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Jesse E. Maldonado, Realtor, CME

Jem Realty Group (201) 857-7536

Jesse E. Maldonado, Realtor, CME

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Look at Your Home Through a Buyer’s Eyes: Making Your To-Do List

(Published on - 4/16/2018 2:15:55 PM)

Selling your home is one of the most tricky parts of owning a home, really. There are always little projects that you meant to get to and didn’t, and things that probably weren’t perfect, but didn’t bother you enough to fix. You can’t possibly do everything to make your house like new before putting it on the market, but there’s a minimum level that most buyers will expect.

How many of those things left on your “to do” list absolutely need to become “to dones?”

 

Getting Ready to Sell that Home Sweet Home

Before you get too serious about selling, it’s a good idea to have your Realtor over for a quick walkthrough. They can give you a punch list of items they think should be updated, fixed or addressed in some other way before you sell your home. You never know when the right buyer will walk through the door, your house needs to be ready to go from the moment you put it on the market. Putting your best foot forward is key to sales success.

That doesn’t mean you need to completely gut and remodel your home, but you should make sure everything is in proper working order and ready for a new occupant. That can be a lot to wrap your head around, though. If you get overwhelmed, start with the list below.

Entry / Living Room

For most homes, the living room and foyer are a combo unit, but if yours are separate understand that this same advice applies to both. The moment that door opens, and even before it does, your potential buyers are forming an opinion of your home. What the open door reveals had better pack a punch (or at least not terrify them).

Make sure that the windows are very clean to let in as much light as possible, that all your light bulbs are in good working order, the flooring is clean and in good shape, any tile grout is intact and the walls are flawless. A neutral color is always a good idea, but white is kind of a turn-off for a lot of buyers. Blues, light grays, beige and creams are all good choices for paint colors.

Dining Room

Your dining room should follow the same advice as your living room, with one exception. Since there’s probably some amount of eating that happens in this part of the house, you’ll want to check the flooring to ensure there’s no staining or spots under the table.

This is a particular problem if there’s carpet. Do not attempt to cover spots with a rug, this could be considered a “hidden, latent defect.” Basically, it means that you’re hiding damage from a potential buyer. That’s a big fat no go.

Instead, call a professional carpet cleaner or just own it and try not to panic if the buyer asks for the carpet to be replaced or cleaned before closing.

Kitchen

The list of things in your kitchen can be long, but we’ll try to make it reasonable. Check all the items on this list, one at a time:

Appliances that stay with the home
• Are they fully functional?
• Do they have an attractive appearance?
• Do they match one another?
• Are they clean?

Kitchen sink area:
• Is the sink free of damage?
• Does it drain well?
• Does the disposal work?
• Does the sprayer work?
• Is the faucet leaking?

Counters, backsplash and cabinets:
• Do the counters have worn or burned spots?
• Are there grouted areas that are needing regrouted?
• Do the cabinet doors open and close properly?
• Is there water damage anywhere?
• Is everything clean and not tacky to touch?
• Do the cabinets have worn finish?

Bedrooms

Bedrooms are by far the hardest, especially if you have kids. If you’re going to have to live in the house until you find a buyer, invest in some storage systems — they’ll pay off in the long run. Organize everything as best you can to give the rooms the appearance of more space, clean the windows, install the lightbulbs, clean the carpets and instruct everyone to keep it tidy. If anything can be moved out to a storage unit, do it.

Bathrooms

Bathrooms are much like kitchens, they have a lot of wet, moving parts. That being said, they also have basically the same punch list. The only addition would be the shower or tub units. Check the faucets and showerheads for leakage and make sure there’s no mold on your tub or shower surrounds. Clean that stuff within an inch of its life and if you can’t get rid of the stains, recaulk. It’s an easy way to make that tub or shower look like you’ve never even used it.

Garage

There’s not a lot to do in the garage, but do make sure your door opener is functioning properly, that the wheels on the door are lubricated if it’s making a terrible sound when you open it or close it and that you’ve tidied the things inside as best as you can. If you don’t really use your garage, you can dress it up a lot by applying an epoxy coating to the floor. The DIY kits run around $100 and, although they don’t add any value to your home, they’re far more impressive than an old, stained concrete floor.

General Indoors

Overall, it’ll help a lot if you run around your house and make sure that all your lightbulbs are fresh, all the windows are cleaned, you remember to leave the blinds open during the day and that the paint makes each room feel bigger. The key is to bring in more light and then use lighter colors to keep it bouncing around the room. A new coat of white ceiling paint won’t hurt your efforts, either.

Paint is great for a lot of reasons. It can seal in smells you might have never noticed, as well as giving the house the scent of fresh construction. That smell paints a picture for a buyer that says this house has been taken care of and they can trust that it’s in great shape!

General Outdoors

When it comes to the great outdoors, keep your lawn mowed, trim your hedges, clean up any projects that you started and never finished. Landscapers, trash haulers and metal scrappers can help a lot with these tasks. You’ll also want to check out your roof and gutters to make sure they’re in good shape because your potential buyers will be doing the same thing.

The first thing a buyer sees is the view from the street, make sure you run out there during the outdoor prep work to check your look. When you start to wonder if you should actually sell this amazing house at all, you’ve probably got the curb appeal knocked out.

 

When You Can’t Get It All Done

You don’t have an unlimited timeline, that’s completely understandable, but your home should be ready to sell if you want to get top dollar. If you can’t do the work, just call on someone who can. If you need, we have a list of professionals who can do specific tasks like cleaning your carpets or help with more general things on your list, like ensuring the whole kitchen is in ready-to-show condition.

 

 

  Looking To Buy Or Sell?  Get Hold Of a JEM Today!


Your Home Buying Score Card: Find Out What You Really Want

(Published on - 3/26/2018 4:00:47 PM)

Buying a house is a confusing process. Not only is there a lot of material to process, you really have to do a lot of introspection to find the house that’s right for you and your family. It’s about more than just ceiling treatments and square footage, there’s something else, too.

Irish poet Thomas Moore may have captured that little bit of something else best when he penned these lines:

Sometimes, the spirit of a place is so strong, you may think you see its face and glimpse it gamboling over a field or peeking out of a forest. This spirit we sense in each locality would once have been described as the scintilla or spark of its soul, the pearl in the oyster. It accounts for the magic of a region, and, without it, an acute sense of place dissipates into a vague and lazy feeling of nowhere.

Maybe you’ve not started your home search yet, so you’ve yet to experience this strange phenomenon, or maybe you’ve just seen a few homes and they just didn’t strike you. Either way, it’s important to take stock of what it is that really moves you so that you can narrow your list of prospective homes and get the perfect fit sooner rather than later.

 

Home Is Where the Investment Is?

Home buyers should never think of their primary home as an investment first, but you should keep in mind that you might need to sell one day. Because of that, you need to think a little bit like an investor and a little bit like a love-struck teenager. It’s ok to be both. Before you step foot into a single house, figure out where you need to buy.

If you live in a large metro area, this may mean narrowing to within a few suburbs or choosing some urban neighborhoods that you really feel drawn to (and are holding their value). Some people go one step further and narrow by schools, especially if they have children. Even people without kids can benefit from the extra value good schools bring to the immediate neighborhoods surrounding them, though.

Now that you’ve narrowed the initial list, you can create a checklist to help you decide what it is that you want in a house so you don’t waste time with homes where you’ll never feel the spirit of the place.

 

Your Home Buying Scorecard

This exercise is meant to help focus your home search, but you should also realize that it’s highly unlikely you’ll be able to get everything you want out of one house without an incredible budget or very low standards. To the scorecard!

When shopping for a home, it’s useful to start your search online for houses in your price range to see what sort of features they usually have. For example, if a $250k house in your area tends to have a fireplace or a ceiling treatment or a two car garage, you know you can reasonably expect that. You’ll probably also realize about 20 houses in that your expectation of acreage or a private movie theater is a little out of reach.

Grab your tablet or a piece of paper (if you’re into that sort of thing) and draw four columns. Label them like this: Definitely Need, Want, Can Live Without and Definitely Don’t Want. If you have a spouse or other person you’re buying with, make sure they make their own scorecard — no sharing answers, please.

Now for the really hard part. You need to fill those columns in.

This isn’t an exercise that you should finish in five minutes or ten minutes. You should spend a good week or two really working on it. Think deeply and about the long term. A few questions you may want to ask yourself include:

* Do I intend to age in place? In this case, you might want to put stairs in your “don’t want” column, since it can be difficult to navigate them as you age.
* Am I planning to start a family? You’ll want a bigger house, make sure there are enough bedrooms for all your future kids.
* Is there a style of house I’m attracted to? Open floor plans are big right now, but they’re not for everybody. If you hate them, write it down!
* Would I use a fireplace if I had one? Fireplaces can be nice, but they can also be huge pains to maintain and keep safe. If you won’t be using it, you might as well not pay extra for a house that features one.
* Do I plan to have pets? Hard surfaces are a must for pet owners. Carpet is cleanable, but it will never hold up like a tile, hardwood or laminate floor when pets are involved.
* How close can I tolerate my neighbors? For many people, it’s no big deal to be piled on top of the next house, but for others it gets downright uncomfortable. If you need room to roam, a cul-de-sac lot or other irregularly shaped lot may give you some elbow room without the added expense and upkeep of buying an acreage.

As you start to take inventory of your actual wants and needs, you’ll also be eliminating huge swaths of houses in single blows. This makes your home search a lot easier, believe it or not. Don’t narrow so much that only that house at 123 Marigold Lane will do, but do spend some time really thinking about your perfect home.

When your scorecard feels pretty complete, make sure to compare notes with your spouse (wait until they’re done, of course). You may have some compromising to do, especially if you’re dead set on a house with a pool and they want a small yard with nothing in it. With all of the details decided, you can finally call your us and declare that you know what you want! 

 

Your Next Stop: Home Inspections and Home Repairs

Once you have that one house chosen, the one where you feel the spirit of the place tugging at your sleeve, you’ll need a good home inspector and someone to make whatever minor repairs they recommend. No worries, just ask us and check out the home pros that we can recommended.

 

 

  Looking To Buy Or Sell?  Get Hold Of a JEM Today!


It Was a Dark and Stormy Night, Now You Need Emergency Repair Cash

(Published on - 3/18/2018 1:57:37 AM)

It was a dark and stormy night. The lights flickered once, twice and then BOOM! Everything went dark. As it turns out, it’s because a tree fell on your house and pulled down the weatherhead and, accordingly, the main power feed to your home.

That’s gonna hurt, right in the pocketbook. Although your insurance will almost certainly cover some of the cost, you’re still going to have to come up with the deductible and other related expenses (like meals) until it’s sorted. How’s that rainy day fund?

If it’s not awesome, you’re not alone. According to the Federal Reserve’s most recent “Report on the Economic Well-Being of US Households,” 44 percent of Americans can’t cover a $400 emergency without borrowing from elsewhere. While that’s a serious problem for the economy, we’re talking about you right now. One problem at a time.

 

Show Me The Money! Sources to Check for Emergency Funds

You’ve exhausted your couch cushions, checked all the pay phones for quarters (what’s a pay phone? Nevermind!), done some odd jobs for the neighbors and you’re still nowhere near having the cash to fix the gaping non-electrified hole in your life. This is getting unbearable and your boss is about to send you outside to give you a garden hose shower.

Something has to be done! But what? You can’t get blood from a stone, as they say. But sometimes you can get money from, you know, people. As it turns out, there are procedures in place for loans and grants that can help you rebuild and save you from the cold, icy experience of being sprayed down like livestock.

Loans are the Most Likely Source of Funding

Look, this isn’t going to be pretty, but it will get you by. You’re probably going to have to borrow from someone, somewhere. There are several different sources that will provide you with funds to help with problems like major home repairs, these are listed below in order from overall best option to the least. But even the least among these options is better than nothing.

Home equity loans. There are two types of home equity loans available, the original home equity loan and a loan that’s more like a credit line, called a HELOC. Both have fairly good interest rates as of the writing of this blog, assuming you have decent credit, and can be secured pretty easily. The one caveat is that you generally can’t tap more than 80 percent of your home’s total equity, so if your mortgage is already taking up 75 percent of that, you may not have enough equity left to fix the weatherhead. Your home will act as security for the home equity loan, just like with your mortgage, so make sure you can cover it every month.

If you can get a home equity loan of either type, they’ll have the longest terms and thus the smallest payments. As long as yours doesn’t have a prepayment penalty, you can always pay extra, but you’ll never be in a position where you’re scrambling to find the money to make a stretch payment. Talk to your credit union or the bank where you have your checking account or mortgage to get started with one of these loans.

Personal loans. Personal loans can be difficult to qualify for because there’s not generally any security involved, but if you can get one, they’ll do in a pinch. Since there isn’t any collateral, they process much faster than a home equity loan, getting that power turned back on faster. The downside is that you’re likely going to be paying a much higher rate than you would with a secured form of credit and the term will be much shorter, but you also don’t risk losing your home if you miss a payment.

401(k) loan. Oh ye of little faith, you thought that 401(k) was never going to do anything for you, didn’t you? Today it’s going to prove you wrong. Depending on how much of your funds are vested and how your specific 401(k) is set up, you can likely either take a loan out against your retirement fund or take a tax-free withdrawal based on a hardship exemption (consult with your financial advisor first).

Now, keep in mind that doing this means that you’re literally stealing from your future in order to have cold beer in the fridge. But, sometimes you have to do what you have to do. Make it up later by increasing your contribution by a percent or two, then maybe you won’t be sitting around eating pork and beans from a can when you’re in your 70s while reminding yourself that it was really important that you caught “American Idol” the week after the big storm.

Borrowing from family. Hey, don’t skip this one. Read all the way through. It’s no fun to ask family for money, but sometimes, you’re caught between a rock and hard spot. Or your bacon pops out of the frying pan into the fire. Or something. When things are rough, sometimes you have to go back to your people and grovel. You can probably think of a long list of cons for this one, but the pros include having someone who probably won’t foreclose and also your family member gets some interest, so that’s nice for them.

If you do borrow from family or friends who are like family, make sure to draw up a formal loan agreement. You can find something pretty basic online, you just need to make sure it includes the payment amount, the payment due date, the number of payments, the interest rate and the total amount borrowed so that everyone’s covered. Even though your parents would never sue you for the amount due, that loan’s a little more real when the pen goes to paper.

What About Free Grant Money That’s Free?

There are some grant programs out there, but they are very few and far between. Primarily, they go to people who are elderly, very impoverished and live in rural areas, but if there’s a grant program in your area, apply. It can’t hurt anything.

The biggest downside to grant money for a repair like yours is that they’re rarely in any hurry to get things done. Grants can be achingly slow, even if you’re approved right away. You probably can’t afford that kind of time investment. Just because it’s free doesn’t mean it’s not going to cost you a fortune.

One Last Stab: Service Provider Credit

Contractors across the country are stepping up their games and partnering with financial institutions to be able to offer you credit programs to help pay for those big and unexpected expenses. Just like doctors and veterinarians have teamed with Care Credit, there are specific partners for roofers, electricians and their kin. Not every contractor is taking advantage of these programs, nor does every construction expert have the staff or interest to even look into them, but it’s worth asking about.

A simple, “Hey, do you have any sort of credit program available?” can help you determine if you have to start selling excess organs on the black market to get the lights turned back on (don’t actually do that #NotADoctor). You might try calling a few different providers to see if you can find someone with a lender in place if you’re kind of out of options. You will very likely pay more for the service itself, since a contractor at that level will have more staff to pay, more overhead to cover and so forth, but it’s a trade-off. You pay for the additional customer support and you get back to life as you knew it before that dark and stormy night.

 

Looking for a Lender or an Electrician?

Whether you need a lender or an electrician, it’s easy to find the right person to help right away in the HomeKeepr community. Just log in, search for your specific need and you’ll be served up a list of members who have been specifically recommended by your Realtor. You know they’ve got to be good if your agent was willing to stand behind them, so there’s nothing to worry about — you’ll be back to normal in no time!

 

  Looking To Buy Or Sell?  Get Hold Of a JEM Today!


New Home, New Floors! Examining Your Options

(Published on - 3/10/2018 1:06:48 AM)

Your new house is pretty awesome, otherwise you would never have considered buying it. But, there are some things about it that are a lot more awesome than others. Take, for example, that kitchen floor. You wouldn’t say it’s ugly, but you’ve seen better design harmony in a restaurant trash bin.

It’s gotta go.

Your bedroom carpet is pretty hairy, too, but your agent assured you that these things are fairly easy to deal with, especially if you have the flooring replaced before you start moving in. And it’s true, replacing flooring is easy. Choosing the new flooring, well, that’s tough.

 

Your Flooring Options: A Journey Underfoot

Whether you’ve owned your house for a day, a year or a decade, picking the flooring you’re going to have to live with for a while can be stressful. There are so many materials available and within those, a huge array of colors and designs. It’s the paradox of choice at work, you have so many options you may literally freeze. That’s why we’re going to break it down for you, in hopes that the overwhelm is minimized when your time comes.

Next time you’re in the mood to look at flooring patterns online or in your home improvement stores, here are some things to consider about the most common flooring options available.

Carpet

The fuzzy stand-by for living areas and bedrooms, wall-to-wall carpet has been a popular flooring choice for a century. The materials may have changed, but the basic configuration is the same. All carpets are just a series of fibers woven onto a flexible grid, topping a uniformly thick padding.

When choosing a carpet, look for one with a face weight of at least 30 ounces. These are just above builder grade and should last six to 12 years. Always choose the best mid-grade carpet you can afford, you can’t go wrong that way. It’s where value and durability meet. Don’t skimp on carpet pad, either. Let the carpet shop match a pad to the carpet you’ve chosen so that you get the most life out of them both.

  • Best places for carpet in your home:
  • – Bedrooms
  • – Living rooms (excluding the traffic zones)
  • – Offices
  • – Formal living rooms
  • – Dens

Tile

Today’s tile comes in a huge range of colors, shapes, sizes and materials, but it all shares one thing in common: it’s nearly indestructible when installed properly and should be considered a permanent decision. It’s not that you can’t untile your entryway, but it’s going to be a difficult job, so take this decision carefully and skip the trendy stuff.

There are several grades of tile, but in general, they’re divided into two camps: wall tile and floor tile. While you can use floor tile on the wall with the right adhesive and a lot of patience, you should never use wall tile on the floor. It’s simply not hard enough and will end up cracking or otherwise failing.

The other major consideration is your floor. Is it a perfectly smooth, flat floor, or does it have some minor bumps and ridges? Even minor settling needs to be kept in mind when you’re choosing a tile size. Small tiles are far more forgiving of uneven floors than huge tiles. When a tile doesn’t make full contact with the mortar bed, it will come loose, then others will follow.

Popping tiles can become a major problem in older homes that are built on crawl spaces or basements, and although there’s a certain amount of compensation offered by cement board, it’s just better to hedge your bets by choosing smaller tiles.

  • Best places for tile in your home:
  • – High traffic areas
  • – Kitchens
  • – Bathrooms
  • – Dining rooms
  • – Mudrooms
  • – Laundry rooms
  • – Sunrooms

Wood

Wood floors are timeless and sturdy, and these days, come in both solid wood and engineered formats. Solid wood floors will give you a floor that’s more or less just like those floors of yesteryear, completely seamless and total class all the way. Many people choose prefinished wood floors to make installation easier, but unfinished wood floors are still available and make a vibrant, albeit expensive, statement.

Engineered wood floors, on the other hand, are made from layers of wood and plywood. They look just like finished solid wood floors, but are not as durable overall. Most people won’t be able to tell the difference, however, and engineered wood floors can perform better than solid wood floors in wet places, so you’ll just have to strike a balance between your needs and the materials that are available.

  • Best places for wood flooring in your home:
  • – Living room
  • – Bedroom
  • – Dining room
  • – Staircases
  • – Entryways
  • – Offices
  • – Kitchens (engineered, with proper precautions)

Laminate

Laminate flooring is a very durable, flexible and affordable hard surface for all sorts of homes and situations. Like engineered wood flooring, it consists of several layers of material, including a clear wear layer, a design layer that can simulate wood, stone and a variety of other patterns, an inner core that provides the majority of the structural stability of the product and a backing layer that helps to protect from warpage.

Unlike a wood floor, laminate floors are installed without glue or nails, which is why some people still refer to them as “floating floors.” They don’t actually float, but walking on one for the first time can be interesting if you’re very sensitive to that sort of thing (many of them are also very slick, just something to keep in mind). Because the material is designed as tongue and groove boards, everything fits tightly as your jigsaw puzzle of a floor is constructed. When it’s done, all that’s required to hold it in place is properly installed trim.

It’s an easy floor. In fact, this is one flooring option you might even want to DIY if you’re the handy type.

  • Best places for laminate flooring in your home:
  • – Living room
  • – Bedrooms
  • – Bathrooms (choose one that’s water resistant)
  • – Kitchen
  • – Foyer
  • – Office
  • – Pretty much anywhere

Vinyl

It wasn’t that long ago that vinyl flooring meant tired patterns on reliable, but boring sheet material that had to be painstakingly glued to the floor. One bubble, one wrong cut, and the whole install might be ruined. Today’s vinyl is anything but fussy, with sturdier and more attractive tiles, planks and glue-free sheet goods. Vinyl is also an affordable solution that can be DIYed fairly easily.

It’s naturally water-resistant, making it a great match for basements and places that get damp. Unlike many other types of non-carpet floorings, however, vinyl can be fairly soft, so if you’re putting it in an area like a dining room, you’ll have to take a lot of care not to gouge it when you’re moving chairs under the table. Overall, vinyl provides a good bang for your buck, and since it’s time-tested, you know exactly what you can expect from it: a long, useful life provided you give it the minimal care it needs.

  • Best places for vinyl flooring in your home:
  • – Kitchen
  • – Laundry room
  • – Basement
  • – Mudroom
  • – Foyer

Time to Get Your Flooring On!

Now that you know what your flooring options are, it’s time to get shopping. Even if you’re not confident in your flooring installation skills, you can still pick out the patterns and materials you want to use in your home. Once you do that, contact the right flooring installer for a floor you’re gonna love for a long, long time.

 

 

  Looking To Buy Or Sell?  Get Hold Of a JEM Today!

 


Bracing for Impact: How Insurance Can Protect Your Home

(Published on - 3/3/2018 5:19:01 PM)

Whether you’re buying a house or even thinking about it, you’re probably hearing a lot about insurance and how you need it. But there are so many kinds and you’re not really even sure which ones do what and if you actually need them all.

Car insurance was a breeze, there’s only the one kind — it’s either going to fix the car you run into or that car and yours, too (basically), but with home-related insurance, there are a lot of strange specialties, and other things that aren’t quite insurance, but act like insurance.

How will you know which you really need to protect your home and which are just a waste of your hard-earned cash? Let us walk you through it.

 

Insurance for Your House and Your Stuff: Homeowner’s Policies 101

If you rented a house before you bought, you may have had a watered-down version of this policy, often called a renter’s policy. These are meant to cover your things, should the house burn down or a tornado carry it off into the sunset. Renter’s policies are relatively inexpensive, running about $15 a month in most areas, so more landlords are making them mandatory parts of rental agreements. You’ll see a few similarities between your renter’s policies of the past and a homeowner’s policy.

A homeowner’s policy is designed to protect you, your family, your dwelling and your personal property from damage, both physical and financial, to some extent. Most policies are essentially the same, containing these components:

Dwelling coverage. Your lender will require that if your property is severely damaged, it’s able to recover the amount of the loan you’ve borrowed. This is what dwelling coverage is for, when it comes down to it. In the case that your house were a total loss, you’d have the option to either rebuild with those insurance funds or give them to the bank and own the lot free and clear (then you could rebuild with cash or sell the lot off).

Oh, but it gets better! Dwelling coverage will also cover major damage to your home, like when a bad wind or hail storm comes through and causes your roof to spring a leak. You will likely have a deductible around $1,000 or higher to deter you from making too many claims, but it is handy to have when big issues crop up.

It’s extremely important to note that while many acts of nature (tornadoes, fires, wind storms, etc.) are covered by your dwelling coverage, most policies specifically exclude floods, earthquakes and sinkholes. Check your policy carefully and ask your agent about additional coverage if you’re in a flood-, quake- or sinkhole-prone area.

Other structure coverage. Other structure coverage does exactly what it says it does: covers other structures. There’s usually a dollar cap, which is a percentage of the value of your home, but it can be applied to major damage to sheds, detached garages, fences, greenhouses and any other permanent structure you have on your property.

Personal property coverage. This is the part of the insurance policy that’s just exactly like renter’s insurance. If your property is damaged during a storm, stolen during a robbery or severely damaged by something out of your control, you can file a claim and possibly have some kind of reimbursement. Replacement cost coverage provides the amount necessary to replace your items, so if this is an option, choose it. Again, though, there is probably not coverage for flooding, earthquakes or sinkholes, so be ready to ask about it.

Personal liability coverage. If the neighbor pops by to bring you a pie and accidentally slips and is injured, you don’t have to worry about how much her hospital bills are going to be. Your insurance will cover it (to a specified amount). The same applies if your tree drops a limb on the neighbor’s roof and they sue you for the costs. Accidents happen, that’s what insurance is for.

Other things that are covered by this part of the policy may include dog bites that occur on your property, if you were honest with the agent and your dog wasn’t on a prohibited dog list (some insurance companies won’t insure homes with “pitbull” type dogs, German shepherd, rottweilers, and others). It’s essentially a general liability policy tied to your home, so if you can imagine an accident stemming from your family, it’ll probably cover it.

Loss of use coverage. Many homeowner policies will also pay for you to live elsewhere while your home is being repaired after major damage. This is the loss of use coverage portion of the policy. It, of course, comes with a cap, so don’t get too cozy at the Ritz. Your dollars — and days — are limited.

Additional Coverage. You can choose from a number of additional coverages, from extra coverage for valuable collectables to coverage for identity fraud, at an additional cost. Most of these extra coverages won’t apply to most buyers, but there’s one that you may want to consider if you’re buying a house with a basement or in an area with a high water table.

That’s the “Water Backup and Sump Pump Discharge or Overflow” coverage. Now, this still won’t cover flooding, but it will cover any water that’s forced back into your house through the sewer system due to excessive ground- or wastewater causing backflow in the sewage system. So, it’s not for flood waters that enter your house the normal way, but if they come in through the sump pump, you’re gold.

If you’re in an area where this is a possibility and the coverage isn’t much extra, definitely get this. The sheer nightmare that is water backup from a basement drain due to oversaturation is unspeakable and the smell unforgettable. You’re going to be happy to leave that one to the pros.

 

Flood Insurance: What’s That All About?

Flood insurance primarily comes up when you’re looking to buy a house sitting on a piece of land that has even a tiny corner poking into a floodplain. The fact that most homeowners don’t know they can buy flood insurance no matter where they live is a serious disservice to all of them, especially considering how many homes have been flooded in recent years without being located in flood plains. The issue usually comes up when your bank requires a flood insurance certification to process your home loan for a house in a flood plain, otherwise, figuring flood insurance out is in your court — and most people would rather skip the additional $600ish dollars a year.

That’s right. For $50 a month, your $250k home can be insured against flood damage. Or thereabouts, the price varies with your risk. Some homes are less, some are a bit more. This is the coverage that fills in the flood gap that your homeowner’s leaves totally open. It only pays on flood damage, and there are plenty of exclusions, including anything located in a basement or other room that’s below the level of the ground, but it’s a lot better than the nothing you’ll have otherwise. Ask your agent about optional flood insurance while you’re discussing homeowner’s.

 

The Seller Provided a Home Warranty, How Does This Figure In?

Getting a home warranty at closing is a good move. Although the companies behind them can sometimes be slow to get the wheels moving, they can protect you from major repair expenses in your early homeownership years. But, they can also be a little confusing because they sort of work like insurance, even though they aren’t technically insurance.

Home warranties help you cover the cost of repairs for common small household issues, like leaky plumbing, air conditioning hiccups and electrical shenanigans. You pay a portion of the cost of the service call, depending on what level of plan was purchased, and the warranty company pays the rest.

In this way, it behaves a bit like health insurance. Everyone pays into one big pot and the money is used where it’s needed. Not everyone will need to use their home warranty, but those people who do need it may require a considerably larger chunk than they contribute. Everybody understands that’s the deal when they sign up, though. They know they may not actually use the coverage, so it’s all on the up-and-up.

 

Wrap Your Home in a Warm Layer of Insurance Bubble Wrap

A lot of home buyers and homeowners think that insurance is a waste of money. After all, it’s designed so that you never use it. While that may be true, the fact remains that if you do need it, you’re really going to need it and there’s no take-backs. You can’t change your mind and load up on coverage after that giant tree has fallen through your bathroom ceiling.

For the relatively small cost (when compared to your house payment) of the right insurance coverages, it’s nice to be able to sleep at night without having to worry about what you’ll do if water comes in under the front door from the storm that’s brewing. Getting good insurance is a snap, too.

 Information provided by HomeKeepr
 

 

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Sales Associate, Mentor

Jesse E. Maldonado, Realtor, CME

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