What Types of Coverage Are Included in Standard Home Insurance Policies? Let’s Take a Look

What Types of Coverage Are Included in Standard Home Insurance Policies? Let's Take a LookEvery insurance policy is different and can provide certain levels of protection tailored towards the needs of the policy holder. However, there are some standard types of coverage that are included in most basic home insurance policies.

Basic Levels Of Protection

Most homeowner insurance policies will include some basic levels of protection and coverage. The main dwelling will be protected from many forms of damage and the insurance company will pay to repair the damaged dwelling. This will extend to other smaller structures on the property, like sheds and separate garages, but the level of coverage will differ.

Damage is one important aspect of insurance, but protection for personal belongings is equally important and is also included in a standard home insurance policy. The monetary value of items in the home will be covered in case of damage or theft, so it’s a good idea to keep track of valuables. Every insurance company will have a different limit on the amount covered, so it’s wise to compare the value of belongings against the level of coverage.

The third aspect of home insurance policies is liability protection. This will cover any personal injuries that are incurred on the property by people who do not live there. It may seem silly, but having protection in case of a lawsuit can go a long way to saving a family financially as attorney fees and medical bills add up.

What Is Not Included?

Although each insurance company has different policies that cover different parts of the home, almost all of them do not include one important aspect in their policies. Damage caused by floods, earthquakes and war will not be included in most standard home insurance policies and may be important depending on the geography of the area.

Another important note is that flood damage does not just apply to natural flooding in the region, but will also include water damage from broken pipes or backed up sewage lines. It’s an important distinction because many first-time home owners assume this water damage will be covered under their basic insurance policy.

The right insurance policy can be difficult to figure out for first-time home owners. There are many questions to ask about the property to determine the right policy and it’s a good idea to consult your local real estate agent to get their insight into what additions may be needed.

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – September 19, 2016

Last week’s economic news included reports on retail sales, inflation, and weekly reports on mortgage rates and new jobless claims.

Retail Sales Slip as Consumer Prices Inch Up

Retail sales dipped into negative territory in August with a reading of -0.30 percent as compared to expectations of -0.10 percent and July’s reading of +0.10 percent. Retail sales excluding auto sales were better at +0.30 percent. Analysts expected a reading of +0.20 percent based on July’s reading of -0.40 percent. August’s negative reading for retail sales was the first negative report since March.

Inflation fared better than retail sales with August’s Consumer Price Index reading at 0.20 percent. Analysts expected a reading of 0.10 percent; July’s reading was flat. Core Consumer Price Index readings for August are less volatile, as the Core CPI does not include readings for food and energy costs. August’s Core CPI reading was 0.30 percent. A reading of 0.20 percent was expected; July’s reading was 0.10 percent. It appears that inflation is creeping upward, but remains well below the Fed’s target reading of 2.0 percent.

Mortgage Rates, New Jobless Claims Rise

Freddie Mac reported higher mortgage rates across the board last week. The average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage rose six basis points to 3.50 percent; the average rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage rose one basis point to 2.76 percent and the average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage rose one basis point to an average of 2.82 percent. Average discount points were 0.50 for 30 and 15-year fixed rate mortgages and 0.40 percent for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages.

Low mortgage rates have helped home buyers, especially first-time and moderate income buyers, meet affordability challenges. Home prices have risen due to low numbers of available homes and high demand for homes. If mortgage rates continue to rise, fewer buyers will be able to qualify for mortgages and or afford asking prices for available homes.

Next week’s meeting of the Fed’s Federal Open Market Committee is expected to bring news of a Fed decision on raising the target federal funds rate. If the Fed raises its rate, consumer interest rates for mortgages, vehicles and other goods can be expected to increase as well.

Whats Ahead

This week’s economic news includes the NAHB Housing Market Index, Commerce Department reports on housing starts and building permits issued and a Fed Statement at the conclusion of its Federal Open Market Committee meeting on Wednesday. Fed Chair Janet Yellen is also slated to give a press conference after the FOMC statement. The National Association of Realtors will also release a report on sales of previously owned homes.

Moving with Children? Here’s How to Quickly Assess Whether a Community Is Family Friendly

Moving with Children? Here's How to Quickly Assess Whether a Community Is Family FriendlyIf you’re looking for a home that’s in a family-friendly neighborhood, there are a few key things you can look for to make sure your new house is a good fit for both you and your children.

Quality Public or Private Schools

Are there good public schools nearby? If so, do they span from kindergarten all the way to high school? Finding a home in an area with a great elementary school can be a good fit for several years, but if you’re looking for a home that will be convenient in the long-term it’s important to consider your proximity to both primary and secondary schools.

Parks And Other Relaxing Green Spaces

If you’re looking for a family-friendly neighborhood with free sources of entertainment, make sure that there is at least one park or playground nearby. Playgrounds can provide endless amusement for younger children, whereas a park can offer entertainment for kids of any age. Either way, have a park in the area will help boost the quality of your family’s leisure time.

Recreation Facilities And Other Amenities

For even more great leisure opportunities, check out the local recreational facilities. Public swimming pools, community centers, and recreation centers often offer a wide variety extracurricular activities and programs. These can be a great support when it comes to supplementing what your kids’ education with skills that are learned outside of school, and can encourage a healthy lifestyle as well.

Shopping & Services

If you’re looking for a convenient lifestyle, perhaps one of the most important factors to consider is what stores and businesses are located nearby. Is there a grocery store, doctor’s office, cafe, drug store, gas station, or other essential businesses nearby? Make your life easy! If there are stores nearby that meet your needs it will help boost your neighborhood satisfaction for years to come.

A Short (Or At Least Tolerable) Commute

If you commute to work, it is also valuable to consider how long of a drive it is between your place of employment and potential new home. The less time you have to spend on the road, the more time you’ll have with your family.

Neighbors You Will Enjoy Associating With

Finally, it is important to consider who else lives in the area. Is the neighborhood you’re looking at full of other young families? Are there other children for your kids to play with? Does it seem like a close-knit community?

Although you can’t predict how relationships will blossom in a new home, you’ll set yourself up for success if there are people with similar interests and lifestyles as you. If the people seem great, chances are the neighborhood is, too!

Ready to find the perfect home to raise your family in? Contact your trusted real estate professional today.

Growing Your Wealth: 3 Reasons Why Real Estate Is the Ultimate Long-Term Investment

Growing Your Wealth: 3 Reasons Why Real Estate Is the Ultimate Long-Term InvestmentWhile many people may be hesitant to consider real estate as a viable long-term investment, owning property has a steady historical track record and isn’t as volatile as other investment markets can be.

Any investor who hasn’t seriously considered it as an option should take a closer look at the benefits of owning real estate and why it is the ultimate long-term investment strategy.

It Becomes A Consistent Source Of Income

Investing in rental property has the added benefit of being able to show regular returns in the form of rental income. Unlike other long-term investments that require a level of patience in order to profit, real estate can provide a large sum return in the future while still providing financial benefits on a monthly basis.

An Investment That Anybody Can Participate In

Many forms of investment require a level of skill or familiarity in order for first timers to jump straight into it with any level of confidence. Real estate is one investment that anybody can enjoy, thanks in part to the insight that can be gained from family and friends who have gone through the same process.

The level of knowledge that’s required to invest can be gained with some simple investigating to learn more about local areas that have increased in value and the kinds of homes that are popular. A real estate professional can take that information and add to it, providing invaluable expertise to the process.

Consider It To Be A Guaranteed Retirement Plan

Saving for retirement has become harder to commit to as each year goes by. Money being left in a savings account or an easy to sell investment can be dipped into at any point, leaving very little when retirement starts to roll around.

Using property as a long-term retirement plan requires a level of commitment to the investment and upkeep to the property that guarantees there will be something tangible to bank on later in life.

While investing in real estate may seem simple, especially when compared to other investment markets, it’s still recommended to consult with a professional before making any decisions. A local real estate professional will have a level of knowledge about which areas will be the wisest to invest in depending on how long in the future you are looking to sell. If you are interested, contact a local real estate professional in your area today for more information.

Feeling the Squeeze of Rising Rents? Here Are 3 Reasons You Should Consider Buying a Starter Home

Feeling the Squeeze of Rising Rents? Here Are 3 Reasons You Should Consider Buying a Starter HomeWith real estate becoming more affordable, new homes being sold in a range of prices and the cost of rent going up, there has never been a better time to consider buying a starter home.

Put That Rent Money Into Your Own Property

People who live in areas that have become trendy know the pain of rising rent rates. At what point is the amount of money being spent on rent more advantageous to put into a new home?

Starter homes are not the crazy investment they used to be. With the increase in condo developments and the lower entry price for smaller homes, it’s never been easier and less expensive to put a down payment on a new home and put that rent money into a place that you actually have a financial stake in.

A Starter Home Is Not A Fixer Upper

There was a point in time when starter homes were considered to be houses that required a lot of work to renovate them to a point where they could be sold for a profit. This was before really affordable condo developments started to spring up in every city and began to provide younger people the opportunity to own a home.

Some people still think of a starter home as a fixer upper, an old house that will require a substantial investment and time, something that most first-time home owners do not have an abundance of. In today’s market, starter homes can be brand new and will be in the best condition imaginable.

It Can Act As A Source Of Income

Some homeowners find that when it’s time to finally make the move from their starter home into their forever home, they no longer need to sell. In some cases they prefer to hold onto it and use it as a rental property to bring in a second source of income to help with the new house.

This is more common with condos in neighborhoods that have experienced tremendous growth around them in the years after the purchase. When the price of rent skyrockets in these areas, the investment actually has more value as a rental property until the time is right to sell.

There are many reasons to invest in a starter home and the area you want to buy will change depending on your own reasons. Contact your local real estate agent so you can pinpoint what you want out of a starter home and receive some valuable insight into the kinds of homes you should be considering.

Can You Use a Reverse Mortgage to Buy Your Next Home? Yes, and Here’s How

Can You Use a Reverse Mortgage to Buy Your Next Home? Yes, and Here's HowMost people who have been on the market for a home are familiar with what the term ‘mortgage’ means, but many have not heard of a reverse mortgage and aren’t aware of how this product can benefit them. If you’re nearing retirement and are contemplating a new home or even relocation to another community, here are the details on a reverse mortgage and how this option may benefit you.

What Is A Reverse Mortgage?

While many homeowners may not have the net worth to be able to buy another home without selling their current one, a reverse mortgage enables the buyer to borrow money against the value of their home. Created in 2009 as the Home Equity Conversion Mortgage for Purchase (HECM), this type of mortgage can enable those older than 62 to relocate to a new house or move closer to their family without having to sacrifice the money they’ve saved or their fixed monthly income.

What Are The Requirements?

Beyond the minimum age requirement of 62 years of age, those who would like to utilize a reverse mortgage must either own the current property they are living in or have a high amount of equity in the property. They must be able to pay all of the costs associated with ownership of the home and the property they are purchasing must be able to pass the standards held by the Federal House Administration (FHA). In addition, applicants will have to go through a financial assessment to ensure they can make insurance and property tax payments.

The Benefits And Drawbacks Of Reverse Mortgages

A reverse mortgage can be a great benefit in that it enables those who are in their senior years to purchase a new home without having to utilize a portion of their fixed monthly income. However, because a reverse mortgage includes this benefit, it also comes in tandem with a higher loan balance and this higher balance means that interest will accrue more quickly. Dependent on this amount, this can actually diminish the equity in the home.

While the opportunity for a reverse mortgage has been around for a number of years, this alternative for purchasing a home has not been utilized by many homeowners since its inception in 2009. If you’re approaching your senior years and are considering the benefits of purchasing a new home, you may want to contact your local real estate professional for more information.

Trying to Decide Whether or Not to Sell Your Home? Here Are 5 Key Questions to Ask Yourself

Trying to Decide Whether or Not to Sell Your Home? Here Are 5 Key Questions to Ask YourselfSelling a home, especially one with sentimental value, is never an easy decision to make. There are many factors that go into determining if the home is ready to be listed and if the seller is actually ready to part with it.

Answering some simple questions can go a long way to help an owner decide whether or not it’s time to try and sell.

How Much Work Does The Home Require?

Some houses and condos are ready to hit the market immediately, but others have serious problems that would need to be disclosed to interested parties. It may not be wise to try and sell until all major issues are repaired.

What Is The Market Like In The Area?

Have similar homes in the neighborhood been selling quickly for a lot of money or have they been sitting on the market for years with no buyers? Any seller should look into the current market trends in their community to determine how much they would be able to sell for so they don’t lose money on the transaction.

When Is The Best Time To Sell?

Every city is different and the time of year can have a major impact on the market. A local real estate agent will have a strong comprehension of the best time of year to list the home, which could provide some valuable time to get it ready.

Will You Be Happier In A New Home?

Sometimes deciding to sell a home can become so overwhelming that people forget to ask themselves whether or not they will be happier in a new home. If the answer is a resounding ‘yes’ then there should be no question about selling.

Should A Real Estate Agent Be Involved?

It may seem easier for sellers to eschew the services of an agent to save a little money, but the nightmare that can follow without the assistance of somebody who has the time and experience to show and promote the home may not be worth it. Talk to local real estate professionals to see if there are any that feel like a good fit.

If you have been debating selling your home but still aren’t sure whether or not it’s the right time, speak with a local real estate agent. They will be able to walk you through the process and provide some insight about what you should expect.

Real Estate Investing: 3 Insider Tips to Winning House, Land or Foreclosure Auctions

Real Estate Investing: 3 Insider Tips to Winning House, Land or Foreclosure AuctionsHouse, land and foreclosure auctions can be one of the most nerve-wracking ways to buy a property. However, if you prepare yourself with proven bidding tactics, auctions can be a great way to purchase your dream home at a competitive price.

If you’re in-it-to-win-it, familiarize yourself with these top three tips and tricks before attending a real estate auction.

Give The Right Impression

While you may not have control over what other bidders are willing to pay for a property, you do have some control over their perception of whether or not bidding against you is worthwhile. Come well-dressed and maintain a confident demeanour to give the appearance that you are a serious buyer, one whom ‘the other guy’ likely can’t out-bid.

To enhance this appearance, do not make an offer right away. Wait until the bids have reached approximate 80% of your maximum price and then join in, as it will knock out the bargain hunters. A big first bid can be intimidating to others, making them question whether they stand a chance against you. Following bids should be made quickly and confidently to send the message that you are the person who will be closing this deal.

If you are extremely anxious to place bids, consider hiring a professional bidder to do the work for you. A seasoned pro will be able to maintain their cool while placing bids strategically to maximize your chances of getting the property you want at the price you want.

Know Your Limit

Never go into an auction without knowing your absolute limit. If you are emotionally invested in the property it is best to write your limit somewhere on the inside of your hand, so that you are forced to remember it when you’re tempted to exceed it.

In terms of setting a limit, pick a figure that isn’t rounded. Many buyers will set limits such as $500k or $1.2 million, and will drop out after these round figures have been reached. If your limit is $515k or $1.25 million, you will have an extra cushion than may just barely outbid your rivals – and that’s all you need to win.

Ask The Hard Questions

Do your research beforehand and ask the auctioneer about the property’s flaws. Questioning whether the deck is up to code or whether there is still a possibility of road widening could make other bidders second guess the property and drop out before bidding has even begun.

Ready to blow the competition out of the water? Make sure you are completely prepared for an auction, contact your trusted real estate professional today.

Real Estate Investing: How to Find Great Deals on Undeveloped Lots with Big Potential

Real Estate Investing: How to Find Great Deals on Undeveloped Lots with Big PotentialPurchasing a plot of land can be one of the best investments to make. A landowner has great (but not unlimited) freedom in how to develop their plot, and land never expires so its potential is essentially infinite. That said, buying undeveloped or vacant land can be risky business, so read on to find tips on purchasing a plot.

Do Your Homework: Before You Get Onto The Land

Before anything else happens, figure out your priorities. Decide what you want the land for, what amenities and what location you want, what you’re looking for in terms of neighbors or local government, and, of course, know your budget. More specific questions will arise around taxes, fees,and permits for building, available utilities/water access but, first, just start with your ideal land plot and work backwards (and into reality) from there.

Do Your Due Diligence: On The Land Itself

Once you find a plot that fits your needs on paper, get out onto it. Walk the land with an eye on the topography (any unexpected hills or valleys? Is the ground solid/fertile/arable, depending on what you need?), neighboring properties, size and shape of the plot, and any other element that the walk brings to your senses (smell and hearing as well as sight). Ideally, do this walk in the fall, so there is no foliage hiding your view of the property and what’s around it.

Don’t Despair: It’s Costly, But There Are Deals Out There

Remember that developing the land will incur costs too. Budget for as many foreseeable costs as you can, including a land survey, well/utility installation, legal fees, land clearing, landscaping, road construction and others. That said there are places you can look at for deals on the initial land purchase, including property lots for sale (which are cheaper the farther they are from major cities, road access, and already-connected utilities) or bank-owned plots. For those, you can talk to your real estate agent about asking local banks for lists of their foreclosed properties, which tend to be cheaper as banks look to sell them off.

Don’t Be Afraid To Ask: Reaching Out To Experts

Finally, talk to people. Ask locals about the neighborhood, previous uses of the land, potential surprises (like calm paths that turn into snowmobile trails in the winter). Connect with professionals in the local health department, zoning and building departments, accountancy and other areas of development for in-depth answers to your municipal questions.

But remember: while you will need to talk with many professionals in your due diligence, let your local real estate agent be your first point of contact.

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – August 29, 2016

Last week’s economic reports included readings on new and existing home sales, a speech by Fed Chair Janet Yellen, and a report on consumer sentiment. Weekly reports on mortgage rates and new jobless claims were also released.

New Home Sales Rise in July as Pre-Owned Home Sales Fall

Sales of new homes jumped in July to a seasonally-adjusted annual rate of 654,000 sales, which surpassed expectations of 579,000 sales and June’s downwardly-revised reading of 582,000 sales. This was the highest reading for new home sales since 2008 and represented a 31.30 percent increase since July 2015.

Builders were seen by analysts as addressing the need for more affordable homes; this trend contributes to a healthy housing market by supplying homes for a wider range of buyers. First-time buyers play a vital part in housing markets as their purchases enable current homeowners to buy larger homes or relocate.

Sales of pre-owned homes fell 3.20 percent to a seasonally-adjusted annual rate of 5.39 million sales as compared to expectations of 5.59 million sales and June’s reading of 5.57 million sales. Year-over-year, sales were 1.60 percent lower. Limited inventories of available pre-owned homes have narrowed buyer options; increasing prices and narrow choices were seen as factors contributing to lower sales. There was a 4.60 month supply of available homes in July. Real estate pros typically consider a six months a normal reading for homes on the market.

Lawrence Yun, chief economist for the National Association of Realtors®, noted that a slowdown in home appraisals may have contributed to July’s lower sales reading for pre-owned homes. Low mortgage rates prompted a surge in refinancing which created a backlog in home appraisals. While low mortgage rates may entice home buyers, stricter mortgage requirements can also keep prospective buyers at bay.

Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen indicated that the stage could be set for a federal rate increase as early as next month. If the Fed hikes its target federal funds rate, interest rates for consumer credit and mortgages can be expected to rise.

Mortgage Rates Hold Steady; New Jobless Claims Fall

Freddie Mac reported that fixed mortgage rates for 30 and 15-year loans were unchanged at 3.43 and 2.74 percent respectively. The average rate for a 5/1 adjustable-rate mortgage was one basis point lower at 2.75 percent. Discount points averaged 0.60, 0.50 and 0.40 percent.

New jobless claims were lower last week. 261,000 new jobless claims were filed against expectations of 264,000 new claims and the prior week’s reading of 262,000 new claims filed. Declining jobless claims can indicate strengthening labor markets, but can also indicate that workers are leaving the labor markets.

Consumer sentiment declined slightly in August due to concerns over the upcoming presidential election. Analysts expected a reading of 91.0 for August, but the reading for August was revised from 90.4 to 89.80.

What’s Ahead

Next week’s scheduled economic news includes reports on pending home sales, inflation, construction spending and consumer confidence. National unemployment, non-farm payrolls and ADP payrolls are also scheduled.