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Making House Guests Feel at Home

by Melissa Thompson

Many people travel to visit family and friends during the summer.  If you are expecting house guests, you will want to prepare your home so that is comfortable and welcoming.  Here is a list of things to do before your guests arrive:

  • Buy Fresh Flowers - Even if you don’t keep fresh flowers in your home all the time, it’s nice to splurge a little to have them for your guests. You don’t have to spend a lot of money. You can often find lovely bunches of flowers at your local grocery store.  If you have a green thumb and grow flowers in your yard, that’s even better! Just clip some and place them in pretty vases around the house.
  • Clean Out and Restock the Refrigerator - Get rid of any lurking left-overs as well as any condiments that have passed their expiration.  Plan your meals for the duration of the visit and Stock the Fridge accordingly. Make sure you know your guests’ dietary needs and allergies prior to their arrival.
  • Make a Spare Key - Unless you plan to spend every second of the visit with your guests, you will want to give them a key so that they have the freedom to come and go if you are not home.
  • Have Extra Toothbrushes on Hand - You will be doing your guests a great favor by having extra personal items on hand in case they have forgotten something.  There is nothing worse after arriving from a long trip than having to go back out to purchase forgotten items.  Other items to have on hand: razors, deodorant, feminine hygiene products etc.
  • Clean Out the Guest Room Closet - If you’ve been using your guest room closet for storage, now is the time to clean it out.  Even if you don’t clear it out completely, make sure there is enough space for your guests to store their bags and hang clothes.
  • Clean Up the Clutter -  Having a cluttered home might be ok when it’s just you and your immediate family, but you will want to have a neat and tidy home for your guests.  You don’t have to go overboard.  You can leave out things you use daily, like the bag of dog food or the tv remotes. But put other extraneous items away for the duration of their stay.
  • Wipe the Ceiling Fan Blades - There are some things that often get overlooked in your normal cleaning routine.  Make sure to wipe down the ceiling-fan blades along with other nooks and crannies you might have missed before.  It’s also a good time to change your air filters if they haven’t recently been changed.
  • Replace Shower Curtain Liner - If you haven’t changed your shower curtain liner in the  guest bathroom recently, check it to make sure there is no mildew.  Liners are inexpensive and new one will give the bathroom a fresh feel. 
  • Prepare Guest Bath - Speaking of the Guest Bathroom - make sure it is fully stocked with plenty of toilet paper, facial tissues, shampoo, conditioner and body wash.  Splurge on some fragrant fancy soaps to place on the sink. Provide a stack of freshly laundered towels so that your guests don’t have to go looking for them.

Having guests in your home can be a little stressful sometimes. Preparing for their visit ahead of time will alleviate some of that stress so that you can enjoy their visit to the fullest!

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: littlehouseliving.com

Clean Up the Clutter with Creative Family Room Storage

by Melissa Thompson

Some people call it a Family Room, others a Great Room, but whatever you call it, for many families it is the heart of the home.  It’s where you gather to spend time together, to watch television, to play games, to socialize with friends and to relax.  Since so much time is spent in this room, you want it to be comfortable and inviting, while also being neat and tidy.  A cluttered room does not promote a relaxing vibe. But where do you keep everything?  Here are some creative storage solutions for your family room:

  • Ottomans - A pillow for your feet and a great place to keep extra blankets and pillows!

An ottoman that opens does double duty and provides hidden space for items that you don’t want sitting out in the open all the time.


Photo Credit: westelm.com

  • Coffee Tables - Another piece of furniture that can serve more than one purpose is the coffee table.  Does your family love board games?  With the right coffee table you can conveniently store them and have room to play them!


Photo Credit: pinterest.com

  • Open storage - You don’t have to hide everything. You can achieve a neat and tidy aesthetic by organizing items such as books and magazines in stacks.  There are many ways to style a coffee table so that it is both useful and pretty! Coffee Table Styling and Decor Tips


Photo Credit: thespruce.com

  • Baskets - Find baskets that blend in with your décor to hold various items.  Large baskets can hold blankets, pillows, dog toys and games.  Smaller baskets are great for holding remote controls, phones and chargers.


Photo Credit: iconhomedesign.com

  • Drawers - Furniture with drawers is a great way to hide all the “stuff” that might otherwise clutter your family room.  Everything from pens, crayons, coloring books, remotes, eye-glasses, books, magazines and more can be efficiently stored in drawers!


Photo Credit: mathifold.org

If you are in the market to buy or sell a home in the Memphis area, contact professional Realtor, Melissa Thompson and let her help you with all your real estate needs!Give her a call at 901-729-9526 today!

Don’t Get Blindsided by Unexpected Expenses!

by Melissa Thompson

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

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

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

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

Photo Credit: moneyweek.com

Renovating Your Kitchen - Making It Timeless and Functional

by Melissa Thompson

Have you been thinking about remodeling your kitchen, but you’re not sure where to start?  Kitchens are important to resale value, so if you’re going to invest money in a remodel, you want to be sure that you end up with a kitchen that will stand the test of time.  So, instead of following fads that are currently popular, stick with classic features that will not only bring you joy, but will entice buyers should you ever sell your home.  Here are some tips for creating a kitchen that is timeless and functional:

 - Brighten up your kitchen using white as the dominant color. White is the most marketable color and never goes out of style. It is associated with happiness and new beginnings.  It makes small spaces look bigger.  And best of all, it’s easy on the budget due to its availability.

 - Install hardwood flooring. Hardwood floors are popular among buyers of any age; both male and female.  Hardwood adds warmth and coziness to a home.  It’s great for open floor plans because it flows beautifully from one room to another. It’s durable and long-lasting. And if “going green” is important to you, hardwood is echo friendly.  It’s considered a “green” building material when it has been certified by the Forest Stewardship Council and comes from sustainably managed forests.

 - Choose cabinets that have clean lines, like Shaker Kitchen Cabinets.  The clean lines of these cabinets will be in style forever. Their beauty is in their simplicity.  They help limit the “busyness” of the kitchen, creating a soothing, peaceful vibe.  They also transition easily should the next homeowner want a change of style.  Whether you want a traditional or contemporary look, these cabinets will work for both.

 - Go with marble countertops; specifically, Carrara Marble.  Carrara marble has been used in homes for centuries.  It looks fantastic in a white kitchen, but also with other colors. It’s affordable and readily available and will last for generations.  You will find some critics who will tell you that it stains easily, but that can be avoided with proper sealing. If you want a truly timeless look, Carrara marble is the way to go.

 - Include smart storage.  If you currently store many of your kitchen supplies in other areas of the home due to lack of storage space, now is the time to change that!  Cabinets that are being made today feature a plethora of storage options including shelves and compartments that unfold, extend, slide and turn.  Have fun and be creative when designing kitchen storage.

You will love your new kitchen and future potential buyers will find it irresistible!

If you are considering selling your home, let Melissa Thompson and the Your Key to Memphis Team guide you through the process.  Give them a call at 901-756-8900 today!

Photo Credit: cnceptz.com

Homeowner’s Insurance: The Basics

by Melissa Thompson

Becoming a homeowner for the first time can seem like a daunting task. There are so many details and many first-time homebuyers don’t know all the ins and outs of homeownership. It’s important to educate yourself and be prepared for what’s to come.  One aspect of being a homeowner is paying homeowner’s insurance. 

To understand how you pay for homeowner’s insurance, you need to understand your monthly mortgage payment and how it breaks down.  There are four parts to you mortgage payment: PITI.  This stands for principal, interest, taxes and insurance.  The insurance part of your payment can vary depending upon your loan type.  There are some insurances that are required when you obtain a mortgage, and others that are not.  It’s up to you to decide what you need and to do so, you need to understand what they cover.

Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI) will usually be required if you are putting down less that 20% on your home purchase.  But not all loans require PMI.  For example, a VA Loan does not require the borrower to pay PMI. It is replaced by an upfront VA Funding Fee.  Even if you are required to purchase PMI, once you have 20% equity in your home, it can be dropped.

Homeowners insurance is another requirement of getting a mortgage loan.  This is the insurance that protects your home in the event of fire, theft, or damage.  Depending on the insurance you choose, you may be covered for things like stolen jewelry and stolen or damaged electronics and/or furniture.  You must be able to provide proof of insurance to your lender before closing on your home.  This insurance not only protects you as the homeowner, but it also protects the lender in case of foreclosure or in the event of a disaster.  It is common for the lender to require you have at least enough insurance to cover the cost of rebuilding the home.

Another requirement is that you purchase Title Insurance.  This insurance protects you by providing proof of legal ownership should someone else try to claim ownership of the property.  Should a title dispute arise resulting from a sale, the title insurance may be responsible for paying specific legal damages, depending on the policy you have.

There are additional insurances that are not required by your lender, but you may want to consider them for more protection.  Personal property insurance may cover personal belongings that your homeowner’s insurance does not cover, like art, collectibles, and firearms.  A home warranty is not insurance, but does offer further protection should something break. For example, you might want a home warranty for your HVAC system to cover the cost of service should it need repairs.  Purchasing additional insurance or a home warranty is a personal choice. You can talk to your mortgage banker and insurance agent regarding your options.

If you are interested in purchasing a home, the professionals at Your Key to Memphis can help you find your dream home and answer any questions you may have.  Contact Melissa Thompson and her team at 901-756-8900 or 901-729-9526 and start your home search today!

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! 

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Photo Credit: chicagonow.com

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!

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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

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Keeping Little Ones Safe at Home

by Melissa Thompson

The statistics for household childhood injuries are staggering.  Over 3.4 million children experience some kind of accidental injury in the home each year.  While there is no way to guarantee child safety at home, there are certainly many things you can do to help prevent accidents and injuries.  Here are some tips for childproofing your home:

 - Use safety latches and locks for cabinets and drawers in kitchens, bathrooms and other areas to help prevent poisonings and other injuries.  Keep dangerous items such as medicines, household cleaners, lighters, knives etc. locked up. Even things with “child resistant” packaging should be kept in areas that children cannot access.  Child resistant does not mean child proof.

 - Safety gates can be used to prevent falls down stairs and to keep children out of areas with possible dangers.  When installing a gate at the top of stairs, make sure that it is bolted to the wall.  Make sure you purchase gates that meet safety standards.

 - To avoid burns, install anti-scald devices on your showers and faucet heads. 

 - Make sure you have smoke alarms on every level of your home.  It’s important to check them frequently to be sure they are working properly.  Change the batteries at least once a year.  Many people change the batteries twice a year when the time changes in the fall and spring.  Carbon monoxide alarms should be used in your home as well.

 - Corner and edge bumpers on tables and fireplace hearths will help prevent injuries if a child falls against them.

 - Children are very curious and it would be no surprise to find them trying to stick things into plug outlets.  Prevent electrical shock by placing outlet covers in outlets that you use. Make sure they fit snugly and are not easy for a child to remove. They should also be large enough that they won’t be a choking hazard should a child get one out.  If there is an outlet that you know you won’t be using, covert it with an outlet plate. 

 - Make sure that your window coverings are safe for your children.  Cordless window coverings are best, but you can also follow these tips for safety if you have window coverings with cords.

 - Large pieces of furniture and appliances can tip over and crush a child.  Make them secure by anchoring them to the floor and/or attaching them to the wall.

 - If you have a pool or spa, it is vital that you have it surrounded by a fence that is at least 4 feet tall and includes a self-closing, self-latching gate. Doors that lead out to the pool or spa should have alarms on them to indicate if someone has opened them.  A pool alarm adds another layer of protection. 

Again, while childproofing your home will not guarantee safety, it will go a long way toward protecting your children from injuries or worse.  The peace of mind you will have knowing you have done everything you can to protect your children will be well worth the effort and time put into making sure your home is as safe as possible.

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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!

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Displaying blog entries 1-10 of 65