Tag Archives: selling your house

7 Ways to Prepare Your House for Sale: Entryway

The way you live in your house and the way you sell your house are two different things.

Your house is competing with others that are listed for sale so you’ll want to make it always look its best.  You don’t have to be perfect, just diligent about keeping your house show-ready.

The entrance to your house sets the stage for the rest of the house. Messy?  Cluttered? It could reflect the rest of the house and with a cluttered mess, buyers cannot see their things in your house.  If they cannot picture the house as their’s, they will move on and your house will sit that much longer on the market.

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Courtesy of Creative Commons

Here are some tips for the entryway to your house.

  1. Make sure all lights and lamps are working to brighten up the area.
  2. Does the doorbell work? Replace it if it does not work or if it appears to have broken parts.
  3. Fix the door if it squeaks, jams or if the lock sticks.
  4. Wash the windows in and around the door.
  5. Keep the entryway free of clutter.If your family tradition is to remove your shoes and toss them in a basket near the door, put the basket somewhere else and out of the way.
  6. The entry table and shelves should be free of clutter.
  7. Clear out the front closet. Buyers will look inside and would like to see the size. If it is jammed with out-of-season clothes and other items, it will look too small.

You are planning to move soon anyway, so start packing things you won’t need while the house is on the market. If you need to rent a storage unit until you move, it may be a great investment. A staged, uncluttered house that is priced right and well maintained tends to sell quickly.

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

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:

SellingYourHouseSummer2016

BuyingaHomeSummer2016

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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

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.

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. eileen@tmhomes.com 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?

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

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

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

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

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