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Becoming Cosmopolitan Fundraiser!

Proud to be a returning sponsor for this fun event that benefits Community Cooperative.

Save the date!

Thursday, October 4, 2018

BB Mann Performing Arts Hall

Fun starts at 6:00 pm

Signature cocktails, delicious food bites, sensational boutique shopping, and incredible auction packages, with lots of surprises in between.  Please join us!

Condos Fees Explained...

A lot of people complain about the cost of condo fees and say that is the biggest deterrent from them giving up their single family homes and moving to a condo. However not all condo fees are created equal.  You really must investigate exactly what each condo fee includes and what it doesn't.  Often included are amenities like swimming pool, community spa, fitness room, etc. but what you may not realize is a lot of them also include cable, sometimes internet, building insurance, water, sewer or trash, exterior pest control and much more.  If you add up what you are paying for these items at your current home you may be surprised condo living is actually more affordable than you thought and you gain the advantage of an almost maintenance free lifestyle.  When working with a real estate professional they should be able to fill you in on what is and what is not included.  This great 16th floor condo in Riviera has a ton of amenities and is very affordable for what you get and you simply can not beat the views!!!

Aerial Photography

One of today's must haves if you are selling your home is aerial photography.  It is a great way to show off your large yard, a fantastic pool, or simply a great location.  It is also a good way to highlight neighborhood amenities.  At Riverside Realty Group we try and incorporate aerial photography whenever we can.  It does have some extra costs, but we think it is worth it.   We want to do everything we can to maximize your homes exposure and aerials are a great way to do it.  We use a professional photographer who is registered with the FAA and knows the dos and don'ts of Drone operation. 

This home in Blackhawk was under contract in just 4 days.   Call us today and see how Riverside can help you!

Front entrance way

      Want an easy inexpensive way to spruce up the front of any home?  Add some fresh plants or flowering bushes to planters around the entrance way to give a pop of color.  Sweep off the front porch and around windows and doors and take down any cobwebs or mud dauber nests.  Make sure porch lights are working and are bug free and if needed invest in new lights to give your entrance way a fresh updated look.  And finally add some furniture if there is room to make it more inviting.  These simple things can make a big impact with very little investment.

A great example is this home in McGregor Reserve in Fort Myers.


Hurricane Insurance

New hurricane insurance targets only the higher deductibles


TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – June 11, 2018 – In Florida, discussions about hurricane insurance often focuses more on what isn't covered than what is covered.

Did water rise up through your sliding glass door and damage your wood floor and drywall? Sorry, you need flood insurance for that. Damaged roof tiles didn't exceed your $6,000 deductible? Whip out the credit card. Evacuating and need gas and lodging? Hit the ATM on the way out of town.

Now, homeowners can buy coverage that fills in those gaps. A new insurance product has emerged in Florida that reimburses out-of-pocket expenses not covered by traditional insurance.

Called StormPeace, it's offered by a company, Assured Risk Cover, that promises to wire money to policyholders' bank accounts within 72 hours after storms with no inspections, no adjusters and no deductible.

Policyholders have 45 days to submit proof of loss – receipts, contractors' estimates, even a handwritten affidavit, said Alok Jha, founder and CEO of the Pleasanton, Calif.-based company, which began offering policies to Floridians in 2017.

Homeowners can purchase up to the amount of their hurricane deductible, capped at $60,000. The coverage can be used for a wide range of hurricane-related expenses, including food spoilage, generators, gasoline, damaged fencing, downed trees, flood damage from storm surge, damaged car ports, evacuation expenses and more.

After Hurricane Irma's journey through Florida last year, nearly a third – or 297,000 – of 924,400 insurance claims were closed with no payment, according to the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation. Many of those were because the estimated cost to repair damage fell short of policyholders' deductibles, leaving policyholders to make up the difference.

In a telephone interview, Jha said he left his career in catastrophe risk software modeling about five years ago to concentrate on doing "something meaningful rather than just making money."

After developing and patenting the concept behind StormPeace, he found a venture capital firm to back the company financially and has purchased "tens of millions of dollars" in reinsurance from a major global reinsurance provider, he said.

Homeowners can purchase as little as $1,000 in coverage for the year at prices that depend on where their home is located but average 6 percent of their coverage limit.

Although using it to supplement traditional homeowner insurance policies is the ideal approach, the product is also available to anyone without traditional insurance, including renters and owners of manufactured homes.

The amount of the payout depends on the strength of the storm and how close it gets to a policyholder's home. As the storm passes, the company sends its policyholders an email telling them how much money they can claim.

"As long as the hurricane triggers are met, how the loss occurred doesn't matter," Jha said.

Jennifer Peeples, owner of a Sarasota insurance agency, said she decided to try it out last year and paid $303 for up to $5,000 in coverage. "When the storm passed 26 miles from my home as a Category 2, I got an email saying I qualified for $750 and two days later it was in my account," she said.

She used the money to replace spoiled food, broken fence boards and screens blown out of her screened porch, and to clean up downed limbs in her backyard, she said.

Since then, Peeples has become one of the product's biggest cheerleaders. All nine of her employees are now covered, she said, adding one in four of the agency's new and renewing customers buy it after hearing how it works.

The Florida Association of Insurance Agents endorsed it and has urged its members to offer it to their customers, association president Jeff Grady said.

"We did research on the company and thought they were real professionals, that they knew their stuff," Grady said. "We believed they have strong backing and a thoughtful idea. We want to see if it takes hold in the marketplace."

Another believer is former longtime Florida Insurance Commissioner Kevin McCarty, who has agreed to join the company's board of advisers, the company announced last week.

Neither Jha nor Grady are aware of any competitors offering similar products to homeowners.

But Jha said he wouldn't be surprised if competitors emerge, or even if traditional insurers begin offering comparable coverage to customers.

And that has already happened. In April, Ormond Beach-based Security First Insurance Co. submitted a proposal to offer supplemental Hurricane Expense Coverage for items that have been excluded from their policies.

Depending on what customers choose, coverage would kick in when a loss is caused by sustained hurricane force winds of at least 74 mph or gusts of at least 96 mph.

Benefits would include removal of debris by the company, payment of up to $500 for evacuation expenses and food spoilage, plus payment for damage to awnings, fences, docks or other structures over water, outbuildings, screen enclosures, pool cages and carports.

Security First's proposal is under review by the Office of Insurance Regulation, according to Karen Kees, spokeswoman for the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation.

StormPeace, meanwhile, undergoes no state review because it is sold through an unregulated surplus carrier. In October 2016, an attorney for the state office told StormPeace that it had no objection to the product but might take future administrative actions "should evidence arise" that the company is making false or misleading claims or operating in violation of the law.

Jha hopes to expand to Texas and Louisiana next year and eventually all states on the East Coast and Gulf of Mexico vulnerable to hurricanes, he said.

Sales in Florida so far this year are strong, he said, although he declined to provide specific numbers. But he said the company has exceeded its 2017 sales in just the first eight weeks.

Peeples said her agency has sold 117 policies in the past six weeks. "It's been a very successful program for us," she said.

Copyright © 2018 the Sun Sentinel (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.), Ron Hurtibise. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

Seven Things A First Time Buyer Should do before starting a Home Search

Buying your first home is a big step! It’s wonderful to dream dreams, and it’s easy to get swept up in the excitement of searching property sites like Zillow.com or Realtor.com. Before going too far, however, it’s a good idea to hit the “pause” button and consider these more serious points.   

1. Know when the time is right. Do some soul searching and make sure you want to buy a home because you genuinely want a home—not because you need an investment or simply think it’s “time” to settle down. Homes require a great deal of time, money, and energy to purchase and maintain. You want to love your home. If the timing isn’t right, you may regret the decision.

2. Review your credit score and get a credit report. You can (and should) request a free report once a year, at annualcreditreport.com(link is external). Review your report for any inaccuracies or disputes. It will take time to fix any issues, so start early.

3. Address any weaknesses in your credit history. If you have outstanding credit card or other consumer debt, start paying it off. If you are debt free but have very little credit history, you may need to start establishing a solid credit record. Important caveat: Do not apply for a new line of credit or a credit card if you plan to buy a house right away. Mortgage lenders are interested in a borrower’s well-established track record but may view a new credit line as a “red flag.”

Once you’ve been extended credit, use it and pay it off every month to establish a good record of managing credit obligations and debt. Don’t close old accounts, since they are a part of your history. Instead, use them occasionally – paying them off in full, so they remain active. To show credit worthiness, it’s best to have three or four open accounts, in good standing.

4. Start saving. Buying a home requires saving for a down payment on the purchase price. The more you save towards a down payment (in terms of a percentage of the purchase price), the better your mortgage terms can be. You also need to save money for closing costs. Many first-time buyers are not financially prepared for the cash required at the closing table. Closing costs vary, but on average, you can expect to pay between two and five percent of the purchase price of the house.

Working with your banker to set up a savings plan will help foster a good relationship and may provide a valuable resource when you are ready to apply for a mortgage loan. Let your banker know your plans and your timeline, and ask for their advice on preparing, financially, to purchase your first home.

5. Recognize the responsibilities. Your living costs will probably increase when you shift from renting to owning a home. You will no longer be able to call a landlord when something goes wrong. You are now the landlord, and will have to fix, or pay to repair, anything that goes wrong. Aside from household systems (air conditioning, heat, plumbing, electrical), you may also need to buy or replace major appliances.

The cost of insuring a house is also much higher than renter’s insurance because you aren’t simply insuring the contents of the house—you’re also covering the structure and any liability for visitors who may get hurt while on your property. Additionally, you’ll have to pay property taxes, which is a pretty hard hit for any homeowner, but can be especially challenging for new owners.

6. Get educated. Before you begin looking at houses, educate yourself about the buying process, what to expect, and what to avoid. Do your homework before you start looking to be an informed consumer.

7. Interview buyer’s representatives. Buying a house is a big deal, so you’ll want to select a qualified real estate professional to represent you in your transaction—someone who is both knowledgeable and will look out for your interests.

As a first-time buyer, you may not know there are differences in buyer’s representatives. If you select an Accredited Buyers Representative Like Don Molloy you can be assured you’re working with someone who has received special training in representing buyers and has already established a track record with buyers. 

 Riverside Realty Group & Staging Matters - Fort Myers, Florida  239.313.5544  info@riversidefl.com

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