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Celebrating Valentine’s Day - Memphis Edition

by Melissa Thompson


If you’re looking for romantic date ideas, Memphis is a great place to celebrate Valentine’s Day.  From five-star restaurants, to upscale hotels, to outdoor activities, there is something for everyone in The River City!

  • Fine Dining - Make the night special by dressing up and going to a restaurant that might not be on your go to list any other night of the year.  There are some fantastic restaurants to choose from in Memphis. Best Fine Dining in Memphis
     
  • Enjoy a Dinner Cruise - Take a Valentine’s Day Dinner Cruise with Memphis Riverboats!  Valentine’s Day falls on a Thursday this year, but if you don’t have time on a business day, not to worry - there will be Valentine’s cruises offered on February 15 & 16 as well.
     
  • Get Away without Going Away - Feeling extravagant? Book a Special Package at the Peabody Hotel. There are several to choose from with different amenities and price ranges.  Don’t want to spend the night? Make a reservation for one of their many Valentine’s Day dinners.
     
  • Visit Graceland - Sometimes when you live somewhere, you don’t take advantage of all the fun things to do in your home town.  Tourists come from all over the world to visit Graceland.  Spend a romantic Valentine’s Day exploring the roots of one of the most romantic singers of all time!  It’s a great way to spend time together and you can even have a nice dinner and spend the night at The Guesthouse at Graceland if you want!
     
  • Get Physical - If you are an active person, why not celebrate with an outdoor activity on Valentine’s Day?  Book a tee-time at Mirimichi Golf Course and spend the day relishing its natural beauty.  Or head out to Shelby Farms where you can go hiking or biking and have a romantic picnic.

Whatever you end up doing this Valentine’s Day, remember it’s the time spent together that matters the most!

If you are in the market to buy or sell a home in the Memphis area, contact professional Realtor, Melissa Thompson, and let her help you with all your real estate needs. Give her a call at 901-729-9526 today!

Photo Credit: westernjournal.com

Home Sellers - How to Set the Right Price for Your Home

by Melissa Thompson


When you decide to sell your house it’s easy to get overwhelmed with all the details you need to think about.  The best thing to do is take things one step at a time. One thing that you will have to do is set a price for you home.  Deciding how much you want to ask for your home is complicated.  As the owner, the value you place on your home may be different that the value a potential buyer places on it.  You not only have a financial investment in it, but also and emotional one.  But when buyers think of value, they are thinking primarily about price.  The asking price for your property can attract buyers, or it can turn them off completely. A home that is not priced right can sit on the market for a long time, which can lead potential buyers to think there is something wrong with it.  The first step toward determining the right price for your home is to hire an experienced, professional Realtor who can use their expertise and knowledge of the market to assist you.

Working with your Realtor is crucial.  But it is also vital that you have a clear understanding of what your home is worth.  Learning about your home’s fair market value will help you evaluate the price your Realtor recommends.  Remember that you and your Realtor are a team and together you can decide on a price that will be profitable for everyone.

The first thing to do when trying to determine the right price for your home is to do some research. You can use an online  Estimating Tool  to plug in your address and find approximately how much your house is worth. They base their estimates on your home’s square footage and real estate data they have collected, such as recent home sales in your local market. But it’s important to remember that these results are very general and do not speak to your specific situation.  If the online estimate does not align with your Realtor’s advice, lean toward your Realtor’s suggested price. 

Another important aspect to consider when pricing your home is how it compares to other similar homes in the area.  Your Realtor will likely run the average sales prices of at least three Comps to assess your home’s value.  There are several factors that go into choosing “comps”. They are: age, location, square footage, and number of bedrooms and bathrooms. Your Realtor will look at the difference between each comp’s listing price, and the price at which it sold. Then there will be research into price reductions and why they happened, if relevant.  Meanwhile, your Realtor will also rely on their own knowledge of the local market.  When selecting comps, your Realtor will generally look for properties that sold in the previous three months, within a one-mile radius of your home. In addition, you will want to figure out what your competition is. So, your Realtor will check out properties that are currently for sale in your area to find out how your home compares to them. 

Understanding the current real estate market in your area will also have a large impact on your pricing strategy.   If you’re in a Seller's Market, that means demand from buyers is high and the number of homes on the market is low. In this market, you may be able to price your home slightly higher than market value. However, if it’s a Buyer's Market, buyers are at an advantage and you might have to price your home slightly below the market value to entice buyers. Your Realtor can help you navigate the current market in your area so that you price your home right.

If you are in the market to buy or sell a home in the Memphis area, contact professional Realtor, Melissa Thompson, and let her help you with all your real estate needs. Give her a call at 901-729-9526 today!

Building a DIY Fire Pit in Four Easy Steps

by Melissa Thompson

 
Spending time outdoors in the winter months is not much fun if you are cold, but if you have a nice, warm fire to gather around, you can enjoy outdoor time despite the frigid temperatures. It’s fairly easy to build your own fire pit and it can be done in a short amount of time without breaking the bank. So, follow these steps and before you know it you will be toasting marshmallows around your own DIY fire pit!

  1. Go to a home improvement store and purchase your materials. Choose your large pavers first. They are not expensive and work perfectly as the ring for your fire pit. I recommend getting enough to make your fire pit deep and wide.  Depending on the size of the pavers, you will need twelve or thirteen for each level of the pit. So, if you are doing three levels, you will need 36 to 39 pavers.  You will also need smaller pavers for the floor of the fire pit, and paver sand for filling in the gaps and spaces.

    
       Photo Credit: lowes.com  

  1. When you get your materials home, choose the site for your fire pit and arrange the large pavers in a circle creating the diameter of your pit.  Then arrange two additional levels on top of the base you have created. Be sure the gaps between pavers are as small as possible. You may have to adjust them several times before you get them just right.

       
        Photo Credit: youtube.com

  1. With the smaller pavers, build the floor of your fire pit.  Make sure that they fill in the entire space.  You may have to get some that are shaped differently to make them fit.s.com


    Photo Credit: keepintitsimplecrafts.com
     
  2. Use paver sand to fill in the cracks and spaces in the floor.  Fill in the spaces and then use a broom or your hands to spread it evenly across the floor.

      
     Photo Credit: braensupply.com

Which Sand is Best for Paver Joints

Now you can build a roaring fire and enjoy your new fire pit!

If you are in the market to buy or sell a home in the Memphis area, contact professional Realtor, Melissa Thompson, and let her help you with all your real estate needs. Give her a call at 901-729-9526 today!

Home Inspection Checklist for Home Sellers

by Melissa Thompson


It’s very exciting when you accept an offer on your home and you are ready to sell. But that excitement can go away quickly if the buyer’s home inspection doesn’t go well.  Smart homebuyers will never make a purchase without having a property professionally inspected first, so you can pretty much count on that happening.  So, it’s important for you, as the seller, to be prepared for the home inspection.  By identifying potential problems beforehand, you can make the repairs needed to avoid unpleasant surprises during the inspection. Cheap Home Repairs That Can Save You Thousands

Use this checklist to help you prepare for the home inspection:

  1. Make sure that all lights are working and all switches are covered. The same goes for electrical outlets.  A general home inspection will include a visual review of the electrical system.  If the inspector finds that a light isn’t working, there is a likelihood he will recommend that a licensed contractor to check it out.
  2. Take care of routine maintenance.  Put new batteries in smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors and be sure they are working properly. Also, put fresh air filters on your air conditioning units and furnaces.  If buyers see that small things aren’t being maintained, they will be worried that big things aren’t either. 
  3. Clean out areas around appliances so they can easily be inspected.  It will be difficult for the inspector if your laundry room is full of clothes or the dishwasher is full of dirty dishes.  If you have a gas fireplace, be sure the pilot light is lit so that the inspector can turn it on.  If the inspector is not able to do that, he may suggest to the buyer that you show them the fireplace works before the sale is complete.  That just adds one more thing for you to worry about.
  4. Check out the exterior of your home.  View your house the way you would if you were buying it again. Is there peeling paint or hanging gutters?  If so, you can fix these problems prior to inspection so that they are not issues for the buyers.
  5. Test windows and doors.  Inspectors are going to be looking for windows and doors that open and close easily.  If you have windows that are sticking, you can fix this with very little money. Simply purchase a silicone spray from a home improvement store.  Clean out the tracks of sliding doors and lubricate them as well, if needed.
  6. Paint over old water stains.  Even after you have fixed a leaking pipe or roof, water stains can be left behind.  And even after the inspector has assured them that there any current moisture issues, old stains will scare buyers off just as much as new stains will. 
  7. Look for mold.  Mold will scare a buyer away fast!  So be sure to check basements, attics, bathrooms and garages for any signs of mold.  If you find any, deal with it before the inspection…and before you lose your buyers.
  8. Declutter before inspection.  The inspector isn’t going to care how messy your house it or how it’s staged, but he will appreciate being able to easily access everything he needs to inspect.
  9. Don’t try to hide issues.  Honesty matters. If you find something prior to inspection that is going to need to be fixed, notify the prospective buyer.  You don’t want the buyer to think you are trying to hide something.  If you don’t have the money on hand to make necessary repairs, you may be able to negotiate by offering a credit at closing so the new owners can do the repairs themselves.

Find Out What Home Inspectors Look For

If you are in the market to buy or sell a home in the Memphis area, contact professional Realtor, Melissa Thompson, and let her help you with all your real estate needs. Give her a call at 901-729-9526 today!

http://www.yourkeytomemphis.com/Our-Video-Blog

Tidy Home - Happy Home

by Melissa Thompson


A new year has arrived and now is a good time to start breaking bad habits that lead to an untidy home.  If you are one of those people who look around your house and wonder how it got to be such a mess, chances are you aren’t even aware of the bad habits that have formed over time and have you feeling overwhelmed with housework.  But there are indeed certain things that people who keep tidy homes don’t do. If you are guilty of doing these things, you can now begin the process of changing your habits and creating the tidy home you crave.

Things people with tidy homes DON’T do:

  • Tidy people don’t overdo it.  People with tidy homes tend to be minimalists. They don’t have a lot of extraneous furnishings and knick knacks.  They also don’t over decorate.  They value the pristine nature of clear surfaces. And let’s face it, the less you have, the less you have to clean.  Imagine how quickly you can dust a room when you only have a few clear surfaces to clean! How to Master the Art of Minimalism
     
  • Tidy people don’t settle down for the night until they have cleaned up.  After a long day, it’s tempting to leave the dinner dishes in the sink, the mail on the counter and bags on the floor so that you can just relax.  But tidy people are “never leave until tomorrow what can be done today” kind of people.  If you clean up before you settle down to watch television, read, or go to bed, it’s like resetting for the next day.  It will be easier for you to relax if you know you will be waking up to a neat and clean home.
     
  • Tidy people don’t let their homes get messy all day and then try to clean it all up at one time.  Staying on top of the mess is key to keeping a tidy home.  If you complete small tasks on a regular basis, you will never get to the point where you have to spend hours cleaning the whole house at once.
     
  • Tidy people never run out of cleaning supplies.  They figure out what products they like and they stock up on them.  And guess what? They keep them tidy and organized.  Two story house? They have cleaning supplies stored both downstairs and upstairs.  They probably even have two vacuum cleaner so that they don’t have to drag one up and down the steps. 
     
  • Tidy people don’t use the floor as a spot to store things.  If you have been to the home of a tidy person you probably noticed there is nothing on the floor…no bags, books, magazines, or baskets with blankets and pillows.  In a tidy home everything has a place and there is a place for everything.
     
  • Tidy people keep a schedule.  They don’t clean randomly “as needed”. They schedule tasks and keep to that schedule as much as possible.  You will find it surprising how easy your house cleaning will be when you break it up into small tasks done on a regular basis. How Often You Should Clean Everything

If you are in the market to buy or sell a home in the Memphis area, contact professional Realtor, Melissa Thompson, and let her help you with all your real estate needs. Give her a call at 901-729-9526 today!

Photo Credit: Wikipedia.com

http://www.yourkeytomemphis.com/Our-Video-Blog

Fun Things to do With Kids on New Year’s Eve

by Melissa Thompson


The holiday rush is winding down and there is one more big celebration on the horizon…New Year’s Eve.  If you plan to stay home with your kids (where it will be safe and warm) this year, here are some fun activities you can do with them to make the night special:

  • - Take a hike before dark.  If it’s nice outside (and not too cold) it will be good to get outside and burn off some energy.  If your little ones want to stay up to ring in the new year (and you’re ok with that) taking a long walk early in the day may tire them out enough to take a short nap so that they can stay up for the festivities.
     
  • - Create a sparkling Mocktail for you and your kids to enjoy.  Don’t trust them with your crystal champagne glasses?  Buy some plastic ones for the occasion.  Have everyone give their own toast to the new year by telling one thing they will remember about 2018 and one thing they are looking forward to in 2019.
     
  • - If your littles are too young to stay up until midnight, let them have their own special countdown earlier in the night.  They can ring in the new year with 14 Family Friendly Countdowns on Netflix.
     
  • - Set up a photo booth.  Just because you aren’t going out to a fancy party doesn’t mean you can’t get dressed up, right?  Put on your favorite party outfits and set up an area with some fun DIY New Year's Eve Photo Booth Props and take some great photos to commemorate the night!
     
  • - Have a dance party!  Make a play list of your family’s favorite songs and boogie the night away! 
     
  • - Enjoy a family game night.  Lots of families are so busy throughout the year that they rarely get the opportunity to just spend time together enjoying games.  Take advantage of New Year’s Eve and spend some quality time playing games with your kids.
     
  • - Have a pajama party.  There’s nothing more cozy than a night spent in your favorite comfy pajamas!  Build a fort in the family room and let the kids sleep in sleeping bags on the floor. 

Whatever you end up doing with your kids on New Year’s Eve this year, I hope you have a safe and happy one!

If you are in the market to buy or sell a home in the Memphis area, contact professional Realtor, Melissa Thompson, and let her help you with all your real estate needs. Give her a call at 901-729-9526 today!

Photo Credit: family.lovetoknow.com

Easy Home Updates That Won’t Break the Bank

by Melissa Thompson


Another year is coming to an end and like many people, you may already be thinking about what you are going to do to make next year better.  If home improvement is on your new year’s resolution list, but your budget is already a bit strained, there are a lot of home updates you can do that are inexpensive.  Try these easy upgrades to give your home a fresh look for 2019:

  1. Freshen Up the Front Door

Whenever I am decorating or even just cleaning, I always start with the places that guests will see first.Well, your front door is one of the first things people see when they come to your house, so why not make it as appealing as possible?Perhaps give it a new coat of paint with a color that makes it pop and say “welcome”!Or, if you already like the color of your door, give it a thorough cleaning to make it shine and add a pretty wreath.

  1. Modernize Light Switches and Outlets

If you are still living with the light switches and outlets that the builders put into your house, chances are they were the cheapest ones they could find.And if your home is older, they might not only be “dated” but also kind of faded or yellowed.You might be surprised how much it will brighten up your house to have clean, new switch plates and outlets!

  1. Embellish Mirrors with Frames

A plain sheet of mirror sitting above a sink is, in a word, boring.Take it down and replace it with a mirror with a frame and you will be amazed at the difference it makes! If you don’t want to take down the existing mirror, you can add a frame to it!

  1. Change Up Lighting Fixtures

Every space in your home is impacted by lighting.If you have outdated light fixtures, or you simply don’t like the ones that came with the house, switching them out for new ones is a great way to update your home!

  1. Don’t Like It? Paint It!

A new coat of paint can transform just about any surface!Kitchen cabinets dull and drab? Paint them! Paint stores will allow you to purchase samples so that you can try different colors before choosing one.Whether you decided to paint the walls of a room or just some accents like cabinets or furniture, a change in color can give things a whole new aesthetic.

If you are in the market to buy or sell a home in the Memphis area, contact professional Realtor, Melissa Thompson, and let her help you with all your real estate needs. Give her a call at 901-729-9526 today!

Photo Credit: freshhome.com

Who’s Who in the Home Buying Process

by Melissa Thompson


Buying a home is not something you do alone. There are a lot of players that participate in the process.  You will work together with several people who will use their professional expertise to guide you along the way to home ownership.  It might seem a little overwhelming, but once you understand the role each of these individual’s will play, you will realize the benefit of having them on your team.  Are you wondering who these people are?  Here is a “who’s who” list of the professionals you will meet along the path of your home buying journey:

  1. Mortgage Lender - Meeting with a mortgage lender is something you can and should do prior to even starting your home search.  Getting a pre-approval for a mortgage loan is a great way to make yourself stand out to sellers.  Your mortgage lender could be an independent lender, a credit union, or a bank.  Meet with several so you can choose the one that suits you best.  Once you choose, you will work with an individual Mortgage Banker who will be your guide through home loan process.  Your mortgage banker will help you determine how much you can afford to spend and assist you in filling out your loan application.
     
  2. Realtor - Navigating the home buying process will be much easier with an experienced Realtor on your side. A professional Realtor will not only help you find the perfect home, she will also be your advocate throughout the whole process; before, during and after you close on the home.  Take the time to interview several Realtors to find the one whom you feel comfortable with.
     
  3. Home Inspector - Trust me when I say that you don’t want to skip the home inspection. No matter the age of your future home, having it inspected can save you from buying a one that has issues that could cost you a lot of money in the long run.  A Home Inspector is trained to carefully check the home’s structure, electrical, HVAC, plumbing, and roofing among other things in order to provide you with a detailed report on the condition of the home.  This report will have an impact on your decision to continue with the purchase of the home and may help you negotiate for repairs by the current owners before the sale is completed.
     
  4. Appraiser - The home appraiser plays a crucial role in the home buying process.  This is the person who will make sure that you are not overpaying for your new home. He or she will look at the condition of the home and make a comparison to similar home sales in the area to come up with the fair market value. Guidelines for Home Appraisals
     
  5. Title Searcher - A Title Searcher will review public records for your property to make sure there are no issues that will be problematic for the home sale.  The research things like overdue taxes, zoning restrictions or liens against the property that prevent the issue of a clean title on your new home. The title company facilitates the closing on the home and provides the documents involved.  Finally, they will make sure that the new home’s title records are appropriately filed.
     
  6. Insurance Agent - As a home owner, it is required that you have home owner’s insurance when you obtain a mortgage.   This insurance will financially protect you and your home should there be a disaster.  Be sure to do your research prior to submitting your mortgage application so that you can find the best insurance policy for your needs.

If you are in the market to buy or sell a home in the Memphis area, contact professional Realtor, Melissa Thompson, and let her help you with all your real estate needs. Give her a call at 901-729-9526 today!

How to Decorate for Christmas Without Breaking the Bank

by Melissa Thompson

The holiday season is here and if you have your house on the market, you might be packing up everything you own very soon.  The last thing you want to do is unpack all your Christmas decorations only to have to pack them back up again.  In addition, if you are showing your home to potential buyers, you are going to want to keep your holiday décor as simple as possible. You don’t have to be a scrooge though!  You can decorate beautifully without spending a lot of money and without having to unpack all your personal treasures.  Here are five inexpensive ways to decorate for the holidays;

  1. Homemade Garland - A lot of craft stores have great sales and coupons this time of year.  Grab some greenery and then head on over to a dollar store and pick up some pretty ornaments.  You can find DIY instructions for making a festive garland on YouTube.  DIY Dollar Tree Christmas Garland
     
  2. Real Tree - If you have been using an artificial tree and don’t want to unpack it, this is a good time to buy a real tree.  Some can be very expensive, but you can find a pretty tree for as little as $30 in some places.  Consider using a smaller tree and placing it on a table top instead of on the floor.  Decorate with old-fashioned strings of popcorn and cranberries.  And you might be surprised at the sparkly ornaments you can find at very little cost.
     
  3. Wrapped Gifts - Beautifully wrapped gifts can be used to create any aesthetic you desire.  For a more formal look, wrap gifts in shiny silvers and golds.  Want to go whimsical? Try wrapping paper in fun shades of red, green, pink and white. And if you’re going for a winter wonderland look, use blues and silvers.  The point is that you can use the gifts themselves to create gorgeous holiday décor.
     
  4. DIY Christmas Wreaths - All you need is a hot glue gun, some inexpensive ornaments, ribbon, and a coat hanger and you can make pretty wreaths. There are lots of other ways to make them to. Check some out here: 45 Christmas Wreaths For the Most Festive Display on the Block
     
  5. Poinsettias - You can find pretty poinsettias just about anywhere this time of year.  Care for them properly, and they will last the whole holiday season.  Display them in reds, pinks and whites to create a classy ambiance in your holiday home.

If you are in the market to buy or sell a home in the Memphis area, contact professional Realtor, Melissa Thompson, and let her help you with all your real estate needs. Give her a call at 901-729-9526 today.

Photo Credit: goodhousekeeping.com

How to Preserve Precious Family Heirlooms

by Melissa Thompson

The holidays tend to bring out the sentimentality in all of us. Family heirlooms are treasures that evoke memories of the past and hold great sentimental value.  Keeping them safe and well preserved is important. There are many kinds of keepsakes. What may seem not very special to one person, might be the most cherished of items to another.  The following tips will help you preserve them and keep the memories alive:

Paper Documents

Don’t make the mistake of keeping precious papers in a box somewhere. Paper is vulnerable to crumbling and fading if it is exposed to too much light, heat or moisture.  You can keep documents safe by placing them in acid-free envelopes or folders.  When you want to look at them, make sure your hands are clean and dry. Avoid using lotion on your hands if you know you are going to be handling paper heirlooms.  Three ring binders are excellent for keeping documents organized and safe.  Keep them in temperature controlled parts of the house to avoid deterioration due to heat and moisture.

Books

Like paper documents, books need to be kept away from heat, bright light and anything highly acidic.  If you want to keep a book pristine, interleaf the pages with acid-free tissue paper.  If you keep favorite books on a shelf, make sure it is not exposed to too much sunlight.  They will fade over time, but keeping them out of harsh conditions will make them last longer.

Photographs

Many people have photographs stored in old-school albums where they are stuck on the pages by adhesive. Unfortunately, many of these old albums are not acid-free and will cause the photographs to deteriorate and fade over time. To preserve them, remove them from these albums and place them in PVC-free plastic sleeves, which can then be placed in binders.  If you are lucky enough to still have the negatives from old photos, keep them safe so that you can replace pictures if they are destroyed or lost. How to Preserve Family Archives

Textiles

When preserving textiles such as quilts, wedding dresses, baptismal gowns or antique linens, you want to make space for flat storage.  It’s vital that you keep them in an acid-free box and in an area free of pests.  If you get them cleaned and pressed, make sure starch isn’t used because bugs will attract bugs. Make sure your hands are clean and free of lotion when handling your cloth heirlooms.  Do your research and get professional advice on how to clean them before storing.

How to Handle Antique Textiles and Costumes

Regardless of what kind of treasure you are attempting to preserve, it is advisable that you never store them in the attic or basement. Extreme temperatures and humidity will harm stored artifacts.  Keep your boxes and binders of family heirlooms in a closet or on a shelf in your temperature controlled living space.  Make sure they are out of direct sunlight.  Not only will this keep them safer and preserve them longer, but it will also make it easier for you to get them out to look at when you want to take a trip down memory lane!

If you are in the market to buy or sell a home in the Memphis area, contact professional Realtor, Melissa Thompson and let her help you with all your real estate needs. Give her a call at 901-729-9526 today.

Photo Credit: familytree.com

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