Property Insurance Check-Up

After Monday’s hailstorm did extensive damage across Metro Denver, damaging shops and homes, and causing car accidents, many people are making calls to their insurance providers. If a disaster happened to your home, do you know, for sure, that you’re adequately covered?

Here’s a rundown of Property Insurance Basics you need to know:

  1. You don’t have to own your home to need insurance. Many landlords require renters insurance, and a minimal investment in rental coverage can offer a lot of coverage, in case an incident occurs. If your apartment building burns down with all your stuff inside, renters insurance can help you replace your property, as an example.
  2. Standard home owner’s insurance policies cover the following: Interior or Exterior Damage due to weather, fire, vandalism or other covered disasters. You’ll be compensated so your home can be repaired or, if necessary, rebuilt. Flood and earthquake insurance require additional, specialty coverage. Garages, sheds or any structures not directly connected to your home, will require an addendum in order to be covered.                                                                              Loss or damage to your personal property, including clothing, furniture, appliances and most of the other contents of your home, assuming the damage occurs as part of a covered disaster. According to the Insurance Information Institute, most insurance companies will provide coverage for 50–70% of the amount of insurance you have on the structure of your home. If you own high value jewelry, antiques or electronics, you will want to provide documentation of these items to your insurance company prior to the need for a claim.

    Personal liability for damage or injuries caused by you or your family. Liability coverage protects you from lawsuits filed by others, including pet issues. Insurance experts recommend having at least $300k worth of coverage, according to the Insurance Information Institute.

    Hotel or house rental while your home is repaired. This type of insurance coverage is known as additional living expenses (ALE). ALE reimburses you for rent, hotel room, restaurant meals and other costs you incur while waiting for your home to become habitable again.

  3. Different types of coverage include: Actual Cash Coverage (the current value of your home and its contents, minus depreciation); Replacement Coverage (actual cash value without subtracting depreciation); Guaranteed Replacement Cost (comprehensive coverage for the actual replacement cost of your home and personal property – including inflation).
  4. What ISN’T included? Natural disasters, acts of God, acts of war
  5. How much does it cost? The average yearly premium cost for U.S. homeowners insurance in 2013 (the latest year for which data is available) was $1,096, according to a 2016 report by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, but premiums vary widely and depend on multiple factors, including your state. Price will of course be determined by how much coverage you buy, a decision you can only make after evaluating the market value of your house, completing a household inventory, and deciding how much liability protection you want.Other variables include your zip code. If you live in a high-crime area, for example, insurance premiums will be higher. Companies also take into account the size of your house, how close it is to a fire hydrant, the condition of your plumbing, heating and electrical systems, how many claims were filed against the home you’re seeking to insure, and even details like your credit score that reflect on how responsible a consumer – and, therefore, a homeowner – you are.

    Shop around and do your research when it comes to homeowner’s insurance coverage. Ask questions like, “If a sprinkler head breaks in the yard and my basement floods, will I be covered?” You might be surprised by the answer, and you don’t want to be caught off guard. This exact scenario happened to a friend of mine, and the insurance company denied the claim because the sprinkler head was outside the home, and not, in their view, technically attached to the property.

Stay tuned for a discussion of ways to save on your insurance coverage!

Jack Meyers

The Meyers Group
jackestate@aol.com 
303.263.3050
Twitter: @jackestate

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A Gratitude Checklist for Homeowners

Happy Thanksgiving week! 

Although I feel an ongoing sense of gratitude for my beautiful wife and children, my friends, my health and the ability to do wake up and do work I enjoy – this time of year I always feel a tug to say it out loud: Thank you!

You may be a little annoyed about the peeling paint on your back deck; maybe your garbage disposal is on the fritz, your drapes are “so last season,” or you missed out on the very best interest rate on your home loan because your credit had a few too many dings. I hear you – I’ve dealt with most of the same minor housing annoyances you have. And yet – we have so many things to be grateful for in terms of the roof over our heads… Read on for a checklist of home ownership blessings worth being grateful for.

A Gratitude Checklist for Homeowners

  1. Clean running water. According to the United Nations 783 million people do not have access to clean water, and almost 2.5 billion do not have access to adequate sanitation. Makes that long hot shower feel even better, doesn’t it? (water.org can help you do something about this, if you are so inclined.)
  2. Electricity. Typetty-type-type. This post comes to you courtesy of electricity, a laptop computer and wireless internet. Just 30% of the world’s population enjoys electricity. Think refrigeration, microwaves, most forms of media…
  3. F00d. A fierce familial debate over the relative merits of boiled versus crockpot mashed potatoes… let’s just admit most of this nation is doing pretty well on Thanksgiving Day and beyond in terms of the variety and availability of healthy foods – or any kind of food we want. 12.9% of the world’s population faces food insecurity according to the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization.
  4. HVAC. If the local watering hole threatens your health, you lack electricity and you are downright hungry, chances are good temperature regulation is a low priority. Colorado winters are a funny thing, and some temperature sensitive folks I know have been known to blast the heat one day and run the AC the next when one of our trademark snowstorm-followed-by-summer-temps hits town. We enjoy comfort at the flip of a switch, and I try not to take this for granted.
  5. Shelter. The United Nations’ last global survey on homelessness (in 2005) determined there were 100 million homeless people worldwide, with the number of individuals facing “inadequate housing” reaching as high as 1.6 billion; these numbers are difficult to track. For example, is a ‘house’ made out of detritus and located in a slum adequate shelter? Should individuals temporarily able to find shelter on someone else’s couch be considered ‘adequately housed’?  Tough questions, and this information makes it so easy to be grateful for the roof over our heads – be it a suburban McMansion, a diminutive condo or something in between.

thankful

So. Gratitude. And I share this information not to tie you up in knots of guilt – but because it lends perspective to the minor annoyances in our daily lives and reminds us to be grateful for the good things we are blessed with every day. And if some of these global factoids inspire you to write a check for the greater good, volunteer for a cause you care about or drop a couple of bucks in a Salvation Army kettle on the way into Target – that’s okay, too.

Happy Thanksgiving, and I hope yours will be spent with the ones you love.

Jack Meyers

The Meyers Group
jackestate@aol.com
303.263.3050
Twitter: @jackestate

Drafty Window Fixes for Regular Folks

If you can stand in front of your windows and feel a breeze or watch your curtains flutter from across the room – even when your windows are closed – you are throwing money right out the window! When the frigid temps of winter settle in, your expenses will only go higher.

window-draft

Fret not! You may not be in a position to replace a house full of windows, but chances are good you don’t have to. There are solutions available for even the un-handy among us, and many of them are very low cost. It makes way more sense to cough up a few bucks to improve the energy efficiency of your windows than it does to heat the great outdoors, and when you multiply the monthly losses you experience by each window, the cost of your drafty windows is more than you know. Read on for what to do about it.

Quick Fixes

  • Rope Caulk – sort of like using an extra long, squishy piece of licorice to fill in drafty gaps, this stuff can be removed at the end of cold weather and is a great interim solution for drafty windows.
  • Shrink Film – applied with double sided tape and a hair drier, this film will help seal in the heat and can be removed with rubbing alcohol come spring.
  • V-seal weather stripping – this affordable solution will still allow you to open and close windows while the V-seal stays in place – a great solution for places like Denver with snow drifts one day and sunshine the next.
  • Draft Snake – a foam + fabric draft snake can be cut to fit the length of the window and you can shut the window right over the top of it and voila! You’re done. Just toss it at the end of the season.
  • Nail Polish – believe it or not, clear nail polish can be used to secure rattling window panes. Apply carefully and this solution should last until spring.

Longer Term Solutions

  • Replacing missing window glazing (the material that holds window panes in place and keeps out cold air) is not particularly complicated. It takes a steady hand, but even a so-so job will help insulate your windows. Remove the old putty, detach the pane of glass, add new putty, reinstall the pane, using a flathead screwdriver to install new glazing points – the tiny metal points used to secure the glass into the window; use a clean putty knife to secure a thin line of putty along the edge.
  • If you haven’t been using the storm windows for your home, start now! Clean, paint and reglaze them – or pay someone else to do it, and install them for the winter. This will cut down on heating costs and once you’ve fixed them up, they should last several seasons.
  • It’s possible your windows are simply past the reasonable point of repair. Windows will cost you in the neighborhood of $600 to replace and the job is best left to a pro. If your windows are old, rotting around the frame, have multiple cracked panes, etc. – own up to the likelihood that they need to go. Your heating bill will benefit and windows, after all, are not meant to last forever.

Do you need a window cleaner, installer. or maybe you’re wondering what your home is worth? Serious buyers continue to shop for homes in autumn and winter, and I’d be happy to help you determine whether a home sale makes sense for you in the next several months.

Jack Meyers

The Meyers Group
jackestate@aol.com 
303.263.3050
Twitter: @jackestate

Budget Friendly Exterior Updates

Landscaping

Whether you are planning a spring home listing or just want to spruce up your digs, there are lots of ways to improve your home’s exterior and curb appeal without blowing your budget.

For FREE you can:  

  • Trim trees and hedges – particularly those close to the house.
  • Remove dinky lawn ornaments cluttering the yard or garden.
  • Edge the lawn for a sharper look
  • Wash the windows // clean the gutters

For LOW COST you can:

  • Paint the front door
  • Update the house numbers
  • Plant a few annuals or hang a basket of flowers
  • Replace the welcome mat
  • Freshen mulch in the flower beds

For UNDER $100 BUCKS you can:

  • Replace dated exterior lighting
  • Replace door hardware
  • Paint or stain the front porch or deck
  • Plant a shrub or small decorative tree
  • Install soaker hoses for your flower beds

For UNDER A THOUSAND BUCKS (or so) you can:

  • Replace the front door
  • Hire a lawn service to whip your lawn into shape
  • Plant several trees
  • Build a raised garden bed for flowers or vegetables
  • Install simple shutters on front facing windows

If you are planning spring or summer landscaping or home exterior projects and wondering which ones will get you the biggest bang for your buck on a future sale, I’m happy to share what I’ve learned in my 21+ years in Colorado Real Estate. Happy planning, happy planting and happy spring!

Jack Meyers

The Meyers Group
jackestate@aol.com 
303.263.3050
Twitter: @jackestate

Wheel of Fortune

Wheel of Fortune

Much like Pat Sajak and Vanna White’s Wheel of Fortune, the Real Estate market is a cyclical phenomenon.

The good news is, unlike the famous wheel, the marketplace is of a somewhat predictable nature at any given point in time. It may feel like you’re rolling the dice, but statistics hold true that certain circumstances – say, the sale of your home, are likely to fit within a somewhat predictable set of parameters based on the behavior of the rest of the marketplace. That’s where statistics come in.

REColorado has the following data points on file among Metro Denver housing market statistics for December:

  • Month-over-Month, the median sold price of Denver-area homes rose 9.3%.
  • There were 5,501 Active listings across Denver in December; this number is down significantly from December 2013 (7,345 Active listings that month), but up 3% from the same period in 2014.
  • Year to date figures for the total number of listings in Denver rose 7.3% over the year before. Homes are still selling like hotcakes, but more of them are coming on the market.
  • Year to date average days on market (the period from listing to under contract) was a whopping 48 in 2013, down to just 26 in 2015. That’s sign in the yard to SOLD in less than a month!

Even with the aid of statistics, the Real Estate market can and does change, and no crystal ball can tell us what’s next. What I do know though, is that Real Estate has always been and will continue to be cyclical in nature. The hot Seller’s market we’re enjoying right now continues to benefit homeowners and the entire economy, but at some point the market will begin to cool, and at some point in the future Buyers will once again hold the advantage.

The question I have for you is, “What are you doing about it?”

Right now is an incredible time to sell a home in the Greater Denver area. Prices are strong, homes are moving quickly, buyers are aplenty. If you’re on the fence, think about taking the leap. Your property will sell in any marketplace – so long as the price is right. In our current marketplace, many factors are in your favor, making this a great time to plan your next move.

Jack Meyers

The Meyers Group
jackestate@aol.com
303.263.3050
Twitter: @jackestate

 

Home Maintenance Tip: Keeping Tabs on Your Roof

Although no one expects homeowners to climb atop the roof every single year to check for damage or concerns, this multi-layered surface of your home protects from insects, animals and the elements – and the structural and surface integrity of your roof is vital to the health of your home.

Depending upon the age and make-up of your roof, the climate you live in and the prevalence of pests in your region, it may be worth having a qualified inspector take closer look at your roof every 2-3 years.

roof_inspection

Here are areas to keep tabs on:

Weathering                                                                                               Damage from hail, heavy rains or snow or other storm damage, also called “weathering,” can affect the integrity of your roof’s surface, even if there aren’t obvious issues like missing shingles, shakes or slate. Strong winds and major storms can weaken attachment points, allowing moisture to reach the roof’s underlayment or increasing the likelihood of shingles turning into projectiles during a storm, possibly causing damage to the rest of your home’s exterior. After a major storm, it’s a good idea to take a peek at your roof to the best of your ability, always making safety your top priority. Taking care of a minor issue now could help you avoid major repairs down the road.

Animal /Pest Damage
Carpenter ants, wasps, termites. Squirrels, raccoons, birds. Insects and other pests can wreak miniature havoc that grows over time, and larger animals will sometimes tear through shingles and roof sheathing to build nests and raise young. They often attack the roof’s eaves first, especially on homes that have suffered decay to the roof sheathing due to a lack of drip edges or from problems caused by ice damming, because decayed sheathing is softer and easier to tear through.  If you hear any activity of wildlife on your roof, check inside your attic for evidence of pest intrusion, such as damaged insulation, which pests may use for nesting material.  Darkened insulation generally indicates that excess air is blowing through some hole in the structure, leading the insulation to become darkened by dirt or moisture. Before you attempt a DIY on pest removal within the structure of your roof, contact a professional. You may need backup to get rid of pests and ensure they don’t come back.

Tree Damage
You know that big beautiful tree in your side yard that you suspect is a little too close to the house? If you hear it scraping against the roof or the side of the house on windy days, chances are it is damaging the exterior of your home. Wind blown or falling branches can create issues with your roof, siding or windows, and branches that overhang the roof should always be cut back to avoid damage from both abrasion and impact, and to prevent the accumulation of leaf debris on the roof and in the gutters, which will interfere with proper drainage and lead to pooling rainwater and snowmelt. It’s especially important to make sure that tree limbs near the home’s roof and exterior are a safe distance away from utility and power lines.

Shaping a shrub  in your side yard from ground level gets a big thumbs up, but major tree-trimming is a  task that should be undertaken by qualified professionals, as it can lead to accidentally cutting off the service or power from an overhead line, being electrocuted by an energized line, being struck by an unsecured tree branch, falling off the roof or a ladder, and any number of similar mishaps.

Biological Growth 
Algae, moss, lichen and even bacteria are types of biological growth that may be found on asphalt shingles under certain conditions. This growth  may be merely a cosmetic problem, or it may become destructive.

Almost all biological growth on shingles is related to the long-term presence of excess moisture, which is why these problems are more common in areas with significant rainfall and high relative humidity. But even in dry climates, roofs that are shaded most of the time can develop biological growth. If you believe there is a persistent moisture problem taking place in your roof, work with an inspector to determine the source of the problem and choose a qualified roofing contractor to make necessary repairs.

“Tobacco-juicing” is the brownish discoloration that appears on the surface of shingles, under certain weather conditions. It’s often temporary and may have a couple of different causes. After especially long periods of intensely sunny days, damp nights and no rain, water-soluble compounds may leach out of the asphalt from the shingles and be deposited on the surface. Tobacco-juicing may also appear under the same weather conditions if the air is especially polluted.  Tobacco-juicing won’t harm asphalt shingles, although it may run down the roof and stain siding. Although it’s more common in the West and Southwest, it can happen anywhere that weather conditions are right.  You can spray-wash or paint the exterior of the home to remove tobacco-juicing.

Are you ready to own the roof over your head, or to sell your current home? Give me a call to find out what your home is worth in the hot Denver real estate market. I’m here to help!

Jack Meyers

The Meyers Group
jackestate@aol.com
303.263.3050
Twitter: @jackestate

 

Six Fun Ways to Screw up Your First Home Purchase

Whether you are a first time Buyer or just haven’t purchased a home in awhile, I’ve come across a few easy ways to complicate the process and get in your own way over the past 21 years in the biz. Let’s discuss!

Two Thumbs Up

  1. Search for love – not a price point! Why bother to get preapproved by a lender? Find a neighborhood you love and worry about what you’ll qualify for later. That won’t come back to bite you at all. (An alternative to this classic mistake is to complete the approval process with a lender before you begin your search. Try it – you’ll like it!)
  2. Other expenses? Whaddaya mean? Paying for a house includes a mortgage – but you’ll have other expenses to consider as well. Taxes, PMI (Private Mortgage Insurance – depending on the type of loan you obtain), HOA fees, utilities, property insurance (that’s for the house and your stuff – not the same as PMI).
  3. DIY Inspection. Look around a bit, kick the floorboards, run the sink… If everything seems okay to you, it’ll probably stay that way. (OR – hire a qualified, licensed inspector to help you look under the hood of your biggest financial investment ever.)
  4. Buy the lousy (or high priced) house with the pool. It’s a pool, people! Everybody’s got their thing. Yours might be a cozy front porch, a killer man cave, granite counters in the kitchen… You can buy an overpriced (or even lame) house because you are caught up in a single element – or you can look at the whole picture when choosing a house.
  5. Buy the prettiest house in the neighborhood. That’s gotta be a win, right? After all, you don’t have time for a fixer upper (like, painting a couple of rooms and weeding the flower bed.) Of course, your new home won’t appreciate in value the way a home with room-for-minor-improvement will – but go for it!
  6. Fly solo, you captain of your own dreams, you! This is America – the land of the free and the home of the brave. So buck up your courage and go it alone on your search for a home… OR, hire a licensed Real Estate agent who knows the communities and neighborhoods and comparable properties for homes you are looking at. (You know – to negotiate a great price and find the right home for you.)

If you’re ready to start your journey toward home ownership, I’d love to be your guide. Drop a line to learn about trends in your favorite neighborhood or to get started on your home search today.

Jack Meyers

The Meyers Group
jackestate@aol.com
303.263.3050
Twitter: @jackestate