• Florida has 231 programs that help low-income buyers

    ATLANTA, Ga., Feb. 19, 2016 – Atlanta-based Down Payment Resource, a databank for homebuyer programs, released its fourth quarter 2015 Homeownership Program Index (HPI). According to the company, The U.S. has 2,406 homeownership programs available to help prospective homebuyers, and 84 percent currently have funds available – a one percent drop quarter-to-quarter. The numbers are even stronger in Florida, however. The state has 231 buyer-aid programs administered by 113 agencies. And while 13 programs are not currently funded, 94.4% have money available to help prospective homebuyers. The HPI found that 63 percent of buyer-help programs include a first-time homebuyer requirement, which they define as a buyer who has not owned a home in the past three years. In 15 percent of homeownership programs, specific incentives are available for community heroes, such as special benefits for veterans, educators, protectors, firefighters, healthcare workers and disabled homebuyers. “Renter surveys reveal the lack of understanding among consumers about downpayments and current requirements,” says Rob Chrane, CEO of Down Payment Resource. “It’s important for prospective buyers to research their home loan and downpayment options.” One Florida agency, the Florida Housing Finance Corporation, acts as a state clearinghouse for many programs funded by government resources. However, specific programs and rules can vary by state, county and city. Types of programs Down payment and closing cost programs make up 70 percent. One common example: A second mortgage with a very-low or no interest rate, in which the payment may be deferred or forgiven incrementally for each year the buyer remains in the home. Mortgage Credit Certificates (MCC) make up 8 percent of programs. An MCC reduces the amount of federal income tax a homebuyer pays each year, and it’s good for the life of the loan. It’s a tax credit, not a deduction, so it directly reduces taxes owed, up to $2,000 annually. First mortgage loans make up 9 percent of programs. These home loans may feature below-market interest rates, lower or no mortgage insurance, or 100 percent financing. Issued by housing finance agencies, these loans can be even more affordable than other first mortgage products, and buyers may be able to layer them with other grants or downpayment programs. Additional programs make up 13 percent of programs. These may include employer assisted housing (EAH) programs offered by employers in certain markets and Individual Development Accounts that provide a matching downpayment savings program. Programs are often designed to meet the specific needs of a community.
  • Welcome Home: 700 Pinetree Road Winter Park, FL

  • Orlando Home Sales Increase 33%

    By ORRA Realtor News August 17, 2015: 7:48 PM ET Orlando’s summertime sales stampede continued through July, which saw closings of existing homes increase more than 33 percent, reports the Orlando Regional REALTOR® Association. In addition, the area’s median price experienced yet another rise in July, marking 48 consecutive months of year-to-year increases. The July 2015 median price is now 59.20 percent higher than in July 2011. The overall median price (all sales types and all home types combined) for the month of July 2015 is $183,875, a 7.56 percent increase compared to the $170,950 median price in July 2014. The median price is up 2.15 percent compared to the June 2015 median price of $180,000. The year-to-year median price of foreclosures increased 13.30 percent, while the median price for normal sales increased 1.25 percent and short sales decreased 22.25. The median price of single-family homes increased 5.26 percent when compared to July of last year, and the median price of condos increased 10.31 percent. Completed Sales Members of ORRA participated in the sale of 3,388 homes (all home types and all sale types combined) that closed in July 2015, an increase of 33.28 percent compared to July 2014 and a decrease of 5.97 percent compared to June 2015. According to ORRA President Sharon Voss, Watson Realty Corp., strong buyer demand is reflected in the inventory of available homes. “For the first time since July 2013, inventory experienced a year-over-year decline,” says Voss. “Both the overall and single-family inventory is down this month, by 2 and 4 percent respectively. Between great interest rates and prices that still haven’t reached their pre-bubble potential, Orlando’s housing market is very appealing to buyers and we need more sellers in order to keep up!” Traditional sales in Orlando increased by 51.48 percent when compared to July 2014. Closings of short sales decreased by 40.37 percent while closings of foreclosures increased 10.22 percent. Single-family home sales increased 33.73 percent in July 2015 compared to July 2014, while condo sales increased 20.26 percent. Homes of all types spent an average of 69 days on the market before coming under contract in July 2015, and the average home sold for 96.92 percent of its listing price. In July 2014 those numbers were 73 days and 96.63 percent, respectively. The average interest rate paid by Orlando homebuyers in July decreased to 3.98 percent, from the June 2015 rate of 4.08. This month last year, homebuyers paid an average interest rate of 4.17. Pending Sales Pending sales – those under contract and awaiting closing – are currently at 6,260. The number of pending sales in July 2015 is 7.51 percent lower than it was in July 2014 (6,768) and 9.29 percent lower than it was in June 2015 (6,901). Normal properties made up 56.29 percent of pending sales in July 2015. Short sales accounted for 21.37 percent of pendings, while bank-owned properties accounted for 22.23 percent. Inventory The number of existing homes (all types combined) that were available for purchase in July is 2.27 percent below that of July 2014 and now rests at 11,819. Inventory decreased in number by 239 properties over last month. The inventory of single-family homes is down by 4.41 percent when compared to July of 2014, while condo inventory is up by 3.37 percent. The inventory of duplexes, townhomes, and villas is up by 8.75 percent. Current inventory combined with the current pace of sales created a 3.49-month supply of homes in Orlando for July. There was a 4.76-month supply in July 2014 and a 3.35-month supply last month. Affordability The July affordability index is 168.26 percent, a decrease from June’s index of 169.63. (An affordability index of 99 percent means that buyers earning the state-reported median income are 1 percent short of the income necessary to purchase a median-priced home. Conversely, an affordability index that is over 100 means that median-income earners make more than is necessary to qualify for a median-priced home.) Buyers who earn the reported median income of $56,582 can qualify to purchase one of 5,506 homes in Orange and Seminole counties currently listed in the local multiple listing service for $309,386 or less. First-time homebuyer affordability in July decreased to 119.65 percent from last month’s 120.63 percent. First-time buyers who earn the reported median income of $38,476 can qualify to purchase one of the 2,947 homes in Orange and Seminole counties currently listed in the local multiple listing service for $187,006 or less. Condos and Town Homes/Duplexes/Villas The sales of condos in the Orlando area were up 20.26 percent in July, with 374 sales recorded in July 2015 compared to 311 in July 2014. Orlando homebuyers purchased 310 duplexes, town homes, and villas in July 2015, which is 48.33 percent more than in July 2014. MSA Numbers Sales of existing homes within the entire Orlando MSA (Lake, Orange, Osceola, and Seminole counties) in July were up by 16.16 percent when compared to July of 2014. Year to date, sales are up 19.26 percent in the MSA. *Each individual county’s monthly sales comparisons are as follows: • Lake: 24.26 percent above July 2014; • Orange: 11.39 percent above July 2014; • Osceola: 14.72 percent above July 2014; and • Seminole: 23.11 percent above July 2014. This representation is based in whole or in part on data supplied by the Orlando Regional REALTOR® Association and the My Florida Regional Multiple Listing Service
  • 46% of homeowners expect equity gains in 2016

    IRVINE, Calif. – Feb. 22, 2016 – Nearly half (46 percent) of all U.S. homeowners with a mortgage expect their equity to increase in 2016, even though three out of five report equity in their homes has already increased during the last three years of the housing recovery, according to research conducted for loanDepot. Of those who expect their equity to change this year, 85 percent think it will rise as much as 10 percent: 27 percent say between 6 and 10 percent, and 58 percent foresee an equity bump between one and five percent. Industry-wide reports forecast 2016 annual price gains to range between 2.3 and 4.7 percent. Only 3 percent of homeowners expect their equity to fall in 2016, and 27 percent expect it to remain the same. More than 100 U.S. housing experts forecast home values will reach an average annual growth rate of 3.65 percent through the end of 2016. Today, more than 49 million homeowners –66 percent – hold a mortgage on their home. Equity boom: Perception vs. reality While 57 percent of owners believe their home’s value has appreciated in the past three years, the majority (80 percent) underestimate the amount their home has gained. Of those who believe their home’s value has increased since 2013, one in four (27 percent) believes it increased between one and five percent. The Case Shiller 20-city index shows prices rose twice that much, in fact 10 percent from Nov 2013 to Nov 2015. “Homeowners who bought during the housing boom are regaining equity many thought was lost forever, yet too many are not aware of the equity they have gained, or they are unclear about how to determine changes in their equity,” says Bryan Sullivan, chief financial officer of loanDepot, LLC. Timimg is everything: The 2001-2006 housing boom and subsequent 2007-2009 bust were watershed events that changed the way millions of homeowners think about equity. Homeowners who bought before and during the boom – and watched their equity wash away from 2007 to 2009 – have very different views on equity compared to those who bought when prices were lower, post 2009. • 64% of buyers who purchased after 2009 believe their home has gained value since 2013 compared to 58 percent of pre-2009 owners • 50% of buyers who purchased after 2009 expect to gain more equity this year compared to 43 percent of pre-2009 buyers. Newer buyers may be more bullish on equity gains because they did not experience drastic losses of equity like their pre-2009 counterparts • More pre-2009 owners (65%) believe they have adequate equity now to take out a home equity loan compared to just over half (52%) of post-2009 buyers • Post-2009 owners are more conservative on using their equity. A majority of owners from both periods say they have always been conservative about accessing their equity, but post-2009 buyers are more so by a margin of 62 to 55 percent. How much is enough? Three out of five homeowners (59 percent) say they now have enough equity to take out a home equity loan, while 16 percent don’t know how much equity they would need to qualify for a loan. Another nine percent don’t know how to calculate the equity in their home. Only 16 percent of all owners with a mortgage –19 percent of post-2009 owners – say they do not yet have enough equity to take out a home equity loan. Home remodeling (39 percent), consolidating high interest rate debt or credit cards (29 percent), and saving for retirement (18 percent) top the list of ways owners would use funds from a home equity loan. The Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies projects annual spending growth for home improvements will accelerate from 4.3 percent in the first quarter of 2016 to 7.6 percent in the third quarter. Equity conservatives When it comes to equity, all homeowners tend to be conservative, knowing equity can help them weather downturn economic cycles. While 58 percent said they’ve always been conservative about using their home equity, 14 percent said the housing crisis has made them even more conservative about. At the same time, 19 percent said they have no concerns about accessing their equity as long as they stay current on their mortgage, and 5.7 percent don’t believe keeping a high level of equity in their homes would protect them from another housing crash, and three percent say they waited a long time to get cash back from their homes.
  • 7 New Year’s Resolutions For Homeowners

    The Estates Home Sales Team, January 20, 2016
    1. Start making extra mortgage payments
    It’s the financial reality you hate to face: the amount of money you actually end up paying for your house over the length of a 30-year mortgage. So what do the interest savings look like if you make one extra mortgage payment over a 12-month span? In short, pretty good — if you keep it up for the duration of your loan, you’re likely to save tens of thousands of dollars. It’s especially worth considering in the first five years of a mortgage, when the majority of your monthly installment goes to interest payments rather than the principal. The only thing to keep in mind is that once you start making the extra payment, that extra money is locked up in your home equity (and not sitting in your bank account as an emergency fund).
    1. Get new homeowners’ insurance quotes
    You probably don’t think about this too often because your insurance automatically renews every year. But as it happens, you may now be eligible for some discounts that weren’t available when you first applied — and your existing insurance company isn’t obligated to check in every year and see if you now qualify. Call your agent and see if you can knock down your yearly installment; if they won’t budge, then start shopping around for a better rate.
    1. Have your home reassessed for tax purposes
    Did you know that your house gets reassessed by your county only every few years? Which means your assessed property value might be higher than your current market value, which means you might be paying too much in taxes and not even know it. In most states, you can simply go online and request a reassessment for free. A note of caution: Be wary of outside companies offering to get your home reassessed for you for a small fee — it could be a scam.
    1. Get an energy assessment
    Yep, those gas and electric bills can get out of control in the winter months, but they don’t always have to be static. Some states have nonprofits that will come to your home and offer an energy assessment free of charge, but otherwise you can hire a professional energy auditor. That person will then make a series of suggestions both small (LED light bulbs) and large (solar panels) so that you can stretch your energy dollar. Even tiny lifestyle changes, such as unplugging unused devices or programming your thermostat on a schedule, can make a difference.
    1. Plant a vegetable garden
     You have some time with this, given that it’s only January, but then again, there’s no time like the present to start strategizing a kitchen garden. Growing your own food saves money and, in its own way, helps the environment too. It also benefits your health, as you’re more apt to eat fruits and vegetables that you’ve cultivated yourself. And of course, as head farmer, you get to decide what pesticides and fertilizers you (don’t) use. Start small, only growing veggies and herbs you love to eat, and if you lack backyard space, start garnering inspiration from blogs featuring rooftop, fire escape, and flower box farmers.
    1. Start composting
    If you’re anything like us, this has been on your to-do list for years. But somehow it just feels too time-consuming or messy, especially if you live in the city. Keep it simple and buy a composting kit that walks you through the steps. If you don’t have an actual use for your own compost, there are small outfits around the country that will pick it up for a minimal fee; some cities even include compost pickup in their trash services.
    1. Buy a rain barrel
    So simple, yet so valuable. Just a few benefits of collecting rainwater and repurposing it later: It cuts down on your water bill, it lessens the moisture around your home’s foundation, it’s healthier for your plants and garden, and it helps reduce runoff pollution (and hopefully inspires your neighbors to do the same). Rainwater is also great for washing your dog and car, as it’s free of salt and other chemicals. (Poor dog! Poor car!) If you’re in a drought district, the benefits of a rain barrel are obvious. And remember that composting you just started? Adding rainwater to your brand-new pile is a far more sustainable practice than mixing it with tap water. Just be sure to check local laws: some communities have rules against collecting rainwater.  
  • Good news: Homeowners spend like it’s 2006

    By Matt Eagan @CNNMoney August 18, 2015: 4:06 PM ET U.S. housing is finally lifting itself off the mat. The latest evidence came from Home Depot (HD). The world’s largest home improvement retailer on Tuesday revealed it experienced a record number of transactions in the last three months. On average, shoppers spent more than at any point since 2006 and sales at stores open for a year or more jumped 6%. All of that suggests Americans are ramping up spending on efforts to spruce up newly-purchased homes or ones they’d like to sell. While housing might not be back to pre-crisis levels, it’s certainly looking a lot healthier. “We continue to see positive signs in the housing market,” Carol Tome, Home Depot’s chief financial officer, told analysts during a conference call. Home Depot is confident enough to upgrade its outlook for the rest of 2015. Investors loved the news, driving Home Depot stock up 3% to all-time highs. It’s up 47% over the past year. Related: The median home price here is $980,000 More people bought goods that cost $900 or more: Home Depot said housing turnover and household formation — two critical metrics — are now running ahead of where the company anticipated. Home prices also continue to increase moderately. “When consumers believe their home is an investment, not an expense, they spend differently. We are seeing that,” Tome said. Americans increased spending on appliances, tools, plumbing, décor, lighting, kitchen and bath hardware and flooring. Another positive sign: The amount of Home Depot transactions exceeding $900 rose 6% last quarter. Home Depot also said sales momentum built during the summer, going from 3.5% growth in May to 8% in July. More new homes are being built: Home Depot isn’t the only one that’s optimistic. So are home builders. Construction on new single-family homes soared nearly 13% in July from June to the best level since December 2007, the beginning of the Great Recession, according to a new government report released Tuesday. A measure of confidence from the National Association of Home Builders climbed to the best level in August in nearly a decade. “Housing is indeed picking up after a very slow start to this recovery,” said Bob Baur, chief global economist at Principal Global Investors.” Wall Street seems to be recognizing this. Shares of Home Depot rival Lowe’s (LOW) rallied 1% on Tuesday. Home builders like KB Home (KBH), PulteGroup (PHM), Lennar (LEN) and Hovnanian (HOV) enjoyed even stronger rallies. Are Millennials starting to jump in? The financial crisis changed the psychology for potential homebuyers. Countless Americans either lost their homes or witnessed their friends and neighbors lose theirs. “They really got chastened on how much debt they should have. But some of that caution is beginning to diminish a little bit,” Baur said. One of the best signs of improvement has a stronger jobs market, which has led to household formation — young people starting to move to their own homes and buying furniture, appliances or other goods. “Kids stayed in their parents’ home and others moved back into their parents’ houses. We’re beginning to see that trend turn around. Millennials are starting to come back into the housing market,” Baur said.
  • The 19 Documents Required To Buy (Or Sell) A Home

    February 10, 2016 by The Estates Home Sales and Rentals Real estate paperwork can be overwhelming. Simply put, buying or selling a home buries you in printed materials. Some of them are obvious (W2s, bank statements), and some of them are surprising (what’s a termite letter anyway?). The key is to start collecting them now — before the time crunch begins. Below are 19 must-have documents that both buyers and sellers will need in hand during the purchase process on that home for sale in Fort Lauderdale, FL. Note: These are just the most commonly needed documents. Some states require specific certification letters like confirmation of hurricane-grade windows, and in some situations, such as when you’re selling to a buyer who’s getting a VA loan, you may have to provide additional certifications to secure loan approval. Always, always talk to your real estate agent about the unknowns. 1.W2s and 1099s This one is obvious, but you’ll want hard-copy proof of your earnings for the previous two tax years. When in doubt, just scan your whole tax return; some mortgage lenders prefer to have your entire return anyway. 2.Recent paychecks Most of the time, your last two pay stubs will suffice, but some banks might ask for up to two years’ worth of payment records. If you receive payments via direct deposit, printable versions of your paycheck might take some legwork to track down, so it’s best to get on top of this one early. 3.Gift letter Are you getting an early inheritance from your parents to help cover your down payment? They’ll need to write a gift letter making clear that the money is indeed a gift and not a loan. The letter should be addressed to the mortgage company and include, among other elements, the dollar amount, the address of the property you hope to purchase, and the date the funds were transferred. 4.Proof of any debts Credit card statements, student loan statements, car loan statements, child support agreements … you need records of them all. Honesty is key here; “forgetting” to include debts can put your loan approval and closing in jeopardy. 5.Bank statements As a buyer, you’ll need to offer bank statements as part of your lender’s due diligence procedures. They’ll look to confirm that your money is “seasoned” (essentially confirming that any financial transfers were completed legally) as a requirement of the USA Patriot Act. 6.Records of additional assets This one is less traumatizing. You’ll need to gather proof of any other assets, such as mutual fund statements and documents relating to any other real estate or property you own. 7.Copy of your driver’s license You’ll actually need this twice: once during the initial mortgage application process and once at closing. The seller also needs to bring a copy to the closing. 8.Copy of preapproval letter Once you start shopping around for a piece of real estate, you’ll want to prove your buying power. The preapproval letter details your loan type and amount you’ve been approved for, plus your interest rate. It’s like carrying around your buying résumé. 9.Purchase & sale (P&S) agreement The P&S is a legally binding contract, not merely a pinkie-swear promise. As such, you should have your real estate attorney carefully review its terms before you sign it, then be sure to keep it handy as you begin the next stage of the buying process. 10.Amendments It’s not unusual to tack on some hard-copy changes to the original P&S, most often involving either the purchase price or the repairs that the seller has agreed to make to the property. 11.Proof of insurance At closing, some lenders require proof of home insurance from the buyer, including hazard or flood insurance. Even after you secure the insurance itself, you’ll likely need printed copies of the policies. 12.Certification letters Two common examples? A termite letter (proof of a clean inspection) and a locate or decommission letter confirming the details of any buried oil tanks on the property. In either case, the responsibility to perform these inspections and provide the resulting certification letters is negotiable. Regardless of who pays, however, lenders frequently to require proof that necessary remediation or containment steps have been made before a sale will close. 13.Proof of payoffs Owe money to a plumber, contractor, or another bank for your home equity loan? At closing, a seller will need documentation proving that all debts have been settled. 14.Lead paint letter Was your home built before 1978? Then federal law requires you to disclose any lead paint hazards in the dwelling and to give any existing reports to a potential buyer. 15.Home warranty Home warranties aren’t required during all transactions, but sometimes a buyer will request that the seller provide a policy with a one-year guarantee that ensures the efficacy of the home’s systems and appliances. (Good deal for the new buyer!) 16.Condo docs Unloading a condo? At some point during the selling process, potential buyers will most likely want to peruse the rules of the condo association; if they’re savvy, they might also want to read the minutes of recent association meetings. 17.Property survey Property lines are often surprising; even if you’ve lived in a home for eons, you might be shocked to discover that a sliver of your driveway doesn’t technically belong to you. Before selling your place, you’ll want to pull up the survey document to assure the buyer that the presumed land is theirs. Lenders may also require that the buyer have a new survey done before the sale can close. 18.Property tax receipts Here’s another one that can easily slip through the cracks, but as a seller, you’ll also need receipts for any property taxes paid in the last couple of weeks. This is a potential point of concern for some home sales, as sometimes the full property tax payments have not been made for the year by the time of the sale — leaving the buyer and seller to negotiate the details of the remaining payments. Currently owed condo or HOA fees are also frequently negotiated in the same way. 19.Power of attorney It’s rare that a seller will physically show up at a closing, in which case they need printed proof they’ve turned all negotiating powers over to that attorney in the suit.
  • 10 Projects To Tackle Before Selling A House

    January 20, 2016, The Estates Home Sales Team Like all sellers, you want your house to appeal to a wide range of buyers who can afford your asking price. But to stand out in a crowded market, you need to make your home look as desirable as possible. Tried-and-true tactics such as painting and decluttering can go a long way toward achieving this goal — but these other simple home staging tips can up your home’s wow factor and lead to a quick sale. 1. Have all of your carpeting cleaned This is especially true if you have pets. (Eau de dog is not the odor you want wafting through your home as potential buyers walk through it.) If your carpeting is old and tired and you have hardwood flooring underneath, remove the carpet, says Erica Walther Schlaefer, an associate real estate broker at Keller Williams Realty in Rochester, NY. Chances are, buyers are going to want to know the condition of the floors anyway. 2. Give your moldings a makeover If your moldings are chipped or scuffed, give them a quick touch-up, recommends Schlaefer. Ditto any walls that have scuff marks or stains. 3. Do up your deck If you have outdoor living space such as a deck or patio, make it look as inviting as possible, says Schlaefer. Upgrade existing outdoor furniture by purchasing new cushions or pillows, give your grill a good cleaning, and add some potted plants or flowers. If it’s winter and you live in a cold climate, be sure to keep these areas shoveled to show them off. 4. Freshen up your front door Give it a coat of paint and replace your house numbers with a more modern font. If your mailbox has seen better days (or has been knocked over by a snowplow one too many times), buy a new one. Also, be sure your entryway looks tidy; don’t welcome potential buyers with clutter. That means no stray soccer cleats or sets of keys by the door. 5. Remove roof moss Moss may make buyers think your roof is old and will need to be replaced soon, says Schlaefer. If you have the nerve to get up on your roof, it’s simple to remove moss: just use a long-handled scrub brush to scour it loose, working down the roof to keep from lifting and breaking the shingles. Don’t use a pressure washer — the power of the spray could damage shingles. 6. Make sure your mechanics are in working order “Buyers want to feel as though a furnace or boiler is in good shape and has life left in it,” says Schlaefer. Have these items cleaned and inspected prior to putting your house up for sale. 7. Cut your closets in half No, not literally, but if you remove half the items in your closet and then neatly organize the remaining clothing, the closets will instantly appear larger — a big plus to buyers. 8. Update your outlets If your electrical outlets and switches are outdated and yellowed, replace them with a more modern version. Make sure to use the same style in each room for a uniform look. Replace your switch plates too if they’re looking a little dingy. 9. Replace your toilet seats It’s an inexpensive upgrade that goes a long way toward making your bathroom appear updated. Ditto a new shower curtain and a fresh coat of grout in the shower. 10. Perk up your pulls If your kitchen cabinets or drawers are on the older side but you don’t have the time or inclination to redo them, replace the knobs and pulls with a more modern or unique version. This is an inexpensive task, yet it can make a huge difference in your kitchen’s appeal.
  • Safety Upgrades That Save You Money on Renters Insurance

    By Shannon Ireland ( August 21, 2015

    When renting an apartment, townhouse, condo or home, you might not realize how vital it is to have renters insurance. Sure, your landlord has insurance, but that policy likely only covers the structure of the building. This means that if anything happens to your belongings inside your rented space, you’ll have to pay to replace everything on your own.

    Renters insurance is affordable and will protect your belongings from perils such as fire, wind or theft. It’s important to shop around for your renters insurance policy to ensure that you’re getting the best deal — and that doesn’t just mean the lowest price. You have to make sure you have the coverage you need, as well as a low price.

    It’s equally important to ask about discounts. Different providers offer varying discounts, but all offer price reductions for safety features. When you’ve taken steps to reduce the risk of a disaster occurring in your pad, you’re a safer bet for insurance companies.

    Two main types of safety features can help you earn these coveted discounts.

    Warm up to fire protection

    There were 1.24 million fires in 2013, resulting in $11.5 billion in property damage, according to the National Fire Protection Association. A home structure fire occurred every 85 seconds.

    To better protect your rental from fires and receive discounts, consider implementing the following additions to your home:

    • Smoke detectors. If your landlord hasn’t already installed smoke detectors, talk to him about doing so. Smoke detectors will not only alert you to a fire quicker, allowing you to put it out and minimize property damage, but they also alert everyone in the space to get to a safe exterior location, which reduces injuries, deaths and liability claims as a result.
    • Fire extinguishers. If you have a fire extinguisher that’s working like a well-oiled machine, you’ll be able to nip a fire in the bud and keep it from spreading to your other possessions.
    • Sprinkler system. A sprinkler system can be activated and put out a fire even when you’re not home.

    These safety features are small additions that can save you significantly, both in terms of protecting your valuables and lowering the price of your policies.

    If your rented space is already equipped with them, ask your insurance provider about discounts. If it isn’t, talk to your landlord about making the investment of installing such safety measures in your abode. Having those safety features could save her on her property insurance as well.

    Deter thieves

    The most recent statistics from the FBI reported nearly 2,159,878 burglaries, resulting in roughly $4.6 billion in property loss. A burglary doesn’t necessarily mean forced entry, but it’s best to take steps to protect yourself and your family from potential break-ins. The best ways to accomplish this are:

    • Deadbolts Deadbolts add an extra line of defense in the event that a burglar can pick the locks on your doors. Safe neighborhoods still have occurrences of crime, and if you live in an apartment complex, the high volume of foot traffic increases the chances of a break-in. Adding deadbolts to front, back, or side doors will make it easier for you and your insurance carrier to have peace of mind.
    • Security Systems. A security system can include a burglar alarm, video cameras and other forms of surveillance. Having around-the-clock security can alert tenants and authorities to harm, and prevent the loss of property. If this option interests you, just make sure to set it each time you leave your home — a security system can’t help you if it’s not turned on.
    • Choose a Safe Neighborhood. When looking for a place to live, call your local police station to find out which parts of town have the lowest crime rates. It’s simple — living in a safer part of town decreases the chances of your home being burglarized.

    Get the benefit

    Because all of these options make your home safer, insurance companies can provide discounts to acknowledge the efforts you’ve made.

    However, before investing in all of these safety measures for your rented home, talk to your landlord and insurance carrier. Check that you are able to add them, and that your premium will decrease before you spend the money to install a security system.

    Note: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or position of The Estates, LLC.