Homeowner Tips

What’s Included in Standard Home Insurance Policies?

September 28, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

What Types of Coverage Are Included in Standard Home Insurance Policies? Let's Take a LookEvery insurance policy is different and can provide certain levels of protection tailored towards the needs of the policy holder. However, there are some standard types of coverage that are included in most basic home insurance policies.

Basic Levels Of Protection

Most homeowner insurance policies will include some basic levels of protection and coverage. The main dwelling will be protected from many forms of damage and the insurance company will pay to repair the damaged dwelling. This will extend to other smaller structures on the property, like sheds and separate garages, but the level of coverage will differ.

Damage is one important aspect of insurance, but protection for personal belongings is equally important and is also included in a standard home insurance policy. The monetary value of items in the home will be covered in case of damage or theft, so it’s a good idea to keep track of valuables. Every insurance company will have a different limit on the amount covered, so it’s wise to compare the value of belongings against the level of coverage.

The third aspect of home insurance policies is liability protection. This will cover any personal injuries that are incurred on the property by people who do not live there. It may seem silly, but having protection in case of a lawsuit can go a long way to saving a family financially as attorney fees and medical bills add up.

What Is Not Included?

Although each insurance company has different policies that cover different parts of the home, almost all of them do not include one important aspect in their policies. Damage caused by floods, earthquakes and war will not be included in most standard home insurance policies and may be important depending on the geography of the area.

Another important note is that flood damage does not just apply to natural flooding in the region, but will also include water damage from broken pipes or backed up sewage lines. It’s an important distinction because many first-time home owners assume this water damage will be covered under their basic insurance policy.

The right insurance policy can be difficult to figure out for first-time home owners. There are many questions to ask about the property to determine the right policy and it’s a good idea to consult your local mortgage professional to get their insight into what additions may be needed.

James K Barath, CMPS®

James K Barath is a Certified Mortgage Planning Specialist®, Certified FICO® Professional, Certified Military Housing Specialist® and your FHA Home Loan Expert. He is also a graduate of Purdue University, The CMPS Institute, Dale Carnegie Human Relations Course & Napoleon Hill Foundation's PMA Science of Success Class. It's your home and your future. It's his profession and his passion. He is ready to work for your best interest. Contact James for your FREE Home Loan Approval !  His Motto: I Facilitate the American Dream Through Responsible Mortgage Lending and Financial Literacy!

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5 Essential Home Maintenance Skills You Should Learn

August 24, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

Buying Your First Home? Learn These 5 Essential Home Maintenance Skills as Soon as PossibleNew homes can be scary. But when you take the time to think about it, and plan ahead, maintaining a home is easier than you think a manageable mix of experience and common sense. Here are five skills that will help maintain your new home for years to come.

Fixing A Toilet

It’s not as daunting as it sounds. Just remember that toilets work with gravity the water wants to flow freely. Don’t be afraid to open that tank up and adjust the floater and valves as needed. Occasionally run the water (flush the toilet, turn on the sink) in unused rooms, like the guest bathroom, to keep the pipes clear and functioning.

Dealing With Animals

Sometimes your animal neighbors invite themselves in. While it’s always better to use professionals if you have a large-scale or persistent pest problem, there are steps you can take to minimize animal visitors before it comes to that. Check for termites by looking for raised, hollow tubes along the wood (tubes filled with bugs). If you have mice, and know how they’re getting in, block their holes with steel wool and set friendly traps ones that capture instead of kill. But make sure to release the captives far from your home.

Electricity and Water Awareness

Know how to shut off your electricity and water, just in case. Find the shut-offs when you first move in. And take the time then to test the breakers and label them, clearly, directly, with permanent marker. That way there is no confusion if one gets tripped.

A Regular Deep Clean

On a regular basis, give your house a deep clean. Scrub the bathrooms, clean the kitchen appliances and floors/walls. Doing this will not only prevent the accumulation of dirt and grime, which could lead to bigger problems later on, but will also give you a chance to do a run-down of your house and see what needs fixing/updating/replacing.

Be Prepared

Gather your home maintenance kit (Home Maintenance for Dummies has examples) before you need it, and keep it up if you use all the nails, replace them. It’s also a good idea to make a maintenance calendar with notes on what needs to be done when this makes it easy for the homeowner, and anyone they need to step in. Finally, in being prepared, don’t forget to maintain your fire and carbon monoxide detectors with regular checks and battery changes (suggested every six months, regardless of battery life). Contact your mortgage professional, who can help you get started on your road to home ownership.

James K Barath, CMPS®

James K Barath is a Certified Mortgage Planning Specialist®, Certified FICO® Professional, Certified Military Housing Specialist® and your FHA Home Loan Expert. He is also a graduate of Purdue University, The CMPS Institute, Dale Carnegie Human Relations Course & Napoleon Hill Foundation's PMA Science of Success Class. It's your home and your future. It's his profession and his passion. He is ready to work for your best interest. Contact James for your FREE Home Loan Approval !  His Motto: I Facilitate the American Dream Through Responsible Mortgage Lending and Financial Literacy!

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3 Tips for Building Good Relationships with Neighbors

August 23, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

Getting to Know the Neighbors: 3 Tips for Building Good RelationshipsOne of the factors involved in feeling truly comfortable in your community is the relationships that you’ve been able to establish with the locals in your neighborhood, but it can be hard to know how to nurture a good relationship. Whether you’re moving to a new home soon or are wondering how to make some nearby friends, here are some simple tips for ingratiating the ones that live closest to you.

Offer up Your Favorite Dish

It might seem like a bit of a risk, but one of the best ways to get to know your neighbors is to knock on their door and bring along your favorite treat as an offering. Whether it’s your famed banana bread or your best chocolate chip cookies, simply showing up on the doorstep with treats in hand will ensure your neighbors know that you want to get to know them, and they’ll likely be happy to return the favor down the road!

Throw A Little Party

If you don’t want to go through the trouble of taking treats over to all of your neighbors, you may want to consider throwing a party or backyard barbecue at your home for a more effective means of meeting everyone. By putting flyers around the community, you’ll easily interest other neighbors in your newfound presence on the block. As well, if you don’t want to go through all the planning of a big party, you can also make it a potluck style meal so everyone can share their own dish.

Make A Habit Of Neighborhood Walks

It’s certainly the least complicated of all the other options, but short walks through your neighborhood may also produce the most success in getting to know more about your neighbors. If you have a pet or a child, these tend to be automatic conversation starters, but a simple smile or ‘hello’ will also do the trick in making your face familiar. It also means you’ll get to know people over time and will be able to build a solid relationship.

It can often be hard to know how to integrate into a new community, but a simple smile or knock on the door can mean a lot when it comes to building a friendship with your neighbors. Contact your local mortgage professional for more information.

James K Barath, CMPS®

James K Barath is a Certified Mortgage Planning Specialist®, Certified FICO® Professional, Certified Military Housing Specialist® and your FHA Home Loan Expert. He is also a graduate of Purdue University, The CMPS Institute, Dale Carnegie Human Relations Course & Napoleon Hill Foundation's PMA Science of Success Class. It's your home and your future. It's his profession and his passion. He is ready to work for your best interest. Contact James for your FREE Home Loan Approval !  His Motto: I Facilitate the American Dream Through Responsible Mortgage Lending and Financial Literacy!

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4 Financial Benefits of Home Ownership

4 Financial Benefits of Home OwnershipHome ownership may be one of the most familiar goals of adulthood, but there’s more than one reason why so many people flock towards this type of investment and leave the rental market behind. If you’re trying to decide if you should make the big plunge towards buying, here are some benefits of saving up for a down payment and finding the right place to settle in.

It’s More Economical

Many people eschew home ownership simply because it can be hard to wrangle together the funds for a down payment. However, while a monthly rental is money you’ll never see again, the money you put down on a mortgage is being invested back into your home, making for a solid investment you can capitalize on later.

Instant Tax Deductions

The interest that you pay on your mortgage payment can be one of the most tumultuous aspects of purchasing a home, but you may not know that you actually have the ability to deduct many associated costs on your taxes. From origination fees to property taxes, there are plenty of costs that go along with your home that can be claimed for a refund when tax time comes!

Paying A Lower Price

The real estate market fluctuates every day, but one thing is for the certain: the median price of a home is on the rise. While low inflation rates may not be ideal if you’re selling, they can mean a better deal if you’re delving into the market for the first time. Just remember, it’s important to buy a home you can afford as anything that goes beyond your budget is not a solid investment.

A Built-In Savings Account

It may be important to have liquid assets outside of the equity you have in your home, but many people struggle to pay off their home and save money at the same time. While saving outside of your monthly mortgage payment is still important, putting money down on a home is an act of investing, and it’s one you’ll likely make a solid profit on when you decide to sell.

There can be many financial benefits to renting in the short term, but purchasing a home is a more solid financial decision when it comes right down to it. If you’re considering a home and would like to know more about your options, you may want to contact one of our mortgage professionals for more information.

James K Barath, CMPS®

James K Barath is a Certified Mortgage Planning Specialist®, Certified FICO® Professional, Certified Military Housing Specialist® and your FHA Home Loan Expert. He is also a graduate of Purdue University, The CMPS Institute, Dale Carnegie Human Relations Course & Napoleon Hill Foundation's PMA Science of Success Class. It's your home and your future. It's his profession and his passion. He is ready to work for your best interest. Contact James for your FREE Home Loan Approval !  His Motto: I Facilitate the American Dream Through Responsible Mortgage Lending and Financial Literacy!

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2016 Kitchen Decor Trends to Inspire Your Renovations

2016 Kitchen Decor Trends to Inspire Your RenovationsA kitchen upgrade may seem like the sort of renovation that will cost a pretty penny, but there are a lot of funky things you can do that will add an easy accent and make for a current look. If you’re planning some home improvements in 2016, here are some upcoming trends you may want to try out.

Cue The Contrasting Cabinets

It can be a major undertaking to change the style of your kitchen cabinets, and that’s probably why many people are considering a little switch instead of a major upheaval. By keeping your top cabinets the same and adding a funky new color or material to the bottom half, you can create a striking appearance. Keep in mind that if you don’t want to change out your cabinets entirely, you can go for a bold paint color instead.

Bring Color Into Stainless Steel

From teakettles to mixers, brightly colored kitchen appliances have certainly seen a retro rebirth in recent years, but the stainless steel trend is also experiencing a bit of an upgrade. While the material remains popular, many people are becoming interested in different stainless steel color options like black and sunset bronze which offer a unique look for an old mainstay.

A Multi-Use Island

Space in the kitchen can become an issue when it comes to dinner parties, and that’s why the diverse utility of a kitchen island is maintaining its popularity. Instead of the prominent counter for holding fruit bowls and extra papers, think of a funky, fashionable drink cart or side table that can be used for prepping extra food and will have many other purposes once the party is over.

The Non-Committal Kitchen Shelf

While kitchens have become more of a gathering space for family and friends in recent years, this has led to the popularity of a less-formal kind of kitchen. Instead of a lot of counter space and pots and pans in their place, create a bookshelf or cabinet that mixes the living room and kitchen together, full of dishware, books, utensils and other popular household items. It’s a piece that will easily transform your space.

There are a lot of unique fixes on the horizon for 2016 that will instantly modernize your kitchen and easily improve its look. If you’re currently renovating and are looking to put your home on the market, contact your trusted mortgage profssional for more information.

James K Barath, CMPS®

James K Barath is a Certified Mortgage Planning Specialist®, Certified FICO® Professional, Certified Military Housing Specialist® and your FHA Home Loan Expert. He is also a graduate of Purdue University, The CMPS Institute, Dale Carnegie Human Relations Course & Napoleon Hill Foundation's PMA Science of Success Class. It's your home and your future. It's his profession and his passion. He is ready to work for your best interest. Contact James for your FREE Home Loan Approval !  His Motto: I Facilitate the American Dream Through Responsible Mortgage Lending and Financial Literacy!

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When is Refinancing Not a Good Idea?

When is Refinancing Not a Good Idea?Refinancing your home can be a great way to reduce monthly mortgage payments or interest rates – or even pay off your debt faster. And while it is a useful tool in budgeting for millions of homeowners, a home refinance may not necessarily be useful in every situation – in fact, there are some situations where refinancing can cost you a great deal of money.

So when should you skip the refinance and simply keep with the original plan? Here’s what you need to know.

If You’ve Already Paid Off Much Of Your Mortgage

When you first start paying a mortgage, most of your monthly payment goes toward the loan’s interest rather than its principal amount. But as you start paying down your mortgage, more and more of your payments are applied directly to the principal. And if you only have 10 years left on your mortgage, the vast majority of your payments are being applied to the principal.

Refinancing a mortgage essentially restarts the loan over from scratch – so if your mortgage is mostly paid off, a refinance will put you back where you started and cause you to owe much more money in interest payments.

If You’re Not Prepared To Pay More Closing Fees

Refinancing can be a great way to lower your interest rate, extend your loan, or get better terms, but it also comes at a cost. Since refinancing essentially starts a new home loan, you’ll need to pay all of the closing costs associated with a new mortgage – and on average, closing costs can total up to 5% of your home’s value. If you don’t have enough cash on hand to pay for your closing costs for a second time, refinancing your mortgage will harm you more than it will help you.

If You’re Giving Up An FRM For An ARM

If you have a fixed-rate mortgage, you have a great guarantee that your mortgage rate will stay the same. And if you already have a low interest rate, trying to get a lower interest rate will make it difficult for you to break even on your closing costs – unless you go with an adjustable-rate mortgage, which typically has lower closing costs.

But opting for an adjustable-rate mortgage is a poor idea right now. Today’s interest rates are at historical lows, which means they have nowhere to go but up. If you refinance with an adjustable-rate mortgage, you’ll end up paying more money than if you simply kept your existing fixed-rate mortgage.

Refinancing is often a useful tool, but it’s not always helpful in every situation. A qualified mortgage advisor can tell you whether refinancing is right for you. Contact your trusted local mortgage professional to learn more.

James K Barath, CMPS®

James K Barath is a Certified Mortgage Planning Specialist®, Certified FICO® Professional, Certified Military Housing Specialist® and your FHA Home Loan Expert. He is also a graduate of Purdue University, The CMPS Institute, Dale Carnegie Human Relations Course & Napoleon Hill Foundation's PMA Science of Success Class. It's your home and your future. It's his profession and his passion. He is ready to work for your best interest. Contact James for your FREE Home Loan Approval !  His Motto: I Facilitate the American Dream Through Responsible Mortgage Lending and Financial Literacy!

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How to Lower Your Mortgage Interest Rate

How to Lower Your Mortgage Interest RateMortgage interest rates are at historical lows right now, but they’re expected to start rising soon. That’s why savvy buyers are taking steps to ensure they get the best possible interest rates on the market and then lock those rates in for the long term. But even if interest rates are already low, that doesn’t mean you can’t reduce them further.

So how can you save even more money on your monthly interest payments? Here’s what you need to know.

Buy Down Your Rate With Interest Points

Interest points are a form of pre-paid interest that can help you to greatly reduce your interest rate. When you buy down your rate using interest points, you’re essentially paying interest up-front in order to reduce your monthly payments. Each point that you purchase could reduce your monthly rate by up to 0.25%, which makes interest points a worthwhile investment when considering you’ll be paying interest for the entire life of the loan.

Refinance At A Lower Rate

Refinancing is a great way to benefit from historically low interest rates if you originally bought your home during a time when interest rates were high. With a mortgage refinance, you essentially pay off your first mortgage with a second mortgage, which you can negotiate as a completely new loan. This is a great option if you originally had poor credit when you first bought your home but have since improved your credit score.

Set Up Automatic Monthly Mortgage Payments

If you want to reduce your monthly interest rate, you’ll need to offer your lender something in return. One great way to get a lower interest rate is to set up automatic bank withdrawals that pay your mortgage for you every month. In exchange for this guaranteed monthly payment, your bank will be more flexible regarding your rate.

Opt For A Mortgage With A Shorter Term

If your income is about to see a large increase, choosing a shorter-term mortgage is a great way to significantly reduce the amount of interest you’ll pay. Shorter mortgages like a 15-year fixed mortgage typically have lower interest rates than longer mortgages, and you can save thousands of dollars over the life of the loan by choosing a shorter mortgage term.

Mortgage interest rates are the scourge of many a home buyer, but with smart buyer strategies and the guidance of a qualified mortgage advisor, you can reduce your interest rate and save thousands of dollars on your home purchase. Want to learn more about how you can reduce your interest rate? Contact your local mortgage professional for more information.

James K Barath, CMPS®

James K Barath is a Certified Mortgage Planning Specialist®, Certified FICO® Professional, Certified Military Housing Specialist® and your FHA Home Loan Expert. He is also a graduate of Purdue University, The CMPS Institute, Dale Carnegie Human Relations Course & Napoleon Hill Foundation's PMA Science of Success Class. It's your home and your future. It's his profession and his passion. He is ready to work for your best interest. Contact James for your FREE Home Loan Approval !  His Motto: I Facilitate the American Dream Through Responsible Mortgage Lending and Financial Literacy!

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3 Budget-Friendly DIY Weekend Renovations to Step into Spring

April 1, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

3 Budget-friendly DIY Weekend Renovations to Step into SpringThe springtime is often the best time of the year for cleaning up and getting rid of old items, but with its proximity to the winter months it can still be hard to commit to large-scale renovations. If you’re looking for some small fixes to give your home a seasonal boost, here are a few options that won’t take up a lot of time.

Freshen Up The Window Frames

Paint can instantly enhance the brightness of any room, but deciding to repaint can be a job that takes more than just a weekend. Instead of committing to everything, paint your window frames for a task that is cheap and doesn’t require a huge expenditure of time. Since the eyes will naturally be drawn to the windows in any room, this will serve to improve your space without all the work that goes into sanding and taping everything.

Add An Accent With Wallpaper

A creative, striking way to upgrade the look of your home is a wallpaper accent that will be easy to install but add trendy appeal to your home’s aesthetic. Instead of going for the same old, choose a wallpaper with a funky design to the area of your choice. By placing it behind a mirror or another picture, you’ll add a lot of oomph without all of the effort that goes into completely repapering a wall. It’s just important to ensure you use an adhesive wallpaper that can be repositioned in the event your first attempt doesn’t work out.

Replace An Old Fixture

It doesn’t necessarily take a lot of legwork to easily revamp a stale space, so consider a light fixture that will instantly draw the eye and can serve as a high-impact piece that really sets the tone for your chosen space. While you’ll want to choose something that won’t completely contrast with the style already present, the right piece can really enhance and modernize what you already have. It’s just important to turn off the breakers before you start fiddling around with installation.

The idea of home renovations can make people think of large scale projects that consume a lot of time, but there are plenty of little things to be done that will make for big changes without an excess of effort. If you’re making some upgrades want to see options for financing, please contact us for more information.

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James K Barath, CMPS®

James K Barath is a Certified Mortgage Planning Specialist®, Certified FICO® Professional, Certified Military Housing Specialist® and your FHA Home Loan Expert. He is also a graduate of Purdue University, The CMPS Institute, Dale Carnegie Human Relations Course & Napoleon Hill Foundation's PMA Science of Success Class. It's your home and your future. It's his profession and his passion. He is ready to work for your best interest. Contact James for your FREE Home Loan Approval !  His Motto: I Facilitate the American Dream Through Responsible Mortgage Lending and Financial Literacy!

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