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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

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!

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

Now is a Great Time to Move Up to Your Dream House!

by Melissa Thompson

We hear a lot about people downsizing and simplifying, but if you are looking for a larger home, now is a great time to sell your smaller home and move up to something that better suits your wants and needs.  Perhaps you have a growing family and need more space, or an additional income-earner has joined your household or maybe you have enough equity in your current home that you can now afford your dream home. Whatever the reason, movin’ on up is an exciting prospect!

Ok, now let’s contain that excitement a bit and think about what it means to purchase a more expensive house.  First, just because you can afford something on paper, doesn’t mean you should commit all your resources to the most expensive property on your radar.  It would behoove you to take a thorough look at your current budget and then play with the numbers a bit to determine how much more you’re willing to spend each month on a higher mortgage payment.  A dream house is wonderful, but being house-poor is not.  Think about your lifestyle and don’t make the mistake of getting into a financial bind that doesn’t allow you to do the activities you enjoy.

When financing your new home, you have a couple of options.  If you haven’t sold your current home yet, you can choose a Home Equity Loan or a Bridge Loan to make the down payment on the new home.  A home equity loan allows you to borrow against your current home’s equity and is usually less expensive than other loans.  A bridge loan is a short-term loan that is used until you can obtain permanent financing.  Because they are short term, the interest rates on them will be relatively high.

Before you put your house on the market and commit to purchasing a new one, educate yourself about the prices of houses in the areas where you will be selling and buying. Whether it’s a buyer’s market or a seller’s market, an experienced professional Realtor will be able to assist you in navigating the process. The goal is to sell high and buy low, and in today’s market that is an achievable dream!  Call Melissa Thompson at 901-729-9526 and let her help you find your dream home today!

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

View our Video Blog

5 Reasons Millennials Choose to Buy

by Melissa Thompson

Some Highlights:

- “The majority of millennials said they consider owning a home more sensible than renting for both financial and lifestyle reasons — including control of living space, flexibility in future decisions, privacy and security, and living in a nice home.”

- The top reason millennials choose to buy is to have control over their living space, at 93%.

- Many millennials who rent a home or apartment prior to buying their own homes dream of the day when they will be able to paint the walls whatever color they’d like, or renovate an outdated part of their living space.

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

View our Video Blog

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

View our Video Blog

Buying or Selling in 2018? 5 Reasons to Resolve to Hire a Pro

by Melissa Thompson

Some Highlights:

 - As we usher in the new year, one thing is for certain… if you plan to buy or sell a house this year, you need a real estate professional on your team!

 - There are many benefits to using a local professional!

 - Pick a professional who knows your local market and can help you achieve your dreams!

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

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

View our Video Blog

Displaying blog entries 1-10 of 76