The 5-Minute Guide To Flood Insurance: What It Is, How It Works, And Whether You Need It

The 5-Minute Guide to Flood Insurance: What It Is, How It Works, and Whether You Need ItYou’ve got house insurance, and assume your property is covered for any type of detrimental occurrence that can possibly take place.

However, not all homeowners are aware that home insurance policies don’t necessarily cover damage related to a flood, as the risks are too great. As a result, homeowners must purchase flood insurance through a private company.

Floods are one of the most common hazards in the US, costing billions of dollars in damage to properties every year.

Since this is a common issue lately, the federal government updating these policies currently so please talk with your real estate professional or local insurance company for the most up to date information.

What Is Flood Insurance?

Flood insurance policies are typically made available to homeowners in flood-prone areas. The majority of insurance policies cover some form of water damage, from things like leaking faucets to bursting plumbing pipes.

However, such policies don’t cover water damage as a result of flooding of rivers or sewers that cause water to ruin a home.

Specific flood protection is provided by the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), which is run by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). Standard flood insurance policies cover “direct physical damage” to a property resulting from floods.

A separate policy must be purchased to protect the belongings inside the home or building. Homeowners can buy up to $250,000 in coverage for the home, and up to $100,000 in coverage for possessions. Even renters are permitted to purchase flood insurance to cover their possessions.

How Does Flood Insurance Work?

Flood insurance isn’t sold by FEMA directly, but rather is sold to customers through private insurance agencies. Premium rates are determined by the government, and they remain consistent from one insurer to the next.

How much a homeowner pays for their own specific flood insurance depends on a number of factors, including how prone the neighborhood is to floods and how much coverage a homeowner wants. The average annual premium is approximately $520 for $100,000 worth of coverage for a property with no basement, and approximately $615 annually for a property with a basement.

Filing A Flood Insurance Claim

The claims process is like any other insurance claim. Once the claim is filed, the damage will be analyzed by an adjustor assigned by the insurance company. A “proof of loss” form will need to filled out and submitted to the insurer within 60 days of the flood occurrence.

Do You Need Flood Insurance?

It’s necessary to find out if you are eligible for flood insurance before buying it. For residents of a community to be eligible, the community needs to enforce floodplain statutes to lessen the chances of flood damage, after which FEMA ensures that such regulations are followed.

Only those who reside in a community that participates in NFIP can buy insurance – today, about 20,000 communities across the country participate in this program.

FEMA offers maps that outline what areas are at high risk for floods, and those that are at moderate-to-low risk. The law requires homeowners to have flood insurance if the properties are located in a high-risk zone and have a federally-backed mortgage. This is because properties located in these high-risk areas have a 26 percent chance of suffering flood damage during the 30 years that it would take to pay off a mortgage.

Homeowners are not required to buy flood insurance if they reside in a moderate-to-low-risk zone, though it may be a good idea to purchase it anyway. Properties outside the high-risk areas make up over 20 percent of NFIP claims. Homeowners in these areas can purchase up to $200,000 in flood insurance.

The bottom line is, even if you don’t necessarily live in a high-risk zone, this doesn’t mean your home won’t ever get flooded. Many conditions can result in flood damage, including clogged drain systems, flash rainstorms, and damaged levees.

Dos And Don’ts Of Buying Distressed Real Estate

How to Build the Ultimate Tree House for Your Children in Just Seven StepsDistressed real estate is real estate in need of serious repairs. These properties are often called “handyman specials.” If you have the skill or the money to complete the repairs, you can often find great deals. Here are some dos and don’ts of buying distressed real estate.

DO Get A Home Inspection

Distressed homes need repairs. Some of these repairs, like broken floor tile, are easy to see. Others, like water damage in the attic, can be easily hidden. The only way to know for sure what you’re buying is to have the property inspected by a professional home inspector.

DO Pay Attention To The Home’s Market Value

You don’t want to buy a home and spend your hard-earned money for repairs only to find out the home is worth less than you paid for it. Have your agent complete a comparative market analysis so you know what the home is worth.

DO Have An Estimate For Repairs

There’s no point buying a distressed home if you can’t afford the cost of the home and the repairs. Get an estimate from at least three contractors before you buy. Knowing the cost of repairs beforehand will help you make the best decision.

DON’T Think About Potential Profit

You’ve probably heard countless stories about people who bought distressed properties and sold them for outrageous profits. However, the reality is that most distressed homes are sold for a small profit or no profit.

DON’T Buy A Home Just Because The Price Is Low

When you buy distressed homes, you have to consider more than just the asking price. Add together the cost of repairs, insurance, and what you can realistically expect to make from the sale. This will tell you if the home really is a good investment for you.

DON’T Buy If You Don’t Have The Money

No matter how good a deal you find on distressed homes, they aren’t worth it if they will stretch your budget too far. The last thing you want to deal with is damage to your credit score and the risk of foreclosure in the event you can’t pay for the home.

Looking for a great deal on distressed real estate? Contact your trusted real estate professional today.

The Green Thumb: Four Easy Ways To Get More From Your Home Garden

The Green Thumb: Four Easy Ways to Get More From Your Home GardenGrowing a home garden creates beauty, oxygen and even food for our families to enjoy. If you’re looking to get more from your home garden, here are four easy ways to improve a green thumb.

A Good Foundation For Your Garden

Good soil is the foundation of a healthy garden. By using quality soil, you can give your garden the best start possible. Adding a variety of organic matter to soil will give plants a happy home to grow in.

Add two to three inches of organic matter to your garden bed at the beginning of each season. Compost, dried leaves, grass clipping and dry manure are all good organic materials to use in your garden.

Manures provides nitrogen, which is a great contributor to soil aeration and composting efforts. Being so far along in the decomposing process, the nutrients in manure are readily available for plants.

Fresh manure, however, is more likely to leach out of the soil into groundwater and streams (where the nutrients it provides can become pollutants).

Design Fundamentals To Achieve Harmony And Flow

Although landscaping your home garden is a matter of personal taste and preference, there are some fundamental principles for creating a good garden.

Balance and proportion establish the basic structure of a garden. Order is obtained through symmetry, repetition of plants, and colors or thoughtful contrast. This will create a garden space that is both balanced and proportioned.

Harmony and unity is achieved when different aspects of your garden work together as a whole. Strong focal points and a limited color palette can help with the overall look of your garden.

Prevent the eye from making sudden stops with good flow and transition in your garden. Gradual changes in height and color create the illusion of a larger space, and will make for a full and finished look in your garden.

Variety Is Important And Maintenance A Must

Have a good combination in your garden of annuals, perennials, shrubs, trees and food producing plants. Plants that require little maintenance and come back each year will take some of the pressure off when it comes to seasonal changes and garden preparation.

With more time to focus on bedding plants and vegetable gardens, you’ll yield a bigger reward for your gardening efforts. Water features and other structural focal points work in much the same way; they provide your outdoor space with added beauty and appeal that is easy to maintain throughout the year.

Don’t Be Bothered By Pests And Bugs

Although people have differing opinions on pests, at home a greener garden is always a healthier garden. Harsh pest control products can hurt wildlife and pollute groundwater.

You may be solving one problem, but using chemical pesticides contributes to another. There are many ways keep pests under control without chemical products.

With so many easy to make homemade pesticides to discover, gardeners can ditch the chemical alternative without sacrificing quality. There are also plants such as marigolds that can be incorporated into your garden that deter pests.

A garden is a labor of love that creates a welcoming outdoor space that your family can enjoy. Call your local real estate professional for more information on creating or finding your perfect home garden.

Six Easy Ways To Protect Your Home Against Burglars And Thieves

Six Easy Ways to Protect Your Home Against Burglars and ThievesBurglaries are a concern for many North Americans. Although some communities report more break ins than others, everyone should be aware of their home’s safety and security. Protecting yourself and your home from thieves can contribute to a better quality of life.

Know And Connect With Your Neighbors

There is much to be said about knowing your neighbors. By establishing connections with the residents around you, you’ll be better equipped to spot suspicious people. When neighbors look out for other members the community, they give thieves less opportunity to case homes unnoticed.

You may consider getting your neighbors together to exchange contact information, or even form a community watch program.

Protect Your Privacy By Locking Up

Thieves often gain entry to homes through an unlocked door or garage. Make sure that when you leave your home you lock up behind you. Give yourself an extra moment or two to walk through the house and make sure that everything is properly shut and locked.

You may also consider reinforcing ground level windows and doors with additional safety locks. Wrought iron bars can mean better security for ground level windows out of street view, as they are popular targets for burglars and thieves.

Always Know Who’s Knocking

Installing a peephole on the front door works wonders for a person’s peace of mind. It’s important to know who is at your doorstep so you don’t open your door to an intruder. Burglars have been known to knock on a target’s door to see if they’re home. This also gives thieves important information, such as whether you have pets, deadbolts or security systems.

Be wary of suspicious visitors that come knocking at your door, and write down their description in case you end up needing it later.

Security Systems To Protect Your Home

Monitored security systems are a great way to feel good about your home security. There are many products available at a variety of different price points. These systems are easily installed by a professional, and are monitored by a security company. The monthly cost of the service will be offset by savings on your home insurance, and is well worth the protection the systems provide.

Stop Break Ins While You’re On Vacation

If you’re planning on going out of town, keep your plans on a need to know basis. Don’t let people know you’re away on your answering machine greeting or with auto respond email. These may be suitable for the workplace, but they are not safe for your personal messaging systems.

Have a neighbor gather your mail and take out your garbage to keep your home looking lived in while you’re away. You may also consider lighting and electronic timers to give the illusion that someone is home.

Spare Yourself From Burglaries

Spare keys can save the day, but can also tempt thieves. If you have a spare key hidden, make sure it’s hidden well in the back of the house. If you do use it, don’t return it to its hiding spot right away, and change its place from time to time. A better idea may be to leave a spare key with a neighbor or with a friend.

Security is an important component to a good quality of life. By taking simple steps to improve the security of your home, you can feel safe knowing that your house is protected from thieves.

Call your trusted local real estate agent to learn more about home security, or to find the safest neighborhoods in your area.

How To Build The Ultimate Tree House For Your Children In Just Seven Steps

How to Build the Ultimate Tree House for Your Children in Just Seven StepsBuilding a tree house is a time honored tradition for many families. One of the benefits of having a yard is the ability to build a tree fort for your children.

If you’re planning to build a fun fort for your kids, here are seven steps to help you create the ultimate tree house.

The Ultimate Plan For The Perfect Playhouse

The best projects are often the most thought out. Sit down with your children and lay the plans for their tree house. Let them contribute their thoughts and ideas so they feel a part of the planning process.

Although you won’t need an engineering degree to build a quality tree fort, it’s important to calculate all the measurements and specifications of the build.

A Solid Foundation For Your Tree House

Prepare the location for your future tree house by trimming away any precarious branches or boughs on the tree you plan to build on. Ensure that your tree house will be well supported, and reinforce any questionable spots.

If your tree fort is being built from the ground up, make sure you’re working with a level foundation.

Have The Right Tools For The Job

Make sure you have all the tools you’ll need to construct your tree house. Power tools and construction equipment can be borrowed from friends and neighbors or rented from your local hardware store.

When the time comes to gather your building supplies, be creative and consider re-purposed supplies. These materials are less expensive and add character and charm. You can find recycled and salvaged items at various recycled construction supply companies and through online classifieds like Craigslist.

Construct Your Tree House With Confidence

When you’re constructing your tree house, make sure it’s structurally sound. Watch tutorials online – you’d be amazed at the things you can learn from watching YouTube videos!

Make sure to measure twice and cut once. Using the proper cutting tool for each cut will help you achieve cleaner, more precise cuts. Also make sure to obtain any permits that may be required for the project.

A Personalized Theme Encourages Creativity

Choose a theme that relates to your child. If they love fairies, use that as the inspiration for your design. Pirate forts and superhero lairs are perfect places to spark imaginative play and creativity.

Incorporate cannons, cupboards and ropes with pulleys to create a unique and fun space for your children to play.

A Colorful Paint Job Brightens The House

When the walls are up and the building is done, it will be time to choose paint colors. Bright colors are a great way to brighten and liven up an outdoor space.

You could even consider creating a mural. Choose something in fitting with the theme. This is something that you and your child can do together, or that you can do on your own as an added surprise.

Perfecting Your Child’s Play Space

Once your tree house is built, it’s time to get it ready for play. Decorate the space with fun decor, and functional items. Throw pillows and rugs can add color and personality to a child’s play space. Window coverings can be made from scrap fabric or flat bed sheets.

Creating a tree fort for your child is a memorable experience and a labor or love. A unique space that sparks imagination and nurtures creativity is a wonderful gift to give a child.

Call your trusted local real estate agent today to find the perfect yard for your ultimate tree house.

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Weekly Mortgage Rates From JP Morgan Chase Bank

Mortgage Rates for properties in Texas are 0.125% lower Mortgage Rates for purchases are 0.125% lower Mortgage Rates reflect 0 points*, a 60-day lock period and a 0.125% reduction with direct deposit from a J.P. Morgan Checking Account