should know about. Be sure to read about these.

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Creative Commons image

Not to scare you, but sellers…you need to be aware of this. FSBO sellers usually don’t have anyone watching their house when they leave and move into their new home.  There are several houses, that I know of, which are FBSO homes and they are vacant.  I hear crazy stories of how they let people in to view it, hoping these are qualified buyers.  Maybe the FSBO has neighbors watching, maybe not.  Not all neighbors will take on the “watchdog” role for liability reasons.  They don’t want to be liable for not reporting a problem.  But please be aware that your vacant house needs to be watched or you could get a squatter.

Having a real estate agent for your vacant home doesn’t necessarily mean your house is protected from squatters, vandals or bursting pipes either. However, a house on the MLS is more likely to have regular showings. If you have to move away and leave your house vacant, list it with an agent arrange with him or her to make regular trips to the house to keep an eye on it.

A squatter could let themselves in. Watching the vacant house regularly and finding there is little-to-no activity there, a would-be squatter could pose as a qualified buyer to see the house with an agent and unlock a window to get back in. Land owners could be the victim of property taken over by hunters, claiming rights because the land was vacated.

The other issue with vacant homes is insurance.  A vacant house is a liability. Most insurance companies will charge homeowners a vacant-house premium after 30 or 60 days. If you have a contract on the house and move before closing, most insurance companies won’t bother with this premium because the house will soon be occupied.  However, a long-term vacancy means the house is unwatched. Vandals, fires, storm damage, water leaks left unchecked can happen more often when a property is not occupied.

Just because your house is vacant doesn’t mean you can’t make it look occupied. Utilities should be left on for showings. So, leave your blinds closed and use programmable light bulbs or light switches in various rooms to go on both in the evenings and on cloudy days. Install a doorbell that notifies you on your cellphone when someone rings it. Make sure your real estate agent goes by regularly, and not at a regular time, to rid both the driveway of newspapers and your door of marketing door hangers.

These incidents of squatters is unfortunate but real.  Take precautions to make sure you don’t become a victim.

Disclaimer: I am not an affiliate of or have a relationship with any types of products mentioned in this article. I am a REALTOR which means I am a member of the National Association of REALTORS.

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