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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

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

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

Selling this Summer? Tips for Success

by Melissa Thompson

Spring is flying by and soon summer will be upon us.  Summer is not the most popular time to sell a house for several reasons: people are going on vacation, kids are out of school, and activities keep you busy.  But sometimes the timing cannot be helped.  Life happens and circumstances may require that you move during the hottest season.  If that is the case, here are some tips for attracting buyers during the summer months:

  • CURB APPEAL

Make a great first impression with curb appeal.Mow your lawn twice a week. Grass grows faster this time of year and needs mowing more often.Try mowing diagonally every other time to add dimension to your lawn.Make sure bushes are trimmed and plant flowers.Keep your porch, sidewalk and driveway swept and create a warm and inviting entryway to your home.

  • DECORATE WITH SUMMER ACCENTS

Utilize calming colors such as blues and greens to decorate the interior of your home.If you have dark-colored accent pillows and throw rugs replace them with brighter summer hues. Keep it simple.You don’t have to spend a lot of money; something as basic as an inexpensive blanket draped over a chair can give a room a soothing vibe.

Top 21 Summer Colors and How to Use Them

  • BRING THE LIGHT INSIDE

If you have heavy drapes, remove them. They make a room look smaller.Pull blinds all the way up.Use tie backs to open lighter curtains.The only time you should leave blinds/curtains closed is if there is an undesirable element on the other side of the window such as your neighbor’s trash can…but even then, keep them slightly open to allow light into the room.

  • HAVE FLEXIBLE SHOWING HOURS

Showing your home while still living there is challenging, but the more flexible you are, the more people will look at your house.

  • SPARKLE AND SHINE

Metals give a “summery” feel.It doesn’t matter which ones; gold or silver, brass or pewter.Mix and match them using vases, picture frames, mirrors, utensils, goblets, hanging planters etc. How to Rock a Mixed Metal Decor Palette

  • OFFER SUMMER BEVERAGES AND SNACKS

Fill your kitchen sink with ice and have chilled drinks available for visitors.Have a few light snacks for them to enjoy.Have bowls filled with citrus fruits to brighten up your kitchen and give it a sunny feel.

  • CREATE GOOD SMELLS NATURALLY

There are a lot of ways to bring summer scents indoors. Pleasant, fresh aromas will make your home feel inviting and comfortable.

  • CONTROL THE INDOOR TEMPERATURE

If you are one to be stingy with the air conditioning, now is the time to stop. It will be worth the tiny increase in your electric bill to have your home be at a comfortable temperature for visitors.There is nothing worse than walking into a stuffy, warm house when it is hot outside.

If you’re thinking about selling your house this summer, let the professionals at Your Key to Memphis help you get your house on the market.  Give Melissa Thompson a call at 901-729-9526 today!

Photo Credit: pinterest.com

Surviving Moving Day - All the Essentials You’ll Need

by Melissa Thompson

You’ve closed on your new home and it’s time to move in!  This is an exciting time but can also be a bit stressful.  Where do you even begin?  A good place to start is to create a moving day survival kit for yourself. It should include anything and everything that is important or of great value to you and should stay with you and not go with movers. Here is a list of “must have” items to make your move as organized and stress-free as possible:

 - Toilet Paper.  At least a few rolls. Trust me on this one.

 - Pain reliever and all your medications.  You don’t want to be searching for these necessities, so make sure they are easily accessible.

 - Toilet Plunger.  Yes, really. Especially if your new place only has one bathroom. Better safe than sorry!

 - Cash for tipping your movers. Tipping Movers

 - A Multi-Tool.  While having a whole tool box handy would be great, there is only so much you can (and should) fit into your survival kit.  Something like a Leatherman will provide you with a way to open boxes and other small tasks…and it will fit in your pocket!

 - Trash Bags.  And clear recycling bags.  Look up where you can recycle locally and have the address in your phone so you can take packing boxes/materials there after you unpack.

 - Power Strip and Mobile Phone Charger.  There is nothing worse than discovering your phone is dying and you have no idea where your charger is!  The power strip will come in handy because you will probably clear one small area and can plug in your electronics, a lamp, a coffee pot, etc.…

 - Personal Hygiene Items.  Pack an overnight bag with your toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant, soap, shampoo etc.  That way, when you are ready to call it a day you can jump right in the shower without having to search through boxes for them.

 - All Purpose Cleaner and a Roll of Paper Towels (or two). Hopefully move-in day won’t be cleaning day, but you never know.  Be prepared.  Even if the house looks clean, you are going to want to wipe down the toilets, sinks and counters.

 - Bottled Water and Granola Bars.   You are going to be hungry. And tired.  Have water and snacks on hand to get you through the day.  Look up some Take Out Restaurants and have their numbers in your phone so you can have food delivered.

 - First Aid Kit.  Well, at least a box of Band-Aids in case you cut yourself opening boxes.

 - Note Pad and Pen.  Because you WILL come up with a list of things you need and need to do as you are unpacking and you will want to write them down so you don’t forget.

 - Scented Candles or Air Fresheners.  Even the cleanest house will smell a little musty if it has been closed up for a while.

 - Flashlight.  Some rooms won’t have overhead lights and if you haven’t unpacked the lamps yet, a flashlight will come in handy.

As long as you have the essentials, you can take your time Making Your New House a Home.   And if you haven’t found your dream home yet visit Your Key to Memphis and start your search today!

Photo Credit: pinterest.com

Selling a Home Due to Divorce

by Melissa Thompson

Moving is one of the top five most stressful life events. Divorce ranks in the top five as well.   Put those two together and you have a meltdown in the making.  If you and your spouse own a home together and you are divorcing, you are going to have to figure out what you’re going to do about the house.  This can be challenging under the most amicable of situations, and can be devastating when there is bitterness and fighting.

Since your home is likely the greatest asset that you share, selling it is often necessary when parting ways.  Sentimental value may entice one or the other of you to want to keep the home, but financial implications may keep you from doing so.  Understanding how divorce affects the sale of a home is crucial.  The emotional aspect of splitting up your family can sometimes impair your judgement, but making a poor decision regarding your home can have lasting ramifications, long after the divorce is finalized. 

Whether one spouse wants to buy out the other and keep the home or both want to sell and split the equity, selling a house while getting divorced is a rocky road that needs to be navigated intelligently.  When two people are willing to deal with each other in a peaceful, respectful way, it certainly makes the whole process easier. But often this is not the case in these situations.  Division of a home is not simple. 

When each spouse contributed to purchase the home - even if one paid more than the other - you are both going to want your fair share out of it.  Ideally, you will be able to work with an attorney or mediator to come to an agreement out of court, but if you can’t, a judge will decide for you.  This can be a very unpleasant experience for all parties involved.  If both your incomes were factored in the purchase of the house, chances are when you split that in half, neither of you can afford it on your own. If that is the case, the best solution is to sell the home and divide the assets.  There are also Tax Implications  that should be considered when you are trying to decide if you should sell before you divorce or after.

Should one of you decide to stay in the home, there are a couple of different ways to make that happen.  First, if you have the financial means to do so, you can take over the mortgage by refinancing.  This means you must qualify for the loan and be able to make the monthly payments on your own.  Your ex-spouse will be completely out of the picture.  Another way is to continue co-owning the property.  Perhaps you have children and want to keep them in their home. While this is the least disruptive option, it is precarious and requires a lot of trust.  It would have to be a very civil and friendly divorce for this to work because both parties will be responsible for the mortgage and upkeep of the house.  The bottom line is that if you plan to stay in the home, you better be sure you can afford it.  It would be prudent to work out a budget before you make the decision.

With all the financial and emotional issues that get wrapped up in the sale of a home during divorce, it’s crucial that you know what you want prior to meeting with your Realtor. It is best for you to meet with your attorneys for them to guide you through the process of deciding how to split the equity. Once you have that done, seek out an experienced Realtor like Melissa Thompson, who will gently guide you through the process with as little stress as possible.

Photo Credit: movingforwardthroughdivorce.com

Budget Friendly Curb Appeal

by Melissa Thompson

Looking to spruce up your curb appeal, but don’t want to spend a fortune?  There are lots of ways to improve the look of your home’s exterior without breaking the bank.  You might be surprised by how much difference small projects can make.

  • Paint the front door, trim or shutters.  With Exterior Paint costing about $30 a gallon, painting is an economical way to brighten up your house.  Choose a color that pops, yet compliments the overall color of the home.  Make sure to properly prep all surfaces before you paint so you’ll get great results that will last for years to come. 
     
  • Upgrade your mailbox. If your current mailbox is looking shabby and old, you can fix it up or replace it at minimal cost.  You can find new mailboxes for as little as $20.  When installing a new mailbox, make sure to follow guidelines set forth by the city you live in. 
     
  • Plant a tree.  This is a common and easy way to beautify your yard.  When choosing the tree, be sure to consider how big it will get to make sure it is a good fit for your space.
     
  • Replace exterior lighting.  This is an easy way to upgrade the style of your home.  Exterior light fixtures can be found anywhere from $20 and up.  You may also be able to find unique, Vintage Lighting at second hand stores and salvage shops.  Make sure that whatever you choose, they adequately illuminate your entryway and make it safer.
     
  • Install flower boxes.  If you want to add color to your exterior, but don’t to paint, this is the way to do it!  They can be installed on front porch railings or below the windows. Window boxes are relatively inexpensive or can be built and installed in no time.  Choose flowers and plants that are easy to maintain and that will keep away pesky insects so that you can enjoy spending time outdoors.

These small, simple improvements can make a huge difference in the curb appeal of your home. Also, if you’re thinking about putting your house on the market, you will make a great first impression on potential buyers! Let Melissa Thompson and her team of professionals help you get your house listed and sold.  Call them today at 901-756-8900.

Photo Credit: lowes.com

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A New Housing Bubble Forming…Not Before 2024!

by Melissa Thompson

A recent report by CoreLogic revealed that U.S. home values appreciated by more than 37% over the last five years. Some are concerned that this is evidence we may be on the verge of another housing “boom & bust” like the one we experienced from 2006-2008.

Recently, several housing experts weighed in on the subject to alleviate these fears.

Sean Becketti, Freddie Mac Chief Economist

 “The evidence indicates there currently is no house price bubble in the U.S., despite the rapid increase of house prices over the last five years.”

Edward Golding, a Senior Fellow at the Urban Institute’s Housing Finance Policy Center

 “There is not likely to be a national bubble in the way that we saw the first decade of the century.”

Christopher Thornberg, Partner at Beacon Economics

 “There is no direct or indirect sign of any kind of bubble.”

Bill McBride, Calculated Risk

 “I wouldn’t call house prices a bubble.”

David M. Blitzer, Chairman of the Index Committee at S&P Dow Jones Indices

 “Housing is not repeating the bubble period of 2000-2006.”

A recent article by Teo Nicolais, a real estate entrepreneur who teaches courses on real estate principles, markets, and finance at Harvard Extension School concluded that the next housing bubble may not occur until 2024.

The articleHow to Use Real Estate Trends to Predict the Next Housing Bubble, looks at previous peaks in real estate values going all the way back to 1818. Nicolais uses the research of several economists. The article details the four phases of a real estate cycle and what defines each phase.

Nicolais concluded his article by saying:

“Those who study the financial crisis of 2008 will (we hope) always be weary of the next major crash. If George, Harrison, and Foldvary are right, however, that won’t happen until after the next peak around 2024. 

Between now and then, aside from the occasional slow down and inevitable market hiccups, the real estate industry is likely to enjoy a long period of expansion.”

Bottom Line

The reason for the price appreciation we are seeing is an imbalance between supply and demand for housing. This has created a natural increase in values, not a bubble in prices.

Let’s the expert’s at The Melissa Thompson Team help you with all your Real Estate needs. 901-729-9526 or Melissa@YourKeyTomemphis.com. 

By: KCM Crew

YOUR HOMESEARCH STARTS HERE            FIND OUT WHAT YOUR HOME IS WORTH  

2 Ways to Get the Most Money from The Sale of Your Home

by Melissa Thompson

Every homeowner wants to make sure they maximize their financial reward when selling their home. But how do you guarantee that you receive the maximum value for your house?

Here are two keys to ensure that you get the highest price possible.

1. Price it a LITTLE LOW 

This may seem counterintuitive, but let’s look at this concept for a moment. Many homeowners think that pricing their homes a little OVER market value will leave them with room for negotiation. In actuality, this just dramatically lessens the demand for your house (see chart below).

Instead of the seller trying to ‘win’ the negotiation with one buyer, they should price it so that demand for the home is maximized. By doing this, the seller will not be fighting with a buyer over the price but will instead have multiple buyers fighting with each other over the house.

Realtor.com gives this advice:

“Aim to price your property at or just slightly below the going rate. Today’s buyers are highly informed, so if they sense they’re getting a deal, they’re likely to bid up a property that’s slightly under priced, especially in areas with low inventory.”

2. Use a Real Estate Professional

This, too, may seem counterintuitive. The seller may think they would make more money if they didn’t have to pay a real estate commission. With this being said, studies have shown that homes typically sell for more money when handled by a real estate professional.

study by Collateral Analytics, reveals that FSBOs don’t actually save any money, and in some cases may be costing themselves more, by not listing with an agent.

In the study, they analyzed home sales in a variety of markets in 2016 and the first half of 2017. The data showed that:

“FSBOs tend to sell for lower prices than comparable home sales, and in many cases below the average differential represented by the prevailing commission rate.”

The results of the study showed that the differential in selling prices for FSBOs when compared to MLS sales of similar properties is about 5.5%. Sales in 2017 suggest the average price was near 6% lower for FSBO sales of similar properties.

Bottom Line

Price your house at or slightly below the current market value and hire a professional. This will guarantee that you maximize the price you get for your house.

Let’s get together and find out how much your house is worth!  901-729-9526 or Melissa@YourKeyTomemphis.com.

By: KCM Crew

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

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