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Increase Your Home Value with these Designer Tips

by Melissa Thompson


When designing and decorating your home, unless you plan on living there forever, it’s important to consider resale value.  Since your home is likely your largest asset, you want to be sure to get the highest return on your investment when you sell it.  So, design upgrades should not only appeal to your aesthetic desires, but should also have a positive impact on resale value.  Here are some tips for renovations that designers have found to be most beneficial in helping houses sell:

  1. Choose a design that makes a room feel bigger than it is.  If you select and place furniture to fit the scale of a room, it will go a long way in making the space feel larger than it actually is.  Even though buyers will know the square footage, the perception of rooms being larger will have a powerful impact. When rooms feel more spacious, buyers see more potential in the home.
     
  2. Stick with tradition.  If you are redesigning a room, don’t feel like you need to get rid of everything you have and purchase all new things. Keep some of the home’s traditional elements. You’re never going to please every potential buyer, but making too many changes can backfire. People like to see homes that stay true to their roots.
     
  3. If you don’t have a walk-in closet in your master bedroom, add one.  A roomy, functional walk-in closet will add value to any home. Buyers see it as a luxury and are always excited to see one.  It might feel like an expensive upgrade, but it is one that will pay off in the long run.
     
  4. Don’t neglect the kitchen.  Of all the rooms in your home, an upgraded kitchen is the one that will get you the best return on investment.  The kitchen is the heart of the home. Even if you don’t love cooking, and order out more than you cook, it’s still used for eating, drinking, and storage.  You don’t even have to do a lot to make your kitchen stand out.  Even small upgrades like new light fixtures and hardware will add value to your home.
     
  5. The more storage your home has, the better. Buyers seek homes that provide a lot of storage space.  You truly can’t have too much!  If your home is lacking in storage, adding some will increase its value.  You may have to be creative, but it will be worth it! 7 Sneaky Ways to Add More Storage All Over Your House
     
  6. Fresh paint makes a huge difference.  You don’t have to make huge changes to make your home more appealing.  A simple, fresh coat of paint can give your home a whole new look and feel.  It’s one of the most cost-effective ways to update your home.  When choosing colors, stick with neutrals because they are a safer choice when selling your home.
     
  7. Be environmentally friendly. Millennials purchasing homes are looking for energy efficient, environmentally friendly options. You will not only reap the benefits of living in a more energy efficient home, but you will impress potential buyers who want to do their part in protecting the environment. 4 Eco-Friendly Upgrades for Your Home
     
  8. Bathrooms get you a lot of bang for your buck.  Second only to kitchens in importance to retail value, an upgraded bathroom is sure to impress potential buyers.  Since they are small spaces, little changes like replacing an outdated vanity, changing light fixtures, and updating hardware can go a long way. 

Whether you plan to be in your home for a long time, or you’re thinking of selling soon, make smart choices with your home design upgrades for your own enjoyment and for a great return on your investment.

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: pinterest.com

How to Stay Cool and Reduce Your Electric Bill

by Melissa Thompson


Being a homeowner comes with a lot of expenses, so, we search for places where we can cut back to lower costs. With summer approaching, and the hot days that come with it, chances are your air conditioning will be running full time, but there are several ways to save on your monthly electric bill.  Try these tips and you’ll find a lower bill in your mailbox next month!

  • Get an Energy Audit - Check and see if your utility company offers a free home energy audit.  If so, it’s well worth it to have them come out.  They can point out areas where you can trim your energy use.
     
  • Install Dimmer Switches - Dimmer switches will allow you to only use as much light as you need.
     
  • Keep Your Fridge & Freezer Full - The food that you store in your fridge and freezer serves as insulation, so the more you have in there, the less your appliance must run to keep itself cold.
     
  • Install Ceiling Fans - If you keep the air circulating in your home, your AC will not have to work as hard to keep the house cool.
     
  • Line Dry Your Laundry - Let Mother Nature dry your clothes for you on warm, sunny days.  When that is not possible, try using a drying rack indoors.
     
  • Eliminate Phantom Loads - You may be shocked to know that about 75% of the energy used by home electronics is consumed when they are turned off. Some examples of these “phantom” users are: televisions, CD players, computers, and various kitchen appliances. The simple solution is to plug all these items into a power strip and then turn the power strip off when not using them. Phantom Loads - Take Control and Save
     
  • Install an Attic Fan - An attic fan will pull cool air into your home, and help to remove hot air.
     
  • Shield Your Home from the Sun - You can cut down on air conditioning use by closing your curtains and blinds on the sunny side of the house.  You may also want to consider planting trees that will provide shade during the sunny times of the day. 12 Fast-Growing Shade Trees
     
  • Schedule Yearly HVAC Maintenance - Having your HVAC inspected and cleaned each year will save you money in the long run…and it will help provide cleaner air to your home.
     
  • Change Your Filters Regularly - Filters should be changed every 30 days to keep your HVAC running at peak efficiency.
     
  • Switch to LEDs - LED light bulbs use 90 percent less energy than incandescent bulbs.  Switch out the bulbs you use the most in your home and then change the rest as they burn out.
     
  • Lower the Temperature of Your Hot Water Heater - 13% of your home’s energy goes to heating water. You can lower this percentage by setting your hot water heater to 130-14 degrees.

As you can see, while you may need your AC to keep cool during the warmer months, there are a lot of other ways to cut costs so that you don’t get a shocking electric bill in the mail!

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 today at 901-729-9526!

Photo Credit: hessolar.com

Perfect Your Patio on a Budget

by Melissa Thompson


Now that warmer weather is here, you will want to start spending more time outside.  But chances are you might have let your patio go over the winter months and it doesn’t look or feel too appealing right now.  Now is the time to give your patio a little makeover so you can bask in the fresh air, whether you are simply enjoying a good book and a cup of tea, or you are dining al fresco.  Here are some ways to upgrade your patio without breaking the bank:

  1. STOP PESTS

Pests can cause your patio to become unsightly with debris from their digging and trampling.A great way to keep them away is to surround your patio with simple pine cones instead of mulch.While critters will be deterred by the spiny cones, your plants will love them because they add acidity to the soil.They will make plants like azaleas and rhododendrons burst with color!Also, pine cones are slow to decompose, so they will last a long time!

  1. REMOVE RUST

If you have metal furniture on your patio that has become covered in rust, you won’t feel much like lounging on it.But you don’t have to get rid of it or replace it with expensive pieces.You can remove the rust and have it looking good as new!There are many ways to get rid of rust.If it’s not too bad, you can simply scrape it off using a wire brush, sandpaper, or steel wool along with a bit of elbow grease.For more severe cases, try an acidic agent like vinegar to help take it off.You can also use a chemical rust converter (such as Rust-Oleum), which changes the rust into a different substance and gives added protection from rusting again. Patio Furniture Rust Removal

  1. ADD COLOR

Nothing brightens up a gloomy concrete patio like a pop of color!You can keep it simple and paint your patio floor a nice, bright color to spice it up. Or you can be super creative and try painting patterns or even using stamps to create a bold design.If painting the concrete seems like too much for you, then add color with accessories like chair cushions and pillows, side tables, and planters. How to Paint Your Concrete Patio

  1. BUILD A FIRE PIT

Did you know that you can build a fire pit with no tools?A fire pit adds a focal point to your patio and creates a cozy atmosphere.The best part is that it doesn’t require much time or money to build one.For a small fire pit you can purchase heat-resistant pavers (or “fire bricks), which cost about $5 each.Stack two layers of them in a small circle, about six blocks in circumference on top of a stone slab, and voila! You have a fire pit!Remember that this will only work on a patio surface that is fire-safe.So, don’t try to do this on a wooden deck!And be sure to check your Local Fire Codes!

  1. DETER INSECTS

There are many ways to keep your patio as insect free as possible.First, keep your patio clean.Be sure to sweep up any crumbs and wipe up spilled liquids after dining. Any tiny morsel or stickiness is sure to attract ants and other insects.Second, replace white light bulbs with yellow bulbs or Sodium-Vapor Lights which are less likely to attract bugs.  Third, plant pest-deterrent flowers and plants. And finally, while on your patio, burn citronella torches or candles to help keep bothersome bugs away.  These are just a few ways to keep your patio insect free.  Here are some others: Keeping Flies and Pests Off the Patio.

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: Pinterest.com

Lawn Basics: Where the Green Grass Grows

by Melissa Thompson


No green thumb? Don’t worry!  The grass CAN be greener on your side of the fence. With spring right around the corner, now is the perfect time to start working on a thick carpet of grass for your yard. Here are some tips for growing a lawn that will have your neighbors GREEN with envy:

  1. Start by reseeding and fertilizing. If you have bare spots in your grass, taking the time to reseed now will pay off this spring.  Make sure you fertilize for optimal growth and keep the area moist until you see new growth. If you don’t have time to do this yourself, you can hire someone to do it. Here are the 5 Best Lawn Seeding Companies in Memphis, TN.
     
  2. Look for problems that will hinder growth.  Steep slopes and shady trees can potentially keep grass from growing.  You may want to consider hydroseeding in sloped regions.  And planting fescues in shady zones will help as well. What is Hydroseeding? All Of Your Questions Answered
     
  3. Patch dead areas with sod.  Re-sodding is the best bet if you have large dead areas. Sod can be installed any time of year…just make sure you water it frequently until it sets.
     
  4. Look into xeriscaping. No matter what climate you living, xeriscaping is the best way to weatherproof your lawn.  This low maintenance, low cost method of landscaping will keep your lawn looking beautiful during all the seasons! Xeriscape Landscaping: Meaning, and How it Can Save You Money

Once you have your lawn looking fabulous, you can create a fun outdoor living space to enjoy with your friends and family.  And when you’re ready to sell your home, the first impression potential buyers get from your curb appeal will have them waiting in line to see your house! 

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: twitter.com

Money Saving Tips for Homeowners

by Melissa Thompson


There are a lot of perks to home ownership, but let’s face it; it can be expensive.  You’re not only making a mortgage payment every month, but you are also responsible for maintaining your home.  But there are lots of easy ways to save money without ever leaving the house. Follow these tips and start saving today!

  1. Save money on your electric bill by utilizing natural ways to cool your house.  During the spring and summer, open your windows and use fans to get the air circulating through your home.  Ceiling fans will help too. Moving the air through the house will help cool it down quite a bit.
     
  2. Another way to save on your electric bill is to line dry your clothes.  Dryers use a lot of electricity, and there are many good reasons to choose line drying.  Not only is it an energy saver, but it may extend the life of your clothing! Top 10 Reasons to Line Dry Laundry
     
  3. Get rid of cable television. With all the options for streaming shows on apps like Hulu and Netflix, you could save a lot of money by ending your relationship with cable and using apps to stream your favorite programs.  You might be surprised to discover that even after upgrading your internet, you will still pay less per month than you did for cable television.
     
  4. Always unplug.  Even when you are not using an appliance, if you keep it plugged in, it is still pulling electricity.  It may not seem like much, but over years you can save quite a bit by unplugging when not using things.  Chances are you are not going to want to be bothered with walking around your house to unplug everything, but to make it a little easier, consider using power strips so you can just unplug that at the end of the day.
     
  5. Use a shopping list.  This may sound silly, but when you go shopping without a list you often come home with way more than you need.  Make a list and stick to it. It will not only make shopping more efficient, but it will save you money in the long run.
     
  6. Learn how to do basic home maintenance.  You can save a ton of money over time by being able to take care of home maintenance yourself.  By doing small tasks like replacing filters and cleaning out dust, you can lengthen the lifespan of many appliances, thus saving money that way as well.  Home Maintenance for Dummies Cheat Sheet
     
  7. Bundle up and save on heating costs.  Invest in quality, warm blankets so you can turn the heat down and still be warm and cozy when you sleep at night.  Decreasing your heat by just a few degrees can save you a lot of money over time.
     
  8. Create a budget and try to stick to it. By creating a budget, you will be more conscientious about your spending.  It will not only help you to see where you are spending too much, it will also assist you in prioritizing your spending.

Saving money is important.  Whether you’re saving for retirement or for a special family vacation, it’s the little things you do that make a big difference in the long run!

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!

Easy Home Updates That Won’t Break the Bank

by Melissa Thompson


Another year is coming to an end and like many people, you may already be thinking about what you are going to do to make next year better.  If home improvement is on your new year’s resolution list, but your budget is already a bit strained, there are a lot of home updates you can do that are inexpensive.  Try these easy upgrades to give your home a fresh look for 2019:

  1. Freshen Up the Front Door

Whenever I am decorating or even just cleaning, I always start with the places that guests will see first.Well, your front door is one of the first things people see when they come to your house, so why not make it as appealing as possible?Perhaps give it a new coat of paint with a color that makes it pop and say “welcome”!Or, if you already like the color of your door, give it a thorough cleaning to make it shine and add a pretty wreath.

  1. Modernize Light Switches and Outlets

If you are still living with the light switches and outlets that the builders put into your house, chances are they were the cheapest ones they could find.And if your home is older, they might not only be “dated” but also kind of faded or yellowed.You might be surprised how much it will brighten up your house to have clean, new switch plates and outlets!

  1. Embellish Mirrors with Frames

A plain sheet of mirror sitting above a sink is, in a word, boring.Take it down and replace it with a mirror with a frame and you will be amazed at the difference it makes! If you don’t want to take down the existing mirror, you can add a frame to it!

  1. Change Up Lighting Fixtures

Every space in your home is impacted by lighting.If you have outdated light fixtures, or you simply don’t like the ones that came with the house, switching them out for new ones is a great way to update your home!

  1. Don’t Like It? Paint It!

A new coat of paint can transform just about any surface!Kitchen cabinets dull and drab? Paint them! Paint stores will allow you to purchase samples so that you can try different colors before choosing one.Whether you decided to paint the walls of a room or just some accents like cabinets or furniture, a change in color can give things a whole new aesthetic.

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: freshhome.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!

How to Avoid Expensive Visits from a Plumber

by Melissa Thompson

If you’ve ever had to call a plumber to come out to your house to fix a clogged sink or jammed garbage disposal, you already know how expensive that visit can be.  Here are some tips for things you can do to take care of your kitchen sink so that you won’t have to call a plumber to fix it for you:

  • Don’t pour grease, oil or fat into your garbage disposal or drain. Grease will slowly accumulate and impede your garbage disposal’s grinding ability as well as clog drains.
     
  • Don’t use hot water when grinding food waste. Hot water will cause grease to liquefy and accumulate, causing drains to clog.
     
  • Don’t grind extremely fibrous materials like corn husks, celery stalks, onions, and artichokes. Fibers from these can tangle and jam the garbage disposal motor and block drains.
     
  • Don’t turn off the motor or water until grinding is completed. When grinding is complete, turn off the garbage disposal first. Let water continue to run for at least 15 seconds, flushing out any remaining particles. Then turn off water.
     
  • Don’t put too many potato peels down the garbage disposal. The starches in the potatoes will turn into a thick paste and may cause blades to stick.
     
  • Don’t put large amounts of food down the garbage disposal. Feed food into the garbage disposal a little at a time with the cold water running; this will help the food scraps flow down freely through the drain pipes and plumbing.
     
  • Don’t put expandable foods into your garbage disposal. Foods like pasta and rice expand when you add water in a pot; they do the same thing once inside your pipes or garbage disposal and are the cause of many jams and clogs.
     
  • Don’t grind large animal bones of any kind.
     
  • Don’t put coffee grounds down the garbage disposal. They won’t harm the disposal but they can accumulate in drains and pipes, causing clogs.
     
  • Most importantly: Don’t use harsh chemicals like bleach or drain cleaners to unclog the drain. They damage blades and pipes.

Follow these tips to take care of your sink and garbage disposal and save yourself from writing that check to the plumber!!

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: blog.cinfin.com

Fabulous Fall Flowers

by Melissa Thompson

Fall is just around the corner and with it comes Fall foliage and a burst of majestic colors. But if you would like to add some of the glorious autumnal colors to your home’s landscaping, now is the time to start planning and planting.  Whether you are partial to yellows and golds, burnt oranges and rusts, or deep reds and burgundies (or if you like to mix it up with a variety of hues), there is something for everyone when it comes to fall flowers. Here are some favorites:

Chrysanthemums -  These popular flowers come in a variety of sizes. With seasonal, festive shades of yellow, red and orange they provide a perfect backdrop for all your outdoor fall décor.  Learn how to plant and grow chrysanthemums here.

Pansies - Found in just about every shade of the rainbow, these versatile flowers create a majestic ground cover and look equally amazing in hanging baskets.  If planted in fall,  pansies can last up to eight months, so you definitely get your money’s worth of beauty with these hardy plants! Growing Pansies

Goldenrod -  Many people think that goldenrod causes hay fever, but ragweed is the real culprit, not this beautiful fall flower!  It is a late bloomer, bringing a blast of gorgeous gold to late fall.  You can grow tall varieties to stand guard over your garden or dwarf versions for the front of your beds. John Muir, a naturalist known as “Father of the National Parks” said of goldenrod, “The fragrance, color, and form of the whole spiritual expression of Goldenrod are hopeful and strength-giving beyond any others I know. A single spike is sufficient to heal unbelief and melancholy.”

Croton - An ideal plant for autumn, croton has brilliant shades of red, orange, yellow and purple.  It works as a houseplant in cold-weather regions or as a shrub in frost-free areas.  It also can be grown outdoors as an annual. Be on the lookout for different varieties to find the best crotons to complement your fall garden. Care of Outdoor Croton Plants: How to Grow Croton Outdoors

Black-Eyed Susan - These golden-yellow stunners bring to mind happy daisies.  Bees and butterflies love them and they brighten up any landscape or container garden. Learn How to Grow Black Eyed Susans and create a blanket of color for fall!

Helenium - Also known as “sneezeweed” (don’t worry, it doesn’t make you sneeze…the name comes from when they used to make snuff out of their dried leaves) they look like small, copper hued coneflowers.  They can grow quite tall and add a burst of warm cheer to your fall garden. How to Grow Helenium

Take advantage of what’s left of late summer and start your fall garden while the days are still longer and the temperatures are still mild.  Before you know it, you will be enjoying the glory of Autumn!

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: blog.gardenloversclub.com

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

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