Consumer Real Estate News

    • Do You Have High Enough Liability Coverage?

      22 September 2020

      Homeowners insurance includes several components. One is liability coverage, which can cover accidental injuries or property damage. Insurance companies offer a wide range of liability coverage limits. You may need more coverage than you currently have to fully protect your assets, such as your home, savings and investments.

      What Does Liability Insurance Cover?
      Your homeowners insurance policy’s liability coverage will pay for injuries or property damage if you or a member of your family is found liable for an accident. It will also cover injuries or property damage caused by your pet. 

      In many cases, a homeowners insurance company will settle a personal injury or property damage claim to avoid a lawsuit. If a case goes to court, your liability coverage will pay for legal fees, and any amount awarded, up to your policy’s limits.

      Liability coverage can protect both your current and future assets and earnings. If you didn’t have liability coverage and you were found responsible for injuries or property damage, your future wages could be garnished.

      Do You Need More Liability Coverage?
      Insurance companies define an “attractive nuisance” as a feature of a property that is both appealing and dangerous to children. Common examples include a pool, trampoline or treehouse. 

      If a child got injured or killed on your property by an attractive nuisance, you could face an expensive lawsuit for injuries or accidental death. You would be held liable for the accident even if a child trespassed on your property. If you have an attractive nuisance, you ask your insurance company if you have adequate liability coverage and if the company requires any safety measures, such as fencing, to keep children away and prevent injuries.

      How to Increase Your Liability Limits
      If you already have your homeowners insurance company’s maximum amount of available liability coverage, but don’t think it’s enough, you can get an umbrella or excess liability policy to provide coverage beyond your standard homeowners insurance policy limits. The extra coverage will kick in once you have exhausted the coverage provided by your homeowners insurance policy. 

      An umbrella or excess liability policy may offer coverage that is broader than the coverage from a standard policy. The premiums for an umbrella or excess insurance policy will be based on the amount of coverage under your homeowners insurance policy and your level of risk.

      Get Professional Advice on Your Homeowners Insurance Coverage 
      Many homeowners don’t have enough liability insurance to protect them from the financial repercussions of a large claim stemming from an accident. Talk to your insurance agent about your current liability coverage, risk, assets and whether you should increase your limits.

      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • Building an Emergency Kit with Disability in Mind

      22 September 2020

      (Family Features) Creating a supply kit is part of being prepared for emergencies and disasters. Kits should include basic survival items but also things specific to your needs. Kits can have equipment to help with communication, things that reduce stress and more. 

      If you have a disability or health condition, your planning may be more complex. Consider these ideas from the

      Administration for Community Living while building your kit:

      Basic Supplies

      • At least a three-day supply of water (1 gallon per person per day) and non-perishable food
      • Manual can opener
      • Flashlight
      • Battery-powered or hand-crank radio 
      • Extra batteries
      • Cell phone with chargers and backup battery
      • First-aid kit
      • Whistle or other help signal
      • Matches in waterproof container
      • Dust mask for contaminated air
      • Two cloth face coverings for each person at least 2 years old
      • Sleeping bag or blanket
      • Complete change of clothing
      • Personal hygiene items
      • Prescription and over-the-counter medicines
      • Eyeglasses or contacts
      • Garbage bags
      • Duct tape
      • Local maps
      • Pen and paper
      • Cash
      • Documentation
      • Important documents (electronic or copies) such as insurance cards
      • List of all medications, dosages and allergies
      • List of assistive technology or other equipment, including brand, model, instructions and where the equipment came from
      • Contact information for health providers, caregivers and relatives
      • Vision, Hearing and Speech Items
      • Braille or large-print labels for supplies
      • Weather radio with text, shaking and flashing alerts
      • Extra hearing aid batteries
      • Communication equipment
      • Backup communication options such as laminated cards or pictograms
      Mobility Considerations
      • Information on size and weight of wheelchair 
      • Extra batteries for equipment
      • Lightweight manual wheelchair if usual chair is powered
      • Spare low-tech mobility devices such as a cane or walker
      • Portable air pump and tire patch kit
      • Work gloves
      • Extra seat cushions and other medical items
      • Sensory Sensitivities
      • Handheld electronic devices with movies and games saved locally
      • Spare chargers and batteries
      • Sheets and twine, small popup tent or other privacy devices
      • Sensory dampeners such as headphones, weighted vests, sunglasses and nose plugs
      • Comfort items like snacks, clothing and aromas
      Service Animal Supplies
      • A three-day supply of food and water
      • Medications
      • Animal first-aid kit
      • Proof of vaccinations and registration
      • A picture of you and your animal together to prove ownership
      • Collar or harness with ID and rabies tags
      • Microchip information
      • Leash
      • Crate or carrier
      • Sanitation items
      • Familiar items like toys and bedding
      Visit for more tools and information.

      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • Are You Getting Enough Calcium?

      22 September 2020

      Calcium is essential to keep bones and teeth strong and healthy. It’s also required for muscles, nerves and blood vessels to function normally and for the body to regulate the release of hormones and enzymes. Many people don’t get enough calcium and don’t realize it until their bones have suffered serious damage.

      What Can Happen if You Don’t Get Enough Calcium 
      Bones constantly undergo deposition and resorption of calcium. In the deposition process, calcium accumulates and causes bones to grow. In the resorption process, bone cells break down and release calcium into the blood. 

      There is more bone formation than resorption in growing children and adolescents. The processes are essentially equal through middle age. However, in older adults, especially postmenopausal women, bone is broken down more than it’s formed. That can result in bone loss and osteoporosis, a weakening of bones that makes them more likely to fracture. The condition becomes more common with age and affects more women than men. People are often unaware that they have osteoporosis until they suffer a fracture.

      If you don’t consume enough calcium through food and supplements, your body will use some of the calcium in your bones to keep other systems functioning, causing you to lose bone mass and increase your risk of developing osteoporosis.

      A severe calcium deficiency can cause other medical problems. It may produce tingling or numbness in your fingers, an abnormal heart rhythm or convulsions.

      How Much Calcium You Need
      Women between the ages of 19 and 50 should consume 1,000 mg of calcium per day from food and/or supplements. After the age of 50, women should consume 1,200 mg per day. Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding need 1,300 mg of calcium per day.

      Men between the ages of 19 and 70 should get 1,000 mg of calcium per day. After the age of 70, men should consume 1,200 mg per day.

      Children need 700 mg of calcium per day between the ages of 1 and 3, 1,000 mg per day between ages 4 and 8, and 1,300 mg per day between ages 9 and 18. 

      Foods That are Rich in Calcium
      Dairy products, such as milk, cheese and yogurt, are good sources of calcium, as are canned sardines and salmon, soybeans, collards, turnip greens, kale, bok choy, broccoli, almonds and sesame seeds. Some processed foods, such as soymilk, tofu, orange juice, cereal and bread are fortified with added calcium.

      When you go grocery shopping, look for foods that are naturally high in calcium and check the labels on packaged foods. It’s best to get the recommended amounts of calcium from food, but if that’s not possible or realistic, you can take a supplement. Talk to your doctor first.

      Vitamin D is also necessary since it helps the body absorb calcium. It’s found in salmon, tuna and foods that have been fortified with vitamin D, such as milk, juice, yogurt and cereal.

      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • Moving? Plan Ahead to Make It Stress-Free

      21 September 2020

      The real estate market is hot, hot, hot. If you are among the many American families relocating to a new home, organization is key. Professional movers offer week-by-week tips to help make your move hassle-free.

      • Six to eight weeks before the move - Make a list of what you will keep, sell or donate. Plan a garage sale and/or schedule a donation pick-up. Notify schools and/or medical providers. Begin buying or collecting moving boxes, tape, markers and bubble wrap. If you will be using a mover, start getting quotes.
      • Four to six weeks out - If you are moving from a rental, notify your landlord. If you will be doing your own packing, start packing non-essentials, such as extra linens, dishes and glassware. Notify utilities to start the process of closing out service at your old address and starting at your new one.
      • Three weeks out - Strategize food-use. Plan to deplete your pantry and freezer so you will need to move as little food as possible. Complete change-of-address forms for the post office, credit card companies and banks. Order new checks and address labels. If your home and/or car are insured, arrange to transfer coverage to your new residence. 
      • Two weeks out - If you are doing your own packing, get serious. Box up everything but the bare essentials and be sure everything is labeled, not just with contents, but the room where it’s to be unloaded. Keep valuables, like jewelry or important papers, in a safe place so you can transfer them yourself.
      • One week out - If your old place or your new home needs thorough cleaning, make arrangements for it. Properly dispose of anything that should not be moved, such as old paint, gasoline or propane.
      • Five days before the move - Confirm the date and time of your move with your moving company. Pack an essentials kit with medicines and any other items you will need when you arrive at your new home 
      • The day before moving - Clear and clean out the fridge, freezer and pantry. Put all items you will be transporting in one place. 
      • On moving day - Point out anything fragile to your movers. Be there as the truck is loaded. Sign the bill of lading when you are satisfied that all is accounted for. Do a final sweep of your home, checking every room, cabinet and closet.

      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • Are Energy Efficient Mortgages a Good Idea?

      21 September 2020

      Anything that lets you save money on a mortgage is probably a good idea, as long as there are no strings or hidden fees attached.

      That’s why ever since energy efficient mortgages (EEM) were introduced in 1992, thousands of homeowners have saved money on utility bills simply by financing the cost of adding energy efficiency features to their homes. 

      An energy efficient mortgage is easy to use, federally recognized and can be applied to most home mortgages—plus it is available whether you are buying, selling, refinancing or remodeling your home. Homeowners with lower utility bills will have more money in their pockets each month and can even afford to allocate a larger portion of their income to housing expenses.

      Additionally, the money can be used to finance energy improvements to make an older home more efficient, comfortable and affordable, which increases the potential resale of the home.

      A laundry list of upgrades includes replacing windows or doors, installing solar technologies or replacing older heating systems, cooling systems and lighting with a more environmentally friendly solution.

      For people buying a home who want to take advantage of the program, the FHA requires that you make at least a 3.5 percent cash investment on the property based on the sale price, and all work must begin within 90 days of closing. The total amount of your mortgage is based on the value of your home plus the projected cost of energy-efficient improvements.

      Another EEM option is for the lender to allow higher qualifying ratios for borrowers who will occupy a property meeting certain standards for energy efficiency. When the home has been built or retrofitted in conformance with the International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) standards for 2000 or later, then the lender may “stretch” the borrower’s qualifying ratios.

      Benefits derived from the EEM will vary from one house to another and your lender will be your best source of information on what EEM benefits you may obtain.

      Published with permission from RISMedia.