Archive for October, 2013

Do You Need Flood Insurance?

Thursday, October 24th, 2013

Major weather events such as Hurricanes Katrina and Sandy have demonstrated the devastation that sudden flooding can cause. While major storms like these thankfully don’t happen on a regular basis, even a small amount of flooding can be a major concern for a home owner. It doesn’t necessarily take a big storm to cause trouble: Heavy rains or melting snow can lead to flooding if drainage is insufficient. Anywhere there’s rain, there can be flooding. But how do you know if you need flood insurance?

Fixing flood damage can cost thousands of dollars. Standard home owner’s insurance doesn’t typically cover flooding. The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) offers flood insurance to home owners and renters. People who live in high-risk areas are legally obligated to take out flood insurance if they have a federally backed mortgage. If you live in an area that benefits from a program like NFIP, you will need to take out flood insurance to get a mortgage. Even if you do not live in one of the NFIP communities, your mortgage provider may insist that you take out flood insurance. If none of these provisions applies to you, insurance is your choice, but it’s probably a very good decision. You can find out more about the practicalities of buying flood insurance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

You may be required to take out flood insurance if your mortgage lender specifies this in your policy. Make sure to check out any small print in your mortgage contract. Mortgage lenders often have the right to change the requirement for flood insurance even after your mortgage payments begin. If this happens, your mortgage lender should contact you to let you know that you should buy flood insurance. There are also designated flood-hazard areas defined and categorized by FEMA; these are at higher risk for flooding. It may be hard to buy a home in these areas without adequate flood insurance.

Flood risk often changes over time. FEMA updates flood hazards across the country. Flood maps, also known as Digital Flood Insurance Rate Maps, show flood risk at a property-by-property level. When new maps are issued, your risk may change, as well as whether you will require flood insurance. If your property is mapped out of a high-risk area, your insurance rates can go down. However, if you are mapped into a high-risk area, you will probably be required to purchase flood insurance, if your mortgage is held through a federally regulated or insured lender. You can check out the update schedule on the FloodSmart website

FEMA advises that even houses in low flood-risk areas should have flood coverage. According to FEMA records, since 1978 over a quarter of all flood claims have come from home owners in areas with low or moderate flood risks. According to statistics gathered by the NFIP, within a 30-year mortgage, a home owner has a 9 percent chance of making a claim for fire damage, compared with a 26 percent chance of making a flood-damage claim.

Recipe of the Month

Monday, October 21st, 2013

Tomato Basil Lasagna Rolls

  • 10 uncooked lasagna noodles
  • 1 cup finely chopped sweet onion
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced and divided
  • 1 (24-oz.) jar tomato-and-basil pasta sauce
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper
  • 1 cup low-fat ricotta cheese
  • 2 ounces 1/3-less-fat cream cheese, softened
  • 1 (14-oz.) can baby artichoke hearts, drained and quartered
  • 1 large egg white, lightly beaten
  • 1/4 cup torn fresh basil
  • 1/4 cup (1 oz.) freshly shredded Parmesan cheese
  • Toppings: fresh basil, Parmesan cheese
  1. Preheat oven to 350°. Cook pasta according to package directions for al dente. Drain pasta (do not rinse); arrange in a single layer on a piece of lightly greased aluminum foil or wax paper.
  2. Sauté onion in hot oil in a 3-qt. saucepan over medium heat 7 to 8 minutes or until caramelized. Add two-thirds of minced garlic, and cook, stirring constantly, 1 minute. Stir in tomato sauce and next 2 ingredients. Bring mixture to a boil, stirring often. Reduce heat to low; simmer, stirring often, 5 minutes. Remove from heat.
  3. Stir together ricotta and cream cheese until smooth. Stir in artichoke hearts, next 3 ingredients, and remaining minced garlic. Spread 1/4 cup cheese mixture on 1 noodle. Roll up firmly, and place, seam side down, into a lightly greased 11- x 7-inch baking dish. Repeat with remaining noodles and cheese. Spoon tomato sauce over lasagna rolls.
  4. Bake, covered, at 350° for 45 to 50 minutes or until thoroughly heated and bubbly. Let stand 5 minutes. Sprinkle with desired toppings.

Note: We tested with Classico Tomato & Basil pasta sauce.


Southern Living-October 2013

What You Need To Know About Easements

Monday, October 21st, 2013

As you search for a home, you may have come across the term easement in a listing and wondered what it means. An easement is a legal arrangement by the owner of the property and a non-owner to use the property in some fashion. You may see this term used in listings where a home is located near a public recreational area. For example, the property may come with a walking easement to the nearby lake.

If there are any existing easements between the current seller and a neighbor, the seller’s attorney or the seller’s agent needs to advise the buyer. It’s important to know if easements exist and how they affect the purchase or usage of the home being bought. Easements often allow the use of a pathway between adjacent properties or a pathway to reach a common play area, yard or even a fish pond.

The most common easement is called the right of way, allowing people to pass through. Easement of support refers to excavations of property. Delivery people and meter readers all have the right to step on your property by easement of right of way. Less common are easements of light and air and rights regarding artificial waterways. Easements can be hotly contested, especially where rights to oceanfront property or conservation land are in dispute.

Easements are mostly created by a binding written document. As a rule, courts base the allowance to have an easement on intention of the original parties in each situation. Courts prefer written easements and also consider account customs, habits and practices for the property.

A real estate attorney working  for a home buyer can investigate any current easements connected to the property. The attorney will explain the ramifications to the buyers. Because easements are a property law issue, they are usually straightforward. An easement can be canceled in writing, by expiration date, in estoppel and even by death. For further clarification about your specific situation, consult with a real estate attorney on what easements mean to your home purchase. 2013

Home Repairs To Do Before You Refinance

Monday, October 21st, 2013

Property values have come roaring back. Many can now refinance their loans by virtue of having additional home equity. And increased property values can also put homeowners in a better financial position to sell their home without entering short sale territory. But the fact remains: Everyone wants to attain maximum value for their real estate and home repairs can help. So what’s the best barometer of a home’s true worth? Simple: the amount a ready, willing and able buyer is willing to pay at any given point in time. Unfortunately, appraisal estimates can be skewed, especially when not all the home repairs and improvements are taken into consideration. This is why you should weigh all home improvement decisions carefully before you commit.

When You’re Refinancing

Unlike in years past, the weight of an appraisal to determine the home value for the purposes of refinancing a mortgage is based upon the facts (which are primarily based on other homes that have sold) and what the property description is.

Improvements that may help a refinance valuation:

  • Additional bedroom or bathroom
  • Addition to the lot size
  • Addition to the garage
  • Improvement that expands the “use” of the home

When it comes to improvements such as landscaping, painting, any home improvement more “cosmetic” in nature, realize that the primary benefit is for the enjoyment of the property, not for trying to influence value.

When Selling

A home buyer is going to take into consideration all of the facts associated with the property, location, lot size, square footage, bedrooms and bathrooms, as well as additional cosmetic improvements that have been done that add to the look and feel of the home.

Improvements that may help a sale price:

  • New paint job
  • Freshly maintained landscaping
  • Remodeled and/or upgraded interior
  • Deck and/or patio addition
  • Additional bedroom or bathroom
  • Addition to the lot size
  • Addition to the garage

What’s the Biggest Bang for Your Buck?

These include the high-ticket items that increase square footage. An additional bedroom or an additional bathroom increases the square footage, which in turn allows an appraiser to make higher adjustments when determining valuation against other comparable homes around the subject property.


Let’s say you have funds ready for possibly improving your home for long-term enjoyment. Instead of using the funds to make home improvements in an attempt to enjoy your home more, you might actually see a greater benefit if you used that money toward a refinance. Over time, the money you save from refinancing could then be put toward those home improvements down the road.

Selling in the Near Future

Typically, you won’t get a dollar-for-dollar recapture on the home improvement cost, even when selling. Because the weight is given to improvements that expand the use of the house (i.e. bedroom, bathrooms, etc.), it’s more common to expect 20 cents on the dollar, or maybe 30 cents on the dollar, depending on the improvement in such a scenario. Because the market is the strongest indicator of price, the market will dictate sales price followed by additional improvements and subsequent marketing of the home. 2013

Featured Property of the Week

Thursday, October 10th, 2013



24004 Ridley Rd,   Southampton County 23837

All brick ranch on beautiful, park-like 1.57 acres, 1 mile from Rt.58 and 8 miles from Franklin. Great floor plan with large rooms, large closets, sunroom, new windows, eat-in kitchen, fireplace. Large storage shed with electricity. All schools less than 5 miles away.

Listed by: Margaret Richardson

KITCHENXside yard

Featured Property of the Week

Wednesday, October 2nd, 2013



6100 Mineral Springs Rd   Suffolk, VA 23437

This country retreat boasts tons of upgrades(solid surface counter tops, tile, over-sized garage, vaulted ceilings, jetted tub, & more). Built in 2005 w/an open floor plan, all of the bedrooms including the master are on the 1st floor. There is a huge FROG with a 1/2 bath & stainless steel appliances.

Listed by: Lee Cross



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