With COVID-19 forcing non-essential workers to work from home, home prices are seeing an upward trend. Recent builders reports are showing a fast upward trend in new construction.
Inventory is dipping, prices are going up and people are looking to upgrade to slightly bigger homes so that they can work from home comfortably.
Most have heard the wise adage about not judging a book by its cover. However, like it or not, first impressions are lasting. For example, a potential buyer pulls up to your home for sale. Their initial judgment is based on if they like what they see on the exterior, or curb appeal. Since most buyers won’t even get to the interior if they don’t like the exterior, first impressions are of the utmost importance concerning real estate.
Updating the exterior of your home is an excellent way to add curb appeal to older, drab, and outdated homes. This is true whether you’re building equity in your home over the long-term, planning to sell, or just looking for a DIY project. The cost, time, and labor associated with curb appeal projects vary greatly. That said, there are multiple weekend warrior projects that will give your home a simple facelift, but not break your back or wallet during the process, such as:
1. Front Door. Replacing a worn, outdated door can add instantaneous curb appeal with just a few hours of work. A decorative door with hand carved elements or glass work can add interest and help set your home apart. A cheaper option is to update your existing door with a bright, fresh, complementary paint color. In most cases, you shouldn’t be afraid of bolder colors that, again, can help set your home apart. You can always consult a color expert or decorator if you’re unsure about how a color will work.
2. Entry Way. Consider staining or painting your concrete walkway, porch, and/or steps at your home’s entry, but be sure that the paint/stain you select at the home improvement store is specifically for concrete. You can rent or buy a power washer to thoroughly clean stone and brick entry ways. You can use paving stones, stepping stones, or brick to make a quick, relatively inexpensive walkway if you don’t already have one.
3. Trim, Shutters, and Molding. Adding a fresh coat of paint to the trim that frames your windows can help give your home character, an eye-catching pop of color, and highlight the size and number of windows. Adding shutters or window boxes can give the home some dimension and depth from the street. You might also consider adding prefabricated molding. It comes in a variety of different styles and easily attaches to the front of the home.
4. Greenery. Adding some attractive greenery is a cheap, quick, and easy way to add curb appeal. It’s okay if you don’t have a green thumb. Plant nurseries carry a variety of low-maintenance, ready-to-plant or ready-to-hang plants that will require little of you. On the other hand, if your yard is looking more like a jungle than a yard, then it’s time to get the yard equipment out. Foliage can be an asset when it’s complimentary, but can easily become a negative when overgrown and obstructive.
5. Welcome Home. Add some welcome home accessories that match the style of your home, such as light fixtures, a porch swing or seating area, door knob, mailbox, and welcome mat.
Americans are taking to the outdoors in record numbers this summer, mostly because of COVID-19 indoor restrictions and the cancellation of organized sports.
So, this summer you and/or your family and friends may be hauling a trailer. It secures your ATV, boat, a second car, camper, horses or camping gear. Before you hit the road, make sure your trailer is properly insured.
Why do you Need Trailer Insurance?
Many states accept your auto insurance coverage when you haul a trailer behind your insured vehicle. Your homeowners or renters insurance policy may cover the items you haul. However, this coverage is typically only for liability. Plus, you face several risks when you haul your trailer on the road.
- If you’re not used to hauling a trailer, your risk of causing an accident increases.
- You may turn too sharply and damage someone’s property.
- You could hit a slippery stretch of highway that causes your trailer to slide into another vehicle and damage it or push it off the road.
- While unloading or loading your trailer, you could damage it or the item you’re hauling.
These and other accidents are possible. Trailer insurance adds valuable protection that gives you peace of mind as you travel.
What Type of Coverage is Available?
The type and amount of trailer insurance you need depends on your trailer’s type and size and on the value of the items you will haul. Typical trailer insurance provides several valuable coverages.
- Liability – Cover the costs associated with bodily injuries or property damages your trailer causes to other people or their property and belongings.
- Comprehensive – Repair your trailer if it is damaged from theft, vandalism, fire or weather.
- Collision – Repair your trailer if it is damaged during a traffic collision.
- Contents Coverage – Pay to replace damaged items that are stored on or hauled in your trailer.
How do you Purchase Trailer Insurance?
Talk to your auto insurance agent about trailer insurance. He or she will review your auto insurance policy’s current types of coverage and limits to ensure it’s adequate for your trailer. Your agent will also review your homeowners or renters insurance policy and ensure it covers the items you are hauling.
If your current policies are not adequate to cover your trailer and its contents, increase your coverage types or limits or purchase a separate policy. You may need to shop around for trailer insurance if your current agent does not carry it.
With trailer insurance, you can travel this summer with confidence. If your trailer causes property damage or bodily injury or if the items you haul are damaged, you can pay for the liability or repairs. Talk to your agent before your next trip to make sure you’re properly covered.
Mold growth in your commercial building can cause health concerns and compromise your building’s integrity. Because mold grows quickly in damp conditions and thrives on wood, insulation, carpet, paper, and other organic surfaces where moisture and oxygen are present, it’s especially problematic during the spring season. Prevent health concerns like asthma, respiratory infections, breathing difficulties, itchy eyes, nasal congestion, and skin irritations when you reduce mold in several ways.
Inspect your Building for Mold Growth
Mold thrives in damp, dark and humid areas, including basements, crawl spaces, bathrooms, carpeted areas, and storage spaces. Inspect your entire building, including secluded areas, at least once a week. Look for visible mold growth that may be green, black or brown, and note any spotty or fuzzy stains, another sign of mold.
If you notice damp areas in your commercial space, look for leaks that could cause and encourage mold growth. Repair broken pipes, wall cracks or unsealed windows so that the area remains dry and mold-free.
Damp areas and condensation could cause mold to grow, so install dehumidifiers where necessary. These appliances reduce moisture and keep the area dry and free of dangerous mold.
Clean the HVAC System
The heating, ventilation and air conditioning system could spread mold spores throughout your building and increase health risks. Clean the system thoroughly and maintain it as you protect your employees, customers and vendors.
Treat Mold Properly
Small areas of mold growth can be cleaned and treated with bleach or another mold cleanser. Remember to wear a respirator and protective clothing as you perform this task to protect yourself from an allergic reaction.
If your building requires more extensive remediation methods, hire a professional to access the mold, determine the extent of the damage and create a removal plan. Depending on the growth, treatment could require renovations like drywall or sub-flooring replacement. In this case, hire a reliable professional to remove the mold and treat the area properly.
File an Insurance Claim
Your commercial property insurance policy may cover mold removal, especially if it stems from a covered peril, such as a storm or act of vandalism. Check the policy or talk to your agent as you determine if you can file a claim and cover the mold removal and treatment.
Implement an Ongoing Inspection Program
After removing and treating the mold, schedule regular inspections of the area. Look for evidence of mold growth and excessive moisture as you prevent hazardous mold growth.
Mold damages your commercial building and affects the health of your employees. This spring, reduce mold and protect your assets with these tips. For more tips, talk to your commercial property insurance agent.
11 months ago ·
by Erin Carlson ·
Are you planning to welcome trick or treaters to your home this month? Follow these steps that prepare your property for safe Halloween fun.
1. Clean your walkways.
Jack-o-lanterns are cute, but they are also tripping hazards. Remove decorations and all clutter or debris such as toys, yard tools or twigs from your sidewalks, steps and walkways.
2. Clear the yard.
Ideally, kids will stay on the walkway and front porch as they retrieve their candy. However, you will want to clear your yard so curious and excited kids don’t trip on any toys, branches or yard tools.
3. Repair broken sidewalks and steps.
Inspect your entryway and steps carefully. Then repair any broken stepping stones, loose railings or other hazards.
4. Install lighting.
Your front porch light is turned on to welcome trick or treaters, but you may also need additional lighting to ensure safety. Solar-powered walkway lights or a string of lights can illuminate your walkway and porch.
5. Change your location.
Instead of making kids walk up your long driveway or steep steps, stand or sit in a location that’s easy for them to access.
6. Lock doors and windows.
On trick or treat night, your attention is focused on your front door. Lock all the other doors and windows in your house so no one can gain access to your home while you’re out front. Remember to lock your garage and car, too.
7. Secure valuables.
Move your grill, mower and other valuables to the shed or another secure location. With this tip, you prevent potential burglars from adding your home to their future target list.
8. Protect your pets.
Some kids are scared of animals. Also, pets can become startled and bolt or bite when they see strange costumes or dozens of noisy kids. Always secure your pets so they and the kids are safe.
9. Extinguish candles.
Open flames pose a fire hazard. As an alternative, try battery-powered bulbs, or install Halloween-themed covers on your flashlights.
10. Consider allergies when choosing candy.
Many kids are allergic to nuts or dairy. Place a teal pumpkin on your step to show trick or treaters that you offer safe alternatives like books, stickers or toys.
11. Update your property and homeowners’ insurance policies. 🙂
Despite your best efforts to promote safety, someone could be injured while on your property. Be sure your property and homeowners’ insurance policies are updated and include adequate coverage.
Trick or treating is a fun family activity. As you give out treats this year, follow these 11 safety tips. They secure your property and reduce your liability risks.
Renting a house saves you big bucks on vacation since it’s usually cheaper per night than a hotel. Plus, you have amenities like a washer and dryer, kitchen, full bath and maybe even a large backyard. That doesn’t mean, though, that your vacation home is perfect. Like any home, it’s susceptible to thieves, weather damage or other problems.
You might want to invest in insurance coverage as you rent a vacation home this summer.
Make Sure the Landlord has Property Insurance
You don’t plan to go on vacation and have a terrible time, but accidents, bad weather and mistakes happen. Who will pay the bill if the home’s rotted stair railing fails and sends you tumbling off the steps and into the ER? Can you afford to replace an antique vase you or one of your kids accidentally breaks?
In most cases, the landlord’s insurance will cover these accidents. Always ask if the home is covered before you sign a rental agreement, though, to ensure you’re not left covering the bill that should be the vacation home owner’s responsibility.
Make Sure you Have Insurance
Most homeowner and renters insurance policies cover your belongings if they’re lost, stolen or damaged. This coverage applies whether you’re in your home, at school or at vacation.
It’s a good idea to double check your policy before you travel. Add additional coverage if necessary to ensure you are indeed covered for every possible scenario. Ensure the policy is current and paid in full, too. You don’t want to file a claim while on vacation and discover that your coverage lapsed.
Renting a house can be an affordable, comfortable and fun part of your next vacation. Before you sign a lease agreement, make sure the home and your possessions are insured. The peace of mind helps you truly relax and unwind no matter where your vacation takes you.
There are those that negotiate for the most reasonable deal possible and those that negotiate for the sake of negotiating. Sellers and buyers alike need to realize that the best deal possible is one where both get what they want in the deal.
This isn’t necessarily an easy point to arrive at and is often a lesson in patience. In real estate, there’s something called the X-factor – a potential home buyer spends countless hours viewing properties until they finally find their perfect home. Instead of making an offer based on what the value of the home is to them and what comparable prices are, they immediately start to ponder how much less they should offer than whatever the asking price might be.
Sorry, but there isn’t some tacit X-factor percentage that should just automatically be subtracted from all listing prices. Home owners are more often than not just as eager to sell as the buyer is to buy. If so, the price of the home is usually realistically priced and priced closely to its comps.
Still, the quest for a deal spurs many to start with a low-ball offer that’s not only unrealistic, but often insulting to the seller. If the seller is offended, negotiations usually die before they’ve ever begun. So, any serious buyer shouldn’t have some magic automatic deduction from an asking price in their head. Look at the comps in the area and determine what the value of the home is for you based on how congruent it is to the needs and desires of your family.
How a purchasing price is arrived at for both owner and buyer is a very personal process. When accepting an offer, a buyer considers how fast they need to sell the home, how bad they need to sell the home, pressures from having already purchasing a replacement home, what is owed on the home, and so forth.
On the other hand, two potential buyers can look at the very same property and come up with two very different personal values for the home, depending on how congruent it is with each of their needs, the location of the home, appeal of the home, amenities, school system, and so forth. Aside from personal value, buyers and sellers must also look at the how much a lender will lend on the home based on it appraisal.
Price isn’t the only thing negotiated during the sale of a home. There’s also time lines, what will stay and go from the home, and who will pay for any problems found upon professional inspection. The most important thing for buyers and sellers to remember is that negotiating isn’t about one side getting everything they desire; it’s a give-and-take process of compromise.
To avoid a winner-take-all complex from forming, buyers and sellers should both have a list of top priorities prior to starting any negotiations. As new issues arise during the process, priorities might need to be re-evaluated to see if the priority is truly a must have for the home to change hands.
Many problems, such as fees and repairs, often can be solved by the buyer and seller meeting in the middle. Agreeing to split the costs evenly can be a much better option than wasting time and money to negotiate for weeks. For example, a seller that will pay another mortgage payment because of the additional time spent negotiating might actually find it cheaper to pay half the cost of a minor repair and close the deal before the next note is due.
Sometimes there are legitimate deal breakers. If so, then it just wasn’t the best option for the parties involved. But, before giving up, do try mulling over the troubling aspect of the negotiation for a few days. You can move on to the other areas of the negotiation. If everything else is agreed on, then there may be more encouragement to compromise on the problematic area.