3 TIPS FOR FINDING THE BEST CONDO AND TOWNHOME INSURANCE


It seems like townhome and condo insurance should be easy to purchase. With more and more people choosing to live a low-maintenance lifestyle, these housing units are growing in popularity.

However, finding accurate insurance coverage that conforms to closing requirements actually involves a few extra steps that are different from when you are insuring a single-family home. Here are 3 tips to help the process go as smooth as possible:

  1. Provide your insurance agent with the phone number and email address of a contact at the condo/townhome association. This step is critical, since a lot of time can be wasted trying to find the proper documentation.
  2. If possible, provide information from the sellers on updates and remodels. This will enable the insurance agent to write the proper amount of coverage on the improvements and betterments within the unit. The mortgage company is very interested in this amount.
  3. Give your insurance agent extra time to obtain the quote. The association’s documents are frequently vague and incomplete regarding insurance requirements. The insurance agent then has to dig deep into Board resolutions, etc. in order to find the proper coverage requirements.

Buying a townhome or condo? ReeceNichols Insurance can help your closing go as smoothly as possible—with our highly experienced insurance specialists.

WHAT HAPPENS IF YOU’RE REJECTED FOR HOMEOWNER’S INSURANCE?


Is it possible to be rejected for homeowner’s insurance? The answer is yes. Sometimes, you choose an insurance carrier for your new home—only to be informed that they cannot write the policy after all. Or the premium suddenly increases significantly.

Now, you’re stuck with a difficult choice: you can either postpone your closing, and try to find a new insurance carrier—or buy the higher-priced coverage.

It actually occurs more often than you think, and can be a frightening situation. Many insurance carriers do not run all of the necessary background reports, while others don’t take the time to determine a replacement cost until just before the policy is bound.

So what can you do in this situation? Since there’s no way for you to know if a carrier has run all the required reports, or has determined an appropriate replacement cost upfront, your best solution is to start out by getting a second opinion on insurance coverage for your home.

By getting a second opinion, you’ll see more price options for your homeowner’s insurance—as well as alternate approaches to coverage and replacement cost.

In fact, you can do this right away—and in the same place—by working with an independent insurance agency. An independent insurance agency is not affiliated with any specific insurance company, and can immediately give you multiple quotes from several different insurance carriers right off the bat. They can also help you find the best rate—and best fit—for your home and family.

Better yet, if anything falls through at the last minute, they’ll have other options available—so you won’t have to postpone your closing. It’s the fastest, most efficient way to get good homeowner’s insurance coverage, right off the bat.

Need homeowner’s insurance?HomeServices Insurance is an independent insurance agency—and we’ll provide you with a free second opinion today.

17 QUESTIONS FOR YOUR MORTGAGE LENDER


Before you buy a home, you’ll need a good mortgage lender. It’s a good idea to talk to at least three different mortgage lenders before making a final decision.

Start by asking friends and family for a recommendation or work with a local favorite, like HomeServices Lending. When you’ve found a few good companies to talk to, ask these 17 questions to help you decide if their service is right for you.

  1. What rate are you currently offering?
  2. Can I lock in this rate while I wait for my loan to close? (If so, how much will that cost me?)
  3. How long will the approval process take?
  4. How much will my monthly payment be (including insurance, taxes, escrow)?
  5. Will the monthly payment change later during the course of my loan? If so, when?
  6. Which type of loan do you recommend for me (15-year fixed, 30-year fixed, ARM, etc.)?
  7. Are there any special programs I can take advantage of (such as for military personnel or first-time home-buyers)?
  8. What information do I need to provide to you to get approved for the loan?
  9. What fees do I need to pay to close the loan (for example, for home appraisal)? How much will these fees cost?
  10. Will I have to pay any points?  If so, what is the cost?
  11. How (and where) do you do the final paperwork (online, by mail, in an office)?
  12. Do you accept e-signatures for documents (signature over email or internet)?
  13. Where will the title be signed?
  14. Will your company manage my loan after it closes? Or, will you sell it to someone else?
  15. Will I be penalized if I make early principal payments (or pay off the loan early)?
  16. Are you licensed in my state?
  17. Will your company sell my personal information?

Want a totally personalized loan experience? YourReeceNichols agent can put you in touch with one of the professionals at HomeServices Lending today. Or contact HomeServices Lending directly.

WHAT IS AN “AGED ROOF”—AND WHY IS IT IMPORTANT?


Believe it or not, homes with old (or unrepaired) roofs can cause big problems when trying to find homeowner’s insurance. If you’re buying an older home, here’s what you need to know.

What qualifies as an “aged roof”?

A roof can be considered an aged roof if it is over 20 years old.

What can happen if I have an aged roof?

Most major insurance carriers will not write a policy on a home with an “aged roof,” so if your home has an older roof, then you may not be able to find homeowner’s insurance.

If you do find an insurance policy, it might contain an endorsement adjusting the roof coverage to an Actual Cash Value basis (vs. the better Replacement Cost basis). This means that if you suffered a total loss (such as during a hail storm), your insurer will “depreciate” the value of the roof based on age and condition—and you will receive less claim money.

Some insurers now require a 1% or 2% wind/hail deductible on roofs, which can cause problems at closing. It can also mean that the policy does not meet your mortgage lender’s requirements for insurance.

How do I know if I have an aged roof?

Listen to your home inspector. They can do research, help you accurately understand the condition of the roof, and describe it in their final report.

How do I get homeowner’s insurance if I have an aged roof?

If you do have an aged roof, you have a couple of options. You can try asking the current owner to fix (or replace) the roof. Or you can work with an independent insurance agent who is willing to help you find a custom insurance solution that meets your lender’s requirements.

Need homeowner’s insurance for an aged roof?HomeServices Insurance is an independent insurance agency, and can help.

15 QUESTIONS TO ASK—BEFORE YOU RENT A HOME


If you’re planning to rent a home, make sure you get a signed lease from the landlord—to protect you (and him).  However, before signing any lease—get all the answers to these questions.

  1. What is my monthly rent payment?
  2. Does this monthly payment include utilities?
  3. If not, then which utilities do I need to pay for?  How much are they per month (usually)?
  4. Am I responsible for paying any HOA (homeowner’s association) fees?
  5. How much is my security deposit?
  6. What will happen to this security deposit—at the end of my lease?
  7. How many months is the lease?
  8. What happens if I want to stay longer?
  9. What happens if I need to move out earlier—and break the lease? Will there be any penalties?
  10. What are your pet policies?
  11. Who will pay for repairs to the house or appliances?
  12. Who do I call if I need emergency repairs?
  13. Who will mow the grass and maintain the yard?
  14. Do you have any “quiet hours”?
  15. Are there any other rules I should know about?

Want to rent a home in Kansas City? Check out hundreds of homes in ouronline list of homes for lease, or talk to a ReeceNichols home leasing agent today.

WHAT IF MY HOME IS DAMAGED DURING A STORM?


What do you do if your home is damaged during a storm? Don’t despair—help is available. But act quickly, as many insurance companies have a time limit on filing a claim—and some require you to do it almost immediately after a storm occurs.

Step #1—Check for damage.

Look for cracked, dented, chipped, broken, or missing roof tiles, siding, or windows—as well as damage inside the home (such as in the basement). These are typical area of damage after a hail, wind, or ice storm.

Step #2—Document the damage.

If you find damage, take pictures to document it. Write down the time/date of the storm.

Step #3—Report damage to your insurance agent.

Call your insurance agent to report any damage. Ask to have an insurance adjuster come to the house to assess the damage.

Step #4—File an insurance claim.

The insurance adjuster will visit your house to inspect the damage, give you an estimate for the total value of the damage, and help you file the insurance claim with your company.

Step #5—Receive payment.

Once the paperwork is completed and approved, you will receive a check for the repairs from your insurance company, based on the adjuster’s assessment.

Step #6—Get estimates for repair.

Call at least 2-3 different contractors to look at the damage, and give you an idea of what it will cost to repair. Ask them to provide you with a written estimate of both labor and materials. (Your ReeceNichols agent can give you a referral to a trusted contractor—or ask a friend for a recommendation. Beware of “storm scammers” who visit your area after a storm, preying on damage victims.)

Step #7—Perform the repair work.

Once you choose the contractor who best fits your budget and quality expectations, make sure they perform all work to your satisfaction. (Remember: you should not be expected to pay for a contractor’s work until after it’s completed, and you’ve signed off on it.)

Looking for a good homeowner’s insurance policy? We’ve got one. Visit ReeceNichols Insurance today.

HAS YOUR HOME SUFFERED HAIL DAMAGE?


This has been one of the craziest weather weeks Kansas City has experienced in quite a while. Did your home suffer any hail damage? What about that home you’re waiting to close on? ReeceNichols Insurance is here to give you timely information and advice that you can use to serve your clients.

To start, it is a best practice to get at least one estimate from a local, reputable, well-established roofer or contractor that you select. Be careful with “door-knocker” roofers and contractors who are out canvassing neighborhoods for business after inclement weather. Many of these are out-of-town individuals or companies who follow the bad weather looking for the quick sale and do not perform quality work. Even worse, they often can’t be found to stand behind their work once they’re gone.

If weather related damage occurs to a home that is under contract and waiting to close, it is the seller’s insurance policy that should respond and pay for the repairs. Generally, a buyer’s insurer will not accept a home with significant existing damage. So it may be necessary to push out the closing date until all repairs have been made.

If the storm just so happens to have occurred on the day of or the day after closing (before the seller could cancel their policy, but after the time buyer’s policy became effective), it is usually the buyer’s policy that should respond and pay for the damage.

If there is damage, the seller and buyer will need to address how they wish to proceed. If your purchase/sale contract is on the KCRAR forms used by most real estate agents in the area, the form requires the seller to keep the property fully insured until closing and notify buyer of any damages in writing within 24 hours. The form contract further provides each party with options as to how they wish to proceed when damage is discovered prior to closing. In a nutshell, if the damage is minor, the seller can elect to replace or repair the damage. If the damage is not minor or the seller elects not to repair minor damage, the contract provides the buyer with two options.

We do recognize that some situations are unique and have extenuating factors. If you are dealing with one of these, or if you have questions on any of the above, reach out to us – we are here to help you!

Contact ReeceNichols Insurance for more information.

SHOULD YOU RENT OUT YOUR HOME?


People rent out their homes for a number of reasons. Some do it as an investment, while others do it by necessity—through a job change, relocation, or even the housing market.

If you’re considering renting out your home, you’re not alone. In fact, according to a report by the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University, more than 3 million owner-occupied homes were converted to rental properties between 2007 and 2011.

Before you decide to rent out your home, here are a few things to consider.

It’s important to choose the right tenant.

Be prepared to do application forms, pre-screenings, credit checks, home tours, and personal interviews with several different tenants before finding one that’s right for you. (If this process sounds a little daunting, the ReeceNichols Rental Department can assist you with tenant selection.)

Get a signed lease and security deposit.

Always use a written, signed lease—and make sure that the language includes:

  • Amount of rent
  • Security deposit
  • Terms of the lease
  • Pet policies
  • Behavior rules
  • Penalties if the rent is late

Be ready to handle emergency calls—24 hours a day.

If the kitchen pipes burst in the middle of the night, your tenant will call you to fix it—since it’s your responsibility to make sure the home is safe and operational. If you’re not prepared for 24-hour-a-day emergency calls, consider hiring a property management company to do it for you. (For example, ReeceNichols partners with KC Rental Source to provide complete property management services—for as little as 7% of the monthly rental rate.)

Get the right insurance.

Renting your home to a tenant requires a special insurance policy—different from a standard homeowner’s policy. You’ll need to protect your home with rental home insurance, which covers not only the structure of the home, but also legal and medical costs and loss of rental income. Tenants will also need their own renter’s insurance policy to cover their belongings.

Be comfortable with the possibility of evicting a tenant.

Even though it’s a worst-case scenario, you’ll want to be mentally and legally prepared to evict a tenant if you have an issue with non-payment (or even property destruction). Eviction requires an attorney, a court visit, and coordination with the sheriff’s department.

Thinking about renting out your home? We offer a comprehensive home rental management service—from tenant screenings to property maintenance. Talk to aReeceNichols leasing agent today.

WHY DO YOU NEED A HOME WARRANTY?


When you’re buying or selling a home, a home warranty makes good financial sense. While it only costs a few dollars per month, it can save you big bucks on repairs to your appliances, electrical, plumbing, and HVAC systems.

If you’re selling a home, a home warranty can help you handle surprise leaks or breaks that may cause serious damage while you’re away (such as a toilet leak on a top floor). This is especially important if the home will be vacant for awhile.

It can also reduce the cost of parts and labor on repairs that make the home more attractive to potential buyers—or that may negatively impact your mechanical inspection.

Bottom line: you’ll have peace of mind knowing that someone is available to make repairs to your home 24/7, even if you’ve already moved to a different state.

If you’re buying a home—especially an older one, or one that’s been vacant for awhile—you’ll have little history of the home’s appliances, plumbing, electrical, or HVAC systems. So you won’t know that it’s been 5 years since the A/C system was cleaned, and it’s ready to burn out while you’re unpacking boxes on a hot summer day.

With a home warranty, you’ll have someone ready to make repairs at any time of the day or night. This is especially valuable when you’re moving in from out-of-town, and you haven’t yet established relationships with the local plumber or electrician.

The best home warranty providers (like A.B. May, who provides free home warranties for all houses listed for sale by ReeceNichols) have all of those technicians under one roof, and should be able to dispatch someone in as little as one hour, with heavily discounted labor and parts charges—for a small monthly fee.

Another perk? Discounted annual maintenance on your heating and cooling systems—which means they’ll be clean, operational, and ready for summer and winter. That’s especially important if the HVAC was neglected by the previous owner, or if the home was empty during the sales process.

Is a home warranty right for you? Before you make your final decision, consider:

  • Monthly fees
  • How long the home has been vacant
  • Age of home and appliances
  • Emergency services available
  • Discounts on annual maintenance
  • Discounts on labor and parts for home visits

Every home listed for sale with ReeceNichols automatically comes with aFREE seller’s warranty from A.B. May. Check out our HomeWarranty PLUS Program. Contact us today.

6 TIPS FOR RENTING THE PERFECT HOME IN KANSAS CITY


Thinking about renting a home in the Kansas City area? Renting a home is a great option when you’re not quite ready to buy a house, but need more space (and yard!) than an apartment can offer.

Here are a few tips for helping you find the right home lease in Kansas City.

First, choose the right neighborhood.

Kansas City is a town rich with many different neighborhoods, on both the Kansas and Missouri side of the state line—all with their own unique personalities and flavors. Whether you want a quiet suburban home near green space (like Lee’s Summit, Grain Valley, or Olathe), or a funky older-brick townhome near eclectic eateries (like Brookside and Waldo), or a busy downtown loft with plenty of nightlife (like downtown Kansas City or Westport)—the options are endless. (And if you’re new to the area, ask a home lease agent to give you a tour.)

Start your search online.

Once you’ve identified the right neighborhood, check out homes in that area online. There are hundreds of homes available for rent right now in the Kansas City metro area—in both Kansas and Missouri. Start by looking at our up-to-the-minute list of lease homes available.

Visit the homes in person.

But don’t just look at the online pictures. Schedule an “in-person” visit of your favorite 2-3 homes before making a decision. If you’re busy, a home leasing agent can also help you coordinate this.

Before you sign, make sure all of your lease expenses will fit in your budget.

Remember, you’re not just paying a monthly lease—you’ll also be paying for monthly utilities, a security deposit, and renter’s insurance (to cover your belongings). In some cases, you may also be paying the homeowner’s association fee, depending on the neighborhood.

Understand the terms of the lease.

Before signing any lease, make sure you understand the terms of the lease, the monthly fee, the security deposit, and pet policies. Also be sure to understand who is responsible for handling any home repairs and yard maintenance (like mowing the grass and shoveling the driveway), as well as what happens if you need to break the lease early.

Get help from a professional home leasing agent.

A home leasing agent can educate you on the different neighborhoods available here in Kansas City, and help schedule your home tours—especially if you’re relocating here from out of town. They can also reassure you that the leasing agreement is “legit,” and that you are getting the best terms possible.

Looking for the perfect rental home in Kansas City? Talk to aReeceNichols home leasing agent today, or visit our list of homes for lease.