Zilbert's Miami Beach and South Beach Real Estate Blog

Jul 15 2014

Tips for Getting Your Home Sold This Summer

Filed under: Real Estate Tips

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Selling a home in the summer is not nearly as difficult as selling in the winter, but many sellers do find that the summer market is more difficult than spring or fall. This is mostly because many people choose to go on vacation during the summer or become so involved in summertime activities that they do not want to be bothered with moving to a new home. Combine these facts with the fact that the market is still quite tough for sellers in most parts of the country and it is easy to see why you might need to be a little creative if you hope to get your home sold this summer. To that end, here are a few tips that will help you get your home sold.

Tip #1: Create Curb Appeal

No matter the season, curb appeal is an important part of getting a home sold. Curb appeal refers to the way your house looks when a person drives past or views it from the road. Take advantage of the warm weather and increase your home’s curb appeal with a few potted flowers. Not only will this make your home look great, but you can take the flowers with you when you move. To further help increase curb appeal, you also need to make sure your lawn is properly maintained and that all bushes, trees and hedges are trimmed.

Tip #2: Stage for the Summer

Staging is another essential step toward getting a home sold. When you stage a home, you take steps to make your home more appealing and inviting to potential buyers. The goal is to help the buyer envision himself living in your home. This means removing clutter, placing fresh cut flowers on your tables and opening your windows to let the sun shine in. Make sure your windows are thoroughly cleaned. Streaks, dirt and grime are even more visible when they catch the sun’s rays.

Tip #3: Consider the Season When Decorating

If you plan to still live in your home while it is on the market, make sure your decorations fit the season. Decorative accents in yellows, whites and blues will help bring thoughts of summer inside. Something as simple as a throw run or a few pillows will help create the “summer” feel that you desire.

Tip #4: Stay Open to Evening Hours

One of the benefits of putting your home on the market during the summer is the fact that the daylight hours are longer than they are at other times of the year. To help increase your chances of getting your home sold quickly, you should be open to showing the home to prospective buyers in the evening. This way, interested buyers can easily stop by after work or otherwise see the home at a time that better suits their schedule.

Tip #5: Highlight Outdoor Living Space

Outdoor living space is becoming increasingly popular among homeowners and prospective buyers. During the winter months, viewing this outdoor living space can sometimes be difficult. During the summer months, however, your outdoor living space should be on full display. Give just as much attention to staging your outdoor living space as you do your indoor living space. A nice glass of ice tea at the table, some music and a few comfortable chairs will go a long way toward helping a prospective buyer see all that your home has to offer.

Jul 13 2014

Changes to Florida Condo Laws – Effective July 1, 2014

Filed under: Community News, Market Updates, Your Home

Here is a summary of changes to the Florida Condo Laws, prepared by Florida attorney Richard D. DeBoest. This summarizes changes to Chapter 718, Florida Statutes, also known as the “Florida Condo Act.”

Abandoned Units — 718.111: Authorizes condominium associations to inspect and repair abandoned condominium units. An abandoned unit is one that is subject to a foreclosure action and has been unoccupied for at least four weeks. This will also include a unit that is not subject to foreclosure but has been unoccupied for two months and the owner cannot be located after a diligent search. This amendment also allows the condominium association to recover costs associated with maintaining an abandoned unit and place a lien on the unit to secure payment. This bill should be useful to condo associations that have experienced serious delinquencies due to foreclosures and abandonment.

Board Meetings — 718.112: Provides that a board or committee member may participate in a meeting via real time video conferencing, Internet enabled video conferencing or similar electronic or video communication, and such participation counts toward the quorum and allows for voting as if physically present. This bill also expressly provides that board members may not vote by email. The purpose of this bill is to promote proper meeting procedure by allowing the board to take advantage of technology, eliminating almost any situation where a board may be tempted to conduct an improper vote by email.

Collections (Condominium Owned Units) — 718.116: Defines the terms “previous owner” to exclude a condominium association that owns a unit, thereby allowing it to recover past due assessments accrued before its ownership. This aligns the condominium act with the homeowners association act amended last year, and fixes a problematic glitch caused by a recent court decision that penalized a condo association for taking title to a unit.

Collections (Liens) — 718.116(5)(D): Creates a form for a release or satisfaction of an assessment lien. This allows a community association manager or CAM to prepare the form and not be subject to any claim of the unlicensed practice of law for doing so.

Collections (Demand Letters) — 718.116(6)(b): Creates a form letter to be used in informing an owner that the association has filed a claim of lien against the unit and that the lien will be foreclosed in 30 days if not paid in full. Again, this allows a manager and management firm to prepare this letter without being subject to an allegation of the unlicensed practice of law.

Distressed Condominiums (Sunset Date) — 718.707: The sunset provision for the bulk assignee/bulk buyer legislation has been extended from July 1, 2015 to July 1, 2016. This law was created in 2010 to encourage investors to buy unsold developer inventory, with the goal of stabilizing the condominium market. The law was originally supposed to sunset in 2012.

Insurance — 718.111 (11): Further clarifies that the association is only responsible to repair damaged items if the damage was caused by an insurable event. This law should be helpful because of the tremendous amount of confusion surrounding condo insurance laws. Many board members and unit owners do not realize that the association’s insurance is only responsible for drywall and other damage if there is an insurable event. If there is no insurable event under the policy, the Declaration of Condominium will control the financial responsibility.

Official Records — 718.111 (13): Provides that an owner may consent in writing to the disclosure of certain contact information beyond name, address and telephone number. The bill also requires an outgoing condominium association board or committee member to relinquish all official records and property of the association within a specified time period and provides that there may be a civil financial penalty for failing to relinquish such records or property.

Termination — 718.117: If a plan of termination for a condominium association, fails to receive the necessary votes for approval, the plan cannot be reintroduced for at least six more months.

http://www.naplesnews.com/business/real-estate/richard-d-deboest-what-new-laws-will-impact-my-condo-association_70570073

Jul 07 2014

5 Tips for Keeping Your Lawn Looking Great This Summer

Filed under: Home Improvement

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Keeping your lawn beautiful throughout the summer can be tricky, particularly if you are new to maintaining a lawn. Fortunately, it doesn’t have to be as difficult as you might think. With these simple tips in mind, you will be able to keep your lawn looking great all summer.

Tip #1: Fertilize at the Right Time

When it comes to fertilizing your lawn at the right time, you need to think in terms of the big picture as well as the small picture. In terms of the big picture, you need to fertilize your lawn at the beginning of summer as well as in the middle of summer. When choosing a fertilizer, be sure to select one that is specifically formulated for lawns. This way, you can be sure the fertilizer will have the nitrogen levels necessary to help your lawn look green and healthy.

In addition to choosing the right time of the year to fertilize, you also need to select the right time of the day. Ideally, you should fertilize your lawn right after you get done mowing and while your grass is dry. Otherwise, you risk getting the fertilizer stuck to the grass, which can cause it to chemically burn.

Tip #2: Less Fertilizer is Better

While it is important to fertilize your lawn, there is no reason to fertilize it several times throughout the season. In fact, frequent fertilization will only stimulate growth, which means you will have to mow your lawn more frequently in order to maintain the height you desire. The “less is better” approach is also applicable when you spread the fertilizer. Rather than spreading a large amount of fertilizer at once, it is better to set your spreader at a low setting and to go over your lawn multiple times. This way, you can be sure the fertilizer is more evenly distributed.

Tip #3: Apply Herbicide

Many lawn fertilizer products combine the fertilizer and herbicide together. While this may seem more convenient, you will generally get better results if you apply the two products separately. This way, you can be sure both your fertilizer and your herbicide are evenly distributed throughout your lawn.

Tip #4: Keep Some Height to Your Grass

Many overzealous homeowners set their blades to a really low setting in order to cut their grass very low. While this may seem like a good way to reduce the number of times you have to cut your grass, cutting your grass too short will reduce the general well-being of your grass. In addition, you will need to water your grass more frequently in order to keep it looking its best. So, the time you save with mowing will go toward spending time watering your lawn. Of course, this is also quite wasteful in terms of water conservation. In general, it is a good idea to keep your grass about an inch longer in the summer than you do during the spring and fall in order to keep it healthy.

Tip #5: Keep Your Lawn Watered

When hitting a dry spell, it is important to keep your lawn watered. Keep in mind that most lawns need about 1 to 1 ½ inches of rain per week. So, if you aren’t getting this water naturally, you will need to give your lawn some help.

The best time to water your lawn is early in the morning around 5:00 am. This way, your lawn will have plenty of time to dry before nightfall, thereby preventing mold and fungus from developing. If you can’t get up that early to water your lawn, simply try to do it as early in the day as possible. As you water your lawn, keep in mind that it is better to water it deeply a couple times per week rather than watering it lightly throughout the week. So, pick days when you can spend the time to water the lawn properly.

Jun 28 2014

Cut Utility Costs with These Simple Money Saving Tips This Summer

Filed under: Home Improvement, Misc

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Are you looking for some simple ways to save on your utility bill this summer? Fortunately, saving money on your utility bills does not have to be as difficult as you think. In fact, many of these money saving tips will likely go unnoticed by you and everyone else in your household, until you receive your utility bill.

Tip #1: Shut Down Your Entertainment Center Completely

Even after you have turned off your television and other entertainment devices, they will continue to use energy. These devices continue to use energy in order to start up quickly when you are ready to use them again. While you are asleep or away at work, there is no reason to keep these devices “on call.” Instead, unplug them when not in use. Or, use a Smart Strip to cut the power when it is not needed. If you are in the market to purchase a new television, another option is to buy one that is energy-efficient. Look for one with an Energy Star rating to get the best energy efficiency possible.

Tip #2: Use the Grill

Cooking indoors will only increase the heat inside, which means your air conditioner will need to work even harder to keep your inside temperature comfortable. Fortunately, you do not need to eat cold meals all summer long in order to prevent this from happening. Instead, use your grill to cook as much as possible. If you can’t use your grill, consider using your toaster oven when cooking small amounts of food rather than heating up the oven.

Tip #3: Make Your Toilet More Efficient

If you are in the market to purchase a new toilet, be sure to purchase a low-flow variety. If you aren’t interested in purchasing a new toilet, but you still want to enjoy the benefits of a low-flow toilet, you can simply fill a soda bottle with sand or water and drop it into the tank. This will force your toilet to use less water each time you flush.

Tip #4: Turn Off Water When Not in Use

It may seem insignificant, but turning off your water when you are not using it can go a long way toward saving on your water bill. For example, keep the water turned off while you are brushing your teeth or shaving. You can further conserve water by installing a water-conserving shower head.

Tip #5: Turn on the Fan

During the night, there is no reason to keep the entire house cool. So, turn up the air conditioning and turn on a ceiling fan in your room. Shutting the doors and vents in rooms that are not in use will further help to lessen the burden that is placed on your air conditioner.

Jun 20 2014

Nationwide Real Estate Statistics Indicate the Market is Still Struggling

Filed under: Market Updates, Real Estate News

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After experiencing a slump for a two month period, the Commerce Department reports that new home sales increased by 6.4 percent in April to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 433,000 across the nation. Despite this increase, new home sales are at about half of what is expected for a healthy real estate market.

In March, home purchases were down by 6.9 percent with an annual rate of 407,000. Buying had also dropped by 4.4 percent in February, but most experts agree that this is likely due to the difficult winter storms experienced throughout the country. High prices combined with mortgage rates are also likely contributors to the drop in buyers.

The lack of demand for newly built homes also remains a concern on a national basis. Though some markets, such as Miami and many parts of California, have seen a significant amount of demand, the nationwide statistics are still troubling. Overall, new home sales have fallen by 4.2 percent over the past year when comparing April 2013 to April 2014. During this same time period, the home sales growth that did occur took place primarily with those homes that were worth more than $750,000, indicating that only those with a significant amount of disposable income are purchasing real estate at a higher rate. On the other hand, the number of homes sold that were worth less than $250,000 was on the decline. This is particularly concerning because the majority of all real estate purchases fall within this category.

While sales did see an impressive 47.4 percent increase in the Midwest in April, experts believe this was most likely due to the fact that the weather had warmed up as the spring buying season finally arrived. Experts do not expect this type of growth to continue throughout the spring and into summer.

When comparing April 2014 to March of the same year, median sales prices fell by 2.1 percent to $275,000. Furthermore, when looking at the start of 2014, the home ownership rate was at just 64.8 percent. These figures still represent a decline when compared to the figures from before the housing bubble burst. In 2004, the home ownership rate was at 69.2 percent.

 

Jun 17 2014

5 Ways to Increase Your Credit Score

Filed under: Real Estate Tips

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Scorrrrrrrre!!!!!!

Celebrate a World Cup of Your Own

You may not make it to the FIFA World Cup this year in Brazil, but you can still score big by improving your FICO or Vantage credit score.

There’s no way around it, if you want to buy a home with a mortgage, you’ll get a better rate with a higher credit score. Unfortunately, your credit score takes into account several years of your past financial decisions and missteps in addition to your current situation. While there is no easy “fix” to your credit score, practicing these five suggestions can help you move it in the right direction.

Keep Paid-Off Debt on Your Report

While negative debt on your report is bad, paid-off debt is a positive contributor to your credit score. Most of your negative debt falls off after seven years, but keeping positive debt in place can help. If you’ve paid off that line of credit, keep it open (just don’t use it) and when you switch to a different credit card because it has a lower interest rate, keep the old one (again, just don’t use it) so that your “available credit” is higher.

Revolving Credit

Your score reflects how much credit you have versus how much you are using at any given time. The lower the credit usage to credit available, the higher your score. To increase your credit available, pay down your balances. Even if you pay your entire balance off every month, you may appear to have a higher usage to available ratio. Since it is your statement balance that many card issuers report to the credit bureaus, consider paying ahead of the statement date.

Small Balances on Several Cards

When you have several cards in use at once, even if they have small balances, your score reflects the number of credit accounts in addition to the total balance. Pay off the small balances. Use your lowest interest-rate card for most of your purchases.

Avoid Unnecessary Credit Report Dings

When you apply for credit, it may cause a slight dip in your credit. When shopping for the best rate, you may apply for several loans in a short amount of time. According to Bankrate, the FICO scoring system ignores multiple requests for the same type of loan, treating them as one request within a scoring timeframe (typically 30 to 45 days), but with other systems you have only 14 days. In very old systems, student loans in particular may not appear as one request, so avoid applying for student loans when also applying for a mortgage. The Vantage Score model uses a rolling 14-day window for duplicate loan inquiries, so shorten up your shopping time accordingly.

Nuisance Bills

When trying to pull together a down payment for a big-ticket item (car, home, etc.), take care to pay smaller bills that can hurt you later. For example, that library fine or leftover medical bill that ended up in collection and remains unpaid can hurt either your FICO or your Vantage Score, but if you’ve paid them, your Vantage Score does not factor them into your score.

Credit scores move up slowly over time. Start working to improve your credit score immediately so that when you’re ready to shop for that home loan, you’ll already have a great credit score.

Compliments of Virtual Results

Jun 12 2014

Are Appraisal Values Improving? Recent Polls Indicate “Yes”

Filed under: Real Estate News

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According to the National Association of Realtors, real estate appraisers were once criticized by a significant number of people who worked with them. In fact, more than 40 percent of respondents in a 2010 poll reported having some sort of a problem with appraisers. More recent polls, however, suggest that the image of appraisers is slowly improving.

When conducting a poll within the reality field during the spring and summer of 2010, the National Association of Realtors found that appraisers frequently traveled too far outside of their geographic area, thereby losing touch with local conditions and providing inaccurate appraisals. The respondents also reported that appraisers frequently used foreclosures and short sales as comparable listings when determining the value of a home that was not under financial distress. This often soured deals as buyers were unable to obtain loans to cover the negotiated price and sellers were unwilling to lower their asking price to go along with the appraised value.

Respondents to the 2010 survey also felt that appraisers failed to acknowledge that local home prices were going up in many markets and that they failed to pay attention to the fact that properties were being sold at above list price. To make matters worse, many within the industry felt that poorly trained appraisers were flooding the industry simply because they were willing to work for appraisal management companies at a minimal cost.

In the most recent survey conducted by the National Association of Realtors, only 24 percent of respondents reported having some sort of significant issue with an appraisal. While this is still a high number, it is down quite a bit from the 40 percent reported in 2010. According to many within the industry, this change is not likely to be due to improved training or some other change within the appraisal industry itself. Rather, it is most likely due to the fact that the number of foreclosures and short sales on the market has dropped significantly. As a result, appraisers are no longer being overwhelmed with homes that are in financial distress as their only options for comparables.

Some Realtors have also found that the number of poorly trained appraisers has gone down as many of them have decided to leave the business. This seems to be backed by the Appraisal Institute, which estimated that the number of appraisers has been falling by about 3 percent each year.

Despite these improvements, the reality is that there is still a chance that you won’t be able to close on a deal simply because the appraised value does not match what is on the contract. The good news is that it appears as if this is less likely to happen this year than it has been in recent years.

Jun 12 2014

Hosting a Moving Sale

Filed under: Real Estate Tips

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You know you do not want to take all of your old stuff to your new place. Chances are, you are planning to host a sale. Garage sale, yard sale, estate sale, rummage sale … no matter what you call it, here are some things to remember to make your sale a success.

Have a game plan

The success of your sale depends on the amount of advanced planning you put in. Know beforehand what you want to sell, when you need to have it gone and what you will do with the things that do not sell.

Know what to sell

Big-ticket items might sell better on craigslist or another classified site, but if you do decide to sell them at your moving sale, determine in advance the lowest price you will accept. Have heirlooms and items you think might have higher value appraised and perhaps offer them to collectors or dealers through eBay or other auction venues. When people come to a garage sale, they expect to get a great deal. Selling for the same or similar price as discount chains will leave you with as much as you began.

Know when to sell

Many municipalities only allow yard sales on specific weekends throughout the year. That means your sale is competing with the entire city for customers. It also means, however, that your city may be drawing customers from the surrounding area to your sale, and may provide much of the advertising for you. Check with your city clerk’s office before planning your sale to make sure you do not need a permit, and to make sure the day or weekend you have chosen is allowable.

Know your customers

For some of us, a garage or yard sale is a casual pastime if we happen across one on a free Saturday morning. For others, it is their go-to place children’s clothing, summer outdoor toys, and other inexpensive family items. Still others are professional garage-salers.

Professionals include collectors, buyers for auction and antique houses, Amazon or eBay sellers, and flea market space owners. When advertising, be sure to list the important categories so your buyers know to come to you first. Expect professionals to come early (or late to scoop up what’s left), know the price they will pay and be in and out quickly.

Casual buyers browse and may ask many questions. If you have small (or large) appliances for sale, be sure to have an electrical outlet or extension cord available so they can test them.

Note: Some power tools and appliances, such as some air compressors, are designed not to work on extension cords and require direct access to an outlet.

Your neighbors and friends may come for moral support or to get a glimpse of what you have for sale with no thought of purchase in mind. If you can, get them to help you out by holding the fort while you take a restroom break.

Know your prices

Set prices ahead of time. Consult online pricing guides like this one from Garage Sales Tracker. Mark every item. Many browsers will pick up an item of interest only to set it down if they do not see a price.

Know your setup

Arrange your area so that exiting traffic flows past you. This helps you handle sales while keeping a watchful eye on potential thieves. Make sure there is plenty of room between tables so shoppers can continue to move toward the items drawing their interest. Hang adult clothing if possible and group by gender and size. Determine in advance if you will allow shoppers to try on clothing and set up a makeshift dressing room. Do not invite strangers into your home to try on clothing.

Know what you need in advance

Have plenty of cash on hand to make change. Many an impulse sale is lost due to lack of change for a large bill. Have a bag or cashbox to keep money out of site and assign someone to keep an eye on it at all times. Consider having snacks available (inexpensive cookies and ice water or powdered lemonade is fine) to encourage visitors to stick around for a few minutes.

Have a free pile

Items you intend to give away or take to a charity might just be the draw you need to get a customer to stop by, so place a large sign in front of the free stuff and set it out toward the front of your driveway or sale area. These items may also keep children occupied while their parents shop.

Plan the cleanup

Just like the home makeover shows do, have a designated charity scheduled to pickup the leftovers when the sale is over, or have a friend or family member with a pickup ready to take them to the donation center. When the sale is done you will not have to store those items, you can move on to packing your boxes and planning your move.

 Compliments of Virtual Results

Jun 10 2014

Are there Holes in Your Homeowner’s Insurance?

Filed under: Real Estate Tips

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You bought your new house, put in new carpet and just had your custom-made sofa delivered when you find the drainage pipes have backed up. Your in-laws will be here tomorrow, so you call your homeowner’s insurance agent only to find out your policy does not cover sewer.

Say what?

Many homeowners are surprised to learn that their insurance does not cover everything. In fact, it may not cover several things that you assume it does.

Flooding

Your home can experience flooding from several sources. Flooding from heavy rains, tropical storms, or hurricanes is not covered by most policies, but in 1968, Congress created the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) that offers coverage to homeowners, renters, and business owners if their community participates in the program. Community participation means that the municipality adopts and enforces ordinances aimed at reducing flooding and that meet or exceed FEMA requirements.

NFIP does not cover flooding from sewer backup, seepage, or hydrostatic pressure (water pressure from saturated soil) unless caused by a federally defined flood.

Mold

Hiding behind drywall and ceilings, or lurking under floorboards, mold comes in over a thousand varieties and poses health risks. Even policies that cover mold only cover mold from specific sources, and typically have $10,000 limits. The cost to remove and repair damage from mold can easily top that amount.

Sewer Backup

Aging sewer systems and backed-up storm drains can allow sewerage to backup into your home. Unless you have an extra endorsement that specifically covers sewer backup, you are on your own for the cleanup and repairs.

Sinkholes and Earthquakes

A sinkhole is when water erodes the rock underground allowing the surface to collapse into the hole. If the sinkhole happens under your home, the damage to your home is major. In most states, sinkhole damage is considered the same as other earth movement (earthquakes) and is excluded from most insurance policies. Earthquake or ground-movement policies are additional.

Termites

Over time, termites destroy support beams, walls, and other wooden parts of your home. Nationwide, damage from termites amounts to more than $5 billion in damage to homes and other structures. Homeowners’ insurance policies do not cover termite damage.

Pets

Many insurance companies will not cover certain breeds in the standard coverage. While some may charge higher premiums for them, others may not cover them at all. If you pet bites or injures a guest (or stranger) on your property, you may be on the hook for medical bills and liability in case of a lawsuit.

Toys

The high accident risk from trampolines means many insurance companies will not cover injuries of a family member or guest. Some companies will not insure you at all if you have a trampoline on your property.

War

Most insurance policies exclude acts of war.

Nuclear Plant Accidents

While your homeowners insurance will not cover a nuclear plant accident, a 1957 law compensates people in the United States from damage or injuries after an accident at a nuclear plant. But the coverage does not pay your mortgage while your home is unlivable.

Take time to discuss all of your insurance needs with your insurance agent. Make sure you fully understand the coverages and exclusions and carefully determine the extra coverage you may need in your situation. Begin immediately to set aside an emergency fund to cover incidents—like backed-up sewer lines—that your homeowners policy excludes.

Compliments of Virtual Results

Jun 05 2014

How to Prepare for Emergencies in Your New Home (Part 3)

Filed under: Home Improvement

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The last in our series, preparing for emergencies in your new home means taking extra measure to protect your investment. Surviving a disaster is just the first part. Recovering takes longer and requires more advance planning. Start by designing your home to help you survive. Here are suggestions to get you on your way.

Prepare for Damage:

1. Reinforce your home:

  • Hurricanes — Check these main areas for weakness
    • Roof: Determine what type of roof you have and what type of bracing you can employ to strengthen it against strong winds.
    • Windows and Doors: Windows or doors broken during a hurricane make your house particularly vulnerable. If wind and water come into the house, they put pressure on your walls and roof and increase your chance of damage. Investigate the structure of your doors and windows to determine if a reinforcing bolt kit and storm shutters are improvements worth investing in.
    • Remember to check your garage door too! Many local governments require garage doors to be able to withstand high winds — learn about your local building codes and find out if your garage door comes equipped or if you need a retrofit kit to stabilize your door.
  • Tornadoes, Strong Winds and Hailstorms
    • Roof: Learn the impact resistance of your roofing type and investigate the possibility of making improvements. If upgrades are not an option, simply knowing what damage you might incur will help you prepare financially for any possibilities.
    • Storm-scape: If you live in a storm-risk location, invest in yard upkeep to prevent additional damage. Eliminate trees that may fall on your home and keep stray or dead branches in check with regular trimming. Consider switching from rock and gravel to wood chips or bark in landscaping to avoid additional damage from harsh objects hitting your home in strong winds.
    • Furniture: Review the location and sturdiness of your furniture. Always secure large or heavy pieces to the wall or floor. If you receive warning in time, move furniture away from doors and windows before the storm hits.
  • Flood — Floods can accompany a large storm
    • Roof: Learn the impact resistance of your roofing type and investigate the possibility of making improvements. If upgrades are not an option, simply knowing what damage you might incur will help you prepare financially for any possibilities.
    • Purchased Homes: If you moved into a home in a flood prone area, improve your security by using waterproofing compounds to seal the walls in your basement.
    • Plumbing and Drainage: You may want to install “check-valves” for sewage traps to avoid back up into your drains. Consult with your local plumber to learn about the options for your home.
  • Earthquake
    • Verify Stability: Check your home’s roof, walls, foundations, chimney, brickwork and other areas requiring fortification. Owners living in older, pre-1935 homes should verify that their house is bolted to the foundation.
    • Furniture and Appliances: Fasten heavy furniture to the floor or wall if possible, and secure appliances that may damage utility lines if they move around. Use patchable cabinetry and get in the habit of placing heavy objects on lower shelves throughout your home.
    • Know Where to Go: Make sure you follow the Drop, Cover, and Hold On! instructions and teach your family members what to do. Identify the most secure furniture and teach children to crawl under it. If no sturdy furniture is available, crouch down near a solid interior wall.
  • Fire

    • Install smoke alarms on every level of your home. Ideal placement is in or outside all sleeping areas. Habituate monthly battery tests for your alarms and change batteries twice yearly at the time change.
    • Create a map or floor plan of your home with windows and doors in each room clearly identified. Designate two escape routes from each room each room. Practice exiting through both doors and windows.
    • Install an escape ladder in upper-story bedrooms and teach family members how to use it.
    • Choose a family meeting place outside where everyone can meet.

2. Get Insurance:

Typically, standard homeowners’ insurance does not cover damage caused by all natural disasters. Tornadoes tend to be covered, but flooding, hailstorms, and earthquakes may not be on the list. Check your homeowners’ insurance policy and speak with your insurance carrier about increasing your protection.

3. Start a Rainy Day Fund for Your Home:

It is never too early to start an emergency fund for your home. Many think it will not happen to them, but a lack of funds for home repairs can easily strip your family of financial security in the moment and for years to come. After putting your heart and soul into your home, you do not want to lose it all. Research the damage most likely to occur to your home given your location, possible risks, and home structure. With that information, you can begin estimating possible costs of damage and start building your fund.

4. Participate in Community Preparedness:

Get Involved In your community’s safety. Visit your local American Red Cross or community center and learn about taking classes to prepare you to help yourself and your neighbors in an emergency. The American Red Cross advises certifying yourself in CPR and First Aid so you can confidently assist those in need. Often, local community centers provide training and host drills to help you navigate the city in the event of an evacuation or need for shelter outside your home.

 

Compliments of Virtual Results