Pierre C. Rumpf's Blog
When everyday people take out a homeowners' insurance policy, there is an expectation that you enjoy secure coverage in the event of a loss. That sigh of relief many people experience when signing off on a policy may be an illusion, to some extent. That’s because not every severe weather event is covered in standard policies.
If you are not mindful of what losses are covered, as well as those that are not, you could find yourself paying to repair catastrophic damage out-of-pocket. In order to avoid a personal financial tragedy on top of a damaged home, consider the following facts about severe weather damage, and promptly check your policy.
1: Severe Wind Damage Usually Covered
Standard homeowners policies generally cover damage caused by high winds. This may include tornadoes and hurricanes in many areas of the country. Policies often include structural damage, such as roofs and siding, among others. And, most will pay for losses such as personal items, fencing and even automobiles if you bundle your insurance. The caveat is that areas prone to hurricanes and tornadoes, such as the Gulf Coast and Southwest, frequently charge a premium to include a severe wind rider.
2: Damage From Hail Can Be Tricky
Although the majority of policies routinely cover hail damage, it’s not unusual to have an additional deductible on such claims. That’s because hail damage to roofs, automobiles and others rank among the most prevalent claims. Insurance companies are acutely aware of profits and losses.
3: Lightning Strikes Tend To Be Standard
Although the odds of you personally being struck by lightning are approximately 1 in 280,000, the chances of your home being hit are far greater. Upwards of 25 million lightning strokes touch ground in the U.S. each year, from about 100,000 thunderstorms. According to some math whizzes, the calculable odds come in at 1 in 200 homes annually. In reality, a reported 77,898 claims were filed in 2018, averaging $11,668 in losses. The good news is that insurance overwhelming covers lightning hits and any fire damage that ensues.
4: Consider “Flood Insurance” A Catch-All Phrase
If you live in a flood plain or nearby one, adding a flood insurance rider can be a significant additional expense. Even policies for homes outside a flood-prone area generally do not cover such damage without a rider. But what’s unique about flood insurance is that it may be lumped in with damage caused by water pipes that burst in your home. In terms of the way people generally think about “floods,” that is not a common understanding. It’s also important to note that insurance adjusters may reject such claims if they find evidence that proper upkeep measures were not taken.
5: Sewer Backups Caused By Heavy Rain May Not Be Fully Covered
Although plenty of policies cover the damage caused by the sewer backing up, they often do not cover replacing sewer lines and other items associated with the system. Replacing a sewer can routinely cost upwards of $20,000. It may be in your best interest to review that area of your policy and increase coverage.
Obviously, severe weather coverage can be complicated, and it’s difficult for the average homeowner to wade through the technical language used in today’s policies. Yes, they are widely written by attorneys and rife with legal jargon. But it’s crucial to your home, family and financial future to have the secure severe weather coverage you deserve. It may be time to dive into that policy and ask questions about what’s in it and what’s not. After that, you may genuinely be able to enjoy that sigh of relief.
Tired of the same old hardwood floors and vinyl siding? So are the designers of America's building materials. New, improved materials are becoming readily available every day. They're more sustainable and they last longer than materials of old. Not surprisingly, they look nice, too. Three of the best we've found so far include roofing made from porcelain tiles, cork flooring that comes on a roll, and a new style of brick that looks anything but.
What's resistant to frost and fire and withstands wind gusts of up to 110 mph? If you choose wisely, it could be your new roof. One of the newest building materials on the market is Perennial Porcelain Roofing by Daltile, made from the same type of porcelain that's been protecting kitchen floors for decades. Perennial roofing has a lot going for it, including:
When you opt for a porcelain-tile roof, it may very well be the last one you ever need.
Is it cork? Is it linoleum? When you install new Corkoleum flooring, you'll get the best of both materials. Corkoleum comes on a roll, just like linoleum, but it looks like cork. Various textures are available, and you can have your Corkoleum flooring dyed to fit any decor. Corkoleum has great advantages over other forms of flooring, such as:
If you're looking for something new and comfortable in residential or commercial flooring, consider the many advantages of Corkoleum.
Old Brick House
Old Brick House is a new style of brick that's been specially manufactured and tumbled to look like the hand-hewn bricks our ancestors once used. Created by Pine Hall Brick, Old Brick House features “intentional imperfections” and color variations to give every home a unique, artisan appeal. There are currently four styles of Old Brick House and each is named after -- you guessed it -- an old brick house:
Each house is a real, colonial structure that still stands in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Connecticut and Virginia today. And now your new home can mimic that same, heirloom appeal when you build it using a style of Old Brick House.
If you're in the market for a new construction that you can design from the floor joists up, you're going to love all the modern options in innovative building materials available. Tomorrow's building materials are out there right now, just waiting to change the way you think about home design.
Although you may be tempted to spontaneously make an offer on a house that triggers happy memories of your childhood, it's usually best to approach house buying in a methodical, dispassionate way.
Your emotions will come into play as you visit different listings, but they should be tempered by a realistic budget, a list of personal requirements, and a sprinkling of "wish list" items -- ones that will help make your new home extra special!
A lot will depend on whether you're a first-time home buyer or a seasoned home owner. In all likelihood, the more houses you've owned, the higher your expectations will be. That's certainly not a hard-and-fast rule, but it does lend itself to reason. As is the case with most things in life, experience tends to clarify our needs, our tolerances, our quality standards, and our lifestyle preferences.
Buying a home is a huge decision for two reasons: It not only impacts our financial situation (both immediate and long term), but it effects our quality of life for the foreseeable future. So, similar to the institution of marriage, buying a house is a commitment that should not be taken lightly!
Fortunately, there are several effective ways to help ensure that the home you buy will live up to your expectations. One of the most steadfast "anchors" you can have in your search for the ideal home is a seasoned real estate agent. They have the training, knowledge, and communication skills to help you find the house, the right property, and the optimal location that will best suit your needs.
Your agent will work closely with you to create a list of house hunting requirements and preferences. Although the location, school district, and number of bedrooms will probably have a major bearing on your decision, there are literally dozens of other features and characteristics that will influence your final choice. Among those will be square footage, number of bathrooms, and the property's tax rate.
Standard checklists that include a wide range of home buyer requirements are available online and through your real estate agent. These checklists will help you rank each house you visit and objectively compare the homes you like the best. While flexibility is a necessary part of a successful house-hunting campaign, there will invariably be items you won't want to compromise on.
By deciding in advance what your new home should include, you'll create a clear vision of the type of living environment you and your family will find the most satisfying. Whether you're looking for a home with an open floor plan, a screened-in porch, one or more fireplaces, a finished basement, a two-car garage, or ample space between neighbors, getting your requirements down on paper is the first step to turning your house-buying goals into reality!
It can be difficult to find the extra savings to put towards your first home as a renter. With rent and utility prices rising, most people’s paychecks are leaving them with less and less savings at the end of the month.
Buying your first home, however, can be a great long-term financial decision. It will help you build equity, and, eventually, you’ll be able to use that equity toward another home or toward retiring.
In today’s post, we’ll talk about some of the ways to save for a down payment while renting an apartment.
How much to save
In order to make the most of your first home purchase, you’ll want to save up as much of a down payment as possible. This will help you receive the lowest interest rate and reduce the amount you’ll pay toward interest.
If you can manage to save 20% of the loan, you’ll also be able to waive private mortgage insurance (PMI), that would otherwise set you back around $100 per month or more.
Smart ways to save while renting
If you’re ready to get serious about saving for your first down payment, let’s talk about the best way to approach your savings plan.
Pay off small debts
If you’ve had that lingering credit card debt that you’ve never quite paid off, now is the time. Take a look at your current debts. Pay off the smaller balances first and focus on debt with the highest interest rate.
This will enable you to start making larger deposits toward your down payment savings sooner and can help you avoid needlessly paying interest on small loans and credit card debt.
Open a dedicated account or CD
The best way to make sure you contribute to your down payment savings plan is to open a savings account or take out a CD (certificate of deposit).
A savings account with a high-interest return is a good option for people who are worried that they may need to access their funds before they’re ready to buy a home.
If you’re comfortable with not being able to access your funds until a set date, then a CD could help you save more money.
Since CDs are a one-time payment, many people choose to combine both CDs and high-interest savings accounts to achieve their savings goals.
Regardless of which option you choose, be sure to shop around for the highest interest rate. Online banks tend to have higher rates than traditional banks and are also easy to sign up for.
Direct deposit a portion of your pay
Opening a bank account or CD won’t do you any good if you don’t commit to contributing to it. If you are paid via direct deposit, visit your HR office and ask them to reassign a portion of your weekly pay to your new account.
By following these tips, you’ll be able to better prepare for your down payment. Don’t wait! The sooner you start saving, the sooner you’ll be able to purchase your first home.
At first glance, you may wonder what the point is of paying a real estate agent for work you may just as easily do yourself. The curse of the Internet is that many consumers have just enough knowledge to be dangerous. That means that while you could sell your home directly, you may lose out on some of the income you expect to save by making poor decisions during the process, or simply by not knowing ahead of time what costs you will incur.
The Hard Cost Breakdown
Imagine you are selling a $300,000 home. A standard agent commission in most areas is 6%, which translates to $18,000. That means in a best-case scenario, where you sell the home for the same price as the professional, you make an extra 18 grand. The question becomes, what extra expenses do you incur when going your own way?
First, think about staging the home. This is no longer optional in today’s market. Potential buyers have become used to homes that are furnished like magazines and home decorating shows, and you will have to compete with homes listed by agents with professional staging services. The average nationwide cost of home staging is about $1,800. This includes moving some of your personal items to storage, professional cleaning (or your time and supplies) and landscaping with an eye towards curb appeal. Before you start thinking that can’t possibly cost $1,800, remember that you have to keep it up throughout the entire time your home is on the market. That means you must discount $1,800 off the $18,000 right away, leaving you with $16,200.
Next, consider the cost of professional photos. Unless you are also a photographer (as well as a salesman while continuing your regular day job), you will need to hire a professional to take pictures of your home. When you shop for homes, do you scroll right past the ones that look like cell phone pictures? Studies show that potential buyers buy with their eyes first, which means your pictures need to tell your whole story in the best way possible. Professional photos often run $200-$300, which brings your net extra income down to $15,900.
You will also incur some variable fees for listing the property online and advertising costs, but since those will vary greatly from location to location, just keep some money aside for these and do your local research.
The Soft Costs
Soft costs are those that do not really cost against your net savings but will reduce your overall income regardless. First of these situations is setting the price of the home. On average, homes represented by professional real estate agents sell for 8-12% more than direct sales. A little bit of math with percentages will show you that even the best-case scenario, you still take home over 7% more when using an agent than without, even forgetting about all those hard costs. That number only increases as your home sale price goes up, and your agent is just as invested as you are since they make a percentage of the sale.
Before you try to sell your home without help, talk to a real estate agent and find out just how much you would be getting for that 6%. Some agents have even more perks such as timeline guarantees or price guarantees that improve your odds of getting the price you want in the timeline that you need with the least amount of work required from you. Visit real estate professionals in your area to find the one who offers the best benefits for you.