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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!

Now is a Great Time to Buy a House! Here are 5 Reasons Why

by Melissa Thompson

Buying a home during the holiday season might sound like a crazy idea, but the truth is now is a great time to purchase a home!  Here are 5 reasons to purchase a home during the holidays:

  1. Less Real Estate Market Activity: With lots of family, school, and work activities happening during the holidays, fewer real estate transactions are taking place.  Because fewer people are looking for houses, there is less competition for buyers.  And with less competition, buyers have more leverage when negotiating purchases.  People selling homes during the holidays must often lower asking prices or make other concessions to sell.  So, if you buy this time of year, you might get a bargain!
     
  2. Highly Motivated Sellers:  If someone is selling their house at the end of the year, it’s because they need to.  Usually sellers avoid the end of the year due to shorter days and cold weather, so if they are selling this time of year they are likely under pressure and motivated to make a deal. Motivated Sellers
     
  3. Lower Interest Rates: Because of limited demand during the holiday season, there is greater competition among lenders so there is a general trend of lower rates. 
     
  4. Tax Perks: Buy a house before the end of the year and you can deduct any points you paid upon closing.  You can also deduct property taxes and mortgage interest.  Learn about the tax benefits of purchasing a home and find out if it is to your advantage to buy before year’s end. While your decision to buy a home shouldn’t be made solely for tax reasons, you certainly want to take advantage of the perks that exist! Tax Benefits of Buying a Home
     
  5. Faster Closings: Everybody involved in the home buying/selling process has incentive to complete transactions before the end of the year.  Lenders want to close their books; Realtors want to receive their commissions before the new year and sellers are anxious to move on.  Since everyone is so motivated, and there is less real estate activity, closings should happen quickly and efficiently.

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: realtor.com

Tips for Buying a Home FAST!

by Melissa Thompson

If you are in the market to purchase a home right now, I am sure you would like to be moved in and settled by the time the holidays arrive.  Does that sound too good to be true?  Well, no promises, but there are steps you can take to buy a home fast.

Whether you are buying a house for the first time, or you have navigated the home buying process before, chances are you know that it can be lengthy and complicated.  But there are certain strategies you can use that will speed things up. Here are some tips to help you get started:

           - Chose the right type of house.  There are certain types of homes you will want to avoid if you’re in a hurry.  Co-ops, for example, can be problematic because it can take six to eight weeks to get a board interview scheduled, finalized and approved.  You should also avoid bank-owned homes or foreclosures, which generally take much longer to close.  The fastest way to go is to focus on condos or new developments. Closings for condos and new developments can take as few as three to four weeks to happen.

           - Get pre-approved for a mortgage.  This is a strategic move that will give you a head start so that when you do find a house you want to purchase; you will already be approved for a mortgage loan and can make an offer right away.  This will also help you to stay within your budget when looking at homes because you won’t want to waste time looking at properties that cost more than what you are pre-approved for. 5 Things You Need to Get Pre-Approved for a Mortgage

           - Have your documents in order and ready to go.  Get all the paper work that you will need organized so that it is ready and waiting when you find the right home.  Generally, a home buyer will need the following: federal tax returns for the past two years, supporting information such as W-2, 1099, or other tax forms for the past two years, two months’ worth of bank statements for your checking, savings, 401K, retirement and other accounts, and pay stubs from the past month. Closing Day: What a Buyer Needs to Do and Bring

           - Find the right Realtor to guide you through the process.  You will want an experienced, professional Realtor who knows the area well and can use their expertise to get you into a home quickly.

           - Offer to shorten contingency deadlines.  Don’t risk waiving home inspection or financing contingencies, but consider a shorter time frame to effect a faster closing.

           - Be prepared for your move.  Don’t wait until you have closed on your new home to start packing and preparing for your move.  Start early so that as soon as you close, you are ready to go!

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 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!

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

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!

Don’t Get Blindsided by Unexpected Expenses!

by Melissa Thompson

Buying your first home is exciting.  After getting approved for a mortgage loan, working with a professional realtor and finding your dream home, it’s time to settle in and start enjoying your new digs.  Then BAM!  The shock of an unexpected expense slaps you in the face.  Don’t let that happen to you.  Being informed about the possible expenses of being a homeowner will not make spending the money any more fun, but at least you will be prepared.  Here are some ancillary costs of homeownership that you should be aware of:

  • CLOSING COSTS - When closing on your mortgage you will be presented with a long list of costs: mortgage taxes, lender application fees, attorney’s fees, title insurance, recording fees and any potential real estate tax reimbursements if the seller has paid them up front.  Altogether, closing costs are an average of 2 to 5 percent of the total cost of the home.  They will vary state to state.  Closing cost information for Tennessee can be found here: Tennessee Average Closing Costs
     
  • HOME MAINTENANCE - Now that you are a homeowner, you are solely responsible for the maintenance and upkeep of your property.  Everything from yardwork to cleaning; pressure washing to clearing the gutters…it’s all in your hands and on your dime.  Oh…and fixing things.  Yeah.  When the AC isn’t working or there is a leaky faucet, you will be footing the bill for repairs.  This all sounds a bit scary, but the key is to be prepared.  Go into your home purchase knowing that you will likely be spending about 1% of the purchase price of your home on maintenance annually.
     
  • PROPERTY TAXES - Property taxes vary by state and can also vary based on city, ordinance, and even specific house.  You can utilize a Property Tax Calculator  to get an idea of what your taxes will be when planning for your expenses.
     
  • UTILITIES - If you’re coming from a rental where your utilities were included with the rent, you may not have considered how much you will need to set aside to pay for electricity, gas, water and sewage costs.  Added to internet, cable and phone bills, it can be quite a chunk of change.  Planning for utility costs is crucial to making sure you can afford to live in a home of your own.
     
  • HOMEOWNER'S INSURANCE - When you get a mortgage, you must get homeowner's insurance as well.  Be sure to do your homework and shop around for the best possible price.  You can get discounts for things like security systems, working from home or bundling coverage for your home with your auto insurance policy.  Educate yourself on what your insurance policy covers so that you’re not left disappointed when you must pay for something you thought would be taken care of.

Don’t let these expenses scare you off from purchasing a home.  Again, the key is to be aware of them going in so that you won’t be caught off guard when they come up.

If you are ready to purchase your first home, let professional Realtor Melissa Thompson  assist you in your home search. Give her a call at 901-729-9526 today!

Photo Credit: moneyweek.com

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

Things to Look for When House Hunting: A Top Ten List

by Melissa Thompson

House hunting can be overwhelming sometimes, especially for first-time home buyers.  Chances are you might get caught up in the process and important details might slip by you. While the number of rooms, condition of the kitchen, and size of the yard are important, there are other things to consider before you make an offer.  This list of things to look for can help get your search off to the right start.

Location, Location, Location

They say that the 3 most important things to look for when buying a home are location, location and location.  While a home might not be perfect, loving your neighborhood and neighbors can make all the difference in living with imperfection.  And face it…you can change almost anything about your house, but you can’t change its location or the people living nearby.  When you go house hunting, make sure to consider the home’s proximity to your work, the appeal of the neighborhood, where in the neighborhood the home is situated, ease of access, noise from neighbors, traffic, pets and access to parks, shopping, schools and public transportation.

Home Placement

Beyond location, look at how the home is situated.  If the home is on a hill does it have a view, a walkout basement, or lots of stairs to climb? Do neighbors' windows look directly into the home? Is the yard suitable for kids, pets, gardening, or other uses? Is their safe access to the home? These are all important questions to ask yourself when determining if it is the right property for you.

Check Out the Neighborhood

While it’s important for your house to meet your expectations, it’s equally important that the neighborhood meets them too. Take a drive around the development you are interested in on week days and weekends, during the day and in the evening.  Are the homes in good repair? Are yards kept clean and tidy?  Is the neighborhood safe enough for people to walk, run or bike?  Are there children playing outdoors?

Consider a Home’s Curb Appeal

You want a home that is going to reflect your lifestyle. Do you live a casual, laid-back life? Then you probably won’t want a formal Victorian or Tudor style home.  A simple, contemporary home might better suit you.  Pay close attention to exterior features.  Think about maintenance.  For example, a brick home is easier to maintain than one with siding.  Do you like working in the yard?  If not, you might not want a house with extensive landscaping.  Is the roof in good condition?  Attention to detail will help you choose the home with the best curb appeal for you.

Size and Floor Plan

You may be thinking about buying your dream home. But is your dream home practical?  Do you need 4 bedrooms and 4 baths when you live alone? A spacious home may provide the extra room you've always wanted for a home office or a theater room, but you'll pay higher heating bills and have higher taxes. Additionally, it will take more furniture to furnish and money to decorate. Think about how the new home space will be used and whether it will fit your lifestyle now and in the future.

Bedrooms and Bathrooms

Decide how many bedrooms and bathrooms you will need and only look at homes that meet that criteria.  You don’t want to fall in love with what is otherwise a perfect house if it doesn’t provide the space needed for your family.  It’s smart to consider counting an extra bedroom in that number so that you have additional space for a home office or guest room. If you think you might add on to the home later, make sure you consult an architect who can advise you on space planning and regulations.

The Kitchen

For many people, the kitchen is the heart of the home. Don’t settle for a home with a kitchen that doesn’t work for you.  Yes, you can remodel later, but at great expense.  If it’s an easy fix like replacing cabinets or countertops, get a price quote before committing the house so that you will know if it is within your budget to take that on.

Closets and Storage

Older homes often have small closets and lack storage space.  As you’re looking at a home ask yourself where you will store your belongings.  Tiny closets don’t have to be a deal breaker.  There are ways to maximize storage without renovations. Newer homes tend to have lots of storage and you may sacrifice living space while having more closet space than you need.

Windows and Lighting

While looking at a home keep in mind your preferences regarding light and privacy.  Do you want a lot of windows to provider bright, sunny rooms?  Pay attention to the locations of electrical outlets and fixtures to make sure they will meet your lighting needs.      

Finishing Touches

Even a simple home can look spectacular with the right moldings, hardware, and a fireplace.  If elements like these are important to you, look for them while house hunting. 

You may not find everything you want in one house, but keep this list handy and you are more likely to find the home that best suits your needs and desires.  Better yet, let Melissa Thompson and her Team at Your Key to Memphis help you find your dream house today!

Happy House Hunting!

Photo credit: gorenter.com

How Much Do You Need to Make to Buy a Home in Your State?

by Melissa Thompson

It’s no mystery that cost of living varies drastically depending on where you live, so a new study by GOBankingRates set out to find out what minimum salary you would need to make in order to buy a median-priced home in each of the 50 states, and Washington, D.C.

States in the Midwest came out on top as most affordable, requiring the smallest salaries in order to buy a median-priced home. States with large metropolitan areas saw a bump in the average salary needed to buy with California, Washington, D.C., and Hawaii edging out all others with the highest salaries required.

Below is a map with the full results of the study:

GoBankingRates gave this advice to anyone considering a home purchase,

“Before you buy a home, it’s important to find out if you can afford the monthly mortgage payment. To do this, some financial experts recommend your housing costs — primarily your mortgage payments — shouldn’t consume more than 30 percent of your monthly income.”

As we recently reported, research from Zillow shows that historically, Americans had spent 21% of their income on owning a median-priced home. The latest data from the fourth quarter of 2017 shows that the percentage of income needed today is only 15.7%!

Bottom Line

If you are considering buying a home, whether it’s your first time or your fifth time, let The Melissa Thompson Team help evaluate your ability to do so in today’s market! 901-729-9526

By: KCM Crew

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