Five Signs a Home has had Water Damage

by Isaac Benmergui, Esq on June 30, 2015

Five Signs a Home has had Water Damage (Article 17)Hurricanes, flooding, and water damage are real problems in South Florida, where nearly 20 percent of homes are coastal. Keep in mind that if you’re in love with a house, it’s not likely that either agent is going to burst your bubble and tell you that the home has had extensive water damage. They both want to sell that house and get their commission. So, you’re going to need to know how to spot it on your own.

Here’s what to look for:

  • Water stains. Water stains can be easily painted over, but if they are faint, the homeowner may just leave them. Circle patterns on walls or ceilings are worth investigating.
  • Buckling. Walls or floors that have sustained water damage will swell and then sag. This can be caused by either a small leak over time or a catastrophic flooding event.
  • Crumbling or rot. Crumbling or rotting wood around windows, moldings or baseboards is a sign of water damage. It can be caused by a leak or chronic dampness from poor ventilation and light.
  • New paint. Whether the paint is just in small spots or all over the entire house, be aware that it may have been done to hide problems. Inspect the walls carefully for cracks, sagging, or swelling.
  • Sounds. If there is a leak, you’ll be able to hear it. Visit the home several different times, during different times of day. Visit on a rainy day if possible to see if you find any leaking.

Water damage may not be a deal breaker. It could be a one-time issue. But if you don’t ask follow-up questions when you do spot some of these signs, you’ll never know if it’s something you’ll be able to—or want to—deal with.

Call Miami Real Estate Lawyer Isaac Benmergui at 305.397.8547 and set up a no charge, no obligation consultation to discuss your case. We have over a decade of experience handling Real Estate, Civil Litigation, and Personal Injury cases throughout Miami and South Florida, and will use our expertise to help your case to the best of our abilities.

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Can a previous homeowner’s claims make my new home uninsurable (Article 16)Home insurance isn’t usually something you check out first thing about a home. The home is usually insured as part of the closing process. But what if no one will insure your home because the previous owner had too many claims?

It can happen. And, the homeowner may not even have known. All it takes is a phone call to the insurance company to even talk about the problem, and whether or not you even use your home insurance to fix it, a paper trail called a “claim” as been started. If the insurance company that insured the home thinks too many claims were filed, you may be denied insurance as the new homeowner.

So what can you do?

  • Ask your real estate agent for a copy of the homeowner’s CLUE report. The CLUE report is an insurance loss history that will indicate all the claims that have been filed. You can’t order a report unless you are the homeowner, so you have to ask for it from the current one.
  • Order a copy of your own CLUE report. The home insurer is going to add risk together to determine insurability—your risk as a homeowner plus the risk of the property. Knowing what the whole picture looks like will help you determine if there are going to be issues.
  • Think twice before you make a home insurance claim. Know your deductible, and fix things yourself when you can. Insurance should only be for real emergencies—flooding, fire, break ins—not for honey-do’s. Know that any claims you make in the year before buying a new home will count against you.
  • Make a clean (or minimal) CLUE report a condition for closing. By making a clean report a must for closing, you can be confident that you won’t end up with a home you can’t insure.

Call Miami Real Estate Lawyer Isaac Benmergui at 305.397.8547 and set up a no charge, no obligation consultation to discuss your case. We have over a decade of experience handling Real Estate, Civil Litigation, and Personal Injury cases throughout Miami and South Florida, and will use our expertise to help your case to the best of our abilities.

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Insuring a Second Home

by Isaac Benmergui, Esq on June 24, 2015

Insuring a Second Home (Article 15)When you purchase a second property, there are a few factors that can impact your insurance coverage. You need to take these factors into consideration before you buy a second home so you don’t end up with a property you can’t afford to insure.

  • Your property is in a scenic area. Of course you want a vacation home with views and amazing scenery. But, it comes at a cost. Coastal homes or lake houses may be subject to flooding and possibly hurricanes, and mountain homes can be at risk for mudslides or wildfires. Flood policies are separate from traditional home insurance, and homes in hurricane-prone areas need additional coverage as well. Mountainside homes should be inspected by a geotechnical engineer to gauge the risk for landslides.
  • Your property is vacant part of the year. Why does it matter if no one is home? Damage to a home, such as a broken pipe, leaky toilet or roof can go undetected, causing more extensive damage than if it had been found immediately. You may encounter restrictions on insurance such as the condition that the home not be unoccupied for more than 30 days as a time. So if you plan to visit at least once a month, this may not be a problem for you.
  • Your home is a rental part of the time. If you rent your vacation home when you’re not there, that could help the vacancy issue, but then you have another problem: You’ll need a landlord policy. This is true whether you seek long-term tenants or you rent your home out on odd weekends using a short-term rental service like AirBnB. Landlord policies cost 10 to 20 percent more than traditional insurance.

You can mitigate some of these additional costs by shopping smart, asking about discounts with your current insurer and seeking out multiple quotes. Pay your premiums up front rather than in small pieces, and save up your own emergency fund so you can raise your deductible and keep your premiums down.

Call Miami Real Estate Lawyer Isaac Benmergui at 305.397.8547 and set up a no charge, no obligation consultation to discuss your case. We have over a decade of experience handling Real Estate, Civil Litigation, and Personal Injury cases throughout Miami and South Florida, and will use our expertise to help your case to the best of our abilities.

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What Does it Mean if a Lender Won’t Finance my Home?

by Isaac Benmergui, Esq on June 23, 2015

What does it mean if a lender won’t finance my home (Article 13)You’re qualified for the loan. You hire the appraiser and then inspector, and then the bank gives you the bad news: You can buy another home for that price, but not this one. What does it mean?

A bank may refuse to finance a home for a number of reasons.

  • The home is very unusual. Banks shy away from unusual homes such as geodesic domes, homes made from recycled materials, or other homes that are out of the ordinary because it’s hard to gauge the home’s value. Comps, or comparable homes, are what real estate agents use to help sellers come up with an asking price. Appraisers also take comps into consideration when appraising a home for the bank. If there are no comps, or like homes to compare the value with, it’s hard to determine if a home is really worth it’s asking price, and that can make a bank nervous.
  • Your condo complex is full of rentals. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have very strict rules on financing condo purchases when a complex is more than half full of renters. Before spending money moving forward in the home-buying process, ask your real estate agent about the details of any condos you look at to make sure a majority are owner-occupied.
  • Significant repairs are needed. If there are major issues with the home, such as mold, structural problems, or foundation problems, the bank may refuse to finance your purchase. Some individuals take this as a cue to get a different inspector and a different lender and try again, but you could end up purchasing a home with major issues that you have to pay to fix, or risk not being able to sell or perhaps even live in.  If the bank thinks your home isn’t a good investment, that’s a good reason to take a second look.

Call Miami Real Estate Lawyer Isaac Benmergui at 305.397.8547 and set up a no charge, no obligation consultation to discuss your case. We have over a decade of experience handling Real Estate, Civil Litigation, and Personal Injury cases throughout Miami and South Florida, and will use our expertise to help your case to the best of our abilities.

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How to Spot Chinese Drywall

by Isaac Benmergui, Esq on June 22, 2015

How to Spot Chinese Drywall (Article 12)In many homes built between 2001 and 2009, drywall from China was used in the construction process. Since then, it’s been discovered that much of this drywall was defective. Many homes built in South Florida in 2006 were affected with this problem.

Not all homeowners report the rotten egg, sulfur or ammonia smells, but these smells can be a telltale sign of Chinese drywall. The hydrogen sulfide that creates this smell is especially dangerous to growing children, and can affect their bones and nervous system.

The main problem is high levels of strontium in the mined gypsum used to make the drywall. The impurities result in corrosion of wiring and HVAC components throughout the home and emission of noxious fumes.

A licensed inspector can check for Chinese drywall during the routine home inspection. They will look for corrosion in the copper wires, and also blackening of the wires around the air conditioning system as well as appliances. Ask your inspector to check for signs of the drywall before going any further with the inspection.

Although homes built before 2000 will not have this issue, you need to be certain that there was no remodeling done between 2001 and 2007. The smell is less likely to be present in homes with just a few pieces of the drywall.

Look for information on the home’s history of remodeling and remediation on the Seller’s Disclosure. If there’s no information, ask the real estate agent, or request a copy of the home owner’s inspection report from when they purchased the home.

Call Miami Real Estate Lawyer Isaac Benmergui at 305.397.8547 and set up a no charge, no obligation consultation to discuss your case. We have over a decade of experience handling Real Estate, Civil Litigation, and Personal Injury cases throughout Miami and South Florida, and will use our expertise to help your case to the best of our abilities.

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