Homeowners Insurance

Owning a private home in a residential community subjects you to pay the Homeowners Insurance (HOI). For some homeowners, they see it as an added expense on top of the recurring mortgage they have to pay in the next 10 to 20 years. It can be devastating as some communities require all homeowners to pay the HOI. But despite the extra expense, this type of insurance is proven to be beneficial.  Let me explain.

What is Homeowners Insurance?

Homeowners Insurance is a type of insurance that is used to protect the homeowner’s property from various damages. There are also cases that homeowners’ insurance policies offer liability coverage against damages or injuries on the property. Generally, there are different forms of standardized homeowners insurance that can be chosen which will also depend on the needs of the homeowner. The following are types of HOI standardized by the Insurance Service Office

HO1 – Basic Form Homeowner Policy

HO2 – Broad Form Homeowner Policy

HO3 – Special Form Homeowner Policy

HO4 – Renter’s Insurance

HO5 – Premier Homeowner Policy

HO6 – Condominium Policy

HO8 – Older Houses

Read the complete description of each policy here.

Who needs it?

Whether you own or rent a home, condo, or apartment, you will need to have homeowners insurance. Indeed, you are not legally required to have homeowners insurance; however, it is one of the requirements when applying for a mortgage. It satisfies lenders. Almost all lenders are requiring borrowers to secure satisfactory insurance before they consider borrowers from qualifying for a loan.

In an insurance, there are policies that a home owner can choose from aside from the basic ones. The basic policies usually cover damages or accidents caused by fire, hurricane, vandalism, or lighting. Some other policies might cover damages due to theft too. To determine the policies that are applicable to you, an insurance agent or specialist can do the inspection beforehand.

The cost of the insurance will usually depend on:

  1. Building costs
  2. Crime rate in the neighbourhood
  3. Heating, electrical system,  and plumbing condition
  4. Materials and style layouts used for the home construction
  5. The probability rate of accidents or damages from hurricanes, flood,  and hail storms

One common issue of homeowners is the disaster brought about by flooding. Standard policies for most insurance do not cover damages caused by flood. You have the option to add it from the standard policy. You can get it directly from your insurance agent.

In times of disaster or accidents, an uninsured homeowner may end up losing his or her home. You cannot just risk your largest asset because of the high premium costs of insurances. One common and easiest way to lower your premium costs is by increasing the amount of money you have to spend to cover the damage/loss before the insurance company starts the responsibility to pay the claim which is also known as deductible.

Insurance is not an option for homeowners, rather a necessity. At first, an insurance maybe an intangible product but it is actually one of the best things that you can have

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Mortgage Rate Continue Upward Trend

Freddie Mac recently released the results of its Primary Mortgage Market Survey(R) (PMMS®), showing fixed mortgage rates trending higher for the third consecutive week and putting pressure on refinance momentum. Regardless, mortgage rates remain low helping to keep home-buyer affordability high, which should further aid home sales and construction in coming weeks.

The survey showed that the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage (FRM) averaged 3.59 percent with an average 0.7 point for the week ending May 23, 2013, up from last week when it averaged 3.51 percent. Last year at this time, the 30-year FRM averaged 3.78 percent.

Additionally, the 15-year FRM this week averaged 2.77 percent with an average 0.7 point, up from last week when it averaged 2.69 percent. A year ago at this time, the 15-year FRM averaged 3.04 percent.

The 5-year Treasury-indexed hybrid adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) averaged 2.63 percent this week with an average 0.5 point, up from last week when it averaged 2.62 percent. A year ago, the 5-year ARM averaged 2.83 percent.

The 1-year Treasury-indexed ARM averaged 2.55 percent this week with an average 0.4 point, the same as last week. At this time last year, the 1-year ARM averaged 2.75 percent.

Average commitment rates should be reported along with average fees and points to reflect the total upfront cost of obtaining the mortgage. Visit the following links for the Regional and NationalMortgage Rate Details and Definitions. Borrowers may still pay closing costs which are not included in the survey.

“Fixed-rates moved up for the third consecutive week, with the average 30-year fixed-rate mortgage about a quarter-percentage point higher than three weeks ago,” says Frank Nothaft, vice president and chief economist, Freddie Mac. “While this may slow some of the refinance momentum, rates are nonetheless low and home-buyer affordability high, which should further aid home sales and construction in coming weeks. For instance, in April, single family housing permits rose to the strongest pace since May 2008 while existing home sales for the same month grew the most since November 2009. Moreover, the National Association of REALTORS® reported that the median number of days on the market for these sales fell from 62 to 46 days, the fewest since it began collecting the data in May 2011.”

For more information, visit www.FreddieMac.com.

The Cutting Edge Your Listing Needs

Video, is the new & modern way to show off your property. It allows buyers to see your listing without actually going to a showing. YouTube has exploded on a global scale, people around the world can now search for homes through the internet and can view homes and go through a virtual walk-through without ever setting foot on the property. This saves sellers & buyers time and money. Buyers can decide on the spot whether the home is right for them without even contacting the seller or agent. Companies such as Captivate video Tours, and other virtual tour companies create high quality video of homes, which is perfect for the real estate industry. These companies also include community tours, house tours, digital business cards, and much more.

“Video is by far the most captivating form of media that we have available,” says Stintzi, owner of Captivate Video Tours. “It’s penetrated every level of marketing and advertising. The proof is all over the place. Agents who make video a priority in their marketing platform sell homes faster than agents who don’t. It makes a huge difference online for websites and social media outfits.

According to NAR, in 2011, more than 70 percent of people listing their homes preferred to list with a REALTOR® who offered video as part of their marketing plan as opposed to one who didn’t. Buyers, on the other hand, are 50 times more likely to view a video online than read text on the same subject.

“Simply put: Consumers want video. Whether they’re buying or selling, they want it,” says Steve Ewing, owner of The Digital Agent and Stintzi’s partner. “These consumer trends directly translate to winning more listings, driving sales, and gaining even more exposure online for your listings and brand.”

“Video tours have been touted as real estate’s next big thing for years now, but have been made largely inaccessible due to budget and time constraints. Projects were simply too expensive or the time allotted to complete them put the option out of reach,” says Stintzi. “Video is unique because it establishes an emotional contact point between your consumers, your brand and your product,” says Stintzi. “We like to be creative and work with a variety of people, but our main focus is on the real estate industry. That’s where we see the biggest needs.”

Virtual tours work great especially if you have a buyer, but they are unsure about the property. Maybe their spouse couldn’t make it to the showing, or they want other family members to check out the property. All you do is send them the link to the virtual tour, and they can view the entire house. Or what about buyers from out of state or even out of the country, they get a full private walk through in the comfort of there own homes.

Here are some tips for an effective Virtual Tour:

  • Make sure you chose a company that makes quality videos- view samples, read reviews. Look for things like how fast the slides move between shots, blurry photos, etc.
  • Talk to your Realtor and see if they do this type of Marketing, if not maybe you need to think about finding a Realtor that is more creative and up-to date in marketing.
  • Decide if you want a Virtual tour made up of still shots, or an actual continuous video.
  • Stage the home, or make sure everything is clean & arranged perfectly. No animals or other people in the shots. Take off anything personal from the fridge, make sure the pool sparkling, the beds are made,etc.. Before shooting, go through a walk-thru of the home, so the photographer knows exactly what to capture.
  • Timing- Shoot the pool & outdoor areas in the evening where the lighting will be perfect. Save the inside of the home for the day where it is bright and clear.
  • Create your own website for the property, featuring the virtual tour

How Landscaping Can Impact Home Values

The Inman Team wishes you a wonderful Memorial Day Weekend!

 

The Appraisal Institute recently advised homeowners to properly maintain their landscaping, which can significantly affect property values.

“If a landscaping change is positive, it can often enhance price and reduce a home’s time on the market,” says Appraisal Institute President Richard L. Borges II, MAI, SRA. “But if the change is negative, it can lower the price and lengthen the time a home remains for sale.”

Curb appeal is essential when selling a home, Borges says, noting it’s the homeowner’s opportunity to make a great first impression. A home with lackluster landscaping or an exterior in desperate need of a fresh coat of paint will likely be unappealing to prospective buyers and ultimately could affect the home’s potential resale value, he said. Landscaping is typically associated with lawns, trees, bushes and flowers. But other items also can be considered part of landscaping, such as fire pits, decks, patios, waterfalls, swimming pools and outdoor lighting … all of which could add to the value of the home. Borges adds that homeowners should trim growth regularly, replant approximately every 5 to 10 years depending on growth and not “overwhelm” the house. He also advised that homeowners check out what their neighbors have done and keep landscaping maintenance and improvements on par with neighborhood norms. According to the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors, trees that are too close to buildings may be fire hazards. Additionally, larger tree root systems that extend underneath a house can cause foundation uplift and can leech water from the soil beneath foundations, causing the structures to settle and sink unevenly.

According to a recent study conducted by Lawn & Landscape magazine, about two-thirds of homeowners say they’ll get less than 60 percent of their landscaping investment back when they sell the home.

“Landscaping improvements could make an impact on resale value, and homeowners need

to consider how long they’ll be in the home and whether to make short-term updates or plan

for the long haul,” Borges says. Borges says homeowners should ask themselves the following questions when it comes to the quality of their home’s green space:

• Is the landscaping attractive enough to make the prospective buyer walk through the

front door? Keep the design contemporary and in line with comparable properties in the

area.

• Could the landscaping provide cost savings? Landscaping that requires little or no

water to maintain could be desirable depending on the geographic area.

• Is the landscaping energy-efficient for the home overall? For example, it’s a good idea

to plant trees in a place where they block the sun in locations with year-round hot

climates.

• the trees planted at a safe distance from the home and are they healthy and well

maintained? Weak, old or damaged trees planted too close to a home or building could

pose dangers to the home’s structure and will need to be removed. Consumers should

also be sure that mulching or beds don’t get too close to wood around foundations to

avoid wood-destroying organisms.

For more information, visit http://www.appraisalinstitute.org.

Add Value to your Home with the Latest Home Trends

Remodeling Projects for Big Value:

Following are some easy to do remodeling projects that will add big value to your home.

  • Accentuate the Architecture:

The easiest way to draw eyes to existing furnishings is to use simple moldings or trim to draw attention, for example, a stunning view from the window or a high ceiling. Furthermore, you can also use beaded boards to add timeless and breathtaking appeal. On the other hand, you can get an elegant traditional look by dressing a ceiling light fixture with a beautiful medallion.

  • Install a Bay window:

If you replace a normal window with a bay or bow window, you will let more natural light in your house rather than regular one, it will make feel room look larger and will create a stunning focal point. Furthermore, to draw attention to the new window and add a bit of functionality to the surroundings, consider using a built in window chair that will be an architectural attraction for buyers and a cosy reading spot for you.

  • Refinish Wood Floors:

Refinishing worn out wood floors is a convenient method to rejuvenate your home and increase its value. You just need to be prepared for facing few days of dust. Similarly it is a better option to completely replace the floor if it is extremely worn out or stained. In this regard, a great idea is to splurge on wide plank hardwood floors in foyers and living room and then repeating it in the bedrooms.

  • Revitalize Staircases and Foyers:

Foyers are the first part of your house that a potential buyer will come across and it is your only chance to make a strong first impression. You need to make it welcome the guest in terrific style. If complete replacement is impossible, consider using sprucing items such as splurging the entryway or improving staircases. Repaint risers and sand and re-stain treads. Furthermore, hanging elegant decorative items on the stair and foyers walls such as photo on canvas will also spice up the area.

  • Make Good Use of Wasted Place:

You can transform a plan wall into a big storage area and can also display the showcase by adding open shelves by cutting a dry wall to create a recessed niche. Furthermore, you can also add a display shelf above the kitchen window and cup hooks below upper cabinets. Remember that storage is one of the most important element potential buyers consider before making final decision.

  • Add a Fireplace:

The ambiance created by a fireplace cannot be rivaled by anything else. It creates a sensational focal point for the room in addition with adding warmth and beauty. You need to dress up the firewall with tasteful wood mental and a delightful surround, for instance, by hanging a beautiful artwork such as split canvas prints above the mantel.

Builder Confidence Improves in May

Builder confidence in the market for newly built, single-family homes improved three points to a 44 reading on the National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index (HMI) for May, released recently. This gain, from a downward revised 41 in April, reflected improvement in all three index components – current sales conditions, sales expectations and traffic of prospective buyers.

“Builders are noting an increased sense of urgency among potential buyers as a result of thinning inventories of homes for sale, continuing affordable mortgage rates and strengthening local economies,” notes National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) Chairman Rick Judson, a home builder from Charlotte, N.C. “This is definitely an encouraging sign even amidst rising challenges with regard to the cost and availability of building materials, lots and labor.”

“While industry supply chains will take time to re-establish themselves following recession-related cutbacks, builders’ views of current sales conditions have improved and expectations for the future remain quite strong as consumers head back to the market in force,” says NAHB Chief Economist David Crowe.

Derived from a monthly survey that NAHB has been conducting for 25 years, the NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index gauges builder perceptions of current single-family home sales and sales expectations for the next six months as “good,” “fair” or “poor.” The survey also asks builders to rate traffic of prospective buyers as “high to very high,” “average” or “low to very low.” Scores for each component are then used to calculate a seasonally adjusted index where any number over 50 indicates that more builders view conditions as good than poor.

All three HMI components posted gains in May. The index gauging current sales conditions increased four points to 48, while the index gauging expectations for future sales edged up a single point to 53 – its highest level since February of 2007. The index gauging traffic of prospective buyers gained three points to 33.

Looking at the three-month moving averages for regional HMI scores, no movement was recorded in the Northeast, Midwest or South, which held unchanged at 37, 45 and 42, respectively. Only the West recorded a decline, of six points to 49 in May.

For more information, visit www.nahb.org

FNC Index: U.S. Home Prices Up 0.4 Percent in March

The latest FNC Residential Price Index™ (RPI) shows the U.S. housing market continued to recover, recording in March the 13th consecutive price increase. In recent months, the ongoing housing recovery has maintained its pace with steady and persistent gains in home prices despite signs of continued job market weakness and soft economic growth.

Low interest rates continue to be a key driver of rising housing demand. The market is also gaining momentum on signs of improved credit and more availability of leverage as mortgage lenders continue to experience rising profits. Foreclosure inventory continues to drop, with distressed sales contributing only 18 percent to total home sales, down from 24.5% a year ago.

Based on recorded sales of non-distressed properties (existing and new homes) in the 100 largest metropolitan areas, the FNC 100-MSA composite index shows that March home prices rose 0.4 percent from the previous month, and were up 5.5 percent from a year ago. On a quarterly basis, home prices rose 0.7 percent during the first quarter. When compared to the same quarter in 2012, the quarterly price gain was 5.7 percent. The two narrower composite indices (30-MSA and 10-MSA composites) show similar month-over-month increases but faster year-over-year accelerations at 6.7 percent and 7.4 percent, respectively.

FNC’s RPI is the mortgage industry’s first hedonic price index built on a comprehensive database that blends public records of residential sales prices with real-time appraisals of property and neighborhood attributes. As a gauge of underlying home values, the RPI excludes sales of foreclosed homes, which are frequently sold with large price discounts reflecting poor property conditions.

Twenty-two of the component markets tracked by the FNC 30-MSA composite index show higher prices in March. Most notably, home prices in Phoenix continue to accelerate rapidly even after rising at a rate of 2.1 percent per month for 13 straight months. The city’s foreclosure activities have dropped rapidly, with foreclosure sales accounting for only 11.2 percent of total home sales–the lowest since 2007.

Amid widening signs of a sustained housing recovery, a number of the nation’s major housing markets continue to show lagging performance. Among them, Chicago, Baltimore, St. Louis, Cleveland, and San Antonio experienced only a small price gain in the last 12 months. On a quarterly basis, home prices weakened between Q4 2012 and Q1 2013 in Chicago, Portland, Baltimore, Minneapolis, Houston, and St. Louis, despite that these market all seem to have turned the corner toward recovery.