Wind Mitigation 101
By Shannon S Morgan, CIC, CPRM, CPIA
After the unusually active Atlantic hurricane seasons of 2004 and 2005, homeowner insurance rates were at an all-time high and very few companies were writing new policies. Recognizing that newly built homes or older homes that had been properly mitigated for hurricane losses were at a lower risk of suffering damage during a storm the Florida Legislature passed a bill requiring admitted insurance companies to provide discounts to homes and other residential structures such as townhomes and residential condominium associations that meet certain criteria. At first each insurance company had their own wind mitigation form (wind mit) that the homeowner needed to have completed by a qualified inspector. The forms were inconsistent and if you wanted to change insurance companies in following years you would need to pay to have the inspection redone on the wind mit of your new insurance company. So, in 2006 the Office of Insurance Regulation (OIR) designed a standardized wind mit form that all insurance companies in Florida would accept. They have since updated the form twice. The new form now requires photos backing up the data on the form. The most current version is from 2012. You can find a copy of this form below.
Let’s break this form down into the parts that influence your insurance premiums.
- Building Code: Homes built and permitted after March of 2002 will receive the basic wind mit credits automatically, even without providing a completed wind mit form.
- Roof Covering: If your roof meets the Florida Building Codes or Miami-Dade Product Approval (box A or B is checked) you will receive a discount. For Collier or Lee counties you will most likely have to have had a roof covering (i.e. shingles or tiles) installed in 2002 or later to qualify for this credit.
- Roof Deck Attachment: What is the thickness of the wood decking and what size and spacing are the nails attaching the wood decking to the trusses? Option A is the weakest and doesn’t provide any credits. Options B & C will provide you with a discount. The new building codes require the better option be met when you have a new roof put on. Option D is most often found in mid to high-rise condos with concrete for the roof deck instead of wood trusses and decks.
- Roof to Wall Attachment: Toe nails is the weakest and doesn’t provide any additional credits. Neither does other, unknown or no attic access. Clips, single or double wraps will make you eligible for a credit provided they meet specific requirements. It is not uncommon for a hurricane strap or clip to be ineligible for credits due to only having two nails; three nails are required. In that circumstance, you could have a contractor add the third nail to each wrap/clip thus making your home eligible for the credits. After the third nail is added a new wind mit documenting this addition would be needed. Structural is a feature of the mid to high-rise condos.
- Roof Geometry: Hip is the only option that provides a discount. To qualify no more than 10% of the roof perimeter can be another roof type.
- Secondary Water Resistance (SWR): Having a SWR will give you additional credits. In the event of the loss of the roof covering, the SWR will help prevent water intrusion.
- Opening Protection: For most insurance companies only options A.1 or A.2 will give you any credits. This is an all or nothing discount. Have shutters or impact rated windows on only part of your home will not make you eligible for a discount. ALL openings (windows, entry doors, garage doors, skylights or glass blocks) must meet the minimum requirements to qualify for the credit.
The inspection form is only valid for 5 years from the inspection date. The credits should remain on the policy for life without requiring a new inspection be done. (The company can require a new form if they wish, but we haven’t seen any that have requested this.) The insurance company does have a right to inspect the home to verify that the information on the form is accurate. Failure to comply with the reinspection can result in loss of your credits. If you apply for coverage with a new insurance company and your inspection is more than 5 years old a new wind mit will be needed to provide you with the wind mit credits.
The wind mit form is not a “pass” or “fail”. You can qualify for certain credits, without qualifying for another. If you have any changes to your home that would affect your credits (such as installing a new roof) you will want to provide your agent or insurance company with a newly completed form to take advantage of the better discounts. You may use any qualified inspector of your choice. Your agent can also recommend a qualified inspector in your area.
If you have any further questions about wind mitigation credits or residential property insurance, please contact one of our knowledgeable agents at 239-263-3455.
7 Things That Your House Hunting Checklist Should Always Have
Hunting for your next home can be both thrilling and overwhelming. You’re bound to come across several properties that you think would be perfect for you and your family. Make your decision easier while avoiding a bad one by doing the following during your hunt:
1. Make a must-have list
Before looking around, it’s important to nail down what you want in a home. Get the family together and make a list of features you desire, whether it’s a pool, big garage, or expansive back yard. Searching for homes while you have 3-5 things as top priority will help you stay focused on what you actually want to buy.
2. Bring a pen and paper
Depending on how many houses you go out to look, remembering all the details can either be very easy or a challenge. To help you keep track of the small things, bring something to write with so you can jot down how much natural light there is in each room, the storage space, cost per square foot, etc. This will make all the difference when you’re still undecided and have a comparison checklist to help you.
3. Walk through once, then a few times again.
It’s easy to get excited when exploring a gorgeous home for the first time. This is OK; house hunting should be enjoyable! But after you’ve taken in your first impression, we recommend going back out and walking through again. This time, take that pen and paper we mentioned in our last point and start inspecting the place for any details worth taking down.
4. Don’t forget the camera
Or your smartphone, which is probably your go-to device for taking pictures. Once you’ve asked the realtor for permission, take out your phone/camera and snap all the photos you think you’ll need. These aren’t for posting on social media (you can get in trouble for doing so!)— they’re so you can keep a fresh idea of the home well after your memory has gone fuzzy. A video tour is also recommended.
5. Try imagining yourself already living there.
While walking through the home, start envisioning how you and your family will utilize the space. Even if a room is set up as an office, use your imagination to see if it’d be a great place for your kids or guests. Imagining how your furniture will be arranged, especially if you bring measurements with you, can help you get an idea of how it compares to your current home in terms of space.
6. Take the necessary peeks
Don’t be afraid to look where no one else does to really see what that particular home offers. Checking under rugs, for example, can reveal concealed damage that will cost you down the road. Open cupboards and closets while carefully inspecting windows, under the sink, the ceiling, etc. Finding one or more hidden issues can be the negative you needed to help you decide which house to consider purchasing.
7. Visit the home later in the day
Open houses are generally done between morning and late afternoon. This gives you a good look at the property when it’s sunny out… but how are things at night? Coming back after sunset lets you get an impression of the neighborhood’s atmosphere. It’s in the evening when school is out and most people are off work that you’ll discover if the neighborhood is quiet, has a lot of young families with children playing outside, and other important factors.
Buying a Second Home: The 3 Biggest Factors to Consider
There are generally two reasons to buy a second home. The first reason is to have a vacation retreat for the family, such as a cottage or beach house. The second reason is an investment property, something to rent out and bring in some extra income. It’s most common for people to use their second property for both a vacation retreat and something to rent out when it’s not in use. For the purpose of this article, we will focus on this scenario.
When considering a second home, there are many factors to assess. Depending on which state you live in, there are tax implications. It can be more expensive than buying your first home.
It’s not a decision that should be taken lightly. Every factor should be thoroughly considered before pulling the trigger. This guide will outline 3 major factors.
1.Time is on your side
The pressure associated with buying a second home is vastly different from buying a first home. When buying a primary residence there is a certain urgency and timeline that needs to be met. If you can’t time your purchase well, you may end up having to rent a home or temporarily moving in with your in-laws (Yikes). You could also get stuck overpaying; the market doesn’t care what stage of life you’re in.
When buying a second home as a retreat, people tend to be excited and want to make their dream getaway a reality as soon as possible. Allowing yourself to fall into this trap is a big mistake. Take your time and properly assess the market. Only buy if the market is on a downtrend. At the end of the day, this is a second home. You’re not on any deadlines. Use the time to your advantage.
When renting out your vacation home, you only have to claim it to the IRS if you rent it out 15 or more days per year. If you stay under the 15-day threshold, it doesn’t matter how much you charge, all that money goes into your pocket. However, you don’t get any of the associated tax breaks that come with owning a rental property.
Ideally, you would rent your property as much as possible; what could be better than having your home pay for itself? Here are some of the main deductions you can claim as a landlord:
– Mortgage Interest
– Insurance Premiums
– Legal Fees
– Cleaning and Maintenance
– Commissions paid to rental agents
It is very important to assess the exact way you plan on using your property and consult with an accountant who can help you navigate through the taxation process.
3. Make sure you can afford it comfortably
After educating yourself on all the real costs of owning a second home, such as taxes and the state of the market, it’s time to determine if you can afford it. The last thing you want to do is rush into a second home.
At the end of the day, it’s a luxury. If you are even looking into it, it generally means you are very comfortable with your current expenses. The biggest mistake you can make is to sacrifice that peace of mind.
Interested in the benefits of buying a home vs. renting a home? This article shares some insight on buying vs. renting a home.
I work for a living just like you. I don’t get paid unless I cause a transaction. Home browsers are careless and selfish. You get an agent to show you houses or go to open houses for entertainment or to get a “feel” for the market for a purchase later on. WELL KNOCK IT OFF. Real professional agents try to sniff out the “buyer liars” but when you disguise your intent its hard. PLEASE do not feel OBLIGED to tell us how interested you are to make us feel nice.
SHOP ZILLOW OR TELL AN AGENT YOU ARE FISHING AND TO GIVE YOU A JUNIOR AGENT TO RUN YOU AROUND.
How do you value a home for sale. IT’S NOT PRICE PER SQUARE FOOT. This is a common trap.
- You find homes sold recently in your neighborhood.
- You note all pertinent facts for each; age, #bedrooms, #bathrooms, square feet, #of rooms, size if garage, size of the lot, age and type of roof, age of the A/C system, upgrades in kitchen and bathrooms, floor coverings, etc.
- Start with the price of the sold house. Subtract a value for all features it has that your home does not. Add a value for every feature your home has that the comparative home is missing.
- Do this for all comparative homes – no more than 6.
- See how the adjusted prices look. Average them, take the mean number.
- Add 5% for a sales discount and you’ve got YOUR PROPER LIST PRICE.