Considering a vacation home? It might even pay for itself

A vacation home may be just the ticket if you love to visit sunny climes, the forest, beach, or mountainside.

These days, thanks in part to the sharing economy, more people than ever can afford a second home.

Today you can buy a home at relatively low interest rates, then rent that home out when you are not there.

Homeowners have successfully covered their mortgages and leases by renting out as little as one room thanks to sites like AirBnB.

According to John Banczak, executive chairman of TurnKey Vacation Rentals, for every $100,000 you spend to purchase a vacation home, you should expect yearly rental income of $12,000 to $14,000.

Vacation homes are appealing to owner and vacationer alike. The rate is often less than or equivalent to a hotel, but with the option to spread out more and eat meals in. For locations with popular attractions, owners can visit when they like and rent when they aren’t there.

In 2017, about 12 percent of home buyers purchased vacation homes. According to Economist Outlook, buyers wanted a second home for vacations (42 percent), for future retirement (18 percent), or because real estate prices offered good deals (12 percent). The median household income in 2016 for vacation home buyers was $89,900.

If you’re considering a vacation property, make sure to find a trusted local real estate agent to help you navigate the purchase. The agent will know the area and any local and state contract laws.

It’s also important to find a local person to keep an eye on the property, whether it’s your housekeeper, the agent, or a contractor. If you rent the property regularly, your housekeeper can be your second set of eyes, letting you know how the latest guests treated the property as well as how everything looks overall.

As part of your due diligence, factor in a higher insurance rate for a second home.

Consider installing a home security system for yet another set of eyes as well as a way to make sure the heat has stayed on.

Managing cellular service options while traveling abroad

Both frequent travelers and the occasional vacationer will need to prepare in advance to secure mobile data and phone service abroad.

There are many options available depending on the person’s current situation, according to Engadget.

The easiest route to take is to just do nothing, and that is possible for those using T-Mobile, Sprint, or Google’s Fi service because each of these offer some unlimited data coverage in most foreign countries.

T-Mobile and Sprint will cap the user at slower 2G speeds, but Google Fi will let you use up to high-speed 4G data if it is available. Check with a provider to be sure, but usually, this option requires enabling ‘roaming data’ in the phone’s settings to work.

Customers signed up with AT&T or Verizon, unfortunately, won’t have the luxury of free roaming data and will instead have to purchase roaming passes that are often expensive for what they offer. With monthly packs, for instance, AT&T will sell 1 gigabyte of data for $60 while Verizon has half a gigabyte for $70, but some plans might offer a few free passes each month.

To avoid this extra expense, local SIM cards can be an excellent option for saving money as long as the provider has unlocked the phone. For this option, head into a local telecom upon arrival, such as Vodafone in the UK, and purchase a temporary, ‘pay-as-you-go’ SIM or whatever variant they say is best for your situation. Unfortunately, a new SIM means a new phone number and anyone calling the usual one will be sent straight to voicemail as if the phone had been turned off. To make matters worse, certain new phones or devices that are still on an installment plan through the provider likely cannot be unlocked to use a local SIM, but those that hang on to older devices might be able to find something new enough to use for a short trip.

History Of Flood Insurance

InsureUS Cypress, TX, offers flood insurance policies, to Texas residents. While Texas does not require homeowners to purchase flood insurance, the State has a history of catastrophic floods. 

History of Flood Insurance

There is a U.S. Constitutional basis for government control over protecting America’s waterways.  In 1824, the U.S. Supreme Court, in Gibbons v. Ogden, ruled that the commerce clause, Article I, Section 8, permitted the federal government to construct and finance river improvements.  Congress then appropriated funds and authorized the Corps of Engineers to remove navigation obstructions from the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers.   Twenty-five years later The Swamp Land Acts became law which transferred swamp and overflows land to state government control.  One project required that the states use money from land sales to build levees and drainage channels on the lower Mississippi River without the use of federal funds.  

Congress continued its efforts in controlling flooding throughout the nineteenth century and the early twentieth century.  In 1913 the flood in the Ohio River Valley killed  415 people, causing about $200 million in property loss.   The public became alarmed, and Congress took more aggressive action authorizing a Committee on Flood Control in 1916 and the 1917 Flood Control Act. 

FEMA

The framework for flood insurance was built for today’s legal basis for flood control and flood insurance. On April 1, 1979, President Jimmy Carter issued an Executive Order, ordering the creation of FEMA, the Federal Emergency Management Agency. FEMA is within the Department of Homeland Security.

NIFP/PRIVATE FLOOD INSURANCE

FEMA flood insurance aid was delivered through the National Flood Insurance Program (NIFP. On March 16, 212 non-Federal flood insurance was allowed to be underwritten by lending institutions to support private flood insurance.

The agents at InsureUS Cypress, TX want to speak to you before the next flood in your area.  Please contact us before the next Hurricane! 

Should I replace my home’s windows?

Though new windows are pricey, a lot of homeowners assume that they will pay for themselves in a few years in energy savings.

You might want to think twice about that. True, new energy-efficient windows can help keep your house warmer in winter and cooler in summer (assuming you use an air conditioner), but they won’t necessarily save you a bunch on your monthly energy bill.

An article in time.com’s Money section said that new windows produce about 5 to 15 percent of your total energy savings; and with the average homeowner in America paying about $1,000 a year to heat and cool a home, it would take more than 100 years to earn back your investment.

So does that mean you shouldn’t bother? Hardly.

You also need to determine whether the windows are doing their job of keeping moisture out, as they may need repairs or replacement on that factor alone. And even if they don’t save you the money you expected, new windows can make you feel a lot more comfortable by helping to reduce draftiness in the winter and retaining cooler air in the summer.

Newer windows are usually a lot easier to clean because of their tilt-in design, too. And new windows can help your home’s resale value; prospective buyers see new windows as a plus, not to mention an indicator that the house has been well cared for. The Time article said homeowners get about 73 percent of their replacement window investment back when they sell the house, according to the National Association of Realtors’ 2016 Cost Versus Value study.

How to make your business a government contractor

Owners of small businesses might not realize that Uncle Sam could become a valuable customer through government contracting.

But, to bid for government contracts, you have to be certified, according to the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA).

Each year, there is around $100 billion earmarked for spending through small businesses to help them compete amongst larger companies. To qualify as a small business according to the government, manufacturing companies can have up to 500 employees, and non-manufacturing companies should have annual receipts of less than $7 million.

Signing up to be placed into the pool of businesses that sell or want to sell to the government requires applying for a Dun and Bradstreet (DUNS) number to verify that there is a real physical business.

There are additional opportunities with separate spending earmarks for companies that are women-owned, veteran-owned, disadvantaged, or working in particular urban or rural areas that are part of HUBZone.

Once you are on the government list, you’ll have to learn how to write applications targeted to certain projects or goals.

The SBA’s 8(a) program can set up a small business owner with a mentor-protege program to help navigate the contracting system and give them an edge over the competition.