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First-Time Homebuyers

Some Things to Consider Before Moving in to a New Home

New home-insurance-roofing-=fortified-flood
New home-insurance-roofing-=fortified-flood

When shopping for a home, aesthetics and design features are important, but understanding the flood risk, wildfire risk, and state of the roof are critical.

Julie Shiyou-Woodard

President and CEO, Smart Home America

“It’s your first line of defense against severe weather, but if your roof is not correctly installed or maintained, it can be your home’s weakest link.”

Congratulations on being a first-time homebuyer!

Understanding your risks before you buy a home can better protect your investment and help ensure the longevity of your home.

Most homeowners only think of their roof when it leaks. It is your first line of defense against severe weather, but if the roof is not correctly installed or maintained, it can be your home’s weakest link. We highly recommend completing a comprehensive roof inspection as part of your due diligence before closing on the property.

The roof is top priority

If the house needs a new roof, we recommend re-roofing to the FORTIFIED Roof™ standard. FORTIFIED is a voluntary construction and re-roofing program designed to strengthen homes against severe weather, such as high winds, hail, hurricanes, and even tornadoes. A FORTIFIED home can decrease maintenance costs and insurance policy premiums.

By re-roofing or building a new FORTIFIED home, homebuyers can have more confidence in their housing and be more likely to recover faster after a disaster. In addition, FORTIFIED and other beyond-code construction methods, such as Wildfire Prepared Home™, can be implemented affordably, minimizing the dangerous stressors of financial insecurity and displacement.

Home insurance tips

We know the house shopping and closing process is hectic, but you must ensure your new home is adequately insured. Depending on where you live, you may have multiple insurance policies and deductibles, such as wind, flood, earthquake, and basic homeowners insurance, which covers fire, theft, and personal liability.

The first step is to shop for an insurance policy with at least three companies, which allows you to compare coverages, limits, and costs. Once you choose an insurance policy, we strongly recommend reviewing your policy every year and updating it as needed to ensure your policy keeps up with your life changes. Don’t hesitate to change insurance companies or agents if you need coverage your current carrier cannot provide. Remember, the cheapest insurance is not always the best insurance.

When opening an insurance policy, we recommend you choose replacement cash value, ordinance and law coverage, loss of use coverage, and water backup. Ensure that the coverages you choose are enough to rebuild your house from the ground up if damaged. A tip is to calculate the average cost to rebuild your home per square foot times the square footage of the house. On average, the price per square foot to rebuild should be no less than $125 and may be more in your city.

Also, if it rains at your house, it can flood. Flood insurance is not part of typical homeowners’ insurance policies. You can purchase flood insurance through FEMA’s National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) or from private insurance companies. Compare several companies’ coverage limits, premiums, and deductibles to find the right policy for your situation. Flood insurance is required if you are in a Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA). Outside of the SFHA, flood insurance is typically affordable.

Mitigation saves money

Our final recommendation is to keep up with your state’s insurance and tax incentives for mitigation. Your state may offer a catastrophe savings tax deduction. This deduction allows you to set aside funds for your insurance deductible and save money on state taxes. Other savings, such as credit for hurricane shutters, safe rooms, FORTIFIED, and flood protection systems, may also be available. Some states also offer grants to help strengthen homes.

Homeownership is an exciting journey, and we want you to be successful. Please visit our website and contact us if we can help.

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