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.

Five Absolute Truths About the Home Buying Process That You Will Need to Come to Terms With

Five Absolute Truths About the Home Buying Process That You Will Need to Come to Terms WithBuying a home is one of the most exciting times that an individual will undertake in life. However, a property purchase is not without its challenges, and these can cause frustration. In this article we’ll share five potential setbacks that home buyers will need to understand and come to terms with to make a successful purchase.

Homeowner’s Insurance is Necessary

Most lenders will require insurance before financing is approved. To fulfill these requirements, the policy should be for at least one year and proof that the policy has been paid for must be presented. Purchasing the policy is something that must be done before closing can take place, so if you’re sure that this is the home for you, don’t delay.

Some Sellers Are Firm, No Matter What

In an ideal situation, the buyer and the seller come to a mutual agreement very easily. However, in most cases negotiation of some type is likely to be a part of the process. As with most negotiations, to reach success both sides will need to compromise.

Probate Properties Have Special Terms

When the original homeowner has died, there are certain considerations to keep in mind that do not typically apply to other types of property. One is the fact that there is a special process that must be completed before the property can be sold, even though the heirs may advertise the property as being for sale ahead of time. Another factor to keep in mind is that a recently probated property may have been uninhabited for some time and will be sold ‘as is’.

Loan Offers May Not Be Set in Stone

A common pitfall for many buyers is the assumption that home financing will be approved without issue. Unexpected circumstances may arise that cause a mortgage loan to be denied, which can cause an unprepared buyer numerous issues. Many sellers, in anticipation of such problems, have a contingency requirement.

Expect Caution from Sellers

If a seller treats your offer with caution or trepidation, don’t take it personally. Many homeowners have been burned during previous sales, and you have no idea what the seller has been through with potential buyers this time around. If someone is exercising caution, there’s likely a good reason for it.

In closing, remember that the best way to purchase a home is through a real estate agent. When you’re ready to jump into the property market, contact a trusted local agent and they’ll be ready to assist.

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.

How To Attract High-End Buyers For Your Home For Sale

How To Attract High End Buyers For Your Home For SaleThere’s at least one good thing about the drop in the dollar and it’s boosting the real estate market. Many high-end Europeans are now looking toward the U.S. for a vacation home or permanent residence, and that could mean big hope for your home for sale. However, this also means a different way of selling.

Stage A Benefit

No open house for high-end buyers. Host an event instead – maybe even a benefit dinner for a worthy charity. Let people come and view the property, but give them an avenue to mix and mingle as well. In addition, they get to see how the house handles a bunch of guests.

Showcase A Chef

If you have a gourmet kitchen (or two), check with chefs that would like to showcase their cooking abilities. This creates an entire “house-buying” experience for your guests. Again, they see what the featured kitchen can handle as well as being able to enjoy the culinary arts of a professional chef.

Host A Private Tour

If your home has beautiful gardens and a large landscape, add a private concert or tour of the gardens. A wine cellar and large sitting rooms can turn the event into a stylish wine tasting event.

The biggest trick in attracting high-end buyers is showing off the house’s best features. If the event is hosted at night, you can show how attractive the home is with an overall “candlelight” appearance. You might even go so far as to set the time for when the sky is at it’s best and frames the home just right.

First impressions are everything, so pull out all the stops. Don’t let any great feature go undiscovered, from indoor swimming pools to music rooms and manly dens. Let your home shine!

4 Tips To Lower Homeowners Insurance For Your Home

4 Tips To Lower Homeowners Insurance For Your HomeWith the prices for everything skyrocketing these days, every penny counts. This includes your homeowner’s insurance costs. If you’re thinking of buying a home and need homeowner’s insurance, here are a few tips on getting quality insurance for a fair price:

Tip #1: Shop Around

Ask family and friends about their homeowner’s insurance. Check the Yellow Pages, the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) and the state insurance department. 

Other places to shop for insurance include consumer guides, insurance agents and online insurance quote services. Don’t just look for lower prices, however. You need a fair price for the services you need.

Tip #2: Raise Your Deductible

The deductible is how much you have to pay before the insurance company starts to pay a claim on your home. The higher the deductible, the lower the premiums. If you live in a disaster-prone area, your policy may have a separate deductible for specific types of damages. 

Make sure, when reading the policy, you carefully go over damage-specific information.

Tip #3: Use The Same Insurer

Some companies will take five to fifteen percent off your premium if you buy more than one policy from them. If the insurer offers homeowner’s, auto and liability coverage, you stand a chance of having a lower premium than if they only offer one or the other. 

The key is to make sure that the combined price is lower than the price would be if you had purchased them separately.

Tip #4: Improve Home Security

By installing a sophisticated fire sprinkler system and a fire/burglar alarm that rings the monitoring stations, some companies will cut your premium as much as fifteen or twenty percent. 

For a smoke detector, burglar alarm or deadbolt locks, you can usually get at least a five percent discount. Check with your insurer to make sure that the system you’re installing will lower your premiums, though; the systems aren’t cheap and not all of them qualify for a discount.

Read everything carefully before you sign, to make sure the policy covers your insurance needs without adding on hidden fees. Even a little money saved can go a long way toward making it easier to live within your budget. 

Ready to buy a home? Let me help you find the perfect home and get it at the best terms and price. Call or email your trusted real estate professional.

Three Easy Ways to Make Your Home More Inviting

Three Easy Ways to Make Your Home More InvitingMany home owners putting up their home for sale on the market don’t have a lot of available cash to spruce it up. While staging houses is a definite plus, it can cost a fair amount of money, as do many of the other suggested “to-dos.” Here are a few inexpensive and easy ways to make your home look more inviting to buyers.

Put Up Your Personal Stuff

Not every buyer looking at a home for sale appreciates the fact that someone still lives there. Putting away the your personal things can help the buyers’ see themselves in the home.

You will want to put your pet’s things (toys, litter box, bowls) away and out of sight. The same goes for your medications, toothbrushes and toilet accessories.

Clean up your kids’ rooms and put away any toys around the house. Minimize or put away knick-knacks and personal pictures. Remember that you want the buyer to imagine themselves in the home.

Create More Space

Small, closed-in spaces are major turnoffs for buyers. Create the illusion of more space by putting up out-of-season clothes or clothes you don’t wear very often to make your closets look bigger. A good way to make your bedrooms look bigger is by taking one piece of furniture out of each bedroom.

Packing up the small appliances in your kitchen is a great way to make your countertops seem larger. You can also take out all but four chairs in your dining room, as well as extra table leaves to give that illusion of space.

Touch On The Trends

Chances are that some of the buyers are paying attention to celebrity trends. Feng shui is a big one, and you can do your part with just a few touches like adding a fresh bowl of fruit to the kitchen. Put a comfortable couch or chair on the east side of your living room or den. Place a green welcome mat on your porch to symbolize opportunity. Go through your house and get rid of reds.

Whether you see or feel a difference doesn’t matter. Keep in mind that you’re trying to appeal to potential buyers of your home, not make the home more livable for you. If it helps, pretend that you’re the buyer, seeing the house for the first time.

If you’re trying to get your home ready to sell, I can help. Get in touch with me for more information.

3 Signs It’s Time To Lower The Price On Your Real Estate

3 Signs It’s Time To Lower The Price On Your Real EstateSelling your home or property in a slow real estate market isn’t easy, but it can be done. Pricing your property right is the key to selling it within a reasonable amount of time.

Sometimes this means lowering your price while it’s on the market. Of course, you want to get as much money as possible, so how do you know when it’s time to lower your asking price?

No One Is Looking At Your Home

If you expect your home to sell, you need to have people look inside it. Most buyers search for homes within a certain price range. If you aren’t getting any showings, chances are it’s because your home is overpriced compared to other homes in the area. In this case, you may need to lower your price so buyers will look at your home.

Comparable Homes Are Selling For Less

Your home will sell for whatever a buyer is willing to pay for it. If the homes around you are selling for less than your asking price, it may be time to lower it. No one is going to pay more for your home when they can get the same thing for less.

Pay attention to what homes are selling for in your community and adjust your price accordingly.

You Are Getting A Lot Of Negative Feedback

Buyers are a great source of information about other homes in your price range. After all, they’re spending their free time looking at countless homes similar to yours.

Your real estate agent can find out exactly what buyers think of your home. Perhaps homes comparable to yours have updated kitchens or more attractive landscaping. With this knowledge, you can choose to either remodel or lower your price.

Call or email me if you have any questions. I can help you sell your home or property in any real estate market.

Here’s How You Can Leverage Your Home To Reduce Your Tax Burden For Next Year

It's Tax Time - Here's How You Can Leverage Your Home to Reduce Your Tax BurdenEach year around April, we can find ourselves becoming a little more tense at the thought of what is about to occur: tax time.

Instead of falling into the trap of procrastinating your taxes, however, it’s much more beneficial to face tax time head-on and do your research on your applicable deductions well in advance.

Your home is good for many things, but using your home to reduce your tax burden may be one benefit you haven’t thought of.

Here are some tax benefits that can be leveraged with your home, and some ways to lower your tax bill in 2014.

Deduct Interest On Home Loans

Though interest paid on personal loans isn’t deductible on your tax return, interest paid on mortgages is.

Home mortgage interest, for both your primary residence and a second home such as an investment property, can account for a large bill near the end of the year, and can significantly decrease your tax bill for 2014.

Interest paid on a line of credit for your home or a home equity loan is also usually deductible, and you may also qualify to deduct the insurance premiums on your private mortgage if this was a requirement from your lender. Ensure you keep your Form 1098 from you lender, and be sure not to miss each of your interest deductions.

Deducting Points Paid For A Better Rate

If you paid points in order to get a better interest rate on your home mortgage, the IRS will allow you to deduct these, too. If you meet the requirements for this deduction, one of which is that you paid the points in the same year that you purchased your primary residence, be sure to add the points to your list of deductions.

Deduct Property Taxes

Property taxes are also deductible on your tax return, and since they make up a significant portion of your home expenses each year, they certainly shouldn’t be excluded from your list of deductions in 2014.

As an annual deduction for the entire period you own your home, ensure you don’t forget about your first year in your home. If you’ve just purchased your home, the property taxes would have been split between the seller, the previous homeowner, and you, the buyer, at the time of the property transfer. Your portion of your first year’s property taxes for the home is also fully deductible.

Tax-Free Sales Gain

If you’ve owned and lived in your home for a minimum of two years and are ready to sell, you likely qualify for up to $250,000 dollars of tax-free profit, or up to $500,000 for married couples.

If the sale falls short of the two year mark, the IRS provides some tax relief if the sale is due to a list of unforeseen circumstances, such as changes in employment or health. Be sure to see where you qualify, and leverage the sale of your home for tax-free sales gain.

Having the ability to leverage your home in order to lower your tax burden is, of course, another benefit of being a homeowner. Often, reaping the full benefits of tax deductions is a simple matter of doing your research or speaking with a professional to get the information applicable to you.

3 DIY Kitchen Upgrades That Will Boost Your Home Selling Price With Just A Few Hours Work

3 DIY Kitchen Upgrades That Will Boost Your Home Selling Price With Just a Few Hours WorkHomeowners who want to increase the appeal of their residence before putting it up for sale can, within a few hours and with a little elbow grease, perform some do-it-yourself (DIY) kitchen upgrades that are sure to pique the interest of would-be buyers.

Many people either have or are in the process of listing their home, so it makes sense to do as much as possible to attract the interest of prospective purchasers.

It need not cost a proverbial arm and a leg to boost the selling price of a home. Here are three DIY kitchen upgrades that will help homeowners gain a competitive advantage in the real estate market and get attractive offers for their residence.

On-The-Cheap Cabinet Upgrades

For a DIY upgrade project that won’t cost much money and won’t take much time, homeowners should consider revamping their cabinetry, as long as the cabinets are structurally sound. After cleaning them and, if necessary, sanding down any rough spots, homeowners can apply a coat or two of paint and, after the paint dries, install new knobs or handles to finish off the project.

The end result will be a totally transformed kitchen that likely won’t require more than a can of paint, sandpaper, some cleaner and some knobs or handles.

Upgrade Your Countertops

It’s amazing how much of a difference an upgraded countertop can make to the overall look of a kitchen. Homeowners who believe that a new countertop would definitely transform their kitchen have a number of options at their disposal such as buying a new one, tiling over the existing one or repainting the existing one.

Often the easiest of the three options is repainting, since this simply involves sanding the surface, priming it, applying the paint and then applying numerous coats of polyurethane to safeguard the finish.

Transform Your Kitchen Backsplash

While a nice-looking kitchen backsplash can be a plus for would-be home buyers, the fact of the matter is that an ugly backsplash will definitely turn off prospective purchasers.

A cheap and relatively quick way to give a backsplash a new lease on life is to use so-called tile decals that, because of the adhesive they contain, can be pasted over top of existing backsplash tiles. There many different options in terms of styles, colors and concepts, so homeowners will be able to find the perfect option to make their backsplash look as good as new.

Preparing to list a home and get acceptable offers involves ensuring that your home will stack up nicely compared to other homes up for sale in the area. As it turns out, doing some quick and relatively simple kitchen upgrades will help to attract prospective buyers. Tips for performing any of these DIY upgrades can be found either at neighborhood big-box stores or online.

For more information on the real estate market or to get more information on any related topics, call your trusted real estate professional today for a no-obligation consultation.

What’s In A Color? Six Paint Colors That Will Affect Your Mood

What’s in a Color? Six Paint Colors That Will Affect Your MoodBelieve it or not, paint colors can affect your mood. When remodeling your home, the color you use on the walls can end up being just as critical to the thematic consistency of your home as the furniture you use to decorate it.

Before you slap any old color on the walls, take some time to consider what mood you’d like each room to inspire.

Red, Yellow And Orange: The Colors Of Excitement, Hunger And Happiness

Ever wonder why the dining rooms, kitchens and entertainment rooms you see in magazines always seem come in every shade of red? It’s because these rooms are dedicated to eating and leisure time. Shades of red, especially bright, vibrant reds, have been linked to increased appetite and increases in energy levels.

In a similar vein, we have shades of yellow. Typically, yellow hues have been known to encourage feelings of happiness and joy.

That said, it’s a good idea to steer clear of especially bright shades of yellow that can be harder on the eyes, as they can foster feelings of frustration and an inability to concentrate.

Orange, like red, provides a great way to bring up energy levels, but like yellow, is prone to cause irritation when used excessively. People are more likely to be excitable and show more enthusiasm in rooms that incorporate this color. In order to reap the benefits of orange without causing irritation, restrict your use of it to the odd wall here and there.

Blue, Green And Purple: The Colors Of Restfulness, Peace And Serenity

It’s no surprise that blue is the color of calm and relaxation. For bedrooms and bathrooms, blue hues are ideal for inspiring restfulness; however, this color’s calming influence makes it a poor paint color choice for high traffic areas where high energy levels are necessary. 

Occasionally, overusing this color – especially in darker shades – can bring moods down beyond calmness and into sadness and depression.

Green is yet another color that inspires peace and restfulness. The advantage of green is that the serenity it brings on is accompanied by feelings of rejuvenation and replenishment. Think of green spaces as places where you can gather yourself and quietly rebuild your energy levels.

Purple is often associated with lavishness and luxury in deep, rich hues that spark creative thinking. In lighter shades, it has the same calming influence of blue but, thanks to its red undertones, none of the sadness that blue can often have.

Making The Most of These Colors: A Little Goes A Long Way

It’s unlikely that you will be painting any of the rooms in your house in a single shade of any of these colors. Experiment with different shades and work with colors that inspire similar emotions to break up the visual impression of the room.

You can use neutral paint colors like brown, black and white to bring depth to room, or to suppress the harsh tones of brighter colors like yellow and orange.

Psychologists have long known that colors affect mood, and in recent years, the interior design world has caught on as well. Now that you understand how paint colors can alter your mood, it’s important to paint your walls wisely.

To learn more about home care and prepping your home for sale, call your trusted real estate professional today!