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Home Buyer “To Do” List

by Melissa Thompson

If you are thinking about purchasing a home, there are several things you should do before you even start your home search.  While it’s exciting to look at properties and imagine what your life will be like in a new house, you might be setting yourself up for disappointment and heartbreak if you aren’t prepared for all the steps involved in the home-buying process.  So, do your homework and make sure you are truly ready to find the home of your dreams!

  1. Determine What You Can Afford - You don’t want to find the perfect property and then find out it’s out of reach for you.   Determine how much you can afford for a mortgage payment and create a maximum budget for what you are willing to pay for a house. Your mortgage payment should take up no more than 28% of your income.  If you are currently paying rent or a mortgage payment that is less than what you anticipate for your future home, start saving the difference each month to make sure you are willing and able to live on that.  You don’t want to be house poor.  Home Affordability Calculator
     
  2. Check Your Credit - You can request free credit reports from Annual Credit Report .com.  Check the reports thoroughly for any errors or negative information.  Take the steps needed to improve your credit score.  A higher credit score will possibly qualify you for lower interest rates, which will make your purchase more affordable.
     
  3. Meet with a Lender - Getting pre-approved for a mortgage is vital to the home-buying process, especially in a seller’s market where there might be bidding wars.  Sellers are more likely to choose a potential buyer who has already been pre-approved over one who hasn’t.  It will also help you identify the documents you will need for the final loan application. 
     
  4. Save For a Down Payment- Your meeting with the loan officer will also help you determine how much cash you will need for a down payment.
     
  5. Get Organized - Gather documents you will need for your final loan application and start a house-hunting binder.  As you start looking at homes, you can add any materials you collect along the way.
     
  6. Start Considering Where You Want to Live - If you don’t already have a specific neighborhood in mind, start investigating different areas within your price range.  Visit neighborhoods at different times to get a feel for what it might be like to live there.  Consider things like what your work commute will be and what amenities you want.
     
  7. Take a Home Buyer Education Course - If you are a first-time home buyer, these classes can help you prepare for the responsibilities of being a home owner.
     
  8. Find a Realtor - Choose an experienced real estate professional like Melissa Thompson to represent your interests.

Taking these steps before you start your home-search will make the whole home-buying process easier!  Call Melissa Thompson at (901) 729-9526 and let her guide you through the home buying process today!

Photo Credit: mentalfloss.com

Back to School - Kitchen Organization Tips!

by Melissa Thompson

It’s that time of year again.  Back to school.  Curb chaotic mornings by organizing your kitchen in a way that makes lunch prep a breeze!  The following tips will help:

  1. MAKE A LIST

Don’t just wing it.By creating a menu of items that you will use for your kids’ lunches, you will not only save time in the mornings (because you won’t spend time trying to decide what to pack in their lunch bag), you will also have a handy, dandy shopping list for when you go grocery shopping.Here are some to get you started.

  1. MAKE YOUR FRIDGE LUNCH BOX FRIENDLY

Organize the space in your refrigerator to make lunch prep quick and easy.Clear plastic bins with labels can be used to divide things up by type of food/drink or by day of the week.Experiment with these ideas and find the one that works best for you:

  1. CREATE A STAGING CENTER

Have a designated spot in the kitchen for lunch prep.A basket or bin for lunch bags/boxes will mean that you will never be frantically searching for them in the morning.Have your kids empty them of containers/trash when they get home from school and place them in the designated area.Keep containers handy and make sure you have enough counter space to accommodate everything you will need.

  1. HAVE A SUPPLY STATION

Clean out a drawer or cabinet near your staging center and keep all your lunch prep supplies in one spot.Stock up on baggies, containers, napkins, straws, plastic utensils, foil, saran wrap etc.

  1. STOCK PANTRY WITH “SCHOOL LUNCH ONLY” ITEMS

Avoid the frustration of going to grab something for your child’s lunch only to discover there is none left.Create an area in your pantry that is only for school lunches.An over the door hanging shoe organizer is a great space-saver and can be used to store school snacks.

Whether you prepare your children’s lunches, or you have them do it themselves, being organized will make the process easier and quicker. 

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: nutritionpotli.com

Memphis Real Estate Market Stats

by Melissa Thompson

It’s Time to Sell Your Home - Here is Why

by Melissa Thompson

Selling your home is a huge decision and one that should not be made impulsively.  If you are thinking about selling, but you’re not sure if you should, here are some signs to look for that will indicate that now is a good time to sell:

- Space is an issue.  Has your family grown since you bought your current home?  Do you have multiple people sharing bedrooms and bathrooms?  If your house is bursting at the seams, it might be time to let it go and find something a little bigger.  Alternatively, perhaps you have too much space.  If you bought the home when your family was large and now you are an empty nester, you may be ready to downsize.

- Neighbors are selling homes successfully.  If houses are selling like hotcakes in your neighborhood and your neighbors are making tidy profits on their sales, then that’s a cue that you should contact a Realtor to find out what your home is worth on the current market.

- Interest rates are low. When interest rates are low it is an advantage to sellers because a larger pool of eligible buyers can be expected.  Add to that the fact that the current inventory of homes for sale is low, and you have a seller’s market that will make your home even more desirable to prospective buyers.

- Remodeling won’t be worth it.  Maybe you want to stay in your current home and you think that remodeling is the answer.  But will the expense of remodeling to fulfill your wants and needs be worth it in the long run?  Will it add value to your home?  While you might have to do some updates to prepare your home for sale, if the market favors sellers, you might be better of selling and finding a new home to suit your needs.

- You’re confident the market is strong.  It’s important to educate yourself about what’s going on in the real estate market before you decide to put your house on the market.  An experienced Realtor like Melissa Thompson can help you understand the market and determine if now is the time to sell your house.

All signs are currently pointing at this being a good time to sell.  Contact the professionals at Your Key to Memphis and they can help you get your house on the market and sold for the best possible price! Call them today at 901-756-8900.

The Power of Negotiation

by Melissa Thompson

The Lost Art of Negotiation in the world of real estate is unfortunate because the truth of the matter is, if you don’t ask…you don’t get. While sellers want the highest price and buyers want the best deal, they must meet somewhere in the middle for the deal to close. Negotiation is a vital part of selling or buying a home because it is the largest asset people own and there is a lot of money at stake. Here are some guidelines for what sellers and buyers might ask for in real estate negotiations:

Price

Negotiating the best price means different things for sellers and buyers.  The seller wants the highest price and the buyer wants to pay as little as possible.  For a successful transaction, they must compromise and come up with a price that is acceptable to both.

Closing Costs

Prepaid closing costs are paid by buyers for their mortgage.  These are funds that the mortgage lender holds in escrow for expenses like taxes and insurance.  A buyer may ask a seller to cover some or all their closing costs either with a flat dollar amount or up to a percentage of what’s an allowable contribution for a lender.  If a buyer asks the seller to do this, they are likely going to pay a higher asking price.

Closing Date

Sometimes sellers want to get out of a home quickly because they need the capital from the house they are selling to put toward a new real estate purchase.  The closing date will also affect the buyer’s monthly cash-flow because when a buyer closes on a house, they skip the next month’s mortgage payment, therefore they may want to negotiate to close at the beginning of a month.

Financing Contingencies

When there is a financing contingency in place for a real estate transaction, it can tie up a seller’s property for a required 30 to 60 days.  For this reason, many sellers prefer buyers coming to the table with cash offers. If you are competing with cash buyers, you may want to figure out if you can drop the financial contingency, which will shorten the closing time line. You can do this by getting pre-approved for a home loan prior to making an offer.  Mortgage Preapproval shows that your finances are in order and you can afford the home.

Home Warranty

As a buyer, you can request a home warranty. As a seller, you can offer one. This home protection plan covers things like appliances and systems such as the hot water heater or air conditioning, in the event they need repair or replacement.

Leaseback

The moving process is stressful and labor intensive.  Sometimes a seller will need extra time to get into their new home.  When this happens, buyers can offer a zero-cost rent-back for 30 to 90 days to persuade the seller to accept their offer over others. 

Home Repairs

With a home that needs a lot of updating there comes ample opportunity for negotiation. Buyers need to consider the cost of bringing the home up to current standards and use the estimate of that cost to request a lower asking price.  The seller, on the other hand, can specify that the house is being sold “as is” and not offer any repairs.

Appraisal Contingency

A seller can push for a buyer to waive the appraisal contingency, however, if for some reason the appraisal falls short of the expected amount, they need to be prepared for the amount of cash they might have to pay should the bank only be willing to lend them money based on the appraised value.

Furniture

Personal property such as patio furniture, window treatments and chandeliers are all up for grabs. The buyer can ask for these things to be included in the contract. Sellers need to determine what they are willing to leave behind.  And any exclusions need to be specifically listed in the contract as well.

Appliances

Depending on the market, sellers don’t always leave every appliance for the buyer.  They may include the dishwasher, stove and built in microwave in the contract but not the refrigerator, washer, and dryer.  Sometimes they don’t want to give everything away up front so that they can use these as items for negotiation.

Inspection

When sellers waive inspection, they often find themselves with "buyer's remorse", but they can try to shorten the time frame for inspection, from ten days to five.  However, today’s lending practices and the TILA RESPA Integrated Disclosure (TRID) make this hard to do.

Condo/Co-op Assessments

These are fees that are used to maintain common areas in a community. If there is an open assessment, it can become a negotiation between the buyer and seller as to who will pay for it.

If you are looking for a professional Realtor to negotiate the best deal for you, call Melissa Thompson at 901-756-8900 today and let her help you with all your real estate needs!

Photo Credit: slideshare.net

Making House Guests Feel at Home

by Melissa Thompson

Many people travel to visit family and friends during the summer.  If you are expecting house guests, you will want to prepare your home so that is comfortable and welcoming.  Here is a list of things to do before your guests arrive:

  • Buy Fresh Flowers - Even if you don’t keep fresh flowers in your home all the time, it’s nice to splurge a little to have them for your guests. You don’t have to spend a lot of money. You can often find lovely bunches of flowers at your local grocery store.  If you have a green thumb and grow flowers in your yard, that’s even better! Just clip some and place them in pretty vases around the house.
  • Clean Out and Restock the Refrigerator - Get rid of any lurking left-overs as well as any condiments that have passed their expiration.  Plan your meals for the duration of the visit and Stock the Fridge accordingly. Make sure you know your guests’ dietary needs and allergies prior to their arrival.
  • Make a Spare Key - Unless you plan to spend every second of the visit with your guests, you will want to give them a key so that they have the freedom to come and go if you are not home.
  • Have Extra Toothbrushes on Hand - You will be doing your guests a great favor by having extra personal items on hand in case they have forgotten something.  There is nothing worse after arriving from a long trip than having to go back out to purchase forgotten items.  Other items to have on hand: razors, deodorant, feminine hygiene products etc.
  • Clean Out the Guest Room Closet - If you’ve been using your guest room closet for storage, now is the time to clean it out.  Even if you don’t clear it out completely, make sure there is enough space for your guests to store their bags and hang clothes.
  • Clean Up the Clutter -  Having a cluttered home might be ok when it’s just you and your immediate family, but you will want to have a neat and tidy home for your guests.  You don’t have to go overboard.  You can leave out things you use daily, like the bag of dog food or the tv remotes. But put other extraneous items away for the duration of their stay.
  • Wipe the Ceiling Fan Blades - There are some things that often get overlooked in your normal cleaning routine.  Make sure to wipe down the ceiling-fan blades along with other nooks and crannies you might have missed before.  It’s also a good time to change your air filters if they haven’t recently been changed.
  • Replace Shower Curtain Liner - If you haven’t changed your shower curtain liner in the  guest bathroom recently, check it to make sure there is no mildew.  Liners are inexpensive and new one will give the bathroom a fresh feel. 
  • Prepare Guest Bath - Speaking of the Guest Bathroom - make sure it is fully stocked with plenty of toilet paper, facial tissues, shampoo, conditioner and body wash.  Splurge on some fragrant fancy soaps to place on the sink. Provide a stack of freshly laundered towels so that your guests don’t have to go looking for them.

Having guests in your home can be a little stressful sometimes. Preparing for their visit ahead of time will alleviate some of that stress so that you can enjoy their visit to the fullest!

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: littlehouseliving.com

Happy Birthday, America!

by Melissa Thompson

Clean Up the Clutter with Creative Family Room Storage

by Melissa Thompson

Some people call it a Family Room, others a Great Room, but whatever you call it, for many families it is the heart of the home.  It’s where you gather to spend time together, to watch television, to play games, to socialize with friends and to relax.  Since so much time is spent in this room, you want it to be comfortable and inviting, while also being neat and tidy.  A cluttered room does not promote a relaxing vibe. But where do you keep everything?  Here are some creative storage solutions for your family room:

  • Ottomans - A pillow for your feet and a great place to keep extra blankets and pillows!

An ottoman that opens does double duty and provides hidden space for items that you don’t want sitting out in the open all the time.


Photo Credit: westelm.com

  • Coffee Tables - Another piece of furniture that can serve more than one purpose is the coffee table.  Does your family love board games?  With the right coffee table you can conveniently store them and have room to play them!


Photo Credit: pinterest.com

  • Open storage - You don’t have to hide everything. You can achieve a neat and tidy aesthetic by organizing items such as books and magazines in stacks.  There are many ways to style a coffee table so that it is both useful and pretty! Coffee Table Styling and Decor Tips


Photo Credit: thespruce.com

  • Baskets - Find baskets that blend in with your décor to hold various items.  Large baskets can hold blankets, pillows, dog toys and games.  Smaller baskets are great for holding remote controls, phones and chargers.


Photo Credit: iconhomedesign.com

  • Drawers - Furniture with drawers is a great way to hide all the “stuff” that might otherwise clutter your family room.  Everything from pens, crayons, coloring books, remotes, eye-glasses, books, magazines and more can be efficiently stored in drawers!


Photo Credit: mathifold.org

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!

Patriotic Fruits & Vegetables

by Melissa Thompson

With July 4th approaching, I have red, white and blue on my mind.  Celebrate Independence Day with patriotic, healthy fruits and veggies!

Eggplant

Not only is it tasty as vegetarian entree, it has also been proven that eggplant helps prevent age-related mental disorders and improves memory!

Bosc Pears

These sweet treats are fat-free and filled with nutrients. They make a great, sodium free snack on the go, but can also be used in tasty recipes!

Blood Oranges

This delectable, rouge infused fruit has a lot to brag about! Packed with antioxidants and vitamin C, it also contains anthocyanins which help protect the body from cancer.  And that’s not all…they also make some unique and flavorful cocktails!

Beets

Beets can leave stains behind, but their benefits far outweigh that little inconvenience.  They serve as a pro-liver blood purifying agent, a high source of energy, and a natural toxin cleanser. And…they make superb salads!

White Nectarines

The profusion of Vitamin C in white nectarines helps build a resistance against infections.  This luscious fruit tastes amazing too! Their delicate flavor compliments both savory and sweet recipes, so you can be really creative with them.

Radishes

This red, crunchy root vegetable does all the work for you: it eases digestive stress, keeps viral infections at bay, and has even been known to sooth a sore throat.  They are mostly eaten raw in salads, but there are some delicious radish recipes as well.

Purple Asparagus

Ok…it’s not technically blue, but it is your #1 source of vitamin A, so we’re going to count it! Similar in appearance to other varieties of asparagus, it is actually less fibrous and therefore more tender.  It also has a sweeter taste and when cooked develops flavor notes of artichoke, barley and almonds.

Plums

Again…a little more purple than blue, but plums have so many healthy benefits they must be included here.  Plus, they taste heavenly! Plums are the bowel regulator of the fruit community.  They also boost bone health and neutralize cell-damaging free radicals, providing you with sharper memory.  They are convenient to carry as a quick, fresh snack…but you will really love them in a delicious dessert!

Parsnips

This pale cousin to the carrot is a root vegetable that contains a treasure trove of dietary fiber which helps to reduce obesity and blood cholesterol levels.  They are sweet like the carrot, but contain more starch and have and earthier, nutty taste.  High in vitamins and minerals (especially potassium), they also contain antioxidants.  They can be eaten raw, but are especially appetizing parsnip recipes!

Photo Credits: marthastewart.com & urbanseeds.com

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Holding an Open House - Worth it or Not?

by Melissa Thompson

Home owners and Realtors often debate whether having an open house is beneficial or not.  Some sellers will insist that having an open house is the best way to sell their home, while others will want nothing to do with having potential buyers traipse through their home.  Real estate professionals have different views on this topic as well.  Some swear by open houses and feel they are critical to sales, while others never hold them and some just have them occasionally.

So, the question remains…if you are selling your home, should you hold an open house?  Here is a list of pros and cons to help you make that decision:

Pros to holding an open house:

  • Attract buyers who may not know how to start the home buying process. Purchasing a home is a process that many people are not familiar with, especially first-time home buyers. People new to home buying will need a significant amount of guidance and advice.  A positive that may result from having an open house is the possibility of a buyer who doesn’t know where to start coming to see your home.  You may also get the attention of potential buyers who just happen to drive by and see the sign for the open house. 
  • Additional exposure.  One of the most important jobs of a  Realtor representing sellers, is making sure their clients’ home is getting ample exposure.  Open houses can give extra exposure through promotional advertising such as street signs, newspaper ads and internet ads.
  • Allows buyers to look at house without feeling pressured.   With the laid-back atmosphere of an open house, prospective buyers will feel more comfortable looking around with little to no pressure from the Realtor or seller.  An interested buyer might want time to analyze the home in detail without someone looking over their shoulder.  It also provides the buyer time to look at specific details of the home that will help them decide if it is the right house for them.

Cons to holding an open house:

  • Slim chance of a sale.  The truth is that a very small percentage of homes sell as a direct result of an open house.  Honestly, the person that benefits most is the Realtor.  Open houses provide the Realtor with potential clients.  Private showings of your home are much more likely to result in a buyer than open houses.
  • Unqualified buyers.  One of the first steps in the home buying process is obtaining a Mortgage Pre-Approval .  Getting a mortgage pre-approval is essential for knowing what you can afford when buying a home.  At an open house, you may find many people walking through your home who can’t afford it.  It is a waste of time for you and your realtor to have people looking at your home when they cannot afford to possibly purchase it.
  • Nosy neighbors and “Looky Loos”. Open houses often attract inquisitive neighbors who simply want to see your house and compare it to their own.  They also might just want to see how you have your home decorated.  “Looky loos” are people who go to open houses with no intention of buying a home.  They just like to look!

The pros and cons of having an open house should be carefully considered before deciding whether to have one. With today’s technology and social media, there are a lot of other ways for people to see your home, but with the right Realtor holding the open house, it can still be the best way to impress potential buyers.

If you’re thinking about putting your home on the market, contact Melissa Thompson and let her explain how an open house can be beneficial for you.  Call her today at (901) 729-9526 or (901) 756-8900.

Photo Credit:sehatcoy.com

Displaying blog entries 1-10 of 186

Contact Information

Photo of Melissa Thompson Real Estate
Melissa Thompson
Crye-Leike Realtors
6525 N Quail Hollow Road
Memphis TN 38120
(901) 729-9526
(901) 756-8900
Fax: (901) 435-0620