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  • Your home is likely to be your biggest investment, so you’ll want to protect it and its contents with a good homeowners insurance policy. There are a lot of considerations when you buy homeowners insurance, and navigating through policies and industry terms can be confusing–especially if you’re a new homeowner or are in the stages of buying a home. 
    Here are ten things you must know about homeowners insurance plans:

    Most insurance policies cover damages caused by fire, certain storms, theft, or vandalism. It also includes liability coverage if you’re sued. However, things like war, earthquakes, sinkholes, flooding, and other events are not covered or require additional insurance. Make sure you talk to your insurance agent candidly about what specific events are covered and what ones are not before you sign anything or buy homeowners insurance.

    If you live in a high crime area or one that is at high risk for natural disasters, you’ll likely pay more for your insurance.  Before you sign on the dotted line to purchase a new home, you should get an idea of homeowners insurance rates in the area. You should be able to get an estimate from your insurance company before you agree to purchase a home. 
    Don’t go with the first quote you get. Always shop around and compare quotes. Quotes can differ drastically—sometimes by over 100 percent. Before you buy homeowners insurance, try to get at least three rate quotes from different companies to make sure you’re getting the best price for the coverage you need.
    Bundling your homeowners insurance with the same company that insures your vehicle or business will likely save you money, so it might be wise to contact them first. You’ll still want to shop around to assure you’re getting the best homeowners insurance policy for your money, but don’t overlook the companies that currently provide you with property loss coverage, as they will often give current customers a discount for having multiple policies with them. 
    Protecting your home by installing a security system, deadbolt locks, or fire sprinklers can save you money on your policy and provide peace of mind at the same time. Security systems and advanced fire protection systems can not only help to lower your homeowners insurance rates, but they can provide priceless peace of mind too. 
    Trampolines and swimming pools on your property are considered high risk because they can cause personal injury and/or damage to the property. Thus, they will likely increase the cost of your homeowners insurance premiums. It is important to remember this when you shop around for rates when you are looking to buy homeowners insurance.
    Valuables like art or jewelry require additional coverage, called a “rider” because it “rides” on your existing policy. Many married couples choose to insure wedding rings, if they’re worth more than the insurance deductible. Which brings us to…
    A $10,000 deductible may mean low monthly payments, but if you needed to file a claim, could you afford to shell out $10k before you’d see any benefit? Choose a deductible you can comfortably afford to pay right now, whether that be $500 or $5,000. You can re-evaluate your ability to pay a higher (or lower) deductible at a later date, if you wish– but don’t choose an astronomical deductible now with the mindset that you’ll be able to pay it later. 
     If you are purchasing a condominium, you should know that the insurance plan you will need is specific to condos. Condo insurance is a special owners insurance policy for those who own condominiums instead of single family home residences. Be sure you understand the difference before you buy homeowners insurance or condo insurance. 
    Replacement cost is the amount it would cost to replace your items with the same or comparable item. Actual cash value (or ACV) covers your belongings for the amount they’re worth at the time of loss, which is usually significantly less than you bought when deflation is taken into account.
    Hopefully you’ll never need to file a homeowners insurance claim. If you do, however, having the best coverage  for your needs and budget will make the process go smoothly. If you’re thinking about refinancing, now is an excellent time to re-evaluate your homeowners insurance needs. Before your submit the required documents to refinance your mortgage, think about getting an additional quote or two for a new homeowners insurance policy to see if you might save more money with a different company than the one you’re currently using.
  • Are you one of those people that stash money under the mattress?

    A majority of consumers say they keep their cash savings in a bank, but more than half also say they keep their cash at home in a secret location.

    Still, when you’re closing on a home loan you’re not going to be able to come to the settlement table/closing with duffel bags full of Benjamins like Al Pacino in Scarface.

    Lack of verification of income or assets is one of the biggest reasons contracts fall through. But why?

    The Patriot Act of 2001 put added restrictions and reporting requirements to prevent terrorist groups from laundering money through real-estate transactions. We must comply!

    Not only must cash savings be deposited in a bank account to be part of asset calculations, it has to stay there for at least 60 days so that we mortgage brokers and lenders can account for the cash through at least two bank statement cycles, a process lenders called “sourced & seasoned.”

    Cash gifts from relatives must be documented too; otherwise, they can be considered an undisclosed loan which could impact your all-important debt to income ratio.

    This is why we always recommend any one that is looking to buy a home, to begin the process 3-6 months before the desire move in date.

    Give me a call, I will be happy to help you! 713-387-9521

  • Have you applied for the Homestead Discount yet?

    I wanted to share this information with you for two reasons:
    •To ensure your primary residence has the “Homestead Discount” which is a discount equivalent to about 20% of the cost of your property taxes.
    • To make sure you don’t miss the deadline to complete and submit the application. Which for most counties is April 30th!

    Here are the steps to follow:
    1. Log in to the appropriate county your property is located in. Type the address and see if you already have the Homestead discount or any other(s) that may apply.
    2. If such discount is under the former owners name, complete your own application.
    3. If there is no discount on the property and you closed last year, complete the form attached and mail it in before April 30th.
    4. Make sure your drivers license includes your accurate home address as most of the appraisal districts will require that you show proof of primary residence.

    Please let us know how else we can assist with your home loan. We will be happy to review your current loan terms and see if you are a good candidate for a refinance, cash out, debt consolidation, and or simply to reduce your rate and monthly payment or to remove your escrow account.
    Please contact Patti at 713-387-9521

    Use only assets or lease agreement to qualify for:
    Loan amounts up to $5 mil
    Non-owner occupied, 1 - 4 unit properties
    Business purpose owner occupied loans
    Foreign national loans
    Non-warrantable condos/condotels
    Multi-unit properties
    Program includes:
    No pre-payment penalties*
    5yr & 7yr ARM - 30 year amortized payment

  • On the path to invest?
    If you are a real estate investor or you want to learn how to become one, understanding the basics of a 1031 exchange is something you want to learn about.

    When you sell an asset of any kind, the profit that you earn is referred to as capital gains.
    In most cases, you are expected to pay a capital gains tax on this amount.
    There is, however, a section of the United States tax code (Section 1031, as you may have guessed) that offers shelter to investors.

    A 1031 exchange, in the simplest terms, is a matter of replacing one investment with another.
    You can think of it as taking the profit from one investment and using that to invest in something else.

    In the eyes of the IRS, this is not a matter of cashing out on your earnings; it is simply a way of letting your capital grow further.
    If you’re interested in seeking tax shelter under Section 1031 always contact your accountant and/or tax advisers.

    If you need a recommendation for an accountant, give us a call, we will be happy to help and guide you in the right direction.

  • Cons of using an online lender when buying your next home.

    Getting help can be hard as you often don’t get an assigned to a loan originator, but rather several that all sit in a call center.

    Here are a couple of Cons when using an online lender:

    *Rates aren’t guaranteed at your initial inquiry.

    *Closings costs are often misquoted as they are not local and may not be familiar with the State related fees; such as, property taxes etc.

    *Not being able to get answers to your questions over the weekend when you are about to place an offer.

    *Lack of resource with more complex scenarios as you may dealing with someone with limited experience in the industry.

    The pros of using an online lender such as excellent rates, fast turn times and easier less paperwork process are now things we as Brokers can offer.


    To learn more, call me. 713-387-9521