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Finding the Right Home for You and Your Family

by Melissa Thompson

Purchasing a home is such a huge decision, you definitely want it to be the right one.  Before even starting the home search process, it’s important to think about what it is you want from your new home. 

For many the location of a property is the priority.  Perhaps you have your heart set on a charming neighborhood that you have always loved.  Or maybe you want a specific school district for your children. Whatever the reason, location is as important financially as it is emotionally. You are making an investment and future resale value should be taken into consideration. Figuring out where you want to live is the first step in finding the house that is right for you and your family.  Once you have an idea of where you want to live, you may discover that you might have to compromise a bit on the type of house you want.  For example, perhaps you like the idea of a ranch style home with a big yard, but there is nothing like that available in the area you chose.  If your priority is a certain style of home, you may have to compromise on the location. Location: The Most Important Factor in Real Estate

Looking for a home based on architectural style can be challenging, especially if you are moving to a new area that you are not familiar with.  One way to do it is to use the key word option on real estate search sites to type in descriptive words.  Once again, you may have to adjust your expectations because you might find a house you love in a neighborhood that you don’t like so much.  Perhaps new construction is the way to go for you.  That way you can choose where you want to live and build to your specifications. 26 Popular Architectural Home Styles

Often finances will dictate where you can search for a house based on what you can afford.  If you’re handy and don’t mind the idea of a fixer-upper, you might be able to find a diamond in the rough for a great price.  Just keep in mind the future expenses of renovating it. If a move-in ready home is what you’re looking for, maybe you should consider a town-home or condo, especially if the amenities that often come with those types of homes appeal to you.

There are so many questions to ask yourself before you begin looking for a house.  Do you want a big yard or do you hate yard work?  Do you want to be able to walk to restaurants and shops or do you prefer country living?  Do you mind a long commute to your job or do you want to live near where you work?  Take time to think these things through before you start your home search. Trust me, it will go more smoothly and be much more enjoyable if you go into it knowing what you want!

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!

Guide to Buying a Home - Summer 2018

by Melissa Thompson

Purchasing a home is likely the largest financial commitment you will ever make. It’s not one to be taken lightly. But while it can be overwhelming and a little scary, it is also smart.  Owning a home is an investment in your future, and with that in mind, you want to make sure that you are making educated decisions so that you get the best deal possible.

Summer is a popular time for home shopping. But before you start your home search in earnest, it’s vital that you understand what the real estate market is like for buyers right now.  While existing home sales and list prices have risen this year, there are still perks to starting your home search. These tips will help you get the most out of the 2018 summer housing market!

  • Prices sometimes drop during summer.

While summer is a busy home-buying season, it’s not nearly as busy as spring. Because of this, prices may drop between May-October.  Waiting until late August may mean that you can snag a sweet deal! The Best Time to Buy a Home is in August & September

  • PMI is getting more affordable.

Private Mortgage Insurance is getting cheaper with PMI lenders MGIC and Radian having lowered their rates this spring.  That means other PMI companies will become more competitive, which will bring all of them down.  With PMI required when homebuyers put less that 20 percent down, lower rates mean that purchasing a home will be affordable for more home buyers.

  • Don’t discount older listings.

Don’t make assumptions about houses that have been on the market for a long time.  There are many reasons why a house may not sell quickly.  Often if might just be due to a buyer getting cold feet and pulling out on a deal, or perhaps financing fell through. That doesn’t mean it’s a “bad” house.  And remember…if it’s been on the market awhile, the price is likely to come down, meaning you will get a better deal!

  • Consider a fixer-upper.

Flexibility on your part is a must in a busy market.  You may have been dreaming of a sparkling, move-in ready home, but a fixer-upper could possibly be the dream house you’ve really been looking for.  There is definitely more to choose from if you’re willing to take on a fixer-upper.  The number of starter homes on the market is shrinking, but there are more fixer-uppers among them than there were six years ago.  Choosing a fixer-upper will also give you more time for decision making.  Move-in ready homes go quickly and competition for them is fierce, so if that’s what you want you are going to have to be prepared to move quickly!

  • Get to know the neighborhood.

When the market is competitive, it’s tempting to make an offer on any property that appeals to you.  This can be misguided if you haven’t even checked out the neighborhood.  If you end up in a great house in the wrong neighborhood for you, it will never truly feel like home.

  • Make a good offer.

Now is NOT the time for a low-ball offer.  But keep in mind that the strongest offer is not necessarily the highest one.  If you have the funds available, a lower cash offer can often win out over a higher one that is being financed.  Of course, coming up with that kind of money may not be feasible, but there are other ways to strengthen your offer without upping the amount.  Generous contingencies, like a shorter closing or inspection period or Writing a Winning Offer Letter can also help you stand out to sellers.

If you are considering buying or selling a home this summer, call Melissa Thompson at 901-729-9526 and let her help you with all your real estate needs!

Photo Credit: realestateclipart.com

How to Handle a Bidding War

by Melissa Thompson

It is a seller's market in real estate this year and with spring around the corner, the competition for homes is likely to get even more fierce.  If you are looking to purchase a home right now, chances are you may find yourself in a bidding war. Be prepared!  Here are six ways to come out on top in a bidding war:

Get your finances in order and get as much cash as you can.  It is never too soon to get pre-approved for a loan. In fact, the sooner the better.  Sellers will have lots of options and will be leery of those who do not have loans set in stone.  If possible, bring cash to the table.  Sellers will fear appraisals coming in low and loans falling through, so be prepared to cover the difference with cash.

- Don’t hesitate!  Be the first to make an offer, and make it a good one.  An insulting offer will put you at the bottom of the seller’s list, so it is not a good time to low ball.  Come in at or slightly below asking price so that they know you are serious about purchasing their home.

- Have an escalation clause in your offer. This is the amount of money the buyer agrees to increase the offer if there are other bids. If you offer the asking price of $400,000 on a house, but it might sell for $450,000, put in an escalation clause stating that you are willing to go as high as $460,000.  But know your limit.  Don’t offer more than you can handle.  Also, make sure the clause states that the seller can only take the winning bid up to a level just above the competing offers.  For example, if an offer comes in for $430,000, your bid would be upped to $431,000.

- Get a pre-inspection.  It will cost you a few hundred dollars, but it can help you in a super-tight market.  If you can make a bid that is not contingent upon inspection, sellers will look favorably on your offer versus the same offer from someone who has a contingency in their contract.

Show the love!  If you have found the perfect house and know you love it, don’t be afraid to let the sellers know, either directly or through your Realtor.  You can write a letter, send pictures of your family or even make a video describing why you love the house so much.  Be specific in your praise.  Sellers may appreciation the connection you feel with the house and choose you over other bidders.​

Think with your head, not your heart. Be smart! Purchasing a home is an emotional decision, but emotions can get in the way of making wise decisions.   Make sure you have done thorough research of the market: look at the most recent comparable sales, compare prices from a year ago, visit local school, have coffee at the closest café and speak to potential neighbors.  Look at listings nearby.  Whatever you do, don’t overpay because you get caught up in the heat of the competition.  While the house may seem perfect for you, it is not the only house that will be perfect for you. So, keep a level head and make intelligent decisions.

Melissa Thompson is an experienced, professional Realtor who can help you through the negotiations involved in a bidding war.  Give her a call at 901-756--8900 and start your home search today!

YOUR HOME SEARCH STARTS HERE            FIND OUT WHAT YOUR HOME IS WORTH  

Photo credit: Active Rain

Buying a House? Don’t Skip the Home Inspection!

by Melissa Thompson

With all the fees and expenses involved in purchasing a home, it may be tempting to skip the home inspection to avoid spending the money.  But in the long run, it may cost you more to skip it. Home inspections sometimes reveal things that ultimately could have cost you way more than the fee involved.

While you might think that sellers are being honest about the condition of the home, it’s important not to take their word for it.  Truthfully, they probably are being honest.  But they don’t necessarily see what could be “wrong” with the house any more than you do.  That’s why you need an expert to come in and do the inspection. They can find things that never would be noticed by the naked eye because they know what to look for. Home inspectors can also give you advice and things to look out for in the future. With that information, you can have an idea of how to prepare for potential costs down the road.

A home inspection can be a deal breaker as well.  For example, if sellers offer a discounted price or cash back for skipping the inspection, walk away from the deal.  This is a huge red flag!  A home inspection only takes a few hours and is paid for by buyers, so there is no reason sellers should protest unless there are critical issues in the home they know about and are trying to hide.

When hiring a home inspector, you want someone with many years of experience and proper certifications and licenses. You also want someone who will be thorough…willing to go through the basement, attic and up on the roof to check out every nook and cranny of the home.  It’s important to gather as much information about the house as possible so that you know what you are getting in to.

It is not mandatory for you to be present for the inspection, but it’s a good idea to be there.  Some inspectors are happy to have you walk along with them and ask questions as you go.  Others will want to do the inspection on their own and then have you do a walk through with them after they are done.  Either way, be sure to look carefully through the report they give you and ask as many questions as you want.  Remember that you are paying for their time, so don’t hesitate to have them go over the report with you so that you have a clear understanding of it.

Even if your inspection comes up clean, the fee you pay is worth the price to have peace of mind. Include it in your home-buying budget and don’t think of it as an “extra” expense.  It is a crucial element of your decision in purchasing the home and paying a $450 fee and finding nothing wrong is better than skipping it and ending up having to replace your roof for $3000! 

http://www.yourkeytomemphis.com/Blog/Free-Yourself-from-Debt-and-Become-a-Homeowner

http://www.yourkeytomemphis.com/Blog/Debunking-Real-Estate-Myths

http://www.yourkeytomemphis.com/Blog/Buying-a-Home-Can-Be-Scary-Unless-You-Know-the-Facts

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Free Yourself from Debt and Become a Homeowner!

by Melissa Thompson

As a Realtor, I love helping people purchase their first home.  However, there are two major challenges that I see time and time again with first time home buyers:

- They often carry too much debt.
- They don’t have enough cash for a down payment.

These two issues are strongly related in that people need to reduce debts that inhibit them from saving money.

We all know that we shouldn’t spend more than we earn, but falling into the debt trap is easy to do.  You see an expensive item that you must have and you think, I will use my credit card now and pay for it with my next paycheck.  It sounds reasonable at the time, but next thing you know you’ve done something like that often enough that there is a beastly credit card balance hanging over your head.

So, now you’re in debt.  You have regrets, but no use doing the “should have, would have, could have” dance.  Now it’s time to move forward and take the steps needed to reduce your debt.  Here is a list of things to do to change the way you manage your money.  Follow these steps and before you know it you will be on your way to saving for a down payment on your first home!

- Stop adding to your debt. The first step to getting out of debt is to stop adding to your outstanding balances. To remove temptation, carry only one credit card with you…and make sure it is the one with the lowest limit so that it is impossible to get into serious trouble with it.  Leave any other credit cards in a safe place at home to keep yourself from going on an impulsive shopping spree. 

- Take an inventory of your spending habits. This may not be a fun activity, but it is helpful to see how you are spending.  Create a list of where your money goes each month including rent, utilities, car payments, food, credit cards etc. Once you have done this, split the list into two categories: bills you must pay every month and debts you need to pay off.  The second list then can be organized in order of urgency, either based on outstanding balance or highest interest rate.  Now you will have a clear picture of your debt situation. Financial Inventory

- Eliminate the largest debts first. Make a minimum payment for each of your credit card bills, but then make an extra payment on the bill that is at the top of your list. Do this monthly until that bill is paid in full.  Now take the money you were using for that bill and start applying it to the second item on your list.  Continue this until all of them are paid off. 

- Cutting expenses and making the payment.  If you are already in debt, how are you going to find money for an extra payment?  Well, some sacrifices must be made.  Cutting back on extras like trips to Starbucks, entertainment and eating out can free up cash that can go toward that extra payment each month.  Ways to Cut Monthly Expenses

- Prepare for the Unexpected. Sometimes life is a struggle and unexpected challenges such as car repairs or medical expenses will pop up from time to time.  As you cut expenses and start to save money, set up an emergency savings account just for these occasions.  That way you will be prepared and won’t have to use a credit card and add to your debt.

- Lower your interest rates. Give your credit card company a call to see if they will lower your interest rate. If they say no, shop around for a card with a lower rate and transfer your debt (be careful of transfer fees to make sure the transfer benefits you). You can also seek out a consolidation loan from your bank. They will pay off your debt and you can pay them back at a lower interest rate. How to Lower Credit Card Interest Rates

- Stick to it!  As you see your debt decrease and see your cash increase, don’t fall back into old spending habits. As you have more money available, put it right into your savings and soon you will have the money you need for a down payment on your first home!

When you are ready to start your home search, contact the professionals at Your Key to Memphis to assist you with all your real estate needs!

http://www.yourkeytomemphis.com/Blog/Buying-or-Selling-in-2018-5-Reasons-to-Resolve-to-Hire-a-Pro

http://www.yourkeytomemphis.com/Blog/Housing-Prices-are-NOT-Heading-for-Another-Crash

http://www.yourkeytomemphis.com/Blog/Debunking-Real-Estate-Myths

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What is the Cost of Waiting Until Next Year to Buy?

by Melissa Thompson

We recently shared that over the course of the last 12 months, home prices have appreciated by 7.0%. Over the same amount of time, interest rates have remained historically low which has allowed many buyers to enter the market.

As a seller, you will likely be most concerned about ‘short-term price’ – where home values are headed over the next six months. As a buyer, however, you must not be concerned about price, but instead about the ‘long-term cost’ of the home.

The Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA), Freddie Mac, and Fannie Mae all project that mortgage interest rates will increase by this time next year. According to CoreLogic’s most recent Home Price Index Report, home prices will appreciate by 4.7% over the next 12 months.

What Does This Mean as a Buyer?

If home prices appreciate by 4.7% over the next twelve months as predicted by CoreLogic, here is a simple demonstration of the impact that an increase in interest rate would have on the mortgage payment of a home selling for approximately $250,000 today:

Bottom Line

If buying a home is in your plan for 2018, doing it sooner rather than later could save you thousands of dollars over the terms of your loan.

Call at 901-756-8900 or visit my website to discover your new home!

By: KCM Crew

Bubble Alert! Is it Getting Too Easy to Get a Mortgage?

by Melissa Thompson

There is little doubt that it is easier to get a home mortgage today than it was last year. The Mortgage Credit Availability Index (MCAI), published by the Mortgage Bankers Association, shows that mortgage credit has become more available in each of the last several years. In fact, in just the last year:

  • More buyers are putting less than 20% down to purchase a home
  • The average credit score on closed mortgages is lower
  • More low-down-payment programs have been introduced

This has some people worrying that we are returning to the lax lending standards which led to the boom and bust that real estate experienced ten years ago. Let’s alleviate some of that concern.

The graph below shows the MCAI going back to the boom years of 2004-2005. The higher the graph line, the easier it was to get a mortgage.

As you can see, lending standards were much more lenient from 2004 to 2007. Though it has gradually become easier to get a mortgage since 2011, we are nowhere near the lenient standards during the boom.

The Urban Institute also publishes a Home Credit Availability Index (HCAI). According to the Institute, the HCAI:

“Measures the percentage of home purchase loans that are likely to default—that is, go unpaid for more than 90 days past their due date. A lower HCAI indicates that lenders are unwilling to tolerate defaults and are imposing tighter lending standards, making it harder to get a loan. A higher HCAI indicates … it is easier to get a loan.”

Here is a graph showing their findings:


Again, today’s lending standards are nowhere near the levels of the boom years. As a matter of fact, they are more stringent than they were even before the boom.

Bottom Line

It is getting easier to gain financing for a home purchase. However, we are not seeing the irresponsible lending that caused the housing crisis.

Let’s get together and find out how much house you can afford! 901-729-9526 or Melissa@YourKeyTomemphis.com

BY: KCM Crew

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Buying a Home Can Be Scary... Unless You Know the Facts

by Melissa Thompson

Some Highlights:

Many potential homebuyers believe that they need a 20% down payment and a 780 FICO® score to qualify to buy a home, which stops many of them from even trying! Here are some facts:

  • 40% of millennials who purchased homes this year have put down less than 10%.
  • 76.4% of loan applications were approved last month.
  • The average credit score of approved loans was 724 in September.

Let the experts at The Melissa Thompson Team help you decide if now is the right time for you to purchase a home! 901-729-9526 or Melissa@YourKeyTomemphis.com.

By: KCM Crew

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The Mortgage Process: What You Need to Know

by Melissa Thompson

Some Highlights:

  • Many buyers are purchasing a home with a down payment as little as 3%.
  • You may already qualify for a loan, even if you don't have perfect credit.
  • Take advantage of the knowledge of your local professionals who are there to help you determine how much you can afford.

Let the experts at The Melissa Thompson Team help you decide if now is the right time for you to purchase a home! 901-729-9526 or Melissa@YourKeyTomemphis.com.

View our Video Blog

By: KCM Crew

Steps to Take Before Buying a Home - A Guide for First Time Homebuyers

by Melissa Thompson

Buying your first home is a huge endeavor and the decision to do so should not be made lightly.  In fact, it is likely to be the largest financial decision you will ever make.  So, be smart and be prepared. Do your research before you even start looking at houses and make sure you know what you are getting into.  Here are some important steps to take before buying your first home:

  1. Make sure being a homeowner is right for you.  While the idea of owning a home is exciting, there is a lot that goes into it.  If you’ve been paying rent, you might find that a mortgage payment is less than what you’ve been paying.  That is a positive thing for sure. But you need to consider that as the homeowner it will now be your responsibility to handle the maintenance and upkeep of your home.  If something breaks, you won’t have a landlord or management company to call to fix it.  You will have to fix it yourself or hire someone to do so…and pay for it.  Investing in a home can be financially rewarding if you work within an appropriate budget  that will allow you to meet all your needs.
     
  2. Consider financing.  How do you plan to pay for your new house?  This is an important step in determining how much you can afford to spend on a house.  Do your homework and avoid being in the middle of the home-buying process and discovering that you don’t have the funds you need to complete the purchase. Check out loan programs for firs time home-buyers and if you haven’t already, start setting aside cash for a down payment.  Order a free credit report and give yourself time to clean up your credit if need be. I highly recommend getting pre-approved for a loan before starting your home search. This lets sellers know that you are serious about buying and gives you a leg up over buyers who haven’t been pre-approved when making an offer.
     
  3. Figure out what you want.  Before you start looking at properties, create a list of what you want in a home.  Are you looking to live in the suburbs or would you prefer city living?  Is the school district you live in a top priority?  Are you looking for a spacious home with a big yard, or a cozy home with a small yard?  Think about your lifestyle and what kind of house goes along with it.  Once you have a good idea of what you want, narrowing down your search will be easier and you won’t waste your time looking at properties that don’t suit your needs.
     
  4. Enlist the aid of a buyer's agent.  The expert guidance of an experienced Realtor is invaluable.  A buyer’s agent represents you and has a fiduciary responsibility to look out for your best interests.  You will appreciate the knowledge that a local realtor will have about the area where you are looking.  Once provided with a list of your wants and needs, a Realtor can save you time by searching listings to find homes that meet your criteria. Your agent can advise you on neighborhoods, school districts and much, much more.  Take advantage of your Realtor’s expertise and your home-buying experience much less overwhelming and stressful.

If you are thinking about purchasing a house, contact Melissa Thompson at yourkeytomemphis.com and let her help you get started on your journey to home-ownership!

http://www.yourkeytomemphis.com/Blog/Happily-Ever-Homeowner

http://www.yourkeytomemphis.com/Blog/The-5-Greatest-Benefits-of-Homeownership

http://www.yourkeytomemphis.com/Blog/The-Cost-of-Renting-vs-Buying-in-the-US

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Displaying blog entries 1-10 of 14

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