Ok, raise your hand if you LOVE paying insurance premiums. No? Me neither. It’s a strange concept: hoping that misfortune WON’T find you, but paying little chunks of money in advance just in case.
Over the decades (I won’t say how many!) I have shelled out a substantial amount of money on several properties at any given time, not only for peace of mind, but because mortgage companies require it. I have only ever filed ONE claim, when the 150′ fence at my rental blew down in a storm. And then the insurance only covered an age-depreciated amount (after the deductible, naturally).
On the evening of October 5, 2011, I was enjoying a lovely Happy-New-Home celebration with a client and several of her friends and family members, when a freak HAILSTORM came out of nowhere! I had never seen hail that big. My only concern at the time was driving home on the hail-covered streets (even with my trusty all-wheel-drive Subaru). It never even occurred to me that, had my car not been parked under the huge Farmer’s Market trees, it may (as many others did) have sustained hail damage.
Fast forward nine months. A roof report on one of my listings says “HAIL DAMAGE; recommend replacing roof.” In all my 24 years of real estate in Chico, I have never seen such a thing. I call my roofer to take a look (who is as honest as the day is long and an excellent roofer to boot), and he concurs.
The following week I got a note on my door at home from a thoughtful neighbor saying his insurance company had agreed to replace his roof due to HAIL DAMAGE and recommending I get my roof checked. So I hauled out my ladder and climbed up to look in my gutter. Sure enough, it was FILLED with granules from the shingles. Another call to my favorite roofer confirmed: HAIL DAMAGE.
The insurance adjuster came out on one of our first blistering hot days and spent close to an hour climbing around on the roof. Gotta give her credit for taking her job so seriously! She confirmed the hail damage. So now I await the final verdict on my SECOND-EVER insurance claim. (Of course, I know I will be paying the deductible, but it will be interesting to see whether they depreciate for age of the roof.)
My understanding is the window for filing a claim is one year from the event. So if you (or someone you know) suspects damage from that 10/5/11 hailstorm, the time to act is now! (Just don’t expect a new roof anytime soon…the Chico roofers are booked for the foreseeable future.)
So many foreclosed homes sitting vacant, deteriorating by the minute, dragging neighborhood values down. What to do?
A client recently sent a Sacramento Bee article to me about an amazing program called “Homes 4 Wounded Heroes” aimed at placing injured veterans in foreclosed properties. Military Warriors Support Foundation awards mortgage-free homes to wounded heroes injured during combat in Iraq and Afghanistan. In addition to the home, the soldiers and their families receive 3 years of family and financial mentoring.
Since being launched in 2010, nearly 100 homes have been awarded. A spokesperson for Chase Bank (one of the financial institutions involved in the program) stated, “These are houses in our inventory, and we plan to donate 1,000 of them in the next five years to these heroes.”
To qualify, the veteran must have suffered combat-related injuries, can no longer be serving in the military and cannot own another home. After three years, if they maintain regular contact with the financial and family mentors, the program turns over the home’s mortgage-free deed to them.
The Foundation also offers a program called “Skills 4 Life,” which provides recreational outings and family mentoring, as well as educational scholarships and employment assistance.
Check out the article here for more information. Wow…a bright, shiney “silver lining” in the dark cloud of distressed properties these past few years!
Saw a little blurb in last week’s Chico News & Review on the Water Ripper , a new sports toy invented by local Chico architect/toy & puzzle designer Tim Leefeldt (just in time for summer!) . Checked out the website, and it looks like a lot of fun! (Especially for us frustrated rock skippers.) It’s available on the Water Ripper website for $9.95 or at these local stores:
* Bird in Hand, 320 Broadway, Chico CA
* Zucchini & Vine, 2nd St. & Main
* Chico Sports Ltd, 698 Mangrove Ave.
* Trailhead Adventures, 6265 Skyway, Paradise, CA
Might just have to order a few for our upcoming 4th of July Burghardt Family Reunion and take the kiddies down to One-Mile in Bidwell Park to try ‘em out! (Click here to view the Water Ripper in action!)
What are today’s home buyers looking for? According to a survey* of 22,000 recent home buyers, they plan to be “more practical” in their next purchase, focusing on livable space rather than “unnecessary upgrades.” Extras such as pools, media rooms and even dining rooms are considered unnecessary luxuries, with the focus being more on such things as:
- Efficient use of space (e.g. cabinets that go all the way to the ceiling)
- More workable kitchens (islands are still quite popular)
- “Greener” features (insulation, high-efficiency appliances)
- Nearby walking paths and playgrounds
Some features that are still important to buyers, however, include a home office, minimum two-car garage, and master suite on the ground floor (if it’s a two-story home).
Of course, I think most buyers these days (40% of whom are first-timers) are also looking for a good deal. With interest rates and prices at historic lows, and with a small window of opportunity to cash in on the tax credits now available, what better time to be a buyer? Feel free to browse current Chico properties for sale at my web site: www.ChicoLaura.com
Once again, our little town of Chico is in a nationwide “Top 10″ list of best places to live! This time it’s the April 2010 issue of Men’s Journal. I haven’t seen the actual magazine yet (hopefully it’s not sold out here in Chico), but I did catch the local Chico E-R newspaper article. According to staff writer Laura Urseny, “How the university provides a plus to the community was mentioned, as well as the cultural and arts amenities that Chico provides.”
Chico’s legacy of “Best Of” ratings includes:
- “Best Place to Retire” (2008 U.S. News & World Report, 2005 and 2006 CNN Money.com and 1998 Kiplinger’s Personal Finance)
- “Best Green Places to Live” (2007 U.S. News Report)
- “Best Mid-Size Downtowns” (2007 California Planning & Development Report)
- “Fastest Commute Time” (2006 Money Magazine)
- “Best Small Art Town in America” (2003, Author John Villani)
- “Best Places in America” (2000 Forbes Magazine)
- “Best Bike Town in America” (1997 Bicycling Magazine–it rated Chico #1!)
- “10 Greenest Colleges in America” (2008 The Daily Green)