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.

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.

Foundation Problems? Here’s What to Do If You’re Worried About Your Home’s Foundation

Foundation Problems? Here's What to Do If You're Worried About Your Home's FoundationLike in a relationship, the foundation of a house is integral, and must be strong. There are many reasons why a house’s foundation might crack or shift including temperature variances in the soil surrounding it, since earth expands in heat and contracts in cold. But whatever the reason, there are certain steps to follow when addressing concerns about your house’s foundation.

Prevent The Problem, If Possible

First, whenever possible act to prevent problems before they arise. Make it a habit to check for foundational stress by taking a walk through your basement and around the outside of your home. Signs of a problem include cracks in the foundation itself (particularly horizontal ones larger than a hairline), uneven or sloping floors, doors or windows that won’t open or close properly anymore, and water damage (puddles or moisture in the wood) that signals improper drainage.

Confirm The Problem, If There’s Time

If you find a crack that has you worried, but isn’t an insurmountable gap, take the time to coat it with concrete waterproofing paint. Then keep an eye on it. If the crack reappears after the paint has dried, it means the gap that produced the crack is growing and should be addressed. If you suspect water drainage problems, try shutting down all water-using appliances in your home. Then watch the water meter for 6 to 12 hours. If the levels change in that time, your water is finding another way out of the house. Finally, if you suspect a sloping floor, rest a tennis ball on it and look for rolling.

Fix The Problem, If It’s Small

Sometimes DIY methods can be used to address small issues, like little cracks (ones not in the foundation itself, but in walls or floors). Fill them with a vinyl concrete patch, or a similar product. Be sure the material you use is flexible and can move a little, because the concrete will it slightly expands and contracts to keep stable.

Call For Reinforcements!

That said, the absolute best method of dealing with foundation problems is to call in reinforcements, because even successful DIY fixes are temporary. And because, even though it will cost a little more, the money is worth it to prevent your house from collapsing! Reach out to a foundational specialist or a structural engineer if there are any signs that have you worried about a shifting or crumbling foundation.

If you have more in-depth questions, or want advice on a foundational specialist, talk to your trusted local real estate agent.

Electronic Gopher Repellers and 4 Other Home Gizmos You Never Thought You Needed

Electronic Gopher Repellers and 4 Other Home Gizmos You Never Thought You NeededAs a homeowner, thinking outside the box, gadget-wise, can lead you to gizmos that solve your problems – even ones you didn’t know you had in more humane, sustainable, energy-efficient ways than ever before. Read on to find out about five such inventions.

It’s Humane!: Solar-Powered Gopher Repellent

If you ever have a problem with rodents like gophers, moles, voles or shrews intruding on your lawn, look no further. This humane repellent doesn’t hurt anyone (people or animals), it simply emits a high-pitched sound at regular intervals to disrupt the animals’ sleeping patterns. It discourages them from moving in by making your lawn inhospitable but without using traps or poison. The sound is too high for humans to hear it, and only travels underground so dogs aren’t disturbed, either.

It’s Tasty!: Outdoor Wine Glass Holders

They seem simple, but sometimes the most obvious things are the hardest to recognize. Like outdoor wine or champagne glass holders removing the need to balance a full glass on uneven ground. Next time you’re on a picnic, take along these portable items, stick them in the grass (or the sand, if you’re at a beach) and hang your stemmed glass on the hook.

It’s Easy!: One Touch Jar Opener

Who hasn’t struggled with a jar opener for the pasta sauce while the noodles boil over and the onions burn? For any cook that doesn’t have a sous-chef handy, don’t worry there’s now a one-touch jar opener for just that occasion. Conveniently sized and battery-operated, these little guys adjust to any jar size and have padded edges to protect the jars so you can reuse them.

It’s Handy!: iPad Fridge Mount

Increasingly, people these days are cooking with recipes from the Internet. With an iPad Fridge Mount, you don’t need to copy out the recipes, print them or worry about your device getting splashed or hit with dinner. The mount is easy to install no tools needed and easy to remove, so the iPad is as portable as ever. The mount can also go on walls or doors.

It’s Smart!: Automated Watering Controller

Unlike the other items on this list, which ranged from $10 to $30, the Blossom Smart Watering Controller sells on Amazon for just under $400. But it saves money, and conserves water, by monitoring the weather (so it can adjust its lawn/garden watering schedule for wetter or dryer days), and you control it through your smartphone. No new wiring, sprinklers or valves are needed.

If you need more info or want suggestions on neat home gizmos that work well in your neighborhood, reach out to your local real estate agent.

Need a DIY Summer Project? How to Paint Your Home’s Exterior in a Weekend or Two

Need a DIY Summer Project? How to Paint Your Home's Exterior in a Weekend or TwoIf you want something hands-on to do this summer, look no further than the outside of your house. There are many reasons to refresh the paint job on your house, including increased protection against weathering, and increased curb appeal. Whatever your reason, read on to learn just what you’ll need, and need to do, to paint your home’s exterior.

What You’ll Need: Materials, Tools, Protection

A DIY paint job is easily doable, and costs only as much as the materials, tools and protection you need. Those materials include the paint itself, the primer and the caulking (to seal cracks and joints). For tools, look for paintbrushes and rollers, sanders, and scrapers. You’ll also need drop cloths (to protect your lawn/garden), masks/respirators (to protect yourself), and a HEPA vacuum/suit if you’re stripping lead-based paint.

What You’ll Do: Step One

Essentially, house-painting boils down to three steps. First, prep the surface. You’ll need to wash the house, scrape loose paint off and sand it smooth to make it an ideal surface to which the new paint can adhere. Note, if your house was built before 1978, test for lead-based paint (which will just require a little more protection while you’re scraping it off). Lead-testing kits can be purchased online.

What You’ll Do: Step Two

Next, patch and prime. Fill in smaller imperfections with something like epoxy. Bigger gaps and joints will need caulking but do this only after the primer is applied. Take this patching time to fix any rot or potential rot problems signaled by improper water drainage. Then prime the whole exterior this seals the wood and makes it even easier for paint to adhere to the walls.

What You’ll Do: Step Three

Finally, the paint. Water-based latex (or acrylic) paint is more flexible, easier to clean and more environmentally friendly than oil-based paints. Read the paint can they contain tips and instructions on using the paint that can come in handy. With DIY, brushes and rollers are better to use than a paint-sprayer, which can be hard to control. Three tips: always start at the top of the house and paint down, it’s always better to do two coats, and stay in the shade while you’re working painting in direct sunlight causes the paint to dry too fast and flake.

What You’ll Do After: How To Maintain An Exterior

Once your exterior has dried, keep it looking fresh with consistent caulking, touch ups for peeling paint and removing mold and mildew whenever you spot it.

For more tips or advice on improving your home’s value in your neighborhood, talk to your local real estate agent.

4 Tips For Negotiating a Better Rental Agreement

4 Tips For Negotiating a Better Rental AgreementRenting is hard. It’s easy to get lost in the length and language of rental agreements, but it’s important not to get discouraged when that happens. Rental agreements are fundamental documents that lay out the details of your tenancy, so when you’re ready to negotiate their terms, give them the attention they deserve with the help of these tips.

Research the Property

Like prepping for a job interview, make sure you know about the property you’re negotiating. Research the market so you know a reasonable price to ask for (and to expect). Read up on comparable properties in your neighborhood so you can use them as references during the rental discussion. There are resources that can help here, including online rent indexes that list comparable prices and vacancies for major cities.

Research the Landlord

As a tenant, you’re in partnership with your landlord, so get to know them. Look at other properties they own to see those rental rates. The more prepared you are (to a reasonable degree but leave off the Facebook stalking), the more comfortable you will be while negotiating. And remember that negotiations are two-sided; so try when you can to consider what both parties will get from the deal. Be ready to compromise.

Read the Contract

It’s worth repeating, even though it sounds obvious. But rental contracts need to be read, and read carefully, so that you know what rights you have as a renter, and what responsibilities are yours (versus your landlord’s). Have a lawyer, or a law-minded friend, read over the contract if possible. And when negotiating changes to an already existing agreement, be sure you write them all down and both you and the landlord initial them, on each copy of the contract. This ensures the changes are legal and binding.

Rent Isn’t The Only Negotiable

Rent isn’t the only element of your tenancy that you can negotiate. If the landlord is unable or unwilling to lower the rent, even after you’ve done your research and asked for a reasonable decrease, you can address other aspects. Look at landscaping, or maintenance of the unit. Perhaps you can do a little yard-work to offset some of your other costs. Think creatively.

Approach your rental agreement negotiation with respect and preparation and you’ll be well on your way to a better contract. If you have any questions or concerns, get in contact with your local real estate agent. They know your neighborhood and will be able to help you negotiate it.

3 Smart Home Gadgets That Are Worth the Investment

3 Smart Home Gadgets That Are Worth the InvestmentIt’s no secret that high-tech homes can provide a more effortless living experience while also being just really, really cool. If you’re looking to up-the-ante and introduce high-tech gadgets into your home, check out our top three smart-home suggestions:

1. Robotic Vacuum Cleaner

Robotic vacuum cleaners are one of our favorite high-tech toys as they can alleviate a significant portion of the burden of your regular household chores. They’re even more beneficial considering the fact that they can also make your home much more comfortable to live in.

Food crumbs, pet fur, and dust bunnies are no match for an iRobot Roomba, which will soon become your own personal home-cleaning minion. Your house will feel cleaner and look more pristine, and you won’t even have to lift a finger!

Bonus: these things have serious entertainment value. Google “shark cat” if you don’t believe us.

2. Smart Thermostat

This high-tech addition is a fantastic way to boost comfort within your home while also controlling household expenses. When you invest in a smart thermostat, a small sensor will be able to detect the temperature in each room of your home, adjusting the heat flow accordingly.

With no more uneven heating throughout your house; the chilly den that you dread working in will now become a usable space! On the flip side, your thermostat will no longer be blowing heat into rooms that have already hit your desired temperature. Now that’s what we call a ‘smart’ home upgrade.

Bonus: smart thermostats work for air conditioning as well, meaning that they can help ensure your stuffy guest room is as cool and comfortable as the rest of the house.

3. Sleep IQ Bed

You’ve likely heard of sleep number beds, whose firmness is independently adjustable on each side of the mattress, but have you heard of their newest add on, the Sleep IQ?

Sleep IQ beds monitor your sleep by tracking a number of factors such as your heart rate, breathing patterns, and movement throughout the night. Based on these stats, the bed will recommend ways you can improve your overall sleep quality, and ultimately your overall health.

Bonus: since you can adjust the firmness of each side of the bed independently, you and your partner will never have to compromise on your preferences again!

Looking for a more high-tech home? Speak to your trusted real estate professional today to learn what exciting new options are available to you.

4 Ways to Safeguard Your Home While on Vacation

4 Ways to Safeguard Your Home While on VacationEveryone needs a vacation at some point, and worrying about your home should be the last thing on your mind while you’re out of town. Here are 4 ways to boost home security when you’re not around.

1. Enlist The Help Of Others

Even if you’re only gone for a short amount of time, asking someone you trust to keep an eye on your home can offer a big-time boost in security.

Hiring a house-sitter to collect your mail, mow your lawn, and make your house look lived in can be a great option for longer vacations, as physical changes to your property can tip-off burglars that you’re out of town.

For short trips, it is worthwhile to ask a neighbor to keep an eye on your home and to report any suspicious activity to the authorities. Having someone who is aware you’re not around can nip crime in the bud, as they’ll be less hesitant to call the police if they notice any unexpected guests around your home.

2. No Give-Aways!

Sharing your vacation photos on social media can be a convenient way to share your experiences with your friends, but it’s best to do so after you’ve returned home. The fact that you’re not around is information that can easily fall into the wrong hands on the web, making you a target for crime.

If you decide to change your voicemail greeting while you’re away, be careful that it does not explicitly state that you’re out of town. It’s fine to tell callers that you’re unable to accept calls for a period of time, but they do not need to know it’s because you’re a thousand miles away.

3. Leave It To The Pros

If you’re looking for a security measure that’s even more reliable than your neighbors, it may be worthwhile to install a home alarm system. Houses that lack security systems are burglarized more often than ones that have an alarm installed, making them a worthwhile investment for frequent travelers.

4. Don’t Forget Internal Threats

It’s not only outside threats that you have to consider before heading on vacation! Make sure you prep your home for your absence by unplugging any appliances (toaster, computer, TV) that are at risk of a power surge.

If you live in a cold climate and your pipes are at risk of freezing, ask someone you trust to stop by your home every few days to run the water. Make sure to show them where the water main shut-off is in case a pipe bursts while you’re away.

Interested in more neighborhood safety advice? Contact your trusted real estate professional today!

4 Bathroom Design Trends That Buyers Hate

4 Bathroom Design Trends That Buyers HateBathrooms are an essential part of any home, especially when it comes to buying and selling a home. They’re impossible to ignore and one of the first things buyers look at. Despite this, it’s simple for homeowners to forget how important these rooms are.

Bathroom decor can quickly go wrong. Little features look big when they’re packed into these small spaces, so minor things like shower curtains or how clean the window is can make a big difference.

On the other hand, homeowners are also able to take advantage of how powerful interior design can be in smaller spaces. A little effort goes a long way when looking to maximize the price of property or speed up a sale.

Homeowners can boost the benefits of their sale with these four tips on the most unappealing bathroom trends around.

1. Color Toilets and Sinks

Toilets and sinks in colors like rose pink or seafoam green were incredibly popular years ago, but they’re still loved by many people who enjoy a vintage look or just love bright spaces.

However, homeowners have a greater potential to make more money faster if they appeal to a wide range of buyers. Bathrooms decorated in a classic style are great looking to most people, making them more likely to put in an offer.

2. Peel and Paste Wall Paper

Modern peel and paste wall paper is a new trend that’s taken over many interior design websites and stores. It’s available in countless prints, colors and patterns and its popularity continues to grow.

Despite this, it’s difficult to find a style that’s sought after by the majority of buyers. Yellow polka dot cabinets may be hip, but it’s usually best for homeowners to decorate in neutral colors and traditional materials.

3. Carpet

Carpet is warm and feels great, but there are several drawbacks to decorating with this trend. Buyers know the potential hassle of wall-to-wall carpet, which may reduce the price of their offer or stop them from buying at all.

Buyers like stress-free flooring that’s difficult to stain, so homeowners should consider using easy-to-clean materials in their bathrooms.

4. Unusual Tile and Linoleum Flooring

Unusual tile colors and patterns can look outdated, while linoleum flooring can look inexpensive. Unfortunately, neither results are attractive to buyers. To get the most out of their property, homeowners should consider replacing the flooring with hardwood or a convincing laminate alternative.

Reach out to your trusted real estate professional to get more advice on how to create beautiful bathrooms today.

3 Important Things To Consider Before Listing Your Home on Airbnb

3 Important Things To Consider Before Listing Your Home on AirbnbAirbnb has become an attractive way for homeowners to make income from their property. Although Airbnb’s is known for its reputable insurance policy, there are a few things you should consider before listing your home online.

Time Commitment

People have a tendency to think more about what they can gain from hosting on Airbnb than what hosting will do to their life. Having a steady stream of guests is quite a time-consuming endeavor; you’ll have to respond to inquiries online, clean your guest’s space and do laundry after every booking, and make sure your home is constantly neat and tidy.

This may seem like a small to-do list, but if you have a new guest every 3-4 days that could add up to 10 extra loads of laundry per month. Yikes!

As a host, you will also need to be present to check guests in and out of your home, which means you’ll need to book time off from your other commitments to properly welcome your guests and fulfill your hosting requirements. Hosting on Airbnb is just like having a real B&B, it is a business and requires time as such.

Risky Business

Needless to say, allowing strangers to stay in your home comes with inherent risk. Although Airbnb has insurance to protect its hosts and their homes, hosts are still vulnerable to theft or property damage. This can be especially devastating if sentimental items, such a wedding rings or family heirlooms, are stolen by a guest.

Another risk for Airbnb hosts to be aware of is squatting scams. Some scammers have taken advantage of the fact that when a guest stays in a home for longer than 30 days, they may gain squatting rights to the property, making it difficult for their host to force them to leave.

To avoid this situation, do not accept bookings that are longer than 30 days, and/or be very clear in your communication to guests that they are only allowed to stay at your property until the agreed upon departure date, and explicitly state that they must vacate your home after that time.

Be Realistic

It is unlikely that listing your home on Airbnb will provide you with enough financial freedom to quit your job and travel the world, though it may provide you with extra funds to contribute towards your mortgage payments. Be realistic about your expected hosting income, and don’t make any major financial changes based on your expectations until you have experience as a host and can accurately predict your monthly Airbnb profit.

Are you ready to find an ideal income property for Airbnb guests? Speak with your local real estate professional today!