When an unexpected natural disaster or state or local emergency interrupts your plans to start house hunting, all is not lost. While opportunities to get preapproved for a mortgage, meet with a real estate agent or tour homes for sale may be on the back burner, there are still ways you can work toward buying your dream home.
Why Making the Move Now May Be Right for You
House hunting during a time when your area or region is shut down can have its benefits. There may be less competition for the houses in the areas where you might be planning to move, and sellers may be more motivated to sell or more flexible on price. Starting your hunt virtually while sheltering in place can be beneficial if you find you have the time to shop online more thoroughly; that extra effort may give you an advantage in finding a home you love within your price range. Once the crisis passes, there may be more house hunters back on the market and prices may escalate due to a more competitive market that benefits sellers rather than buyers, so taking a few steps forward now could be the right move for you.
Get Preapproved for a Mortgage
When you eventually find the home of your dreams, you will want the seller to see you as a serious buyer. To do that, get a mortgage preapproval before you begin house hunting. It may be possible to get preapproved online, so consider looking into that option. Mortgage preapproval is a letter from a lender that indicates how much you are qualified to borrow from the lender, at a specific interest rate.
While it may not be possible to meet with a lender when an emergency situation exists, such as the coronavirus pandemic, you can get your information organized that will help your lender prepare your mortgage preapproval.
Use This Time to Research the Market
If you are just beginning to look for a home, take time to research the areas where you want to move, the area’s home values and the average selling prices for the type of home you are interested in purchasing. Familiarize yourself with real estate terms and listing abbreviations so you can easily browse listings and focus on the features that most interest you. Finally, ask friends and family for realtor recommendations and check out their credentials and online reviews. Make a short list of real estate agent candidates to interview once you are able to set up interview times.
Virtual Home Viewing
If you were all set to start house hunting only to be disrupted by a natural disaster, state or regional mandates, or even the COVID-19 pandemic, take heart: You can still view houses on the market right from your own home, whenever it is convenient for you. Many real estate agents post virtual tours of properties for sale on their websites and YouTube. When you take a virtual tour or attend a virtual open house, you can get a realistic view of the property. Then, with a click of the mouse, you can see all the details that are important to you. In addition, by touring homes virtually, you can see many more than would be possible in a single day with your real estate agent.
Find a Representative
Even during these challenging times, there is still much you can accomplish in your quest to find your dream home. If you’re planning to buy a house, you’ll need home insurance. Call Calfee Insurance today for a free quote at 508-540-2601.
When was the last time you considered the air quality in your home? It’s easy to forget about something invisible, but like many around-the-house tasks, clearing the air is well worth your effort.
In the interest of health, safety and keeping your home in good shape, here are a few steps you can take to help your family breathe a little easier.
1. Test for radon gas and install carbon monoxide detectors.
You can’t see, taste or smell radon and carbon monoxide, but these indoor gases can be dangerous to your health and safety if left undetected.
2. Run an air purifier to clear allergens and pollutants.
Improve your indoor air quality by filtering out pollen, dust, pet hair and other irritants. If anyone in your household becomes sick with COVID-19, running an air purifier in their quarantine room may provide some protection from floating virus particles. HEPA air purifiers can also help remove smoke particulates during wildfires.
3. Use a dehumidifier.
Is your home prone to dampness? Keep your humidity level under 50% to prevent mold growth. Run a dehumidifier (and clean it regularly) as well as the exhaust fan in your bathroom(s) after every shower.
4. Follow these daily best practices.
In addition to testing and equipment purchases, these simple habits can help maintain your indoor air quality:
While spring is a common time for many homeowners to spend some extra attention on upkeep and maintenance, autumn is just as critical a season for preparing your home to withstand the potentially harsh winter weather and temperature conditions that may await you. By making maintenance part of your annual fall routine you can identify potential problems before they arise, and help prepare your home and property for what Mother Nature has to offer.
Following are some home maintenance tips from our Risk Control professionals to help you prepare for the coming winter:
Your dog just took down the neighbor’s fence while chasing a squirrel (and your neighbor isn’t happy). Will your homeowners insurance cover the damage? The short answer is, “it depends.”
Policy coverage and exclusions can vary, and when important factors like pets are involved, the fine print matters.
Want to know more? Here are a few common questions about pets and home insurance.
Does your policy cover damage caused by pets?
Many home insurance policies do not cover damage your pets cause to your own property — like a torn sofa or broken TV. However, liability insurance may cover damage your pet does to other people’s property.
What if your dog bites someone on your property?
Most home liability policies offer coverage for damage a person may suffer on your property, including dog bites (up to a certain limit and provided you’ve disclosed you have a dog). Note that after the first dog bite, you may face additional exclusions.
Are different breeds treated differently?
Some insurance policies may offer limitations on coverage if you have what is considered a high-risk breed. When you share what kind of pet you have we can let you know what to expect.
Are backyard animals covered?
Home insurance policies don’t provide coverage for damage your pets, including backyard animals like goats or chickens, cause to your property. However, liability coverage may still apply (with some limitations).
Will your home insurance pay your pet’s medical bills?
Unfortunately, you’re likely on your own for your pet’s medical bills even if they are hurt during a covered incident (like breaking through your neighbor’s fence).
Have questions about your coverage? Reach out anytime.
If a covered loss results in covered property having to be rebuilt, repaired, or demolished in accordance with the enforcement of any building code, law, or ordinance, this coverage responds.
Coverage is limited to 10% of the coverage A amount (10% of the building alterations amount in form HO-00 04), and is an additional amount of insurance.
The forms state that the coverage may also be used for increased costs to remove debris in accordance with the enforcement of any code or law regulating such removal.
The forms exclude any costs or expense resulting from any law or ordinance that requires testing for, monitoring for, or clean-up of any pollutants. So, for example, if a covered fire destroys an older home whose furnace has asbestos-wrapped pipes, the coverage will not respond to clean up of that particular item. Also, any loss in value resulting from the enforcement of any code, law or ordinance is excluded.
For example, if a building code states that those charming wooden shakes on a roof must be replaced with asphalt shingles because of fire regulations, with the result that the scenic log house loses $5,000 in value, the coverage will not respond.
Particularly in regards to an older home, the amount of ordinance or law coverage may be insufficient. For example, a home built in 1920, with a replacement cost of $200,000, partially burns.
The systems were last updated in 1970. Now, however, the aluminum wiring must be replaced with Romex, and all remaining lead pipes with PVC, at a cost of $10,000.
Further, because the house is over 50% damaged, it must be demolished at a cost of $12,000. The 10% allotted by the policy is now used up.
While a careful review of local building codes is not feasible, the safest practice is to increase the coverage if there is any doubt.
Home Insurance Coverage is provided — subject to a $1,000 limit — for debris removal of fallen trees.
The ISO form limits coverage to the insured’s trees felled by windstorm or hail or the weight of ice, snow, or sleet, or to a neighbor’s trees that are felled by a coverage C peril.
However, before there is any coverage under this provision, the tree must damage a covered structure or block a driveway which prevents a motor vehicle registered for use on public roads from entering or leaving the residence premises.
Additionally, the fallen tree could block a ramp or other access device used to assist a handicapped person from entering or leaving the dwelling.
The limit is the most that will be paid for any one loss, subject to a limit of $500 for removal of any one tree.
A question raised by the additional coverage for removal of trees is whether the limit applies to the cost of removing the part of the tree that rests on the damaged structure, or whether that cost is considered to be part of the cost of repairing the structure.
For example, if a tree is felled by windstorm and falls onto the dwelling, causing extensive damage, no repairs can begin until the parts of the tree resting on the building are cut away, so it would seem logical to categorize such costs as repair costs. However, the policy language, if strictly interpreted, would include those costs within the $1,000 limit.
The policy provides that the insurer “will also pay [the] reasonable expense, up to $1,000, for the removal from the -‘residence premises’ of” trees felled by the described perils. “Residence premises” is defined in the policy as “the one- to four-family dwelling, other structures, and grounds…where [the insured] reside[s].”
Thus, the $1,000 limit appears to apply to the removal from the dwelling and other structures as well as to removal from the grounds.
However, under this arrangement, the cost of removing the tree from the structure should still be considered part of the repair cost. If the insurance coverage for repairs is insufficient, the “additional coverage” (coverage in addition to that otherwise provided for in the policy) may be called upon.
Your front steps recently started to crumble a little bit — what would happen if your neighbor slipped and hurt their wrist while bringing you some mail?
When things go wrong, many people are happy to resolve problems privately or forgive the responsible party. But sometimes an injury or a property loss is so expensive that outside help is the only way to pay for the damage.
Here’s what to know about how to protect yourself from potentially costly accidents.
What does personal liability insurance cover?
If someone is accidentally injured in your home or on your property, personal liability insurance can help cover their medical bills and protect you if you’re sued.
If you or someone else covered by your policy accidentally damages someone else’s property, personal liability insurance can pay for the loss.
What doesn’t personal liability insurance cover?
Personal liability doesn’t cover your own damage to your own property and covered family members, though other insurance often does.
If your spouse falls off a ladder, your health insurance will provide coverage. If you accidentally start a fire and cause damage in your kitchen, your homeowners or renters insurance will kick in. If you injure someone while driving, you’ll file an auto insurance claim. And you’ll need a separate policy for business activities.
How do I get personal liability coverage?
If you have homeowners insurance or renters insurance, you already have personal liability coverage. The question is whether you have enough.
Insurance protects us against losses we can’t afford to pay for without help. Do you know how much personal liability insurance you have and whether it’s enough?
Reach out today and we’ll figure it out together.
6 Helpful Home Features to Look Forward To
If you could redesign your home today, what would it look like?
Experiencing a pandemic has changed how many of us think about our living spaces. What used to make sense may now seem impractical, and lots of homeowners are wishing for different features and layouts altogether.
How will home design change in the future? Here are a few comfort-focused innovations we might start to see.
Cleanliness and Safety
Looking to the future, you can likely expect to see more voice- and motion-activated technology and stronger barriers between the outside and inside world.
Have you felt overwhelmed by clutter lately? Future homes will likely adapt to a more streamlined and storage-friendly mindset.
Need some peace and quiet? Want to accommodate multiple roommates or your multigenerational family with ease? Designers and architects can help.
Do you have questions about your home insurance coverage? Need help with anything? Reach out today.
5 Simple Steps to a Safer Home
Keeping your family safe and your home in good condition are top priorities for any homeowner.
What’s one way to help achieve these goals?
You can conduct a home safety audit each year.
This simply means inspecting a few things and reviewing emergency plans with everyone in your household. These easy safety checks can make all the difference. Here’s where to start.
Locate and test smoke alarms.
Do you have enough smoke alarms, and are they working?
You want one on each floor, including one inside and outside each sleeping area. Test each alarm, replace expired batteries and replace alarms older than 10 years.
Practice getting out and meeting up.
It’s important to have a well-understood evacuation plan in case of a fire or other emergency. Go over the details (like how to exit safely and how to gather up your pets) and practice them together. Settle on a meeting place outside.
Check fire extinguishers.
Do you have one in the garage and one in the kitchen?
Make sure the dial shows the extinguisher is still pressurized. Review the instructions for using it (and know when to use it and when to evacuate).
Look for kitchen hazards. Has grease built up around the stove or on your range hood filter?
t could start a cooking fire. Also, make sure cleaning products are locked away from young children and pets.
Check carbon monoxide detectors.
Make sure they’re still working and have fresh backup batteries. Some are integrated with smoke alarms, but plug-in ones at knee level may provide better detection.
Do you have questions about keeping your home safe or about your coverage?
Reach out anytime for assistance.
Power outages can be a major inconvenience. They can also create problems for you, your family and your home as you shift into "emergency mode" to prevent your food from spoiling, to safely navigate your home in the dark, or simply to keep the heat on. Investing in a home generator can help make being without power more bearable — and can even fuel some fun when not being used for an emergency.
Home generators come in a variety of types and sizes, from portable versions to "standby" and inverter units. Portable generators typically run on gasoline and need to be operated at a safe distance from any structure. Standby generators start automatically when the power goes out, and are run on propane or natural gas. Inverter generators have a more complex engine than the other types, and are much quieter than their conventional counterparts.
Regardless of which type of generator you choose, you will need to follow the manufacturer recommendations for safe operation of the unit.
It's helpful to research this useful home device before you urgently need it, so here are 10 reasons to consider if you're thinking about purchasing a home generator of your own.
1. We can't control the weather.
Most power outages are weather-related. As the number and severity of extreme weather events rises, so does the likelihood of a blackout lasting 24 hours or more.
2. You have well water.
Without electricity, your well pump and filtration systems will quickly lose the ability to provide fresh, safe water for drinking, bathing, heating and more, to your house.
3. You have a sump pump.
If you rely on a sump pump to keep your basement or crawlspace dry — including all the possessions you keep in those areas — losing power means you also lose protection against water damage in those areas.
4. You work from home.
If you run a business or work out of your home, you know every minute counts. Going without power for even an hour can be a major inconvenience — if not a major risk — to you, your clients and customers.
5. Food spoils quickly.
According to the FDA, perishable food items should be thrown out once your refrigerator has been without power for as little as four hours.1
Travelers wants to help you protect the things that matter to you. We offer a wide breadth of products so you can be covered at home and on the road.
6. You live in a high-risk or severe climate area.
Some states are more vulnerable to weather-related outages. Others have such severe temperature extremes that power to control air conditioning and heating systems can be essential for comfort and safety. If you live in one of these areas, your risk to the potentially devastating effects of a power outage increase significantly.
7. Your property is vacant for extended periods of time.
If you are a "snowbird," frequent traveler or own a seasonal home, having a generator can protect your property from outage-related emergencies — whether you're in or out of town.
8. Someone in your home relies on an electrically powered medical device.
If you or a loved one requires the assistance of a home medical device that runs on electricity, a power outage can be deadly. A generator can help keep those devices running, but you also will want to check with a healthcare professional for suggestions on how to weather power outages with your particular medical device.2
9. You have a hybrid or electric car.
Make a portable generator go the extra mile! When not using it for your basic emergency power needs, keep it in your car to stay charged no matter where the road takes you.
. Generators aren't just for emergencies.
Portable generators can be put to use at work or play in, around and away from your home, too:
Whether it's due to storms, falling trees or some other challenge, power outages can bring an assortment of problems for home owners. A home generator can become one of your go-to remedies for those unexpected situations. Checking out the options before you lose electrical power is one smart way to beat the crowds who'll be racing to scoop up a home generator, for that "next time" outage scenario.