Unique Housewarming Party Ideas You Can Do Year-Round


Ready to celebrate after moving into your new home or apartment? Finding ideas for a housewarming party is the logical (and exciting) next step to take after moving into your new space. 

It’s also a great way to settle in and embark on your new journey of getting to know your neighborhood and neighbors!

Properly planning your housewarming party and finding attention-grabbing ideas is key to entertaining your group of besties and family. 

But if your local weather forecast is looking kinda iffy for the next few weeks, you need celebration ideas that can work in any season, rain or shine. 

So, as part of our Spruce Your Space series, we’re rounding up some unique, all-season housewarming party ideas to make your first great memories in your new home or apartment.

3 Creative & Unique Housewarming Party Ideas For Any Season

1. Housewarming Theme Idea #1: New Home, Who Dis?

Photo by Christian Stahl on Unsplash

 

Theme:

You just moved into a new house and you’re in love with the possibilities. 

So you know that the amazing people in your life are going to feel proud and excited for you, too. 

Play up the optimism by putting the focus back on your home—especially if you’ve done some cool renovations or stunning decoration. 

Before initiating the games, do a tour of your home first (hide any unpacked boxes that are still around). You’ll understand why later!

Food:

Whether you’re whipping up the creations yourself, catering with interesting new fusions, or if you’re giving your guests ideas on what to bring, you can focus on brand-new or unheard-of foods. 

Even if it’s a recipe that you’ve recently discovered or a regional food you’ve never tried, it will get both you and your buddies out of your comfort zones and chatting.

Games:

Prep your own personal list of different attributes in your new place: 

  • Is the stove gas or electric? 
  • Are there any ceiling fans? 
  • What kind of flowers are in the front yard? 
  • What color is the outside of the front door? 

These are just some facts about your home that you can easily turn into a trivia game. 

It will help you find out which of your guests has a keen eye and a great memory! 

Perfect For:

Anyone who just moved into a new house. Doesn’t matter whether you’re the tenant or homeowner. 

This can also work if you moved into an apartment or condo that’s larger than a one-bedroom… Just make sure your space is already decorated or the game won’t be challenging at all.

2. Housewarming Theme Idea #2: Local Lovin’ 

5 Stages of Living In San Antonio

 

Theme:

How well do you and your friends know your own city?

This housewarming theme is all about the new location you now call home. You’d be surprised how little some people know about an area they’ve lived in for years!

Food:

Stick to serving anything that your new area is known for, (regardless of whether you cooked it or not). 

Moving to Texas? Find the best nearby barbeque joint that caters and grab enough utensils for everyone. 

Say, your new spot is in San Antonio, order local foodie staples like smoked chicken and puffy tacos for guests while whipping up margaritas. 

If you’re inviting neighbors who are particularly proud of their city, they’ll appreciate how you’re trying to acclimate to your new setting!

Games:

Option A: Trivia is the easiest go-to game for this Local Lovin’ housewarming party theme. So, round up some interesting facts from a quick Google search about your new city or state to test your guests. 

Have a list of each fact + answer, and number them all. 

Make some flashcards with the corresponding number on one side and the question on the other side, so the answer key will match the card number. Now you’re ready to play!

For incorrect answers, simply add a twist. 

You can turn it into a drinking game or have guests reveal a quirky dance move or hilarious personal truth. 

Option B: New spaces are great for inspiring creativity, so why not get artsy by painting? Plus, if the weather is less than ideal, this will brighten things up a bit. 

You can grab some watercolor paint (it’s extremely easy to clean if it spills), mini canvasses, and mini easels from your local hobby store. 

Set up your guests in the kitchen where clean-up is a breeze, and grab your favorite drinks.

Concentrate on one area of your home to paint so everyone has the same focal point. 

This will vary based on how much your kitchen is open, and which rooms it opens towards. 

If you have a killer view from an apartment, this works even better. (Or, you can always just paint a scene of your kitchen!)

Perfect For:

People who are moving to a new state, city, or town will love this.

Even if you moved within the same city, this theme still works.

3. Housewarming Theme Idea #3: House to a Home  

housewarming party game ideas using interior design swatches options

 

Theme:

We all know that watching tons of HGTV can really pump up your inner interior designer.

So, yeah, while turning your house into a home seems easy at first… 

You soon realize there’s a plethora of beautiful paint colors, wall, and flooring options to choose from.

Indecision can kick in…making you doubt everything for fear of the wrong choice. 

Forget that! 

Why not ask those who know you best? 

Invite your friends and family over to a party designed to turn your bare new house into a home. 

Food:

This theme is based on the comfort and coziness of home. 

Order some comfort foods and well-known desserts from local spots—like mac n’ cheese, lasagna, Southern fried chicken, chicken & dumplings, cupcakes, apple pie—you get the idea. 

You can also turn this into a potluck if visitors want to bring food.

Since comfort foods tend to be heavy, stick to small portion sizes and try to schedule your party earlier in the day. 

If your housewarming party time isn’t flexible, scale down the comfort foods into appetizer-sized versions:

  • Mac n’ cheese bites vs. a bowl of mac n’ cheese
  • Apple pie squares instead of an entire slice
  • Fried chicken tenders instead of a hefty drumstick or wing

Your guests will love the food, but they still need a chance to get home without being overstuffed and sleepy! 

Games:

Get your top choices for your next in-home project ready. 

So if you’re having trouble choosing between paint or backsplash tile options, don’t stress! Just get some samples not only for yourself but for your housewarming party. 

Alternatively, you can save inspiring examples online of the spaces you’d love to replicate in your new place (Pinterest and Instagram are the absolute best resources.)

If you have a projector or smart TV set up, you can cast these saved images from your computer or phone for your housewarming party audience. 

Get their votes and let them help you decide

Most importantly, don’t forget to keep them in the loop with the outcome. 

Your friends will love to know their input helped you make your final decision!

Perfect For:

Uncertain new homeowners/ renters who want to make minor changes to their space, but need advice from friends/family.

Should You Still Have a Housewarming Party During COVID-19?

If you’re wary about transmitting more than just good vibes—like COVID-19, for instance—you can always go virtual.

It’s as simple as setting up a call on Facebook Messenger Rooms, Zoom, Telegram, or Skype!

Although you still should do the standard party-planning stuff (sending digital invitations, giving advance notice, etc.), there’s a lot you don’t have to do for an online celebration. 

Virtual housewarming parties can actually be much less expensive and better in general for everyone who attends.

Here’s why:

  1. It’s perfect for long-distance loved ones to join in.
  2. You and your guests can skip buying food and drinks.
  3. No one has to pay for tolls or gas getting to your home
  4. Guests don’t have to worry about having one too many adult beverages before hitting the road. 
  5. Social distancing is so much easier.
  6. Anyone who is eating during a video chat, won’t have to worry about spilling food or remembering to put their mask back on.  
  7. Guests who want to give gifts won’t feel pressured to do so.
  8. People with children don’t have to find a babysitter/pet-sitter before your party, or rush home after it. 
  9. Your home and party decor don’t have to be the slightest bit done. (For virtual housewarming celebrations on a budget, you don’t really need party decor at all!)
  10. Once it’s over, the only person you have to clean up after is yourself 

**If you opt to have an in-person housewarming party and you’re not vaccinated:

Try sticking to the guidelines of reputable major health organizations, like the CDC or WHO (World Health Organization).  Your guests will really appreciate that their well-being is your priority while they participate in your big celebration!

Your housewarming party should be riveting—not regrettable!

So, avoid accidentally getting into legal skirmishes by sticking to your state and local guidelines, too.  There may be limits on the time of day or amount of non-resident guests allowed, among other things.

You definitely don’t want to unknowingly violate any local regulations simply by celebrating a housewarming party!

That would certainly give your neighbors something to talk about (and not in a good way.)

Wrapping Up

Now that you have some inspiration on what to do for a housewarming party, it’s time to schedule your party and send invitations. 

Giving your intended guests a heads-up is simply good old-fashioned etiquette. 

We highly recommend giving them no less than 3 weeks’ notice. (This way, anyone who RSVPs still has enough time to plan around their own schedules and possibly order a gift for you.)

These imaginative ideas for your upcoming housewarming party will give you an awesome time to remember, no matter the time of year!

Did you recently throw a killer housewarming party and have the photos to back it up?

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Why You Need Renter’s Insurance In Texas Before Moving


Not sure why you need renter’s insurance before you move?

To put it plainly: you’ll need a renter’s policy to cover anything you can’t immediately replace.

In fact, if you’re renting an apartment, condo, or house, there are very few scenarios where it’s just a waste of money. 

While not required by state law, renter’s insurance may be required in your tenant agreement.

But, is renter’s insurance a good value for consumers?

Besides taking care of everything most people expect their landlord to do, renter’s insurance can majorly cover your tail in various scenarios.

Yep, even if you’re facing a lawsuit!

(Of course, we hope a situation never goes that far.) 

But, in the interest of helping you settle into your new place as smoothly as possible after you move, we’re shouting from the rooftops just how important it is to have renter’s insurance. 

Ken Robinson, our go-to property insurance expert and CEO of Houston-based MAKZ Insurance Company, explains why renter’s insurance is a must when you move.

 

1. Renter’s Coverage Can Pay For Itself 40 Times Over

A bit overwhelmed by all the industry vocabulary around renter’s insurance? 

Let’s break down three commonly confusing terms in an easier way:

  • Premium- What you pay for renter’s insurance; often referred to in annual terms
  • Deductible- What you pay before your policy coverage kicks in
  • Liability- The amount of personal protection covering you, up to which an insurer will pay if you’re held liable for damage or injury by someone else; can include legal fees, repairs/damages, medical bills, etc.

Renter’s insurance is not expensive. It’s very affordable, despite what you may think.

Here are a few reasons why:

  • Renter’s policy premiums have been falling since 2015 
  • You don’t even have to nix your Starbucks habit to afford a $15-$50 monthly premium that covers $10,000-$40,000 of personal property
  • Average renter’s insurance premiums in Texas are $232/ year (or $19/ month) as of 2017, (III.org) 
  • Discounts may be available based on your age, job, or residential amenities (e.g. security systems, fire extinguishers, deadbolts, or sprinklers)
  • Ken advises combining a renter’s policy with your auto insurance for a multi-policy discount 

By these numbers alone, it’s obvious why you need renter’s insurance if you’re moving into a new rental property: 

At bare-bones minimum (or, $19 per month for $10,000 in coverage) renter’s insurance can pay for itself 40 times over if you have to file a claim in Texas.

Sure, you’ll have to cough up $250 to $1,500 in your own cash for a deductible. 

So what?

That’s nothing if you don’t have renter’s insurance and a fire destroys $30,000 worth of everything you own.  Or, if someone sues you for $20,000 in medical bills and loss of income after injuring themselves in your apartment.

See how it can be helpful in a pinch?

This brings us to our next point…

2. It Can Help If You’re Held Liable (or Sued)

“How insurance really works is, what started or what created the risk to happen,” Ken explains.

“So, I always use the scenario of, if a tree fell over and fell on top of your neighbor’s home, the question is going to be asked, ‘What caused the tree to fall?’ So is it [the] wind that caused the tree to fall? I say that because, in the event of the fish tank scenario, you’re liable because you bumped into it and it leaked to your neighbor’s [home].”

No one expects bad things to happen, but they do.

That’s a part of life. But, in the insurance world, you might have liability for what happens.

Whether it’s by negligence or an accident on your part, you can still be held liable for the fallout of certain circumstances. (Yes, even if you’re only renting a place and don’t own it).

A landlord, visitor, or neighbor who suffers damages or injury by any action or negligence of your own can force you to pay or file a lawsuit

No one wants to deal with legal fees or owe someone money.

That’s where a rental policy can save the day. Renter’s insurance is an absolute must in times like this since basic policies cover a minimum of $100,000 in liability

Even incidents that aren’t intentional or malicious can potentially lead to huge problems for you legally and financially.

Renter’s insurance helps financially protect you against liabilities like:

  • If your kid throws a ball and breaks a neighbor’s window
  • You accidentally break your aquarium, and it leaks to the unit below, ruining your neighbor’s mattress
  • Someone trips on your rug and twists their ankle, needing medical care
  • Your dog bites another resident and they sue 
  • A visiting relative leaves a candle or cigarette unattended, causing fire damage
  • Pests like bed bugs, mice, or roaches, hitch a ride to your new residence, infesting your new rental property

There are exceptions, however.

Renter’s insurance liability extends only to third parties. 

If you or someone living in your rental residence is hurt, related medical expenses won’t be covered.

Renter’s policies don’t cover structural damage. (Since you don’t own the house or apartment structure and therefore you’re not considered responsible for it.)

Violating the terms of your policy can lead to insurers dropping your coverage. It could also leave you paying 100% of related damages out-of-pocket.

For example, many renter’s insurance policies explicitly deny coverage to so-called ‘dangerous dog breeds’ (such as pit bulls, German Shepherds, Alaskan Malamutes, and more).

So if you do decide to take in such a pup who ends up biting someone, your policy won’t cover it.

All the related medical and/or legal bills would be your responsibility. 

Read and stick to the terms of your renter’s insurance policy, and you won’t have to worry.

3. Renter’s Insurance Protects Your Personal Belongings

One of the biggest reasons why you need rental insurance? 

It covers your personal belongings. 

“A renter’s [policy] is definitely worth it,” says Ken.

“If you have a television in your home that you spent $5,000…or even if you spent $200 on it, you purchased it. So in the event that something happens to it, someone steals it, you get smoke damage in the home…you want to make sure your stuff is covered. If you don’t have renter’s insurance, you’re pretty much starting over.”

Think about everything you currently own—no matter when you bought it. How much does every single item you have cost? 

Estimate. Add it up mentally. And it’s not just monetary value… 

Consider how many years it took you to gain it all.

Could you afford to spend time and money replacing every single thing you love if it were instantly destroyed? 

Personal property coverage is in your renter’s policy. Not only will it cover theft from where you live, but it can also cover theft from your car during traveling!

Pets aren’t included. Your more expensive items—like jewelry, collections, electronics, antiques, artwork, or instruments—most likely need additional coverage (a.k.a, endorsements, floaters, or riders.) 

If you have anything of monetary or sentimental value, ask your insurer about getting added coverage.  

Your personal property will be covered under renter’s insurance as long as you:

  • Keep your policy up-to-date. Coverage can lapse without warning if you cancel a payment method. Also, revisit your policy as you acquire more items, grow your family, or adopt pets
  • Update & take inventory of your stuff. It makes filing a claim and moving much easier. (Use photos, video, receipts, documents, serial numbers, and more to prove how much your stuff is worth)
  • Read your policy limits. This is how much insurers will pay for certain types of property damage (e.g. how much the company will pay for cash, jewelry, business items, appliances, etc.)
  • Know if your policy uses Actual Cash Value (ACV) or replacement cost. Basic renter’s policies default to ACV, which deducts value from items based on age and use. You can add on replacement cost for about 10% more, but it reimburses you with a new item at full & current value
  • Get a flood add-on or comprehensive insurance—especially if you rent a home in Texas or are on a first-floor unit. Flood and storm damage to your things are not covered under renter’s policies

4. Renter’s Insurance Can Help You Move Out

Renter’s policies cover expenses incurred by loss of use.

Loss of use coverage is what insurance companies will pay for costs that exceed your normal living expenses until you move back in or find a new place.

Let’s say your residence becomes uninhabitable from a covered event. 

While your landlord’s policy covers their content and structural property damage, it doesn’t cover you or your personal items at all. 

Additionally, landlords are not required to help you move out temporarily, and landlord policies don’t extend to cover tenants. 

Many tenants are shocked to find out that landlords are not legally required to cover their hotel costs if a property is unlivable. 

That’s where renter’s insurance can help you move out.

Your destroyed items or additional living expenses you incur from loss of use (i.e. moving out of a damaged residence and paying for hotels, movers, food, etc.)—are all covered.

You could even move somewhere new if you prefer. Especially if you have to break your lease because the damage is so bad that you can’t return.

5. It Could Be Required in Your Rental Agreement

If you’re still on the fence about renter’s insurance, be aware that landlords are wising up and starting to add clauses to their tenant agreements that hold renters accountable. 

These clauses also help landlords protect themselves from sky-high repair costs, legal fees, and loss of rental income.

So, do you really need renter’s insurance? Is renter’s insurance even required in Texas?

Lots of newer tenant agreements are making renter’s policies mandatory in Texas.

In some states, this clause is mandatory. Although it isn’t required by the state of Texas, Ken says most tenants should still get need renter’s insurance in Texas. A growing number of leasing or rental agreements are even making it mandatory.

Sometimes, there are even policy limit requirements for tenants in these agreements. 

You could be held personally liable and have to pay out-of-pocket if you let your renter’s insurance lapse, don’t meet the minimums in your tenant agreement, or don’t have it at all.

Wrapping Up

We get it, you’re really excited about your big move (and that’s awesome!) 

Why not protect the investment you put into moving your personal belongings by getting renter’s insurance, too?

You never know what could happen. Now that you realize why renter’s insurance is worth it, don’t just get a random policy, and call it a day. 

Take inventory of everything you own.

Document and keep receipts of the new things you buy.

Find out how much your already-owned items are currently worth so you don’t get sticker shock if they must be replaced at your policy’s ACV (Actual Cash Value). 

Most importantly, arm yourself with a policy that you’ve actually read

Know your policy terms well. If anything ever happens, you’ll understand why you need renters insurance coverage to help.


Homeowner’s Insurance: How to Get The Perfect Amount


 

Whether you’re moving in for the first time or you’re comfy and settled, having enough insurance coverage for your home is vital. You certainly don’t want to be caught underinsured if your home is ever damaged. 

Sure, it’s best to make sure your coverage is solid before you even move in, but it’s just as important to do this continually. 

Likewise, it’s just as essential to make sure you’re not paying for more than necessary to adequately insure your home. 

Here’s how to make sure you have the perfect amount of insurance coverage for your home, thanks to our friends at MAKZ Insurance in Houston!

1. Avoid Cheap Premiums That Will Leave You Underinsured 

“If your home is 2,000 square feet, you really want to have at least $200,000 worth of coverage and up. Anything below that, and it’s honestly going to be undervalued.”

—Ken Robinson, CEO of MAKZ Insurance

Beware of shortchanging yourself on homeowners insurance with premiums that are too low.

Unfortunately, many homeowners get so excited about paying off their loans that they focus on getting low monthly premiums instead of substantial coverage

This could even include skipping critical add-ons just because they’re not required.

If a disaster hits, homeowners with bare-minimum coverage will be in for an unpleasant surprise: like the complete responsibility for home repairs! 

Top 3 Ways Property Owners Can Avoid Being Underinsured:

  1. Get adequate replacement cost on your policy. 
  2. Annually review coverage with your agent or broker
  3. Optional: Add on endorsements to cover increases in repair materials

Mortgage companies require you to have homeowner’s insurance, but it’s also extremely important to consider certain add-ons or endorsements. This way, you can make sure you’re fully covered (because homeowner’s insurance won’t compensate for everything).

 

2. Know How to Separate Your Replacement Cost from Home Value 

So, you just bought a home? Congratulations! 

After closing costs, a down payment, and buying furniture, you definitely need to save money wherever possible.

If you’re a new homeowner, try getting this out of the way when speaking to your insurance broker or agent. Ask for their replacement cost calculator (or request an estimate to make sure you have enough). Then, ask how it’s calculated. 

Been in your current home for a while? Simply call your insurance company and ask the same questions.  

Most often, your premium will be based, at least in part, on Coverage A. This is the amount of your building’s structural coverage limits. It’s also usually the main number listed under your policy coverage. 

Insurance brokers get a lot of questions regarding the cost of their home and how this measures up to its actual insured amount (or, its replacement cost). 

The two most common concerns homeowners have about their coverage versus their home’s cost are summed up below.

When Replacement Cost Is More Than the Value of Your Home:

  • Insurers take into account the type of materials used to build your home (stucco vs. brick, tile versus wood flooring, etc.)
  • Replacement cost factors in the value of materials and technique at the present time (i.e., luxury design vs. builder’s grade vs. antique)

When Replacement Cost Is Less Than the Value of Your Home:

  • Homeowner’s insurance covers only your building structure—so while land isn’t covered, it still bumps up the market value when you buy a home
  • Land can’t be physically replaced which is why homeowner’s insurance policies don’t include it in the replacement cost (farm policies are separate) 

 

3. Calculate Replacement Cost With a Simple Formula 

You’re probably wondering what replacement cost even means…

Replacement cost (or replacement value) is one method of how your homeowner’s policy can pay you. It includes the replacement of your home where it currently stands, using the same quality of building materials, if your home is a total loss as outlined in your policy.

The reality is, most homeowners don’t have what’s called a true replacement cost (the ideal amount to fully cover damages). So their properties are often undervalued and don’t include the market value, depreciation or appreciation of their homes. 

 

Is Your Replacement Cost Enough?

Get your property appraised and adjust your replacement value with your insurance company as needed. Do this until you have a true replacement cost. This way, you’re not paying more or less than you need to cover potential damages.

Ask your homeowner’s insurance company if they can recommend appraisers and connect you with them.

Not only are the costs of rebuilding materials and labor always increasing… they jump even higher after a hurricane or flood. 

With cheap premiums—plus any appreciation in your home value—a low replacement cost will leave you responsible for astronomical out-of-pocket costs.

Check out the formula below to see if you may need to adjust your replacement cost.

 

Use This Simple Formula for Calculating True Replacement Cost  

Ken says that the *true replacement cost (the ideal coverage where you won’t have to pay out-of-pocket) is around $100 per square foot. Below, he gives a mathematical breakdown of how you can calculate your own replacement cost. 

*True Replacement cost:  100 x total sq ft. 

Minimum Replacement cost:  0.85  x total sq ft. 

Your current replacement cost  <  Result = Undervalued Replacement Cost

Your current replacement cost  =/   Result = Bare Minimum Replacement Cost

Your current replacement cost  >  Result = True (Ideal) Replacement Cost

Note: this does not account for specific insurance company rates, nor any upgrades that did not modify your home’s area.

 

Are you Going to Protect Your Home?

Even if you’ve already lived in your home for awhile, it’s good to review your home insurance to see where you stand in the event you’d need to file any claim. 

For new homeowners: don’t let the excitement of moving into a new home distract you from protecting it with the right amount of insurance coverage!


Flood Insurance Advice That Will Protect Your Dream Home


Wondering how flood insurance actually works, what it covers, and what it costs? Perhaps you’re not even convinced that you need it.

Hurricane season is nothing to laugh at in Texas. So, flood insurance should at least be on your radar if you don’t already have it. 

To get the real deal on how flood insurance can help safeguard your precious property, we sat down with Ken Robinson, who services all of Texas as CEO of MAKZ Insurance.

 

Ken drops some excellent and little-known insights for everyone: no matter if you’re a brand new homeowner, a renter, or if you’re simply considering flood insurance for the first time.

How do Insurance Companies Define a Flood Event?

In very elementary terms: insurance policies shell out money when bad things happen

Obviously, those horrible events must have definitions so they know when to pay. If this event doesn’t fit the definition, then your property is not covered under that specific policy. 

Flood insurance isn’t any different.

According to Ken, companies define a flood as whenever water comes from outside of your home, into your home. 

So if that happens to you AND you have flood insurance, you’re much better off. Your damaged home is generally covered.  

 

Do I Really Need Flood Insurance?

“I recommend definitely everyone should get flood insurance. I know there are a lot of rumors… that every part of Houston is not a flood zone…As long as you’re living in the city, you should definitely have flood insurance. At any time, it just takes one heavy rainstorm, and you’re flooded.”

—Ken Robinson

To understand why flood insurance is beneficial—especially in a Gulf state or coastal city—let’s backtrack to what home insurance does and does not cover. 

Standard homeowner’s insurance policies cover 3 key things:

  • The building structure
  • Liability (if someone gets hurt/injured on your property)

Your personal property is covered if you have an endorsement (And, you should absolutely inventory your things… it’s easy to do when you move)

To be clear: flooding is not covered under homeowner’s insurance!

 

What Flood Insurance Does And Does Not Cover

“You must have flood insurance in order to get coverage. Your homeowner’s policy does not cover flood insurance at all.”

—Ken Robinson

Flood insurance is different from homeowner’s insurance since it covers: 

  1. More than a standard homeowner’s insurance or renters policy
  2. Building structure if it’s damaged by water from outside your home
  3. *Optional add-on: Personal property (clothes, electronics, appliances, etc.)

 

While it’s optional, Ken recommends that everyone gets the personal property add-on in case of a flood, and ask questions about the type of coverage you’re getting.

There are two ways that insurance companies pay out on personal property claims:

  • Some calculate value using replacement cost (the cost of replacing your items at the same price/with the same materials). 
  • Other companies use actual cash value to reimburse your damaged property.

The value of things like shoes and clothing will be harder to verify—since regular wear and tear diminishes them over the years. 

Ken recommends making an inventory of your belongings right away in order to have proof in case they are damaged. 

A perfect time to do a home inventory is if you’re moving! Try:

  • Filming a video journal 
  • Taking pictures and scanning receipts with a phone app
  • Making an online spreadsheet or notebook as you shop 

If you want coverage for items that are damaged by water coming into your residence from outside, you absolutely must have flood insurance. Preferably, with a personal property add-on. 

Don’t have it? 

You’re on the hook for your own repairs and item replacements. 

 

What Are My Options for Flood Insurance?

“I recommend that everyone get a private flood program quote and a National Flood Program [NFIP] quote.”

—Ken Robinson

There are two main ways to get flood insurance and they’re all quoted annually:

  • FEMA National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP)– a standard policy where holders pay the same rate statewide as determined by FEMA
  • Private flood insurance programs- policy is based off a private insurer’s systems; lenders must approve these programs, but pricing is becoming competitive

Note for homeowners: Consult your mortgage company first, as some lenders don’t accept flood insurance policies from private companies. If you own your home outright, it’s your decision.

 

What Are the Waiting Periods for Flood Insurance?

Here in the Gulf, hurricane season arrives in late spring or early summer like clockwork.

So, if you live in any of the Gulf states prone to hurricanes or flooding, get your flood insurance a month before then.

For areas at risk during inclement weather, it’s crucial not to procrastinate about getting a flood policy if you want to be covered soon.

For NFIP policies:

There is a 30-day waiting period before flood policies kick in. Any flooding that happens within this time will not be covered by your flood insurance or homeowner’s insurance. The only exception? If you’re moving into a newly-purchased home. (This is to avoid having to pay out too many claims at once, which would put the insurers themselves in dire financial straits). 

For private insurance policies:

Ken acknowledges there’s a lot more flexibility with private flood insurers. Although you’re limited to getting the mortgage company’s approval on a private flood policy, the waiting period is drastically different. It takes anywhere from 15-, 10-, or even 0-day waiting periods for your property to get flood coverage with a private company.  

 

How Much Does Flood Insurance Cost Per Year?

You really can’t put a price on knowing you’ll be taken care of if your property gets flooded… Generally speaking, flood insurance costs will vary based on different factors, like:

  1. Location of your home
  2. Cost and size of your home (this determines how much coverage you need)
  3.  Replacement cost of your home (should be at least equal to your home’s appraisal value)

Through the NFIP, this policy is paid out first. The maximum coverage limit is $250,000, regardless of the cost of your home.

For example, if your home costs $500,000, your NFIP flood policy only covers half in case of a flood (possibly less if your home’s appraisal value has increased).  In this case, Ken recommends getting an excess policy for flooding to cover the additional $250,000 the home is worth. 

 

Do I Need It If I Live in a Condo or Rent an Apartment?

“Be it renting or owning, you want to have some type of insurance in place. Even in the instance of renting, you still need to make sure your personal property is covered.”

—Ken Robinson

Do you even need flood insurance if you’re renting? Ken says yes. 

See that 3-point list of what homeowner’s insurance covers? The same thing applies if you get a renter’s policy (for renting houses or apartments) or a condominium policy (for owning a condo). Again, you’ll need a flood insurance policy to get any coverage for water that comes into your residence from outside and causes damages. 

The chances of experiencing flood damage from anything higher than the first floor are quite slim. Therefore, Ken recommends that residents who live on first-floor units get insurance against floods. 

 

How Do I Know If I’m Buying or Renting In a Flood Zone?

“When you’re speaking with your realtor, that realtor should have that information. There are sites online where you can enter your information to determine if you’re in a flood zone.”

—Ken Robinson

Like many Texas-based insurers, Ken prefers to use the terms high-risk and low-risk when referring to flood zones.

Due to the state’s position near a coast known for hurricanes and sudden, heavy rainfall, he firmly believes the entire cities could be endangered by unexpected floods at any time.

For Renters: 

If you’re about to move, it’s important to ask your realtor or leasing agent about this first. 

Some questions to ask include:

  1. Is this property in a flood zone?
  2. Do you know if it’s in an A-, E-, or X-zone?
  3. Has this property experienced flooding before?
  4. Do you have proof of a flood zone certificate?

Remember, if you’re renting in a first-floor unit in a higher-risk area (even if it’s never flooded before), you’ll likely want to consider flood insurance.

For Homeowners:

Mortgage companies require that you insure high-risk properties in certain zones with a flood policy before they greenlight your loan. 

If the property is in a known or risky area for flooding, then the mortgage company will definitely know. You don’t really need to investigate further, in this case. 

Here’s a simplified way to remember how mortgage companies judge the flood risk of a home:

  • A or B or E zone = higher-risk 
  • X zone = lower-risk 

If your mortgage company says your house is in a flood zone, here’s what happens:

  1. Mortgage company will send a surveyor to inspect the property
  2. Surveyor will provide a flood certificate
  3. The flood certificate will include the designated risk level 

How to Check If You’re In a Flood Zone

Flood zones can come and go, (or get worse).  

When remapping of flood zones occurs, mortgages make sure you’re notified if your property is identified as having a newly changed risk for flooding.

You should receive a letter in the mail informing you if you’re in a higher-risk flood zone. This will also tell you if you’re required to get insurance.

To check an address by yourself, click over to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration website below.  

Are You Living in a Flood Zone? Enter Your Address to Find Out.

If the tool above shows that you’re in a high-risk flood zone, Ken recommends that you get a flood insurance policy as soon as possible.

 

Why New & Current Homeowners Need To Check Flood Risk

“Unfortunately, with the last couple of floods that have happened over the last five years or so, some areas that were initially not in high-risk zones are now in those zones. When those homeowners bought those properties, they were in low-risk zones, but now they’re not. And in some areas that were in high-risk zones, I’ve been seeing some areas that have fallen into low-risk [zones]. So those areas have actually gotten credited for not flooding.”

—Ken Robinson

It’s completely legal to sell property in a flood zone. 

You can also build a home in a flood zone (although it might not be the wisest decision in a higher risk location).

As Ken points out, flood zones and their risk levels can change in as little as five years!

That’s why it’s crucial to verify the flood risk for wherever you live. 

Do it for the sake of either protecting your home and belongings, or to possibly save money on your home insurance.

 

Can I Reduce or Remove Flood Insurance Requirements?

“Increase, yes: flood insurers always want you to have adequate amounts of coverage. Decrease? If there is a mortgage on it, no, they won’t allow you to do that because that loan is still being covered.”

—Ken Robinson

There is one caveat if you own your home (although Ken doesn’t recommend it since it exposes you to a huge risk). However, you have the right to decrease your level of flood insurance coverage if you feel it’s necessary. 

So, Will You Finally Get Flood Insurance?

Why are we covering topics like property insurance? It’s simple:

We want to make sure anyone who’s moving is happy and successful—even if our movers haven’t personally helped you. Your personal property should always be insured against damages or potential loss.

 

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Best Apps for Buying a Home


If you need to move soon and have to find a house fast, there's an app for that! Actually, there are several apps that make house hunting simple enough for you to do anytime, anywhere. But which app is the one that's going to make it easiest for you to find your dream home so you can schedule your Houston movers as soon as possible? The following are some of the top apps to use on your journey to buying a home in the Houston area.

Zillow

Zillow has been a staple in the home buying process for years now. It's so easy to use and has so many listings on it that it's fun to just scroll through it even when you're not in the market for a home! So it's perfect for serious homebuyers and daydreamers alike.

Pros: Zillow allows you to see the history of the listing price and taxes of each home, so you can get an idea of whether it's the best price you're going to get on the house you have your heart set on.

Cons: One of the downsides of Zillow is that it doesn't always list the HOA information. And when it does, it's sort of buried at the bottom of the page, even though you definitely need to know this information upfront if you want a true idea of your monthly cost! Also, Zillow isn't as updated as the Multiple Listing Service (MLS), which is what real estate agents use for listings. That means Zillow doesn't necessarily have access to every home on the market, and sometimes by the time the listing shows up on Zillow, it's already under contract with another buyer.

Trulia

Another popular homebuying app is Trulia. Though it's owned by Zillow, many buyers find that it's actually better during the active home search, since it has a few features that Zillow lacks.

Pros: One of the best details of Trulia is its crime statistics of each area, letting you get an idea of how safe a neighborhood is. In addition, you can easily filter your search using keywords for what you're looking for in your new Houston home, such as all tile, hardwood floors or a pool.

Cons: Since Trulia is owned by Zillow, it shares its main downside. That means you might not be seeing every listing the second it's available when you use Trulia instead of the MLS. But this app is still good for browsing homes, so you can send your real estate agent a list of properties you like and he or she can give you more updated information.

Homesnap

Homesnap is yet another homebuying app you can use to browse homes before you schedule moving day with your local Houston movers.

Pros: The best thing about Homesnap is that it doesn't just give you information on homes for sale. It also lets you learn more about homes that aren't even on the market! So if you're driving down the street and see a beautiful house that stops you in your tracks, just take a picture of it and Homesnap will tell you everything you need to know. If it's for sale, you'll see the list price and all the other details. If it's not, you'll see its past sale prices and estimated value. Plus, this app uses MLS data, meaning it's always updated.

Cons: The search criteria on Homesnap isn't as detailed or precise as other homebuying apps, so it may take more time to find a house you'll love on it. It's better for when you're out driving around searching for houses and just need some information on pricing, contact information and open house hours.

Houston Association of Realtors

The Houston Association of Realtors (HAR) has its own app dedicated to helping locals find homes in the Houston area. If you're looking to stay in Houston, you'll want to try out this app!

Pros: Since this is a local app, you'll only see homes in the Houston area, so there's no extra step of limiting your search criteria to a particular state. Plus, this app lists the HOA information, and it's also connected to the MLS so it gets only updated listings.

Cons: You'll notice HAR doesn't use the Great Schools rating program that many other apps do. This might be a disadvantage if your kids would be transferring into new schools after the move.

You can use any of these apps to find your dream home. And as soon as you do--and once you get a move-in date--be sure to schedule Houston movers to help make moving a breeze! Contact our Houston office today to learn more.


Buying Vs. Renting in Dallas


Dallas is one of the fastest-growing cities in the U.S., so we're not surprised when people want to join in the fun by moving here. This fantastic city has been growing quickly enough to keep Dallas movers busy! But before you make your move, you need to ensure your new home is ready and waiting for you. And that requires you to answer a pretty important question: Are you buying or renting in Dallas? If you're not sure, here's what to consider.

 

Run the Numbers

First, you need to crunch some numbers. You shouldn't be afraid of them. What you should be afraid of is not being able to afford your mortgage in a few months because your calculations were off! You can avoid that by making sure you factor in every expense. When you're buying a home in Dallas, those expenses include:

  • Principle mortgage
  • Interest
  • Property taxes
  • Homeowner's insurance
  • Private mortgage insurance
  • Homeowners' association fees
  • Down payment
  • Home inspection
  • Closing costs

 

On the flip side, when you're renting a home in Dallas, your expenses will likely include:

  • Rent
  • Security deposit
  • Renter's insurance

 

Clearly, you have some math to do. And as much as math can be difficult for many people, it's even more difficult to lose your house because you didn't know just how many bills you'd have. In other words, don't skip this step!

A great way to determine the cost of buying a home in Dallas (or anywhere, really) is to use an online calculator.

Figure Out Your Financial Stability

So you've run the numbers and realized you can afford to buy a home in Dallas. Congratulations! But hold on. Can you still afford to own a home when the water heater breaks down in five years? How about when you lose your job and don't find a new one for three months? You can see where this is going: You need money put away for the unexpected.

 

Granted, even if you rent, it's smart to have savings in case you lose your job. But when you rent, that broken water heater isn't your responsibility. You can call your landlord and wait for a repairperson. When you own, you have to come up with hundreds or even thousands of dollars if you want your appliances to work.

 

Decide How Much Work You're Willing to Do

Even if you have money to outsource repairs, fixing up your home will take time. After all, you'll need to figure out who to hire, meaning you'll be calling around for estimates. When you rent, you only have to call one person -- your landlord -- to schedule repairs.

 

And realistically, you won't be outsourcing every job as a homeowner. If your garbage disposal breaks on a Sunday night, it's probably easier to find an online video that walks you through the repairs than to call an expert -- and pay a premium -- for a minor issue. Basically, be honest with yourself on how much work you want to do before you decide whether to own or rent in Dallas.

 

What Else to Consider

You can see that owning a home is often expensive and time-consuming, but it's also rewarding. Many people enjoy fixing up their home, and you have more freedom to do this when you own. If you don't like the color of your walls, you can paint them. If you've always wanted a jetted bathtub, no one is stopping you from having one installed -- assuming you have the money!

 

Plus, it's not just a place to live. It's an investment. In Dallas, experts say the magic number -- the amount of years you have to stay in your home for buying to make more financial sense than renting -- is seven. So if you can afford to stay for seven years, buying in Dallas may be right for you.

 

Whether you buy or rent, you'll need help moving. Fortunately, both renters and buyers have access to experienced Dallas movers. Simply contact 3 Men Movers today to get a free estimate from Dallas movers who know the area well and would be happy to welcome you to Texas!

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