Some consumers have a lot of false assumptions about the housing market – and those beliefs may cause them to miss out on a great house.
HouseLogic.com recently featured some of the biggest misconceptions that buyers have, including:
Bottom line - If you've found your dream home and the 20% rule is out of reach, give us a call. We work with reputable lenders who have a variety of products that will be able to help you. Even though interest rates are inching up little by little, they are still at historic lows and it's a great time to buy.
Buying and selling at the same time begins with understanding your needs and your financial situation. Most clients who are buying and selling at the same time are “move-up” buyers or are downsizing. Typically, they fall into one of the following categories:
Talk to a Lender
The discussion with your lender should give you an understanding of what you qualify for, the monthly payments, closing costs and how interest rates will affect the monthly payment. The lender can help you determine if you must sell before buying, if you can buy non-contingent on the sale of your home (selling your home at a later date), or if you can buy non-contingent and just need to rent your home. Exploring each of these options is very important.
The Selling Process & Current Market
The best market analysis of your home is what a buyer in an open market will agree to pay within a given timeframe.
Since that cannot be achieved without actually putting your home on the market, you will want an agent who knows your market well enough to review your home’s condition. The agent will then evaluate it against other homes nearby that have sold as well as against what is currently on the market. With that estimated sales price, you can determine the “equity” you will take from the property after fees and taxes are paid. It is best to review a range of prices from “worst case” to “best case” selling prices. Further, an agent can assess what your home may rent for if you decide to keep it.
The Scenarios for Buying and Selling at The Same Time
The Bottom Line
If you're thinking about a move-up (or down), we are happy to meet with you and discuss the right plan of action for your current situation. We're here to help so contact us and let's talk.
Credit Sue Goodhart
Warm weather, blue waves, Cuban food and Disney World – do you really need more reasons than that to move to Florida? If the Wizarding World of Harry Potter and manatees don't do it for you, maybe the lax income taxes and plentiful credits will. If you're a little less easily persuaded – or maybe just really fiscally responsible – you'll be happy to know that in Florida, the sun shines on plenty of tax perks.
In terms of taxes, one of the key benefits of moving to Florida is what isn't there – namely, state income taxes. Alongside just six other states in the U.S., Florida does not impose income tax. The law is written in the state constitution, making it highly unlikely to change, and even better, that constitution prohibits municipalities and counties from levying personal income tax too.
Similarly, via its 2001 Economic Growth and Tax Relief Reconciliation Act, the Sunshine State does not impose a state death tax or a state-level estate tax. In response to conservative tax reform passed in late 2017 that limits tax deductions for many earners, among other measures, Florida Governor Rick Scott told the New York Post, "I want to personally welcome anyone escaping high tax states to join the hundreds of thousands of their former neighbors who have already moved to Florida."
Florida Tax Benefits: Personal
The tax advantages of living in Florida don't end at the lack of state income tax; many perks come in the form of personal tax breaks. If you own a home in Florida, the Save Our Home Act provides a homestead exemption, protecting the first $50,000 of your home's taxable value from taxation (except for school district taxes, which only have a $25,000 exemption – but it's for a good cause).
When it's time for your kids to hit the books, don't sweat the taxes. Every August, Florida hosts a tax-free weekend for school supplies that cost up to $60. Don't forget the other summertime tax holiday, which removes taxes on preparedness items like portable lights, radios, first-aid kits, generators and batteries.
Florida Tax Benefits: Business
Like its actual climate, Florida's tax climate is extremely welcoming to businesses. Here's just a sampling of the business-related taxes you won't have to pay in the Florida: corporate income tax on limited partnerships or subchapter S-corporations, corporate franchise tax on capital stock, property tax on business inventories or goods-in-transit (for up to 180 days on the latter), sales tax on the purchase of raw materials for use in a product intended for resale or sales or use tax on the co-generation of electricity.
As a state all too familiar with rising sea levels, Florida also offers a bevy of environmentally minded exemptions. These include exemptions for the use of electricity or steam used in manufacturing, natural gases used to generate electricity and solar energy systems.
With all the tax advantages of relocating to the Sunshine State, it makes sense consider that second or permanent home in a State that offers incentives. Whether you're ready to move, or considering a change in your life, reach out to us, we can help.
By Dan Ketchum
Navigating the Waters
A real estate contract can be confusing for both buyers and sellers, especially for first-timers. Not only is there plenty of jargon that many may not be familiar with, there are also many deadlines stipulated that must be met. Failure for these deadlines to be satisfied can result in a dead deal, which is why it’s essential that all necessary parties do their due diligence to meet these milestones. Our team is here to make sure both parties fulfill their obligations to ensure a smooth transaction.
Although there are many dates and deadlines in a real estate contract, most of the time they’re not all used. The following are some of the more common deadlines that will be stipulated in a real estate contract that both buyers and sellers need to stick to.
If the buyer does not submit the earnest deposit check with the offer, there will be a certain timeframe within which it will need to be handed in. Usually, this deadline would be anywhere between 24 hours to a few days after offer acceptance. By law, an agent is not able to retain any escrow funds in their possession beyond the legal time limit. There may be a requirement for a second deposit to be made into escrow, which will be stipulated in the contract. Some buyers in Florida require a 5 to 10% total escrow deposit, some lower. Keep in mind, the higher the escrow deposit, indicates to the seller the you are a serious buyer.
The seller is obligated to submit the existing title insurance policy or title abstract within two to three weeks after the date of the real estate contract and before closing. If not, the seller will be obligated to issue a credit to the buyer.
Real estate contracts can come with any number of contingencies, depending on what the buyer or seller agree to. That said, the more common contingencies tend to be for financing, home inspections, and appraisals. These contingencies need to be either fulfilled or waived before a specific date, or the deal can fall through. In addition specifying the contingencies in the offer, the contract will also stipulate specific deadlines for each.
For instance, the default home inspection contingency deadline for the buyer in Florida is 15 days, which is when the inspection will need to be completed and the contingency waived. However, the buyer can specify another date in which the inspection will be completed by. We are beginning to see many sellers requesting a 10 day inspection period, which allows the sellers more flexibility to get the home back on the market should the sellers not meet the buyers demands.
HOA Disclosure Summary
If the property in question is run by a homeowner’s association, then the HOA documents need to be delivered by the seller to the buyer within a certain timeframe. This will provide the buyer with enough time to review the documents to ensure they are satisfactory. If purchasing a condo, villa, or townhome in Florida, your lender will request these documents to ensure the property is "warrantable".
The real estate contract also requires the seller to request these documents from the HOA within 3 days following offer acceptance. By default, the buyer has 15 days from acceptance to waive the HOA disclosure contingency, or cancel the contract altogether.
The buyer may obtain any survey of the property to identify if there are any setback violations or encroachments on the property. The seller will have a deadline to deliver the survey, after which the buyer has a certain amount of time to review the survey and notify the seller of any issues before the contract closing date.
If the buyer does not obtain a survey from the seller or communicate any grievances within the time frame specified in the contract, the buyer can no longer make any objections to issues that probably would have been evident in a survey.
When the buyer initially submits an offer, the seller will have a certain amount of time to either accept or counter it. Usually, the deadline to communicate offer acceptance or a counter offer is 11:59 pm of the same day, or even a day or two later depending on the day of the week. If the offer is accepted within the time frame specified, the contract now enters an escrow period. If acceptance or a counter is not communicated within this timeframe, the contract is null and void. If the seller counters the offer, a new deadline is established.
This is the date that title is transferred from the seller to the buyer and the keys are handed over. If either party does not successfully close on the specified closing date, that party is considered to be in default of the contract. At this point, the other party may choose to seek out legal options. If the buyer defaults, the earnest deposit may be forfeited to the seller. If the seller defaults, the buyer may sue for damages.
The Bottom Line
While the standard NABOR Contract for Sale and Purchase, or, the “AS IS” is common in Collier and Lee Counties, both will include deadline suggestions for various components, these deadlines can be negotiated between the buyer and seller. That said, it’s important to consider what would be an appropriate amount of time needed to ensure each deadline is comfortably met without each party having to either be rushed to meet these dates or have to wait an unnecessarily long time. Once deadlines are inserted in the contract, both parties should do their best to make sure they’re met, or else the contract could be either delayed or killed altogether.
If you're looking to purchase your first home, buy a second, or time to move up or down, reach out to us. We can help!
Selling Your Home in the Fall: What You Need to Know
Most homeowners who are planning to sell their homes in the not-too-distant future think it is best to wait until the spring market to list their homes. Conventional wisdom is that more buyers are looking in the spring months and so the odds of selling your home in the fall at your desired price are better.
Not so fast. Allow us to break down why selling your home in the fall, especially THIS fall, may be the wiser move.
1. SERIOUS BUYERS
People need to move at all times of the year, due to such transitions as a job relocation or life change. The people looking in the Fall are not lookie-loos, but serious house hunters. While yes, there may be fewer buyers in the fall market than in the lightning fast spring market, there are more SERIOUS buyers looking in the fall than in any other time of the year.
2. INTEREST RATES ARE ON THE RISE IN 2018 & 2019.
Interest rates usually go up in the spring so financially savvy buyers are out there looking NOW. Furthermore, The Fed has said recently that they intend to raise rates twice more in 2018 and perhaps three more times in 2019. It’s certainly possible to see mortgage rates above 5 percent before the year is over should the Fed follow through with these plans. This will affect the overall market, but it will especially affect move-up buyers, many of which have mortgage rates around 3% if they purchased 6-8 years ago. A change to a mortgage of 3% to 5% will be a huge jump for many.
3. LESS INVENTORY
The best of all reasons for selling now is that fewer houses are listed in the fall months so buyers have fewer homes from which to choose. A smaller housing inventory means that odds of a buyer wanting YOUR home increase (and could even turn into a multiple offer situation). The inventory of available homes is very low in our area and has been for well over a year now. Since few sellers like to put their homes on in August there is pent-up demand.
If you are looking to buy or sell, a first time homebuyer, or looking to move up, reach out to us. Our team is here and ready to help!
By Sue Goodhart
Top 3 Ways How to Pay Your Mortgage Down Faster While Growing Equity In Your Home!
In order to fully understand how to pay your mortgage down faster, it’s helpful to understand your relationship with your loan. When it comes to managing your mortgage, there are two types of people. I am the first type.
So, what does this have to do with how to pay your mortgage down faster? Everything!
Both types of people, the set it and forget it and the thrill-seeking balance checker, likely are making one monthly mortgage payment a month, twelve months out of the year, and then go about their daily lives. Their amortization schedule aligns perfectly with their loan balance. We're here to help you change the game. Follow these tips and you will pay down your mortgage faster and will constantly be ahead of where your amortization schedule predicts.
Why should you do this? The faster you pay your mortgage down, the more equity you have in your home and the more money you will get when you go to sell your home. In other words, the more you pay towards the principal of your loan (not towards interest or your lender escrows), the less interest you pay, so more money goes towards your equity and less goes to your bank!
Now that you know WHY you should do it. It’s time for the HOW. So, how you ask? It’s easy! Here are some of my favorite ways to pay down your mortgage faster.
Regardless of which of these tactics you choose, they work equally well for both types of personalities. You set it & forget it, while watching your balance improve over time. It’s a win-win!
If you’re thinking about making a move in the near future, we are happy to walk you through which options make the most sense for your specific situation, whether you are buying your first home, moving up, downsizing or anything in between. Reach out below!
WHAT IS THE BUYER BROKER AGREEMENT?
If you are looking to buy a home, your chosen Realtor will ask you to sign a “Buyer Broker Agreement” or as it is more formally known, the “Buyer Agency Agreement” in Collier County and “Exclusive Right To Represent Buyer Agreement” is used. Potential clients often ask us several excellent questions about this agreement, so we thought we’d break them all down for you.
In Florida, until a buyer signs a buyer broker agreement, the agent they are working with is legally committed to representing the seller of a home. Buyers and agents who have agreed to work together must outline the terms of their agreement in a formal written document.
Enter the Buyer Broker Agreement
Signing this agreement ensures that you have a Realtor legally committed to representing you. With this representation, an agent looking out for YOUR best interests, not the sellers. Additionally, with the buyer broker agreement in place, your agent cannot share any of your information with the seller, it binds them to confidentiality. For example, your agent could never divulge that while you offered $450,000 for a property, you really are willing and able to go up to $500,000. Real estate agents must always disclose which party they represent in any transaction. This document clarifies for all involved parties who is representing whom in a deal.
KEY TERMS OF THE BUYER BROKER AGREEMENT
Here is the breakdown on the key sections of the agreement:
Length of Term - The buyer broker agreement is most often drawn up for six months or a year. If your agent is committed to you and your househunt, he or she will want you to be committed in return.
Early Termination / Advanced Notice - This section outlines how the early termination of the agreement is handled. It outlines the number of days’ notice needed to end the agreement early. It will also include a dollar amount that a buyer will owe the agent if the required notice is not given.
Compensation - There are two main components of the compensation section: the retainer fee and payment.
Retainer Fee - While common in other parts of the country, retainer fees are not usually part of the agreement in our area. We do not charge a retainer fee for our time. The retainer fee is used to compensate Realtors for their time and related expenses (fun fact: in addition to all of the time spent searching for and showing homes and getting a buyer to closing, each offer a Realtor makes for a buyer takes many hours to write, submit, negotiate, etc.). The retainer fee also serves as a way for agents to differentiate casual “lookers” and serious homebuyers.
Payment - Perhaps the most misunderstood section of the buyer broker agreement, the payment section, often gives buyers pause. In most cases, 3% commission, plus a few hundred dollars (the amount varies depending on the company and situation), are listed as payment. If the home is entered into the MLS database, the listing agent and brokerage are offering to pay the commission to the buyer agent and brokerage. In other words, the seller pays all commission costs to the listing brokerage, who then pays the buyer brokerage their share. You, as the buyer, are only responsible for the additional fee at settlement. This fee covers the brokerage’s back-end expenses related to the processing of the contract, paperwork, etc. There could be a rare occurrence when you might need to pay the buyer agent commission but that would be fully disclosed to you up front — long before seeing a home in which this would be the case. Rarely have we ever seen this happen.
Dual and Designated Representation - Designated representation means that you approve being shown properties listed by the brokerage. In other words, if you sign with an agent of a specific brokerage, your agent is allowed to show you other properties from that brokerage. Dual representation means that you agree to see properties that your agent has listed. In Florida, a Dual Agency is illegal, although we are able to facilitate both the sale and purchase of a home as a Transaction Agency. You, as the buyer, choose to accept or decline these options. You can also agree to see the properties in the buyer broker agreement and decide later if you will agree to that form of representation when you are ready to put an offer in on a property. It will require a separate agreement at the time of the contract.
WHAT DOES A BUYER’S AGENT DO ANYWAY
Of course, a buyer’s agent will help you search for and tour homes and neighborhoods. However, they do far more than most people realize! They will work hard to find properties before they hit the market and will walk you through the process step by step. Your agent will also connect you with experienced lenders (if need be). A side note: be sure to use a lender your agent recommends. These lenders have proven themselves over the years and have a vested interest in keeping buyers’ agents happy. It’s important to note here that our recommended lenders do not offer us any special perks or kickbacks! Unfortunately, we’ve seen our share of troubles in deals with an unproven lender. Our agency uses only tried and true lenders with stellar reputations.
When you find “the home,” your agent will research the comparable sales (or “comps”) and recommend an offer price and strategy on the other terms of the contract. Your agent will also do any needed negotiating on your behalf. Negotiations include the price as well as all of the other terms of the contract such as the home inspection, appraisal, rent backs, closing costs, etc.
Once you are officially under contract on your new home, your agent will help you through all of the necessary steps to ensure a successful settlement. This is a critical period in which a buyer’s agent is invaluable. Your agent will ensure you understand and comply with all terms of the contract such as contingencies (home inspection, financing, appraisal, and more). The agent will stay on top of the details and deadlines to ensure you (and the seller) do not inadvertently default on the contract. The agent will likely recommend a home inspector, movers, and more. Your buyer’s agent will attend the final walk through and settlement with you to ensure that everything goes smoothly and that there are no last-minute surprises.
The Bottom Line
Buyers sign the buyer broker agreement in order to establish a working relationship with their Realtor. It’s not intended to scare anyone. In fact, it protects buyers and ensures their Realtor is working in their best interests, not those of the seller. Talk with your Realtor if you have concerns or questions, be sure to discuss any concerns with the agent.
Our guarantee to you, is “beyond care and competence”.
Allow us the opportunity to prove ourselves and earn your business. Contact us and let us show you how we can help.
Agents can save sellers time, money, liability and hassle
Frank, a smart and tech-savvy Denver homeowner, thought he’d skip the agent commission and sell his house himself. He researched his home’s property value, found a buyer and got the house under contract. It seemed like a done deal. Until he realized in a panic that he had seriously undervalued the property — by more than $100,000. Frank had misunderstood the report he’d pulled and incorrectly valued the house. The error cost him $30,000 to get out of the contract. In your dealings with potential sellers, you’re going to run into people who will question the worth of an agent. Or you’ll come across a smug homeowner who’s got it figured out and listed his or her home for sale by owner (FSBO).
How do you turn these sellers into a client? Let them know that you’re saving them time, money, liability and downright hassle.
Let sellers know that you’re saving them time, money, liability and downright hassle.
1. Scams happen
Judy (not her real name) in Raleigh, North Carolina, fell in love with a FSBO home. She agreed not to use an agent and paid the homeowner $3,000 in earnest money.
Then the homeowner changed his mind. With no contract signed and no receipt, Judy lost all her earnest money. She trusted the homeowner when she should have trusted an agent.
FSBO scams happen to both buyers and sellers with little recourse besides hiring an attorney.
Common scams include fraudulent papers (appraisals, loan documentation), foreign buyer deposits (scammer sends too much in a bad check and then requests a refund), purchases through a third-party (a fake attorney, etc.) and asking for personal information.
2. Liability is all on the seller
Everyone makes mistakes. A seller (or buyer) who doesn’t have the representation of a licensed agent pays for those mistakes. Attorneys can close a real estate transaction, but they don’t carry errors and omissions (E&O) insurance. So if homeowner Sandy lists “hardwood floors” as a feature and the buyer discovers it’s just a wood veneer, chances are Sandy is going to pay for that mistake. An agent would have either caught the mistake or covered it with E&O insurance. Let’s face it: this is a litigious society, so what homeowner wants to be a target for lawsuits?
3. Paperwork is daunting
The 2015 National Association of Realtors’ Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers showed that understanding paperwork was one of the most difficult tasks for FSBOs. Depending on the state, there are a variety of legal forms that are needed, including but not limited to a sales contract, property disclosures, occupancy agreements and lead paint records.
Sure, ready-made contracts can be downloaded easily enough. But does an untrained seller understand what all that means? Would the seller know how to customize that one-size-fits-all contract?
4. Sellers can get stuck in a bad deal
Like Frank, FSBOs who sign on the dotted line and then realize an error are stuck. They have to pay the buyer (if they’re willing) to get out of or just take the deal. Let potential clients know you can save them from that headache.
5. FSBOs sell for less
In 2015, FSBOs lost about 16 percent of the sales price with a median selling price of $210,000 (agent-assisted homes sold for $249,000). Homeowners selling by themselves simply don’t have the time to devote to the process, don’t know the market value, don’t understand market reports and don’t properly market the property. If the FSBO seller sold to someone he or she knew, the median dropped to $151,900 (because cousin Sue is doing them a favor and expects a deal).
6. FSBOs spend more time on the market
Unless the seller knows someone who wants to buy the home, FSBOs take longer to sell than homes listed with an agent. For the same reasons, they can’t get the right selling price. No one is “behind the curtain” running the marketing show. On average, 18 percent of FSBOs were unable to sell within their chosen time frame last year.
7. FSBOs lack representation
There’s no one looking out for the homeowners who sell on their own. They have no one to call if they have a problem or a question.
Dave found this out when he sold his Morrison, Colorado, home himself. Studying for his real estate license, Dave felt confident he could handle the contracts. Then the unexpected happened. When his house was under contract, a state patrol car pursuing a speeding motorist crashed into a downstairs bedroom. Repairs threatened to push back closing, and suddenly, the buyer was asking for a storage unit, the cost of temporary housing and more. He was lucky enough to have an agent friend who could step in, but a homeowner with no representation could have been out thousands of dollars unnecessarily.
8. Inspections are problematic
Sellers who don’t know the rules can get stuck with unnecessary and costly repairs. When Sue sold her 10-year-old Highlands Ranch, Colorado, home, after the inspection, the inspector said she needed to change the stairs from the garage to the house because the code had changed. He listed other code changes, and the buyer began to demand these be done. Surprisingly, the inspector didn’t know that because these items were to code when the house was built, the seller wasn’t responsible for these changes.
9. Marketing is limited
FSBOs have limited resources to market their home. The 2015 NAR Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers showed 42 percent rely on a yard sign, 32 percent rely on friends and family, and about 15 percent use social media. Relying on the neighbors and Uncle Bob’s second cousin has its limitations. Even paying for the MLS listing won’t be enough because there’s no incentive for an agent to bring a buyer to a FSBO.
10. Hidden costs add up
The mindset for most FSBOs is saving money. Chances are, these sellers are being nickeled and dimed into a pretty big chunk of change. They’re paying for a lot of extras: signage, flyers, photography, MLS listing, attorney (required in multiple states for FSBOs), home warranty (optional but hard to sell without one), home inspection, a wood destroying pest inspection, credit report for buyers (if applicable), contracts and the list goes on.
11. Time costs the seller money
The biggest cost to a homeowner is their time. You might hear the argument that it doesn’t take an agent that much time to sell a house. And honestly, given the technology at our disposal, that’s true — to an extent. But it will take a homeowner a whole lot longer. They don’t have the expertise or the access to the resources agents have. What is their own time worth to them? How much time will the seller spend researching the market and contracts? Is the seller going to leave work to unlock the house each time there’s a showing?
If you’ve been in real estate for a while, you probably have some FSBO nightmare stories of your own. Share them with facts backed with real statistics to help FSBOs make an informed decision to use an agent instead.
Article by: CHRIS REDIGER Inman News
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.
The latest from Elon Musk’s clean energy empire
Tesla’s plans to make solar panels have been known for years. The company is constructing a factory in Buffalo, NY, specifically to produce Tesla solar panels, but until recently not much more was known about their plans.
In April 2017, the much-discussed solar panel product was finally revealed, but the company didn’t announce it with the fanfare usually reserved for Tesla product releases. Instead, the Tesla Energy website was quietly updated to include a page specifically dedicated to solar panelsalongside its other energy products like the Powerwall and Tesla solar roof.
Tesla solar panel technology: what we know so far
Tesla hasn’t released detailed technical information about their solar panels. What we do know, however, is that at the end of 2016 Tesla finalized a manufacturing agreement with Panasonic. While relatively new to the U.S. market, Panasonic’s solar panel technology is some of the most efficient on the market in 2018. If Tesla’s panels use similar technology, they will likely be anywhere from 19% to 21% efficient, placing them among other premium solar panel manufacturers.
What we don’t know yet is how much Tesla solar panels will cost. Recent research from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) has found that large installers like SolarCity (Tesla’s solar brand) typically price their products at a premium of 10 to 20 percent when compared to smaller local installers. Considering Tesla’s history as a manufacturer of high-end automobiles, it’s safe to assume that their new line of solar products will be significantly more expensive than a standard solar PV system.
We also don’t know exactly when these panels will hit the market. The company currently has a form available on its website to request a custom quote. According to Electrek, which was the first news site to note the launch of Tesla solar panels, the new Panasonic/Tesla panels will go into production at Tesla’s Buffalo factory in the summer of 2017.
It’s worth noting that the solar panels revealed on Tesla’s website are a distinct product that’s wholly different from the Tesla solar roof announced in October 2016. The solar roof is an integrated solar tile roofing system, which has a striking look but can be more complicated to retrofit on existing homes. Tesla’s solar panels, by comparison, are better suited for a standard solar installation that can be affixed to an existing roof.
What makes Tesla low profile solar panels different?
One striking difference between Tesla’s new solar panel product and other solar panels is how they look on the roof. Images of Tesla’s solar panels portray a product with a sleek all-black finish, consistent with Tesla’s reputation for impressive design. However, Tesla isn’t the only company that offers an all-black solar panel – premium panel manufacturers LG and SunPowerhave been producing black panels for years, as has Tesla’s new manufacturing partner, Panasonic.
What is more distinct is the design of the system as a whole. The Tesla website states, “Our solar panels blend into your roof with integrated front skirts and no visible mounting hardware.” SolarCity (Tesla’s solar brand) acquired Zep Solar, a company that manufactures low-profile solar panel mounts, back in 2013. The upcoming Tesla solar panel system will likely includes a version of Zep’s previous mounting design.
The system also includes “skirts” that create a beveled edge wrapping around the solar panel installation, which makes the system appear visually more integrated into the roof. While neither the skirt nor the low-profile mounting panels are Tesla-exclusive innovations, it’s clear that Tesla has dedicated significant resources to creating an aesthetically pleasing panel installation.
Should you wait for Tesla solar panels?
The real question, now that the first glimpses of Tesla’s new solar panels have been revealed to the public, is whether you should wait for them to hit the market before going solar.
First and foremost, no homeowner should make a final decision on their solar purchase without comparing multiple offers from different solar installers. Use a website like the EnergySage Solar Marketplace to find qualified solar companies near you and get quotes to give you an idea of what solar costs in your area.
If you’re familiar with the Tesla brand, then you already know the company is notorious for production delays, most famously with the Model X. While Tesla states that the first panels will be produced this upcoming summer, the reality is that we have no way of knowing when exactly they will become available. Depending on your priorities, waiting may be worth it, but know that you could be leaving major electricity bill reductions on the table.
If you’re a diehard Tesla fan willing to wait it out and pay a price premium, it may be worth waiting until the new Tesla solar panels eventually hit the market. However, there are other companies that manufacture all-black panels today, including Panasonic, the very company that’s producing Tesla’s solar panels. When you join EnergySage, simply request quotes that include all-black solar panels so that you understand how much of a price premium you’ll actually pay, and how that impacts your long-term solar savings. You can even request all-black Panasonic solar panels when you join the EnergySage Solar Marketplace today.
MARCH 16, 2018 by SARA MATASCI.
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