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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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Surprising Fire Hazards and How to Avoid Them

by Melissa Thompson

It is estimated by The National Fire Protection Association that over 47,000 home fires reported to fire departments are caused by some kind of electrical failure as a trigger to ignition.  But there are some other unusual ways that fires can start that we should all be aware of.

Dishwashers

While you may be aware that overheating dryers or ovens can cause fires, you might think dishwashers are safe because they have water. And water puts out fires…right? Wrong!  Dishwasher fires can be caused by liquids coming into contact with the machine’s wires.  Serious damage can occur when fires are ignited in dishwashers.  According to a 25-year veteran of the New York City Fire Department, any appliance that powers a motor, heating element, or both always has a higher risk for fire - and dishwashers are a common example.  He advises that they never be turned on when going to sleep or leaving the home.

Jars and other glass objects

Per survivalists, one of the best ways to start a fire is to use a piece of glass to refract sunlight onto dry wood.  Without proper care, that same scientific process can happen on your own kitchen table.  In 2015 a fire broke out in a southwest London home because of sun rays reflecting through an empty Nutella jar, the Associated Press reported.  While it may seem to be a freakish way for a fire to start, the fire brigade’s investigative unit confirmed that the glass jar was to blame.  The chances of this happening in your home are slim, but it is important to remember to never store flammable liquids like gasoline, cleaning fluids, paint thinners and even cooking oils in glass jars that you intend to leave out in the sunlight.  Metal cans for commercial-use flammable liquids and plastic containers for things such as cooking oils are safer options.

Rodents

Small rodents like squirrels and rats like to burrow into your attic insulation in cold weather and chew anything they can get their teeth on, including rubber covered electrical lines.  Unfortunately, if electrical wires become exposed dud to their protective insulation being compromised, there is a likelihood of igniting a flame.  The key to preventing this from happening is to keep the critters out to begin with.  Before winter season, make sure all vents are covered, holes are patched and cracks are sealed.

Laptops

If you have ever had your laptop computer in your, well, lap for an extended period of time, you know that they get hot.  Because of this, it is a bad idea to leave one sitting on a flammable surface such as bedding, furniture or carpet.  But the real culprit behind laptop fires is the lithium in the batteries.  A poorly made battery can overheat and burst into flames.  Last year the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 smartphones were recalled because they were catching on fire and it was the lithium batteries that were the problem.  Any device powered by lithium ion batteries should be shut off when not in use and stored away from any flammable items.

If you are in the market to purchase a home,  make sure you don't skip the home inspection so that you will know about any potential problems, including fire hazards, prior to making a commitment to buy.  Melissa Thompson and her team of professionals are ready to help you find your perfect home. Give them a call at 901-756-8900 today!

Photo Credit: livelovesmall.com​

Tips for Preventing Electrical Safety Hazards

by Melissa Thompson

Electricity is a beautiful thing.  It provides warmth in the winter and cools you off during hot summer months. It gives you light in the dark and makes chores like washing/drying clothes and doing dishes so much easier.  You take it for granted because you’ve always had it and you certainly can’t even imagine what life would be like without it.  Because it is such a normal part of your life, you probably don’t stop to think about how dangerous it can be.  It is important to be educated about possible electrical problems in your home so that you will know how to deal with them before they happen.

  1. Do you know how old your home is?  Often older homes don’t have the capacity for electricity that current technology uses.  If you have never had an electrical safety inspection by a professional, now is the time to do so.  If your home’s electrical wiring has not been updated to safely handle all the current that your family uses, it is crucial to have it done.
  2. Is your electrical panel hot to the touch?  It shouldn’t be.  Check the brand of your panel. Several brands are outdated or faulty and should be replaced.  A faulty electrical panel can lead to a fire.  That is not something anyone should risk.
  3. Outlets should not be hot either.  If you feel an electrical outlet and it is warm or hot, it means there could be a problem.  There are dangerous issues indicated by a warm/hot outlet. Whether it’s too much demand on the outlet, faulty or melting wiring, or other precarious situations, you don’t want to ignore it.
  4. Keep plugged in appliances away from water.  This seems obvious, right?  But sometimes limited space forces us to use electrical appliances near sinks or bathtubs.  Whether you are blow-drying your hair at your bathroom vanity or your kitchen only has one plug for your toaster and it’s right by the sink, be extra careful.  If a plugged-in appliance gets wet, don’t unplug it. Go to your electrical panel and unplug the power source for the outlet you’re using.  Then you can unplug it.
  5. Make sure you are using the correct wattage light bulbs.  Using a higher wattage than can safely be accommodated by a lamp or light fixture may overload its wiring, which is a fire hazard.  It’s ok to use a light bulb with wattage equal to or less than that called for on the lamp’s socket.  If you want brighter light, look for a lamp that uses a higher wattage bulb.
  6. Use an experienced, licensed electrician to handle your home’s electrical repairs and/or replacements.  Professional electricians are well-trained and have years of on-the-job experience before being granted a license.  They will know current codes and regulations and can safely navigate any problems they might come across.

It’s easy to prevent electrical hazards if you are informed and educated about what to be aware of.  So, don’t take electricity or your family’s safety for granted!

http://www.yourkeytomemphis.com/Blog/Tips-for-How-to-Make-Your-Home-Feel-Secure

http://www.yourkeytomemphis.com/Blog/Home-Maintenance-Projects-You-Should-Start-Now

http://www.yourkeytomemphis.com/Blog/Luxurious-Laundry-Rooms

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Fall Curb Appeal

by Melissa Thompson

First impressions are crucial to successfully selling your home.  The first thing potential buyers notice when they drive past your house is your lawn and landscaping.  If you’re putting your house on the market this Fall, here are some tips for sprucing up your yard to make a fantastic first impression!

  • Rake, rake, rake.  Fall foliage is beautiful and can serve to make your property more attractive to buyers, but a lawn covered in leaves looks sloppy.  Keep up with raking so people notice the beautiful leaves ON the trees, not the dying leaves on the ground.
  • Plant Fall flowers.  An Autumn garden filled with vibrant color is a great way to add beauty to your yard.
  • Create a lush lawn by aerating so that water and nutrients can reach the roots.
  • When you do your last mow of the season, make sure to trim grass short.  Shorter grass helps prevent disease.  In addition, Fall leaves will blow across your lawn if they have nothing to cling to.
  • Trim ugly limbs.  There is nothing pretty about cracked, diseased or dead limbs. 
  • Get rid of annuals that have lost their luster.  Trim tired perennial foliage down to the ground.  This will prepare them for their next season and will tidy up your flower beds for a neater look.
  • Lay fresh mulch for cooler weather curb appeal.  Choose mulch that is aesthetically pleasing while also providing the benefits that keep your flower beds looking their best.

With summer winding down and Fall just around the corner, it’s a good time to start planning for creating beautiful curb appeal that will have potential buyers lining up to see your home!

http://www.yourkeytomemphis.com/Blog/To-Stageor-Not-to-Stage-That-Is-the-Question

http://www.yourkeytomemphis.com/Blog/Home-Maintenance-Projects-You-Should-Start-Now

http://www.yourkeytomemphis.com/Blog/Hey-Millennial-Homeowners-It-May-Be-Time-to-Sell

Home Maintenance - Projects You Should Start Now

by Melissa Thompson

Summer is winding down and the kids are back in school. Before you know it, crisp Fall weather will be here.   Don’t wait to start preparing your home for the colder seasons.  Take advantage of warm weather and longer days to get the jobs done now.  Here are five home projects you can do now to prepare for Fall and Winter:

  • Get your heating system serviced.  Now is the time to have a technician come out to inspect your heating system and make sure it is clean and in good repair.  You will be glad you did this when that first cold night arrives.  Try to find a heating/air conditioning contractor that belongs to the Air Conditioning Contractors of America and employs certified technicians.
  • Caulk and weather-strip windows and doors.  Caulking is an inexpensive and simple way to save energy and improve comfort in your home. Be sure to seal any areas where water and air can slip into your home.  The prime places where this can happen are gaps between the foundation and siding, cutouts for electrical conduits and pipes and all around windows and door frames. Replace any damaged weather stripping at the base of doors and windows to make sure they are effectively sealed. 
  • Make sure your roof is in good shape. Trust me, you are not going to want to go up on the roof in cold weather.  Take the time now to inspect it and make any repairs necessary.  It will serve you well to deal with roof issues now so that you’re not scrambling to get things fixed before the first big winter storm.
  • Make sure your fireplace is in good working order.  There’s nothing better on that first, cold Fall day than curling up in front of a warm fire.  And there would be nothing worse than trying to light that fire and discover that something is not right.  Make sure your fireplace is safe and ready to go.
  • Seal your driveway.  Check it for cracks and use driveway filler to repair any damage. Then coat it with a commercial sealer.  Sealing your driveway will protect it from the elements of cold-weather and extend the life of the asphalt.

Getting these projects done before the weather changes and the days get shorter will allow you to enjoy all the fun that Fall brings with it rather than spending every weekend doing chores!

 

http://www.yourkeytomemphis.com/Blog/5-Important-Things-to-Fix-Before-Putting-Your-House-on-the-Market

http://www.yourkeytomemphis.com/Blog/Quick-Fix-Tricks-to-Make-Your-House-Sparkling-Clean

http://www.yourkeytomemphis.com/Blog/Top-Home-Renovations-for-Maximum-ROI

Luxurious Laundry Rooms

by Melissa Thompson

The laundry room is probably not the first space you think of when you hear the word luxurious.  But it is a room you spend a lot of time in.  Doing laundry is a necessary part of life, so why not make it more appealing by creating a comfortable, practical and pretty environment that will make it feel less like a chore and more like a pleasant task. You don’t have to spend a lot of money to make your laundry room a calm and soothing work space.  There are opulent touches you can add that will improve your disposition while performing the essential duties of washing, drying, folding and ironing.

 
  • Paint the room in a soft, neutral color - choose from greens, blues or yellow.
  • Hang some art on the walls.  Pick pieces that you love or are meaningful to you. You don’t have to spend a lot of money…just choose paintings or pictures that bring 
  • you joy.
  • If you lack storage in your laundry room, add some simple shelves with clean lines.  Get some clear containers for your detergent, fabric softener sheets, clothes pins etc. so you can dispose of the unsightly bags and boxes they come in. 
  • Use baskets or bins to pre-sort clothes into whites, colors, sheets, towels etc.
  • If your laundry room is spacious, create a folding area.  You can have a table or if you are using front loading machines, design a counter to go on top of them.  Add a small, wall-mounted television and a comfy chair, and folding clothes won’t seem so boring anymore.
  • Add a small vase with fresh flowers.  Being amidst the beauty of nature will make you feel better about being stuck indoors doing laundry!
  • Remember, guests are not likely to see your laundry room, so make it all about YOU.  Be funky and unique with your décor and have fun with it!  Before you know it, you will look forward to doing all that washing, drying and folding.  Ok…maybe you won’t look forward to it, but at least you won’t dread it! 

http://www.yourkeytomemphis.com/Blog/Quick-Fix-Tricks-to-Make-Your-House-Sparkling-Clean

http://www.yourkeytomemphis.com/Blog/Top-Home-Renovations-for-Maximum-ROI

http://www.yourkeytomemphis.com/Blog/Clearing-the-Clutter

5 Important Things to Fix Before Putting Your House on the Market

by Melissa Thompson

If you want the best price for your house, you may have to do some repairs before selling it. Potential buyers will be willing to spend more for a home that doesn’t need a lot of work.  Here are 5 important things to fix before selling:

  1. Exterior - When was the last time the exterior of your house was painted?  Is the paint faded and chipping?  Is wood rotting around the windows?  Is your front door dingy?  First impressions matter when it comes to selling your home and buyers will get their first impression when they see the outside of your house whether in pictures or in person.  Don’t forget the landscaping.  A well-kept lawn and simple, but clean flower beds will go a long way toward creating an enticing aesthetic for your property.
  2. Interior Paint - If the walls are looking a bit shabby and the trim a bit grimy, painting is a quick and easy fix.  The same applies if you went through a crazy color phase a few years back and decorated with hues that might not appeal to everyone.  Choose neutral colors that will allow buyers to focus on the spaces without being distracted.
  3. Kitchen - The kitchen is one of the most important rooms that buyers focus on when looking at a house.  So, if yours is looking run-down you will want to update it.  It will be worth the investment to replace appliances that are on their last legs or putting in a new granite counter.  Or it might be as simple as repainting cabinets and adding shiny, new handles.
  4. Bathroom - Nothing turns buyers off faster than an unsightly bathroom.  Sparkling, clean fixtures and a fresh coat of paint will go a long way toward impressing someone searching for their dream home.  Inexpensive touches like a decorative mirror or a lovely picture on the wall will add to the ambiance without breaking the bank.
  5. Flooring - If your carpets are stained or thread bare, it is worth your while to replace them.  Otherwise, buyers may ask for a carpet allowance when they make an offer on your house.  The same applies if your vinyl floors are in bad shape.  Hardwoods are always popular, but you may want to consider getting them refinished if they are looking old and scruffy.

It may seem counter intuitive to spend money on repairing or fixing up a house you are getting ready to sell, but at the end of the day, it will not only help you sell your house faster, but you will get a better price for it too.

http://www.yourkeytomemphis.com/Blog/75-of-Homeowners-Think-Now-is-a-Good-Time-to-Sell

http://www.yourkeytomemphis.com/Blog/Quick-Fix-Tricks-to-Make-Your-House-Sparkling-Clean

http://www.yourkeytomemphis.com/Blog/Tips-for-Showing-Your-Home-to-Potential-Buyers

Quick Fix Tricks to Make Your House Sparkling Clean!

by Melissa Thompson

Putting your house on the market can be stressful in many ways.  Not only are you preparing to move yourself, you also need to keep your home looking as perfect as possible  for potential buyers.  Here are some quick fix tricks to help you get your house in order and ready to show:

 1. Cleaning the Microwave - No matter how dirty your microwave is, you can have it clean and shining in less than five minutes with this trick!  Slice a lemon in two.  Put it in a cup and add some cinnamon.  Place the cup in the microwave and “cook” on low power for 10 minutes.  Wipe the inside of the microwave clean with a damp cloth.  The cinnamon makes it smell nice.

2. Dusting That Lasts - The secret here is to wipe your furniture down with a little bit of cooking oil on a paper towel. This will do two things.  The first is that it will make your furniture shine nicely.  The second is that it adds an anti-static layer which repels dust.  You will need to dust again eventually, but not for a much longer time.

3. Getting Kids’ Artwork Off the Wall for Good - Finding that your creative child has used a wall for artwork with a pen or permanent marker is the worst! The good news is that the stain can be removed.  Try squeezing toothpaste (not the gel kind) onto a damp cloth.  Rub the toothpaste over the stain and watch it disappear. Here are some other ways to get marker off walls.

4. Keeping Window Tracks Clean - If you’re showing your house on a nice day, you’re going to want to have your windows open.  But if you do that, you want to make sure that the window tracks are super clean.  The easiest way to make sure they are, is to sprinkle the area with baking powder and then add vinegar.  Don’t worry when it starts to bubble; it’s supposed to do that!  Leave it for 15 minutes.  Then wipe it clean with a paper towel and done!

5. Shiny Bathtubs -  You won’t believe how easy it is to clean your bathtubs this way!  First, warm (don’t boil) some vinegar in the microwave.  Mix it with equal parts soap solutions in a spray bottle.  Spray all over the bath.  Leave it for about 30 minutes.  Come back and wipe clean.  The shine you get will amaze you! Don't forget to keep that toilet bowl clean and shiny as well!

6. Keeping Animal Fur off Blankets - Do you have pets that shed?  If so, you know the struggle of keeping your house fur free.  Vacuuming regularly helps, but doesn’t keep the fur off things such as blankets and throws.  Believe it or not, there is a way to do that. Wash them once in white vinegar and you will discover that the fur never sticks to them afterward!

Hopefully these brilliant, time-saving tips will help you keep your house ready to show!

 

http://www.yourkeytomemphis.com/Blog/Top-Home-Renovations-for-Maximum-ROI

http://www.yourkeytomemphis.com/Blog/Tips-for-Showing-Your-Home-to-Potential-Buyers

http://www.yourkeytomemphis.com/Blog/3-Charts-That-Shout-List-Your-Home-Today

Top Home Renovations for Maximum ROI

by Melissa Thompson

Top Home Renovations for Maximum ROI [INFOGRAPHIC] | Keeping Current Matters

Some Highlights:

  • Whether you are selling your home, just purchased your first home, or are a homeowner planning to stay put for a while, there is value in knowing which home improvement projects will net you the most Return On Investment (ROI).
  • While big projects like adding a bathroom or a complete kitchen remodel are popular ways to increase a home’s value, something as simple as updating landscaping and curb appeal can have a quick impact on a home’s value.
  • For more information about top renovation projects that net you the most ROI, you can check out the complete list here.

Thinking about buying or selling a Memphis TN home, Call your local expert’s The Melissa Thompson Team 901-729-9526.

 

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Clearing the Clutter

by Melissa Thompson

Does your home suffer from “flat surface syndrome” (if there is a flat surface, it has something on it)? Is the “stuff” in your house ruling your life?  I’ve heard it said that a cluttered home leads to a cluttered mind.  Now is the time to declutter and simplify your life.  Here are some tips to help you minimize the clutter in your home and maximize your peace of mind!

  1. Stop the flow of stuff coming in.   Decluttering doesn’t work if you simply replace old stuff with new stuff. As you begin to simplify, you will need to slow the flow of things coming into your house.  Make a conscious decision today to buy less.  You won’t regret it. The freedom from the desire to acquire is a wonderful thing!
  2. Declutter at least one item a day. Decluttering doesn’t have to be done all at once.  You don’t have to disrupt your whole household with a frenzy of “cleaning out”.  Making it a gradual process will give you time to process what you are doing and to change the way you think about stuff.  That way it becomes a lifestyle change and not just a crash diet of decluttering.
  3. Declutter the easy stuff first. There is no reason to torture yourself by trying to declutter the hardest stuff first. Doing that would likely make you feel overwhelmed and deter you from completing the task all together.  Start with the easy stuff, and as your will to reduce strengthens, it will be easier to get rid of the harder stuff.
  4. Have a disposal plan in place. Do your research.  Investigate your options for selling, donating and/or recycling items you choose to get rid of. The more you prepare for the task, the easier it will be and the more likely you will follow through with it.  Check out Freecycle and Ebay and local thrift stores for disposal options.
  5. Decide not to keep things out of guilt or obligation. Only keep things that you love and use.  Don’t let other people determine what you should keep or get rid of.  If something is not meaningful or useful to you, get rid of it!
  6. Don’t be afraid to let go.  If you are hanging on to something because you might use it someday, don’t.  Be realistic.  If you haven’t used it in years, chances are you will never use it.  Let. It. Go.
  7. Gifts do not have to be material. There are many gifts that end up as clutter. Encourage people to follow the concept of giving alternative gifts such as experiences and time spent together.  Check out these Clutter Free Gift Guides for ideas.
  8. Do not over-equip your home.  Be realistic about your true needs.  When deciding what to keep, think about the number of people that live in your home.  If you buy new dishes or linens, make sure to get rid of the old ones.
  9. Only declutter what is yours.  Allow your other family members to decide which of their own belongings they want to keep and dispose of.
  10. Do not waste your life on clutter! Every item that you own takes time out of your life: time to manage it, repair it, take care of it, clean it and maintain it.  That’s in addition to the time you spent shopping for it or the time spent earning the money to pay for it in the first place.  Make the decision today to stop living for things.  Simplify and be happy!

Learn more about buying or selling Memphis Real Estate at yourkeytomemphis.com. 901.729.9526 or Melissa@YourKeyToMemphis.com.

http://www.yourkeytomemphis.com/Blog/Living-on-a-Budget

http://www.yourkeytomemphis.com/Blog/Making-Your-New-House-a-Home

http://www.yourkeytomemphis.com/Blog/Making-Your-Home-More-Desirable-in-2017-Home-Improvement-Projects

Displaying blog entries 1-10 of 15