The Importance of Reviewing Your Insurance Policies During The COVID-19 Pandemic

August 14, 2020

The Importance of Reviewing Your Insurance Policies During The COVID-19 PandemicThe COVID-19 pandemic has taken the world by storm. Millions of people all over the world have been infected and businesses have ground to a halt. During this time, it is important for everyone to take a breath, pause, and look at their insurance policies.

The reality is that the economic crisis is following in the footsteps of the obvious public health emergency. In order for everyone to hold their finances together, it is important to explore all of the options. This includes looking at insurance policies.

Business Interruption Insurance

One of the first policies or riders that everyone has to look for is called business interruption insurance. This is an insurance policy that might be able to assist companies that are struggling with reduced revenue streams due to interruptions in their normal business operations.

For example, if a business is forced to shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this might fall under the category of business interruption insurance. This can help businesses bridge the gap until they can reopen again.

Civil Authority Clauses

This is a feature that is common in property insurance. This insurance claim can be triggered if government policies restrict the entry of people onto the property of the policyholder. If this restriction leads to lost income, then the insurance policy can be triggered. Everyone should check their policies to see if this clause is included as this can provide funds to businesses that might not otherwise be able to stay open.

Defensive Policies And Riders

Finally, defensive policies are often put in place to help companies defend against lawsuits that might be filed against the company related to injuries and illnesses. Without a doubt, there will be a slew of lawsuits filed related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Defensive policies can help companies cover legal fees, settlement costs, and other expenses related to these lawsuits.

Defensive policies are also called D&O insurance (Directors and Officers Insurance) as well as General Liability Insurance. It is important to read the insurance policy carefully to see if these policies are included.

Businesses need to explore every available option when it comes to reopening. These insurance policies can help them survive the COVID-19 pandemic.

Thinking About Buying An Investment Property? 6 Tips To Ensure You Don’t Get Fleeced

August 13, 2020

Thinking About Buying an Investment Property? 6 Tips to Ensure You Don't Get FleecedPurchasing an investment property is one of the most important decisions that you’ll ever be a part of. As such, it’s a necessity to make your decisions with only the most careful of consideration.

Here are the six tips that you need to heed in order to ensure that you don’t get fleeced.

Find The Right Property At The Right Price

Yes, this is a whole lot easier said than done. However, it’s not impossible. All it takes is some patience and research.

You have to determine what everything in your area is selling for in order to be able to spot a bargain! Further, you need to know that various property classes will outperform each other. For example, land and home units will appreciate differently.

Figure Out The Cash Flow

It’s always a good idea that you know how to maintain your mortgage repayment obligations over the long term. It’s recommended that you analyze the cost of servicing any loan only on an after-tax basis. By taking this approach, you have the power to calculate and put the cost into actual terms that make sense for you.

Look For A Good Property Manager

Finding a good property manager who is a professional in his or her field is vital. Your property manager’s job will be to make certain that everything is in order between you and any of your tenants. A good property manager can extract the best possible value for you from your property and help to keep your tenants in line as well.

Choose The Appropriate Type Of Mortgage

There are many options available for financing the investment property that you choose, so it’s best to get sound advice. Options such as a variable rate loan and a fixed rate loan are both popular choices, but your specific circumstances will dictate what’s most suitable for you. Consider that variable rates often end up being cheaper over time, yet fixed rates at the right time are ideal.

Take Equity From Another Property

Leverage the equity from your residence or another investment property. Doing this is actually an ideal way to purchase your investment property. Equity can be calculated by way of calculating any difference between what you owe on your mortgage and the overall value of your property.

Comprehend Both The Market And Dynamics When Buying

It’s best to analyze what other properties are available in the area when you’re looking at an investment property. It’s very advisable to actually talk to both local people and real estate agents in the neighborhood. They can give you hints on small, yet vital, things like which side of a street is considered more desirable.

These are the six tips to help make sure that you don’t ever get fleeced when buying an investment property. They can make the difference between purchasing a great property that has a high return on investment and purchasing a lemon.

Call your trusted mortgage professional today for some answers and more information.

Top 10 Indoor Houseplants For Your Air Quality

August 12, 2020

Top 10 Indoor Houseplants For Your Air QualityHouseplants are great for decorating. They can brighten up any room. Plus, houseplants can increase the air quality in a room. That makes you happier, healthier and reduces stress.

Speaking of stress, these plants won’t create any at all. All of the plants on this list are great at producing oxygen and require very little care.

10. Heartleaf Philodendron

A tough plant that’s a good filter for toxins like formaldehyde, Heartleaf Philodendron makes a great houseplant. The only downside is that it’s toxic to eat, so it may not be the best choice for those with kids or pets. But if you can control your appetite, the Heartleaf Philodendron is an excellent indoor houseplant for air quality.

9. Snake Plant

Also called Mother-in-Law’s Tongue, the Snake plant thrives in the bathroom. It loves the steamy conditions and can do without much light. It’s a great air filter as well.

8. Bamboo Palm

It thrives indoors and requires little maintenance. The Bamboo Palm even produces flowers and berries.

7. Red-edged Dracaena

Another great air filter, the Red-edged Dracaena is interesting because of its size. It can grow all the way to the ceiling. This beast of an oxygen-producing plant makes a great addition to the living room.

6. Chinese Evergreen

This is one of the prettier options. With interesting leaf colorings as well as berries and blooms, the Chinese Evergreen will contribute to your décor as well as your air quality.

5. Peace Lily

The Peace Lily only needs water about once a week. This is a great houseplant for air quality, and it’s easy to care for.

4. Devil’s Ivy

This air purifier looks great in a basket. Try hanging it in the garage.

3. English Ivy

English Ivy is an excellent filter plant. It’s been shown to filter out formaldehyde, which can be found in some cleaning products, and it even filters fecal matter particles (I bet you didn’t even know there were any of those in your house). English Ivy is an invasive species though. It’s fine to keep inside as a houseplant, just make sure it doesn’t end up in the yard.

2. Weeping fig

A type of Ficus, this is a great houseplant for air quality. It’s a bit bigger than the others though. It would fit best in the living room.

1. Spider Plant

The Spider plant is nearly impossible to kill. Even if you’ve been a plant murderer in the past, try this one. It will do wonders for your air quality, and I promise you won’t kill it.

Houseplants have been shown to reduce stress in the home. Combine that with higher air quality and your quality of life can be greatly improved with the help of a new green friend.

Even if you don’t have a green thumb, you can take care of these. These are great houseplants for air quality.

The Home Buyer Assistance Program Provides Assistance To Local First-Time Homebuyers

August 11, 2020

The Home Buyer Assistance Program Provides Assistance To Local First-Time HomebuyersRecently, the local region’s subcommittee held a meeting using videoconferencing and discussed a new version Home Buyer Assistance Program. The Home Buyer Assistance Program has been designed to help first-time homebuyers by providing a down payment of up to $25,000. The funding for the Home Buyer Assistance Program is going to come from the city’s reparations fund.

The local city council agreed to deposit up to $10 million in tax revenue from the city into this fund. It appears that some of it will be used to help people purchase their first home.

An Overview Of The Home Buyer Assistance Program

The Home Buyer Assistance Program has been put together using feedback from the local community. All of these recommendations were taken into account when looking at how to remedy the situation. It was clear, across the board, that the priority was housing. Minority communities in the local area have been struggling for decades. One of the ways to help these underserved populations is to provide them with stable housing.

The Home Buyer Assistance Program is going to provide no-interest, forgivable loans that come from the reparation funds. Now, thanks to this program, first-time homebuyers will be able to purchase homes anywhere in the city. The goal of this program is to remedy historical segregation, which will help increase diversity across the city.

Who Is Eligible For The Home Buyer Assistance Program?

The Home Buyer Assistance Program will limit those who qualify for assistance. Some of the key conditions of the program include:

  • Applicants must be a resident of African-American descent
  • Applicants must have suffered discrimination in some way as a result of the city’s policies
  • Applicants must be a direct descendant of someone who lived in the local area between 1919 and 1969 or suffered discrimination in some other way

These criteria are fairly broad and should open the door to plenty of people who can take advantage of the money provided by the Home Buyer Assistance Program to purchase their first home. With the current state of the housing market, there are countless individuals and families in the local area who might be able to move to a safer area of town.

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – August 10, 2020

August 10, 2020

What's Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week - August 10, 2020Economic readings released last week included construction spending, public and private-sector job growth, and government reports on initial and continuing jobless claims. Freddie Mac also released its weekly report on average mortgage rates.

Construction Spending Falls in June

Commerce Department reporting for June showed lower construction spending for the fourth consecutive month, but spending fell by -0.70 percent as compared to May’s negative reading of -1.70 percent. June’s construction spending was $1.36 million at a seasonally adjusted annual rate.

Residential construction spending fell by 1.50 percent in June as public construction spending fell by -0.70 percent. Analysts said that construction spending has held up relatively well in the pandemic as spending was up 0.10 percent year-over-year in June.

Public and Private Sector Jobs Growth Slows Sharply in July

ADP reported 167,000 private-sector jobs added in July as compared to 4.31 million jobs added in June. A resurgence in coronavirus cases contributed to the downturn, as consumers, employers and workers remained cautious and followed state and local guidelines for minimizing exposure to the Covid-19 virus. The leisure and hospitality sector led the falling private-sector jobs growth rate by adding 38,000 jobs in July as compared to approximately two million jobs in June.

The government’s Non-farm Payrolls report posted 1,76 million public and private sector jobs added in July, which surpassed the expected reading of 1.68 million jobs added but fell short of June’s reading of 4.79 million public and private sector jobs added.

The national unemployment rate decreased to 10.20 percent in July and was lower than June’s reading of 11.06 percent and the expected reading of 10.60 percent. While higher than pre-pandemic unemployment rates, July’s lower reading was good news amid overall economic hardship.

Mortgage Rates Reach Another Record Low;  Unemployment Claims Mixed

Freddie Mac reported another week of record-low mortgage rates. The rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages averaged 11 basis points lower at 2.88 percent. Rates for 15-year fixed-rate mortgages averaged 2.44 percent and were seven basis points lower; rates for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages averaged four basis points lower at 2.90 percent. Discount points averaged 0.80 percent for fixed-rate mortgages and 0.40 percent for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages.

Initial state jobless claims fell to 1.19 million from the prior week’s reading of 1.44 million first-time jobless claims filed. Continuing state jobless claims were also lower than for the prior week with 16.10 million claims filed; 17.00 million ongoing jobless claims were filed the prior week.

What’s Ahead

This week’s scheduled economic reporting includes readings on inflation, retail sales, and consumer sentiment. Weekly reports on mortgage rates and new and continuing jobless claims will also be released.

Can A Homeowner’s Association Charge Different Fines For The Same Violation?

August 7, 2020

Can A Homeowner's Association Charge Different Fines For The Same Violation?Living in a multifamily community, whether this is an apartment building or a condo building, comes with certain bylaws. There are usually fines that are used to prevent people from breaking the rules.It is important for everyone to know what these rules are, why they need to be followed, and the penalties for breaking them.

Sometimes, homeowners are surprised when they realize they might be fined differently for breaking the same rule. There are a few points to keep in mind.

The Fines Should Be The Same

While there might be different fines charged for breaking different rules (for example, altering a common area might be different than parking lot damage), the fines should be the same for the same infraction across different homeowners. For example, two homeowners who are both guilty of damaging the mailroom should be fined the same amount. They should not be fined different amounts. There are usually fines that are clearly stated in the HOA bylaws how much someone might be fined. If two people are fined different amounts, then a grievance should be taken up.

Why The Fines Might Be Different

There is one situation where two homeowners who break the same rule might be fined different amounts. This comes in the form of sequential violations. For example, a homeowner who breaks a rule the first time might be fined $10 for the first infraction. Then, the second infraction might jump to $25. The third infraction might jump to $50, and so on. This is one situation where two homeowners who break the same rule might be fined two different amounts.

Read The Bylaws Carefully

If a situation such as this arises, it is important for homeowners to look at the bylaws and see what the fines are supposed to be. All fines should be clearly stated in the bylaws to help homeowners figure out how, why, and where they might be fined.

If there are any fines that seem confusing, then the homeowners should take this up with the HOA and ask for clarification, which the HOA should provide. There might be a reason why the fines might be different. It could also be an honest mistake.

Six Key Questions to Ask when Hiring a Real Estate Agent to Market and Sell Your Home

August 6, 2020

Six Key Questions to Ask when Hiring a Real Estate Agent to Market and Sell Your HomeThe work of a real estate agent can make or break how a prospective buyer feels about the property. Now that it’s time to sell your home, you want to find the right agent to market it.

How do you find someone you can trust who will make you feel confident they can sell your home quickly for the best price possible? Here are the questions you should be asking.

Are They Licensed?

This one is the easy one. You should be working with a member of the National Association of Realtors®. It is also important that you check whether they have any complaints on record about their practices.

You can check with your state’s real estate department as well.

Are They Successful?

A successful real estate agent is more than the number of sales they have completed. You should also find out the average difference between listing and selling prices on their most recent sales.

If an agent is closing deals at far below the original asking price consistently, that might be a red flag.

How Busy Are They?

Make sure you ask in advance how often the agent will contact you and how they will keep you informed of potential buyers. If you’re going to be working with one of their associates at times, you should know.

How Familiar Are They With Your Neighborhood?

A real estate agent is not just marketing your home – they’re marketing your entire community. If they have closed nearby sales before, they are familiar with the selling points of the neighborhood as well as the right price range for properties similar to yours.

How Much Commission Do They Expect?

Normally you will pay the agent about 6 percent of the sale price. If you find one that offers their services for a low percentage, you should know why. Are they just trying to stay competitive? Or do they expect you to do a large share of the marketing yourself?

Do They Have A Plan?

The real estate agent should be able to tell you exactly which marketing techniques they would use for your home and how they plan to promote the listing. They should come to the table with ideas from the very beginning.

Now that you have a clearer idea of the basics, use the internet to find trusted real estate agents in your area. Then pick up the phone and begin your journey toward becoming a successful home seller today.

Comparing An Online And Offline Home Loan Application

August 5, 2020

Comparing An Online And Offline Home Loan ApplicationThe internet has changed how many people shop for a home and one of the most important issues that people will face is whether to fill out a home loan application online or offline.

While there is something to be said for going to the loan officer in person and filling out the application with the help of a professional, some people might find the online option to be more convenient. With this in mind, it is important to compare some of the ways in which an online versus an offline home application might be different.

The Eligibility Process

While the most exciting part of shopping for a home is traveling around and looking at the different options, people need to know how expensive of a home they can afford. With the online process, people can fill out the application process online and immediately see how big of a loan they can afford with the help of the home loan provider.

There are simple tools online, such as a loan eligibility calculator. In contrast, going to the office of the loan provider might require detailed discussions that could lead to a denial. This would end up being a waste of time. In this manner, the online process is faster.

The Documentation Required

The documentation process is also much easier online. When someone applies for a home loan online, it is easy to upload the required documents for review later. This might include the application form, proof of identity, proof of address, and more. Home loan providers will list all of the required documents on the site with ease. When it comes to applying in the offline world, this requires people to physically carry all of this information to the office. People run the risk of losing important documents in transit along the way.

The Application Process

Finally, even the process of applying for a loan itself is much easier when people can do this online. It is easy to register on the website, fill out the application, and submit the documents. Often, the turnaround time is much shorter as well. These are a few of the biggest reasons why the online application process is growing in popularity.

What Is The Impact Of COVID-19 On Home Value?

August 4, 2020

What Is The Impact Of COVID-19 On Home Value?It is no secret that the COVID-19 pandemic has had an impact on everyone; however, there are a few impacts that are being overlooked. In addition to the public health crisis and the tanking of the stock market, there are also impacts of the virus on people’s home values.

Some of these impacts have been positive while others have been negative.

Regardless, it is important for everyone to understand how these impacts might impact someone’s home value, particularly for those who are looking to buy or sell a home in the future.

The Dropping Rates Of Mortgages

Because of the shelter in place laws surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, not many people are looking to move right now. As a result, banks have had a hard time getting people to come in and sign up for loans. 

This means that many people who are looking to buy a home might be able to sign up for a loan at a very low cost. This might open the door for someone to buy a bigger home than they might have been able to during less turbulent times.

The Impact On Sellers

As a result of the low-interest rates from the COVID-19 pandemic, this also means that sellers should anticipate getting a large number of offers for their homes. There are still many people who are hesitant to sell a home in this environment. This means that there might not be many options on the market. For those who decide to take the plunge, they might be rewarded with more offers than usual. This is going to drive up the value of their home, which is good for their next purchase.

The Future Of The Market During The Pandemic

These are just two of the many ways that the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the value of homes. While it is unclear when this pandemic is going to be behind us, it is important for everyone to understand how the pandemic is going to impact them if they are looking to buy or sell a home. This will help everyone make the right decision during a turbulent time.

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – August 3, 2020

August 3, 2020

What's Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week - August 3, 2020Last week’s economic reports included readings from Case-Shiller Home Price Indices, data on pending home sales, and the consumer sentiment index released by the University of Michigan. The Federal Reserve released a statement from its Federal Open Market Committee and Fed Chair Jerome Powell gave a press conference. Weekly readings on mortgage rates and expanded reports on jobless claims were also released.

Case-Shiller Home Price Readings Showed Slowing Home Price Gains in May

May readings from Case-Shiller Home Price Indices showed no decline in home prices, but the national pace of home price growth slowed to 4.50 percent from April’s national average of 4.60 percent.

The Case-Shiller 20-City Home Price Index reported slower home price growth in May with only three of 19 cities reporting higher home price growth rates than in April. Data for the Detroit, Michigan metro area was not reported. The year-over-year rate of home price growth for May’s 20-City Home Price Index was 3.70 percent as compared to April’s reading of 3.90 percent.

Phoenix, Arizona led the 20-City HPI with 9.00 percent year-over-year home price growth in May; Seattle, Washington followed with 6.80 percent year-over-year home price growth and Tampa, Florida held third place with 6.00 percent year-over-year home price growth. Analysts credited record-low mortgage rates and slim inventories of available homes with keeping home prices afloat, but the spreading coronavirus pandemic may cause home prices to lose ground as would-be home buyers postpone home purchases due to weakening economic conditions.

In related news, the National Association of Realtors® reported that pending home sales increased by 16.60 percent as compared to April’s reading of 44.30 percent growth in pending home sales. April’s reading was the highest growth rate reported for pending home sales.

FOMC Meeting: Fed Says Ongoing Assistance Needed for Consumers

The Federal Open Market Committee of the Federal Reserve left its key interest rate range of 0.00 to 0.25 percent unchanged and said it didn’t anticipate raising the rate in the next three years based on the coronavirus pandemic’s damage to the current economy and the Fed’s low to medium-term outlook. Fed Chair Jerome Powell said that given current economic indicators, it is important for the government to provide ongoing aid to American consumers.

Freddie Mac reported record low mortgage rates as the average rate for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage fell two basis points to 2.99 percent. The average rate for 15-year fixed-rate mortgages was three basis points lower at 2.51 percent. Rates for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages dropped by 15 basis points to 2.94 percent on average. Discount points averaged 0.80 percent for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages and 0.70 percent for 15-year fixed-rate mortgages. Discount points for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages averaged 0.40 percent.

Jobless Claims Fall, but Remain Far Above Pre-Pandemic Levels

New state jobless claims rose by 1000 claims to 1.43 million claims as ongoing state jobless claims rose to 17.29 million claims from the prior week’s reading of 16.20 million continuing jobless claims. National and state jobless claims rose by 2.04 million initial claims as compared to the prior week’s reading of 2.31 million initial claims. Continuing State and National jobless claims fell to 30.2 million claims from the previous week’s  reading of 31.80 million continuing jobless claims 

The University of Michigan reported that consumer confidence fell in July to an index reading of 72.90 percent as compared to June’s reading of 73.20.

What’s Ahead

This week’s scheduled economic reports include labor-sector reports on public and private-sector jobs, the national unemployment rate, and weekly readings on mortgage rates and new and ongoing jobless claims.