Living in Memphis

Memphis, TN

Memphis is undeniably an exciting place. It’s vibrant, colorful, and full of culture everywhere you turn. But that doesn’t mean it’s missing any of the small-town comfort and hospitality that you’d expect from the south. Memphis is the perfect place to live for individuals, couples, and families of any age or stage of life. The Karlton Govan Lending Team can help you make the most out of this fantastic place to live. 

Memphis Culture: Diversity at its Finest 

Memphis Is packed to the brim with cultural expressions. From sports to theater to art to history, living in Memphis will broaden your horizons. 

Memphis has a rich music history that you won’t find anywhere else. As the birthplace of rock ‘n’ roll and soul, it’s no wonder that the city still boasts a thriving and diverse music scene. You can listen to the blues on Beale or catch an up and coming rock band at the Hi-Tone or Growlers. For days when you want a more refined experience, you can catch the Memphis Symphony Orchestra or the Memphis Ballet, or the host of eclectic performers that visit the Halloran Center. Another great option is a visit to the Hattiloo Theatre, the only freestanding Black repertory theatre in five surrounding states. The Hattiloo has developed a strong regional audience and is known for offering high-quality, free programming and performances staged throughout the cityThe Orpheum offer unique events from comedy shows to classic movies, to touring Broadway shows. One thing is for sure: you don’t have to miss out on any kind of cultural moment while you live in Memphis. 

And don’t forget about sports! You can cheer for local teams in almost every major sport in Memphis. The Memphis Redbirds are a triple-a baseball team affiliated with the St. Louis Cardinals, and not only are their games perfect for a night of family fun to start with, but they have fun theme nights all season long to make the experience even more special. Or, catch 901 FC fight it out in a soccer match either downtown or in Germantown. 

If basketball is more your thing, cheer on the Memphis Grizzlies at the FedEx Forum. And don’t forget to support future leaders of our community at the University of Memphis Tigers football and basketball games. 

Sun Studios

Memphis History and Museums

If you’re looking to learn more about Memphis music history, you can visit Stax Records, Sun Studios, and of course, we don’t need to remind you that you can spend a day touring Graceland, engrossed in all things Elvis. These cultural landmarks draw in crowds from all over the world. Not only do they preserve the past, but they feed into the community by hosting events and offering music lessons and other classes. 

These aren’t the only museums that both instruct and contribute to the Memphis community. The Dixon Museum of Art features fascinating exhibits and beautiful gardens, as well as a wide variety of classes for children of all ages. The Brooks Museum features exhibits from artists many different cultural and ethnic backgrounds who are often underrepresented. You and your family can fall in love with art from all over the world. 

Head Downtown to learn about the history of the region at The Cotton Museum and the Mississippi River Museum. Finally, make sure to visit the Civil Rights Museum & and Lorraine Motel to learn about the struggle for equality that still continues, and to honor those who fought for Civil Rights in the past. 

Corky's bbq

Only the Best Food

And of course, Memphis is known for its food. Memphis boasts some of the best BBQ in the world, even hosts the International BBQ Festival in May. You can find amazing BBQ on any day of the year in any part of town at places like The Cozy Corner, Central BBQ, Corky’s, and the barbeque inspired special dishes at many other restaurants around town. 

Thanks to the diverse population of Memphis, you can find any kind of food your heart desires, whether you want to experience the culture of a restaurant or try making something new at home. You can find food from Ethiopia, Japan, the Caribbean, the Mediterranean, and some of the best Mexican food you can find.  And don’t forget to check out the international market in Cordova to find the ingredients for your new favorite dish. 

It wouldn’t be the South if you couldn’t find soul food. Some places like Gus’s Fried Chicken are World Famous, but you can also ask a local to find out what they think is best. Places like Flying Fish specialize in catfish just blocks away from the Mississippi while places like The Crock Pot and Dindie’s Soul Food make you feel right at home with their classic dishes. 

Southern Hospitality in the Heart of the City 

Memphis is one of the friendliest places you can live in. Whether you’ve lived here your whole life or just a few months, you’ll be able to find a healthy community in Memphis. Once you’ve lived here a while, it’s hard to leave your house without running into a friend. Memphis is a resilient city and has relied on a strong sense of community to grow and improve into the amazing city it is today. Once you’re a part of it, we’ll put the same effort into building you up to be the best you can be.

There are so many programs and organizations working hard to make sure that no one in Memphis misses out on the opportunities that Memphis has to offer. Most major world religions have thriving communities in Memphis that work to help provide education, immigrant services, after school programs, and practical assistance to families in need, while also working with religiously unaffiliated organizations to make sure needs are being met without discrimination. Development organizations work in underserved neighborhoods to make sure that sustainable growth is taking place. Everywhere you look, people are working hard to keep Memphis moving forward. 

Affordability: Memphis Can’t be Beat 

You may be thinking that a city with this much to offer is out of your price range. That couldn’t be further from the truth! Memphis is one of the most affordable cities in the country. The median home sale price in Memphis is 148,000, and you’ll find that you can get a lot of house for that price compared to other markets. Plus, according to CNBC, Memphis is the 5th most affordable city for business professionals specifically. You won’t have to pay any state tax in Tennessee so more of your paycheck can go towards enjoying your life with your family. With low average prices for things like gas, groceries and home goods, you can get the most life out of your dollar in Memphis. 

The Karlton Govan Lending Team can help you find the perfect home Memphis to help you enjoy everything the city has to offer. Contact us today to learn how we can help you finance the home of your dreams. 


Karlton Govan is a certified mortgage loan officer NMLS#652305

Building Good Credit

Building good credit

Learn About Building Good Credit With Your Memphis Loans Expert

Good credit is essential for so many things in life. If you want to lease a car, rent an apartment, get a business loan, or buy a home, you need to have a credit score that proves that you can be trusted to pay back whatever you borrow on time. Your credit score helps to determine your interest rates, the size of your loan, and whether or not you can take out a loan at all. A bad credit score can end up costing you a lot of money. A lower credit score will always mean a higher interest rate, and in some cases, you may have to pay larger security deposits for day to day needs. If you have bad credit or even no credit at all, the idea of improving your score can be daunting. It can be hard to find the information you need, so your Shelby County lending expert, The Karlton Govan Lending Team, is here to help! 

Understanding Credit – What it all means 

Even though building good credit is essential, it can be hard to find all the facts you need. Many of us have never had someone to help us and explain how the process works. Here are some of the essentials that you need to know before you start building your credit. 

The basics

Your credit report shows your credit history. It includes any money you’ve borrowed and how well you’ve paid it back. It can also include any bills you didn’t pay on time, though it by default doesn’t include bills that you do pay on time. Your credit score is a measurement of how well you’re managing your credit accounts. Credit bureaus collect the information that factors into your FICO credit score. These scores are the easiest way for a lender or landlord to know if you meet the standards they consider necessary for the situation. You can also check your credit report and credit score yourself, and you should! It’s important to know if you’re making progress and check for any errors. 

It takes time

First and foremost, make sure your expectations are setting you up for success. You can’t fix your credit overnight. It’ll take at least a few months or as long as several years to fix your credit. If you don’t have any credit at all, it will take at least six months for a usable score to appear on your report. This can be frustrating, but if you stay on top of your debt and build a strong credit history, the results are worth it. 

Debt happens to everyone

Don’t beat yourself up about your debt. Anyone can find themselves in a tough situation, and there’s no shame in needing to put some extra work into getting your credit where you want it. It’s important to start with a plan and stick to it. Getting out of debt can improve every part of your life, from relationships to stress, to health, and of course financial security. 

Memphis Credit Building

Building your credit can be a catch-22. You need good credit to open accounts that will improve your credit, but without already having good credit, you can’t seem to get anywhere! The good news is that many banks have options to help you out. 

Credit Building First Steps

Secured credit cards allow you to start building your credit from scratch. They’re backed by a deposit that you make, so it’s like you’re borrowing your own money. It’s good for you because it affects your credit score, and good for your bank because they don’t actually have to take a risk since you’re not borrowing anything. 

You can also get a credit-building loan. For this type of loan, you don’t actually get the money until you’ve made all of the payments. It helps your credit score because the payments are reported to credit bureaus. But, doesn’t put you in any debt because it’s more like a savings account than a loan.

If possible, you can also use a co-signer for a credit card or a personal loan. If someone with good credit is willing to co-sign with you on a credit card, it will help your credit score significantly. Before you do this, make sure that the account will actually report to credit bureaus in your name and not just your co-signer’s name. Also, make sure that you and your co-signer have a clear agreement about how the account can be used, and do your part of the stick to the plan.

It’s possible to report your bills to credit bureaus so they can have a positive impact on your credit score. Services like Rental Kharma and RentTrack take an expense you’re already paying and put it on your credit report. As long are you stay up to date on your existing bills, your credit will build over time. 

The Biggest Credit Building Factors

Your credit utilization ratio represents how much of your available credit that you’re using, and you should keep your eye on it. Your utilization ratio makes up 30% of your credit score. The only factor with more impact is your payment history. Keeping your credit utilization below 15% of your limit can have a big impact on your overall score. 

As you probably know by now, your payment history has the most significant impact on your credit score. If you aren’t making payments on time, all of your other credit-building work will fall short. If you know that you have collection accounts on your credit report that are negatively affecting your score, contact the original creditor and see if they will remove the delinquent account if you pay it off. Some creditors may even remove late payments as an act of goodwill.  

building good credit

Mistakes that keep you from building good credit

  • Don’t close your credit accounts, even if you’ve paid the balance. This can negatively affect your averages. Your credit history length is 15% of your credit score, and closing your first credit card because you have a newer one with better interest won’t ultimately help you. You can stop using the older account, but keep it open. 
  • Don’t forget to check your credit report regularly. There are websites like My Fico that make this easy. 
  • Don’t have too many credit cards. One is enough to start with. It can be helpful to have multiple credit accounts, so credit building loans or secured credit cards will help you build good credit without ending up more in debt. 
  • Don’t apply for too many credit cards or credit accounts at the same time. Each time a lender checks your credit report, your score goes down buy a few points. If too many lenders are checking at the same time, your score might drop significantly. Credit inquiries and new accounts are 10% of your total score, so it’s wise to wait until your credit is strong or you’ve completed the mortgage process to open any new credit accounts. 

Trust Your Local Memphis Lending Expert

The Karlton Govan Lending Team is here to help you get the home of your dreams. Having strong credit is an essential part of the process, and can save you a significant amount of money thanks to lower interest rates. We’re happy to answer any questions you have about building your credit score. Contact us today to start your home buying journey! 


Karlton Govan is a certified mortgage loan officer NMLS#652305

Homeownership can be a great way to create stability for your future, but the process can feel intimidating if you’re a first-time buyer. After all, purchasing a home is a big deal that requires a great deal of organization, communication, and thoughtful decision making. It involves a significant sum of money and planning ahead, yet even with all the mixed emotions and stress involved, millions of Americans purchase new homes every year. So how do they manage it successfully?

One way to ensure a smoother home buying process is to enlist the services of an experienced mortgage banker, like the Karlton Govan Lending Team. While a real estate agent can assist you in your home search and negotiate with the sellers, a mortgage banker helps you find a mortgage option that works best for you and your family and facilitates the origination process. Developing a relationship with a trusted partner like the Karlton Govan Lending Team can help make this process easier and more efficient for you.

If you’re ready to give up on renting forever and start the hunt for your first home, there’s a lot to learn and this is the perfect time to get familiar with the basics of home buying. To guarantee you’re getting the right property for you and your lifestyle, take a look below to learn all you need to know to be successful as a first-time homebuyer!

Getting pre-approved

You’ll want to have a pre-approval letter in hand before you start your home search. Keep in mind that pre-qualified is not the same thing as pre-approved. Pre-qualified means a lender has pulled credit, but hasn’t verified any income, assets, or verified employment. Many agents and sellers won’t accept a pre-qualification letter. In fact, many real estate agents will only show homes to buyers with a pre-approval letter!

Getting pre-approved is free and can usually be done relatively quickly. Once your mortgage lender has the necessary documents to validate your income, assets, and credit, they will pull a copy of your credit report and FICO scores from all three major credit bureaus. That’s why it’s important to….

Maximize your credit score before you close

Your credit rating is the most important factor in the mortgage rate you’ll receive. The lower your score, the higher your rate will tend to be. There are things you can do now that will help boost your credit score in as little as 45 days. Doing so can maximize your score before you place an offer on a home.

Pay down your credit card balances – The amount of available credit you’re using on your credit cards is the credit utilization ratio, and makes up about 30% of your overall credit score. Only your payment history has a bigger impact on your score, at 35%. Paying your credit card balances below 15% of their limit can have a big impact on your overall score.

Don’t apply for new credit – Credit inquiries and new accounts each make up 10% of your score. If you’re able to, hold off on getting a new credit card or a new car until after you’ve already closed on your home!

Contact creditors about any collections or late payments – If you know you have collection accounts on your credit report, you can contact the collection agency and see if they will remove the delinquent account if you pay it off. If you request it, creditors may also remove late payments as an act of goodwill.   

It’s important that you be completely honest with our team about your credit. Knowing all the good, the bad, and the ugly up front makes it easier to address any potential issues for you as a homebuyer. The more we know, the better prepared we’ll be to get you into your own home!

Buying the right home for you

Have some idea of the area you want to live in when you begin your search, but it’s also a good idea to remain open to surrounding neighborhoods. Similarly, know which features you want in a home in order of importance, but keep in mind that you may have to compromise a little when buying your first home. Part of that comes down to….

Nice yellow home

Knowing how much house you can afford

Your debt-to-income ratio is the most important factor to be aware of when you begin looking for homes in your price range. You can figure out your DTI ratio by adding up all your monthly debt payments (credit card payments, student loans, personal loans, etc.) and your estimated mortgage payment. Divide that number by your gross monthly income before taxes. For most mortgage loans, you’ll need a debt-to-income ratio of 45% or lower, but a 36% DTI ratio is considered ideal.

As a first-time home buyer, you may be unaware of all the additional monthly costs that are associated with a mortgage loan. In addition to your mortgage payment, you will likely have property taxes, private mortgage insurance, and homeowners insurance added to your monthly payment. Keep this in mind when you begin looking around!

Gather all necessary documentation

The mortgage process can be complicated, and requires quite a lot of paperwork. Not having all your documents in order leads to document requests from your mortgage lender that can delay your closing. To avoid this, gather all of the documents needed for your mortgage and submit them early on. These generally include:

  • W2 and tax returns from the last two years
  • Paystub for the past 30 days
  • Bank statements for the previous 2 months
  • Profit and loss statements if you are self-employed
  • Divorce decree, if applicable
  • Bankruptcy paperwork, if applicable

The bottom line in home buying

If this is your first time navigating a home mortgage, it can be confusing to sort through all the financing options. A good mortgage banker can help you decide how much home you can actually afford, then steer you through all the different programs and options.  The Karlton Govan Lending Team believes in the inherent value of homeownership and understands that every financial situation is unique. Our goal is to make the home loan process as easy and seamless as possible for you as we work towards the perfect mortgage and home for you!  

If you’re ready to take the first step towards becoming a homeowner in Memphis or the Mid-South, we’d love to talk to you about your current and long-term needs. Our experienced team is here to guide you through each step of the home buying process, so get in touch today to schedule an appointment! The home of your dreams is waiting for you!


Karlton Govan is a certified mortgage loan officer NMLS#652305