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Howard Watson

Sales Associate

My Blog

Is Your Wildwood Home Insured for Disaster?

5/19/2011


When it comes to disasters, some are region-specific while others are equal opportunity destroyers. According to
Houselogic.com, the specific risks for your area determine the kind of insurance needed to protect your home and belongings. Check the policy on your Wildwood home to see if you're covered for the risks outlined below. In some cases, you may need to buy supplemental insurance for complete coverage.

Flooding
- Pretty much every region is at risk for this. You're even more susceptible if you live in a low-lying area, near a pond or lake, or downstream from a dam. Flood damage is not covered by most regular insurance policies, so check with your insurer about extra coverage. On average, flood insurance costs $540 per year--a lot less than the average flood claim of $33,000 without it.

Hurricanes - We in the Wildwood area are at risk, as is most of the East Coast. You may need additional coverage or have to join a state-run pool for hurricane and wind storm coverage.  Additionally, you may need a separate policy for flooding from tidal or groundwater surge. Costs range from $300 in low-risk areas to up to $20,000 for those at higher risk and/or with high-end homes.

Earthquakes - Although New Jersey is not a high-risk area, earthquakes are still possible since fault lines run through most U.S. regions. Check with your carrier for coverage and cost options.

Tornadoes
- Our risk is not as high as in the Central U.S., but tornadoes have occurred in our area. Keeping your homes exterior in good condition can help minimize high-wind damage.  Tornadoes are usually covered in a general policy, but check with your agent to be sure.

Wildfires - This disaster can and does affect everyone. In 2008, homes in every state but Hawaii had wildfire damage from flames, soot, smoke, and water to douse the fire. Most standard policies cover fire, but verify your specific coverage regarding cleanup costs and replacement values. Price varies by region and can run from $477 to $1,409.

Mines
- This one is not often addressed and deals with homes built over or near abandoned mines. If the ground shifts, homes can suffer structural damage. It's not generally part of a homeowner's policy, but coverage is available through state-sponsored pools. Where you live determines cost, so check with your insurer.

Once you have the right coverage for your area, remember to create your home inventory and store it out of your house. It's also a good idea to have both a family evacuation plan and an emergency kit with supplies of food, water and other items to keep you going if you're in a shelter. Preparation and good insurance can help you better handle any disasters that come your way.

Being prepared and covered for disasters is the right thing to do. I am prepared to help you buy or sell the perfect property in the Wildwoods area. I will provide the personalized attention you want, need, and deserve when selling or buying property. I am committed to working with you, using cutting edge and innovative technology and measures to produce your optimum result. Together, we will find the perfect Wildwoods property  to meet your needs.

Bring Your Wildwood Yard Back to Life

5/12/2011

This past winter pummeled most everyone. For many Wildwood homeowners, the damage is evident with broken tree branches, brown shrubs, and lawns that look rather unhealthy. If you plan to put your house on the market this summer or just like a great-looking yard, CNNMoney.com offers some easy fixes to a few common problems.

  • Rock Salt for Ice Melt on Grass or at Base of Shrubs and Trees - The best remedy for this is to soak the affected areas with a hose several times, because the soil needs extra water to dilute all that salt. If the plant is completely brown, you'll need to replace it with a more salt-tolerant species. For dead grass, scrape away the affected areas and reseed. This fix costs nothing unless you replace a plant or reseed, and even then it's pretty minimal.
  • Snow, Ice or High Wind has Cracked Branches - To help heal your ornamental trees, hold the branch to where it tore and wrap the branch loosely in burlap. Plan to leave the wrapping there until fall. If that doesnt work, youll need to prune. Cut shrubs to just above a live bud; cut tree branches to the next healthy limb. You can do this yourself with a ladder and chain saw, but for damage high up, consider calling a certified arborist. (Check out http://isa-arbor.com/ for names.) The cost is $100 to $200 to have a branch or two removed from an average-sized tree.
  • Pests Ate the Bark of Trees/Shrubs - The snow kept them from their regular food sources, so they turned to your trees and damaged the plants ability to absorb nutrients. If the little critters only munched one or two spots, the plant should survive. If they ate all the way around, there's trouble. Take a picture of the damage to your local nursery to ask their opinion or check with an arborist. The arborists assessment will run you $65 to $75. Full tree removal can be $500 to $1500 per tree.
  • Grass Isn't Growing - The heavy snow and length of time on the ground might have compacted the soil, which means it needs oxygen to start growing. Rent an aerator machine from your local hardware store and run it over the lawn. Renting an aerator for four hours is about $60.

Even though the yard looks devastated, much of it can be fixed with a little time, some sweat equity, and maybe a bit of cash. Dont let those Winter Warlocks have the last laugh!

A great-looking yard is always eye-catching, especially if you're planning to sell. I am prepared to help you buy or sell the perfect property in the Wildwoods area. I will provide the personalized attention you want, need, and deserve when selling or buying property. I am committed to working with you, using cutting edge and innovative technology and measures to produce your optimum result. Together, we will find the perfect Wildwoods property to meet your needs.

Wildwood Home Inventories: A Remedy for Disaster

5/5/2011



You love every inch of your
Wildwood home, and all that's in it. But if you experienced a fire, flood, theft or other disaster that damaged or destroyed your home's contents, could you remember and list everything you own? If you're honest, the answer is no.  A home inventory, created in advance of disaster, will help ensure that you can replace damaged or stolen items with very little effort. 

 

According to an article in Houselogic.com, a home inventory is essential regardless of the value of a home's items. If you're paying for insurance, you need to be able to prove ownership and document the value of every item. Otherwise, filing an insurance claim will be a nightmare as you try to list things from memory.

 

You can create a simple paper list of your possessions, but experts say using a digital camera and camcorder will benefit you more. Walk through your house and take pictures of everything you own, including things in closets and drawers. With a camcorder, you can talk about each item as you film it, noting important details such as the kind of stones in jewelry or whether something is an antique. For electronics, get close-up shots of serial numbers.  Supplement the pictures with a printed checklist that has brands, quantities, serial numbers and estimated values of items. Your insurance adjuster will ask for this when you file a claim.

 

While having the inventory is great, it will be no good to you wet, burned up, or gone with a stolen computer. It needs to be stored somewhere out of the house, perhaps on one of the many online backup services. Or save the files on a USB drive and store in a safe-deposit box or in a relative's home. If nothing else, keep it in an emergency bag with other essentials that you'll grab as you run out the door. You should store receipts and appraisals of value in the same way.

 

Finally, make sure to compare the estimated value of your things to your insurance policys replacement coverage. If values exceed the limits of your policies, you can consider buying extra coverage.

 

Having a home inventory will give you peace of mind that if disaster strikes, you can take care of your family first and worry about your stuff second.

 

Preparing a home inventory makes you a responsible owner no matter where you live. I am prepared to help you buy or sell the perfect property in the Wildwoods area. I will provide the personalized attention you want, need, and deserve when selling or buying property. I am committed to working with you, using cutting edge and innovative technology and measures to produce your optimum result. Together, we will find the perfect Wildwoods property  to meet your needs.

The Right Way to Fence

4/30/2011



Whether it's for privacy, curb appeal, or to keep the kids safe, you've decided to fence in your
Wildwood home. From the Houselogic web site, here are some tips to make sure that your neighbors will appreciate the new addition as much as you do.

 

One major tenet that you must follow is to know and stay within your property line. Study your home's plot plan or have a new survey done. Going even one inch onto a neighbor's property will mean tearing the fence down and starting over.

 

Make sure you (or your fencing company) have obtained a permit and know the local zoning laws for height, placement, or other restrictions. Typical height limits are six feet for back and side yards, and four feet for front yards. This could be different for a corner lot if the fence will inhibit the visibility of drivers. To build over the limits, you'll have to apply to your zoning board for a variance, and neighbors can share any concerns at the hearing.

 

If you're part of a homeowners association, you must follow their rules even before the local laws. This can include specific style, height, and maintenance regulations. Remember that a fencing company may not know these requirements, and it's your job to tell them.

 

There are also some non-required but nice things to do to keep your neighbors on your side.

  • Tell them about the fence before installing it, and make sure everyone agrees on property lines.
  • While not a must, it's common practice to put the nicer, finished side of the fence facing your neighbors.
  • Do maintenance on both sides of the fence whenever needed. 

If a neighbor damages your fence, document with pictures and try to work it out. If not, your option is small claims court.

 

Remember that a fence is anything that creates a barrier, such as trees or hedges, and the same rules of zoning and neighbor etiquette apply. With a little knowledge and consideration, you can keep the good will of your neighbors even after the fence goes up.

 

Whether you like your home fenced in or wide open, I am prepared to help you buy or sell the perfect property in the Wildwoods area. I will provide the personalized attention you want, need, and deserve when selling or buying property. I am committed to working with you, using cutting edge and innovative technology and measures to produce your optimum result.  Together, we will find the perfect Wildwood property to meet your needs.

Everyone Seems to Agree: It's Time to Buy Real Estate!

4/8/2011
 

If you're a Wildwood homeowner, you know that the news in the world of real estate can be confusing. This is especially true in the current market, where volatility is the watchword. In a recent posting on the Keeping Current Matters blog, it was noted that this can create a rock-and-hard-place environment for those reporting on trends in the marketplace. In turn, this can create confusion for anyone trying to build a clear understanding of what's happening on a day-to-day basis. In order to allay some of this confusion, KCM reported on the perspective of an insider within the investment community.


Back in January, Jim Woods of the Wall Street Journal's digital network wrote an article entitled Why Your Best Investment is a House. In that article, Mr. Woods drew a very timely comparison between the investment potential of real estate versus investment in other assets such as stocks and precious metals. Mr. Woods concluded that:


One reason your best investment right now could be a home has to do with the relative upside of getting in on an asset class while its at the bottom versus buying into other asset classes that could be near a top. Consider for a moment the tremendous upside weve seen in stocks, precious metals and agricultural commodities over the past 12 months...

If you're a long-term investor looking to put money to work, now is not really the best time to get into any of these three asset classes.
However, with home sales starting to improve, and with prices now possibly forming a bottom, real estate could well be the asset class that represents the best low-risk buying opportunity out there today.


As for financing, Mr. Woods noted that:


Yes, mortgage rates still are near historical lows, but if we see these rates rise, then the cost of a new home could climb significantly. So, now could really be the best time to pull the trigger on that home purchase and it could also be your best investment right now.


The
Wall Street Journal seems to share the perspective of many Realtors®, including me: Its time to buy real estate. I am prepared to help you buy or sell the perfect property in the Wildwoods area. I will provide the personalized attention you want, need, and deserve when selling or buying property. I am committed to working with you, using cutting edge and innovative technology and measures to produce your optimum result. Together, we will find the perfect Wildwoods property to meet your needs.

It's Spring Time to Assess Winter's Toll

4/1/2011
 

If you're a Wildwood homeowner, you know that this winter has been extraordinarily rough. Between relentless snow from November to February, and constant March rain showers, your home and property no doubt took some serious hits. Local experts have noted that this winter was just as bad as as those of 1986 and 1995! And that virtually nonstop bad weather has wrought havoc on homes and property here in our area. Now that things are starting to warm up (at least according to the calendar), it's time to survey the damage and get going on cleanup and repairs.

If you have a basement, there's a better than average chance that you've got unwanted water there.

We have seen a dramatic increase in the number of calls from customers, says Bob Lindsay, president of Weather-Tite Waterproofing in Saddle Brook. Home owners are seeking a permanent remedy so that they never have to deal with this type of situation again, he says.

For mold and mildew, Lindsay says to look for fuzzy-looking black staining along the bottom of walls, grayish/green spots, and a general musty odor. Lindsay, who has been in the waterproofing business for 19 years, suggests hiring an independent lab to conduct testing; they can determine what type of mold is present. Then a mold-remediation contractor can be brought in. This avoids a conflict of interest and can potentially save home owners a large amount of money, as not all molds are toxic, Lindsay said.

Damage to your roof and/or gutters can be identified by stains on wood in the attic, and on walls and ceilings throughout your home. Bubbling or flaking paint is another sure sign of water damage. Experts note that you can identify problems on the roof if shingles are missing, or if there are bulging spots. However, it's highly recommended that a professional be brought in to do any necessary repairs. Repairs that include more than 25% of the total square footage of a roof will require a building permit; note that the same measures apply to siding.

The interiors [of homes] were hit hard by ice dams in the gutters that got under the roof and thawed, says Frank Sacco, a New Jersey painting professional for 25 years. Once the roof and gutters are repaired, you're likely able to do some of the interior work yourself. Put drop cloths on the floor. Wearing a dust mask, use a putty knife to remove loose material on walls and ceilings. Apply a light coat of spackle on and slightly beyond the damaged area. Once the spackle is dry, sand it in a circular motion; wear down the edges so that the repair blends into the area around it. Then brush or roll on primer, followed by a top coat of paint.

The inclement weather may have caused blistering paint and moisture buildup on your deck and the exterior of your home. You'll want to hire a professional, and you can expect things to be hectic. Get on a list now, and remember that decks can't be treated if the temperature is over 80 degrees. They're best done in April, May, June, September or October.

Assess and take the steps now to get your Wildwood home spruced up for the summer months. I am prepared to help you buy or sell the perfect property in the Wildwoods area. I will provide the personalized attention you want, need, and deserve when selling or buying property. I am committed to working with you, using cutting edge and innovative technology and measures to produce your optimum result. Together, we will find the perfect Wildwoods property to meet your needs.

Use Recycled Plastic to Brighten Your Wildwood Yard

3/25/2011
 

Take a tip from the American Chemistry Council when you're doing landscaping at your Wildwood home. Whether you're a fan of our famous doo wop scene, or you just want to brighten things up a little, use recycled plastic for everything from vertical gardens to decking. Check out these tips for incorporating more recycled plastic from designer Leslie Segrete.

Manufacturers are turning more and more to composite lumber (made with recycled plastic shopping bags and milk jugs) for decking and fencing. The benefits of composites are numerous: they resist fading, thanks to the inclusion of UV-inhibiting pigments; they're usually resistant to water and stains; and they don't attract termites and other wood-loving bugs.

Vertical and hanging gardens are a true gift for those who don't choose to add greenery in the traditional horizontal ways. Add unique beauty and charm by putting soil and plants directly into lightweight plastic pockets and hanging them on an outdoor wall. The range of colors and configurations is limited only by your imagination.

Just like composite lumber, bright and beautiful outdoor furniture is now made from a variety of eco-friendly post-consumer recycled containers, including plastic milk jugs, detergent containers, and margarine tubs. You can have it made in the shade while being completely green-conscious.

Do you love to garden? Check out garden gloves and kneeling pads made from water-resistant plastic fibers. And you're sure to dig the fact that each glove diverts one plastic water bottle from the earth's waste stream!

If you have small ornamental trees on your deck or patio, you know that in addition to being beautiful, they're fun to move around so that your space looks different every week. Use lightweight plastic planters to make the redesigning even easier.

I am prepared to help you buy or sell the perfect property in the Wildwoods area. I will provide the personalized attention you want, need, and deserve when selling or buying property. I am committed to working with you, using cutting edge and innovative technology and measures to produce your optimum result. Together, we will find the perfect Wildwoods property to meet your needs.

Raising Your Neighborhood's Curb Appeal

3/21/2011
 

If you're planning to sell your Wildwood home, you no doubt know that creating curb appeal is the best way to make your home stand out from the crowd. But what happens when your house looks terrific, but the problem lies in the house next door or across the street?

As the number of vacant homes especially those vacant due to short sales and foreclosures grows, it's possible to find not just single dwellings but entire neighborhoods looking unappealing (and hence, unfriendly) to potential buyers. Hard times have, for many, translated by necessity into deferred home maintenance.

But take heart! There are things you can do about your neighbors' unsightly properties. Just remember, it's smartest to act on the problematic home before your home is listed. Your first move should always be to talk with the owner of the property. Explain your issue, and see if it's possible to strike a compromise. Many homeowners even those who are floundering financially are willing to work with you, once they realize that the condition of their property may be a hindrance to potential sales.

If you've tried the one-on-one approach and it hasn't worked, or if you don't have a good relationship with your neighbors, your real estate agent should be willing to talk with them. And if that doesn't work, check with your municipality. There are almost always ordinances which regulate a property's appearance, and your neighbor's property may be in violation of local health and/or safety standards.

Especially in today's Wildwood market, a poorly maintained property even if it's vacant can lengthen the marketing time for it and for the houses around it. I am prepared to help you buy or sell the perfect property in the Wildwoods area. I will provide the personalized attention you want, need, and deserve when selling or buying property. I am committed to working with you, using cutting edge, innovative technology and measures to produce your optimum result. Together, we will find the perfect Wildwoods property to meet your needs.

Great Reasons to Sell Your Jersey Shore Home Now

3/11/2011
 

In a recent blog on Keeping Current Matters, there were several terrific reasons listed for selling a home now, during the early spring, rather than waiting until later in the year. Read on to learn why now is the time to list your home in order to get the greatest return...

Mortgage interest rates are climbing. While last year saw historic lows, interest rates are now over 5% and working their way slowly upward. Sure, a rate increase can initially work to your advantage by forcing buyers who may have been dragging their feet to get off the fence. But sellers need to understand that the net effect of rising interest rates is that the loan amount for which you potential buyers can qualify will be decreased. This means an eventual overall price reduction in the marketplace.

Of course, that price reduction can be great for you, if you plan to follow the sale of your current home with the purchase of your dream home. Sit down and crunch the numbers; just remember that as a buyer you're going to feel the effects of those climbing interest rates. There will likely never be a better time, especially as pertains to the selection of properties available, to buy, so if the figures look attractive, act now.

Industry watchdogs are finding that buyers are coming out earlier this year. According to Pete Flint, CEO of Trulia, Were seeing a national resurgence of buyer and seller activity on Trulia.com. In January alone, we experienced an unprecedented level of site traffic including 11 million unique visitors which is more than 70 percent year-over-year growth. We are now experiencing 100,000 property views per minute.

The marketplace is competitive, and will only become more so with every passing week. Spring traditionally means increased inventory, and the weak market of the past 3-4 years is likely going to mean a fully-saturated market this spring. Selling now puts you ahead of the curve.

The foreclosure crisis has created a bottleneck of discounted properties which have been delayed in coming onto the market. Because foreclosures, on average, sell at a 41% discount, these properties will create stiff competition for traditional sellers when they're released within the next few months. Avoid this by finding a buyer for your home now.

I am prepared to help you sell your home in the Wildwoods area. I will provide the personalized attention you want, need, and deserve when selling or buying property. I am committed to working with you, using cutting edge and innovative technology and measures to produce your optimum result. Together, we will find the perfect Wildwoods property to meet your needs.

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