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About Rental Insurance

Many renters don’t stop to think about what happens if there is a fire, someone breaks in and steals their new TV or stereo, or a visitor slips and falls on their property. The sad truth is; you will be responsible! While your landlord has insurance that covers the actual building, that coverage does not include your personal property or liability for injuries which occur in the space you rent ~ be it an apartment or a house and yard.

If a fire should destroy or damage your home, your landlord’s insurance will cover the structure. It won’t cover damage or loss of your belongings. Neither will it provide for the cost of temporary housing for you and your family.

You may think you don’t own enough personal property to make the cost of insurance worthwhile. You’re probably wrong! If you sit down and add up the cost of everything you own, you may be in for a big surprise. Consider what you have invested in such things as:

• Furniture and accessories • Electronics like TV, stereo, computers • Small appliances like microwaves, toaster ovens, etc. • Clothing • Art work like paintings or prints • Dishes, silverware and cookware • Sporting equipment • Books • Jewelry

Could you afford to replace all of these things?

Even worse, what would you do if a friend is injured on your property and decides to sue you for medical costs and more? It’s a scary thought, isn’t it?

Are you beginning to see why rental insurance may be a very wise investment?

The cost of rental insurance is based on several factors:

• The dollar amount of your coverage

• Deductibles

• Whether you choose to be reimbursed for Actual Cash Value or Replacement Costs (more about that in a minute)

• Where your rental property is located and the number of previous claims made, not only by you, but by others living in the same area.

Let me explain the difference between Actual Cash Value (ACV) and Replacement Costs. ACV is the value of your property at the time a loss takes place. For example, if your television set is five years old, it’s valued at much less than if it were brand new. The lesser amount is what you are reimbursed.

However, if you opt for Replacement Cost, you’re paid whatever it costs to go out and buy a new TV with similar features. Insuring for replacement cost raises the amount of your premium so it’s a good idea to get quotes for both ACV and Replacement Cost policies. Then you can decide which option fits your needs and budget.

Another thing to keep in mind is that jewelry, valuable collections, and guns are usually covered under a separate policy or “rider”. If you own these kinds of items, be sure to tell your insurance agent. You don’t want to find out after disaster strikes that they aren’t covered or that they aren’t covered for their true value. One way you can reduce the cost of your rental insurance is to check with whichever company insures your car. If they provide rental insurance you may be eligible for a multi-line discount.

Rental insurance may be worth the investment just for the peace of mind it offers you.

5 Ground Rules for Home Buying Success

There are few purchases in life that carry the financial and psychological weight of buying a home.  Whether you are buying your first home, moving up to your dream home, or downsizing your home and your life after the kids have gone, it is important to understand the ground rules for success in the world of buying a home.

Making the wrong decision in buying a home can have devastating and long-lasting effects, while making a wise decision in home buying can greatly enhance the overall value of the investment.  It is necessary to learn all you can about the world of home buying and mortgages before setting out to purchase the home of your dreams.

While there are plenty of web sites designed to help first time homeowners learn all they can, most financial experts say that there is no substitute for the good old one-on-one learning. Fortunately, most mortgage lenders, home inspectors and real estate agents will be able to provide this kind of one-on-one learning.

When buying a home it is often best to use a systematic approach as this is often the best way to be sure that all decisions are based on information and reason, not on impulse or emotion.  Buying a home can be an emotional process, nevertheless it is imperative to keep your emotions under control and not let them cloud your judgment.

There are five basic ground rules when it comes to buying a home and shopping smart, and they are:

#1 – Get your financing before you get your home.

There are few things in life as disappointing as losing out on the home of your dreams due to not being able to secure funding.  While the desire to get out there is search for that great home is understandable, it is vital to line up the financing you will need before you start shopping for a home.

Getting the financing ahead of time has a number of important advantages, including knowing how much you can buy and gaining more respect from the listing agents.  By knowing how much home you can afford before you shop you will avoid wasting your time looking at unaffordable properties, and the listing agent will be more than willing to show you the homes in your price range.

It is also important to take a good look at the various types of mortgage on the market before getting started in the home buying process.  These days, mortgages come in far more choices than the typical 15 or 30 year. For that reason, potential home buyers need to understand how each type of mortgage works, and to gauge which mortgage is the best choice for their needs.

#2 – Look at the community, not just the home.

It is a good idea to look at the entire community, instead of focusing on a single home. This can be a particularly important thing to consider for those moving to a new metropolitan area, as these buyers will be unfamiliar with the local climate and lifestyle.  It is crucial to determine the areas of town that are most desirable, and to consider things like distance from work and local shopping opportunities.

We have all heard that location is the key consideration when it comes to real estate, and that is certainly the case.  Buying a house in the wrong area can be a big mistake, and it is important to choose the location as well as the home.  Potential buyers can learn a great deal about the nature of the various neighborhoods simply by driving around town, as well as by talking to other residents.

#3 – Be fair with your first offer.

Trying to lowball a seller on the first offer can backfire, as can paying too much. It is important to carefully evaluate the local market, and to compare the asking price of the home with what similar houses in the neighborhood have sold for.

Comparing the sales of comparable homes, what are known as “comps” in the industry, is one of the best ways to determine what is fair, and to make sure that you neither overpay or underbid on the property.

#4 – Always get a home inspection.

Always investigate the home for any possible defects before making an offer.  Compared to the cost of the average home, the price of a quality home inspection is virtually negligible. Hence, get a good home inspection done before you buy.

To find the best home inspector, it is a good idea to seek out word of mouth referrals as many of the best home inspectors rely on word of mouth advertising.

#5 – Do not alienate the sellers of the home.

Many real estate deals have fallen apart due to the personal animosity of the buyer and the seller.  It is important to avoid alienating the seller of the home during the process, and to avoid nitpicking every little detail during the sale.

Keeping the good will of the seller will help the transaction go smoothly, and it will provide the best environment for seller and buyer alike.

Rent to Own

Some potential homeowners who are not able to purchase a home right away consider rent to own options instead. A rent to own option, often referred to as a lease, is essentially a rental contract for the rental of a property which includes the stipulation that the renter will be given the option of purchasing the property at the conclusion of the lease. This type of rental agreement may not be worthwhile for all renters but there are some who will find this type of agreement to suit their needs quite well. In particular renters with bad credit who might be unable to buy a home otherwise and renters who aren’t quite sure they really want to buy a home. It can also be a worthwhile agreement for homeowners who are planning to sell their home buy may not want to sell it immediately.

When Your Credit is Bad

Potential homeowners with bad credit may find a rent to own situation may be just what they are looking for to help them purchase their dream home. There are a variety of financing options currently available and it is likely even homeowners with poor credit can find a financing option but it is not likely this option will be favorable. Homeowners with poor credit are often shackled with unfavorable loan terms such as higher interest rates, requirements to pay points and adjustable rate mortgages instead of fixed rate mortgages. In these situations, it might be worthwhile for the renter to repair his credit before attempting to purchase a home.

One of the best ways to repair credit is to maintain good credit in the present and into the future. Most blemishes on credit reports are erased after a certain period of time. Renters who have poor credit can work on repaying their current debts in a timely fashion and with time their credit score will improve. During this time participating in a rent to own program allows the renter additional time to repair his credit and may also allow the renter to accumulate financial resources which will enable him to purchase the home when the lease period is over.

When You Just Aren’t Ready to Buy a Home

Some renters opt for a rent to own program when they aren’t quite sure they really want to own a home. In these types of agreements, renters are given the option of purchasing the home at the end of the agreement period but they are not obligated to purchase this home. This allows the renter to see what it is like to own a home without having to commit to homeownership.

Renters who are renting a home may learn a great deal about homeownership during the rental period. This may include information about maintaining the landscaping of the property and dealing with conflicts with neighbors. It may also entail caring for and maintaining a significantly larger domicile than most apartment renters have to maintain. Some renters are not quite sure they are ready to handle all of these issues and may use a rent to own agreement as a trial period to determine whether or not homeownership suits them.

When the Homeowner Just Isn’t Ready to Sell

Some homeowners offer a rent to own option when they plan to sell their home but do not want to do so immediately. Some homeowners may be hoping for property values to rise before they sell their home so they can either regain the amount they have invested in the house or profit from the purchase price of the home. These homeowners might choose to rent out their home during this time and offer the renter the option of purchasing the house after a set time period. This enables the seller to earn an income from rent while they are no longer living in the home. The rent they charge to the renter is often enough to cover the mortgage and yield a profit making it a financially wise decision for the seller.

Sharing a Rental with a Roommate

Sharing a rental property, whether it is an apartment or a house, can be either a dream come true or a living nightmare. There are many advantages to having a roommate; however, there are also disadvantages. When these disadvantages are severe they can result in an uncomfortable living environment in some situations and even a dangerous living environment in other situations. There are a couple of ways a renter can protect themselves when sharing their rental property with a roommate. This includes screening the potential roommate carefully and including the roommate on the rental agreement.

The Advantages and Disadvantages to Having a Roommate

Having a roommate can certainly be advantageous in some situations. The primary advantage is financial. Renters who opt to have a roommate, essentially cut their rent in half if they opt to have one roommate or in thirds if they opt to have two roommates. This is ideal for renters who would like to have a larger apartment but would not be able to afford such an apartment without the assistance of a roommate.

Another advantage to having a roommate is the opportunity to share household responsibilities with the roommate. Of course this is only an advantage when the roommate is willing to do his share of the work on a regular basis. If this is not the case, it may result in a huge disadvantage which will be covered briefly in the section on disadvantages.

One of the most significant disadvantages to having a roommate is a lack of privacy. Those who live alone do not ever have to worry about not having time to themselves while they are in their apartment. However, when a renter has a roommate, there is no guarantee the renter will ever have any time to himself while he is in the apartment.

Another disadvantage to having a roommate is the distribution of household responsibilities may not always be even. Roommates should have a discussion regarding the household responsibilities such as cleaning the common areas but there is always the possibility that one roommate may not do his share of the work. When this happens it can create conflict and resentment among the roommates. This conflict can make the living situation quite uncomfortable.

Select a Compatible Roommate

When selecting a roommate, the renter should be careful to select a compatible roommate. In the previous section we discussed how conflicts can arise when one roommate does not do his share of the cleaning. However, incompatible cleaning styles are only a small portion of the compatibility issues roommates may face. One important issue is entertaining. If one roommate has visitors at the apartment often, it can cause problems if the other roommate is not comfortable with this.

Even the times in which the roommates normally sleep can cause problems. If one roommate goes to bed early and wakes up at 4:00 am, it can be problematic if the other roommate likes to stay up late and not wake up until 9:00 am. In this case the roommates may not only begin to get on each other’s nerves but they may also begin to adversely affect the other’s job or social life.

Include the Roommate on the Rental Agreement

Finally, renters should be sure to include their roommate or roommates on the rental agreement. This is very important because it helps to protect all of the roommates. Inclusion of all of the roommates prevents one roommate from being able to ask another to leave unjustly. This may occur when conflicts arise but inclusion on the rental agreement ensures each of the roommates has a right to live on the property. Placing each of the roommates’ names on the rental agreement also prevents one roommate from not making their rent payments in a timely manner. It will also help to prevent one roommate from being held legally responsible for not paying the rent on time by the leasing agent.

Do Not Let the Furnishings Fool You

Renters who are viewing apartment complexes are often led to furnished models which have been tastefully decorated. Although the furnishings in these model apartments are usually very aesthetically appealing they also usually serve another purpose as well. This other purpose is to make the room appear larger than it is. There are decorator and furnishing techniques which can make a room in an apartment appear considerably larger than it really is. The size of the bed, the amount of furniture and the layout of the furniture are all items which should be carefully considered when viewing model apartments. This article will cover these three items and will provide useful information for renters who are trying to evaluate furnished apartments.

The Size of the Bed

Determining the size of the bed in a model apartment is important for the purposes of evaluating the apartment. If you are unsure of the size of the bed used in the model, ask the leasing agent for clarification. This is important because if the bed used in the model is a full size bed and your own bed is a king size bed, it will be difficult to make assumptions about the size of the bedroom. The differences in a full size bed and a queen size bed may not be as noticeable but renters should be aware a queen bed will result in less free space in the room. If the bed used in the model is not the same size as your own bed, take measurements to determine how well your own bed will fit in the room.

Is There Enough Furniture?

When viewing a furnished, model important it is important to note whether or not there is enough furniture in the room. For example there may be a kitchen table and only two chairs instead of four. This may make the room appear larger to those who are viewing the apartment but they are likely going to be disappointed when they move in.

Consider the furniture in other rooms as well. For example a bedroom which only has a bed and a nightstand will be decidedly less crowded than a bedroom which has a bed, two night stands and a dresser. Your furniture may not be exactly the same size as the model furniture but there should be comparable items in each room.

Does the Layout Make Sense?

Renters should also carefully consider the layout of the furniture when visiting a furnished apartment. An apartment may feature all of the pieces of furniture the renter expects to see in the room but may position these pieces of furniture in a way that is not logical. Consider the family room as an example. There may be a couch, an entertainment center, a television set, a coffee table and two end tables but if these items are positioned strangely it can be deceiving. Most renters arrange their living room furniture in a manner which makes the area conducive to conversations as well as viewing of the television. If the television is positioned where it is not viewable from any of the seating options, the layout of the room is somewhat unnatural. It is not likely to be similar to the layout used by the renter and therefore does not offer an accurate representation of how the space will likely be used.

Services and Features Offered by Most International Airports

Each year, a fairly large number of individuals, families, and couples make the decision to travel internationally.  Are you one of those people?  If so, you will have to use the services offered by an international airport.  An international airport is an airport that not only offers flights in and around the United States, but out of it as well.  If you have never been to an international airport before, you may be wondering what you can do or find inside one.  If so, you are not alone, millions of other Americans are wondering the exact same thing.

Before you can examine the features and services that are offered by international airports, it is important to remember one thing. Not all airports are the same, even international ones. This means that you may be able to find one certain feature, such as a currency exchange counter, at one airport, but not at another.  Outlined below are some of the most common services and features offered by most international airports; however, they are not offered by all.  If you are looking for detailed information on a specific international airport, you are advised to contact that airport directly or search for their online website. 

Perhaps, one of the most common services offered by international airports is currency exchange.  In a way, it makes perfect sense.  Many travelers come to an international airport because they are looking to fly internationally. You will find that not all countries accept the same currency; therefore, you will need to have your currency exchanged.  Many travelers wait until arrive at their destination to do this, but there are benefits to having your currency exchanged beforehand. 

Similar to traditional currency exchange service centers, is full service banks. Full service banks are offered in most international airports, including those in other countries.  Many full service banks will not only allow you to exchange currencies, but withdrawal money from your home bank account, exchange your money for traveler’s checks and much more.  You will find that you can do this, in most, case even if you do not have an account with the bank at the airport. Although international airport banks have different hours, you will find that most are open whenever you need to use them.

Mail service centers can also be found in international airports, all around the world.  Mail services centers have a number of different purposes.  One of those purposes being that you can mail items to your home, especially those that are prohibited aboard an international flight.  While the cost of postage may seem high, especially if you are mailing to or from a foreign country, you won’t have to turn your prohibited belongs over to airport security or discard of them. Many mail service centers are open the majority of the day; however, self-service mail centers are rapidly increasing in popularity. 

Wireless internet is a unique service that you can find in most international airports. Wireless internet allows to you access your email, read the news online, or surf the internet without having to be attached to cables or phone lines.  Not all international airports supply their passengers with free wireless internet, but many are starting to.  If you were planning on leaving your laptop or PDA machine at home, you may want to rethink your decision, especially if the international airport you will be using has wireless internet access for those inside the building.

Wireless internet access, full service banks, currency exchange centers, and mail service centers are just a few of the many services, facilities, and establishments that you can find inside an international airport.  Also, don’t forget retail shops and eateries.  In fact, many international airports now appear as if they have a small mall inside of them.