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Holding an Open House - Worth it or Not?

by Melissa Thompson

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

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

Pros to holding an open house:

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

Cons to holding an open house:

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

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

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

Photo Credit:sehatcoy.com

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  

How to Love the Home You Have

by Melissa Thompson

When you’ve lived in a home for a while, it can start to lose the charm you first saw in it.  Day to day life can make it feel like a burden rather than a retreat.  Especially this time of year, when you’ve taken down the holiday decorations and the days are shorter and darker.  But it doesn’t have to be that way.  February is the month of love and it’s a great time to remember what made you fall in love with your house to begin with.  Even if your current home is not your dream house, you can still create a place you will love.  Here is a list of ways to love the home you have:

- Declutter.  A messy, cluttered home can make you feel overwhelmed and embarrassed to have company.  Negative feelings about your home make it a place of stress instead of a place of peace and comfort.  Cleaning up the clutter can seem like a huge task, but once you’ve done it, you will be glad you did!

- Show the kitchen some love.  Whether you love to cook or not, chances are you spend a lot of time in the kitchen.  So, it makes sense to have a kitchen you enjoy.  Simple things like keeping the sink, drainer and counters clear will go a long way into creating a space you will feel good about.  Place some fresh flowers on your counter or eat-in kitchen table. Find a spot for a speaker so you can listen to music while cooking.  Make the time spent in the kitchen a joy and not a chore.

- Make your bedroom a retreat.  Your bedroom should provide you with peace, quiet and comfort.  When decorating, you might focus on the rooms that guests will see.  But don’t neglect your bedroom.  It is your sanctuary.  Your place to escape to when you want time alone.  Choose colors that give your bedroom a relaxing vibe. Splurge on luxurious bed linens. And don’t be frugal when purchasing a mattress and pillows. Sleep is so important to your overall health and having the right mattress and pillows greatly effects the quality of your sleep.

- Display favorite family memories. Like many people, you probably have hundreds, if not thousands of photos on your electronic devices.  Take some time to go through them and find photos of your favorite family memories to print and frame for display.  Need some ideas?  Check out Pinterest for lots of unique ways to display photos in your home.

- Design a room that works for you.  Do you have a room that doesn’t get used much (if at all).  For example, a formal living room that nobody in the family uses.  Perhaps it’s time to make use of that room in a way that works best for you and your family.  Don’t get tied down to the fact that is a “formal living room”.  It can be anything you want it to be. Do you love to read?  Create a cozy library with a comfy chair and book shelves.  Do you need home office space?  Then create a home office that makes you look forward to “going to work” each day.

Even if you are not currently living in your dream house, you can make small changes that will help you love the home you’re in! 

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

Photo Credit: chicagonow.com

5 Reasons to Love Using A Real Estate Pro

by Melissa Thompson


Highlights:

- Hiring a real estate professional to guide you through the process of buying a home or selling your house can be one of the best decisions you make!

- They are there for you to help with paperwork, understanding the process, negotiations, and helping you with pricing (both when making an offer or setting the right price for your home).

- One of the top reasons to hire a real estate professional is their understanding of your local market and how the conditions in your neighborhood will impact your experience.

Contact your local expert’s at The Melissa Thompson Team 901-729-9526 or Melissa@YourKeyTomemphis.com for all your Real Estate needs!

By: KCM Crew

What You Need to Know About Home Owner Tax Changes

by Melissa Thompson

Tax Day is looming and while it’s a dreaded task for some, doing taxes is something we all must do.  One of the perks of being a homeowner is that it provides the benefit of some tax deductions.  All homeowners should be aware of these tax perks to take advantage of them and maximize their financial savings.  Recently, a government overhaul of U.S. tax laws included changes that affect homeowners.  While these changes will not be in place for the 2017 tax year, it is wise to be prepared for how they will affect your 2018 taxes.

  1. Home Mortgage Interest Deduction

The mortgage interest tax deduction is considered a way to make homeownership more affordable.Qualifying homeowners can reduce their taxable income by the amount of mortgage interest they pay.Currently, you may deduct the interest you pay on mortgage debt up to $1 million ($500,000 if married and filing separately) on your primary home and a second home.Beginning in 2018, for homes purchased December 15, 2017 and after, the numbers change to $750,000 ($375,000 if married and filing separately).There is an exception in the new tax law that allows for a refinanced mortgage loan to be given the old loan’s origination date. This means if the old loan originated prior to December 15, 2017, the old limit of $1 million would apply.

  1. Property Tax Deduction

The tax law through 2017 allowed homeowners to reduce their taxable income by the total amount of property taxes they paid.  Starting next year, the deduction will be limited to a total of $10,000 for the combination of the cost of property taxes, state and local income taxes or sales taxes.

  1. Home Equity Deduction

Up through your 2017 tax return, the tax law allowed for an added deduction for interest paid on home equity debt “for reasons other than to buy, build, or substantially improve your home.”  In other words, if you took out a home equity line of credit to do something like pay tuition, the interest you paid on that line of credit was tax-deductible.  Starting next year, this deduction will be eliminated.

  1. Tax Breaks for Owning a Second Home

As stated above, you may deduct interest on mortgage debt on both your primary home and a second home.  The new law changes this a bit for 2018.  It reduces the amount of eligible mortgage debt from $1 million to $750,000.

  1. Moving Expenses

While it was a complicated process that involved criteria such as distance and timing of a move, up through this year the tax law allowed you to deduct some moving expenses if you moved for a new job.  Starting in 2018, only active-duty members of the armed forces will be allowed to deduct moving expenses.

If you find the tax laws confusing, you are not alone. It is smart to ask a reputable accountant any questions you may have so that you can maximize the tax perks of being a homeowner!

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/The-Top-Ten-Reasons-Hiring-a-Realtor-is-the-Smart-Thing-to-Do

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