Home Insurance Do’s and Don’ts [Infographic]

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Here’s your introduction to Home Insurance Do’s and Don’ts. These tips will ensure you fully understand your coverage and get the best rates!

Home-Insurance-Dos-and-Donts

Competitive Rates

DO Take Time Researching – Insurance comapnies need you just as much as you need them. Don’t ever let yourself feel pressured into a choice.

DON’T Bundle for Convenience – Bundling with other insurance CAN save you money, but don’t do it just because it is easier. Home insurance is very different from automobile insurance.

DO Shop Around – Get multiple quotes to ensure you’ve found the best fit.

DO Check For Special Rates – Age, good credit, certain house features, etc. can qualify you for discounts.

Comprehensive Coverage

 DO Take Note of Time Limits – You are only granted a certain amount of time to file a claim. Make it a priority. When in doubt, it’s best to go ahead and file a report.

DO Assess Values Before Claim – Keep a record of how much different valuables are worth before an incident happens.

DON’T Pay For Land – Insure the structures you own. Don’t be tricked into insuring the land they sit on. The land is not going anywhere.

DO Keep Insurer Updated on Home – Any major projects or maintenance you do should be reported to your insurance provider.

DON’T Forget to Insure Additional Items – Usually things like jewelry and electronics require additional insurance. Be sure to clarify before making payments.

Claims Statistics

Wind and hail are the most common insurance claims, making up 47.2% of claims.

Jewelry is the most common contents claim, making up 16% of content claims.

The national average spent on home insurance is $952 per year. The average claim value is $8,793.

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Should You Buy a Home with a Friend?

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Buying a home with a friend is not something to be taken lightly. If you and your friend are already roommates at an apartment, you may be considering moving into a bigger place with them as the next step. You may see your friend as someone whom you can rely on and live with for quite some time. If your friend has their finances in order, is trustworthy, and reliable, then maybe it’s time that you considered buying a home with your friend.

Should You Buy a Home with a Friend

Look at Your Individual Finances

You may have a great career but does your friend? If you and your friend have some money saved, great credit, and a willingness to look for a home together, then start looking. If you have money in investments, or this isn’t the best time for you to save money from your paychecks, then you should put off buying a home until both of you have your finances in order.

When You Should and Should Not Buy a Home with a Friend

If you are fortunate enough to have a friend/roommate who is reliable, has good income, and stable credit, then you are in a good situation to buy a home together. If both of you are tired of giving your money away to monthly rent at an apartment, you should start saving up with your friend for a home. Be sure to save up enough for a strong down payment on a home you like.

However, if your friend is unreliable, has bad credit, and financial issues, do not buy a home with them. If your friend is the one who brings up the possibility of buying a home together, then it’s probably best that you split ways from this person if they want to move soon. The last thing you want to do is affect your credit and finances by buying a home with a friend who is unreliable and not financially secure enough to pay the monthly payments.

How to Buy a Home with a Friend

When you do have a friend who is as reliable and financially ready as you are, then you should go forward in your search to buy a home together. First, both of you should agree on a real estate agent who you want to contact. Then, have them help you both look online for listings available that you would like to live in. If you find a great home for the right price, you, your friend, and your agent should contact the listing agent to see if you can have a tour of the home. If the home fits you and your friend’s needs, then it’s the right home for you. You’re now ready to move forward with the financial process of buying the home!

Should You Buy a Home with a Friend

Legal Advice

Make sure that you both seek legal advice. You can find real estate attorneys online who are willing to help you with whatever legal information you need. Ask the real estate attorney to help you and your friend determine how to go about the amounts that you will have to pay into buying the home. They will draft up a legal document for you to keep things in balance while you and your friend live in the home together. The attorney will also help you determine how you both hold the title. This will allow you both to determine what happens when one of you decides to move or in the tragic event of one of you passing away. A great way to go about buying a home with a friend is tenancy in common. Tenancy in common allows multiple people to have equal or unequal portions of a property as well as the individuals being able to sell or give away their share of said property at their leisure.

Have an Exit Plan

An exit plan will help you both in the event that either of you becomes delinquent or unwilling to pay half of the home payments every month for whatever reason. Your legal document should have a plan in place that allows either of you to move or sell the home at a later time. A time notice should be put into place so that the roommate who wants to move or sell allows the other roommate time to also find a place to move to once the home is sold.

Should You Buy a Home with a Friend

Buying a home with a friend is a great investment to build equity and advance to the next stages of your life. However, there should be plans and safeguards in place to ensure that both of you are ready for this kind of commitment. If you and your friend do decide to buy a home together, good luck in your search for the perfect place for you both!

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5 Surprising Things That Affect the Value of Your Home

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It’s an unfortunate thing when you realize how much outside forces affect the value of your home. Whenever you think of your home’s value, you think about the new paint job, how you added a new room, how you redid the kitchen. However, you do not necessarily think of the outside forces that you cannot control. Let’s take a look at some surprising things that affect the value of your home.

5 Surprising Things that Affect the Value of Your Home

1. Going Green:

Going green is a great way to positively affect the value of your home. There are simple things you can do, like putting in environmentally-friendly light bulbs, to adding green fixtures that save water. The more your appliances can save on utility costs positively affects the value of your home. By saving money on monthly bills, you better believe that buyers are going to be interested in your home!

5 Surprising Things that Affect the Value of Your Home

2. Theft:

This is probably the most frustrating. If someone steals something from your home, not only have they taken a belonging you from, but this adds to the overall crime rate in your area. The theft in turn lowers the value of your home and adds to the crime rate in the city, making it a “less-desirable” place to live. Even though it’s not your fault, a theft in your home will negatively affect the value of your home and neighborhood.

5 Surprising Things that Affect the Value of Your Home

3. Landscaping:

We’re not saying that you have to plant rows and rows of beautiful flowers alongside your home. Even trimming your home’s hedges, mowing your lawn, and keeping your grass green will positively affect the value of your home. Landscaping is a great way to add curb appeal and value to your home. Even if your home is older than the surrounding homes, minor landscaping cosmetics will always boost the value of your home.

5 Surprising Things that Affect the Value of Your Home

4. School Grades:

That’s right! Your child’s school grades can affect the value of your home. This may seem a little odd, but it makes sense. A hard-working student will add value to their school because of their high grades and test scores, which in turn adds value to the neighborhood and your home. So School-test scores directly correlate with the value of your home and neighborhood!

5 Surprising Things that Affect the Value of Your Home

5. Floods/Earthquakes:

This may seem obvious to some, but a lot of people do not know that an earthquake or flood will affect the value of their home even if their home was not damaged during the act of nature. Whenever there is an earthquake or flood, it is documented by scientists. It is also documented by home insurance companies and the city. When a flood or earthquake happens in an area, not only does it affect the structure of the homes, but it is likely to happen again in that area. With that being said, your home’s value will decrease due to the amount of earthquakes or floods that happen in your area.

5 Surprising Things that Affect the Value of Your Home

What to Take Away

So obviously there are some things that you can and cannot control that affect the value of your home. What you do about it is up to you. If you decide to move away from an area that is known for its earthquakes, floods, or crime, that is your choice to make. However, the best thing for you to do to affect the value of your home positively would be to make minor updates to it as you live there. Be sure to fix any problems or broken fixtures that may arise in your home. Do your best to make your home as beautiful as you can and tell your kids to keep up those grades!

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24 Ways to Conserve Water at Home [Infographic]

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Much of the U.S. is currently in some sort of water stress, with many states (we’re looking at you, California!) in a severe drought. To keep with the good housekeeping vibe of our blog, here are some tips to conserve water at home. You can make a difference in water conservation by starting in your own backyard.

Conserve-Water-at-Home

 

  1. Check Faucets and Pipes for Leaks
    A small drip can waste 20 gallons of water per day.
  2. Install Faucet Aerators
    These simple additions to your faucet use less water and give the impression of higher water pressure.
  3. Put Mulch Around Plants
    This slows the evaporation of moisture in the yard.
  4. Don’t Use the Toilet as a Trash Can
    Each flush with trash in it wastes about 5 gallons of water!
  5. Use Dish and Clothes Washers Only for Full Loads
    Otherwise unnecessary water will be used.
  6. Insulate Water Pipes
    Avoid wasting water while you wait for it to heat up.
  7. Displace Water in Toilet Tank
    Place a weighted water bottle in the toilet tank. This causes the tank to use less water per flush. This simple measure will save gallons of water per day.
  8. Water Plants in the Morning
    This is the ideal time to get the most out of your water.
  9. Wash Vehicle Only as Needed
    …as opposed to on a schedule.
  10. Try Xeriscaping
    This is basically a non-sensical word for landscaping with plants that need minimal water.
  11. Cook in as Little Water as Possible
    This also helps retain nutrients in the food.
  12. Shorten Showers
    Cutting two minutes off of each shower can save up to 150 gallons per month.
  13. Use Recirculating Pumps
    These systems should be in place for any fountains, pools, ponds, etc.
  14. Check for Toilet Leaks
    Put food coloring in the toilet tank. If it leaks into the bowl on its own, the entire system needs to be replaced. That toilet is probably wasting gallons of water per day.
  15. Aerate Your Lawn Periodically
    This will allow moisture to reach the roots in your lawn faster.
  16. Sweep Patiods and Sidewalks
    This is more efficient than power washing.
  17. Use Leftover Ice Cubes
    Instead of just tossing them when you finish a beverage, place them on a potted plant.
  18. Use Garbage Disposal Sparingly
    This requires water to run through and rinse.
  19. Leave Lawn Clippings on Grass
    Loose clipings over the lawn will help the grass hold in moisture.
  20. Know How to Turn Off Automatic Water Systems
    This knowledge will be imperative when it rains naturally or when the system malfunctions.
  21. Group Your Plants with Similar Watering Needs
    This will make the watering and lawn maintenance process much more effecient.
  22. Use a Hose Nozzle
    Whether you’re watering plants or washing your car, a hose nozzle can save up to 100 gallons per use.
  23. Rinse Foods
    Wash fruits and vegetables in a bowl full of water rather than washing them under a running faucet.
  24. Scrape Dishes
    …rather than rinse them.

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When to Reduce the Price of Your Home

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It can be difficult to reduce the price of your home. You talk with an agent. You picked a price that you believed was reasonable in your area for your home. However, no one makes an offer after several weeks on the market. Looks like it’s time to reduce the price of your home. Even if you do not want to, you may have to reduce the price just to sell your home. Here are some scenarios to consider when it’s time to reduce the price of your home.

Reduce the Price of Your Home

When to Reduce the Price of Your Home

If you’ve shown your home a few times, and 20-30 guests have already come in and out of it without making an offer, then it’s time to reduce the price of your home. Even if they haven’t said that the price is too high, the fact that they will not make you an offer is because the price is nowhere near what anyone is willing to pay for your home.

Talk to your agent about how you should reduce the price of your home. Ask them for advice; their expertise and seasoned experience should allow them to come up with a solid number on what your home is worth as well as how much you should sell it for.

Compare Your Price

Take a look at what some comparable homes in your neighborhood have sold for. What was the price point? Were they about the same size and in the same area as your home? If so, you may want to price your home around the price that they sold.

Reduce the Price of Your Home

Look at Active Listings

Be sure to take a look at active listings on the market as well. If you see an active listing set around your price range, then you know that you’ve set your home at a good price. Perhaps you just want to sell your home too quickly. If it’s reasonably priced for your neighborhood, give it some more time.

How Much Should You Reduce?

Let’s say your three-bedroom home is listed for $202,000. Sounds like a fair price. However, let’s say that the average listing surrounding your home is $190,000. Even if your home is much nicer than the average listing in your area, you are still at a $10,000 price over the average listing price. So how should you reduce the price of your home now? A good rule to follow is to reduce to the next $10,000 neighborhood-price range below your current listing price.

Since all of the homes in your neighborhood are at a $190,000 price range, you should reduce the price of your home to the $199,000-$190,000 neighborhood-price range as well. Try lowering your home to around $199,000 or 198,000. Even though that is only $3,000-$4,000 less than $202,000, there may be some buyers out there who want to stay within the $200,000 neighborhood-price range of your area. So by reducing the price of your home listing into the $10,000 neighborhood-price range, you will now see more buyers interested in your home simply because it is under $200,000.

Reduce the Price of Your Home

So if your home is way over the neighborhood-price, talk to your agent about lowering the price. They’ll guide you with as much advice as you need to go about pricing your home. Always make sure that you have the right expectations about your real estate investment, and you will see great results.

Other Reasons Why Your Home Won’t Sell

Wait! My home is listed for around my neighborhood-price range. In fact, it’s listed lower than most of the homes in my area! Why won’t it sell?

Great question. Let’s take a look at the other important factor to getting a buyer to make an offer on your home. Did you prepare your home for the open house, or did you leave all of your personal items out for display along with those old chairs that you won’t get rid of? Well, there’s your problem. Talk to your agent about staging your home for your open house, and you should be able to attract buyers interested in your home.

Reduce the Price of Your Home

Whatever the reason your home won’t sell, try to put yourself in a buyer’s perspective. If you do, you will see all of the things that you should do to make your home the best possible choice for the future buyer. Just make sure to reduce the price of your home if necessary.

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