St. Petersburg Real Estate and Community News

Dec. 6, 2021

Are You Covered? A Homeowner’s Insurance Guide

Homeowner Guide to Insurance

 

No one likes to think about disasters. Severe weather, fire, theft—or even a seemingly small issue like a broken pipe—can wreak havoc on your home and result in thousands of dollars in damages. Fortunately, a good homeowners insurance policy can offer you peace of mind that you and your family will be financially protected if disaster strikes. 

A homeowners insurance policy covers your home—as well as the belongings in it—in case of theft, accidental damage, or certain natural disasters. In fact, most financial institutions require that you purchase homeowners insurance before they issue a mortgage. While coverage varies, most policies also help to protect you from liability should someone outside your household become injured on your property. And that liability coverage is often extended to include damage you (or anyone living in your household) may do to someone else’s property.1

With all the protection offered, it’s equally important to understand what a home insurance policy does NOT cover. For example, homeowners insurance won’t pay to repair malfunctioning systems and appliances within your home. And terms vary, but standard policies typically exclude coverage related to floods, earthquakes, slow leaks, power failure, neglect, aging, faulty repairs or construction materials, and acts of war.2

 

Homeowners Insurance Covers Things Like:

  • Structure
  • Roof
  • Windows
  • Furniture/Personal Belongings
  • Liability for Non-Residents Injured on Property
  • Liability for Damage or Injury Caused by You or Your Pets

 

Most Standard Policies DON’T Cover:

  • Malfunctioning Systems & Appliances
  • Floods
  • Earthquakes
  • Slow Leaks
  • Power Failures
  • Neglect or Aging
  • Faulty Repairs
  • Acts of War

 

 

NARROWING THE COVERAGE GAP

 

So how do you minimize your risk when so many potential issues are excluded from a standard homeowners policy? Many insurers offer supplemental coverage options that can be tacked on to a basic policy. We explore this further in the section below on “7 Tips for Purchasing Homeowners Insurance.”

 

Some homeowners also choose to purchase a home warranty, which covers many of the systems and appliances in your home that are NOT covered by homeowners insurance. Home warranties are separate from homeowners insurance, so if interested you’ll need to seek out a policy through a dedicated provider.

 

While terms vary, a home warranty will often pay to repair or replace components of your HVAC, electrical, plumbing, and some appliances that fail due to age or typical wear and tear. Unlike homeowners insurance, home warranties aren’t required by mortgage companies. But many homeowners like the added financial protection and peace of mind that home warranties provide.3

 

Keep in mind, if you do purchase a home warranty, you will still be responsible for paying a service fee, or deductible, every time you use it. And you will be limited to using service providers who are contracted through your home warranty company.

 

 

7 TIPS FOR PURCHASING HOMEOWNERS INSURANCE

 

Whether you’re shopping for a new policy on your first home or you’re considering switching providers on an existing policy, it’s important to do your research beforehand. Not all insurance policies—or providers—are created equal. A little due diligence can save you time, money, and hassle in the long run.

 

Prioritize Service and Value

 

When choosing an insurance provider, ask around for recommendations. Check with neighbors, friends, and family members, particularly those who have filed an insurance claim in the past. Find out if they had a positive or negative experience. Read online reviews. Ask your real estate agent for a referral to a reputable insurance broker who can help you compare your options.

 

Don’t just choose the cheapest policy. Instead, search for one that offers excellent client service and provides the best coverage for the cost.

 

Choose the Right Level of Coverage

 

Your policy limits should be high enough to cover the cost of rebuilding your home. Don’t make the common mistake of insuring your home for the price you paid for it. The cost to rebuild could be higher or lower, depending on the value of your land, your home’s unique features, market factors, new building codes, and local construction costs.4

 

Also, consider whether you need a higher level of liability insurance to protect your assets. If your investments and savings exceed the liability limits in your policy, you may need to purchase an excess liability or umbrella policy.

 

Ultimately, you should make sure your coverage is adequate to mitigate your losses—but don’t pay for excess insurance you don’t need. 

 

Inquire About Additional Coverage

 

Ask your insurance agent about additional coverage options that can help close any gaps you have in your policy.

 

For example, if you’re in a flood or earthquake-prone area, experts strongly recommend that you add those coverages to your policy. In fact, flooding is the most frequently occurring natural hazard, and a significant percentage of insurance payouts are for homes outside “flood zones,” or areas known to be at risk of flooding. So even if your home is not technically located in a flood zone, you may want to add flood coverage to your policy, just in case.5

 

Expensive jewelry, furs, collectibles, or artwork may not be fully insured by a standard policy. Ask about raising your limits for any items of particular value, or check with a specialty insurer about a separate policy for such items.

 

Decide on “Replacement Cost” or “Actual Cash Value”

 

Insurers can use a variety of methods to determine how much they will pay to reimburse you for a loss, but the two most common are “replacement cost” or “actual cash value.”

 

If your seven-year-old sofa is damaged in a fire, replacement cost coverage will pay you the cost to purchase a new, comparable sofa at today’s prices. Actual cash value coverage will pay you for the depreciated value of the sofa you lost—so what you would pay to buy a seven-year-old sofa rather than a new one.6

 

While a replacement cost coverage policy will result in a bigger payoff if you suffer a loss, it will probably require a larger annual premium. Compare both options to find out which is the better fit for you.

 

Consider a Higher Deductible

 

A deductible is the amount of money you are responsible for paying on a loss before your insurance company will pay a claim. Opting for a higher deductible can reduce your premiums. 

 

Note that in some cases, your insurance policy may have a separate or higher deductible for certain kinds of claims, such as those caused by floods, windstorms, hail, or earthquakes.

 

While a higher deductible can save you money on your premiums, opt for one that is still affordable given your current financial situation.

 

Try Bundling Your Coverage

 

Combining your home, automobile, and other policies under one insurer can often result in a significant discount. And some insurers offer additional benefits, such as a single deductible if property insured by multiple policies is damaged. For instance, if a fire destroys your home and your car, you may only have to pay the higher of the two deductibles. Bundling can also make payment and renewal of your policies more convenient.7

 

However, bundling isn't always the best or least expensive option. In some cases, you may find better coverage options, service, and/or pricing if you split your policies between multiple insurers. So be sure to consider all of your options before making a final decision.

 

Reassess Your Policy Each Year

 

Even if you’ve done all your due diligence before purchasing a homeowners insurance policy, don’t set your annual renewal on autopilot. Instead, when it comes time to renew, take some time to consider factors that have changed over the past year. 

 

For example, have you made any home improvements that would require you to raise your coverage limits? Have you made any security or safety improvements that qualify you for a discount on your premiums?8

 

Has there been a shift in market conditions that would make it more or less expensive to rebuild your home now? If so, you may need to adjust your coverage levels accordingly.

 

If you’ve made any changes to how you use your home, you may need to adjust your policy, as well. For example, if you’ve started a home-based business or occasionally rent out your home on a home-sharing site, you may not be fully covered by your existing policy.9

 

Finally, consider any changes to your financial situation that may require increased liability coverage limits. If you’ve grown your investments or inherited property, it may be time to purchase additional coverage to protect your expanding asset base.

 

 

MINIMIZE RISK, MAXIMIZE VALUE

 

Now that you understand the basics of homeowners insurance, you should be ready to start shopping for a policy that best fits your needs and budget. Your goal should be to minimize your risk while maximizing the value your policy provides. 

 

While you never want to leave yourself without a safety net should disaster strike, you also don’t want to overpay for insurance you don’t need (and will hopefully rarely use). Aim to strike a balance that will provide you with adequate protection at an affordable price.

 

 

NEED MORE GUIDANCE? WE CAN HELP

 

If you’re in the market to purchase homeowners insurance or a home warranty, give us a call! We get a lot of feedback from clients on the best (and worst) providers and are happy to share what we know.

 

We can also put you in touch with a trusted insurance professional who can answer your questions and help you find the best policy to meet your needs.

 

 

The above references an opinion and is for informational purposes only.  It is not intended to be financial or insurance advice. Consult the appropriate professionals for advice regarding your individual needs.

 

Sources:

Insurance Information Institute -

https://www.iii.org/article/what-covered-standard-homeowners-policy

Insure.com - 

https://www.insure.com/home-insurance/exclusions.html

American Home Shield - 

https://www.ahs.com/home-matters/cost-savers/whats-the-difference-homeowners-insurance-vs-home-warranty

Insurance Information Institute - 

https://www.iii.org/article/how-much-homeowners-insurance-do-you-need

Realtor.com - 

https://www.realtor.com/advice/buy/buying-home-insurance

Texas Department of Insurance - 

http://www.helpinsure.com/home/documents/acvvsreplace.pdf

Insure.com - 

https://www.insure.com/home-insurance-faq/bundle-insurance-policies.html

National Association of Insurance Commissioners - 

https://www.insureuonline.org/consumer_homeowners_ten_tips.htm

HomeAway - 

https://help.homeaway.com/articles/Do-I-need-a-special-vacation-rental-insurance-policy-for-my-property

 

Posted in Community News
Oct. 27, 2021

Can I Buy or Sell a Home Without a Real Estate Agent?

Sell your home in St. Pete

Today’s real estate market is one of the fastest-moving in recent memory. With record-low inventory in many market segments, we’re seeing multiple offers—and sometimes even bidding wars—for homes in the most sought-after neighborhoods. This has led some sellers to question the need for an agent. After all, why spend money on a listing agent when it seems that you can stick a For Sale sign in the yard then watch a line form around the block?

Some buyers may also believe they’d be better off purchasing a property without an agent. For those seeking a competitive edge, proceeding without a buyer’s agent may seem like a good way to stand out from the competition—and maybe even score a discount. Since the seller pays the buyer agent’s commission, wouldn’t a do-it-yourself purchase sweeten the offer?

We all like to save money. However, when it comes to your largest financial asset, forgoing professional representation may not always be in your best interest. Find out whether the benefits outweigh the risks (and considerable time and effort) of selling or buying a home on your own—so you can head to the closing table with confidence.

 

SELLING YOUR HOME WITHOUT AN AGENT 

Most homeowners who choose to sell their home without any professional assistance opt for a traditional “For Sale By Owner” or a direct sale to an investor, such as an iBuyer. Here’s what you can expect from either of these options.

 

For Sale By Owner (FSBO)

For sale by owner or FSBO (pronounced fizz-bo) offers sellers the opportunity to price their own home and handle their own transaction, showing the home and negotiating directly with the buyer or his or her real estate agent. According to data compiled by the National Association of Realtors, approximately 8% of homes are sold by their owner.1

In an active, low inventory real estate market, it may seem like a no-brainer to sell your home yourself. After all, there are plenty of buyers out there and one of them is bound to be interested in your home. In addition, you’ll save money on the listing agent’s commission and have more control over the way the home is priced and marketed.

One of the biggest problems FSBOs run into, however, is pricing the home appropriately. Without access to information about the comparable properties in your area, you could end up overpricing your home (causing it to languish on the market) or underpricing your home (leaving thousands of dollars on the table).2 

Even during last year’s strong seller’s market, the median sales price for FSBOs was 10% less than the median price of homes sold with the help of a real estate agent.1 And during a more balanced market, like the one we experienced in 2018, FSBO homes sold for 24% (or $60,000) less than agent-represented properties.3 This suggests that, while you may think that you’ll price and market your home more effectively yourself, in fact you may end up losing far more than the amount you would pay for an agent’s assistance.

Without the services of a real estate professional, it will be up to you to get people in the door. You’ll need to gather information for the online listing and put together the kind of marketing that today’s buyers expect to see. This includes bringing in a professional photographer, writing the listing description, and designing marketing collateral like flyers and mailers—or hiring a writer and graphic designer to do so.

Once someone is interested, you’ll need to offer virtual showings and develop a COVID safety protocol. You’ll then need to schedule an in-person showing (or in some cases, two or three) for each potential buyer. In addition, you’ll be on your own when evaluating offers and determining their financial viability. You’ll need to thoroughly understand all legal contracts and contingencies and discuss terms, including those regarding the home inspection and closing process. 

While you’re doing all of this work, it’s likely that you’ll still need to pay the buyer agent’s commission. So be sure to weigh your potential savings against the significant risk and effort involved. 

If you choose to work with a listing agent, you’ll save significant time and effort while minimizing your personal risk and liability. And the increased profits realized through a more effective marketing and negotiation strategy could more than make up for the cost of your agent’s commission.

 

iBuyer

iBuyers have been on the scene since around 2015, providing sellers the option of a direct purchase from a real estate investment company rather than a traditional direct-to-consumer sales process.4 iBuyer companies tout their convenience and speed, with a reliable, streamlined process that may be attractive to some sellers.

The idea is that instead of listing the home on the open market, the homeowner completes an online form with information about the property’s location and features, then waits for an offer from the company. The iBuyer is looking for a home in good condition that’s located in a good neighborhood—one that’s easy to flip and falls within the company’s algorithm.

For sellers who are more focused on speed and convenience, an iBuyer may offer an attractive alternative to a traditional real estate sale. That’s because iBuyers evaluate a property quickly and make an upfront offer without requesting repairs or other accommodations. 

However, sellers will pay for that convenience with, generally, a far lower sale price than the market will provide as well as fees that can add up to as much or more than a traditional real estate agent’s commission. According to a study conducted by MarketWatch, iBuyers netted, on average, 11% less than a traditional sale when both the lower price and fees are considered.5 Other studies found some iBuyers charging as much as 15% in fees and associated costs, far more than you’ll pay for a real estate agent’s commission.6 

In a hot market, this can mean leaving tens of thousands of dollars on the table since you won’t be able to negotiate and you’ll lose out on rising home prices caused by low inventory and increased demand. In addition, iBuyers are demonstrably less reliable during times of economic uncertainty, as evidenced by the halt of operations for most iBuyer platforms in early 2020.6 As a seller, the last thing you want is to start down the road of iBuying only to find out that a corporate mandate is stopping your transaction in its tracks.

If you choose to work with a real estate agent, you can still explore iBuyers as an option. That way you can take advantage of the added convenience of a fast sale while still enjoying the protection and security of having a professional negotiating on your behalf.

 

BUYING YOUR HOME WITHOUT AN AGENT

According to the most recent statistics, 88% of home buyers use a real estate agent when conducting their home search.1 A buyer’s agent is with you every step of the way through the home buying process. From finding the perfect home to submitting a winning offer to navigating the inspection and closing processes, most homebuyers find their expertise and guidance invaluable. And the best part is that, because they are compensated through a commission paid by the homeowner at closing, most agents provide these services at no cost to you!

Still, you may be considering negotiating your home purchase directly with the seller or listing agent, especially if you are accustomed to deal-making as part of your job. And if you are familiar with the neighborhood where you are searching, you may feel that there is no reason to get a buyer’s agent involved.

However, putting together a winning offer package can be challenging. This is especially true in a multiple-offer situation where you’ll be competing against buyers whose offers are carefully crafted to maximize their appeal. And the homebuying process can get emotional. A trusted agent can help you avoid overpaying for a property or glossing over “red flags” in your inspection. In addition, buyer agents offer a streamlined, professional process that listing agents may be more likely to recommend to their clients.

If you decide to forego an agent, you’ll have to write, submit, and negotiate a competitive offer all on your own. You’ll also need to schedule an inspection and negotiate repairs. You’ll be responsible for reviewing and preparing all necessary documents, and you will need to be in constant communication with the seller’s agent and your lender, inspector, appraiser, title company, and other related parties along the way.

Or, you could choose to work with a buyer’s agent whose commission is paid by the seller and costs you nothing out of pocket. In exchange, you’ll obtain fiduciary-level guidance on one of the most important financial transactions of your life. If you decide to go it alone, you’ll be playing fast and loose with what is, for most people, their most important and consequential financial decision.

 

SO, IS A REAL ESTATE AGENT RIGHT FOR YOU?

It is important for you to understand your options and think through your preferences when considering whether or not to work with a real estate professional. If you are experienced in real estate transactions and legal contracts, comfortable negotiating under high-stakes circumstances, and have plenty of extra time on your hands, you may find that an iBuyer or FSBO sale works for you. 

However, if, like most people, you value expert guidance and would like an experienced professional to manage the process, you will probably experience far more peace of mind and security in working with a real estate agent or broker. 

A real estate agent’s comprehensive suite of services and expert negotiation skills can benefit buyers and sellers financially, as well. On average, sellers who utilize an agent walk away with more money than those who choose the FSBO or iBuyer route.3,5 And buyers pay nothing out of pocket for expert representation that can help them avoid expensive mistakes all along the way from contract to closing.

According to NAR’s profile, the vast majority of buyers (91%) and sellers (89%) are thrilled with their real estate professional’s representation and would recommend them to others.1 That’s why, in terms of time, money, and expertise, most buyers and sellers find the assistance of a real estate agent essential and invaluable.

 

QUESTIONS ABOUT BUYING OR SELLING? WE HAVE ANSWERS

The best way to find out whether you need a real estate agent or broker is to speak with one. We’re here to help and to offer the insights you need to make better-informed decisions. Contact TJM Home Team today and let’s talk about the value-added services we provide when we help you buy or sell in today’s competitive real estate landscape.

 

 

Sources:

National Association of REALTORS -

https://www.nar.realtor/research-and-statistics/research-reports/highlights-from-the-profile-of-home-buyers-and-sellers

Washington Post -

https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2020/12/09/factors-consider-when-determining-whether-use-an-agent-buy-or-sell-home/

National Association of REALTORS -

https://www.nar.realtor/blogs/economists-outlook/selling-your-home-solo-to-save-money-you-ll-actually-make-less-than-you-think

Seattle Times -

https://www.seattletimes.com/business/real-estate/redfin-is-first-major-ibuyer-to-sell-in-seattle

MarketWatch -

https://www.marketwatch.com/story/selling-your-home-to-an-ibuyer-could-cost-you-thousands-heres-why-2019-06-11

Forbes -

https://www.forbes.com/sites/nataliakarayaneva/2020/03/19/billion-dollar-real-estate-businesses-ibuyer-suspended/?sh=c7f59f921747

 

Posted in For Sellers
Oct. 12, 2021

Four Things To Do Before Listing Your Home For Sale

For most people, the largest payday they will ever have is the day they sell their home. Market conditions will play the most significant factor in how much money you will make, but you can do a few things before listing your home to maximize your return. Here are four simple things you must do before selling your home:

 

Clean Up

Your house needs to be spotless when potential buyers come to take a look. That means all of your baseboards, cabinets, ceiling fans, and everything else needs to be scrubbed. When homebuyers see a mess, it can make them wonder if the house has been properly maintained, making them either continue their home search elsewhere or make an offer for lower than you’d like. Bottom line, if you want to get top dollar for your house, it needs to be looking its best.

 

Start Packing

Homes in St. Petersburg are going under contract in an average of eight days, so why not start packing right away. Not only will this help you get a jump start on moving, it will also make your home appear less cluttered.

Homebuyers don’t want to see closets and cabinets that are stuffed to capacity. Packing away half of your clothes will make the closet seem more spacious. Packing away dishes and serving platters that aren’t used very often and then neatly organizing the pantry will make cabinets look large enough for the homebuyer. Having ample storage is an essential factor to many homebuyers so that this trick could make or break a sale.

 

Make Repairs

Those repairs that you’ve been putting off should be completed before the home goes up for sale. Even small things like a leaky faucet can be a huge deterrent to a homebuyer since they don’t want to put in the money to make repairs once they take ownership of the home.  

Larger items like kitchen appliances and HVAC systems should also be in working condition. Discovering that a major appliance is not working properly is one of the main reasons a buyer will walk away after a home inspection, so making sure they are all working ahead of time will avoid this problem.

 

Hire The Right Real Estate Agent

If you want to make sure your home sells quickly and for the highest amount of money possible, you will need the right real estate agent working for you. Partnering with TJM Home Team insures you are represented by agents with a massive pool of knowledge about the local market. From listing to closing our agents will be with you every step of the way making sure you receive the most for your investment. Utilizing multifaceted marketing strategies, concierge home staging and staunch professionalism in closing our team will live up to our highly touted reputation in the Tampa Bay

If you’re in the St. Petersburg area and would like to sell your home, let’s connect. We can schedule a no-obligation consultation where I will look at your home to determine its price and give you tips on how to get even more money.  

Give me a call to get the process started.

 

Posted in For Sellers
Oct. 1, 2021

The Importance of Staging Your Home The Right Way

Staging.

As the market begins to shift back to a more level playing ground, home sellers will need to put in some extra work to make their homes stand out. One way to do that is by staging your home. Staging a home for sale allows the potential buyers to have an easier time visualizing the house as their future home since the furnishings give each room a clear purpose.  According to Realtor.com, staged homes sell 88% more quickly and for 20% more than their un-staged competitors.  

 

What Is Staging?

Home staging is a marketing tactic used by real estate agents where furniture and decorations are added to the home to make it look more appealing to buyers. Ideally, staging will be done before photos or videos are taken for marketing purposes and will remain staged until the home is under contract.  

 

What Are The Benefits of Staging?

Staging a home helps a home sell faster for a higher dollar amount. When a listing has been sitting on the market for a while without much activity, a price adjustment will be the first recommendation, followed by staging.  

Having your home staged before marketing photos are taken will make your house stand out online. Instead of the listing showing empty rooms or spaces with mismatched furniture, your home will look like it came off a home décor Instagram page. When a listing stands out, more home buyers will schedule an appointment to see the house in person.

Ideally, you’d like to receive more than one offer on your home so you can have the upper hand in negotiations. Can you receive multiple offers without staging? Sure! The reality is, staging will make it more likely that you have more interest in the home, leading to more offers and ultimately a higher selling price.

If staging is done properly, the home buyers will have an easier time visualizing themselves in the home, leading to an offer. Better yet, buyers increase their offer on the house by as much as 5% when the home is staged.

 

How Much Does Staging Cost?

When you partner with TJM Home Team to sell your home the cost of home staging varies based on the size and price point of the home since you want the furniture and decorations to be consistent in quality to the price of the home. Using expensive, high-end furnishings in a starter home may be excessive, just like you shouldn’t use cheap furnishings in a luxury home. 

To put this in perspective on what TJM Home Team will save you, on average, you can expect to pay between $500-$600 per room per month. Since that can add up very quickly, it is wise to only stage areas of the home that would benefit most. According to a study done by the  National Association of Realtors, 46% of buyers found staging in the living room to be the most important, followed by 43% who found the master bedroom the most important. Only 9% found staging of the guest room to influence their decision to buy, so you could get away with skipping that room to save some money.  

 

Ready To List Your Home For Sale?

If you’re interested in listing your home for sale, TJM Home Team is here to help you through the process. With free staging, broad scale marketing, and a wealth of knowledge we ensure you sell your home fast for the most money possible.  

 

Posted in For Sellers
May 27, 2021

April 2021 Real Estate Market Statistics

Click the links below to view or download April's Real Estate Statistics!

 

Pinellas County April Stats

Pasco County April Stats

Hillsborough County April Stats

April 23, 2021

2859 Dartmouth Ave N Open House This Weekend!

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Posted in Uncategorized
April 23, 2021

March 2021 Real Estate Market Statistics

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Pinellas County March Stats

Pasco County March Stats

Hillsborough County March Stats

Posted in Market Reports
March 31, 2021

February 2021 Real Estate Market Statistics

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Pinellas County February Stats

Pasco County February Stats

Hillsborough County February Stats

Posted in Market Reports
March 2, 2021

January 2021 Real Estate Market Statistics

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Pinellas County January Stats

Pasco County January Stats

Hillsborough County January Stats

Posted in Market Reports
Jan. 26, 2021

December 2020 Real Estate Market Statistics

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Pinellas County December Stats

Pasco County December Stats

Hillsborough County December Stats