Relocating? Here are 4 tips you need to consider:

Couple Buying Their New House

Moving to a new area for a job can be an exciting time in anyone’s life. Many companies will pay for some sort of relocation package for their employees if they have to move to a new area for the job they were hired for. This can be a great opportunity for a person to experience a new city and area. During this time, many people are unsure of how to fully take advantage of relocation benefits offered by companies.

Here are several tips for anyone that is having to go through a relocation process and how to make the most of it:

Ask Questions

Companies have a human resources department for a reason. If you have been hired on at a company that offers relocation assistance be sure to take advantage of it. Many people will only relocate once or twice during a career, so it is completely normal to have some questions during the process. Some companies will have much more generous relocation packages than others. As a new employee, it is important to understand all of the benefits that you qualify for in your new position. If you are unsure of how the relocation works at any point during the process, be sure to ask questions of the new company you are working for.

Never Rush a Decision

Many people get overly excited about landing a new job in a city they want to move to. Although it is an exciting time, it is important to never rush a decision that is going to affect you many years down the road. There are many choices for housing in different areas around the country. If you are wanting to purchase a home, be sure to spend the appropriate amount of time researching homes in the area that you will be living in. For many people, a home will be the largest purchase that they make in their lifetime. This means that a bad or rushed decision here can end up costing a person tens of thousands of dollars. Be sure to always take your time when making long term housing decisions during a career relocation.

Think About Taxes

Relocation benefits can vary greatly depending on the company. What does not vary is the fact that relocation benefits are taxed differently than normal income. Due to the wide variety of benefit packages offered, there is no cut and dry rule for people that are moving to a new job as far as taxes are concerned. In this case, it is probably best to get the advice of an expert in the area of taxes if the relocation package is quite large. The worst thing that could happen to a new employee is getting hit with thousands of dollars in taxes that were unexpected. By doing the homework on the front end, this unknown tax liability can be prepared for or avoided depending on the situation.

Assume Nothing

Many people make assumptions during the relocation process with a company. However, it is always a good idea to never make assumptions in your situation. Every company is going to have different policies surrounding their relocation packages. This means that a new employee must read the fine print in his or her package in order to fully understand what they qualify for. Just because an employee thinks they qualify for something does not mean that they do. It would be bad to go ahead and relocate and find out that you are stuck for the bill on certain services. Another point to ask about is if you leave to go to work for another company. Many companies require employees to pay part or all of the relocation services back if they leave during a certain time frame. This can be tens of thousands of dollars in many cases, so it would be wise to fully understand the liability if that were to happen.

Final Thoughts

Overall, relocating to a new city and company is an exciting time in anyone’s life. However, it is important to fully understand the process and how to prepare for it. There are many decisions that must be made, and it is important to never rush a decisions that will affect you for the next several years.

Is your home not selling? Here are 4 Tips To Help You Get Your Home Sold:

New Family Home

Typically, a home that is well priced and shows well should have sold within its first six weeks of being in the market. If the home stays on the market for too long, potential buyers may think that it is flawed, stale or tired.

For this reason, if your home is not getting as many offers as you would like, here are some ways through which you can improve its traction.

The Condition Of Your Most Important Rooms:

Although you cannot change the location of your home, its price and condition are factors that you have the ultimate control over. First, you really should consider the conditions of the bathrooms and kitchens before listing your home. These areas need to be de-cluttered and staged properly for a successful sale.

You need to make sure that your home is able to be shown in it’s best light. This means you really want to consider making all these upgrades before listing.  Buyers don’t like properties that have been on the market for a long time.  You need to make sure you’re 100% ready to be listed when you do put your home for sale.

Alternatively, if you are not willing to have make recommended upgrades to your home, consider this when you and your agent are discussing pricing.

Strategic staging and the market presentation

In order for you to sell quickly, you will need to invest your time in getting your house ready to sell. Preparing the home for sale will involve taking out personal items, large furniture, paintings, finishing floors, replacing carpets and making some renovations.

However, there is a risk that if you happen overdo the staging and spend money and time in the wrong places then it may all be a waste. Instead, focus on bathrooms, kitchens, cleaning and getting rid of clutter.

Ensure that both you and your agent are in agreement

It is important that you find an agent with who will help the both of you to have a clear understanding of the sales strategy and pricing before listing the home. Get an agent who will have your back and ensure that you are the same page at all times. With this synergy, you will be able to avoid any unnecessary conflicts during the time that your home is still in the market.

Clearly discuss all your intentions concerning the home with the agent and pay close attention to his or her feedback. Do not be surprised if your agent suggests a lower offer or price reduction since he or she better understands the current conditions of the market. If your home is not yet selling after some time, and you as the seller demands to see progress, an ideal listing agent will normally ask for offers, do a follow up on all of the interested parties informing them that the seller is willing to sell. In cases where the buyer understands that the home owner will entertain offers that are below the asking price, then it will be unnecessary to reduce the home’s price.

It is good to have a first-hand experience of how the market works. If you have your home listed at a considerably lower price than you may be comfortable with, there are high chances that you will get offers almost immediately. However, if you have it listed at a considerably higher price you will find that the market will clearly speak for itself and you are likely not to get any response after a long period of time. Since every scenario is unique, it is important to team up with an agent who is in agreement with your specific strategy and is able to help you to adapt to your specific market.

Have the inspection and disclosure upfront.

If you present disclosures upfront and also provide the buyers with recent inspection reports, they will gain more confidence in the home. You may choose to price your home at an amount that will cater for any additional work to be done, they buyers may become more confident and are likely to make an offer quicker.

However, if you attempt to hide certain details and the buyers find out later, the deal may fall apart and you may even face a lawsuit. It is therefore important to be honest during the process.

To ensure that you make a quicker sale of your home, list it at the right price, present it in the best lighting and ensure that you make potential buyers to feel comfortable with the different aspects of your home.






Your Guide To Making An Offer As A 1st Time Home Buyer

Key To Success

Americans are constantly moving and resettling and the final motivation is to find a home one can call their own. There are over 1 million housing units in the country and 65% of these are the primary homes of the people who live in there. Clearly, we are obsessed with the idea of owning homes, and that is a good thing. When you are a first time home buyer, you are always looking for breaks that can help you grab your first home with ease. You surf the internet looking for tips and you ask around. The big fear is that you may make the wrong move and torpedo your chances of settling.

In this piece, we look at some key considerations first timers need to factor in before going all out to make an offer for that dream house.

Have confidence when negotiating or making an offer

It is normal to feel out of depth when fixing to make an offer. However, you need to understand that you are like any other buyer. You have glossed over prices, pored over publications and talked to a very helpful real estate agent. You may not know it but at this point, you are a guru in the whole house buying business. There are no right and wrong prices. There is only logic, and by understanding that, you can make solid offers with little reluctance.

Look at price comparisons before you pull the trigger on the deal

Your agent is going to be very handy at this point. See, these professionals usually have lots of data upon which you can base an offer. The normal practice is to afford you a list of the deals that have taken place in your area of interest over the last 6 months. Pay special attention to the pending sales and ask your agent to find more information regarding the seller involved.

Keep digging for information

You need to understand where the seller is coming from with their pricing. For example, for how long has the house they are selling been on the market? Is it possible to glean some information on why they are selling? You also need to know if there are other buyers and what they are offering for the same house you have an eye on. The statistics your agent comes across will be instrumental in determining the offer you table.

Keep your lender in the loop

You will need your lender every step of the way. At some point, you are going to require a pre-approval letter and when you do, the lender needs to be ready. In addition to that, there is the question of mortgage rates, which are very volatile. Lenders are very good when it comes to sniffing out incentives in the market and are going to keep you updated on any shifts in prices and rates.

Remember to discuss the terms of sale

Admittedly, the price is the most important factor here. But you do not want to forget the nitty gritty. For example, what is the timeline for inspections? When these drag out, snags are going to arise and prevent an early close to the sale. Some people want to close fast and others want to wait for some time due to complications related to approvals and mortgages. At times, you are going to require time for loan contingencies and approvals.

Do not stick to your guns for no apparent reason. For example, if the seller wants to close within weeks and you can get it done without glitches on your side, then why not go for it? Remember, you are likely competing with other buyers, and they are looking to take advantage of any reluctance.

Stay positive

There are going to be other houses of the same pedigree as the one you have fallen in love for. You do not have to go all out for a deal where the terms are skewed towards the seller. People are going to want to sell houses every other day. Thousands of Americans relocate every day, opening up positions for you to take advantage of.

Buying a house can be a hectic process, even an intimidating one, but with the right information and a good real estate agent, you are going to get value for your money.







4 Tips To Help You Diplomatically Handle Disputes With Neighbors

Curious Neighbor

Property disputes have been around for ages and have at one time or another led to law suits that are contentious, unrelenting litigation and serious tensions between neighbors. As such, conflicts between neighbors have to date remained a common phenomenon.

Ways of preventing neighbor disputes

The best and easiest way to avoid a contentious legal battle is to avoid minor disputes between you and your neighbor. You will be shocked to realize that the nastiest legal battles between neighbors have been sparked off by very simple disputes such as those ones involving trees. People living in neighborhoods with trees are therefore advised to always negotiate the ownership of these natural features if they wish to avoid a future problem that might erupt from the same. If trees grow past the boundaries and the ownership of the trees is unknown, you should desist from trimming the tree as it might fall back into the restricted boundary since this is likely to cause a conflict as the incident may lead to the damage of property. Calling for a fresh property survey can help avert such situations even before they start.

Water disputes

Another time bomb that keeps ticking involves the ownership of water sources that fall on the boundaries of properties of two different individuals. A riparian attorney will come in handy when it comes to finding solutions in such situations, especially if the water source is used for livestock or domestic consumption.

Disputes on fencing

Disputes regarding boundary lines and fences are the most common amongst most neighbors. Such disputes can easily be solved by good communication amongst the two parties or through the assistance of a local surveyor. If there has been no prior issues with the homeowner`s association, the new home owner is at liberty to erect a fence as he or she sees fit.

A property owner should not just make an informed guess on legal boundary lines since the slightest misjudgment may cause the owner of the other property to incur any expenses that may arise from relocating the fence. Instead, they should hire a local surveyor to determine a specific boundary line. He or she will also leave a safe buffer zone between the boundary line and the fence that has been erected.

How to manage disputes

It is not every legal dispute that is of a contentious nature, some of these disputes call for legal transfer of property. Most families, for instance, usually use quitclaims to quickly pass over land from one generation to the next without calling for a surveyor`s services but should they need to transfer the same property to an outside buyer, they will be forced to contract a surveyor. It is here that a dispute may ensue instantly as the new survey might reveal that some of the boundaries have discrepancies. Such situations might need an experienced lawyer to negotiate for a new boundary line without the taking the matter to the court.

In case legal disputes between you and your neighbor are unavoidable, you should seek the help of state and local property law experts. Even if it is expensive, it is always good to seek the services of knowledgeable experts such as those familiar with tree law or riparian rights at the onset of a dispute to save any valuable property rights in future.

It is important to note most people tend to file a law suit or seek the help of tree consultants. Historically a good portion of the local court`s equity dockets have comprised of boundary line, nuisance and property disputes. Even the most benign disputes between adjacent neighbors and property owners can lead to conclusions that are very disastrous. It is therefore, important for property owners to always take heed and prepare adequately for the prevention of conflict before it even starts.

Some of the disputes that have gone into the books of history did not seem to be such grave at first but later on ended up being blown out of proportion with others ending up as class B felony such as the in Los Angele. Others ended up serving a lifetime jail term after being charged with manslaughter, which was the case in Orange County, CA, where a neighbor shot the other over fireworks dispute.

The Top 10 Essential Packing Supplies For DIY Movers


Moving into a new house is a major milestone in everyone’s life.In recent times, more and more savvy people are foregoing the full-service moving companies and embracing the do-it-yourself (DIY) moving attitude.DIY moving can save you a lot of money while letting you have control of the whole process.Moving can be a very painful and stressful experience especially when it is not well planned for.However, DIY moving can be very simple when well planned.You must start out on the right foot by having some essential supplies that will help you keep your sanity when packing and unpacking.Sure you will need boxes, but also take into account the following essentials so as to move like a pro.

1.Heavy-duty Boxes

As the day of moving gets nearer and nearer, you are probably dreading the task of purchasing the moving boxes.However, this can be a very easy task when you know which boxes are to be used to move your prized possessions safely.While most boxes may be fine, it is important that you invest in the best heavy-duty boxes.You may also need professional moving boxes that are specifically suited for a variety of households.Thes include the kitchen boxes, mirror and picture boxes and the wardrobe boxes.

2.Packing Tape

After purchasing the boxes, you will need lots of packing tape.You must use real packing tape and not the weak masking tape.Packing tapes that are sturdy enough can be very expensive, but remember cheap is always expensive.These packing tapes and tape dispensers can be ordered online or picked up at office supply and hardware stores.It is easier to tape up the boxes earlier than to do it at the last minute.Remember to buy the tape in bulk so as to get the best deal.

3.Moving Blankets

You must protect your most prized assets with high quality moving blankets.Moving blankets are used especially to protect furniture from getting damaged during the move.They ensure that your furniture don’t get any strains, tears or scratches.It is said that moving strikes fear in the hearts of the bravest of souls.However, the more moving blankets you have, the lesser the fear.

4.Floor and Carpet Protection

Although you are moving out of a house, you still need to protect the floors.This is even more important if you are moving during poor weather conditions like rain or snow.Carpet protectors are essential so as to ensure that the carpets are not damaged during the moving.At very affordable prices, you can purchase these protection films that stick to your carpet and protect them against spills, snow, and dirt.

5.Mattress Bags

Most people do not have the special canvas mattress bags or large cardboard mattress boxes to help in keeping the mattresses clean.In this case, affordable plastic mattress bags can easily be purchased in local storage and hardware stores.These bags will provide great rain and dust protection.Remember, never set the mattress on a wet surface even when a cover protects it.

6.Paper Towels

Vases, mugs, and other fragile equipment can be stuffed with paper towels so as to protect them.Paper towels can also be placed between the fragile utensils, appliances and cookware to prevent them from breaking.These towels can also be used in cleaning up the spills.

7.Bubble Wrap

Bubble wrap is a very important tool when packing fragile items.You only need to put layers of bubble wrap between each bowl.Use small bubbles for the more small and delicate appliances.Make sure that you place the heavier items at the bottom of the box.

8.Step Ladder

Step ladders come in different sizes; the most popular sizes that you may need during DIY moving are 4, 6, and 8 feet.Step ladders make it easier and safer to take boxes down or move them high up.Instead of trying to reach up and losing your balance, make sure you use a step ladder.


A dolly is an essential tool when moving heavy items.A dolly is basically a platform with wheels, and there are different varieties.Some dollies are even designed to go upstairs.You can either build yourself a dolly, borrow, or purchase at your local store.Just make sure to check the dolly’s weight limit.


A box-cutter can really come in handy when opening the strong seals.They reap off the seals and tapes cleanly without creating any mess.You can also use utility knives instead of the box-cutter.Remember to use brightly colored knives since they are easy to spot amidst any mess.

The Five Costs Homeowners Pay That Renters Don’t And How To Prepare For Them

costs of ownership

Whether you are newlyweds who are starting out, or a middle age couple downsizing you will most likely have to evaluate economics of buying a home vs renting. For many years, conventional wisdom ruled out that buying a home was the smarter choice. However, owning a home doesn’t somehow make it absolutely free to dwell in. For different individuals in different places, one approach may make more sense than the other. Nowadays more people are opting to rent instead of buying.

Truth be told, buying a home has a few hidden costs. It is ultimately more financially beneficial. But you need to know these 5 costs homeowners usually pay that renters do not.

1. Home Maintenance

Homeowners cannot just call a landlord when some things need fixing or repair. All kinds of repair, renovation and maintenance are the obligations of the homeowner. Whether you are planning on having a remodeling project or you simply want to do repairs, the costs will come out of your pocket. According to statistics, if your home is worth about $220,000, you need to set aside a minimum of about $2,200 for repairs and maintenance costs.

2. Property Taxes

The property taxes are basically paid to the local government, the municipal, state or county to fund things such as public school billboards, wages for the government workers or public works. Property taxes are typically an expense which homeowners should expect to pay as long as the home is in their ownership. Taxes are usually assessed based on current value of the home, and may change over time in order to reflect the home’s decrease or increase in value. The taxes may also vary depending on the region, thus you should always try to investigate the taxes in the area(s) you are looking to buy.

3. Home Insurance

Renters usually pay rental insurance, while homeowners pay homeowners insurance which is usually a bit more expensive. The rental insurance basically covers the contents insurance, but homeowners are more concerned with the actual value of the structure of the property. If a home gets lost in a natural disaster or a fire, insurance will cover remainder of the mortgage, or costs to repair or rebuild the home. Different insurance policies provide different levels of coverage and protection, and the premiums usually vary greatly. For instance, homeowner’s insurance can costs the average of about $35 monthly for every $100 000 of the home’s value.

4. Home Owners’ Association (HOA) Fees

Some developments may charge a condominium fee or Home Owners’ Association fee. The fees usually cover the external building maintenance along with landscaping costs for the common areas. This basically minimizes the costs of any other home expenses which are covered by HOA fee, though the fees will not cover internal maintenance costs that are associated with your particular unit. The HOA fees might not cover construction projects or maintenance if the HOA does not have sufficient money in it’s reserve to fully cover it. This might result in quite a hefty cost to the owner in terms of development. People who are in HOAs need to set aside some money to cover these unforeseen expenses that are associated with maintenance of the communal property.

5. Utilities, Landscaping and Lawn Care

When you are renting, it is common for your landlord to cover certain costs. However, if you are a homeowner, you are in charge of taking care of costs such as, water, gas, electric, cable, Internet among others. The cost of utilities when you are renting are quite different than the cost you will pay in case you are a homeowner. For instance, if your home got a yard, you’ll definitely need to factor in lawn care and landscaping costs. Paying a professional landscaping company to take care for the lawn can cost about $30 every week. If you decide to do the chore yourself, the costs will certainly be lower, but, you will still have to consider other expenses such as tools, maintenance equipment, and fertilizer.

What’s all this mean?

In the end, when all is said and done, your personality will drive your decision in terms of renting vs buying decisions. Financially, it usually makes more sense to buy a home. But take these 5 expenses into consideration before taking action.

8 Essential Things To Do Prior to Your Move

African American Family Unpacking Boxes Moving House

Moving is an exciting time for the entire family, but can be stressful too with tons of packing up to do and important matters to attend to. Spending a bit of time on examining the things which truly deserve the space in those boxes will actually save you more time in the long run, rather than just mindlessly tossing them in a rush. There will surely be some items that will be better off if you donate them. You may just be surprised to end up with a huge box or two filled with worthless stuff! This makes unpacking easier for you with less boxes to deal with. Check out these 8 areas to look into prior to your move, for there’s nothing like settling down in a fresh new home that’s more breathable and free of clutter.


1. Clean Up Your Bathroom Cabinet

Nail polishes are flammable too, and you can’t risk it spilling during your move. Some in your collection may have already become crusty, and some arrived in shades you didn’t even like. Old hair sprays, curling mousse, and others way past the expiration date must be disposed of.

2. Dine in or Take Out?

Food takes up a big chunk of space more than what you may think. Preparation is best initiated weeks before your move, so dine in for the remaining days. Cook the perishable foods like frozen meat and vegetables. Consume those that have long lingered on the shelf. The only thing to take out for now are those that have actually sat there longer than it should, and have gone past its shelf life! Your family would definitely appreciate some home cooking before everything gets too busy. If you have an abundance in your kitchen, take a well-deserved break and have a lunch or dinner party with your friends.

3. Have a Toast

In line with throwing the party, don’t forget to serve the open bottles of alcohol you’ve got stored. Savor each glass now instead of sulking when they’re put to waste, with broken and shattered glass the remnants of it.

4. Enjoy a Romantic Dinner

This may not sound the right time for dates and a romantic rendezvous, but a simple candle light dinner can help prior to your move. It will not only ignite the spark in your relationship, but you can melt away some of the things you’ve got to pack. As odd as it seems, most moving companies would not move candles along with the open bottles and anything else that’s flammable, for the sake of everyone’s safety. Anyway, it’s not just for couples but for the whole family too. You can twist the ambiance entirely at home with the relaxing warmth of glowing candles. Use them as a theme for your clean-out party, and give the nicely carved or scented ones to family and friends.

5. Donate Kids’ Toys

Toys are bulky and you probably have chests, or a whole room which may still hold baby toys of your now grade-school kid. This is also the perfect opportunity to teach the value of charity to your child, so involve them in preparing this box to fill with outgrown toys for other kids to enjoy. The bigger ones like outdoor pools or bicycles, and unused items can be passed on to family and friends.

6. Organize Your Closet

Clothing with stains and have become loose, and those that no longer fit which have remained part of your cabinet untouched for as long as you can’t remember should downright be discarded. Toss in the old linens like faded sheets and rough towels in your donation box too. You will probably be acquiring new ones to match the color and the style of your new bedroom. Clothes you haven’t used for more than a year, shoes and bags gone out of style, and those you no longer need can become lucrative through a garage sale. Include apparel which won’t fit into the entirely new environment and weather when moving cross country.

7. Clear the Garage

In doing a garage sale, you might as well clear your garage of stockpiles of little trinkets and scrap items. Arts and crafts like DIY supplies have probably accumulated in crates which may not be worth eating up space in the van, so better take a second look. It is best to acquire brand new garden materials in your new home to prevent possibly transferring weeds and insects in a beautiful yard. Put away brittle planters, old hoses, trash bins, and consider selling outdoor furniture especially those with glass.

8. Reclassify your Furniture

Aside from decluttering, there could be bigger things to consider sorting or giving away such as low-quality furniture. Some may be too old or flimsy that tend to be easily chipped or damaged during a move. It’s definitely not worth the efforts of loading on a van or truck. It would be a good idea to pass them on to family or friends who might need it at home, or donate and be put to good use instead by others who deem it valuable.

5 Steps to a More Organized Home for Back to School

back to school homes

The summer is coming to an end and as if its madness isn’t enough, the transition back to school can make life at home even much messier and busier. The program is now going to be a mixture of both the last days of summer and the school activities. The house is obviously full of those wet beach towels that have been in use during the holidays and those important school books & papers. Below are a few ideas that will greatly help you organize the holiday chaos before the school begins.

1) Clean the fridge out (& off) and then re-stock.

The first thing is to clear the front of your fridge by removing those already happened wedding invitations, those camp art projects etc. This will signal the start of the new season and leave that space for the phone numbers and other important papers that yours little ones will bring home from school.

Next, you need to clean the inside of your fridge by getting rid of all those leftovers from picnics and any other unnecessary stuff. Make some ready for grab–and–go breakfasts, packed lunches and even after school snacks. Anything quick will be very convenient mostly during those first days when the family is still adjusting to the new schedule. A basket full of fresh fruits will also come handy.

2) Organize the closets & clothes

A new outfit for the first-day-at-school is a childhood tradition. Before you make an addition to your little one’s wardrobe, it is good to go through the closet carefully and remove all the outfits that they have outgrown. You should also remember that the weather is probably changing soon and so check if your kids may need some new warmer clothes for the coming weather.

Clean & organize the closet and dresser nicely and it will be much easier for everyone to start the day every morning. It is important to create a laundry system and stick to it so that everything runs smoothly.

3) Create a scheduling center

This is your family’s Mission Control and should therefore be at the central place in your home (e.g. the entryways or the kitchen). You may need to keep things like a calendar, the address book, the filling system, notepads (used to take phone messages) and lots of pens because they often seem to disappear when needed.

Note that, most of the paperwork get sorted here before they are kept away, signed and/or sent back to school. You should therefore come up with a system for paperwork and let everyone familiarize himself/herself with it thus avoid any unnecessary confusion.

4) Make mealtime easy

Meal planning does not only help to save money & time but it also helps a lot especially during rush hours (for instance when running home from a PTA meeting or work).

Create a menu and do not forget to come up with a master shopping list for the week’s preparation. This will guide you on what to cook when everyone in the family is hungry and will ensure that you do not waste ingredients.

Keep the week’s menu on the fridge and this will not only remind you on what to cook but incase anyone wants to know what is for dinner, they can simply check from the menu.

The first few weeks of school are going to be quite busy so you should prepare some extra meals and keep them in the freezer and this will make things much easier. You can also set up a coffee station in the kitchen where the grown ups can easily grab a to-go mug.

5) Tackle the entryway and mudroom

There are a lot of stuff that come with school, for instance- lunch bags, backpacks, artwork, library books and even gym bags. The drop-off point for all these items will be the entryway or mudroom and will quickly become very messy if there is no system. You need to come up with a plan and let everyone know about it so that when they get home, every person knows their designated spot for their backpacks, shoes, jackets and any other item.

It is important to come up with these routines at the start of the school year so that when the school program begins, you will not have to run up and down. It may take sometime for everyone to adjust to the transition but if you have a good system in your home you will avoid unnecessary stress and focus on enjoying the new, exciting school year.

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.