How Much Are Old Records Worth? Here’s What We Found Out

Money sits on top of a record in a record player.


Getty Images and Ken Lyons/The Penny Hoarder

When it comes to selling your old records to make extra cash, don’t get your hopes up.

And know this: Condition matters most. Frank Sinatra matters least.

“At one time the shelf that held all the Sinatra albums was 70 feet wide,” said Doug Allen, owner of Bananas Records, which is based in St. Petersburg, Florida. “We have way too much of that.”

What Bananas Records buys and sells the most are classic rock ‘n’ roll, punk and jazz albums. And that’s for around $5 — if the album and the cover are in great condition.

“Records don’t compare to coins and stamps and books,” Allen said. ”There’s not really anything that’s worth $100,000 or more.”

Many records that sold in the millions are still popular with collectors and album buyers, but so many copies are still in circulation that they don’t sell for much.

On the other hand, records that only sold 20,000 copies — jazz from the 1950s, early punk rock — may be worth more. Allen has seen jazz albums from that era, such as early Miles Davis, go for $500 to $700 a piece, while classic punk might sell for $50 to $100.

Most record collectors these days are between the ages of 18 and 35, and used record dealers will try to buy records that will appeal to both avid collectors as well as other, more casual buyers.  That includes artists like Jimi Hendrix, Pink Floyd, David Bowie and John Coltrane.

“There are still some Beach Boy fans out there,” Allen said. “There’s some country that’s worth something. Early Hank Williams. Some Johnny Cash.”

Allen would pay around $3 to $5 an album for these in good condition. He noted that Michael Jackson albums in good shape are selling.

“Two weeks after his death you could sell anything you could get your hands on for $30 to $40,” Allen said. “Now they are worth about $7 to $10.”

However, don’t bother bringing your Neil Diamond, Barry Manilow or Elvis Presley records.

“These kids who are buying records today, many of them have never heard of Elvis,” Allen said. “That era is gone.”

This three part photo shows the album cover and the actual record of Sonny Rollins, who is considered one of the most important jazz musicians in America. The record retails for $1,000 at Banana Records. Then there is a portrait of Doug Allen, the Banana Records owner, with his warehouse full of records. Some are on shelves while others are in boxes.
Doug Allen, bottom, co-owns Bananas Records with his wife, Michelle Allen, not photographed, which is one of the largest vinyl record retailers in the world with about 3.5 million records. Sonny Rollins, top, is considered one of the most important jazz musicians in American history. His sixth album, Saxophone Colossus, is selling at Bananas Records for $1,000. Chris Zuppa / The Penny Hoarder

An Album’s Value Is About More Than the Music

Other factors affect the value of an album, including a record label or address of the recording studio, which can indicate if it’s a first or second pressing; the country in which the album was released; and whether the album was autographed.

The condition of the album cover is as important as the vinyl itself. Water damage, tears and marks can all decrease an album’s value. However, Allen and other collectors frequently buy the album alone if it’s in good shape and the cover isn’t, and vice versa.

Allen advises anyone who is trying to sell their collection to take it to their local vintage record store and have them take a look and let you know what’s worth money.

One couple recently brought two wheeled suitcases full of albums into Bananas Record, and they were able to sell many of them for a total of $60.

Here’s What Your DVDs and CDs Are Actually Worth

What about DVDs, CDs and even 8-tracks? Allen and Genny Stout, manager of Bananas Records,  have some guidance for anyone trying to unload their old movies and music.

CDs

CDs are less popular each year, as there are fewer cars with CD players. Stout usually pays 25 cents for them.

DVDs

Stout will offer up to 50 cents for DVDs from the ‘80s and ‘90s that aren’t very common. This does not include romantic comedies and blockbusters like “The Matrix.”

“Nobody wants to buy romantic comedies, or all the Adam Sandler movies,” Stout said.

A Disney classic in good shape might bring $1 or $2.

“Most of those are destroyed because people let their children put them in and out [of the DVD players],” Stout said.

VHS 

“We haven’t purchased those in 5 to 6 years,” she said, adding that it’s hard to find non-profit retail stores that accept them.

8-Track

“I would say there’s no market for them with the exception of a cult following,” Allen said. “Maybe a KISS 8-track, something you wouldn’t expect.” Those might bring in $10 to $15.

Katherine Snow Smith is a contributor to The Penny Hoarder.

Source: thepennyhoarder.com

What is Normal Wear and Tear?

It’s important to understand the difference between normal wear and tear and damage.

No matter how careful a tenant you are, over time, your rental is going to show wear and tear.

The carpet may need cleaning. The walls may have dings and scuffs (remember when you moved in that really big bed frame?). But what about that hole in the wall where the doorknob hits? Or the broken window lock? Are those normal wear and tear?

Here’s how to recognize normal wear and tear and what you’re responsible for — your security deposit is on the line.

Understanding normal wear and tear

Everything in our homes has a lifespan. The grout in the shower, for example, might crack, peel or fall off altogether after about 15 years. If you’ve moved in near the end of your grout’s life, and it’s starting to fail, that is just normal wear and tear.

Sure, you should contact your landlord or property manager, but it isn’t your fault that the grout needs serious help. And, your landlord cannot charge you for normal wear and tear.

Normal wear and tear vs. damage

Damage is when something occurs in your rental that wouldn’t happen naturally. It’s due to unreasonable use, an accident or neglect.

That time your cat was really peeved and sprayed urine that soaked through the carpet to the subfloor? That’s going to change the equation for your landlord or property manager since it will affect the value of the property. Bad kitty!

The time your drunk friend broke the bathroom mirror? That’s not normal wear and tear. That’s damage. And you’ll have to pay the damages one way or another.

In some states, including New York, damage beyond normal wear and tear may make you liable for triple the amount it costs to remedy the situation. Check your state law.

Examples of normal wear and tear

Things that happen over time are ultimately the landlord’s responsibility, but it doesn’t hurt to attend to these things before moving out. Even if you’ve already found a new place to live, you want to remain in good standing with your landlord or property manager; you may one day need a reference.

And, it’s never a bad idea to leave the apartment really clean when you move out.

Here are some examples of normal wear and tear:

Moderate dirt or spots on the carpet

Dirty carpet being cleaned.

Stuff happens. The longer you live in an apartment, the more stuff happens. But when you leave your apartment, your goal is to get back that security deposit. Even though spotted carpet is normal wear and tear, you might want to shell out some dough to clean the carpet before you move.

For one thing, the dirt might be more than you’re imagining, and why leave room for a dispute with your landlord, who will charge you for cleaning. Doing it yourself (or having it done) gives you some measure of control over the cost. And keeps you on your landlord’s good side.

When it’s considered damage: Pet stains in the carpet.

Small nail holes in the wall

Repairing small holes in the wall with spackle.

Over the years, you’re going to decorate. If possible when you hang pictures, do so using less intrusive methods than drilling holes. But if that’s not possible, you should repair the holes before moving out. Spackle and a joint knife are pretty cheap, and the fix-it process won’t take that much time out of your day.

When it’s considered damage: Gouges in the wall needing serious repair.

Warped cabinet doors that don’t close

Repairing a cabinet door.

This is likely something you’re not going to fix with a DIY approach, and you don’t have to. But, it’s a good idea to let your landlord know this is happening as soon as you notice it. If a cabinet door is warping it may pull on the hinges and lead to damage on the wood, or the door may fall off altogether.

When it’s considered damage: Door falling off its hinges.

Bathroom mirror loses its silver

Mirror in bathroom with water damage.

Over time, especially in a moist environment like a bathroom, a mirror may desilver. You’ll notice dark or black spots along the edges of the mirror where the thin layer of tin and silver meets onto the back of it.

When this happens it might signify a larger problem — someone in the household is spending a lot of time splashing water on the mirror or your bathroom vent is not working properly and you have a significant amount of humidity in there causing the issue. Let the landlord or property manager know.

When it’s considered damage: Mirrors cracked and broken or caked with makeup.

Clothes dryer thermostat gives out

Clothes inside of a dryer.

This is totally beyond your control. What is in your control is overloading the dryer and causing it to stop moving. That’s a different story and one that might be construed as damage as opposed to normal wear and tear. Contact your landlord or property manager as soon as any appliance that’s part of your unit isn’t working properly.

When it’s considered damage: Broken shelves in the refrigerator, missing trays in the microwave.

Door handle dents wall

Door knob.

As soon as you notice this happening, spend a few bucks on a guard to keep the door from hitting the wall. You can get a rubbery guard to cover the handle itself. Or screw a door stopper into the baseboard. If you don’t attend to this, the little dent can become a larger hole that you — or your landlord — will have to deal with when you leave. Why not nip it in the bud?

When it’s considered damage: Door off its hinges.

Damage (not) done

Obviously, be careful with your apartment; after all, someone else owns it. To make sure you have the best outcome when you move out, you need to document everything before you move in.

Do a walk-through with your landlord or property manager before you move in. Document everything with notes and video. And, while you’re living there, do your part to maintain your space and contact your landlord early on to repair what needs fixing. No sense in letting a loose hinge become a broken door frame. When you move out you want to have your full security deposit returned. Your landlord cannot make deductions for normal wear and tear, but they can make deductions for damage to the property.

Source: rent.com

Do You Need Renters Insurance for Your Apartment? Pros & Cons

It’s increasingly common for landlords to require tenants to carry renters insurance coverage. That’s understandable, as renters insurance limits landlords’ liability for potentially costly mishaps, like a building visitor landing in the hospital after sustaining an injury on the premises. It may absolve them of any financial responsibility for tenant possessions damaged or lost to fire, water leaks, vandalism, and certain other events covered by the policy.

Even when it’s not mandatory, renters insurance has direct benefits for tenants. But it isn’t free. A starter policy with high deductibles and relatively low coverage limits costs in the neighborhood of $150 to $200 per year. Higher-end coverage costs $300 to $500 or more per year, according to Insurance.com. For frugal, careful renters whose landlords don’t demand coverage, that cost might be too much to bear.

Before rushing to purchase a policy you might not need or writing off renters insurance as unnecessary, take a few minutes to consider the benefits and drawbacks.

Pros of Renters Insurance

Renters insurance has some clear advantages, including possible protection from liability, discounts for bundling it with other types of insurance policies, and limited protection from negligent landlords.

1. It’s Not Limited to the Possessions in Your Apartment

When you hear the term “renters insurance,” you probably envision a policy that reimburses you for personal belongings that are lost, damaged, destroyed, or stolen within the confines of your apartment.

This is a key function of renters insurance, but it’s not all it entails. Renters insurance has three distinct components:

  1. Content Coverage. Virtually all renters who carry insurance hold a content insurance policy (also known as personal property coverage) that covers TVs, stereos, computers, furniture, and other valuable items that stay in the rental unit. Content insurance also covers items you keep in your car, provided the vehicle is registered in your name and at your address. If your car is burglarized overnight or while you’re out of town, your policy may reimburse you for the theft of any covered items within it.
  2. Liability Coverage. Renters insurance also protects you from liability issues that may arise in the course of your tenancy. If a guest sustains an injury during a fall or as a result of an accident at your home, your renters insurance policy’s liability coverage may cover the cost of a potential lawsuit, associated legal fees, and/or the guest’s medical bills. Likewise, your policy may cover the cost of fire or water damage sustained by other tenants in your building due to faulty plumbing, outdated wiring, leaky floorboards, and other hazards that originate in your unit.
  3. Loss of Use Coverage. Finally, your policy should cover (or at least provide you with the option to cover) temporary relocation and living expenses you may incur if your apartment becomes unlivable due to fire, flood, or structural damage. This is known as “loss of use” coverage.

Comprehensive renters insurance policies typically include all of these components, while lower-cost policies may exclude relocation coverage.

2. You Can Save by Bundling It With Other Insurance Policies

Your apartment likely isn’t the only thing you’d like to protect. For example, if you own a car, you’re legally obligated to carry auto insurance on it. These days, you’re also required to hold a health insurance policy. Depending on your age and family situation, you may have life insurance as well. And if you own particularly valuable items, like precious jewelry or original artwork, you may need customized policies to cover them.

The good news is that a renters insurance policy can be (and often is) bundled with other insurance types at a significant discount. Virtually every major insurer offers a multipolicy discount, or a premium discount for carrying more than one insurance policy with the same company. Since many renters also own cars, bundling rental and car insurance policies is common.

The discounts can be impressive. For instance, Liberty Mutual claims applicants can save upward of $800 when they bundle home and auto insurance policies. Other insurers offer similar discounts on a case-by-case basis.

3. It Protects You From Landlord Negligence

Imagine this: You head home from work, looking forward to a relaxing evening of eating takeout and binge-watching Netflix. But as you approach your apartment building, you realize something isn’t right. Fire trucks and cop cars surround the entrance, and a thin cloud of smoke rises from the roof.

Eventually, investigators determine that a decades-old circuit shorted out, triggering a chain reaction along some old faulty wiring that caused a fire on your floor. The building isn’t destroyed, but your apartment has been ruined by smoke and heat. Your electronics are useless, and your furniture is irreparably damaged.

Time to put your life on hold? Not if you have renters insurance. Even though this incident is clearly the fault of your landlord, you’d be on the hook for the cost of replacing your damaged possessions without sufficient renters insurance coverage. Your landlord’s insurance covers the unit’s structural components and appliances — and furniture if the place came furnished — but it doesn’t extend to anything you own.


Cons of Renters Insurance

Renters insurance has some notable drawbacks, including higher costs to cover valuable items and significant restrictions on coverage without purchasing add-ons (riders) at an additional expense.

1. Collections or Specific Valuables May Require Additional Coverage

Renters insurance covers the cost of replacing everyday personal property and equipment, but it always comes with a coverage limit. This limit may be as low as $5,000 or as high as $500,000, and it generally doesn’t cover novel or valuable possessions.

For example, if you store multiple pieces of jewelry in your apartment, your renters policy might not cover them (even a regular old engagement ring might not fit the bill). If you have extensive collections of records, stereo equipment, shoes, artwork, or even rare books, you might also be out of luck.

You can still cover these items, but it will cost you. You’ll need to purchase a rider — a supplementary policy covering specific items — or a separate, specialized property insurance policy for high-value items like jewelry. For instance, Allstate offers a scheduled personal property insurance rider that allows you to exceed its standard per-item coverage limit of $1,500 for specific named items with higher intrinsic or replacement value.

2. There Are Coverage Limits and Exclusions

If you’ve ever been in a car accident that wasn’t covered by your auto insurance policy, you know that simply carrying insurance doesn’t necessarily free you from financial or personal liability. Depending on your deductible size, you must make some out-of-pocket payments before your coverage kicks in.

Before you take out your renters insurance policy — and for as long as you keep it — you need to expend some effort to maximize the chance it will deliver when the time comes.

First, take a careful look at your coverage limits and exclusions. According to State Farm Insurance, the average renter owns personal property (property not covered by their landlord’s insurance policy) worth about $35,000. If you’re “average” in this regard, you’ll need at least this much coverage to insulate you against a total loss. It might also be a good idea to take on additional coverage if you anticipate making big purchases in the near future.

It’s crucial to mind coverage limits on specific product categories as well. You shouldn’t expect standard rental insurance policies to cover high-value items, such as $5,000 rings and $10,000 stereo systems. The cost of riders or scheduled property protection can add up quickly. To minimize the cost of a rider or supplemental policy, purchase it at the same time — and through the same insurer — as your main renters insurance policy to qualify for bundling discounts.

It’s also critical to understand what renters insurance doesn’t cover. Like homeowners insurance, rental insurance is stingy about paying for flood damage and sewer problems. If you live in an area that’s prone to flooding, ask your insurer whether you’d be covered in the event of a flood. If you won’t, look into supplemental flood insurance policies, which may be subsidized by state or federal programs.

For example, if you occupy a ground-floor or basement apartment that’s prone to flooding or damage from sewer backups, your renters policy may not cover associated cleanup costs. Your insurer should offer supplemental “sewer and drain” coverage. Ultimately, however, you’re reimbursed for a specific insurance claim may turn on events that aren’t wholly within your control.

3. “Replacement Value” Coverage Can Be Costly

When you take out your renters insurance policy, you must choose between a “replacement value” policy and an “actual cash value” policy. In the event of an accepted claim, a replacement value policy reimburses you for each lost or destroyed item’s value at the time of purchase (so be sure to save your receipts). An actual cash value policy, meanwhile, reimburses you for each item’s depreciated value.

Depreciation calculations are complex and difficult to generalize. But as a rule of thumb, electronics such as computers and TVs tend to lose most of their value within three to five years. More durable items like couches, tables, and jewelry may retain their value for longer.

4. Credit Issues Could Increase Your Insurance Costs

One of the lesser-known consequences of a bad credit score is the potential for higher rates for auto and property insurance. Renters who have solid credit scores (about 660 to 680 and up) generally pay less for comparable policies than those with suboptimal scores.

This can be a problem for renters required to carry property insurance or who seek the peace of mind that comes with coverage. Of course, you’re free to reapply for coverage as your credit score improves, but in the meantime, you’re stuck paying more.

5. Potential Caps on Reimbursements for Temporary Living Expenses

Many insurance companies place a dollar cap or time limit on reimbursements for temporary living expenses. Suppose it takes four months after a fire to restore your apartment to a livable condition, and your renters insurance policy only covers relocation expenses for two months. In that case, you’ll need to pay out of pocket for the other two months of living expenses.

In other words, it’s probably best to assume your renters insurance policy won’t cover every single expense that arises out of an unfortunate circumstance. Having a healthy emergency fund saved up is one way to keep unexpected costs like this from derailing your finances.


Final Word

Choosing to purchase or forgo renters insurance is not a decision to make lightly. Nor is it a decision to agonize over and blow out of all proportion. If your renters insurance cost-benefit analysis has you at an impasse, consider this: You stand to save far more each year by moving to a more affordable city for renters than by doing without renters insurance.

In the grand scheme of things, peace of mind is relatively inexpensive.

Source: moneycrashers.com

What to Do If Your Apartment Floods

Flooding is, to put it mildly, no fun. Between the amount of damage typically done, the stress of dealing with repairs and trying to get back to normal, there’s a lot to cover.

While we can’t help you deal with the stress directly, these precautions and additional information should give you a better idea of what you’d need to do before, during and after you have a flooded apartment.

Pre-flood

The first thing is preparing for the possibility of any kind of damage by getting renters insurance that includes a flood policy covered under the National Flood Insurance Program.

The whole thing is usually no more than a few hundred dollars per year, and it covers you from floods, fire and theft. It isn’t a legal requirement, but some property managers will ask you to get it. Considering the low cost for the level of coverage you’ll get, it’s worthwhile.

Catching problems before they happen

To address the possibility of water damage and a flooded apartment more directly, keep an eye out for drips and leaks. You also want to watch for the appearance of water stains or mold growth, signs of a previous water leak. This includes checking the walls and ceiling when it rains and periodically looking at faucets and pipes in the kitchen and bathrooms.

Report anything you see to your property manager since these are issues they’ll need to repair. Make sure you have the emergency phone number for your building saved and accessible. It isn’t only good for flooding, but anything that happens unexpectedly and needs immediate attention.

Securing your belongings

While the likelihood of a flood is low, it’s still a good idea to keep valuable items away from the most obvious places they’d get wet. “The easiest way to keep smaller items safe is with a waterproof, fireproof box. These safes come in a variety of sizes. You will want to consider what items are most important to you before deciding on the size,” says Soil Away, a disaster restoration company.

Keep items like electronics off the floor if they’re near the kitchen or bathroom as well. These strategies both protect your valuables and also give you more time to get to things if the water is rising and you need to grab and go.

flooded apartmentflooded apartment

During the flood

When the flooding starts, get everything you can away from the path of the water. Take what valuables you can and move them into your car, into another room or into a neighbor’s apartment — anything to keep them dry.

Next, call that emergency maintenance number you’ve saved, as well as the management company itself. They should respond immediately, but if not, you may have to take matters into your own hands, contacting a plumber or other repair person.

While you wait for help to arrive, try to get things under control. Attempt to seal the leak if you can reach it and have the right materials. Use plastic bins or any other containers you have to contain as much water as possible.

After the flood

Unfortunately, the stress of a flooded apartment doesn’t end once the leak is fixed. Now you have to try and pick up the pieces, get things repaired and get back to life as normal. Sorting this out involves insurance claims and a close review of the terms of your lease.

Since you have to establish who handles what, there can be some confusion, so it’s important to know what general areas are more likely whose responsibility.

Documenting the damage

The first step after a flood is documenting all the damage that occurs. This is both for your insurance company and for your property manager to have. Take photos of both your damaged items and visible damage on walls or ceilings. Save all damaged property until an insurance adjuster is able to come out and document the damage. Don’t throw anything away until they give you the all-clear.

Establishing responsibility

Damage to the building itself normally falls under the property owner’s insurance. The actual structure and anything that comes with the unit like carpet or appliances are also covered. You’re responsible for your personal property, and having flood damage as part of your renters insurance should make dealing with that easier.

Exceptions to this breakdown occur when flooding happens because your property manager didn’t fix a known issue. In that case, they may end up paying to replace your own property. The opposite is also true if something you did caused the flooding. In this instance, you might have to pay for all the damage, including damage to the building itself. If there’s any conflict, don’t hesitate to consult a lawyer.

Terminating the lease

If the flooded apartment ends up with too much damage to remain livable, you may have the right to terminate your lease without penalty. If your property owner has another, equivalent apartment available, you could try and negotiate a move into that unit, signing a new lease. You could also try and work out a temporary living situation while your apartment is getting repaired.

Your lease should have a section on termination, but you can also research the local renter laws in your area to get a better idea of what your rights are. If you can’t work out a deal with your current property owner, it may be best to find a new place to live altogether.

flooded streetflooded street

Common causes of flooding

Flooding can happen anywhere, beginning from a natural phenomenon or from within your own apartment. Common sources of flooding include:

  • Heavy rain: “Heavy rainfall is more than 0.30 inches of rain per hour,” according to Weather Shack. Rain at this rate can overflow streams, drains and even entire sewer systems. This backs everything up, sending water overflowing into homes and apartment buildings.
  • Clogged or frozen pipes: Plumbing is often the internal culprit when it comes to flooding. Clogged pipes mean water can’t drain properly, so it comes back up into sinks, bathtubs or toilets. In the extreme cold, pipes can freeze, as well. When they thaw, they can end up bursting, sending water spraying. Issues like these going unchecked can lead to flooding.
  • Drainage basins in urban areas: Large cities like New York and Los Angeles use concrete drainage basins, which don’t provide a place for groundwater to get absorbed. In heavy rains, these basins can overflow, creating street flooding that can spread into the first few floors of buildings.
  • Leaky roofs: What may start out as a small crack in the ceiling can quickly become an access point for water to drip down if it’s not addressed. Any small imperfection in your ceiling should be reported immediately to your property manager for repairs.

“Just in case” is enough risk to prepare

Nobody likes to think about the disaster a flood could cause in their home, but it’s a risk to think it could never happen to you. In fact, 14,000 people in the U.S. experience some kind of water damage at home or at work every day according to Water Damage Defense.

Whether a little leak or a full-on deluge, some preparation and a deeper understanding of how easy it is to be ready, can help you can get ahead of the stressful situation that’s possible from a flooded apartment.

Read more about keeping your apartment safe:

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Source: apartmentguide.com

Protect Your Holiday Gifts with a Home Inventory

Will you be receiving new electronics, jewelry or other big-ticket items as gifts this holiday season? And (hint, hint), will you also be getting the receipts?

[find-an-apartment]

The holidays are an ideal time to take a home inventory and make sure all your pricey new gifts will be protected in the event of a loss: a fire, a burst pipe due to freezing, a natural disaster or even theft.

A home inventory of all the items you own with information about their value is a good way to prove ownership in the case of a loss. The inventory will assist your insurance carrier if you ever need to make a claim. Yet, according to an Allstate Insurance survey conducted in January, only 39 percent of Americans have ever made a home inventory.

If you don’t fall in that category, here are simple tips and resources that can make the task of documenting and protecting your holiday gifts — and everything else you own — a lot easier than you think.

Start with an app or checklist. A smartphone app can streamline the process of taking a home inventory. Allstate’s Digital Locker helps you quickly photograph and capture descriptions of all your possessions, and then stores the data in the cloud. You can also do it the analog way, with a clipboard and a household inventory checklist in tow.

Go from room to room. Organizing by room will keep you on track. Start at one end and catalog everything you see as you walk through; write detailed descriptions of each item, down to the make, model and serial numbers; and take pictures or a brief video. Don’t forget those new holiday gifts and any items tucked inside drawers, closets and cabinets.

Note what stuff is worth. Part of a home inventory is noting the cost and purchase date of each item. And while receipts are always your best bet, holiday gifts don’t typically include them. Take heart: Interactive tools like What’s Your Stuff Worth? can help you estimate the value of those new possessions along with the value of what you previously owned.

Keep your inventory safe. Once you’re done, find a good spot (or more than one) to store the inventory, along with receipts and any related documents. It should be safe from an event that might invite a claim, like sources of water damage, theft and fire, but also easily accessible enough to retrieve in the event of a claim. If you used an app to create the inventory, consider cloud storage or a thumb drive. Hard copies can be safely stored in a safe deposit box or with a family member or friend.

Now that your inventory is complete, you have a ballpark figure of what it would take to replace your belongings. (Is it more than you thought?) Use this figure as a starting point for a conversation with your agent to make sure you have the right coverage on your renter’s policy.

Also, make a mental note to update your home inventory any time you come into any valuable new possessions. After all, Valentine’s Day is just around the corner.

This guest post comes from the editors of The Allstate Blog, which helps people prepare for the unpredictability of life.

Photo Credit: iStockphoto/tadamichi                    

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Source: apartmentguide.com

What Do You Need and Want in Your Next Home?

In this article:

While everybody knows that buyers shop based on price range, there are many additional considerations to make when looking for a home. And, most buyers end up refining their criteria once they start touring homes. Ultimately, your home criteria should depend on your personal lifestyle and needs. Regardless of what you’re looking for, here are some general rules you should follow to make sure you’ll be happy with the home you buy for the foreseeable future.

What are the top features buyers look for in a home?

Today’s buyers are juggling many different priorities when it comes to buying a home, but according to the Zillow Group Consumer Housing Trends Report 2019, here are the features that rank as very important or extremely important to most buyers.

Neighborhood wants and needs for buyers

  • Safety: 82% say a neighborhood that feels safe is very or extremely important
  • Walkability: 60% say it’s very or extremely important
  • Preferred neighborhood: 56% say it’s very or extremely important
  • Proximity to shopping, services and/or leisure activities: 53% say it’s very or extremely important
  • Optimal commute to work or school: 52% say it’s very or extremely important
  • Offers a sense of community or belonging: 48% say it’s very or extremely important
  • Close to family and friends: 46% say it’s very or extremely important
  • In preferred school district: 43% say it’s very or extremely important

Home features buyers want

  • Within initial budget: 83% say it’s very or extremely important
  • Air conditioning: 78% of buyers say it’s very or extremely important
  • Preferred number of bedrooms: 76% of buyers say it’s very or extremely important
  • Preferred number of bathrooms: 67% of buyers say it’s very or extremely important
  • Private outdoor space: 67% of buyers say it’s very or extremely important
  • Preferred size/square footage: 67% of buyers say it’s very or extremely important
  • Floor plan/layout that fits preferences: 67% of buyers say it’s very or extremely important

28% of buyers look for a home to rent out, 27% looked for smart homes, 58% of buyers looked for assigned parking

1. Search for the right price

Price will ultimately dictate what you can or cannot buy. While looking at homes above your price range can be fun, it’s not a good use of time — and it can lead to heartbreak when you realize it’s not financially feasible. Despite this, Zillow research found that in 2019, just 55% of buyers stayed on budget, while 26% went over their initial budget.

How to set your home buying budget

Use Zillow’s Affordability Calculator: This handy tool gives you an initial budget range based on your income, existing monthly bills, and down payment amount. Once you have that range, you can set up Zillow alerts for homes on the market that fit your price range, along with other criteria.

Get pre-approved: Once you’re ready to really start your home search, you’ll want to get pre-approved by the lender of your choice. They’ll approve you for a loan up to a specific amount, based on your income, debt and credit history.

Forecast your mortgage payment: Even if you are pre-approved for a large loan from your lender, you should make sure you’re comfortable with your estimated monthly housing payment. When you use Zillow’s mortgage calculator to estimate your monthly payments, be sure the taxes, insurance, and HOA fees are accurate — those items can make a big difference in your monthly costs.

2. Prioritize the location

Next to budget, location is one of the most important things to consider when buying a house. The 2019 report uncovered that 24% of buyers found it difficult or extremely difficult to find a home in their desired location. If you can’t find or afford a home in your ideal neighborhood, you’ll want to ask yourself a few questions (and enlist the help of your agent) to find a location that fits your lifestyle, needs and budget. Remember — your home’s location can’t be changed, so take the time to really identify a neighborhood where you’ll be happy live.

Proximity to downtown

Unsurprisingly, homes closer to core downtown areas have better resale value, thanks to their shorter commutes. According to Zillow research, in 29 of the country’s 33 largest metro areas included in the analysis, buyers should expect to pay more per square foot for a home within a 15-minute rush-hour drive to the downtown core. That may be why 15% of buyers who compromise to stay within their budget add time to their commute.

Community attributes

If you like being able to walk to restaurants and shops, try walking the distance to town to see if it’s doable. Spend some time exploring the area, checking out nearby parks and figuring out what kinds of attractions are nearby.

Alternatively, if you’re someone who likes a more solitary life and doesn’t mind driving, you might prioritize a home that offers more privacy, perhaps in a location that’s off the beaten path.

School district quality

If you have kids (or are planning on having kids in the future), you want them to get the best education possible. Checking out the school district ratings is a starting point, but you should visit the local schools to gather your assessment of the education and programs. Even if you don’t have children, the school district that your home is in can impact your future resale value.

Flood zone status

Homes located in flood zones require additional insurance, and buying a home in a flood-prone area means you need to be prepared if a flood actually happens.

3. Think long term

According to the Zillow Group Report, the typical homeowner stays in their home for 14 years before selling. When shopping for a home, don’t just think of your immediate needs. Make sure the home you select will meet your long-term goals, so you won’t have to move again in the near future.

Bedrooms and bathrooms

If you plan to expand your family in the near future, make sure the new home can accommodate your plans, whether it’s an extra room for a new baby, an in-law suite for parents, or a guest bedroom if you’re moving out of state and anticipate lots of visitors. The same goes if you are planning to downsize or you have grown children who will be moving out soon.

Outdoor space

As mentioned above, most buyers rank outdoor space as important. If you have a dog (or plan to get one), have kids who need a safe place to play or are an avid gardener, you’ll want to make sure the home’s outdoor space meets your needs.

Potential to personalize

Many buyers look for a home that’s move-in ready, so they can avoid costly repairs and updates (especially right after moving in). But at the same time, it’s nice to be able to add some personal flair to make a house feel like home. If you’d like to add some of your own style, be sure to steer clear of homes that you won’t be able to change enough to fit your preferences.

Lifestyle amenities

Ideally, your new home should enhance your current lifestyle — and you’ve probably already envisioned what your life in a new home will look like. As you evaluate houses, consider your hobbies and what makes you happy. For example, if you love spending time outdoors, you probably want a home with a nice yard. If you love to cook, maybe a nice, big kitchen is on your wish list. And, think about your current living situation: What things do you wish were different?

4. Assess property condition

TV makes home renovations look easy, but in reality, they’re anything but. If you’re a first-time buyer who has never undergone a renovation, you may want to steer clear of a home in serious disrepair. The costs can add up quickly, and if the home needs structural work, it could delay your move-in, causing unnecessary stress. Here are the three major categories of property condition.

Move-in ready

A move-in ready home is new, close to new, or has been recently renovated. Zillow-owned homes are move-in ready homes that have been recently renovated by a licensed contractor, and are ready for new owners to start their lives.

Minor updates

A home that needs minor updates might have cosmetic issues you’d like to change, or have some dated mechanical systems that could be updated for energy savings. Learn more about minor cosmetic details below.

Major renovation

A home that needs major repairs is usually priced lower due to the work that needs to be done. One upside to a major renovation is the opportunity to personalize the home to your tastes. Keep in mind that the return on investment for a major renovation isn’t 100%, and you risk a delayed move-in if the repairs are more extensive than anticipated.

Check condition of costly systems

No matter the condition of the home you’re buying, make sure your inspector checks to make sure major systems and mechanicals in the home are functioning properly. If issues are uncovered, you’ll want to ask the seller to either repair them before closing or offer a credit so you can fix them yourself. Look out for the following costly issues:

  • Damaged roof
  • Older furnace or HVAC system
  • Flooding, water damage or mold
  • Old insulation
  • Plumbing issues
  • Exterior cracks
  • Uneven floors

5. Don’t focus on minor cosmetic details

No house is perfect, so try not to get hung up on little imperfections. For example, don’t eliminate a home from your list just because you don’t like the interior paint color. Cosmetic changes are fairly easy and affordable to make. Don’t let the following minor issues keep you from buying a house you would otherwise love:

  • Paint
  • Hardware
  • Furnishings
  • Landscaping

When you attend showings and open houses, or even when you’re just browsing through pictures online, it’s easy to get distracted by clutter. Try not to pay too much attention to the seller’s stuff — it’ll all be removed by the time you move in. Put in the effort to picture the house as a blank canvas for all of your belongings.

6. Stick with your must-haves

There’s a big difference between wants and needs, so create two different lists when searching for a home. For instance, a shorter commute may be a must-have, but smart home features are a nice-to-have. Practicality and functionality should always take priority over the bells and whistles.

Things to consider when buying a house: needs vs. wants

For example, your list of needs might look like this.

  • Need: shorter commute
  • Need: specific number of bedrooms and bathrooms
  • Need: parking

Other items might fall to your list of wants, like these.

  • Want: updated kitchen
  • Want: upstairs washer and dryer
  • Want: smart home features

Source: zillow.com

Apartment Safety: Vacation Security Tips

Getting ready to head out on vacation this year? You’ve probably already planned for what you’re packing, how you’re getting there, hotels, activities and everything else you need to have a great time. However, you may be forgetting one essential element: securing your apartment. Nothing can bring a fun vacation to a screeching halt quicker than finding out you’ve had a break-in, or that there’s been damage from fire or water while you were gone. Follow these apartment security tips to ensure you’re doing everything you can to come back to a settled situation.

Check all door and window locks a few weeks before your vacation.

Is that front door lock a little loose? Have a window that just won’t close all the way that you’ve been ignoring? Make a note of these things a few weeks before your vacation so you can submit a service request to your apartment community maintenance department in a timely manner. Having these items fixed can help to secure your apartment against break-ins and theft.

Make sure the batteries in your smoke alarm are up to date.

If you’re not already checking the batteries on your apartment’s smoke alarm on a regular basis, you should be. However, getting a check in before leaving for vacation is crucial. Test your batteries to ensure they’re working properly a few days before you leave.

Think about your pets.

If you’re not boarding your pets while you’re on vacation, you’ll need to make arrangements for a trusted neighbor or a professional pet sitter to look in on them daily. Make sure they know the contact details for your veterinarian, as well as emergency contact numbers for you. Additionally, register for a free pet safety pack from the ASPCA, which includes an animal rescue window decal to alert emergency services that there is a pet inside.

Get some timers.

Timers are a great way to make it look like you’re at home even when you’re not, and better yet, they’re a fairly cheap investment. Simply plug the timer into your wall socket, set the times you’d like the power to go on and off, and plug in your light, TV or even a radio.

Let your apartment manager know you’ll be away.

Giving your apartment manager a head’s up that you’re going to be out of town for awhile is never a bad idea. If they’re aware you’re gone, they will be able to be more proactive should they see activity around your apartment. Another thing your apartment manager might be able to do for you is hold any packages or larger items of mail that might come in while you’re away.

Ask a trusted neighbor to keep an eye on your place for you.

If you’ve lived in your community for awhile, chances are you’ve made friends with a few neighbors who would be happy to keep an eye on your place for you. This can be particularly helpful for emergency situations where quick reactions are a necessity, such as smoke coming from your apartment. Make sure your trusted neighbors know when you’re going to be gone and how to contact you. Let them know you’re happy to return the favor when they head out on vacation.

Hot Tip: Make sure your renters insurance policy is up to date, too: it protects your valuables from water damage, fire, theft and the great unexpected. This might be especially important for senior apartments, which can hold more valuable belongings.

If you’re headed off to a well-earned vacation, security for your apartment is probably the last thing you want to think about. However, taking a few precautions prior to leaving can make your arrival home that much better. Do you have any apartment safety and security tips?

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Source: apartmentguide.com

12 Common Types of Mold Found in the Home

While some types of fungi can be edible, like mushrooms or yeast, mold isn’t one of them. In fact, it can be harmful to ingest or even inhale.

There are more than 100,000 types of mold that are found both indoors and outdoors. They grow best in damp and dimly lit areas, making attics, basements and bathrooms home to many varieties of this unwanted fungi.

types of mold visualtypes of mold visual

Dangers of mold

Depending on the variety, mold can pose a threat to your home and health. The amount of danger depends on the person. Some people are more sensitive to mold while others aren’t affected at all.

Some symptoms that mold can cause include:

  • Nasal stuffiness
  • Throat irritation
  • Coughing and/or wheezing
  • Asthma symptoms such as shortness of breath
  • Eye irritation
  • Skin irritation
  • Lung infections
  • Chronic conditions such as cancer, pulmonary bleeding, liver and kidney conditions

How to prevent mold in your home

ceiling leakingceiling leaking

Mold is an all too common occurrence in homes. Luckily there are prevention tips that will help you get rid of this fungi and keep it out.

Control the humidity

Mold grows where there’s moisture so keeping the humidity levels in your home as low as you can will prevent moisture from building up and settling on surfaces. Aim for a humidity level lower than 50 percent at all times. You can control this by using an air conditioner or dehumidifier.

Fix any leaks

Another way water can enter the home is through a leaky roof, window or pipe. Although this dripping might not seem like an immediate concern, the build up of water will provide mold with the moisture it needs to grow. Fix these leaks as soon as you notice them.

Clean up after flooding

Whether you’ve been hit hard by a storm and your basement is flooded or a pipe burst in your home and turned your bathroom into a swimming pool, it’s important that you clean and dry the area within 48 hours. Once the majority of the water is gone, wipe down all the surfaces with a cloth and use fans to dry out the area.

Ventilate water prone areas

Make sure the areas where you use water daily have a proper ventilation system. Exhaust fans that vent outside should be used in the bathroom, kitchen and laundry room. These fans should be turned on whenever you use water for a long period of time, such as taking a shower.

How to remove mold

cleaning moldcleaning mold

There are a few solutions to get rid of mold. When taking on this fungus, be sure that you wear a mask and gloves so that the spores don’t come in contact with you.

Bleach solution

One way to get rid of mold is by creating a bleach solution. Mix four cups of water with one cup of bleach in a spray bottle. Spray the solution on the area and use a scrub brush.

Hydrogen peroxide solution

Hydrogen peroxide is a solution that can kill mold and is less harsh than bleach. Use 3 to 10 percent concentrated hydrogen peroxide and spray on the area. This solution will work on kitchen appliances, bathroom fixtures, floors and walls.

Distilled white vinegar solution

Pour vinegar in a spray bottle and spray it on the mold. Let it sit for an hour and then wipe down the area. White vinegar is often used in combination with baking soda for particularly tough mold.

Hire an expert

If you’re dealing with dangerous, toxigenic mold, you’ll want to have professionals handle it. Hire a mold expert who has the proper supplies to rid your home of this fungi.

Types of Mold

The danger of the mold will depend on what type it is. There are three main classifications of mold:

  1. Allergenic: Causes an allergic reaction such as eye irritation, skin irritation or asthma
  2. Pathogenic: Can cause disease, it’s often hard to pinpoint this type
  3. Toxigenic: Produces substances that are toxic and can lead to dangerous or deadly health conditions

To help you identify the kind of mold you have in your home, we have a list of the 12 most common types of mold, their classifications and where they’re found.

1. Acremonium

acremoniumacremonium

Acremonium is a mold that’s commonly found in buildings that have suffered water damage. It’s slow-spreading, making it easier to catch than other molds. This mold begins as a small moist substance and then evolves into a powdery material. The color of acremonium can vary, often appearing in shades of grey, orange, white and even pink.

If you’re able to catch this mold before it spreads, you can get rid of it with a water and bleach solution. Be sure the area is ventilated by opening windows and protect your health by wearing a mask and protective clothing. When sprayed, spores from the mold may be released into the air. Spray the area with the solution and scrub it clean with a soft brush.

2. Alternaria

alternaria moldalternaria mold

There are over 250 known species of Alternaria. This mold variety spreads during dry and windy conditions. It’s commonly found on plants and agricultural products like fruits and vegetables.

Alternaria is found both indoors and outdoors. Outside it can be seen in damp places such as on dead plant material, grass with dew and overwatered soil. These spores can spread indoors and be found in carpets, wallpaper, window frames and air conditioning systems.

To find this type of mold in your home, you’ll need a professional air test for mold and surface sampling. Alternaria can spread quickly so once it’s found, you’ll need to call in the professionals to remove it.

3. Aspergillus

aspergillus moldaspergillus mold

There are many common varieties of aspergillus mold including Aspergillus niger, Aspergillus flavus and Aspergillus fumigatus. These molds range from a yellow-green color to blue-green hues. They usually have a cotton or wool texture.

This type of mold typically produces allergic reactions, but its effects can accelerate to more serious conditions such as Aspergillosis, a type of lung disease. If you identify aspergillus in your home, you can apply a chemical or antifungal treatment to get rid of it.

4. Aureobasidium

aureobasidium moldaureobasidium mold

Aureobasidium ranges in color from a menacing black to softer cream or pink hues. This mold is commonly found in bathrooms and kitchens, growing in the tile grout or caulking.

To prevent Aureobasidium from spreading, it’s important to be diligent about cleaning the home. When cleaning, wear gloves and a mask so the spores don’t infect your lungs or react with your skin.

5. Chaetomium

chaetomium moldchaetomium mold

Colonies of Chaetomium are found in damp and humid locations such as buildings that have suffered some sort of water damage. They also grow on materials that have cellulose such as drywall, wallpaper and wood.

Chaetomium mold can have both allergenic and pathogenic effects. The fungal spores cause hay fever, asthma and sinus issues. This type of mold also contains mycotoxins which have been said to be teratogenic or carcinogenic.

6. Cladosporium

cladosporium moldcladosporium mold

This type of mold is found in areas that don’t get sunlight and have poor ventilation like basements or attics. Cladosporium has a velvet texture and is olive-gray in color. It causes an allergic reaction, especially in infants. It is also known to cause infections in the fingernails, toenails and eyes.

Because these fungi can cause serious infections, it’s recommended to have an expert handle it. It should also be taken care of as soon as possible otherwise it will spread quickly throughout your home and become an even larger threat.

7. Fusarium

fusarium moldfusarium mold

Fusarium can be found in a variety of colors, from tans and whites to brighter pinks and purples. Fermented fusarium, also called Quorn, is used as a meat substitute by many vegetarians and vegans.

While this fermented version is edible, the traditional fungi that grow in your home can produce allergic symptoms. Fusarium is fast-spreading and can cause structural damage within your home. With that being said, a majority of this mold is not found in the home but located in the soil. It commonly impacts wheat, barley and maize fields, in addition to ruining produce in home gardens.

8. Mucor

mucor moldmucor mold

Mucor is a yellow or white mold that has a cotton texture. It’s often found in the air in schools, offices and homes. From house dust to dirty carpets, this mold can find a home nearly anywhere.

Although this mold is common, it’s a relatively low-risk unless you have a pre-existing disease. If you’re already sick, this mold can worsen your symptoms and cause pulmonary infections, gastrointestinal infections or cutaneous infections.

9. Penicillium

penicillium moldpenicillium mold

Penicillium can be identified by its musty odor. It’s often found in blue-green, white, yellow or pink hues and has a powdery texture. It can be found where there’s indoor moisture and often contaminates leather and cloth items.

By studying penicillium, scientists found a component of the fungi that could be used to treat infectious diseases. This is how penicillin, an antibiotic commonly used to treat a variety of diseases, was created.

While penicillin has beneficial properties, penicillium can cause allergies, including hay fever and lung inflammation.

10. Stachybotrys

stachybotrys moldstachybotrys mold

Commonly referred to as “black mold” or “toxic mold,” Stachybotrys can cause severe illness. Green-black in color and sticky to the touch, this fungus is found in damp places throughout the home. Bathroom ceilings, wet carpets, laundry rooms and basements are often home to black mold.

Stachybotrys is toxic and long exposure to it can be deadly. In the 1990s, Cleveland had an outbreak of infant pulmonary hemorrhage that was associated with black mold, causing 12 fatalities. Since then, people have become very cautious of the mycotoxins that Stachybotrys produces. If found in the home, professionals should be called in to remove it immediately.

11. Trichoderma

trichoderma moldtrichoderma mold

This white and green mold might be hiding in your carpets, wallpaper, wooden furniture, floors or the soil in your garden. It will cause any wood to rot and can harm the structural integrity of your home.

In addition to being a danger to your home, Trichoderma can be a risk to you and your family. Symptoms include sneezing, asthmatic attacks, coughing and lung infections. The genus Trichoderma longibrachiatum is toxic to humans.

12. Ulocladium

ulocladium moldulocladium mold

Found in shades of brown, black or grey, Ulocladium can live in the ground as well as in the air. Because of its fluffy texture, the wind can easily catch onto spores and carry them into your home. It also grows in homes with previous water damage.

Ulocladium can be ingested through food or inhaled. Once in the body, it affects the respiratory system, producing asthma and hay fever symptoms. To remove this type of mold from your home you’ll need to do a complete cleaning with antimicrobial chemicals. It’s also beneficial to add a dehumidifying system in your home so that the mold doesn’t return.

When you’re looking for apartments, be sure to check the lease for clauses about mold and clarify what maintenance is provided by management. Some landlords may hold you responsible while others will take on this liability. If you find mold in your current home, be sure to get it inspected and removed as soon as possible.

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Source: apartmentguide.com

Renters Insurance vs. Condo Insurance

Whether you own your condo or you rent, condo owners insurance or a condo rental insurance policy is a must. Experience a cold snap and the pipes burst? Don’t count on your landlord to spring for your new Alienware laptop or to replace that sheepskin rug Mom gave you. We’ll walk you through the difference between condo owners policies and condo renters insurance and what is protected — and not.

In this article

What’s the difference between renters insurance and condo insurance? 

It’s pretty straightforward: If you rent your condo, you need renters insurance. If you own your condo, you need a condo policy. 

Renters insurance is used to protect your personal belongings in a rental from property damage and theft, and liability protection if someone is injured in your rental unit. Renters insurance includes numerous other benefits including loss-of-use, which is reimbursement in case you’re displaced from your rental. 

Renters insurance is not legally required in any state, but your landlord can require you to purchase a policy. Your landlord is required to carry insurance on the property, but it only insures the structure. All contents inside your rental are covered by your own renters policy.

A condo insurance policy includes dwelling coverage and renters insurance does not. Your condo association’s master policy covers the structure of the building.

America’s top-rated renters insurance

  • Policies starting at just $5/month
  • Sign up in seconds, claims paid in minutes
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What does renters insurance cover? 

Renters insurance provides protection with four major components:

  • Personal belongings: Your policy covers your personal belongings not built in to your rental. Coverage is extended due to specific peril events, such as fire or water damage, or theft. This also includes your personal belongings off-premises too, such as items in a storage unit.
  • Liability: Liability covers your cost to defend yourself in and out of court if you cause bodily injury or damage to someone else’s property. This coverage extends to damage or harm from your kids or pets too. 
  • Medical payments: If someone is injured inside your rental, or you, a family member or a pet cause injury, then medical payments are covered for the victim. And because medical payments in a rental policy are no-fault, the medical bills are submitted directly to the insurance company.
  • Loss-of-use: If your rental is damaged due to a covered event and you are forced out of your space, your loss-of-use provides reimbursement for a portion of your living expenses. This includes hotel stays, temporary housing, meals and other living expenses. 

Renters insurance goes beyond these main areas and provides other benefits. For instance, you can choose Replacement Cost versus Actual Cash Value for your belongings. This means if you are willing to pay extra on your premium, your personal belongings are replaced at what it costs to replace them with new items, and not the depreciated value. 

If you have high-value items, usually an item over $1,500, you can add separate coverage. This is particularly important for items such as jewelry, art, antiques or similar items. 

[Read: Renters Insurance for College Students]

What does condo insurance cover? 

Condo insurance provides similar protection as a renters policy. A standard policy would include the same major components:

  • Personal belongings
  • Liability 
  • Medical payments
  • Loss-of-use

Your condo insurance should cover whatever is not included in your condo association’s master policy. 

Since you own your condo, you need dwelling coverage, and a condo insurance plan provides this. As a condo owner, you own everything from the walls inward. So if there is damage to your walls due to a covered peril event, your dwelling coverage kicks in. 

Loss assessment is another unique coverage to a condo policy and you can add this to your policy. This provides additional protection for any costs associated with damage caused to the condo, including with the building, the shared areas within the condo complex or an injury in the shared areas, that the condo association is passing onto all individual unit owners.

You should note that it’s important to review your condo association’s master policy thoroughly because you could obtain a condo policy to fill in the gaps of your master policy, and your limits might not be as high. It all depends on how comprehensive the master policy is.

[Read: What is Loss Assessment Coverage?]

Best discounts for your renters or condo insurance 

The good news is, there are several ways to save on your renters or condo insurance. One of the most effective tactics is to use as many discounts as possible. Working with an agent is one of the best ways to confirm you’re getting every possible discount, since there are some you may not be aware of. A few popular discount options include:

  • Bundling: If you already have an auto insurance policy, a renters or condo policy should be inexpensive to add on with a bundling discount.
  • Pay in full: Many carriers give you a break if you pay your premiums — usually six months or a year — all at once.
  • Safety discounts: If you have an alarm system, deadbolt and smoke detectors in your rental or condo, your carrier may provide you with a discount. 
  • Paperless: If you go paperless and receive your statements electronically, several carriers reward you with savings on your premiums.

America’s top-rated renters insurance

  • Policies starting at just $5/month
  • Sign up in seconds, claims paid in minutes
  • Zero hassle, zero paperwork

How to pick the right insurance 

To pick the right policy, comparison shopping is the first step. Compare quotes and policy details side by side. Many carriers offer this option online for added convenience. Look for details on coverage limits and rates and make sure you’re comparing apples to apples among the policies.

Plus, look at the number of discounts available in case one carrier provides more than another. 

Above and beyond price, customer service is important. You want your carrier to make it easy  should you need to file a claim. You’ll find this out by reading the reviews and checking out the customer service ratings among the companies.

Lastly, if you need additional coverage for high-value items or other special items, look for a policy that fits your unique coverage needs. 

Choosing the right condo insurance or renters policy takes a little research. But you’re rewarded for your efforts by getting competitive pricing and a comprehensive policy. 

[Read: Does Renters Insurance Cover Storage Units?]

We welcome your feedback on this article. Contact us at inquiries@thesimpledollar.com with comments or questions.

In response to the Covid-19 pandemic, many insurance companies provided relief in the form of percentages back on monthly bills as well as a freeze on coverage cancellations due to inability to pay. While it’s not recommended, you could technically stop your coverage to save money if absolutely needed — but again, it’s strongly advised against.

See below for more details on how you can benefit from the recently approved economic relief act:

Who can benefit from this?

To qualify for rental assistance under the CARES Act at least one household family member must qualify for unemployment or have a significant income lost due to the pandemic. Income must fall at or below 80% of your county’s average income. You must also be a risk of homelessness.

Who’s getting how much?

If families fall below 50% of the average income they’ll be given priority for rent relief funds. Families can get up to a year of rent covered, and three months in the future with the CARES Act rent relief assistance.

How to apply

If you need to apply for assistance, the way you do that will vary depending on where you live. If your city or town has an existing rental assistance program, you’ll likely use that to apply for new aid.

You can contact your local housing authority, nonprofit groups or reach out to your local representatives to find out where and how to apply. Your landlord may also be able to apply for you — but they’ll have to get your approval and signature before doing so.

Source: thesimpledollar.com

What are the different types of renters insurance?

Renters insurance protects individuals against common losses and liabilities they face when renting a home or apartment. A standard policy offers three types of renters insurance coverage, each for different situations.

America’s top-rated renters insurance

  • Policies starting at just $5/month
  • Sign up in seconds, claims paid in minutes
  • Zero hassle, zero paperwork

Although renters insurance is not legally required, it’s beneficial for anyone who rents. Having a renters insurance policy covers your legal and financial responsibility in the event of a covered claim, like a fire. Compared to other types of insurance, renters insurance is typically very affordable, with an average premium of $179 per year.

In this article

What does renters insurance cover?

Standard renters insurance policies include coverage for your personal items, your liabilities and temporary accommodations if your home becomes uninhabitable. Most renters insurance policies include named perils coverage, and cover your personal belongings at their actual cash value (ACV).

[ Read: Is Renters Insurance Worth It? ]

Renters insurance coverage is comprehensive, but it does not cover everything. You might need to purchase more coverage in the form of add-on policies to fill gaps in your coverage. Some common renters insurance endorsements are flood insurance, earthquake insurance and valuables coverage for jewelry, art and electronics. Adding these policies will increase your premium, and some endorsements have a separate deductible. 

What are the types of renters insurance? 

There are three types of renters insurance included in a standard policy. Here’s a brief overview of each coverage and its purpose.

Personal property coverage

Personal property coverage protects your personal belongings, like furniture, small appliances and clothing, from certain losses. Most renters insurance policies cover your belongings against named perils, which are listed in your insurance policy. Named perils typically include the following losses:

  • Fire, lightning and smoke 
  • Windstorm and hail
  • Explosions
  • Riots
  • Damage by aircraft and vehicles
  • Vandalism
  • Theft
  • Volcanic eruption
  • Falling objects
  • Snow, ice and sleet
  • Sudden or accidental water or steam discharge
  • Sudden or accidental freezing of pipes
  • Sudden or accidental electrical surges

One of the biggest perks of renters insurance is that it will cover your personal belongings anywhere in the world. So if you’re on vacation in Europe and your backpack gets stolen, your renters insurance policy will reimburse you for the cost of a new one. It also covers your items at work and in your car. 

Renters should keep in mind that this type of policy offers limited coverage for valuables. If you own a fine jewelry collection, have furs in the closet or keep a large amount of cash on hand, your renters insurance probably won’t cover it if something happens. In this case, you would need to purchase an endorsement to raise your policy limit, or schedule your valuable items. 

[ Read: How to Buy Cheap Renters Insurance Online]

Liability coverage

Accidents happen, often unexpectedly, which is why having liability insurance is valuable. Renters insurance policies include two types of liability coverage — personal liability coverage and medical payments coverage. Personal liability coverage protects your financial responsibility if a guest gets injured in your home, or if you accidentally cause damage to someone else’s property. 

Here’s an example. Say that you bought a brand new washing machine, and during the installation process, the water hose unexpectedly burst and water began to seep through the floor and into the apartment below yours. In this case, your renters insurance liability coverage would pay to repair the water damage and replace your downstairs neighbor’s personal items that were affected. 

Medical payments coverage is the other part of liability insurance. Imagine that you have a friend over and they slip on a loose floorboard that you had been meaning to fix. They end up breaking their ankle and need medical attention. In this situation, your personal liability insurance would cover the costs related to their injury, whether it’s an ambulance ride, X-rays, surgery and rehabilitation.

Renters insurance liability coverage also protects you in legal situations. If you were sued and summoned to court over a claim that you caused, liability insurance would pay for your lawyer fees, court costs and a settlement with the plaintiff.

Loss-of-use coverage

Loss-of-use coverage is the third policy included in renters insurance. This coverage, sometimes called additional living expenses, pays for things like lodging, restaurant bills, laundry and parking if your home is damaged by a covered claim and you have to temporarily move out. 

Loss of use coverage only applies when your home is affected by a covered loss. That means it doesn’t cover temporary accommodations if your home is being voluntarily remodeled or has a rodent or bug infestation. 

[ Read: The Cheapest Renters Insurance Companies of 2021 ]

Loss of use coverage can be a huge benefit if you ever need to use it. However, this policy won’t grant you a free vacation. Your loss of use policy has a coverage limit, which is the highest amount of money the insurance company will pay.

To get reimbursed for lodging and food bills, you’ll need to get the expenses approved by your insurance provider. If you book a five-star hotel in another country or spend hundreds at expensive restaurants, it probably won’t be covered. When you’re using loss-of-use coverage, it’s important to keep your receipts to submit to the insurance company. 

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Replacement cost renters insurance policies

Most renters insurance policies cover your personal items at their actual cash value (ACV). That means if an item is damaged or destroyed, depreciation is factored into your payout. For example, say your mattress cost $500 brand new, and five years later it gets destroyed by water damage. Your insurance company might give you $250 to replace it, because the item has depreciated over time.

[ Read: Actual Cash Value vs. Replacement Cost: What’s the Difference? ]

If you want a higher payout, some insurance companies give you the option to upgrade your policy to replacement cost value (RCV). With an RCV policy, your payout does not include depreciation. That means you would receive $500 to replace your damaged mattress. However, it’s important to note that upgrading to an RCV will raise your premium.

We welcome your feedback on this article. Contact us at inquiries@thesimpledollar.com with comments or questions.

In response to the Covid-19 pandemic, many insurance companies provided relief in the form of percentages back on monthly bills as well as a freeze on coverage cancellations due to inability to pay. While it’s not recommended, you could technically stop your coverage to save money if absolutely needed — but again, it’s strongly advised against.

See below for more details on how you can benefit from the recently approved economic relief act:

Who can benefit from this?

To qualify for rental assistance under the CARES Act at least one household family member must qualify for unemployment or have a significant income lost due to the pandemic. Income must fall at or below 80% of your county’s average income. You must also be a risk of homelessness. 

Who’s getting how much?

If families fall below 50% of the average income they’ll be given priority for rent relief funds. Families can get up to a year of rent covered, and three months in the future with the CARES Act rent relief assistance.

How to apply

If you need to apply for assistance, the way you do that will vary depending on where you live. If your city or town has an existing rental assistance program, you’ll likely use that to apply for new aid.

You can contact your local housing authority, nonprofit groups or reach out to your local representatives to find out where and how to apply. Your landlord may also be able to apply for you — but they’ll have to get your approval and signature before doing so.

Source: thesimpledollar.com