Homeowner’s Insurance: What’s Covered, What Isn’t and Why You Might Need It

Homeowner's Insurance: What's Covered, What Isn't and Why You Might Need It Homeowner’s insurance is an incredibly valuable and beneficial policy for homeowners to have, but it is necessary to understand what traditional policies do and do not cover. Once you familiarize yourself with the intricacies of various plans you will be better educated to make the proper decision when selecting your desired level of coverage.

What’s Covered In Homeowner’s Insurance?

The majority of homeowner’s insurance plans will cover dwelling and other structure protection, personal property protection, natural disaster protection, and bodily injury liability protection. Dwelling and other structure protection plans cover damage to your home and other structures that are directly connected to the home, such as the garage. Personal property protection covers damage or loss of personal property within the dwelling. Natural disaster protection covers your home should a natural disaster cause damage, but note that natural disasters such as flooding and earthquakes typically are not covered. Finally, bodily injury liability protection typically covers injuries to individuals while on your property.

What Is Not Included In Homeowner’s Insurance?

As mentioned above, two of the major natural disasters that are not covered by homeowner’s insurance are flooding and earthquakes. There are specific insurance plans that cover flood damage and earthquake damage, but you’ll find that the vast majority of common homeowner’s insurance plans do not cover these types of disasters.

Homeowner’s insurance does not typically cover home business equipment either. If you are running a business from within your home, small business insurance is required to mitigate your risk.

Personal property over a certain value is also not typically covered unless supplemental coverage is purchased. Items such as expensive musical instruments, artwork, jewelry, and silverware should have their own insurance policy which is dedicated to valuable personal property.

Why You Might Need Homeowner’s Insurance

Homeowner’s insurance is intended to help protect you against the unexpected. You never know when a natural disaster such as a tornado or a lightning strike which causes a fire within your home might occur. Accidents do happen, and a visiting friend or relative can be injured on your property. Homeowner’s insurance is a great protection plan to have to make sure that both you and your property are covered should disaster strike.

Three iPhone and Android Apps That Make Managing Your Mortgage Payments Quick and Easy

Three iPhone and Android Apps That Make Managing Your Mortgage Payments Quick and EasyYour mortgage payment may be among the largest payments you make every month. While certainly an important part of your budget, this payment is also critical to helping you build equity in your home because it attributes to mortgage principal reduction. Managing your mortgage payments can be challenging, but there are some incredible apps available for use with Android or iPhone smartphones that can simplify your mortgage management tasks.

Mortgage Mentor

This app is available for both iPhones and Android devices, and is designed to be compatible with all types of mortgages. It can calculate PMI for adjustable rate and variable rate mortgages, and it can help you to determine the true cost of a mortgage. Through the use of this intelligent app, you can track your account information in real-time, or you can manipulate the numbers to help you to make more thoughtful and intelligent decisions about your finances.

Loan Calculator Pro

This app is only currently available on iOS devices, but those with this operating system may want to download it today. It has some of the same capabilities as Mortgage Mentor, but it goes a step above and beyond by providing you with mortgage payment notification reminders. It also has a unique feature that allows you to set a final payoff date for your mortgage, and it will calculate how much money you need to pay per month toward your mortgage to accomplish this goal.

Bill Payment Log

The Bill Payment Log app is a unique program that can entirely replace the outdated manual entry checkbook balancing task. It is suitable for use with iOS, Android and even Windows. You can use it to monitor and track payments for all credit accounts, including mortgages. While it does not have the analytical tools associated with some of the other mortgage apps, those who are looking for an all-in-one app that facilitates bill payment tasks for all accounts, this may be a great option to consider.

Making your mortgage payments on time is important, but you also may need to know if you need to pay extra each month and what the effects of that will be. You may also be concerned about “what if” scenarios for your adjustable rate mortgage. There are numerous apps available on the market today that can help you to facilitate your efforts, and these are among the leading choices available.

Three Tips for Reducing Your Closing Costs if You’re Looking Forward To Buying a Home in the Spring

Three Tips for Reducing Your Closing Costs if You're Buying a Home in the Spring Spring is aproaching fast and it is usually the busiest time of the year for home buying. After a long and cold winter, many people are ready to enjoy the nicer weather and begin to shop for a new home. Spring is also the perfect time for home buying for families with children because it allows them to move during the summer without interrupting school.

Home buying has costs associated with it other than the mortgage itself. Known as closing costs, these fees are a part of the home buying process and they are due at the time that the mortgage is finalized. Buyers, however, can negotiate these costs and reduce the expense with a little bit of effort and with the help of a good mortgage professional.

If you are thinking of buying a new home in the spring here are three helpful tips to reducing your closing costs.

Compare All of Your Mortgage Options

If you’re using mortgage financing to cover some of the up-front purchase cost of your home you’ll have other closing costs to pay including lender fees, mortgage insurance and more. Be sure to compare all of your options with your trusted mortgage adviser to ensure that you’re getting the best possible deal and paying the least amount in fees and interest.

You may also be able to save a bit on your closing costs by choosing a “no points” mortgage. In this type of mortgage you’ll end up saving on closing costs but you’ll be left paying a higher interest rate. Spend a bit of time doing the math to determine the best course of action.

Third Party Fees

Some of the closing cost fees will be associated with third party vendors that must perform required services. Home appraisals, title searches, and costs for obtaining credit reports are some of the items included in this area. While these may be a little harder to negotiate because the lender uses specific companies to perform these services, it does not hurt to ask if you can use your own appraiser or title search company.

Zero Closing Cost Mortgages

Buyers may also wish to inquire about a no closing cost mortgage. This type of mortgage eliminates all closing costs. The lender covers all of the closing cost fees in exchange or a slightly higher interest rate on the loan. In most cases the increase is less than one-quarter of a percent. This type of loan can be very helpful to buyers. Buyers can then use the money that they saved on closing costs to help with the move.

With a little preparation, you can find the best mortgage product for the up-coming spring season. Be sure to contact your experienced mortgage professional, as they will be able to help you find the right mortgage for your specific needs with the lowest out-of-pocket expenses.

Compare All of Your Mortgage Options

If you’re using mortgage financing to cover some of the up-front purchase cost of your home you’ll have other closing costs to pay including lender fees, mortgage insurance and more. Be sure to compare all of your options with your trusted mortgage advisor to ensure that you’re getting the best possible deal and paying the least amount in fees and interest.

You may also be able to save a bit on your closing costs by choosing a “no points” mortgage. In this type of mortgage you’ll end up saving on closing costs but you’ll be left paying a higher interest rate. Spend a bit of time doing the math to determine the best course of action.

Three Subtle Painting Tricks That Will Make Your Home Look Amazing

Three Subtle Painting Tricks That Will Make Your Home Look Amazing This Spring When it comes to painting the walls of a house, sometimes subtle is best. You want to add design, color, and texture to the walls, but you don’t want it jarring to the eyes. Here are three subtle painting techniques you can try on your home walls.

Tissue Paper Texture

One easy way to add texture to walls is to use tissue paper. You apply the tissue paper to the walls and it stays there until you want something new.

Crumple up a piece of tissue paper into a tight ball and then open it up and smooth it out. Small textured lines will appear on the paper. Those lines will remain when you use the paper on the walls.

Use the colored wall paint as glue to adhere the tissue paper to the wall. Paint an area of the wall that’s a little bit bigger than the piece of tissue paper. Press the paper to the painted area and smooth it out so all the edges stick to the wall. Paint over the tissue paper. Repeat the process until the entire wall is covered.

Sponge Color-on-Color Technique

Natural sponges create a unique look on painted walls. If you use two versions of the same color, satin and semi-gloss, then it creates a subtle look that isn’t shocking to the eyes. The color is the same but the shine is different.

Paint your wall with the satin color paint. Let it dry completely. Dip the top of the natural sponge in the semi-gloss paint. Dab the sponge to the wall over and over. It’s OK to overlap the paint in areas and you aren’t going to completely cover the wall.

Once dry, the satin paint will show from beneath the semi-gloss paint creating a neat shine effect.

Taped Stripes

You don’t want bold multi-color stripes on your wall because it will stand out too much. Subtle stripes create a beautiful effect.

Choose two colors that sit side-by-side on the color spectrum. Or, choose two similar colors from different companies. Paint companies tend to have slight differences in colors.

Paint the walls your first color choice. Let it dry completely. Tape the walls using painters tape to make stripes. Make them horizontal, vertical, or diagonal. Make them wide or thin. It’s up to you. Paint the walls again with the second color choice. Paint right over the tape. When you remove the tape, the first color will show.

These simple and subtle paint techniques will make your walls beautiful. This is especially useful if you plan to sell your home and want to increase its value. 

Budgeting: How to Manage Large Mortgage Payments when Buying a Costly, High-value Home

Budgeting: How to Manage Large Mortgage Payments when Buying a Costly, High-value HomeSome people try to apply for as small of a mortgage payment as they can reasonably afford to, and there is some prudence associated with this line of thinking. After all, recent economic events have shown that those who get over-extended may wind up in a dire financial situation. However, there are also benefits associated with a higher mortgage and buying a slightly larger home if you can comfortably afford to do so.

For example, the rate of growth on equity will typically be more significant, and there are tax deductions and tax advantages that may be greater. If you are preparing to take on a larger mortgage payment that is reasonably manageable for you, you may do so with greater confidence when you follow a few tips.

Reduce Your Debts Beforehand

The best way to ensure that your larger mortgage payment is still affordable for your budget is to reduce your debts. When you think about the difference between carrying $800 per month in credit card payments or the equivalent in a higher mortgage payment, you will see that the benefit lies in the mortgage payment. The credit card payments typically will be mostly interest that has no benefit to you.

The mortgage payment is building equity through principal reduction on an asset, and the interest has tax benefits to you. However, you want that extra $800 per month in payments to be affordable. If possible, pay off or greatly reduce your credit card debt before you take on a new mortgage. In addition, close most existing credit card accounts so that you do not accumulate additional debt while you are responsible for the higher mortgage payment.

Increase Your Personal Savings

Then, increase your personal savings if necessary. The best budget with a higher mortgage payment is one that still allows you to save money regularly. If you are unable to save with your higher mortgage payment, there is a good chance that you may be taking on a little too much debt for what you can afford.

Ideally, you will have at least three to six months’ worth of your expenses on hand in cash and available to access in a worst-case financial situation. You will be able to sleep easier at night with your higher mortgage payment when you have the extra cash available to support yourself in the event of job loss, serious illness or other related events.

Your higher mortgage payment may help you to live in a nicer, larger home, to enjoy better tax deductions and to build equity at a faster rate. However, you want your mortgage payment to be affordable. By following these tips, you can confidently take on the larger payment.

Three Major Mortgage Mistakes Which Are Sure to Increase Your Closing Costs

Three Major Mortgage Mistakes Which Are Sure to Increase Your Closing Costs When shopping for a mortgage, it is important to take closing costs into account. While some closing costs are the same for all lenders, different programs may add or reduce some of the burden borrowers face when closing on a home loan.

Let’s take a look at some major mistakes that could result in borrowers paying more than they need to in closing costs.

1) Failing to Take Property Taxes Into Account

Property taxes are generally put into an escrow account that is established prior to closing on the home loan. In most cases, a homeowner will have to pay 12 to 14 months’ worth of property taxes prior to close.

This can represent several thousands of dollars or more depending on the property taxes associated with a property. While everyone has to pay property taxes, finding a home in a low tax area can significantly reduce the cost of closing on a loan.

2) Failing to Ask Lenders for Credits Toward Closing Costs

A lender may have a program in place that enables them to give a borrower a credit toward applicable closing costs. While this generally may not count toward the down payment, it can still be a significant help for first-time buyers or anyone else who may not have thousands in a bank account ready to pay for lawyers or titling fees.

Depending on where the property is purchased, there may be programs available that provide funding for those who promise to stay in the property for a certain amount of time.

3) Failing to Ask the Seller for Concessions

The seller of a property may offer up to 6 percent of any closing costs associated with the sale of the property. While a seller does not have to offer any concessions, they could potentially provide hundreds or thousands of dollars that may not need to be repaid.

In addition to closing cost support, a seller could also provide appliances or other items that can further save a buyer money during and after the purchase is finalized.

A home buyer can save a lot of money by taking simple and common sense actions. By doing research into cost saving programs and credits toward closing costs, those who may have felt that home ownership was beyond their reach may be able to achieve their dream. To learn more about closing costs, you may wish to talk to a mortgage professional in your area.

How Low Can They Go: With Mortgage Interest Rates Low, Should You Refinance?

How Low Can They Go: With Mortgage Interest Rates Still Dropping, Should You Refinance?Do you have a mortgage? You’ve likely seen or heard a lot about mortgage refinancing as interest rates remained low in recent months.

In today’s blog post we’ll explore the topic of mortgage refinancing, including when you should consider refinancing and how to take advantage of low interest rates.

What is Mortgage Refinancing?

In simple terms, refinancing refers to the practice of taking out a new mortgage and using the proceeds to pay off your old one in its entirety. You’ll go through the full borrowing process with your chosen lender, including the credit check, financial history and employment history in order to ensure that you have the ability to pay your new mortgage – even if your monthly costs are lower.

Depending on your financial goals, you may refinance to tap into some of the equity you’ve built up in your home, or you may refinance in order to secure a new mortgage with a lower interest rate or better payment terms. Whatever the case, know that if you decide to refinance you’ll be engaging with a lender for a brand new mortgage.

When Should I Consider Refinancing My Mortgage?

When you should refinance depends on your reason for refinancing. If you’re looking to reduce your interest rate and your monthly payments, you should refinance your mortgage whenever interest rates drop enough that you will be able to save more in monthly payments then you will be paying in closing costs and fees.

Consulting with a mortgage professional is the best way to understand how much money you can save, but to get a quick idea simply take a look at how much you owe on your mortgage, your current interest rate and the types of rates you may qualify for. If you owe $200,000 at 5.5 percent interest and you can refinance down to 4.5 percent you’re going to save a considerable amount over the long term.

How to Take Advantage of Low Interest Rates

Refinancing your mortgage is a major financial decision and not one that should be taken lightly. Careful research is needed to determine if now is best time to switch up your mortgage to one with a lower interest rate.