Do I Need A Public Adjuster?

pubadjusterbannerAn oft-misunderstood role in the home industry is that of the Public Adjuster.  I recently sat down with one of the top Public Adjusters in the State, Floyd Ostrowsky of Reliant Adjusters Group, to get a better idea of what their profession does and how a homeowner might benefit from working with one.

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Nicola Riettie of Florida Luxury Real Estate Group and Floyd Ostrowsky of Reliant Adjusters Group discuss the role of a Public Adjuster.

1. What is a public adjuster? The simplest answer would be an advocate for the people! A trained and state licensed professional hired by a homeowner and or business owner to represent them in the event of property damage. 

2. Why would a homeowner need a public adjuster? When a homeowner has an insurance claim they are best served having someone who truly knows what they’re entitled to for repairing their home and other expenses. The Insurance companies have their people defending their interests, so it only makes sense that a homeowner does as well. A wise man once told me “You know what you know and you don’t know what you don’t know!” That said, having someone who knows how to manage the claim makes a substantial difference in the homeowner’s financial recovery.   

3. How is a public adjuster different from a staff or independent adjuster? Great question! Both staff adjusters and independent adjusters work for the Insurance company whereas a public adjuster is hired by the insured to represent their interests.

4. When would a homeowner need a public adjuster? It is always best to consult with a public adjuster whenever a homeowner has suffered a property loss. We can review the policy, uncover what is covered and suggest a next best step. 

5. In what circumstances? Public adjusters work specifically on property damage claims so we can assist with all claims arising, from the most common being water damage up to and including a full scale natural disaster such as a hurricane and everything in between, be it flood, mold, lightning strike, fire, smoke, structural, sinkhole, theft and vandalism. Basically if it causes damage to your home it is in the homeowner’s best interest to have a Public Adjuster give it a look.

6. How does a public adjuster get compensated for their services? Another great question, public adjusters work on a contingency basis. Basically we only get paid once the homeowner or business owner receives payment from their insurance company. If they do not receive payment, neither do we – so there is no risk.     

7. When is the right/best time after a disaster for them to contact a public adjuster?  Of course, first things first – take care of your family and mitigate your loss.  Then, in my opinion, it is always best to engage a public adjuster right away. Being engaged from the beginning helps keep the process running smoothly. A good public adjuster can basically start the claim for the homeowner and manage it through completion. That’s not to say it is too late to engage a public adjuster once you’ve started a claim or even if a claim has been denied. Lastly a public adjuster can even reopen a claim up for to five years, if there is relevant reason to do so.

8. How do you find/select the right public adjuster? First, always make sure they are licensed and bonded.  After that, there is nothing better than a referral.  If you know someone who was satisfied with how their claim was managed that would be a good indication or ask for references. At Reliant we are always happy to supply references.  It serves two purposes – it gives new clients confidence and maintains top of mind awareness of those we have worked for in the past. The greater majority of our business is word of mouth – when you are doing the right thing word gets around quickly. 

9. What sets Reliant Public Adjusters apart from its competitors? At Reliant, we pride ourselves on customer service and great communication. Keeping homeowners and business owners in the loop on the status of their claims is a priority. Added to that, we are a team of experienced professionals, each with our own unique backgrounds, myself having 30+ years of negotiation in business experience and my associates, one with a wealth of construction experience and the other formally an independent adjuster working for the insurance companies. As a team we have the knowledge and experience to deal with whatever possibly comes our way.    

Wow, this was amazing information!  We would like to thank Floyd for making the time to BC Frontsit with us to explain his profession so clearly.  You can contact Floyd Ostrowsky of Reliant Public Adjusters at 954.805.3602.

 

Moving Day…

moving1Moving can be one of the most stressful things anyone can go through and many of us say at the end of each move – “That’s it!  This is the last time ever!!!”  Hmmmm… Famous last words.

Moving-cities-for-a-new-jobThe truth is, the average family in Florida will move every 10-12 years.  We move for many reasons, lifestyle change being primary.  Whether our family is growing and, as such, outgrowing our home, shrinking, with kids moving away to college or getting married, or we are simply upgrading – we have more than enough cause to move a few times in our lifetime.

Recently, I sat down with our favorite Relocation Specialist, Mary Ann Colton of Armstrong Relocation, to get her top insider tips for making the moving process easier.  Here are her top 12:

  • Donate or sell items you don’t plan to move
  • Remember to send change of address notifications
  • Packing yourself can save some $$
  • If you have children, include them in the planning
  • Discard items that will be dangerous to move, like flammables or fireworks
  • Pick up items you may have at cleaners, repair shop, etc., ahead of time…
  • Schedule your move as far out as possible to ensure capacity
  • Plan to take irreplaceable items with you personally
  • Empty your refrigerator and make sure it is defrosted and dry by moving day
  • Separate any items you do not want movers to pack/move
  • Tour your home with the driver to make sure all items are loaded
  • Use up existing food and supplies you have and try not to buy more till after the move

Our personal favorite tip for stress-free moving is HIRE A GOOD MOVING COMPANY – probably the most important thing you can do to enable you to have a streamlined move moving2and start the process of getting settled into your new space.  Get a referral from a friend or neighbor, try a reputable referral website like Angie’s List (but always check with the Better Business Bureau first) or do some solid research online.  An experienced moving company will definitely make moving day a lot easier.

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Mary Ann Colton Relocation Specialist

For more information on moving tips or if you would like to contact our Mover of Choice, Mary Ann Colton, to discuss or schedule a move, you can find her at Armstrong Relocation and Companies.  They are conveniently located in Pompano Beach, FL, making them the ideal mover for your Parkland, FL move.  They also offer commercial, national and global relocation services, so wherever you may be going, Mary Ann and her team at Armstrong Relocation are the best movers for you!!!   Call her at  (954) 956-0059 or email her at mcolton@goarmstrong.com.

Properly Pricing Your Home

Properly Pricing Your Home or Condo in Parkland or Coral Springs…

homepricing1Real Estate Pricing Mistake #1 – Not enough research.  Researching a listing price for your home should include thorough market research; active listings, current absorption rate, three to five recent closed sale comparable properties, which have sold in the prior six months or less.

Real Estate Pricing Mistake #2 – Simply hiring the real estate agent who suggests the highest list price for your home.  It’s called buying a listing with real estate insiders.  What does it cost for you to own that property for six months?  While an unqualified real estate agent or an agent who just wants a listing takes it at a premium price you will be spinning your wheels.  If it’s a six month listing you may as well put six months of carrying costs in a pile and set it ablaze.

Real Estate Pricing Mistake #3 – Thinking with the heart and not the head.  Everyone loves their home and selling real estate can be very emotional.  Try to stay grounded and not get swept up in emotion.

Real Estate Pricing Mistake #4 – Over pricing real estate from the start.  It’s like starting off on a walk with a sprained ankle. It’s not going to go well and just cause more pain and suffering down the road.

Real Estate Pricing Mistake #5 – Overpricing real estate “to test the market”. The real estate market was already tested … by the three to five closed sales comparable properties you should have used to determine the listing price.  They provided the next seller FREE market research, so use it.

Real Estate Pricing Mistake #6 – Small price reductions downward, chasing the real estate market.  The only person you’re fooling is yourself. Buyers are savvy and they’ve looked at every home in your price range. On top of that, they have access to the internet, free property valuation services and probably a real estate agent who will tell them about every price reduction, previous listing and days on market.

Real Estate Pricing Mistake #7 – Not understanding the current condition of finance and factors that influencewhether the property will be able to be financed.  FHA Loan Limits, Condo Questionnaire  If the real estate you are trying to sell does not qualify for financing it could severely effect the final sale price as the real estate will be limited to cash buyers only.

Real Estate Pricing Mistake #8 – Not getting a comparable market analysis.  If there are no showings or no offers, something is wrong with the price, location or condition.  Since real estate can’t be moved to improve location only the condition and price will be able to be altered – proceed accordingly.

Real Estate Pricing Mistake #9 – Listing your home with a friend or relative because they “have a real estate license”.  For literally ten days in class and four hundred dollars anyone can have a real estate license.  There is a difference between being licensed and being a knowledgeable, experienced, productive real estate agent.

Real Estate Pricing Mistake #10 – Using an automated valuation internet based service like Zillow to price your home.  Talk to an experienced realtor who works your neighborhood and has a proven track record to get the ‘real’ comparable market value for your home.

If you’re interested in selling your Parkland/Coral Springs home or condo and would like an accurate market report for your real estate: Contact Nicola.

Parkland Market Update Third Quarter 2014

The Parkland Real Estate Market continued to sell at a steady pace during the third quarter of 2014.  Here is a quick look at the activity during that period.Screenshot 2014-10-21 15.03.01

There are currently 222 homes active/available on the market.  During the third quarter of 2014, 38 homes went pending/under contract and 55 homes actually closed.

 

 

Further analysis shows that our ‘sweet spot’ remains in that $500,000.00 – $750,000.00 price range with an average of 4Plus Bedrooms – a true testament to our quality of life barometer and school district.  Of the 222 homes available for sale, only 76 homes are within this price range, which means we have approximately 2 months of inventory in our best-seller category.

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Homes that are priced correctly continue to sell faster and at a higher value than ones that Screenshot 2014-10-21 15.06.37 (1)were priced ambitiously to start.  We all want wiggle-room for offers to be negotiated, but statistics continue to show that pricing right is more effective every time for a goal of selling quickly and at a higher price point, especially as we compete with new construction sales, so this is important to keep in mind.

 

 

Home Inspections – What Every Seller Needs to Know.

Home Inspections – What is Considered a Defect?home_inspection_house

There is almost nothing as challenging as attending a home inspection on a beautiful, seemingly perfect home only to learn that a home inspector has discovered a larger issue which requires significant, costly repairs. Buyers can become apprehensive, sellers can become defensive and the entire transaction can teeter on the brink of collapse.

Several of the home inspections I’ve attended have had a few major items which would be considered surprises by most standards. Combine a surprise with the usual list of other “handy man” issues found in discovery and a home seller can become a bit defensive. The emotions kick in and occasionally a statement along the lines of “now they’re just nitpicking” comes into play.

What I can share about all of the years I’ve been selling real estate is that I’ve never once met a buyer who contacted a home inspector and told them to manufacture a long list of nitpicky-type issues just to upset the seller or to create a reason to get out of the contract.

During a home inspection what is or is not considered a defect? Very often, consumers are confused about what is considered a defect, a broken item, something that needs repaired by the seller prior to closing. There rarely is a gray area. The contract that both the buyer and seller executed likely delineates what is actually considered a defect and the course of action to remedy those items.  Essentially, things that are meant to function must, in fact, function as they were intended.

The home inspector has been hired to do one thing, thoroughly assess the entire home for a buyer so that they completely understand the condition of the home that they’re buying. Every single item, big or small, not working in the capacity for which it was designed will be itemized on the list. Very often, even cosmetic items are, at the very least, noted on the list just so the buyer understands that there are cracked tiles or stains or whatever the anomaly may be.

So, to help avoid any surprises and added stress down the road here are a few tips for home sellers to get through the inspection period and to the closing table:

  • Prior to signing the sales contract a seller should fully understand their financial and contractual responsibility for remedying defects discovered in an inspection.
  • When in doubt, disclose. It doesn’t matter how long ago it happened be it a fire, flood, a roof leak – disclose everything.
  • Home inspections may have changed since you last purchased or sold a home. Inspectors now use specialized equipment such as thermal imaging and air quality testing to find nearly invisible defects such as faulty wiring, moisture intrusion and mold.
  • Whatever the defect is, it doesn’t matter “if it was like that when you bought it”. It will be a defect on an inspection report.
  • Love the one you’re with. Warts and all, do your best to work out the transaction at hand. If the buyer walks, the items from the home inspection report may have to be disclosed to the next buyer. The inevitable repair is only going to be delayed and potentially interfere with the next transaction and may even result in a lower selling price down the road.
  • Don’t get upset about a lengthy list of repairs. The home inspector is doing their job and the buyer is getting what they pay for, a thorough inspection.

Do I Really Need A Real Estate Agent?

hirearealtorWith so much information readily available online, clients sometimes ask me, “Why should we hire a real estate agent?” They wonder, and rightfully so, if they couldn’t buy or sell a home through the Internet or through regular marketing and advertising channels without representation, without a a real estate agent. Some do OK, many don’t. So if you’ve wondered the same thing, here are 10 reasons why you might want to consider hiring a professional real estate agent.

1. Education & Experience

You don’t need to know everything about buying and selling real estate if you hire a real a361347e6fde8830b5469cf0a8c09e9festate professional who does. Henry Ford once said that when you hire people who are smarter than you are, it proves you are smarter than they are. The trick is to find the right person. Why not hire a person with more education and experience than you? We’re all looking for more precious time in our lives, and hiring pros gives us that time.

2. Agents are Buffers

Agents take the spam out of your property showings and visits. If you’re a buyer of new homes, for example, your agent will whip out her sword and keep the builder’s agents at bay, preventing them from biting or nipping at your heels and will work to protect your interests. If you’re a seller, your agent will filter all those phone calls that lead to nowhere from lookie loos and try to induce serious buyers to immediately write an offer.

3. Neighborhood Knowledge

Neighborhood Expert [QuotePix.com]Agents either possess intimate knowledge or they know where to find the industry buzz about your neighborhood. They can identify comparable sales and hand these facts to you, in addition to pointing you in the direction where you can find more data on schools, crime or demographics. For example, you may know that a home down the street was on the market for $550,000, but an agent will know it had upgrades and sold at $485,000 after 65 days on the market and after twice falling out of escrow.

4. Price Guidance

Contrary to what some people believe, agents do not select prices for sellers or buyers. However, an agent will help to guide clients to make the right choices for themselves. If a listing is at 6%, for example, an agent has a 6% vested interest in the sale, but the client has a 94% interest. Selling agents will ask buyers to weigh all the data supplied to them and to choose a price. Then based on market supply, demand and the conditions, the agent will devise a negotiation strategy.

5. Market Conditions Information

Wesley-Chapel-Real-Estate-Market-ReportReal estate agents can disclose market conditions, which will govern your selling or buying process. Many factors determine how you will proceed. Data such as the average per square foot cost of similar homes, median and average sales prices, average days on market and ratios of list-to-sold prices, among other criteria, will have a huge bearing on what you ultimately decide to do.

6. Professional Networking

Real estate agents network with other professionals, many of whom provide services that you will need to buy or sell. Due to legal liability, many agents will hesitate to recommend a certain individual or company over another, but they do know which vendors have a reputation for efficiency, competency and competitive pricing. Agents can, however, give you a list of references with whom they have worked and provide background information to help you make a wise selection.

7. Negotiation Skills & Confidentiality

Top producing agents negotiate well because, unlike most buyers and sellers, they can remove themselves from the emotional aspects of the transaction and because they are skilled. It’s part of their job description. Good agents are not messengers, delivering buyer’s offers to sellers and vice versa. They are professionals who are trained to present their client’s case in the best light and agree to hold client information confidential from competing interests.

8. Handling Volumes of Paperwork

ar118849829680116Today’s Sales Contracts run 10 pages or more. That does not include the federal- and state-mandated disclosures nor disclosures dictated by local custom. Most real estate files average thicknesses from one to three inches of paper. One tiny mistake or omission could land you in court or cost you thousands.

9. Answer Questions After Closing

Even the smoothest transactions that close without complications can come back to haunt. For example, taxing authorities that collect property tax assessments, doc stamps or transfer tax can fall months behind and mix up invoices, but one call to your agent can straighten out the confusion. Many questions can pop up that were overlooked in the excitement of closing. Good agents stand by ready to assist. Worthy and honest agents don’t leave you in the dust to fend for yourself.

10. Develop Relationships for Future Business

The basis for an agent’s success and continued career in real estate is referrals. Few agents would survive if their livelihood was dependent on consistently drumming up new business. This emphasis gives agents strong incentives to make certain clients are happy and satisfied. It also means that an agent who stays in the business will be there for you when you need to hire an agent again. Many will periodically mail market updates to you to keep you informed and to stay in touch.

realestateagentA good realtor will take the guesswork out of the process – a great realtor will put together the pieces of the puzzle to make the entire transaction work for you and your family’s needs!

Parkland Real Estate Activity June 2014

parkland2As Summer heats up in Parkland, so does the local real estate market.  A quick look at the market activity for June shows once again that homes that are priced properly SELL.  Here is a quick synopsis of what has been happening in Parkland’s real estate market in June 2014.

Currently there are 129 homes on the market for sale.  Of these, 8 are short sales and one is an REO (Real Estate Owned or Corporate Owned property).  This shows a marked decrease in short sales and foreclosures in the Parkland area.

F1279985_101_12One home sold so far in June.  It was on the market for 90 days before going to contract and closed as an all cash sale at approximately $160.00 per square foot of living space.

There are currently 15 homes pending sale throughout Parkland.  Of this number, one is a Short Sale and two of them are REO’s.

If you would like to know the comparable market value of your home, we would be happy to provide you with a complimentary assessment.  Feel free to give us a call at 954.708.6841 to schedule an appointment, no strings attached.

10 Inside Tips From a Designer Who Specializes in Small Baths

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A New York City designer shares secrets to making a small bath both functional and beautiful.

 

Got a small bathroom to renovate? Go wild with texture and colors if it’s a rarely used guest bath, but stick to clean and simple in a master bath.

That’s the word from designer Jamie Gibbs, who transforms incredibly small New York City bathrooms into beautiful spaces. “I liked being shocked by details in a little space, especially if it’s not going to be used much,” Gibbs says.

His small-bath secrets:

1. Avoid textures in bathrooms that get daily use. In a heavily used bathroom, kohler-boucle-textured-color-lavatory-camberanything with texture becomes a collection spot for mold, mildew, and toothpaste. Say no to carved vessel sinks or floor tile with indentations.

2. Be careful with no-enclosure showers with drains right in the floor. These Euro showers allow for a feeling of openness, but the average American contractor doesn’t know how to waterproof the floor for them, Gibbs says. The tile seals can be compromised if not installed correctly, causing the materials to decompose, and water to leak underneath.

3. Use opaque windows and skylights to let light filter into all parts of the bath. A long skinny window with frosted glass means you don’t have to burn high-wattage light bulbs. Make sure water condensation will roll off the window into an appropriate place (i.e. not the framing or the wall) to avoid future maintenance issues.

4. Look for fixtures that have a single handle rather than separate hot and cold taps. “Space-saving gearshift faucets are a very good choice in small bathrooms,” says Gibbs. You’ll also save money by not having to drill holes in the countertop for the hot and cold taps.

5. Save space with wall-mounted toilets and bidets, but be aware that the water bathroom-design-ideas-for-teenage-girls-28tank goes into the wall. That’s fine if space is such a premium that you won’t mind going into the wall to make any repairs. But if you share a wall with a neighbor, that’s a different issue.

6. Use a wall-mount faucet to make a reduced-depth vanity work in a small space. “I can get away with a 22” vanity instead of a 24” vanity with a wall mount faucet,” Gibbs says.

7. Check the space between the handles and the faucet of any space-saving fixtures. “If you can only get a toothbrush in it to clean, you’ll save space, but it’s functionally stupid,” Gibbs says. Make sure the sink is functional, too. If you’re using a vessel sink, make sure it’s large enough and not too high. “If it’s too high, you’ll knock it so many times that the fittings will come loose,” Gibbs says.

8. A pedestal sink is all form and no function. “It’s a great-looking sink, but there’s no place to [set] anything,” Gibbs says.

9. Wall-mounted vanities seem like they’re space savers, but they create dead space between the vanity and the floor — a space that often accumulates junk and never gets cleaned.

10. If you’re comfortable with it, go European and put up a glass walls between the bathroom and bedroom to create the illusion of space. Or put bathroom fixtures in the bedroom just outside the bath.

Article Written By: Dona DeZube of HouseLogic

Keep Your Home Sale from Falling Apart

After finding a buyer, all you have to do to make it to closing is to avoid these five traps.

Mistake #1: Ignore contingencies

If your contract requires you to do something before the sale, do it. If the buyers make the sale contingent on certain repairs, don’t do cheap patch-jobs and expect the buyers not to notice the fixes weren’t done properly.

Mistake #2: Don’t bother to fix things that break

The last thing any seller needs is for the buyers to notice on the pre-closing walk-through that the home isn’t in the same condition as when they made their offer. When things fall apart in a home about to be purchased, sellers must make the repairs. If the furnace fails, get a professional to fix it, and inform the buyers that the work was done. When you fail to maintain the home, the buyers may lose confidence in your integrity and the condition of the home and back out of the sale.

Mistake #3: Get lax about deadlines

Treat deadlines as sacrosanct. If you have three days to accept or reject the home inspection, make your decision within three days. If you’re selling, move out a few days early, so you can turn over the keys at closing.

Mistake #4: Refuse to negotiate any further

Once you’ve negotiated a price, it’s natural to calculate how much you’ll walk away with from the closing table. However, problems uncovered during inspections will have to be fixed. The appraisal may come in at a price below what the buyers offered to pay. Be prepared to negotiate with the buyers over these bottom-line-influencing issues.

Mistake #5: Hide liens from buyers

Did you neglect to mention that Uncle Sam has placed a tax lien on your home or you owe six months of homeowners association fees? The title search is going to turn up any liens filed on your house. To sell your house, you have to pay off the lien (or get the borrower to agree to pay it off). If you can do that with the sales proceeds, great. If not, the sale isn’t going to close.

Article written by G. M. Filisko for Houselogic.com