Gaps in car insurance

1. Personal belongings in your car
Comprehensive auto insurance covers your car if it’s stolen or vandalized, but not the items you leave inside. After a smash-and-grab break-in, for instance, comprehensive coverage would pay to repair your broken window — minus the deductible — but wouldn’t reimburse you for the contents of the shopping bags swiped from the back seat.
Your best bet is to prevent theft by always locking your car and putting any belongings, especially navigation systems and other valuables, in the trunk or out of sight, the National Insurance Crime Bureau advises.
Coverage to fill the hole: Your homeowners or renters insurance will cover items stolen from your car, provided you file a police report. If the value of the items is less than your deductible, you’ll have to pay the full cost of replacement.
2. People who live with you but aren’t listed on the policy
A standard car insurance policy generally covers you and other people who don’t live with you and who have permission to use your car occasionally. Members of your household must be listed on your car insurance policy to have coverage.
Coverage to fill the hole: Ask your insurance agent who has coverage when driving your vehicle. You’ll likely need to list all members of your household who have driver’s licenses, including roommates, on your policy.
3. Your car loan, if your vehicle is totaled
Having collision and comprehensive insurance doesn’t necessarily mean you’re in the clear if you total a financed car. In that case, the insurance company will issue a check for the car’s market value, minus your deductible. Because of depreciation, the payout could be lower than the amount you owe on the car loan. This is most likely if you made a small down payment and have made three years or fewer of payments on the loan.
Coverage to fill the hole: Gap insurance pays the difference between your insurance claim check and the outstanding loan balance. You can buy a policy through your car insurance agent or an insurance company representative.
You might be required to have gap insurance if you lease a car. The car dealer usually provides the coverage, and the cost is included in your lease.

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Guide to buying your first home in Trussville Al

1. Better to build or buy?
Having a home custom-built to your specifications can be expensive. But are you ready to take on remodeling and updating an older home to meet your needs?
A remodel can often be expensive and in the end, is less satisfying, and finishing a project yourself, without experience, can result in the purchase of costly tools and the loss of your valuable time. Do your research before signing with a contractor or deciding to revamp an older home.
2. Location, location, location.

A bargain is never really a bargain when located in a bad neighborhood. Sometimes lightning will strike and gentrification of certain areas will result in skyrocketing property value — but that’s rare. It’s better to take a chance on a smaller home — or one in need of repair — in a great area where the value will only rise. Another thing to consider is the school system where you are buying a home. This sometimes is the first thing many home buyers look at when making their decision. When it comes to buying a home in the Birmingham area Trussville separates its self from many other communities because of their high performing schools.

3. Know your loans.

A loan rate can look great in an advertisement, but once bankers have drawn you in to the branch office, what will you really pay? Points, PMI (private mortgage insurance) and closing costs can drive your mortgage cost up.

Some programs allow buyers to have smaller down payments. But how long are you required to stay in the home without penalty? And how much more will you pay each month? Make sure to use a lender that offers multiple options like HomeTown Lenders.

4. Demand full disclosure and a professional home inspection.

Most states require that a home seller disclose potential problems with the property, but the homeowner may not always know or reveal existing structural problems (despite the legal requirement). The only way to truly know what’s going on inside (and over and under) a home’s structure is to secure the services of a reputable home inspector. Expect to pay $300-600 for the inspection. It seems like a lot of money, but consider the thousands it could save you if the home isn’t up to code or has major issues.

5. Get it in writing.

Perhaps one of the best ways to protect yourself is to have every part of the sale in writing, and make sure you understand every aspect before making a commitment. Legal jargon and real estate terminology can be confusing and somewhat frustrating, so hone your real estate vocabulary before house hunting, and don’t be afraid to ask a lot of questions along the way.

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Top school districts in Birmingham, Al

If you’re in the market for a new home, there’s a lot to consider: price, neighborhood, square footage, number of bedrooms and bathrooms, the size of the lot and the home’s condition, to name a few. But have you taken into account the local school district? Even if you don’t have or never plan to have school-age children, the quality of nearby schools can have an impact on how much you pay — and how much you sell a home for later.
Here are three reasons why you should consider the quality of school districts when you buy your next home.
1. You’ll pay more to live in a good school district
Parents of school-age kids often pay attention to school performance ratings and are likely to pay more to be near public schools with higher scores. Buyers who have kids or are planning to have kids will likely use this type of criteria as the most important part of their search.
The upshot: A school’s high rating often drives up the prices of homes in that school’s district. Even if you don’t have kids, you’ll still pay more to be near a good school. Schools basically establish an area as a good location. And as any real estate agent will tell you, location matters.
2. A good school district might protect you from the real estate market’s ups and downs
Even in a down market, an excellent school can be the rising tide that lifts all nearby home prices.
For example, in 2007 — a time when real estate prices were slowing down — the San Francisco Chronicle reported that the impact of an excellent school on home values can be dramatic: “There could be two districts — one perceived as excellent, one mediocre — divided by a street. The same hypothetical house built by the same developer on either side of that street could fetch $100,000 more if it feeds into great schools.
Markets turn faster and harder these days, as evidenced by the past credit and housing crisis and the recent upswing in sales. Buying in a strong school district can help protect your home’s value in a declining market. It’s basically more of a “safer bet.”
3. Though it may cost more to buy near a good school, it will be good for resale
Real estate never comes with guarantees, of course. But it’s certain that parents will always want the best school they can afford for their kids. In markets good and bad, home buyers should think about resale when seriously considering a home. Buyers, before moving forward on a home, should immediately think like a seller. Ask yourself the question: “If the housing market changes and I need to sell, how will my home fare?” The location, and in particular the school district, should be considered.
Always pick the home that’s right for you
School districts and their boundaries, even if you don’t have children, should be on every buyer’s radar. Though schools should factor into your thinking, don’t let them top your real priority — to buy the right home for you, at the right time. The right home for you should be one where you feel comfortable and in a location that makes sense to you. Finally, it has to be the right home in terms of size, style, condition and price. It’s also important to know what you can afford to buy and the easiest way to do this to get preapproved through a mortgage lender like Eric Kelly with Assurance Financial.

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Choosing the right home loan

Pros of the 30-Year Fixed Mortgage
So why is the 30-year fixed so darn popular? And why has it been for so many years? Here’s what you get when you choose a 30-year fixed:

An affordable payment (relative to shorter-term mortgages), that won’t change over the life of your loan.
You can refinance up to 95% of your primary home’s value.
You can buy a home with as little as 5% down (if it’s your primary home – investment home and vacation homes require a slightly larger down payment).
You can qualify for loan amounts up to $3,000,000.
You will have the peace of mind knowing you are choosing the mortgage that most Americans choose each year. There’s power in numbers, right?

Cons of the 30-Year Fixed Mortgage

You pay a higher rate for a longer time than you need to. Most Americans move or refinance every 4 – 7 years (I’ve gotten four mortgages since 1998). Yet, instead of getting a lower rate with an ARM or a shorter term, they opt for a longer term. The longer your term, the higher the rate.
It might not be the perfect loan term to match your goals. If you opt for the plain-old vanilla 30-year, you miss the chance to match your mortgage to your financial goals. Are you retiring from your job in 17 years? Maybe a 17-year fixed would be ideal. No job and no mortgage! Maybe your children will be starting college in 12 years. Get a 12-year fixed and be mortgage-free when they start phoning home for cash.
You pay more interest. That’s a fact. It’s simple. The longer your mortgage, the more interest you’ll pay. You get a lower payment each month, but because you pay your mortgage over such a long time (and borrow the money over a long period), you pay more interest.

There you have it. The pros and cons of the 30-year fixed.
Talk with a home loan expert today at Willow Bend Mortgage to discuss which type of loan is right for you!

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Importance of using a mortgage broker and not a bank to buy your home

They do all the legwork for you, working on your behalf with the lender
– They compare rates from a large number of banks and lenders all at once
– Wholesale interest rates can be lower than retail (bank branch) interest rates
– You get more loan options because they work with numerous banks and lenders
– Brokers can finance tricky deals because of their knowledge and various lending partners
– Are typically are easier to get in contact with,

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