How to Prepare Your Home for the Worst

October 16th, 2017

How to Prepare Your Home for the Worst

How to Prepare Your Home for the Worst

No one likes to think of disaster striking their home; however, preparing for an emergency—be it a flood or an earthquake—can be the make-or-break factor for protecting your property should disaster hit. A storm can cause electrical outages, flooding, and water damage to your home itself, as well as your systems and belongings. To help, Gold Medal Service offers homeowners several ways to be prepared to weather a storm or severe weather conditions:

Waterproofing – Being below ground level, basements are most susceptible to water issues. Pump systems, waterproof sprays and interior drainage systems are all examples of ways to help you prepare for the next emergency.

Generator installation and inspection – Power outages are more than an inconvenience—they represent a real safety issue for your family. A backup generator can provide power for the home in case disaster strikes. Professional installation and periodic inspections will ensure that your home has power even when the lights go out.

Heating and vent inspection – Make sure the flues and vents throughout your heating systems are clean and clear of debris. Blocked vents can cause a dangerous carbon monoxide build-up in your home. If you are unsure how to check these, a professional inspection is quick and inexpensive, and will eliminate concern.

Alarm installation and inspection – Carbon monoxide detectors and smoke alarms are a must—they save lives. It is always critical to ensure the alarms in your home are properly installed, inspected, and have fresh batteries in order to provide the required protection.

Being prepared goes beyond having your home’s systems ready. Some emergency preparedness tips for the family are:

·       Have a plan in place to ensure your family has water, flashlights, extra food, and a few other necessities.

·       Something as simple as a solar charger for a cell phone can be a lifesaver, allowing you to receive much needed information.

·       A battery-powered radio is also a good backup way to stay informed.

·       Know your city’s emergency shelters.

·       Review your insurance policies for adequate coverage.

·       Practice what your family will do in the event of an emergency.
Source: Gold Medal Service

Reprinted with permission from RISMedia. ©2017. All rights reserved.

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6 Tips for Filing an Insurance Claim After a Storm

October 10th, 2017

6 Tips for Filing an Insurance Claim After a Storm6 Tips for Filing an Insurance Claim After a Storm

Whether reporting storm damage to your property over the phone or through your mobile device, the Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.) offers the following tips on how to file an insurance claim:

  1. Contact your insurer as soon as possible to begin the process. Provide your insurer with your policy number and the best phone number and email address at which to reach you. After a major storm, insurers visit those with the most severe damage first. Be prepared to provide an accurate description of the extent of the property damage. Explain any special needs of your family, particularly if personal circumstances require that you get priority. Ask your insurer when you can expect to be contacted by an insurance adjuster so you’re ready for the visit. Since adjusters may be in areas in which cellphone towers are damaged, it’s also a good idea to get the phone number of your adjuster’s supervisor so you have an additional contact. If you have a flood insurance claim, contact the agent or broker who sold you the policy to start the claims filing process.
  2. Document your loss. The insurance adjuster will most likely inspect the damage to your home, auto and possessions in order to write a check to help you replace, repair and rebuild. It’s a good idea to take photographs and document the details of damaged items, including the date of purchase and approximate value—and collect receipts, if you have them. Many companies will ask you to submit an inventory of the items.
  3. Check with your insurer before discarding damaged items and materials. You will generally need to show storm damaged items to your adjuster. If, however, you’re required by your local municipality to discard them for safety reasons, take photographs to help with the claims process.
  4. Sign up for SMS/text alerts. Many insurance companies use SMS/text message alerts that will notify you of the status of your claim. You will receive text messages on your phone when you first report your claim, when your estimate is available, and when a payment has been sent.
  5. Know what emergency services are available. In the event you need emergency services, such as removing water from your home, covering your roof, or boarding up windows or doors, many companies will dispatch an approved emergency services company to protect your home from further damage. If your home has sustained severe damage, making it unlivable, your homeowners insurer will provide you with a check for additional living expenses.
  6. Keep a claim diary. Good record-keeping is important when filing a claim. Make a list of everyone you speak to about your claim. Note their name, title and contact information. Also, keep track of the date, time and issues discussed. The more organized you are, the simpler and easier the claims process will be.

Source: Insurance Information Institute

**If your loss is in a Condominium, have the By Laws ready in digital format to send to your adjuster or insurance company. They may need to see what falls under the complex coverage and what does not.  If you’d like more homeowner information, please contact me at 954-914-8056.

Reprinted with permission from RISMedia. ©2017. All rights reserved.

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5 Steps to a Healthier Kitchen

October 5th, 2017

5 Steps to 5 Steps to a Healthier Kitchena Healthier Kitchen
Trying to lose a few pounds or simply boost your nutritional intake? Well, what you eat and how you eat all starts with how you stock and organize your kitchen. These foundation steps will put you on the path to a cleaner diet and an all-around healthier lifestyle.

1. Lose the preservatives. The reason that loaf of bread and box of crackers in the cabinet lasts so long is because they’re loaded with preservatives. But all those ingredients you can’t pronounce on the nutrition label are really bad for you. Opt for organic breads or buy them fresh from the bakery, then freeze them. Sliced options let you conveniently grab just the servings you need at any given time.

2. Buy then eat. Do you often encounter a rotten tomato or two at the bottom of your vegetable bin? To avoid the common problem of being unable to consume fruits and veggies before they go bad, get into the habit of swinging by the grocery store or produce stand on the way home from work and buy just what you need for that evening and lunch the next day. Not only will this prevent food waste, it will ensure you’re consuming these nutrient-rich foods in their freshest possible state.

3. Store properly. Fruits and vegetables should be removed from those plastic grocery bags before being stored in your fridge. Remember to store fruits and vegetables separately, on different shelves or in different bins.

4. Grow your own. You don’t need to have a green thumb to grow a few of your own cooking ingredients, such as herbs. A sunny window can provide all the tools you need to grow basics such as basil, oregano and rosemary.

5. Keep food organized and accessible. It’s one thing to buy the right foods, but if they get lost in the recesses of your fridge, what’s the point? Wash and chop fruits and vegetables and place them in clear plastic containers at eye level. Buy healthy snacks like yogurt, hummus and nut butters in grab-and-go friendly sizes.

With these few small adjustments you’ll be on your way to a healthier way of life in no time!

Reprinted with permission from RISMedia. ©2017. All rights reserved.

… but of course, portion control, matters!

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Tips for Millennials Buying Homes

October 3rd, 2017

Tips for Millennials Buying HomesTips for Millennials Buying Homes

Are you, or someone you know, a millennial currently dreaming about your first home? Is something holding you back?According to a survey conducted by loanDepot, 52 percent of Millennials  cite no longer wanting to pay rent and being ready to start a family as two top drivers motivating them to start looking into home ownership. However, according to the survey, half of those are anxious about the expense of real estate and mortgage payments, with only 18 percent saying they think a home purchase is affordable for them.

“It’s clear from the survey results that Millennials have a lot of anxiety built up about the home-buying process,” says David Norris, loanDepot’s Head of Retail Lending. “There is good news, however, as there’s more flexibility than most Millennials think regarding how to qualify for a loan and what’s needed for a down payment.”
Top tips for Millennials from loanDepot lending professionals around the country include:

Know how much is needed for down payment

According to survey results, Millennials are unsure how much down payment they need to put down, with the average coming out to 32 percent. And while the industry standard is typically 20 percent down payment, there are other options.

John Pearson, a loanDepot licensed lending officer based in Hoboken, N.J., says there are many programs for first time homebuyers (FTHB) that allow them to finance a property with 10 percent, 5 percent, or even 3 percent down. There are also loan assistance programs offered by FHA that many don’t realize their can qualify for.

“The best advice I have for young buyers is to not believe everything you read on the Internet,” Pearson says. “When talking with a professional, you can discuss your specific financial situation and the lending officer can help you determine how much down you’ll need and what a monthly mortgage payment will look like. You’ll probably discover you don’t have to wait until you reach the point of a 20 percent down payment.”

Don’t be surprised by closing costs

According to Marc Bui, retail lending manager for loanDepot in Newport Beach, Calif., many Millennials he works with don’t realize there are costs beyond the down payment required to close.

“When I’m working with today’s youngest buyers, I help them plan for all final costs, which can include HOA (homeowners’ association) fees, property taxes, private mortgage insurance (PMI) for those putting less than 20 percent down, title, appraisal, etc. It’s important to understand everything that goes into closing so there are no unpleasant surprises,” Bui says.

Include parents but listen to professionals with an open mind

About 54 percent of Millennials say they plan to ask their parents about how to buy a home, with slightly fewer at 52 percent saying they’d first turn to a mortgage broker or company.

“It’s great when young home buyers include their parents in the process,” says Scott Nadler, a top 1 percent licensed lending officer in the U.S. and based in loanDepot’s Manhattan office. “When young couples come to me wanting to buy their first home, many times I’ll suggest a 7- or 10-year adjustable mortgage, which allows them to build equity while having a lower monthly mortgage payment. Many parents are nervous about adjustable mortgages but if someone plans to trade up in a few years, they will be out of the mortgage before the adjustment. My best advice for Millennials is to make sure they feel comfortable with the product they select.”

Student loans may not prohibit a home loan

According to the Urban Institute, student loan debt has increased sharply over the last decade and has surpassed credit card debt. This stressor is a top concern for Millennials who are interested in purchasing a home in the near future.

At the end of April, Fannie Mae announced three policy changes designed to help prospective homeowners struggling with student-loan debt. Two changes help borrowers with high student-loan debt qualify for mortgages while the other policy change helps homeowners refinance their home to pay down their student loans.

Debt paid by others: This change widens borrower eligibility to qualify for a home loan by excluding non-mortgage debt, such as credit cards, auto loans, and student loans, paid by someone else, such as parents.

Student Debt Payment Calculation: This change increases the odds that borrowers with student debt will qualify for a loan by allowing lenders to accept student loan payment information on credit reports.

Student loan cash-out refinance: Fannie now offers homeowners the flexibility to pay off a high-interest rate student loan while potentially refinancing to a lower mortgage rate.

“Some lenders have special programs for borrowers with certain types of student loans,” says Mary Bane, vice president, regional production for loanDepot in the Chicagoland area. “Medical professionals with student loans that have been deferred for 12 months or longer can avoid having that debt repayment counted as part of their debt. The assumption is that their income will increase dramatically so they will pay off the debt quickly as soon as they are fully employed.”

Another potential option is the 40-year mortgage loan program from loanDepot that requires 10 percent down payment and good credit, but has a 10-year interest-only initial repayment period that could help borrowers tackle their student loan debt while they make lower mortgage payments. The following 30 years are fully amortized.

Source: loanDepot

Reprinted with permission from RISMedia. ©2017. All rights reserved.

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Simple Tips for First-Time Homebuyers

September 2nd, 2017

Simple Tips for First-Time HomebuyersSimple Tips for First-Time Homebuyers

Buying a home is always exciting, if a bit overwhelming. But when you’re a first time buyer, the process can seem even more complicated.

“The biggest hurdle for the housing market in the middle of 2017 is low inventory,” Senior CFP Board Ambassador Jill Schlesinger, CFP®. “Housing starts, housing permits, new home construction and pending home sales have all slowed this summer. This all adds up to fewer options for those looking to buy a house, especially for the first time.”

Follow these simple buying tips, from Schlesinger and the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards, Inc.

Run the numbers. Understand how much home you can afford to buy and whether home ownership might preclude you from addressing other important financial issues in your life, like paying off debt. A financial planner can help you understand how your housing choices can support your overall financial plan.

Start the mortgage process/correct credit report mistakes. If you have not done so in a while, go to AnnualCreditReport.com and request your free copy. It’s important to correct any errors on the report before you start the mortgage process.

Conduct research. Even if you are working with a realtor, check out new listings and spread the word throughout your network. You never know who might be about to list a home. (*)

Keep your emotions in check. Even with limited supply, there are a lot of houses out there. Be careful not to blow through your budget or put yourself in a position where you own two homes.

Source: Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards, Inc.

Reprinted with permission from RISMedia. ©2017. All rights reserved.

(*) Conducting research could be best accomplished together with your realtor -that’s my 2 cents. If you want me to help you conduct your home search here in Fort Lauderdale, here is my number 954-914-8056

Here are some listings in Fort Lauderdale

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20 Tips for Preparing Your House for Sale

August 15th, 2017

20 Tips for Preparing Your House for Sale

20 Tips for Preparing Your House for Sale [INFOGRAPHIC] | Simplifying The Market

Some Highlights:

  • When listing your house for sale your top goal will be to get the home sold for the best price possible!
  • There are many small projects that you can do to ensure this happens!
  • Your real estate agent will have a list of specific suggestions for getting your house ready for market and is a great resource for finding local contractors who can help!
 For more information please call Marina Sarabia at 954-914-8056

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Financial Smarts: Are You Prepared for the Unexpected?

August 14th, 2017

Financial Smarts: Are You Prepared for the Unexpected?Financial Smarts: Are You Prepared for the Unexpected?
While you may be living a comfortable lifestyle, what would happen if you lost your job tomorrow? Almost half of Americans say that if they lost their primary source of income tomorrow, they could only maintain their current lifestyle for three months or less.

A recent study commissioned by the Million Dollar Round Table (MDRT) and Harris Poll, revealed that many Americans, even those considered financially successful, do not account for unexpected risks during financial planning.

A majority of Americans (61 percent) say their family would assume debt if the primary earner passed away tomorrow, with 38 percent of U.S. adults saying the debt would be $10,000 or more. Additionally, only half of Americans (50 percent) have life insurance. Of those who have any dependents, 47 percent say their dependents would run out of money without their personal income in two years or less if they were to pass away tomorrow.

Americans are also not taking into account the possibility of disability or illness while planning for their financial future.  One in 20 Americans (5 percent) are unemployed and unable to work because of disability or illness, but only 20 percent of U.S. adults have either short-term and/or long-term disability insurance. Of those Americans who do have disability insurance, only 39 percent believe it would be enough to cover their long-term care and medical expenses if they were to have an accident.

And it’s not just lower-income Americans who are vulnerable to financial risk. On average, those surveyed say their household has two sources of income, with 40 percent having income of $74,000 or more.

Future college expenses also pose a potential financial risk for many Americans. Although college expenses are rising faster than inflation, only 36 percent of parents with children under the age of 18 in their household are saving for their children’s college education.

Lack of college savings may be a result of many Americans still working to pay off their own student loan debt. According to the Quarterly Report on Household Credit and Debt from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, Americans currently owe $1.31 trillion in student loan debt.

To help protect you and your family from these risks, talk to a financial planner and come up with a course of action for a secure financial future.

Reprinted with permission from RISMedia. ©2017. All rights reserved.

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Making Sure Your Central Air Unit is Ready for Action

July 14th, 2017

Making Sure Your Central Air Unit is Ready for Action

Making Sure Your Central Air Unit is Ready for Action

As temperatures rise, our thermostats get lowered. Make sure your Central Air Unit system is up for the challenge with some simple maintenance checks from Baltimore-based Winstar Home Services.

Replace your air filters

Air filters work overtime in the winter, so be sure to replace your filters. Dirty air filters make your Central Air Unit system work harder than it needs to. This puts strain on the system, which can cause bigger issues and lead to higher utility bills.

Check and clear your unit’s drainage line

Most Central Air Unit units have a drainage line at the base of the cabinet. In order for the unit to run properly, the hole needs to be clear. To make sure the drainage line works properly, use a paper clip or a wire to ensure the hole is clear of any obstructions.

**Marina’s Tip: Buy a small water/air/blower vacuum system in Home Depot. It will be the best $30.00 you can will invest. Open the the drainage line once a month in both ends of the drainage and blow to the outside, vacuum from the inside of the unit**.  Tips for Healthier Homes

Check your duct work for issues

Your home’s duct work, or ventilation system, can often be the cause of poorly distributed air, which means you’re spending more money on cool air that isn’t making its way into your house. Check for leaky connections and return vents, damaged or fallen insulation, and ensure your vents (both incoming and outgoing) are not blocked or obstructed by rugs or furnishings.

Test your unit 

Turn on your AC and let in run briefly to see how it performs. If there are any problems, address them right away.

Make sure you conduct these tests before temperatures hit their peak.

SOURCE: Winstar Home Services

Reprinted with permission from RISMedia. ©2017. All rights reserved.

For more information, please call Marina Sarabia at 954-914-8056

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How-to Buy a Home in a Tight Market

July 11th, 2017

How-to Buy a Home in a Tight Market

How-to Buy a Home in a Tight Market
We all know the equation about how to buy a home in a tight market: low inventory means higher prices. Also known as a tight market, this setting can be stressful for buyers, who are trying to snap up their dream home but keep running into competition. According to the National Association of REALTORS® , attempting to purchase a house in this type of market can make the already complex process of buying a home even more overwhelming.

To help buyers successfully get through the buying process in a tight inventory market, NAR offers these five suggestions:

Determine and stick to a budget. Before beginning the house hunting process in a tight market, prospective homebuyers should receive pre-approval from one or more lenders to verify the amount of money they are qualified to borrow. Then, after taking into account additional costs of ownership such as taxes, utilities and insurance, buyers should determine a final budget they can comfortably afford. When listings are scarce, bidding wars can drive up prices, so buyers must be prepared to walk away if the asking price surpasses their budget.

Identify desired neighborhoods and home wants versus needs. When housing inventory is tight, buyers may need to compromise on what they believe they want from a home. Certain wants, such as stainless appliances or hardwood floors, can be added later. However, if a buyer wants to be in a specific school district or have a decent sized backyard, those cannot be addressed later and must be taken into account during the house hunting process.

**Here is a great neighborhood in Fort Lauderdale**

Be ready to make a decision quickly. In a seller’s market, homes rarely stay on the market long, so when a house that is in their budget and checks off all of their needs come along, buyers should not hesitate. Buyers should be ready to submit an offer quickly, or they may risk missing out on the home altogether.

Bid competitively and limit contingencies. It is tempting to submit a low offer as a starting bid, but in a seller’s market buyers need to put forward their highest offer from the very beginning or they are likely to lose out on the home. It is also important to remember that in multiple bidding situations it is not always the highest offer that is most attractive to the seller but the one with the fewest contingencies. Removing restrictions related to the sale of a current home and being flexible with things like the move-in date can make a bid stand out to a seller.

Work with a Realtor®. All real estate is local, so it is important to work with an agent who is a Realtor®, a member of the National Association of Realtors®, and who is familiar with the areas and neighborhoods the Home Buyers are considering. Realtors® are the most trusted resource for real estate information and have unparalleled knowledge of their communities; they can give buyers the competitive advantage needed in a tight market.

Source: www.nar.realtor.

Reprinted with permission from RISMedia. ©2017. All rights reserved.

For more information, please call Marina Sarabia at 954-914-8056

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Rents Appreciating Faster in Suburbs as Demand Intensifies

June 14th, 2017

Rents Appreciating Faster in Suburbs as Demand Intensifies

Renters up against ballooning costs in sought-after cities have steadily spread outward for rent relief—but now, costs are climbing in areas outside of cities, too.

Rent Appreciation

In fact, according to a recently released report by Zillow, rent appreciation is accelerating faster in suburban areas than urban ones, with the median rental cost in suburban areas up 2.5 percent year-over-year, while the median rental cost in urban areas is up 2.3 percent.

Walk-ability Factor

“Because walk-able urban centers close to amenities are typically a big draw for renters, you’d expect rents to rise faster in the city than in the suburbs—which is exactly what we’ve been seeing until very recently,” says Dr. Svenja Gudell, chief economist at Zillow, “but a handful of factors are helping turn the tables and beginning to push suburban rents up at a higher clip. These include deteriorating rental affordability in expensive urban cores; new apartments, albeit high-end ones, opening downtown compared to relatively few in outlying areas; and preferences among some renters toward the space offered by single-family homes in the suburbs.”

The difference represents a shift from one year ago, when urban rental costs were up 5 percent year-over-year and suburban rental costs were up 3 percent. There are starker disparities in appreciation in in-demand urban areas and their suburban counterparts, including in Nashville, Tenn., and San Francisco, Calif.

“Rents themselves are still lower in the suburbs, but if demand keeps growing for suburban rentals and supply continues to lag, that will also start to change,” Gudell says. “As more formerly urban renters move to the suburbs in coming years, we’ll likely start seeing more apartment buildings and walkable amenities popping up in those communities.”

Rents Appreciating Faster in Suburbs as Demand Intensifies
For more information, please call Marina Sarabia at 954-914-8056.

Reprinted with permission from RISMedia. ©2017. All rights reserved.

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This is a nice rental in Wilton Manors