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Affordable Home Staging Hacks

by Melissa Thompson

Chances are, if you are getting ready to sell your home, you are also preparing to purchase a new home. So, the last thing you want to do is spend more money on your current property.  However, you certainly want to get the best price possible when selling it, and per the National Association of Realtors, for every $100 invested in staging, the potential return is $400. As you can see, it will pay off in the end to stage your home to entice potential buyers.

Some people will hire a certified staging professional to get the job done. (Home Staging and Hiring a Stager) While it might seem easier than doing it yourself, it is not the only way to get that SOLD sign planted in your front yard.  There are some simple, yet effective home-staging hacks that you can do that won’t break your budget:

  • Roll Out a Welcome Mat - Sounds simple, right?  It is!  First impressions mean everything when selling your home.  Also, prospective buyers tend to linger by the front door before the real estate agent opens the home for viewing, so an inviting entrance is crucial. A new welcome mat can cost as little as $15.  Purchase a modern mat that compliments the style of your home.  To further enhance the entryway, add a little green with some fresh plants.  An enticing entrance will make buyers want to see more!
     
  • Mount Mirrors in Strategic Spots - Every home has spaces like a dim hallway or small space that lacks natural light.  To spruce up these areas, hang a few mirrors.  They add extra light to rooms that look dark, and create an illusion of space. They will pack an extra punch if placed next to or directly across from a window because they will pull in more sun.  For a more decorative look, create a collage of several mini mirrors in different shapes and sizes rather than just slapping one large mirror on the wall. You can find inexpensive mirrors at craft stores and discount home stores. How to Use Mirrors to Create More Space
     
  • Set Tables and Serving Areas for Entertaining - A home filled with friends, food and laughter is a happy one!  Paint a picture of what entertaining in your home will be like for potential buyers.  Keep it simple, but aesthetically pleasing. Lay out cloth napkins, wine glasses and solid plates in the dining room. Use matching mugs and bowls in the kitchen to produce the feel of family meals.
     
  • Replace Personal Photos with Art Work - Over the years, you have turned your house into a home by decorating with family portraits and personal mementos.  But potential buyers are going to want to be able to envision themselves living there and that is hard to do with your family members present in the form of pictures in every room.  So, get a head start on packing up your house by putting your pictures away and replacing them with art work that compliments the style of the home.  You can find inexpensive art at discount stores or you can print beautiful landscape photos to put in frames.
     
  • Make the Bathroom Look Elegant with White Linens - Spruce up your bathroom with crisp, fresh, all-white linens.  White towels, bath mats, and shower curtains give the room an instant update.  They inspire the feeling of a luxury spa without spending a lot of money.  Take it a step further by including some "spa like" displays. Simple additions like an orchid, candles and special soaps will go a long way. 7 Easy Updates to Make Your Bathroom Feel Like a Spa
     
  • Arrange Decorative Scenes - Decorative displays can give a cozy, lived-in ambience to a house.  Assembling classy vignettes of colorful vases, lanterns, books, plants, baskets, and other items atop dressers, counters and bookshelves will make a house feel more like a home. Group items in odd numbers and in varying heights and shapes while keeping them in the same color family. You will be amazed at what you can find to use in your house, but if you need to buy some things, you can mix in inexpensive pieces from craft and discount stores.  Done properly, these displays will have people feeling like they are looking at rooms right out of home décor magazines…and that definitely appeals to prospective buyers.

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: houzz.com

What You Need to Know About Renting Out a Room in Memphis

by Melissa Thompson

Memphis, home of blues, soul & rock ‘n’ roll is a fantastic travel destination. With so many fun attractions such as Graceland, Sun Studio, the Rock ‘n’ Soul Museum and iconic Beale Street, homeowners may be tempted to rent out rooms to earn a little extra income.  Why not?  It sounds easy enough.  Clean up that spare room or basement and you can rake in the big bucks from people looking for alternatives to hotel lodging.  But there are things you should know before taking this on.  It may not be as simple as it seems.

- There are several online peer-to-peer marketplaces for renting out your house or a room in your house. Airbnb is one of the largest and most popular. Some others include HomeAway and FlipKey. Your first step should be to investigate the various options and decide which one will work best for you.

- Educate yourself about the laws involved with renting out a room in your home. When listing your home on a website, they might not indicate whether you’re complying with local laws.  You are responsible for knowing the regulations and following the rule of the law.  Don’t get yourself in a situation like the hosts in New York City who were fined thousands of dollars for renting their apartments through peer-to-peer services.  This type of rental activity is allowed in Memphis, but it is subject to rules set forth by city council.  Make sure you know the rules and regulations before placing your room for rent. Memphis City Council Cuts Red Tape for Airbnb Hosts

- There may be taxes involved.  Depending on how much you earn by renting out all or part of your home, you may receive a tax form from the marketplaces that list your property.  Regardless, you must report the earnings when filing your taxes.  This is something to consider when deciding if it is worth the cost to start renting out space in your home.

- Something else to think about when deciding if your profits will outweigh your costs is the expense of having guests in your home.  You will be providing consumables such as soap, toilet paper, shampoo and cleaning supplies. In addition, your utility bills may increase.  You may also want to hire a cleaning service if you don’t have time to clean between guests.

- To increase your chances of being booked, consider listing on multiple sites.  The more people that see your listing, the better the chance it will be rented.  But remember, each site has its own rules, fee structures and insurance requirements, so you need to know this information for every site you use.

Should you decide to rent out a room in your home, the rental site that you choose will help you get started and before you know it you will be welcoming guests to magnificent Memphis!

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: memphistravel.com

Investing in Real Estate - What You Need to Know

by Melissa Thompson

Real estate investing can be a great way to make money.  But to be successful at it, you need to do your homework first and make sure you know what you’re getting yourself into.  Here are some tips to help you get started:

- Choose an experienced Realtor.  Finding the right agent is critical to successfully capitalize on real estate investments.  You want to find someone who has the knowledge to make the process easier for you.  They should have awareness of location, value, and return on investment.

- Location, location, location!  Research what areas are declining and which ones are on the rise before deciding where to purchase an investment property. If large retailers such as Lowe’s or Home Depot are setting up shop there, it’s probably a good place to invest because big chains do a lot of research before moving in. How to Choose the Best Place to Invest in Real Estate

- If you plan to invest with a partner, make sure you have a partnership agreement drawn up to protect all parties in case something happens.  Relationships can sour and expensive mistakes can happen. Making early decision about how to handle bad situations will help prevent catastrophic results.

- Be prepared to invest for the long term.  When you hold onto a property for a long time, you can manage expenses and income easier and use the money to pay the mortgage.

- Be picky about renters. If you are going to rent to students or rent rooms to different people verses to a family, you may need special permits, depending on where you live. Educate yourself about rules and regulations for renting out your property. How to Choose the Best Tenant for Your Rental

- If you have more than three properties you’re renting out, you would benefit from hiring an experienced property manager. It can be overwhelming when you are trying to take care of multiple homes (including your own!). A property manager will handle repairs and minor problems for tenants. They will help find new tenants as well.  Just keep in mind that property managers usually get around 10% of the monthly rent.

Being a landlord isn’t always easy.  But with the right investment, it can be very rewarding!

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!

Simplifying: Tips for Living a Peaceful Life

by Melissa Thompson

With summer in the rear-view mirror and kids back in school, life has likely gotten a lot more hectic. Chances are you have multiple schedules to juggle and little free time.  Now is a good time to simplify your life and eliminate as much stress as possible. Get started with the following steps:

  1. Let go of extraneous possessions.  Having too many "things" can be detrimental to a peaceful life.  They cause clutter, drain your bank account and use energy and attention that could be elsewhere.  Take the time to remove unnecessary possessions from your life and you will not regret it! 12 Surprising Ways Clutter is Ruining Your Life
  2. Learn to say no.  Too many commitments will not only take up time, but will leave you feeling like you can’t really give 100% to anyone or anything.  Prioritize what is most important to you, whether it’s a book club or a hobby or volunteering.  After working and taking care of your family, you want to make the most out of the free time you have. Filling it with activities you don’t really care about out of some sense of obligation will leave you feeling tired and unfulfilled.
  3. Get organized.  There is nothing more frustrating than not being able to find something when you need it.  Imagine the time and energy that will be saved if you don’t have to search for your keys or the phone charger or your child’s permission slip that you signed last week.  Having a place for everything and knowing where it is when you need it will make your life much less stressful and free up more time for fun and relaxation. 20 Ways to Organize Your Life Now
  4. Reduce screen time.  How many times have you run late for something because you just had to read one more article on the internet.  It’s easy to get sucked in when so much information is available so easily.  But too much screen time means too little REAL time.  Don’t let the screen dominate your life.  Make a conscious effort to unplug and free up more time for other activities.
  5. Stop multi-tasking.  It may seem unavoidable when life is so busy, but Research indicates that multi-tasking increases stress and lowers productivity.  Focus on one task at a time, give it 100% of your attention, and when you are done move on to the next task.
  6. Ask for help.  Sometimes life is hard.  Trying to do everything yourself can leave you feeling defeated and deflated.  Don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it.

These are just a few ideas for ways to simplify your life.  If you are buying or selling a home, you can count on Melissa Thompson and her team at Your Key to Memphis to make the process as simple as possible for you!

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: katehimes.com

Preparing to Sell Your House - Kid-Friendly Chores

by Melissa Thompson

There is a lot of work involved in Getting Your Home Ready to be Listed for sale. You want it to be in the best condition possible.  It can be overwhelming and stressful, but it must be done to get the best possible price for it when you sell.  If you have children, they can help!  Don’t underestimate their ability and desire to be a part of the process. Here is a list of kid-friendly chores that will allow your children to assist in getting your home ready to sell:

  1. Putting Toys Away - Have your children gather toys from all over the house.  The last thing you want is a potential buyer tripping over a Lego or matchbox car.  Once they have gathered all their toys in one place, have them go through them to decide if there are any they are willing to part with.  This will help with clearing out spaces.
  2. Depersonalizing - Give your children the mission of finding all the family photos in the home and taking them down.  It’s important that potential buyers are able to envision your home as their own and that’s challenging when they are looking at pictures of your family on every wall.
  3. Painting Exterior Fence - Do you have a wood fence surrounding your property?  Has it seen better days?  Giving it a makeover is a great way to spruce up your Curb Appeal. Depending on their age, children can do a great job giving the fence a fresh coat of paint.
  4. Dusting & Vacuuming - When your house needs to be sparkling clean for showings, you are going to want to vacuum and dust daily.  Little ones love to dust…give them a feather duster and let them go nuts!  Assign vacuuming duty to older children.  If they are tall enough to handle the vacuum, they are capable of helping keep the floors clean!
  5. Cleaning Up the Yard - First impressions are important!  Potential buyers may not even want to go in to look at your house if they outside is a mess. Have your kids help by removing debris such as sticks, branches, and leaves from the yard and flower beds.  If there are any toys outside, have them pick them up and store them appropriately.  Older kids can help with mowing and edging to keep your yard looking nice.
  6. Planting Flowers - Little ones love digging in the dirt!  If you’re going to plant some flowers to enhance your curb appeal, allowing your children to help will make it less of a task and more an activity you can enjoy together!

While you might think that you just want your kids to stay out of the way while you are preparing your house for sale, you might be surprised at how much they are capable of if given the opportunity.  A lot children thrive when given the chance to help their parents. You can kill two birds with one stone by not only keeping your children busy, but also getting things done quicker so you can have your house ready to list and show as soon as possible!

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: aptparenting.com

Home Ownership - A Dream that Can Come True!

by Melissa Thompson

The idea of purchasing your first home is exciting, but can also feel overwhelming.  Before starting your home search, you need to figure out how much you can afford.  If you’ve been hesitant to move forward because you’re afraid you won’t have enough cash for a down payment or that you won’t qualify for a loan, you shouldn’t despair.  There are programs available that can help you!  So, stop padding your landlord’s pockets and take advantage of programs that will assist you in making a sound financial investment in a home of your own.

The Tennessee Housing Development Agency  has two programs designed to assist people with down payment assistance once they have qualified for a Great Choice Home Loan:

  1. Great Choice Plus Loan - Anywhere in Tennessee, all homebuyers who qualify for a Great Choice Home Loan can also apply for down payment assistance in the form of a Great Choice Plus second loan worth a maximum of 5% of the home’s purchase price.  The beauty of this program is that this loan has no monthly payments and no interest for as long as you own and live in your home.  You won’t have to pay back any of it unless you move out, sell or refinance. If you do move out, sell or refinance, you will only have to pay back exactly what you borrowed.
     
  2. HHF-DPA -  If you are purchasing a home with a Great Choice Home Loan in one of the Participating Zip Codes, you can apply for the HHF-DPA program, which offers $15,000 in down payment assistance.  If you’re approved, your financial assistance comes in the form of a forgivable $15,000 second mortgage loan on your home.  This second mortgage has a 0% interest rate a defers monthly payments for a ten- year term.  The loan is forgiven at 20% per year in years 6-10.  If you do not sell, refinance or move out in that ten-year period, you will get full loan forgiveness.  This loan is only available on purchases of existing homes (no new construction) and again, only available to homes purchased in participating zip codes. 

    You must complete a THDA Homebuyer Education Course to participate in these programs.

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 Avoid Expensive Visits from a Plumber

by Melissa Thompson

If you’ve ever had to call a plumber to come out to your house to fix a clogged sink or jammed garbage disposal, you already know how expensive that visit can be.  Here are some tips for things you can do to take care of your kitchen sink so that you won’t have to call a plumber to fix it for you:

  • Don’t pour grease, oil or fat into your garbage disposal or drain. Grease will slowly accumulate and impede your garbage disposal’s grinding ability as well as clog drains.
     
  • Don’t use hot water when grinding food waste. Hot water will cause grease to liquefy and accumulate, causing drains to clog.
     
  • Don’t grind extremely fibrous materials like corn husks, celery stalks, onions, and artichokes. Fibers from these can tangle and jam the garbage disposal motor and block drains.
     
  • Don’t turn off the motor or water until grinding is completed. When grinding is complete, turn off the garbage disposal first. Let water continue to run for at least 15 seconds, flushing out any remaining particles. Then turn off water.
     
  • Don’t put too many potato peels down the garbage disposal. The starches in the potatoes will turn into a thick paste and may cause blades to stick.
     
  • Don’t put large amounts of food down the garbage disposal. Feed food into the garbage disposal a little at a time with the cold water running; this will help the food scraps flow down freely through the drain pipes and plumbing.
     
  • Don’t put expandable foods into your garbage disposal. Foods like pasta and rice expand when you add water in a pot; they do the same thing once inside your pipes or garbage disposal and are the cause of many jams and clogs.
     
  • Don’t grind large animal bones of any kind.
     
  • Don’t put coffee grounds down the garbage disposal. They won’t harm the disposal but they can accumulate in drains and pipes, causing clogs.
     
  • Most importantly: Don’t use harsh chemicals like bleach or drain cleaners to unclog the drain. They damage blades and pipes.

Follow these tips to take care of your sink and garbage disposal and save yourself from writing that check to the plumber!!

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: blog.cinfin.com

Warm Wishes for a Safe and Happy Labor Day!

by Melissa Thompson

Fabulous Fall Flowers

by Melissa Thompson

Fall is just around the corner and with it comes Fall foliage and a burst of majestic colors. But if you would like to add some of the glorious autumnal colors to your home’s landscaping, now is the time to start planning and planting.  Whether you are partial to yellows and golds, burnt oranges and rusts, or deep reds and burgundies (or if you like to mix it up with a variety of hues), there is something for everyone when it comes to fall flowers. Here are some favorites:

Chrysanthemums -  These popular flowers come in a variety of sizes. With seasonal, festive shades of yellow, red and orange they provide a perfect backdrop for all your outdoor fall décor.  Learn how to plant and grow chrysanthemums here.

Pansies - Found in just about every shade of the rainbow, these versatile flowers create a majestic ground cover and look equally amazing in hanging baskets.  If planted in fall,  pansies can last up to eight months, so you definitely get your money’s worth of beauty with these hardy plants! Growing Pansies

Goldenrod -  Many people think that goldenrod causes hay fever, but ragweed is the real culprit, not this beautiful fall flower!  It is a late bloomer, bringing a blast of gorgeous gold to late fall.  You can grow tall varieties to stand guard over your garden or dwarf versions for the front of your beds. John Muir, a naturalist known as “Father of the National Parks” said of goldenrod, “The fragrance, color, and form of the whole spiritual expression of Goldenrod are hopeful and strength-giving beyond any others I know. A single spike is sufficient to heal unbelief and melancholy.”

Croton - An ideal plant for autumn, croton has brilliant shades of red, orange, yellow and purple.  It works as a houseplant in cold-weather regions or as a shrub in frost-free areas.  It also can be grown outdoors as an annual. Be on the lookout for different varieties to find the best crotons to complement your fall garden. Care of Outdoor Croton Plants: How to Grow Croton Outdoors

Black-Eyed Susan - These golden-yellow stunners bring to mind happy daisies.  Bees and butterflies love them and they brighten up any landscape or container garden. Learn How to Grow Black Eyed Susans and create a blanket of color for fall!

Helenium - Also known as “sneezeweed” (don’t worry, it doesn’t make you sneeze…the name comes from when they used to make snuff out of their dried leaves) they look like small, copper hued coneflowers.  They can grow quite tall and add a burst of warm cheer to your fall garden. How to Grow Helenium

Take advantage of what’s left of late summer and start your fall garden while the days are still longer and the temperatures are still mild.  Before you know it, you will be enjoying the glory of Autumn!

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: blog.gardenloversclub.com

Homeowners’ Association Pros and Cons

by Melissa Thompson

You’ve found your dream home!  The neighborhood is lovely, with well-kept lawns and freshly painted exteriors. There is a resort-like pool and a playground for the kids.  Awesome. Oh, and there is a  Homeowners' Association (HOA) that will cost you $500 a month.  Didn’t see that coming, did you?  It’s important to be informed about the pros and cons of living in a neighborhood with a homeowners’ association.

Pro - The neighborhood will look nice.  Most HOAs establish rules for residents that ensure keeping up the appearance of the neighborhood.  The guidelines might include keeping lawns manicured, whether you can have a fence (and the type and color of the fence), and what exterior paint colors you can use.  You may even have to get permission to remove or add trees and shrubs. What You Need to Know About HOA Rules & Regulations

Con - HOA dues.  They can be expensive, sometimes as much as $1,000 per month depending on what amenities are offered.  These fees need to be taken into consideration when deciding if you can afford a house in the neighborhood.  They will be included in your mortgage lender’s assessment of your monthly mortgage payment, so you will have to qualify for a loan amount that includes them.

Pro - Awesome amenities.  You will enjoy the amenities that come with your HOA fees.  Most HOAs offer luxuries such as a pool, a fitness center, play areas, parks and security gates.  That’s in addition to covering the expenses of landscaping and maintenance of the common areas.

Con - Needing permission to make changes to your property.  If you want to add a room to your home or modify it in some way, you will have to make a request that will go before the HOA board for approval.  If they don’t approve it, you will not be able to make the changes you want.

Pro - Maintenance costs are shared.  You won’t have to worry about the upkeep of the pool, fitness center or common areas.

Con - HOA financial problems could become your problem.  If your HOA is struggling financially, it could damage your ability to obtain a loan for a home and it could be detrimental to home sale prices in the community.

Pro - An HOA will handle disputes between neighbors.  If someone has a dog barking at all hours or loud parties, you can contact the HOA and they will contact the neighbor; especially if HOA rules are being broken.

Con - Keeping up with the dues.  If you fall behind on your HOA dues, it can do great harm to you financially.  You may even end up facing foreclosure. That’s why it is crucial that you include the fees when determining if you can afford a house. You may also be subject to late fees if you don’t pay on time.  In addition, HOAs can fine you for not following guidelines and rules, so it’s imperative that you can afford the upkeep required for living in the neighborhood.

It’s vital that you consider all these pros and cons before deciding to purchase a home in a neighborhood with an HOA.

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: conveyco.com

Displaying blog entries 1-10 of 196

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