More Than a Yard: Finding the Right Home for Your Pooch

For many house hunters, a dream home isn’t complete without being a good fit for the family dog. Some might see the fenced in yard, and consider the box checked. However, if you are looking for your next home, you may want to look a little deeper to be sure the fit is right before signing on the dotted line.

It’s worth taking a little extra time to consider your pooch in a little more depth. Here is a quick checklist of considerations to be sure you find the right fit for your canine companion:

 

What’s in a Yard?

 

A fenced yard is, of course, ideal for many dog owners. It gives you the ability for off-leash play, a must for meeting the exercise needs of active breeds such as Border Collies or Labradors. But not all yards are the same. Here’s a quick checklist of what to look for:

  • Check the fencing to be sure it is secure. Factor in any repair costs into the cost of the home since they will need to be addressed right away.
  • Are there flower beds with potentially toxic plants that will need to be moved outside of the fenced area? Examples include many spring bulb favorites such as daffodils, tulips, and crocus, as well as some bushes such as azaleas.
  • Is there a nice shady spot so your pooch can find shelter from the heat on a hot summer day?
  • Is there access to water for an outdoor bath?
  • Will delivery people be able to access your main entrance when the dog is outside without entering the fenced part of your yard? It is easy to overlook, but this can become a major annoyance if you do a lot of online shopping.

 

Indoor Space Considerations

 

It won’t always be a beautiful sunny day, even in your dream home. Make sure your new home will have enough space for a little indoor play on rainy days and during colder winter months. A long hallway can make a great runway for a game of fetch when getting outside just isn’t practical.

Likewise, consider the needs of aging or injured dogs. Does the layout of the home require going up and down stairs to get to the most used areas of the home? This can be a major problem for some special needs dogs, and a deal breaker for some pet owners.

Finally, most dog trainers recommend that every dog has a little space to call their own during times of stress. This may be as simple as a corner of the living room with a comfy dog bed or crate. If you have a puppy, however, a space that can be puppy-proofed and cordoned off (with appropriate flooring for potential accidents during potty training) is in order.

 

Go for a Walk

 

It may be impractical to include a dog walk for every home you look at while searching for your dream house. However, once you are down to a short list, it is time to actually take your dog on what is likely to be the daily walk route. Make sure this is a walk you would feel comfortable making every day, or even letting the kids take.

Be on the lookout for hazards: A dangerous intersection, a portion of the walk that requires walking in the road, or a neighbor who lets their dog run right up to the curb with invisible fencing (a recipe for territorial fights with leashed dogs passing by). A drive through is unlikely to reveal these walk spoiling annoyances. In addition, look for evidence of good lighting for evening or early morning walks.

 

Nearby Canine Amenities

 

If you are moving to a new part of town or relocating to a new state altogether, it is worth doing some research to find out where the pet services are located. Depending on the services you tend to use, it can make a big difference in your quality of life to be able to take advantage of nearby conveniences.

Think about what services you are likely to use most, and check on Google Maps to locate:

  • Veterinarians
  • Dog boutiques (particularly important if you buy specialty food)
  • Grooming services
  • Doggy daycare and boarding
  • Pet sitting and dog walking services
  • Dog-friendly restaurants (BringFido.comis a great research tool for this)
  • Dog parks and dog-friendly paths for long walks

 

Flooring

 

Although luxurious hardwood flooring adds a great deal of ambiance to a home, it will have the opposite effect if it gets scratched up from the nails of a rambunctious canine. Large and even medium sized dogs can easily create unsightly scars in hardwood floors that can only be fixed by a professional who will need to sand away the wood then stain and refinish it. It’s a costly fix!

Modern carpets can generally hold up to doggy traffic. However, think about where you will be coming in and out of the house with your pooch to be sure you have a place to wipe muddy paws first on rainy days. A mudroom or garage entrance can easily stow a few extra towels for the job.

Tile and high-quality laminate flooring are the most durable as both will resist scratching and are easy to clean.

 

Consider Pet-Friendly Condos and Planned Communities

 

If you have a truly pampered pooch, one way to go the extra mile is to ask your realtor about dog-friendly communities in your area. Many condominium complexes, for example, have pet services right on site. Pet grooming, pet-sitting, dog walking services, and even a fenced in dog park and/or pool is available in some areas.

Work with a Knowledgeable Realtor

 

Make sure to let your agent know upfront that you have a canine member of your family to consider during the house hunt. If there are certain “musts” such as a fenced yard, or proximity to veterinary services, be sure to put that on the table upfront to help your realtor find a home that works for you and your furry friend.

 

Sharon is the lead author at wileypup.com. She received her M.S. in Science & Technology Studies from Virginia Tech and has worked as a professional dog trainer for over 10 years.

Posted on February 8, 2019 at 3:30 pm
John Taylor | Category: For Buyers, Living | Tagged , , ,

Challenges Builders Face With New Construction

Housing demand remains high across the Western United States, but home-building is still struggling to keep up. What can be done to help encourage construction of new homes? Windermere Real Estate’s Chief Economist Matthew Gardner has insight.​

 

Posted on September 21, 2018 at 3:30 pm
John Taylor | Category: Economy | Tagged , , ,

Relocating Your Home to Advance Your Career

 

Many of us dream of getting a better job. But when a promotion or new job opportunity comes with a request to relocate, the result can be very disruptive to your home life. There’s a lot to consider when making this kind of move, such as do you have a home to sell? Are you planning to rent or buy when you relocate? Is your employer covering some of the costs of your relocation? Should you hire a moving company or handle the move yourself? Following is an overview of some of the most important factors you should take into consideration when relocating.

 

Assessing the situation

The idea of moving to a new area and into a new job can be very exciting, but you’ll want to assess the situation carefully:

  • Do your best to make sure the job is a good fit, the boss is a good personality match (and plans to stay long-term), and that you’ll be comfortable in your new role for at least three years.
  • Meet with a human resources manager to make sure you understand all the details of the relocation package.
  • Thoroughly research your destination to ensure it’s a good fit for your entire family, and that there are other potential employers in the area in the event your new job doesn’t work out.
  • Use one of the online cost-of-living calculators to determine if there’s a significant difference between what you pay now (for rent/mortgage, utilities, groceries, gas, insurance, and more) and what you can expect to pay in the new location.
  • If your spouse works or is planning to enter the workforce, he or she should apply for jobs in the area to test the employment conditions.
  • Ask your real estate agent to perform a detailed market analysis to estimate the value of your current home.
  • If you live in an apartment, review your lease carefully to determine if you are facing any penalties for moving out.

 

Renting versus buying

Once you have made the decision to relocate it’s time to consider your housing options—not only where you live and what type of home you want to live in, but whether to rent or buy.

 

Financially speaking, it makes more sense to buy today than to rent in most markets. According to the latest research on the subject, it costs 15 percent less to own a home than to rent an apartment in the current economy. That said, renting may be a better option if:

  • You can’t decide where you want to live.
  • You don’t qualify for a home loan.
  • You need to keep your current home and can’t afford a second home.
  • You’re moving to an area where home prices are extremely high (e.g., New York City, San Francisco, Orange County).
  • You’re not yet certain whether you’ll want to stay long-term in the new location.

 

Moving your belongings

Fewer and fewer companies are offering to pay employee moving costs today, which means it may be up to you to arrange for one of the following options:

  • Hire out the entire process (the moving company does all the packing, loading, driving, and unloading). Expect to pay between $6,000 to $8,000, on average.
  • You pack all the boxes while the moving company does all the loading, driving and unloading. Expect to pay between $3,500 and $5,500, on average.
  • You rent a truck and do all the packing/unpacking and driving. Expect to pay between $2,000 and $3,000, on average.

 

Making the move easier

Relocating can be exhilarating, but also extremely stressful—especially if you have school-age children or teens. Here are four tips to make the process easier:

  • Get everyone in the family talking about their feelings and concerns. And make sure you’re doing as much listening as talking.
  • If you have children, include them in the planning and packing work to make them feel more involved. You may want to hold a going-away party for your children, to show that the move is worth celebrating.
  • If you have pets, ask your veterinarian, your moving company, and your airline (if you’ll be flying) to provide you with information, tips and any regulations.
  • To protect yourself from identity theft, only work with trustworthy moving companies; submit a change-of-address form to the post office about two weeks before your move; consider moving financial records and other personal files yourself.

 

Last year, the overwhelming majority of people (77 percent) who decided to move for work reported they were happy and had no regrets.

Posted on August 2, 2018 at 3:40 pm
John Taylor | Category: Living | Tagged , , ,

The Value of Homeowners Insurance Can’t Be Overstated

In addition to providing shelter and comfort, our home is often our single greatest asset. It’s important that we protect that precious investment. Most homeowners realize the importance of homeowners insurance in safeguarding the value of a home. However, what they may not know is that about two-thirds of all homeowners are under-insured. According to a national survey, the average homeowner has enough insurance to rebuild only about 80% of his or her house.

What a standard homeowners policy covers

A standard homeowner’s insurance policy typically covers your home, your belongings, injury or property damage to others, and living expenses if you are unable to live in your home temporarily because of an insured disaster.

The policy likely pays to repair or rebuild your home if it is damaged or destroyed by disasters, such as fire or lighting. Your belongings, such as furniture and clothing, are also insured against these types of disasters, as well as theft. Some risks, such as flooding or acts of war, are routinely excluded from homeowner policies.

Other coverage in a standard homeowner’s policy typically includes the legal costs for injury or property damage that you or family members, including your pets, cause to other people. For example, if someone is injured on your property and decides to sue, the insurance would cover the cost of defending you in court and any damages you may have to pay. Policies also provide medical coverage in the event someone other than your family is injured in your home.

If your home is seriously damaged and needs to be rebuilt, a standard policy will usually cover hotel bills, restaurant meals and other living expenses incurred while you are temporarily relocated.

How much insurance do you need?

Homeowners should review their policy each year to make sure they have sufficient coverage for their home. The three questions to ask yourself are:

·      Do I have enough insurance to protect my assets?

·      Do I have enough insurance to rebuild my home?

·      Do I have enough insurance to replace all my possessions?

Here’s some more information that will help you determine how much insurance is enough to meet your needs and ensure that your home will be sufficiently protected.

Protect your assets

Make sure you have enough liability insurance to protect your assets in case of a lawsuit due to injury or property damage. Most homeowner’s insurance policies provide a minimum of $100,000 worth of liability coverage. With the increasingly higher costs of litigation and monetary compensation, many homeowners now purchase $300,000 or more in liability protection. If that sounds like a lot, consider that the average dog bite claim is about $20,000. Talk with your insurance agent about the best coverage for your situation.

Rebuild your home

You need enough insurance to finance the cost of rebuilding your home at current construction costs, which vary by area. Don’t confuse the amount of coverage you need with the market value of your home. You’re not insuring the land your home is built on, which makes up a significant portion of the overall value of your property. In pricey markets such as San Francisco, land costs account for over 75 percent of a home’s value.

The average policy is designed to cover the cost of rebuilding your home using today’s standard building materials and techniques. If you have an unusual, historical or custom-built home, you may want to contact a specialty insurer to ensure that you have sufficient coverage to replicate any special architectural elements. Those with older homes should consider additions to the policy that pays the cost of rebuilding their home to meet new building codes.

Finally, if you’ve done any recent remodeling, make sure your insurance reflects the increased value of your home.

Remember that a standard policy does not pay for damage caused by a flood or earthquake. Special coverage is needed to protect against these incidents. Your insurance company can let you know if your area is flood or earthquake-prone. The cost of coverage depends on your home’s location and corresponding risk.

Replacing your valuables

If something happens to your home, chances are the things inside will be damaged or destroyed as well. Your coverage depends on the type of policy you have. A cost value policy pays the cost to replace your belongings minus depreciation. A replacement cost policy reimburses you for the cost to replace the item.

There are limits on the losses that can be claimed for expensive items, such as artwork, jewelry, and collectibles. You can get additional coverage for these types of items by purchasing supplemental premiums.

To determine if you have enough insurance, you need to have a good handle on the value of your personal items. Create a detailed home inventory file that keeps track of the items in your home and the cost to replace them.

Create a home inventory file

It takes time to inventory your possessions, but it’s time well spent. The little bit of extra preparation can also keep your mind at ease.  The best method for creating a home inventory list is to go through each room of your home and individually record the items of significant value.  Simple inventory lists are available online.  You can also sweep through each room with a video or digital camera and document each of your belongings. Your home inventory file should include the following items:

·      Item description and quantity

·      Manufacturer or brand name

·      Serial number or model number

·      Where the item was purchased

·      Receipt or other proof of purchase photocopies of any appraisals, along with the name and address of the appraiser

·      Date of purchase (or age)

·      Current value

·      Replacement cost

Pay special attention to highly valuable items such as electronics, artwork, jewelry, and collectibles.

Storing your home inventory list

Make sure your inventory list and images will be safe in case your home is damaged or destroyed. Store them in a safe deposit box, at the home of a friend or relative, or on an online Web storage site. Some insurance companies provide online storage for digital files. (Storing them on your home computer does you no good if your computer is stolen or damaged). Once you have an inventory file set up, be sure to update it as you make new purchases.

We invest a lot in our homes, so it’s important we take the necessary measures to safeguard it against financial and emotional loss in the wake of a disaster.

Posted on June 7, 2018 at 3:30 pm
John Taylor | Category: For Buyers | Tagged ,

5 Deal Breakers that can blindside home buyers

 

Purchasing a home can be a complex endeavor for even the most well-prepared home buyer.  You’ve diligently saved for your down payment, followed the market, researched agents and now you are ready to make an offer on your dream home.  Don’t let these 5 “Deal Breakers” come between you and your new home.

 

    1. Big Purchases on Credit. It is tempting to buy the furniture for your new home or a new car for the garage before the sale closes. Take care if you are making these purchases on credit. Large purchases on credit can have a major impact on your credit profile which effects your mortgage application. It’s a better plan to wait until after closing or pay cash for these transactions or you may be putting that furniture in a different living room than you originally picked them out for.

 

    1. Overpaying. Before your bank will approve your mortgage they will appraise the home you are purchasing.  If they feel you are overpaying they are likely to decline your mortgage application. If you find yourself in this situation consult with your agent on renegotiating your offer to be more in line with the bank’s appraised value.

 

    1. Purchasing too close to Foreclosure. If you are making an offer on a house which is facing foreclosure be sure to have a closing date set before the foreclosure date. Have your agent work with the lender to structure closing before the house goes back to the bank and into foreclosure.

 

    1. IRS liens. You’ve heard the old saying “Death and Taxes”.  Back taxes and liens can derail your attempts to get financing for a mortgage so be sure to have your books in order before filing your loan application.

 

    1. Comprehensive Loss Underwriting Exchange (CLUE). CLUE is a database of insurance claims for both people and property.  Your home insurance rates are determined by the information about you and the property you plan to purchase which is contained in this report. Past claims for water damage, falling trees and even dog bites from present and past owners can multiply your insurance rates. Consult your agent about the CLUE report for your future home as soon as possible once your home purchase offer is accepted.

 

    When purchasing a home there will be challenges which you can plan for and the unexpected hurdles.  By educating yourself as a consumer and choosing a well trained real estate agent you can avoid many of the pitfalls of 21st century home ownership.

     

    What about you? Tell us if you have had any “deal breaker” experiences.

    Posted on May 25, 2018 at 1:30 pm
    John Taylor | Category: For Buyers | Tagged , , ,