Consumer Real Estate News

    • Why You Should Consider Getting a Home Warranty in Addition to Homeowners Insurance

      18 September 2020

      If you own a house, you need homeowners insurance to pay for repairs or stolen belongings. Many people believe that homeowners insurance will cover any necessary repairs, but it actually applies only in limited circumstances. A home warranty can provide protection in other cases. 

      What Does Homeowners Insurance Cover?
      Homeowners insurance will pay for losses caused by a covered peril, such as a storm, fire, theft or vandalism, up to the policy’s limits. Depending on the coverage you choose, your policy may cover replacement cost, which is the amount of money required to purchase a new identical or substantially similar item, or actual cash value, which takes depreciation into account.

      What Does a Home Warranty Cover?
      A home warranty is not insurance, but rather a contract that a homeowner signs with a home warranty company. It will pay to repair or replace a broken appliance that is not covered by a separate manufacturer’s warranty. 

      A home warranty may cover major systems, such as HVAC, electrical and plumbing, as well as major appliances, such as a refrigerator, stove, oven, washer and dryer. Many companies offer basic plans with limited coverage and allow homeowners to add optional coverage for an additional fee. A home warranty may only pay to repair or replace appliances or parts in certain circumstances, and a broken appliance will not necessarily be replaced with one that was made by the same manufacturer or that has the same features.

      Home warranties often exclude coverage for appliances or systems that weren’t well maintained. If you bought a house and the previous owner didn’t take care of something, a home warranty might not cover repairs even if you performed all recommended maintenance after you purchased the house.

      Who Makes Repairs?
      Some warranties allow homeowners to choose a repair company, while others work with a network of service providers. When a homeowner files a claim, the home warranty company sends a local contractor to the home to inspect the problem, decide whether repairs are required and covered by the warranty and complete covered repairs. 

      How Much Does a Home Warranty Cost?
      The cost of a home warranty depends on the type and size of the home, the location and the coverage chosen. The homeowner must pay a service fee when a contractor comes to inspect a problem, whether the issue is covered by the warranty or not. If two different types of contractors, such as a plumber and an electrician, are needed to complete repairs, the homeowner may have to pay a fee for each.

      Is a Home Warranty Right for You?
      Even if you have homeowners insurance, there are a lot of things it won’t cover. A home warranty can protect you from large and unexpected repair bills. Before choosing a home warranty, research several companies and find out what each of their planscover and how much the premiums and service fees would be so you can make an informed decision.

      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • 5 Ways to Utilize Your Basement

      18 September 2020

      If your home has a basement, there are many things you can do to make use of the extra space. From simple storage to a functional living space, finished or unfinished, the possibilities are endless. 

      Here are five ways you can utilize your basement.

      Apartment
      Whether your basement is already finished or you plan to remodel, turning the space into a guest or in-law apartment combines functionality and value in your home. Include a full kitchen or a kitchenette, as well as a bathroom. If possible, a separate entrance would be ideal, especially if you plan to rent it out, which can help cover mortgage payments or other home expenses. 

      Game Room
      Adding an air hockey table, foosball table or other games is a great way to make use of this space. Create a pool room with comfortable seating and a bar for a fun and luxurious place to relax. Bring in classic arcade-style games, like PacMan or a pinball machine, for a nostalgic and kid-friendly hang out.    

      Den
      If you’re looking to create more of a family space, a den is a great choice. Dedicate this to your family as a space where you can come together, relax and bond. Add a projector for movie nights and a stack of board games for a family night in. Even use your den to host parties, watch big sporting events or celebrate holidays without taking over the main living area upstairs.

      Studio
      Are you or someone in your family an artist or musician? If so, you can turn your basement into a studio. Bring in whatever materials you may need, from easels and paint to recording equipment and soundproof walls. With this private space, you can dedicate yourself to your art whether it’s a career or just a hobby. 

      Storage
      Of course, if you decide to skip the renovations or remodels, you can still utilize this space. Store your holiday decorations, seasonal items, spare linens, personal items and so much more in an easily accessible room. Your basement can also be home to your washer and dryer or even a spare refrigerator or freezer to hold extra food and drinks. And if you host parties or holidays often, you can keep spare tables, chairs, platters and more without feeling overwhelmed in your main living space and keeping your garage clear. 

      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • Wallpaper Makes a Comeback—Big Time!

      18 September 2020

      Johnny Depp’s bathroom goes wild with an African inspired animal design wallpaper. And the walls of supermodel Kate Moss’s lavish home are covered with custom de Gournay wallpapers, some in designs she helped create.

      Clearly, these are not your Grandma’s wallpapers. They are part of today’s amazing collections that can cost hundreds of dollars per roll. But make no mistake, wallpaper is making a comeback and it just may have a place in your décor.

      Wallpaper is being used in bold patterns to accent one wall or add personality to an entire room. It’s being used in solid hues to add texture as well as color, and it’s being used in complementary two-pattern panels to create a DIY headboard in the bedroom.

      At an average of $1 - $4 per square foot, with about 35 square feet per roll, wallpaper is more costly than paint—and unless you’re a DIYer, it can cost a few hundred dollars to install. But, say decorators, it offers a freedom of expression that is nearly impossible to achieve with paint. 

      Among the most popular types of wallpaper are:

      • Vinyl papers: The most popular option due to its versatility in design, it is easy to install, easy to remove and easy to clean, making it great for kitchens, bathrooms and kids’ rooms.
      • Vinyl coated fabric: A popular choice because of its natural feel and texture, it’s a durable choice for a sitting room or dining room where texture is a design element.
      • Non-woven papers: Completely vinyl free, this option is a great choice if you’re environmentally sensitive. It’s also washable and breathable, easy to install and remove, and available in a wealth of designs.
      While there are hundreds, if not thousands of patterns to choose from, decorators suggest beginning by noting the mood you want to create in a room; a damask or floral in muted, pastels for a romantic mood, a bold geometric or larger-scale floral for a contemporary/fashion forward look. 

      Unless you hire a contractor to do it for you, you will need to measure carefully before ordering your wallpaper—and it’s a good idea to order an extra roll. The rule of thumb is to measure each wall and multiply the width by the height of each wall in feet. Then add all the measurements to yield the total square footage and deduct for windows, doors and other large openings.

      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • How to Teach Your Kids About Saving and Spending

      17 September 2020

      You can never be too young to learn the true value of saving. For children, however, the concept of money is much different than the reality. But that doesn’t mean you can’t teach them how to save—even their pennies—responsibly. 

      Once your child reaches the age of about five or six, they start learning how to count and add in school. Of course, their main focus is probably on their favorite new toy, or one they don’t own and have been begging you for. Use this as an opportunity to merge what they’re learning in school with their wants and desires in a financially educational way. 

      In order for them to save money, they will need to make money to put away, so don’t forget about their allowance! Reward completed chores with small amounts of cash that can be used towards whatever they desire, with your permission, of course. Also, if they choose to start a lemonade stand or sell their old toys at the next yard sale, the money earned can be added to their savings. 

      Money from birthdays or holidays can be added to their savings fund, as well. You can even help them out by matching every dollar saved with 25 - 50 cents. At the end of each week, sit down and count how much money they have in total and how much has been added from the week before. 

      Use a clear jar where their money can be easily displayed. It’s smart to set a goal to start, be it a new toy or activity, to financially work towards. Once they see that they are getting closer and closer to the amount needed, it can push them to work harder and even add an extra chore to their list. 

      Once they meet, or hopefully exceed, their set goal, discuss how they would like to use it. If they are ready to go out and purchase their hard-earned prize, be sure to only take out the amount needed. This is a good way to teach budgeting. For example, if they plan to spend $10 on a new toy, but have $20 saved, be sure to only take out the amount needed. If you bring the total amount with you, they may decide to spend it irresponsibly on a random purchase. Leaving the rest at home gives them a jump start toward their next savings goal. 

      During this learning process, be sure to hold your children responsible for the money going in and out of their savings fund. Some things take longer to save for, but are more valuable in the long run. The sooner they understand that, as well as the time and effort it takes to build savings, the sooner they will understand the beginning steps of financial responsibility.  

      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • 6 Things You Probably Didn’t Know Homeowners Insurance Covered

      17 September 2020

      If a tree falls on your roof, you’re covered. If an accidental fire breaks out, you’re covered. If a burglar breaks in and steals precious possessions, don’t worry...you’re covered. Most homeowners insurance covers many things you’re probably aware of, as well as a few things you might not know. 

      Here are six surprising things your homeowners insurance policy may cover.

      Pet Damage or Injury
      If your dog bites the neighbor, whether in your yard or theirs, any medical bills that follow will be covered by your homeowners insurance. Any property damage caused, including scratches on a car or front door, or a broken planter or outdoor furniture, is also included in your policy. Check the guidelines, such as specific breeds, as the policy may have some limitations. 

      ATM, Credit or Debit Card Fraud
      If you fall victim to credit card fraud or someone gets hold of your checkbook, your homeowners insurance can help. Of course, you should always contact your bank first, but as a backup, your policy will typically cover up to $500 in losses. 

      Drones
      If you or a member of your household owns a drone and causes damage to your property or elsewhere, your policy may cover it. From inadvertent pictures to theft, homeowners insurance can pay for defense or replacement. Remember, drones are only covered if they aren’t used for commercial purposes. 

      Graveyard Damage 
      If a headstone or other property on a cemetery plot is damaged, stolen or vandalised, your policy is set up to reimburse you. Even natural damage, such as a fallen branch or fire, is covered under your homeowners insurance policy. 

      Off-Premise Incidents
      Yes, items stolen from your home are covered. But what about items outside of your home, like your kid’s dorm? Well, that’s covered, too. If items are stolen from your kid’s college dorm, your car or even your boat, those losses can be reimbursed by your insurance company up to 10 percent. 

      Space Debris
      If a meteor, asteroid, rocket, aircraft or satellite, as well as any other falling objects, cause damage to your home, it’s insured under most homeowners insurance policies. If however, the damage is done to your car or boat, you will need to contact your car or boat insurer. Coverage is available even if the fallen object is a branch from your neighbor’s tree. 

      Be sure to check with your insurance agent to find out the details of what is covered under your policy.

      Published with permission from RISMedia.