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Should I Stay or Should I Go? Moving for a New Job

Many people live in small towns where the job market just doesn’t quite fit their needs but they enjoy living there.  Others have a specialty job which may require moving to a new city in order to stay in the career field of choice, especially when tele-commuting is not an option.

These people might be homeowners in the town where they went to college or grew up. The kids are in a good school system and the whole family is connected someway to the community: church, soccer, scouts, volunteer work.

But the job!  A new one comes along, an hour away. What to do? Should you continue living in your current home and commute or should you move? In a large metropolitan area, commuting might be the norm but where your small town is separated from others by miles and miles of highway, moving might be necessary.commute to work

Consider a few things:

  1. the commute time and cost,
  2. the housing market,
  3. the school system,
  4. amenities of each town,
  5. career advancement and financial security,
  6. personal fulfillment.

Commute time and cost

Since the job is just an hour away it might be a great thing to consider the commute, at least temporarily. Make sure you like the job and the opportunity it provides. Sure, you’ll be away from the family 2 extra hours a day but once you get a feel for the job and the new area you can make the determination to move or stay. Be sure you have a fuel efficient car to help ease the pain of the additional gasoline cost during this time. You might find that commuting works for you and your family.

The housing market

Although the new job and your current home are just an hour apart, the housing markets could be very different. One could be robust; the other stagnant. You could find both doing well at the same time.  Review the cost of living in both towns using websites that can give you accurate cost of living comparisons.  Then ask for the help of a real estate professional in each town to give you a market analysis which can also help you decide if moving or staying is the best financial choice.  You need to know if you stand to lose money on your current house or would benefit by selling and moving on.

School system

With the kids in school, comparing the school systems is another important consideration. Also, do you have a high school student nearing graduation? Do you want to pull your children from their current school at this time or can you wait to move after graduation? Consider, too, that if you decide to move just over the state line and the graduating child wants to attend a college in the state you are leaving, you will lose resident status for tuition. On their own, at least in Mississippi, they need to be 22 or married (if younger) to obtain their own resident status. Otherwise they are under the parent’s resident status until a year after they become 21 as long as they are living in Mississippi. Grandparents who live in the same state as the college must take legal guardianship of the student in order to use their residency status and save tuition. There are some loopholes and other states may have different rules but be prepared in case you do choose to move across state lines.

Amenities

Look into the cultural, entertainment and shopping aspects of each town. Consider dining options and grocery stores. Will the children be able to continue their sport of choice? Investigate church options. And, is the new town easy to get around?

Career Advancement, Financial Security, Personal Fulfillment

Talk about this new adventure with your spouse and children. If senior parents are living with you or provide a hand in raising the kids, they’ll need to be in the loop as well. What are the benefits of moving or staying? How will your decision to stay and commute affect career advancement and personal fulfillment.  Getting your spouse and the kids on board and having them ask questions about your decision or even help you make the decision is an important family exercise.  It’s important to find out how your decisions affect the family. It’s important to get their questions and feedback. Lack of communication within the family structure can cause tension which, in turn, can affect your personal fulfillment and job performance.

Sometimes, the situation is an easy no-brainer…move on. Many times, there are so many “what-ifs” that it is a hard choice to make. Should I go or should I stay?  Only you and your family can make that decision, but once made, stick with it. No regrets.

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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Adopt A Shelter Dog

October is Adopt A Shelter Dog Month

It is truly amazing the love a dog can bring to you and your family. And a Shelter Dog is even more special because it is a homeless pet that you have rescued.  I won’t go into the statistics or the horrors of a shelter life or the life of an abandoned dog. But I will help you get your house ready for your new pet.

Things You Will Need

While all dogs are so different in personality, size and demeanor, there are basics that you will need before welcoming your new dog to your home.

  • Collar
  • Leash
  • Food Bowls
  • Containers for dog food and treats
  • Crate
  • Comfy bedding your dog can grow into
  • Lots of chew toys

These are the bare necessities. I’m sure you can find other things to purchase for your new dog. When it comes to crates, older dogs generally do not need one unless you want one. Puppies will need one if not for a safe place away from energetic children in the house, also for a safe place while no one is home.  Crates also make travel safe if you have one that can fit into your car.

Protecting Your Investment (your house) From Your New Dog

Dogs get bored. Some breeds need to chew on things.  To avoid damage to your home, be sure to keep your dog busy with chew toys.

As I show houses that are for sale to clients, there have been several times recently when I’ve seen an interior door frame, door, the trim at the base of a support pillar or even the baseboard in any given room that was chewed by the seller’s dog.  This is the kind of damage a bored dog can do to a house so watch your dog carefully the first year (if a puppy) or the first few months (an older dog) to avoid this type of problem. On a personal note, one of my puppies chewed the carpet off the bottom step in my house one day when we forgot to leave him gated in the kitchen. Anything can happen.dog-167663_1920

If your dog chews your house, discourage the behavior and fix the damage. Leaving it may encourage further chewing.  And you may forget it’s there is the damage is partially hidden or easy to hide. If you need to sell your house, fixing old damage is necessary. It’s best to fix it quickly after it happens.

Raw hide has been controversial lately as it has been found hard to digest and can cause some health issues. If your dog’s stomach cannot digest a rawhide treat or any other “digestible” chew, you will find it thrown up on your floor which isn’t good on carpeting. Carpeting will need to be checked regularly for any pet damage from body functions, including throwing up. Carpets can hold in bacteria, too, so with a pet try to steam clean the carpets on a regular schedule. Wood floors can also damage when “accidents” are not cleaned up timely. Tile and both the new porcelain and the vinyl wood-look floors are the easiest to keep clean. So be diligent and perhaps limit your new dog’s time to certain rooms until his personal habits have been satisfactorily been trained.

The Outdoor Dog

A good fence in the back yard provides safety for your dog. It may also add some value to your house when you decide to sell it. Up-keep is important, though. A digging dog can escape under the fence.  Fixing the areas correctly the first time will eliminate further compromise to the integrity of the fence and keep the backyard looking nice.  Poorly maintained fencing can be a hazard to the dog. And remember the added value?  Not with poor or damaged fencing! If you decide to sell the house, repairing the fence will either fall on you or the purchaser and with the added expense to the purchaser, the amount offered for your home might be lower than you expected. So stay on top of maintenance for your dog and your bottom line, should you need to sell your house.

Your New Dog

Enjoy your new shelter dog. I’m so excited for you to rescue a homeless dog and hope you have many years of enjoyment with the furrball. I’ve got my shelter dog…straight from a shelter in W. Tennessee 11 years ago. She’s been a joy.

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

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

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

Home Safety: Lock Your Car Doors

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

A ton.

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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.

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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.