5 Tips to Help You Nail a Top Home Service Pros

Three Car Garage

Last year, the BBB or Better Business Bureau registered 24,900 complaints from American homeowners regarding contractors, repair specialists, painters, plumbers and roofing contractors. An additional 12,500 complaints regarding pest control businesses, landscape professionals, air conditioning contractors, pool service companies and appliance repair companies were registered with the BBA. Complaints ranged from contact issues to poor workmanship to unfinished work and inferior repairs.

This is why it is very important that you spend your time and energy to check the credentials of a service professional and insist on a written contract. Below are five tips that will help you avoid these problems.

1. Do your due diligence

Before you hire any service provider, ask them to show you proof of license and insurance as well as bonding capacity. Ensure that this information is correct. Make sure that the prospective company has been licensed to do the kind of work you require and that the company also meets your town, city and state’s bonding requirements. Also ask for references and then call them. Look online for customer reviews, reports of violations linked to the company and news articles that might touch on the company.

2. Be wary of substantially low bids

While you may want to save money on home repairs, you need to be very wary of companies that offer substantially lower rates than the competition. There surely is an explanation for the low pricing. It could be that the low rates don’t count for same materials, features and installation. The low bid might also indicate an inferior level of service. But this does not mean that an exceedingly high bid equals higher levels of service. You could simply be dealing with a contractor that is too busy and who does not want any work. If you come across a company offering significantly higher or lower bids compared to the market rates, ask them what the catch is.

3. Communication is very important

Your home is perhaps the single most important investment you own, and you are choosing to trust a service expert with them. For this reason, it is very important to contract a professional that you are comfortable with. It is important that the company responds to your questions not only timely but also effectively. If the company dilly-dallies when you are still attempting to land your business, what will happen when you are in the middle of a remodel job?

Your contractor also needs to ask you pertinent questions so as to know what you want from him. After verbally agreeing with the contractor on what is to be done, request for a contract and then read it. Ensure that the contract has the start date as well as expected completion date.

4. Do not pay the entire fee upfront

If your landscaper, installer, or repair contractor wants you to pay them in full upfront, be very afraid. There are however times when a contractor may want you to pay them a down payment that covers materials. However, you should not pay the bulk of money until the work is about to be completed and you are happy with the results.

5. Avoid door-knockers

While not every contractor, roofer or a landscaper that comes to your door searching for work is a conman, there are high chances that they are scam artists. Be especially wary of drop-by contractors who offer to inspect your roof for free. This could be a sign of a scam artist. But if you trust your instincts of a particular door-knocking service provider, ask them to give you a business card and check the company outline or even with BBB.


Note that an attractive business card and a well-designed website are not proof that your contractor will do quality work. Irrespective of the nature of the job that you want done, it is important that you take your time to land the professional that suits your needs, budget and timeline. Do proper research, don’t pay the entire fee upfront, avoid door-knockers and be especially wary of contractors who offer substantially low bids. There is always a catch.

What You Should Know About Home Fire Insurance Coverage

House Fire

You don’t need to be reminded the amount of damage a fire can do to your home. Whether it’s for a small fire in the kitchen or an inferno consuming the entire house, you need to be protected. The damage as a result of home fire can be devastating. According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), 2013 saw $7 billion in property fro residential fires alone. This is including dwellings, duplexes, manufactured homes (mobile homes), apartments, rowhouses, and townhouses and excluding properties such as hotels and motels, dormitories, barracks, rooming and boarding homes. Those stats are staggering.

What’s worse is finding out that you aren’t adequately covered for your losses. And the fires can be caused by just about anything- as long as it emits heat. It can be kitchen appliances being left on, a gas leak, or even a lightning strike. No one plans for these things to happen- they just do. All you can do is put all the measures in pace to prevent the fire accidents from happening, and ensuring that your home is covered in case they do.

Getting Insured Against Home Fires

In case you have property insurance, you may already be covered. But you need o be sure that the home fire insurance section of your home owners’ policy gives you adequate coverage. Coverage options vary from one provider to the next, so you may want to o through the specific details of your policy. The Insurance Information Institute estimates that the average fire claim exceeds $37,150.

You can insure your home through:

  • Standard home insurance

Your standard home insurance should include fire coverage. It protects the structure of your home and everything inside it. It can go further to cover you in case your home becomes uninhabitable. It takes care of the expenses as your home gets repaired. This is inclusive of rented living space and paying extra for food. This coverage is usually 20% of the policy’s value–so for $300,000, that would come to $60,000. You can always pay extra to raise that. In case you’re a tenant, you landlord probably has the entire building already covered. Though it wouldn’t hurt to confirm. However, your belongings are your responsibility. Securing coverage for your personal items is left up to you in such a case.

  • Dwelling fire coverage

It’s just like the standard or renters insurance policy, but it doesn’t cover your belongings. It only covers the building and structures on the property. Of course, this is not the wise option if you’re living in the house. But if it’s a vacation or vacant home, it’s more economically sensible. Depending on the premium level you choose, when a fire accident occurs you’ll have to pay more or less out of your own pocket. In case you have a larger financial cushion, you can choose a lower premium that offers less financial help or carries a larger deductible.

In a nutshell, you need enough insurance to cover:

  • The structure of your home. Your real estate agent can help you assess the value of your property.
  • Personal possessions.
  • Costs of any additional living expenses you could incur in case your home got too damaged that you’d have to live elsewhere as repairs get done.
  • Your liability to others.

Filing a Claim

After the fire, you need to file your claim. After all, it’s the reason you got the insurance coverage.

Start by trying to minimise the damage. You don’t want your home burning simply because you’re insured. So get an extinguisher or call the fire department and try to salvage the situation.

After the fire, take photos of the damage. Pictures don’t lie, and you’ll need all the evidence you can acquire to get enough compensation. In addition, have in the right documentation speeds things up. The faster you get the process done the sooner you’ll be back n your feet. You can always cal up your real estate agent to advise you on things you need, what to take what to leave. After everything is ready, contact the insurer to make the claim. Do this as soon as possible. The insurer will then send you a claim adjuster who will assess the damage and make an estimate.

When life knocks you down you jump right back up right? You obviously need to have your home repaired or rebuilt, so get right to it. The process can take as item time as a week, or span on to months. However, long it takes, keep track of every little process and piece of expenditure. Keep everything related to the fire damage claim- from the emails to the estimates and invoices.

Extra tip: You can create a home inventory. It’s a list of everything you have in your home. You shouldn’t have to rely on memory or burned pieces to remember what you owned. Your memory may not be 100% accurate after the fire. The trauma may make you forget stuff. Plus there are things you’d have already forgotten you own. Besides, some things may have been reduced to ashes, and it’ll be impossible to make out what they were. Ensure that the inventory is always up to date.

House Fire

Prevention is better than sure. The adage holds even when it comes to home fires. Do everything you can to prevent a fire accident in your house. Put measures in place like sprinkler systems and smoke alarms. You can prevent a minor incident from turning out into a catastrophe. Invest in a fire extinguisher. Read up on fire safety. NFPA has a wide range of tips and information that you could use.

Remember that it’s not always property that is on the line. Your families’ lives are also at stake. Insurance claims can buy you back your favorite living room set, but they can never bring back your loved one.

A Mortgage Guide That Every Home Buyer Should Read

Happy couple jump and make a house symbol of light. Dreaming abo

Buying a new home can be an exciting process. However, its not all green pastures and flower fields. There are certain tasks that need to be done, and it may not be fun. What this article is talking about is doing your homework or due diligence. The process may be tedious, but it’s critical for avoiding further complications down the road.

Below are a few aspects that should be present in every homebuyer’s due diligence list:

Determine Your Budget

This should be the first tasks that you should do whenever you are thinking of getting a new home. It’s very important that you determine how much you can afford. This task should be done even before you talk to a real estate agent. This will make things easier for you and your agent. For example, it will prevent any heartache you may suffer from falling in love with a home that is simply out of your budget. Also, it will help the agent in narrowing the lists of possible homes for you.

Thankfully, determining your budget is not that difficult. You can start by using an affordability calculator. This should help you determine on how much you can appropriately afford in relation to the down payment and income. Then, use a payment calculator. This tool should determine how much you are going to pay each month.

Start The Mortgage Process

It’s best that you start connecting with a lender as soon as you have a clear picture of your financial capabilities. The lender will need to review several qualifying documents. Therefore, you will need to prepare and submit such kind of documentation.

At the very least, you will have to prepare the documents below:
* Personal Information – this will include your marital status and date of birth. The number of children (if you have), and their respective ages.
* History Of Residence – you will need to prepare tax figures, insurance and all mortgages for the last two years.
* Income And Employment – you will need to prepare employment history and wages for the past two years. If you receive income in the form of bonuses and commissions, you will have to prepare those figures for the last two years. Lenders will average your income, commissions and bonuses for the last two years. Also, Lenders will require you to submit full tax returns within the same time period.
* Asset Balances – You will have to prepare all retirement, investment, savings and checking accounts. Even if you are planning to pay the down payment from one specific account, all accounts must be reported for paper trail purposes. In case you are using “gift funds” for the down payment, specific rules will come into play.
* Debt balances and payment – this will include all debts and payments you may have, such as child support, alimony, car loans student loans, mortgages and credit cards.
* Social Security Number – this will be used to confirm your credit scores and debts.

Select Loan Type And Down Payment

Once the lender has a full picture of your financial profile, he or she can then recommend a loan structure that will be a better fit for your profile.
For example, you may have strong income, but you’re still early in your career. This mostly means that you haven’t saved enough money. A lender may recommend you for a 10% down payment with a slightly higher monthly payment.

There are instances that your opinion may differ from the lender. You may be thinking of getting a 5-year adjustable rate to get a 1-bedroom condo. From your perspective, this will be a better option considering that you are going to sell and upgrade within the next 5 years. The lender may have a different opinion. Looking at your income and your plans to start a family within 5 years, the lender may conclude you are better off closing a 3-bedroom single family home with a 30-year fixed loan.

It is critical that you match your choice of home and your long-term goals. It’s worth mentioning that since lenders have a full profile of your financial status, they are in a better position to recommend you the best option for you in relation to your current and future situation and goals.

Look For An Agent And Start Shopping

After the mortgage process has begun, you are ready to find a real estate agent. After that, you can start the exciting part of shopping for a new home.
Introduce your agent to your lender. Ask the lender to brief the real estate agent about your mortgage process. By doing so, the agent gets a confirmation about your down payment budget and target home price. This will also subtly tell the real estate agent that you are willing to close as soon as you find your desired home.

Write, Lock And Finalize

Once you find that perfect home you love, you will then write an offer. The real estate agent will present the offer to the seller. If the seller accepts your offer, your loan process will then move to the final stage.

The next step is locking your mortgage rate. The rate locks both the seller and the lender. Therefore, you cannot lock until the seller accepts your offer.

After that, the lender may request you for more and/or updated documentation. The lender will then order an appraisal of the property and review the seller’s property title report.

Once everything checks out, the lender will then draw the final document that includes the terms and rate. After you sign the documentation, the lender will provide the funds needed and you will be a proud owner of a new home.

3 Tips Consider Before Listing Your House:

how to sell your home

When it comes to its value, the one equivalent in currency but also the sentimental one that an owner and seller attributes to it, a home is really in a league of its own. Regardless of size and amenities, a place to live will always carry importance and the process of selling or buying is not to be taken lightly. Instead of jumping head-first yourself, make sure to employ the services of a real estate agent to guide you through the process.

It would certainly be ideal to be able to plan a sale beforehand and to give yourself enough time to figure out every detail. Unfortunately, many such transactions happen out of need and are caused by an important event in the life of a family, like bringing a child into the world, marriage or in some cases, the death of a family member. Even without the luxury of premeditating your every move, here are a few pointers in case you want to sell your home:

Be Absolutely Sure You Want To

As stated above, selling one’s home is a big step. Before starting the process you’ll want to make sure that this is really what you want and that it will have the desired effect for you. Think ahead and plan accordingly. Did you settle on a new home already or at least made sure you have narrowed down your choices? If not, take a step back and think it over.

Without a clear notion of what you want, you might be tempted to just test the waters. That usually involves over-evaluating your home and placing it on the market with a much higher price than it should have. This is something no real estate agent would ever recommend. Since living spaces are expensive, buyers will, much more often than not, be informed and have at least a ballpark idea of how much your home is really worth.

There’s little room for trial and error in real estate, and that’s because you’ll carry your history with you. Even if you later drop the price for your home, the listings will show the previous entries and potential buyers will interpret the change badly, either by assuming there is something wrong with the property or by thinking that the seller is not being straight-forward with them.

If You Have The Chance, Plan Ahead And Observe The Market

Some changes sneak their way into your life and compel you to take action, but others give you enough time to prepare. The addition of a new family member or a change in the place of employment are such fortunate cases that allow you to do your research and make the most out of the sale.

Don’t just throw your home out there the moment you realize you’ll have to sell, not unless you have to. There’s always something to be done around the house to increase that property’s value and net you more money once you do sell, from a new coat of paint to replacing bathroom tiles to the shingles on the roof.

A real estate agent can come to your aid in regards to watching the market, see what the competition is up to and when is the ideal time for you to place the home on the market. Keeping an eye on other sellers can also give you a good idea on just how many buyers are out and about looking for a new place to live.

The Demand Is Always There, No Matter The Month

While you may dread the idea of moving in the winter, especially if you live in areas with a harsh climate, selling your home then could be more profitable. That’s because the number of buyers does not drop drastically, however there aren’t nearly as many sellers. If able, try to assess the situation and the market as bet as possible. Professional help really comes in handy here. And most importantly, don’t sell in a hurry.

In real estate, slow and steady wins the game. If you rush the sale and don’t get your property in decent enough shape, you will miss an opportunity of getting more money from it. If you let feelings get a hold of you and dictate the price, you’ll not only miss the chance to sell, but also have that mistake follow you for the future, possible transaction. Be patient and cerebral, make a plan and stick to it, the desired result will be just around the corner.