Category Archives: Selling your house

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.

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.

Trending Real Estate in Oxford, MS

Housing in Oxford, MS is going fast these days. There is little inventory and although there are some days that it seems a good number of listings are appearing on the Multiple-Listing Service (MLS), these properties are not lasting long. Buyers are waiting on the sidelines for particular subdivisions or price points.  Contracts are coming in quickly and although these home sales are pending, it is not reflected on internet sites.  You may think a house is still on the market when, in fact, the MLS has it coded as “Pending.” For this reason, if you are a buyer get pre-qualified for a loan so you are ready for that newly listed house you want. And contact your REALTOR so he or she can watch out for new listings and get you an immediate appointment.

So for any homeowners wondering what time of year is best to sell your house or condo in Oxford, MS, I would say: now.  In fact, with the housing shortage across the country, there is no time like the present to sell your house. There is a buyer just around the corner.

But typically, there are “selling seasons” where houses seem to sell quicker and for a higher price per square foot (PPSF) than during other times of the year.  These selling seasons are January to June and July to December. I’ve put together an historical graph of both single-family and condo/townhouse sales in Oxford to show how the past selling seasons have done.  Based on the PPSF, these selling statistics are not adjusted for the low housing inventory. Source of information: N C M Board of Realtors MLS. Information is deemed reliable but not guaranteed.

For more information about buying or selling download one of these informative guides:





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

Real Estate Trends in Oxford, MS

Updated version of previous article: “Five-Year Housing Trend Oxford MS”

Buyers and sellers want to know how the real estate market is going.

“Is it a good time to make a purchase in Oxford, MS? What should I buy, a condo or a single-family home?”

“I’m ready to down-size. Is now the time to do so?”IMG_0759

While I cannot advise you definitely either way, I can make that decision easier for you. My latest reports are complete and ready for you to read.

Oxford Mississippi Real Estate 5-Year Trend in Sales for 2011-2015 highlights the single-family home market.  It shows the average selling price for single-family homes has risen by approximately $83,000.00 and the average price per square foot is up around 33%.

The 2011-2015 Oxford Mississippi 5-Year Trend in Condo Sales report also shows us some exciting news. The demand for condos has risen greatly. The average number of days on the market has dropped by 105 days meaning these properties, both brand new and pre-owned, are getting snatched up quickly.  Days on Market (DOM) basically means the number of days from listing to close, even if the property obtained an accepted offer the second day.  Real estate is not taken off the market until the closing date, so this average includes cash deals, which close generally fast, and contracts with financing. Closings are currently taking up to 45 days since the new laws were enacted last year.  Still, the demand for condominium properties is high. This can be attributed to the growth of enrollment at the University of Mississippi and lack of on-campus housing for upper classmen who move off campus to apartments and parent-owned condos in their Sophomore year.  This trend can also be attributed to the Ole Miss football team doing well which seems to entice alumni families to invest in a second home property here in Oxford.  No one knows for sure, but the statistics show a steady increase in prices and decrease in DOM.

Oxford has seen an uptick in new homes: both condos and single-family. Neighborhoods like Oxford Commons, Northpointe, Southpoint have added many new homes to our landscape. Condo communities such as Brighton Village, Musicians Quarters, 800 College Hill have given Oxford more condo options. And, the new Oxford Farms community is currently being developed for both condo and single-family living. Several rental/apartment communities have also been added to Oxford recently.

Ultimately, it is your decision to buy or to sell.  If the decision is a matter of investment strategy, consult your investment professional first for some sound advice about your portfolio. Then if you want to make a move involving real estate, hire a real estate professional to help you out.  If you simply want to downsize, a real estate professional can help you find the best new place to call “HOME” and help you sell your current house.

Download your copy of these reports here:

2011-2015 Oxford Real Estate Sales Trends

2011-2015 Oxford Condo Sales Trends

Information Herein Deemed Reliable but Not Guaranteed

Five-Year Housing Trend: Oxford, MS

A lot of home buyers in Oxford are from out of state. They might be graduates of Ole Miss and want a second home or “football” home in Oxford. They might have a child at the University and want to “invest” in a house or condo for that student to live in. Freshmen and a select few other students get on-campus housing. All others need to find a rental or purchase something. An out-of-state client, with a child at Ole Miss, recently asked me what the 5-year single-family housing trend in Oxford has been. Is Oxford, MS in a position for a lot of future growth? Is the town at the top of a current “bubble” or somewhere in between?

While I cannot predict the future and do not have a license to advise on investments, I can tell you, as a licensed real estate professional, what the real estate market here has done. So, after putting a chart together for this family, I want to share it with you. These statistics are gathered from records of the North Central Mississippi Board of Realtors and only include single-family housing. Click this link for a printable version, 2011-2015 Oxford Real Estate Sales Trends.

The information below tells us that over the past 5 years the average list price of a single-family house in Oxford, MS has increased by approximately 36% while the average selling price has risen about 39%. Buyers contracts are currently closer to the actual list price than they were 5 years ago and houses, on average, are selling faster in today’s market.

What’s available in Oxford? Our inventory is down from over 3 years ago and what is available is selling faster.  As of this writing, there are only 310 available homes in Lafayette County listed on the local Board’s MLS ; 215 are in Oxford. That’s not very many which makes this a seller’s market.

Springtime in Oxford is when most homeowners who want to sell, put their house on the market. If this brings a sharp increase in inventory, we could see a buyer’s market. A moderate or low increase would probably keep it at a seller’s market. Either way, if you are planning to sell, consider listing it now while there is less competition. With interest rates being low, buyers are looking.

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

2011-2015 Oxford Real Estate Sales Trends-page-001




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?


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

Selling Your House and Keeping It Clean

You’re selling your house!

Chances are you will live there until it sells. Maybe you have children, a dog, a home office.  Maybe an elderly parent lives with you.

How in the world are you going to keep it clean to show it while you still live there?

Not all of us can afford regular house cleaning services so we have to do it ourselves.  If you are selling your house consider having a major, one-time cleaning done before or just as you get the house listed.  It will make a big difference to how the house shows and  it is well worth the expense.

It is not enough, in many cases, to just tidy up the place. A home buyer is going to inspect everything. If the kitchen is greasy, the bathroom has soap scum, the livingroom floor is coated in pet hair, or the bedrooms have unreasonable clutter, the home buyer might wonder if the house has been maintained over the years.  A one-time deep cleanse might help eliminate this concern.

A home inspection will tell what maintenance issues exist but if the house is filthy, the home buyer might not consider making an offer and checking out the home inspection report.

Once a deep cleanse is done, it should be easier for any home seller to maintain the house while it is on the market.  There are many places in the house that get overlooked by the seller once that cleanse is done so read below for a list of areas around the house to pay attention to until you move out.  This list comes partially from but I’ve added a few of my own ideas based on my own expertise.

  1. Kitchen: drawers, pantry floor, refrigerator, dishwasher, gas cooktop.  These are areas that home buyers inspect. Nothing is grosser than grease and food particles stuck to the inside of the dishwasher door near the seal, or in the microwave or refrigerator. If these items are staying with the house, keep them clean. Keep food and boxes off of the floor of the pantry so people can see how much extra space is inside.  Crumbs in the kitchen drawers can also be a turn off. Send the home buyer away with a good feeling about the house.  The last thing they want to think of is how much cleaning they’ll need to do to get into the house so make it look move-in ready. A quick wipe down after use will  keep it clean.
  2. Ceiling fans, hanging lamps, light bulbs: These are huge dust and spider web collectors so be sure to keep watch on how much dust is overtaking them after the “big clean”.  Don’t leave the home buyer with the impression you have a spider problem because of the hanging webs from the lamps.

    Can you see the spider webs?  A home buyer will and wonder if there's a spider problem in the house.
    Can you see the spider webs? A home buyer will and wonder if there’s a spider problem in the house.
  3. Behind the toilet: a very overlooked area because no one wants to reach back there. This spot collects hair, dust, pieces of paper and more, so keep it dusted.
  4. Laundry room: if the machines are staying, clean them. Keep the floor dust- and lint-free.
  5. Bed Skirt: my dog lies next to my bed at night so I have dirt and dog hair on my bedskirt from her furr. This is one area that I have to keep clean and if you have a pet, take a look at your bedskirt. It should be easy to launder so be sure to do it regularly and keep the home buyer’s eyes up to look at the room, not down at the dirt.
  6. Windows: again, I have a dog. She puts her nose on my windows to look outside.  Dogs and little children can leave windows less than sparkling so if you get a call for a showing, be sure to wipe the smudges before leaving the house. It’s quick and easy to do.
  7. Shower curtains: mildewed shower curtains can leave a smell that someone else will pick up on. It may leave the home buyer wondering if there is a mold problem in the house so before you put  the house on the market, change your shower curtains.  If you have shower doors, check the sweep at the bottom of the door for mildew. These are easy to replace and available at your local home improvement store.
  8. Kitchen cabinets: you might not notice the greasy hand print or the smudge of syrup or grease splatter on your cabinets but a home buyer will and it is a turn off.  Once you have the deep cleanse, get into the habit of a quick wipe-down each night after loading the dishwasher. It’s a good habit to get into and you can stop the dirt build-up with daily attention.
  9. Bathroom sinks: wipe down each  morning when you finish getting ready for the day. Then you don’t have to worry about cleaning for the next showing.

If you get into the habit of wiping up the little things each day, your house will stay clean and look great to each potential home buyer that passes through. This attention to detail may be the difference between no offers and an acceptable contract.

Eileen Saunders, Realtor~Tommy Morgan Realtors, 2092 Old Taylor Road, Oxford, MS 38655~662-404-0816 or 662-234-5344. Equal Housing.


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