Counter tops can really define your kitchen.
The surface can make an elegant statement. It can be simple. It can be warm. It can be casual.
The surfaces to choose from include wood, stone, concrete, laminate and much more. Many kitchen designers even mix counter surface types within one room.
Wood surfaces are not your regular butcher block from the 1980s. I had a eucalyptus counter in a house I rented several years ago. It was lovely and warm. The wood needed annual upkeep with a specific oil treatment but it was one of my favorite counter tops. Just be sure not to use that space as a cutting board.
Many local homes I’ve viewed had a single counter space in wood and the rest in another surface type. Other wood choices include bamboo, walnut, cherry, mesquite.
Stone surfaces vary widely and include popular choices like granite, quartz, soapstone, travertine, Jerusalem stone and slate. Most require particular cleaners as some may damage easily from improper care. Stone surfaces also come in a variety of color choices to add personality to your kitchen. The downside to stone is that the busier the design of the stone the easier crumbs and dirt can hide on the surface. However, solid surface colors can only accent the fact you need to clean it. My favorite counters were black quartz in another house I lived in. I loved the look when they were clean but I was constantly wiping them down (there were children in the house which accounted for the dirt and crumbs).
New trends in counter tops are concrete, copper-wrapped and recycled-glass counters. Copper-wrapping seems to be popular on counters that are separate from the main countertop in the kitchen but not necessarily on the island. Recycled-glass counters are higher-end because of the process to make them. A mix of colorful glass chips from various broken glass items are blended with concrete and sealed for a smooth finish. Terazzo is making a comeback in both flooring and countertops for homeowners making that mid-century modern statement.
Other trends include eco-friendly counters like composite countertops. These can be made of recycled paper or fly ash and are sealed to resist bacteria. They are heat resistant, too. Engineered stone, stainless steel, solid surface and “upscale” laminate are also popular choices.
Tile counters are still popular although most people I had shown houses to do not like them. Tile can be a less expensive way to have an expensive looking counter. And while it is pretty, there is the grout to consider when cleaning. Scrubbing stains out of an unsealed grout can be tedious, so be sure to seal it. Grout can also crack, leaving the homeowner to maintain it more often than they would need to with solid surfaces. With these factors in mind solid stone is an unoffical winner of my countertop experience.
But you decide. When choosing your counters go to a store that specializes in stone for their expertise, and visit some other kitchen design centers for their expertise. Be sure to investigate wood as well.
Although I suggested mixing surfaces in your kitchen, do consider matching your other counters throughout the house to the dominant kitchen counter surface. These would include bathrooms and laundry. If you ever have to sell your house, this is a design issue that comes up often with buyers. Buyers like to see continuity of design and most of my buyers, who have passed on a house, stated that it was because of the expense to match counters.
And my last piece of advice is this: a desk built into the kitchen is a great space to have but consider not using stone on the desk surface; it gets cold. I speak from experience on this matter.
For more info on picking your countertops read this great article on countertops and your personality.
All photos courtesy of Creative Commons.
Eileen Saunders, SRES REALTOR with Tommy Morgan Realtors 2092 Old Taylor Road, Oxford, MS 38655 firstname.lastname@example.org 662-404-0816 or 662-234-5344 Equal Housing
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.
Consider a few things:
- the commute time and cost,
- the housing market,
- the school system,
- amenities of each town,
- career advancement and financial security,
- 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.
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.
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
It is a seller’s market in Oxford, MS.
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|
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 email@example.com Equal Housing
Now is a great time for both Buyers and Sellers and here’s why:
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.
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
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.
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Consider what to do with Fido or Miss Kitty. Make arrangements now.
- 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.
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.