86% of buyers don’t know what a CLUE report is. Do you??

November 21, 2016

WASHINGTON – Nov. 16, 2016 ­– Homebuyers often shop around for the best rate on a homeowners insurance policy, but 86 percent of Americans don’t realize that the policy amount is based, in part, on the home’s claim history.

Sellers who make too many property insurance claims could harm future buyers, yet most buyers are unaware that actions take by a home’s previous owners may be considered when an insurance company sets a premium under their new policy.

Many insurers use CLUE – an acronym for Comprehensive Loss Underwriting Exchange – to report and check the claims history of homes. Yet, only 12 percent of buyers say they ask for a CLUE report before buying their current home, according to a new survey of more than 1,000 adults by InsuranceQuotes.

“Consumers of all ages, from millennials to seniors, are almost entirely unaware of how the CLUE database affects their insurance rates,” says Laura Adams, senior insurance analyst at InsuranceQuotes. “In most states, an inquiry about property damage can be added to your CLUE report and used against you, even if you never file a claim.”

Only the owner of a property can request a CLUE report. Homebuyers, therefore, need to ask sellers to obtain a copy on their own behalf.

“The CLUE report, which maintains data up to seven years, is a valuable tool for homebuyers because it reveals prior claims and potential risks,” Adams says. “It also helps home sellers provide full disclosure about their property’s condition.”

Homeowners can get a CLUE report free once every 12 months.

Source: InsuranceQuotes

© Copyright 2016 INFORMATION, INC. Bethesda, MD


Understanding Florida’s Homestead Rules

November 12, 2016

The rules governing HOMESTEAD Protection or Exemption apply in three contexts:

  1. Real Estate Tax Exemption
    • The list of exemptions includes among others, a cap on assessments called Save Our Homes and exemptions for widows, veterans and the blind.
    • The exemptions may give you significant savings on your real estate taxes.
  2. Creditor Protection
    • Florida prohibits creditor judgments from attaching to your homestead, keeping the creditor from forcing you to sell your home to pay off a judgment.
    • However, there are certain creditor claims that can still attach to your homestead such as IRS liens, foreclosures, past-due homeowner association fees and contractors’ liens.
  3. Transfer at Death
    • The laws governing transfers of homestead at the owner’s death will depend on whether or not you were married at the time of your death and if your heirs are minor children.
      1. If you have no spouse and no minor children, then you can leave the homestead to whomever you want.
      2. If you have a minor child and are married with your homestead titled in joint names with your spouse, then your protected homestead goes to your spouse by right of survivorship. However, if the property is in your name only, your spouse has two options: take a life estate (right to live in the property for his or her remaining lifetime) with the home passing to your children at his or her death, or take a half ownership interest and the children will receive the other half.
  • Specific rules govern the transfer of your home if you have a spouse and adult children.

The laws benefit you during your lifetime, but the transfer of your property at your death can affect your survivors and lead to disappointment and division. To ensure that you understand all aspects of the Florida homestead laws, consider consulting an experienced estate planning and probate attorney to help you plan appropriately and avoid family setbacks, hardships and discontent after you have passed.

To qualify for Homestead Exemption:

  • You must be a permanent resident of Florida residing on the property as your primary residence as of January 1st.
  • The deadline to submit the application for exemption is March 1st (for the year in which you wish to qualify)

For more information, visit  http://floridarevenue.com or http://www.property-appraiser.org.

 


Is Your Home a Smart Home?

October 8, 2016

The term “smart house” was coined in the 1980s to refer to a home with integrated telephones, lighting, audio and security.

Today, a smart home is defined as equipped with network-connected products…connected via Wi-Fi, Bluetooth or similar protocols for controlling, automating and optimizing functions of the home.

This definition stipulates that the home has internet access, a smart security or temperature system and at least two other smart features, such as appliances, entertainment devices, cooling or heating equipment, lighting, landscaping elements, air quality monitors or thermostats.

Anything mentioned above that you can add to your home will increase your home’s value.


Four deep-cleaning targets to help a home shine

September 16, 2016

BALTIMORE – Sept. 15, 2016 – Buyers are just more attracted to clean houses. And while a standard job may give a home a momentary shine, a deep clean of hidden spots may help provide the wow factor the house needs.

The Cleaning Authority offers the following tips on deep cleaning a home:

1. Use a top-to-bottom approach.

Begin at the top: Clear the cobwebs from the corners of the ceiling, dust off light fixtures and ceiling fans and clean off cabinet tops (including the top of the refrigerator). All of these areas tend to be prime dust collectors. Next, move on to the middle of the home: Wipe down walls, and touch up paint where needed. Remove build-up on light switch panels. Finally, clean the baseboards and floors.

2. Change air conditioner filters.

If the home seems to be perpetually dusty, the A/C filter and ducts may be the culprits. “If the filter needs to be changed or the duct needs repairing, you’re just recirculating the same dust throughout the home,” according to The Cleaning Authority.

3. Zoom in on the bathroom.

Beyond cleaning the typical spots, go further: Clean behind the toilet too. Check for rust where the toilet meets the floor, scrub the hinges on the toilet cap, and polish the shower, tub and faucet. Also, scrub the bathtub tile. Don’t neglect the rails on a glass shower door.

4. Clean behind the refrigerator.

You may be surprised at what you find behind your fridge, everything from decaying food to even a breeding ground for insects. Pull out the fridge and give it a good scrub underneath.

Source: The Cleaning Authority

© Copyright 2016 INFORMATION, INC. Bethesda, MD


Five fixes that can raise a home’s value

September 9, 2016

STAMFORD, Conn. – Sept. 8, 2016 – For homeowners looking to spruce up their home before listing it, there’s plenty they can do to attract more buyers and potentially boost the value of their home too.

Veteran real estate professionals recently weighed in at This Old House on some of the best home improvement projects they believe can help a home show better. Here are a few of their ideas:

1. Open up the space.

Create more space, whether that’s even removing a kitchen island or knocking out a non-structural wall. “Right now buyers want a wide open floor plan, the living room right off the kitchen.

2. Light it up.

Keep the home bright: Have windows open to let the natural light flow in, consider lights that use motion detectors to turn themselves off, or install sun tubes, a reflective material that funnels natural light from a hole cut in a rooftop down through a ceiling fixture in a room.

3. Enhance the front door.

“Don’t underestimate the power of a front door,” Willens says. “People make up their minds in the first seven seconds of entering a house.”

Remember to follow the guidelines of your HOA!

4. Pay attention to the floors.

Spend some money on the floors, suggests the real estate professionals surveyed by This Old House. Get a carpenter or handyman to eliminate distracting squeaks from floors, repair any broken tiles, patch damaged floorboards, and remove wall-to-wall carpeting, they suggest.

5. Tackle easy bathroom upgrades.

Bathroom upgrades can quickly get pricey but a few upgrades can still make a big difference. For example, swap frosted glass for clear glass, remove any rust stains, apply fresh caulk, update doorknobs and cabinet pulls, replace faucets, buy a new toilet seat, or install a low-flush toilet.

Source: “Brokers Tell All: 10 Ways to Boost Home Value,” This Old House (September 2016)

© Copyright 2016 INFORMATION, INC. Bethesda, MD


Real Estate better than stocks

September 7, 2016

NORWALK, Conn. – Sept. 6, 2016 – Despite recent gains in the stock market, Americans have more confidence investing in real estate. About a quarter of Americans surveyed said real estate was their top choice for long-term investing, according to a new national survey released by Bankrate.

Consumers selected real estate as the top pick to invest money they wouldn’t need for more than 10 years, followed by cash investments (e.g. certificates of deposit and savings accounts). Then, coming in a distant third was the stock market.

 

Americans are feeling more bullish about their sense of financial well-being, according to the Bankrate Financial Security Index, which is based on survey questions of how consumers feel about their debt, savings, net worth and job security.

Source: “Real Estate Top Investing Choice, Survey Finds,” RISMedia (July 24, 2016)

© Copyright 2016 INFORMATION, INC. Bethesda, MD


Existing-Home Sales Stumble in July

August 25, 2016
Call today to get more information on the market in Celebration. 321-939-1300. Kathy can do a free market analysis of your home if you are thinking of selling.
Slowed by frustratingly low inventory levels in many parts of the country, existing-home sales lost momentum in July and decreased year-over-year for the first time since November 2015, according to the National Association of REALTORS®. Only the West region saw a monthly increase in closings in July.
Total existing-home sales, which are completed transactions that include single-family homes, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops, fell 3.2 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.39 million in July from 5.57 million in June. For only the second time in the last 21 months, sales are now below (1.6 percent) a year ago (5.48 million).
Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, says existing sales fell off track in July after steadily climbing the last four months. “Severely restrained inventory and the tightening grip it’s putting on affordability is the primary culprit for the considerable sales slump throughout much of the country last month,” he says. “Realtors® are reporting diminished buyer traffic because of the scarce number of affordable homes on the market, and the lack of supply is stifling the efforts of many prospective buyers attempting to purchase while mortgage rates hover at historical lows.”
 
Home sales are still expected to finish the year at their strongest pace since the downturn, thanks to a very strong spring,
 
According to Freddie Mac, the average commitment rate for a 30-year, conventional, fixed-rate mortgage dropped from 3.57 percent in June to 3.44 percent in July. Mortgage rates have now fallen five straight months and in July were the lowest since January 2013 (3.41 percent). The average commitment rate for all of 2015 was 3.85 percent.