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Friday, August 25, 2017

Homeowners/Condo Insurance: Make Sure You are Protected!

As we enter another hurricane season, one thing becomes remarkably apparent: homeowners insurance and condo insurance, especially in South Florida, are an incredibly important factor not to be overlooked. Whether you live in a high-rise condo or a single family home in a gated community, homeowners/condo insurance is one of the best ways to protect one of the biggest investments of your life. In this blog, I would like to discuss the key reasons homeowners insurance can be of great value:

Unexpected Damage can be More Expensive than you Think:

As I stated previously, hurricane season makes homeowners insurance a necessity in South Florida. It’s not uncommon to have broken windows, ripped screens, missing roof shingles, and even more costly home fixes after an intense storm. Homeowners insurance prevents you from being forced to pay for such repairs out-of-pocket. Along those lines, those that own condos should also invest in condo insurance (the condo equivalent of homeowners insurance). It is a common misconception that an HOA will cover condo repairs, however this is not true. While the condo owner is not considered responsible for the outside land, condo building structure, and common building areas, they are solely responsible for the interior of the condo space and all repairs. And just as with homeowners, sometimes the damage to a condo can be of no fault of the actual owner. For example, if a neighbor’s hot water heater were to burst, it could potentially cause flooding and mold damage to individual units down multiple floors! As you can see, the monthly deductible of homeowners/condo insurance is much more affordable than fixing major home repairs, which can easily cost thousands of dollars. Wouldn’t you prefer only having to file a claim in an already stressful situation than also worrying about the financial burden?

It Might be Required:

For homeowners who pay a mortgage, it should come as no surprise that some lenders require buyers to invest in homeowners insurance to ensure that their financial investment is adequately protected should the unthinkable happen. In fact, if their client does NOT have homeowners insurance, the lenders is allowed to buy it themselves and charge you for the cost, according to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Take that power back into your own hands, and pick a homeowners policy within your budget and with the coverage of your choosing.

It can Offer Protection Beyond Your Home:

For the most part, homeowners/condo insurance typically extends to more than just damage to your physical property. Take a look at the additional protection a homeowner’s policy can provide:

Home and Attached Structures: Homeowners insurance will often cover the home and anything attached, such as a deck or garage.

Other Structures: You can choose a policy that will also pay for repairs to detached structures on your property, such as a fence or shed.

Personal Property: Coverage can include the price to replace certain belongings such as furniture or electronics should they be damaged or even stolen.

You and Your Family: Should you or a family member accidentally damage someone else’s property, homeowners insurance can potentially pay for related repair costs, legal fees, and medical bills.

Guests: If a guest is accidentally injured in your home, your policy may help pay for resulting medical bills.

Additional Living Expenses: If you must leave your home after a covered risk, homeowners/condo insurance may pay for temporary living costs such as hotel bills.

As you can see, homeowners and condo insurance is extremely important. Make the responsible choice, and make sure you, your home, and your family are protected!

Contact Joann Edwards for any of your real estate inquiries!

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Friday, August 18, 2017

It’s the once in a lifetime event everyone is talking about. On Monday, August 21, all of North America will be treated to an eclipse of the sun, the first time in 99 years that a total solar eclipse will be seen coast-to-coast. A truly spectacular sight, on Monday the moon will cross in front of the sun, leaving a 70-mile-wide strip of darkness from Oregon, across 14 states to South Carolina. According to experts, in Florida a full eclipse will not be visible, however a respectable partial eclipse, with 80 % of the sun being covered, can be expected.

While I would like to encourage everyone to head out Monday night and enjoy this unique experience, it is incredibly important to stay safe at the same time! Staring straight at a solar eclipse without eye protection can burn the cornea and retina of the eye, possibly causing permanent damage. Furthermore, sunglasses do not offer enough protection, special glasses made especially for such an occasion are necessary. Thankfully, several libraries in Broward County will be hosting events that not only educate the public about this incredible natural phenomenon, but also distribute free glasses for the solar eclipse. Here are 9 events worth checking out for the best eclipse experience!

Saturday, Aug. 19

The African-American Research Library & Cultural Center, at 2650 Sistrunk Blvd., in Fort Lauderdale was hosting a Pre-Solar Eclipse Celebration: Make An Edible Model of the Sun, from 1 to 2 p.m. For more information, call 954-357-6282.

Sunday, Aug. 20

The Stirling Road Library at 3151 Stirling Rd., in Hollywood, is hosting a Pre-Solar Eclipse Party, from 12 to 4 p.m. For more information, call 954-357-7550.

Four events on the day of the solar eclipse: Monday, Aug. 21

The Southwest Regional Library at 16835 Sheridan St., in Pembroke Pines is hosting a special event with access to telescopes, the NASA stream of the total eclipse and arts and crafts projects from 1 to 5 p.m. For more information, call 954-357-6580.

The Main Library at 100 S. Andrews Ave., in Fort Lauderdale will be hosting the Let's View the Solar Eclipse event from 1 to 5 p.m. For more information, call 954-357-7444.

The African-American Research Library & Cultural Center, at 2650 Sistrunk Blvd., in Fort Lauderdale will host a special event from 12:30 to 7:30 p.m. For more information, call 954-357-6282.

The North Lauderdale Saraniero Library, 6901 Kimberly Blvd., in North Lauderdale is hosting an education event from 2 to 3 p.m. For more information, call 954-357-6660.

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Monday, August 07, 2017

The Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show is hands-down one of the largest, most attended events in Fort Lauderdale. Packed with a variety of activities, breathtaking mega-yachts, and cutting-edge boating technology, the annual boat show draws thousands of exhibitors and visitors from all over the world.

In preparation for the boat show, Bahia Mar Fort Lauderdale Beach Resort is undergoing a $7 million makeover this summer. Located at 801 Seabreeze Boulevard, the redesign of the DoubleTree by Hilton-branded hotel will, quite appropriately, have a nautical theme. 181 rooms in Bahia Mar’s main tower will be revamped with a blue and white color scheme, new carpeting and headboards, peak wood dressers and desks, new appliances and custom light fixtures with USB outlets. Additionally, king-sized beds will be added to the oceanfront rooms.

The resort’s public areas will embrace the new nautical theme with special underwater design elements including a stunning $50,000 chandelier draped in cascading strands of silver-flecked blue acrylic glass shards. It will be the centerpiece of the atrium and is sure to make quite the impression! The resort’s corridors and meeting space, including its 8,208-square-foot Commodore ballroom will receive new carpeting and light fixtures. Another sea-life inspired chandelier will hang from the ballroom ceiling. Finishing off the marine theme will be new coral-colored cushions on the lounge chairs and cabanas at the resort’s Waves Rooftop Pool Bar, aimed at completing the white and blue décor.

The resort’s adjacent Bahia Mar Yachting Center, with 250-slip marina, has hosted the Fort Lauderdale boat show since 1976. Just last month a 30-year agreement was signed to keep the event at Bahia Mar through 2050. Renovations at Bahia Mar Beach Resort are directed at improving guest experience for the incredibly popular show.

I’m personally very excited to see the final product! Remember that this year the 58th Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show, runs from Nov. 1-5. Even the event itself is making changes to be bigger and better than ever, such as new landscaping and a revitalized food and beverage program. Mark the date in your calendars, because you won’t want to miss it!

For more information about the great city of Fort Lauderdale, contact Joann Edwards!

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Thursday, August 03, 2017

Interesting fact: According to the National Taxpayers Union, between 30-60% of taxable property in the U.S. is over-assessed. Even more alarming, it’s usually the middle income taxpayers’ properties that are most often over-assessed, yet fewer than 5% challenge the assessment.

I strive to provide homeowners and future homeowners with useful information that will benefit them in their everyday lives. In this blog, I outline the steps needed to file a property tax appeal and ultimately win. Use this knowledge to keep both your mind and wallet happy!

Step 1: Be Informed! Familiarize Yourself with the Appeal Process in Your State

This sets the foundation for how the rest of the process will flow. Every state has different deadlines, procedures, and protocol when filing an appeal, so it is important to gather as much information as possible before you embark on this journey.

Step 2: Weigh the Costs

As with most things in life, filing a property tax appeal is not free. Homeowners can expect to pay anywhere from $300 to $750 for an appeal based on a variety of factors, such as complexity of the project, the market, and the appraiser’s experience level. Additionally, if the appeal goes to the superior court, expect to pay a couple hundred dollars more.

Step 3: Keep EVERYTHING

Keep all assessment records and do your homework. Compare the records to your purchase price and comparable properties that have recently sold. Find out if your county has an online program where you can see the assessments on all of the properties in the county.

Step 4: Comply with All State Laws, Deadlines, and Procedures

To stay one step ahead of the game, make sure you contact local taxing authorities in advance of the deadline for appeals and be prepared to present all necessary documentation. Remember that the time frame to appeal is brief, anywhere from 15 to 45 days from the assessment date. Also, chances are you will only get 1 shot per year to file your property tax appeal, so make sure you’re ready!

Step 5: Work Outside the System

Homeowners can improve their chances of appealing their property tax assessment by hiring a certified independent appraiser. Having a third-party expert provide a credible, reliable opinion of the home’s value can help when it’s time to present the appraisal report to the local assessor. And since the end goal is to win, every tool in your arsenal helps!

Looking into Fort Lauderdale real estate? Then contact Joann Edwards for all of the information you need!

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