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Pros and Cons of Making a Homeowner’s Insurance Claim

homeowners claim

Figuring out whether to file a homeowner’s insurance claim can be a challenge. After all, you pay for coverage to help you after an incident, so putting it to use seems wise. However, there are risks for filing, and some of them can cost you big. With that in mind, here are some of the pros and cons of making a homeowner’s insurance claim.

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3 Reasons You Need a Home Warranty on your Property

When you buy stuff – smartphone, cars, computers, lawn mower—they usually come with a warranty. A warranty helps you to cover the cost of repair or replacement when such devices become damaged. You can also pay an extra for an extended warranty that keeps the manufacturer or seller under obligation to fix or repair the item if it breaks down even after the regular warranty period. What many people don’t know however is that you can buy a warranty for your home.

A home warranty is simply a policy that provides coverage on the cost of fixing or replacing home appliances when they become damaged.  A home warranty is different from a home insurance in that while home insurance covers the structure of your house, the home warranty covers the appliances and systems in the house.  More so, it is somewhat compulsory to have homeowners insurance but a home warranty is optional; yet, below are three reasons you should seriously consider buying a home warranty.

  1. Save money on repairs

Repairs on home appliances and systems are usually costly; unfortunately, nothing lasts forever and home appliances have a tendency of breaking down at the most inopportune moments. A home warranty typically covers systems such as plumbing, electrical, washer and dryer, HVAC, and kitchen appliances. A home warranty saves you from having to spend money out of your pocket to repair these items when they break down.

When an item under the home warranty coverage breaks down, you call the warranty company and they’ll send someone over to fix the item. If it can’t be fixed, you can reasonably expect the home warranty company to bear the cost of replacement. ReviewHomeWarranties provides insight on companies that offer home warranties so that you can find a local provider that offers excellent coverage at fair prices.

  1. Escape the stress that comes with home ownership and maintenance

Home ownership is fun and exciting, until the hidden costs of homeownership begin to take a toll on your wallet and your emotional sanity. A homeowner spends more money, effort and time on home maintenance than a renter because there’s no other landlord or property manager to call – the buck stops at your door. Hence, homeowners could find themselves under immense stress and pressure when their home appliances breakdown and they have to navigate the maze of finding and working with contractors.

A home warranty takes the stress out of homeownership because the warranty company does the heavy lifting of keeping your home systems and appliances in top shape. You also don’t have to worry about finding the right contractor because the warranty company has established relationships with licensed technicians who will fix faulty appliances. Hence, you don’t have to spend countless hours reading reviews or worrying about whether the technician has enough insurance.

  1. A home warranty helps you sell your home at a better price

Buyers are very selective when buying real estate – they look at the structural integrity of the house, the state of systems, appliances, and fixtures, and they look at the curb appeal among other things before they decide to buy. Hence, if your home is in a state of disrepair relative to other houses in the same market, your house will probably be the last to sell, and even at a ridiculously cheaper price. A home warranty ensures that your house doesn’t fall into a state of disrepair because you didn’t have the funds or time to facilitate timely repairs when things breakdown.

More so, buyers don’t want to start spending money on fixing home appliances and systems soon after moving in – it could be very frustrating dealing with a clogged toilet barely two weeks after moving in. Buyers will be more inclined to purchase a property that has a home warranty because it offers them protection in the event that one of the home systems break down after they close the deal.


A Dummies Guide to Affordable Homes

Housing affordability is a hot topic for the Australian media, real estate agents and economists. Although parts of the country are buoyant to the point of overheated (here’s looking at you Sydney), other parts are largely neglected in a fear inducing narrative that declares us to be in a housing shortage. The reality is that market demand for certain types of properties in specific hotspot locations is driving prices up. If you want a beautiful and cheap home in Melbourne, you might be looking for quite awhile if this translates to a 10 or even 15km radius from the CBD. However, if price is a more pressing priority, you have other options to that will help you find a more affordable home.

In areas that have already experienced exponential growth, there are a few tips for finding properties that traditionally will fetch a slightly lower sale price. These include proximity to major arterials or public transport. Many people prefer to live within walking distance of transport, but not so close that the noise will affect them.  Therefore, a house with a train line over the back fence will generally be more affordable at auction or private sale. Similarly, inner suburbs that offer subdivided plots that have town houses on them will also fetch lower prices than their stand-alone compatriots, especially if there is less or no outdoor living space. Over time these typically increase in value faster than apartments, but slower than detached houses.

Attached properties are often found in the inner, inner suburbs so despite their proximity to one another, they can still be expensive. You can still snap up a cheaper one if it’s in need of significant DYI, but be wary of heritage overlay as many are unable to be demolished for this reason. Other more affordable options for inner areas include apartments in large high density blocks, although some experts are tipping a decline in their value over the medium term.

In any area, you could offset the cost of your mortgage by offering it on accommodation rental sites like Stayz, Homeaway or Airbnb, but of course, you’ll need somewhere cost effective to stay whilst it’s occupied to make it worth your while.

Casting your property search slightly further out is the easiest way to snap up an affordable home. For the best value, with proximity to facilities, consider the fringe of one of Victoria’s regional towns such as Ballarat or Bendigo. In addition to stamp duty abolishment for new home buyers on homes under 600k, there is also a 20k first home buyers grant for those purchasing in regional areas over the next three years (from July 2017).

Another way to access affordable housing is to purchase then rent out a home in an area while you rent in the location that you cannot (yet) afford to buy in. To do so, you should spend some time targeting areas that will have consistent rental tenants as well as a property that will be easy to maintain.


Getting the Most out of a Mortgage Loan

new-home-1664262_6404 tips on getting the best deal

For homeowners, one of the easiest ways to get extra cash to pay bills, take care of unforeseen emergencies or plan upgrades to their home or personal business is by taking out a mortgage loan. These loans use the equity you have built up in your home as collateral to borrow money from a bank, mortgage company or any other financial institution.

As opposed to personal loans, mortgage loans are easier to get because homes and property have value and are used to secure the loan. If a person defaults on a mortgage loan, the lender can foreclose on the property to get back some of the money that was loaned.

How to borrow against your house

To get the best rate for your second mortgage, you need to have a good credit score and know exactly how much money you want to borrow. Since a second mortgage will be paid back concurrently with the original one, you don’t want to overextend your ability to pay it back.

Once you have determined how much money you need, start looking at who to borrow from. Although going to your original mortgage company is usually the safest way to borrow money against your home equity, it isn’t always the only way or the best way for that matter.

  • Make sure your credit score is good. When your credit score is high, even doing business with your current bank or mortgage holder is easier. The higher your score, the more leverage you have with your financial institution.
  • Know the current market. Interest rates are a leading indicator of the financial landscape, but they don’t give you valuable information about how a bank or financial institution does business. Do your homework.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask questions. You are borrowing money and using your home as collateral, that gives you every reason to want to know about all the aspects of the loan process. Don’t let yourself be bullied into agreements that you do not understand.
  • Read the fine print. Everything has a price and most of the ‘hidden’ fees and costs can be found in your contract. Read it, ask questions and don’t sign it until you understand what it says.

All financial institutions are not alike

Although interest rates are a prime consideration in who you refinance through, it should not be your only consideration. Fees, requirements and interest payments also play key roles in deciding who the best lender for you should be.

Communication is also very important. Since most of the communication between you and the finance company will be with a single person, you want to ensure that you can work and communicate clearly with your mortgage loan originator.

What is a mortgage loan originator?

In a nutshell, a mortgage loan originator is the person who works with you to complete the loan process. He or she is your main point of contact at your financial institution and will walk you through the entire procedure. Although you will be borrowing money from the bank or mortgage company, the mortgage loan originator is the face of the transaction.

If you are uncomfortable with your mortgage loan originator, you can ask for his/her replacement or go through a different financial institution or bank. It cannot be stressed enough that having a positive relationship with your loan originator can make the entire mortgage process easier.

Although refinancing your mortgage is not your right, you have every reason to want to get the best deal possible while setting the terms of the agreement. In addition to having collateral, your credit rating and credit history should earn you the respect of our financial institution.


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Vehicle Driving Etiquette: Know When to Turn Off Your High Beams

key-949094_640When you first got your license, you got behind the wheel assuming that most people try to follow the rules of the road when they drive. But the first time you rolled up to a four-way stop sign and watched someone accelerate out of turn, you realized: Many drivers ditch driving etiquette the moment they leave the DMV. This bothers you, and it should! Not only is it just plain rude, but it makes driving more dangerous and difficult for everyone else.

Or maybe you’re a long-time driver wondering if you’re the person offending others on the road. Maybe it’s time to re-evaluate some of your driving habits to make every commute to work a little smoother.

Either way, here’s a quick refresher on some common vehicle driving etiquette: 

High Beams

We all know the feeling of helplessly squinting against someone else’s high beams. As the oncoming vehicle gets closer, you wait for them to switch to low beams. If they don’t, you’ll have to steady your hands on the wheel and avert your eyes until they pass.

Don’t be this person. While high beams are useful for rural driving, open highways or certain types of weather, they are not optimal for use in nearby traffic. As writes, “Be sure to switch off your high beams when you see an approaching vehicle. High beams make it difficult for other drivers to see the road.”

In fact, some states have laws regarding switching from high to low beams when other vehicles approach. It’s not just courteous and safe; it may spare you a citation.

Using the Blinker

How are other drivers supposed to know what your next move is if you don’t use your blinker? While you might know that you’re planning to switch lanes or make a turn, others can’t read your mind.

What are the consequences of drivers neglecting to use their turn signals? One study from the Society of Automotive Engineers shows that neglecting to use turn signals properly may cause as many as two million accidents per year in the U.S. and occur 750 billion times annually.

The moral of the story: Use your turn signals before changing lanes or completing turns. And if you change your mind, turn it off as quickly as possible so other drivers can react accordingly. You may just cut down on the risk of a multi-vehicle crash for yourself and others. 

Highway Merging

Sometimes merging onto the highway means anxiously hoping that the drivers already on the highway will let you join. Mistimed merging can lead to scary situations—from getting rear-ended on the on-ramp if you have to slam on your breaks to getting scraped against the guardrail if you have to dodge an oncoming vehicle.

If you’re the merger, you need to get up to speed so you match the flow of traffic. As the National Motorists Association points out, pulling out into traffic that’s going 20, 30 or 40 miles-per-hour faster than you can cause a dangerous accident. You’ll also be delaying the cars behind you. Use the merge lane as a chance to accelerate and match traffic; then check frequently to make sure that you’ve found an open spot and can make a safe merge.

If you’re already on the highway and see that someone is trying to merge, move over to the left if it’s safe to do so. If you absolutely can’t switch lanes, either speed up or slow down so the merging car has a comfortable cushion to enter the highway.

Insured Driving

Unlike overt driving habits, you have no way of knowing if other motorists have insurance—until you get into an accident. The Insurance Research Council found that uninsured driver claims totaled $2.6 billion in 2012. This can end up raising the premiums for all drivers across the board.

It’s good etiquette (not to mention a legal requirement in most states) to have at least minimum liability coverage, although you may want to protect your vehicle with a collision or comprehensive plan. Taking the time to compare car insurance rates ahead of time will give you confidence on the road, regardless of whether other drivers are as thoughtful.

If we all follow basic driving etiquette, the roads will be a better place. We all have the power to prevent accidents (or at least a bout of road rage or two) by doing our part.