Tips for Lowering Homeowner’s Insurance Costs

  • Review the Comprehensive Loss Underwriting Exchange (CLUE) report on the property you’re interested in buying. CLUE reports detail the property’s claims history for the most recent five years, which insurers may use to deny coverage. Make the sale contingent on a home inspection to ensure that problems identified in the CLUE report have been repaired.
  • Seek insurance coverage as soon as your offer is approved. You must obtain insurance to buy. And you don’t want to be told at closing that the insurer has denied your coverage.
  • Maintain good credit. Insurers often use credit-based insurance scores to determine premiums.
  • Buy your home owners and auto policies from the same company and you’ll usually qualify for savings. But make sure the discount really yields the lowest price.
  • Raise your deductible. If you can afford to pay more toward a loss that occurs, your premiums will be lower. Avoid making claims under $1,000.
  • Ask about other discounts. For example, retirees who tend to be home more than full-time workers may qualify for a discount on theft insurance. You also may be able to obtain discounts for having smoke detectors, a burglar alarm, or dead-bolt locks.
  • Seek group discounts. If you belong to any groups, such as associations or alumni organizations, they may have deals on insurance coverage.
  • Review your policy limits and the value of your home and possessions annually. Some items depreciate and may not need as much coverage.
  • Investigate a government-backed insurance plan. In some high-risk areas, federal or state government may back plans to lower rates. Ask your agent.
  • Be sure you insure your house for the correct amount. Remember, you’re covering replacement cost, not market value.

What is Appraised Value?


  • Appraisals provide an objective opinion of value, but it’s not an exact science so appraisals may differ.
  • For buying and selling purposes, appraisals are usually based on market value — what the property could probably be sold for. Other types of value include insurance value, replacement value, and assessed value for property tax purposes.
  • Appraised value is not a constant number. Changes in market conditions can dramatically alter appraised value.
  • Appraised value doesn’t take into account special considerations, like the need to sell rapidly.
  • Lenders usually use either the appraised value or the sale price, whichever is less, to determine the amount of the mortgage they will offer.


Used with permission from Kim Daugherty, Real Estate Checklists and Systems,


Why you should work with a Realtor®

Not all real estate practitioners are REALTORS®. The term REALTOR® is a registered trademark that identifies a real estate professional who is a member of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION of REALTORS® and subscribes to its strict Code of Ethics. Here are five reasons why it pays to work with a REALTOR®.


  1. You’ll have an expert to guide you through the process. Buying or selling a home usually requires disclosure forms, inspection reports, mortgage documents, insurance policies, deeds, and multi-page settlement statements. A knowledgeable expert will help you prepare the best deal, and avoid delays or costly mistakes.
  1. Get objective information and opinions. REALTORS® can provide local community information on utilities, zoning, schools, and more. They’ll also be able to provide objective information about each property. A professional will be able to help you answer these two important questions: Will the property provide the environment I want for a home or investment? Second, will the property have resale value when I am ready to sell?
  1. Find the best property out there. Sometimes the property you are seeking is available but not actively advertised in the market, and it will take some investigation by your REALTOR® to find all available properties.
  1. Benefit from their negotiating experience. There are many negotiating factors, including but not limited to price, financing, terms, date of possession, and inclusion or exclusion of repairs, furnishings, or equipment. In addition, the purchase agreement should provide a period of time for you to complete appropriate inspections and investigations of the property before you are bound to complete the purchase. Your agent can advise you as to which investigations and inspections are recommended or required.
  1. Property marketing power. Real estate doesn’t sell due to advertising alone. In fact, a large share of real estate sales comes as the result of a practitioner’s contacts through previous clients, referrals, friends, and family. When a property is marketed with the help of a REALTOR®, you do not have to allow strangers into your home. Your REALTOR® will generally prescreen and accompany qualified prospects through your property.
  1. Real estate has its own language. If you don’t know a CMA from a PUD, you can understand why it’s important to work with a professional who is immersed in the industry and knows the real estate language.
  1. REALTORS® have done it before. Most people buy and sell only a few homes in a lifetime, usually with quite a few years in between each purchase. And even if you’ve done it before, laws and regulations change. REALTORS®, on the other hand, handle hundreds of real estate transactions over the course of their career. Having an expert on your side is critical.
  1. Buying and selling is emotional. A home often symbolizes family, rest, and security — it’s not just four walls and a roof. Because of this, home buying and selling can be an emotional undertaking. And for most people, a home is the biggest purchase they’ll ever make. Having a concerned, but objective, third party helps you stay focused on both the emotional and financial issues most important to you.
  1. Ethical treatment. Every member of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION of REALTORS® makes a commitment to adhere to a strict Code of Ethics, which is based on professionalism and protection of the public. As a customer of a REALTOR®, you can expect honest and ethical treatment in all transaction-related matters. It is mandatory for REALTORS® to take the Code of Ethics orientation and they are also required to complete a refresher course every four years.

Reprinted from REALTOR® magazine ( with permission of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®. Copyright 2008. All rights reserved.

10 Hardcore Home Staging Tactics for Sellers

Getting your home prepared to sell can be a daunting task, but implementing even some of these 10 hardcore home staging tactics can not only get your home sold quicker, it can help get your home sold for top dollar!

1. Check out the competition and see what’s out there.

2. Create a staging plan, just like a pro would.

3.  Get (and follow) professional advice. We can help you or recommend a professional stager.

4.  Eliminate the excess and eliminate items you haven’t used. You’ll be glad you did come moving day!

5.  Pre-pack personal items. Decluttering and depersonalizing are essential. You want potential home buyers to envision your home as their own.

6.  Clear off counter space. Less is more!

7.  Clean inside and out, including garages, side yards and outdoor spaces.

8.  Dive into trim and details early. Touch up trim, baseboards, fix loose knobs or pulls, ensure locks are working, replace or clean up outdoor accents or mailboxes.

9.  Shoot sample photos. Gives you an idea of what your home looks like to potential buyers.

10.  Be brutally honest with yourself. We know it’s not easy! 

10 hardcore staging tactics

2014 Real Estate Market:’s predictions

What do the experts think the 2014 real estate market is going to look like?

In a nutshell:

  • Dodd-Frank lending changes: tight requirements for borrowers seeking qualified mortgages.
  • Interest rates are most likely to go up and surpass 5%.2014 Real Estate Market
  • Expect turnarounds in a lot of cities: Detroit, Santa Barbara and Reno top the lists.
  • Home affordability expected to decline: it dropped to it’s lowest in 5 years in 2013.
  • Don’t count on finding a foreclosure: fewer homeowners are losing their homes as the economy improves.
  • It may be a good time to buy a second home: Florida and Nevada are still seeing higher inventory and listing prices well below the national average.
  • Prices will increase at a less rapid pace than past years: forecasts put the increases between 3%-5%.

What do you think?


Ready to sell your home?

Turn to a Realtor® for professional advice!

Residential HomeAre you thinking about selling your current home but don’t know where to start? A Realtor® in Florida can help you attract buyers from around the corner – or from another continent – then help you close the sale and move ahead with your life.

Marketing and selling a home is a complex process that involves all the tools of the real estate profession, from social networking and online video tours to Multiple Listing Service (MLS) postings, newspaper ads and even knocking on neighborhood doors. A Realtor® can help you avoid potentially costly mistakes and keep the sales process running smoothly, saving time, money and headaches.

In guiding you through the maze of paperwork and procedures involved in selling a home, a Realtor® can provide you with a full complement of services, including:

• Gather information about your home – such as square footage, type of heating and cooling systems, proximity to schools and other features – to prepare to list it for sale.

• Analyze comparable home sales in the area, then use that information to help you better estimate your property’s value, so it can be priced right to sell.

• Design an effective strategy to market your home. Post photos and information about the home on high-volume websites, email open house invitations, place advertisements in local publications and put a traditional for-sale sign in front of the residence.

• List your home on the Multiple Listing Service (MLS), maximizing its exposure to prospective buyers locally, nationally and internationally.

• Bring qualified buyers to preview your home.

• Write offers, place the buyer’s deposit in escrow and take care of other necessary paperwork.

• Guide you through all aspects of the sales contract and deal with the buyer on any items that may need to be negotiated.

• Help to investigate financing, arrange for home inspections and appraisals, and other details that are part of the preparation for closing the deal.

• Serve as your representative at the closing of the home sale.

Unlike someone with a real estate license who has simply met the state’s requirements to do business in Florida, a Realtor takes the profession to the next level. He or she voluntarily agrees to act under, and abide by, a Code of Ethics by becoming a member of the local, state and national Realtor boards/associations. Realtors abide by a set of professional principles, serve clients fairly and maintain a high level of industry knowledge about the buying and selling of real estate.

With a Realtor involved, you can relax, knowing the purchase is in safe, knowledgeable, capable and caring hands.

Want to know what your home is worth in todays market? Fill out the information below for your free, confidential home valuation.

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