Buying your first home is a major accomplishment and you should be proud that you’re ready to take this next step in your life. While it’s an exciting milestone, there may be a number of items on the home buying checklist that you’re unfamiliar with but are still crucial steps to take before you sign those final papers.
Whether you’re ready to start looking tomorrow or a year from now, here is a checklist of everything you need to consider beforehand.
First, establish a realistic budget that you’re comfortable spending upfront and each month. A mortgage calculator can help you figure a general number but don’t forget to factor in insurance, taxes, realtor expenses, and any Homeowners Association (HOA) fees you may be responsible for. Also, find a lender who will determine if you’re in a good place financially to purchase a home or what you’ll need to do so that you can become eligible.
Once you have your budget and you know you can afford to buy a home, get pre-qualified so you have an idea of the loan amount you’ll qualify for so you can narrow down your home search.
Make a list of your “must-haves”
When you begin your search, you may have to look at dozens of homes before you find the right one. Having a list upfront of what your priorities are will help you in your search and you won’t waste your time looking at homes that don’t match your list of essentials. For example, home size, driveway parking, number of bedrooms or bathrooms, proximity to schools or town center, etc.
Secure a loan
Even if you’ve pre-qualified for a loan, you haven’t finalized it just yet. Do your research with a few different lenders and compare mortgage rates, costs, and terms. Once you’ve settled on a lender, you’ll go through the process with a full financial background check and once approved, you’ll have an exact loan amount and mortgage rate to keep in mind while you continue your home search.
Find your home
Working with a real estate agent will help you find a home within your budget that fits your requirements. Though you’ll have to pay realtor fees, this can significantly help speed up the home buying process.
Insurance shouldn’t wait until you move into your home. There are a number of factors that will affect your rate so it’s best to have an idea of what your payments will be and what options are available before you finalize your purchase. Learn more about our home insurance options on our website.
Make an offer
Once you find a home, make an offer. Your real estate agent can help you through this process and make sure all the terms are in order. If you’re not approved, it’s back to the search but if you’re approved, you’re one step closer to moving into your new home.
Conduct a home inspection
An inspection is an essential step of the home buying process as it can help you identify any safety concerns or necessary repairs before you sign final papers. If there is a problem, you can include repairs as a contingency in your offer.
Review small details
Are all appliances staying in the home? Is there a proper cable hookup? These are all things that can be overlooked but might make a big difference when it comes to move-in day.
Determine your deposit
An average deposit is 20-30% but there are a number of options for first-time buyers where you can pay as little as 3%, in some cases. Finalize what you can afford and are comfortable with and prepare to pay it all upfront.
Finalize mortgage and prepare for closing
Once you make your offer, finalize the details with your lender. You’ll also sign the Purchase and Sale Agreement which will be a more in-depth document than your Offer to Purchase.
If you are looking for more information about a new or existing home insurance policy, an ABM insurance agent is happy to help. Contact us at one of our four convenient Massachusetts locations at (978) 534-2800 (Leominster), (978) 632-1098 (Gardner), (978) 874-2921 (Westminster), (978) 464-5857 (Princeton) to request a free quote....
Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic early in 2020, life has changed in a number of ways for all of us and across nearly every industry — including insurance. The most common policies affected were travel, life, auto, and disability, but the list doesn’t end there. The ripple effects of COVID-19 have even reached home insurance policies. If you moved your business into your home, started a business out of your home, have had kids attending virtual school, or are in the process of buying a new house, your current home insurance policy might not be adequate coverage anymore.
While we seem to be gradually getting back to pre-COVID life, the effects the pandemic had on your home insurance policy may be here to stay.
The impact on new and existing homeowner policies
Amid the pandemic and the introduction of some of the lowest interest rates in history, many renters flocked to the suburbs to become first-time home buyers. Conversely, many homeowners found themselves suddenly unemployed and unable to afford their mortgage and homeowners insurance payments. Because of this, many lenders and insurance companies were offering payment suspensions and extensions to existing policyholders. For new buyers, insurance companies are offering additional coverages up front, such as a home business endorsement or increased limits.
How COVID-19 affects your home insurance policy
COVID-19 hasn’t had a direct impact on property itself as far as home insurance is concerned, but the way in which we use our homes has been impacted. The reality of spending more time at home and working out of your home presents new liabilities that can lead to the need for a home insurance endorsement.
One example is if you made upgrades to your home, added a pet to the family, or installed a pool in the backyard. These instances may not be included under your standard personal liability coverage. To be sure you have sufficient coverage, contact your local agent to review your policy and let them know of any new additions to your property.
Did you start working more out of your home or start a new business? If you answered yes to either of these, you should double-check your insurance policy. Standard homeowner insurance only covers business property to a certain, limited amount. If you have all your business equipment and inventory at home, you won’t be covered in the event of loss or damage. To make sure you’re protected from such perils, you should consider a home business endorsement or higher coverage limits.
Here are a few additional instances to consider:
If you had extended family members move in with you, even temporarily.
If you have a property you were unable to rent out.
If you completed a home DIY project (remodeling a bathroom, finishing a basement, etc.)
If you’re having groceries delivered to your home more frequently, there is an increased risk that delivery drivers could trip and fall and file a claim against you.
How do I know if I’m properly covered?
Not sure if you have enough coverage? At Anderson, Bagley & Mayo we’re here to help. We’ll walk you through your current policy and offer a few options for additional coverage should you need it. If you’re having trouble with payments, we’ll also help you figure out if there are areas where you can adjust your coverage and save a little each month.
There is no place like your home, so let us protect it. Contact your local Anderson, Bagley & Mayo agent today. ...
During the pandemic, North Central Massachusetts has become a hotspot for real estate. According to a new study, Gardner, Worcester, and Leominster are among Massachusetts’ top 10 easiest places to sell a home. As Anderson, Bagley & Mayo Insurance have been in business for over 100 years in this community, it is no surprise that we are seeing this increase in people wanting to live in this beautiful area of the state.
Whether you are moving or have been in your home for years, 2020 has taught us about the value of being at home. Our homes have become our office, classroom, gym, and playground for many. With this new transition, it’s important to note these lifestyle changes can impact your insurance policies.
Whether you are a new or seasoned homeowner, we’re here to help make sure you are adequately protected, which is why we put together this comprehensive guide about what home insurance is and when you should consider updating your policy.
What is Home Insurance?
Some of the most common issues that tend to affect Massachusetts’ homes include fire, theft, severe weather, ice dams, burst pipes, and fallen trees and branches. With the proper home insurance, you’ll be financially protected in the event that these types of situations damage or destroy your home, other structures on your property, plants, belongings, and more.
And home insurance doesn’t just cover the damages. It includes liability coverage, which protects you from a lawsuit if someone is injured on your property, and it also provides additional living expenses, which helps pay for the costs of alternative housing and other costs incurred if your home becomes unlivable due to a covered event.
When should I review my current home insurance policy?
Since March, there have been several lifestyle changes that homeowners have made during the pandemic. For the most part, your current insurance plan should be sufficient in most cases. However, working from home and facing shortages of certain household products have thrown many homeowners some curveballs. To help understand the benefit of additional coverage on your homeowners policy, we’ve detailed the coverage you should consider for each of these new habits.
Increased Time at Home
The current reality of working from home and children staying home from school could require more liability coverage for your policy. For example, if you or your children have brought high-value electronic devices such as laptops home from school or work, you need to make sure that your policy limit covers the value of all these devices.
With spending time at home also comes less travel this holiday season. If you plan to order food or know packages are coming, remember to take care of your driveways and areas of increased foot traffic on your property. If one of your guests or delivery partners were to slip and fall inside or outside your home and injure themselves, you could be responsible for their medical bills, lost wages, or pain and suffering if they decide to sue you. This is the same for invited and uninvited guests.
According to Houzz, an online home remodeling platform, they reported a 58% annual increase in leads for remodeling contractors in June 2020. If you are considering remodeling your home or renovating your kitchen this year, speak with your insurance agent before you begin the renovation project to determine if you’ll need to increase your coverage limits. If a renovation project increases the cost to rebuild your home, you will want to evaluate your “dwelling coverage” limits with your insurance agent’s help.
With technology playing an ever-increasing role in our day-to-day lives, personal cybersecurity continues to grow in importance. Your network at home may not be as secure as your office IT infrastructure — which means you must be extra careful to avoid falling for a cyber scam. Here are some tips to ensure that you or your business don’t fall victim to cyber threats.
Outdoor Activities Expansion
Making the most of your property can be fun, but remember, there are added risks to adding adventure into your backyard. Roasting marshmallows and sipping hot cocoa by the fire are some of the best ways to enjoy the holidays. If you plan to spend more time outdoors this winter by a fire pit or space heater, keep in mind that space heaters are the second leading cause of home fires. No one expects a fire pit to result in a house claim, but accidents happen. It's a good idea to discuss with your local agent the fire pit or spaced heaters you've purchased, installed, or are planning for and then review your homeowners insurance policy's coverage to help you determine if any changes are necessary.
Everyone should understand their home insurance policies before they agree to them. Whether you’re a first-time homeowner, an expert house-hunter, or merely looking to reassess your current policy, we’re here to help. There is no place like your home, so let us protect it. Contact your local Anderson, Bagley & Mayo agent today. ...
Whether you have been living in your apartment for one week or ten years, it is important to ask yourself, “if there was an accident in my unit or in my building, would my personal belongings be protected and would I be covered if I needed temporary housing?”
According to the Insurance Information Institute, only 37% of renters have proper insurance coverage. This means many people would be responsible for paying out of pocket if they were to experience a fire, leak, or theft in their apartment.
As your local neighbors, we at Anderson, Bagley & Mayo Insurance are here to provide you with expert help not only to understand renters insurance policies but also to help you secure affordable and comprehensive coverage. Here are our top three reasons you should consider renters insurance:
Renters insurance is affordable — and you can save even more if you bundle it with your auto insurance policy.
The average cost of renters insurance is about $15-20 per month. Plus, there are several ways to save even more on renters insurance. For example, you can get a discount of up to 20% for bundling your renters insurance and auto insurance policies with Anderson, Bagley & Mayo. The cost of a renters policy can be offset by the savings of your auto insurance — essentially it will pay for itself.
Renters insurance will protect your personal belongings and provide liability coverage.
A common misconception is that if you are renting, your landlord is responsible for insuring your apartment. While it is true that they are required to cover the building structure itself, it is up to you to ensure your personal property is covered and you will be able to protect yourself in the event of an accident. That’s where renters insurance has you covered.
Renters insurance will cover you if you are displaced from your home.
In the event that you are displaced from your home, your policy also includes Additional Living Expenses (ALE). This coverage may reimburse you for expenses that you incur if you have to move out of your apartment after a disaster.
Interested in learning more about renters insurance and bundling with your auto insurance policy? Anderson, Bagley & Mayo is happy to answer all your questions and work with you to find the best coverage at the best price. Contact us today. ...
The pandemic has created significant changes to what “back to work” will look like as businesses across the United States continue to reopen. With no vaccine on the market just yet, many companies have shifted to exclusively working remotely, while some have returned to their office at a reduced capacity. Without a doubt, the post-COVID-19 workplace will function differently than the pre-pandemic workplace.
As your local insurance agent in North Central Massachusetts, we want to make sure that you are prepared no matter your current work environment. To help navigate the ‘new normal’ of business, we’ve put together an outline of how business operations are predicted to change due to the pandemic and provide insights to prepare you, your business, and your employees — whether you are inside or outside the office.
A recent survey conducted by Harvard Business Review shared results that indicated workers adjusted to working virtually more quickly than business leaders had worried they would; in many cases, workers felt that they were just as productive as before. Companies like Twitter and Facebook have announced they are making working from home a permanent option for their employees. If your business is operating remotely, here are few ways to help protect your business from vulnerabilities and boost employee productivity.
The pandemic has created a surge in demand for digital capabilities, products, and services. As mentioned in our cybersecurity blog, more cyber attackers are trying to exploit employees using insecure devices and networks within their homes. Google tallied more than 18 million malware and phishing emails related to COVID-19 on its service each day in April. The best way to combat and protect your business online is to make sure you are obtaining the needed technology and security to protect your data. We suggest having your employees add technology to protect their data. Here is a short list we suggest they start with:
Add a Verified Personal Network (VPN).
Set up two-factor authentication on all devices with valuable information.
Set up a password manager to generate and remember different, complex passwords for every account.
Set up antivirus software on your devices.
It is imperative for those returning to work onsite to follow the CDC guidelines around creating a safe environment for your employees and clients. To help with this process, they have provided many social distancing posters, signs, and resources available for download on their website. Here are some other more recommended procedures for returning to work.
New Safety Procedures for Employees and Customers
Especially today, safety should always be top of mind at the workplace. To help you reduce the impact of COVID-19 on your businesses operations, employees, and customers, here are a few suggestions on where to start:
Plan ahead before you reopen to the public or bring employees back into your office.
Implement new policies and practices to support social distancing in the workplace.
Restrict the number of customers or visitors allowed in your office at a time.
Actively encourage sick employees to stay home.
Reduce the total number of employees in a facility at a given time.
Order customized pens with your company logo for your customers to use and keep to help reduce the spread of germs.
Increase dispensers of hand sanitizer throughout your business spaces to encourage usage.
Interior & Exterior Maintenance
Businesses and employers can prevent and slow the spread of COVID-19 within the workplace by adding increasing safety measures and updates to their office space. This includes making sure all systems are up to date and properly functioning. Here are a few ways you can update your existing workspace to increase everyone’s safety:
Install physical barriers, such as clear plastic sneeze guards to protect the spread of germs.
Increase sanitation in high traffic areas like the bathroom or many entrances.
Make sure your HVAC system is properly working.
Consider installing additional high-efficiency air filters.
Check-in on your insurance policies
As you begin to reopen your business, it is always a great idea to check in with your local Anderson, Bagley and Mayo Insurance agent so we can advise you on whether your current coverage properly protects your business. It is essential for businesses to understand how COVID-19 can impact their insurance policies. This is why we believe it is in everyone’s best interest to take the necessary precautions and put controls and safeguards in place.
Your friends here at ABM understand the anxiety of reopening your business during these unprecedented times. We are here to help you navigate these uncharted waters as we adjust to this new normal. Contact us today for any questions regarding your current policies. It’s never too late to make sure your business is properly protected. ...
Businesses and individuals worldwide are adjusting to “the new normal” of working from home. While our work environments may have changed, cyberattacks are still happening and at a higher rate than normal. More than one-third of senior technology executives surveyed by CNBC say that cybersecurity risks have increased as a majority of their employees work from home.
It’s important to remember, your network at home may not be as secure as your office IT infrastructure — which means you must be extra careful to avoid falling for a cyber scam. As your local insurance agent, we want to make sure that you are protected, whether you are shopping online from the comfort of your living room or working from your home office. Here are some tips to make sure that you or your business don’t fall victim to cyber threats:
Now more than ever, it is important to take extra measures to stay safe online. Follow these precautions and look for these red flags, especially if you suspect a phishing attempt through a fraudulent email, text, or phone call
Ignore unsolicited communications, especially from organizations or companies posing as a COVID-19 resource.
Some scammers are impersonating the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization — be extra cautious if you receive any emails containing links, logos, or imagery of these organizations. Many of these emails contain malicious links that are in place to try to get you to click by using phrases such as “updated cases of the coronavirus near you” or “you may have been in contact with a COVID-19 patient.” These landing pages are likely set up to steal email credentials and other personal information.
Double-check your links
When you open an email, roll your cursor over the link and see if the URL that pops up is consistent with the email address and the content in the message. If not, don’t click.
If you receive an email or text with links for transactions or packages claiming to be Amazon that you don’t remember ordering to your home, don’t click the link. Instead, contact their customer service to be sure it is an accurate email.
Don’t provide your personal information
Be cautious of requests for your username and/or password, or other personal details such as banking information or login credentials to help with payments or COVID-19 discounts.
Be on the lookout for suspicious websites and requests:
If you see a website that looks suspicious and claims to sell goods or services, do some research before exploring their website. For example, scams have been reported by consumers searching for home exercise equipment during the pandemic. Certain items are very hard to find at this time, and there are many Facebook ads claiming to have them available at deeply-discounted prices.
You should also be wary if you receive an ad or an email that has an overwhelming sense of urgency or is asking you to complete a task quickly.
Now that we’ve covered some basic red flags, here are a few ways to add extra security to your home office.
If your computer looks different, experiences glitches or a suspicious problem develops, immediately report it to your business IT support team.
Make sure you have backup copies of important files and data in case of a cybersecurity breach, accidental deletion, or computer malfunction. Saving all documents and data to the shared drive on the server and having the server backed up on a regular basis is a great way to protect your data.
It is recommended to have encryption on laptops to prevent sensitive data from being accessed.
Use a Verified Personal Network to add an extra layer of protection to your WIFI and data.
Use secure passwords on all of your online accounts. Eight characters are not enough — practice good password management and use a strong mix of characters. Do not use the same password for multiple sites. Do not share your password with others and do not write it down anywhere where someone could see it.
Unplug Alexa/Google or any other device that can “listen in” while you’re on Zoom calls to avoid the potential for sensitive company information (e.g., account numbers, company plans, etc.) to be compromised.
At Anderson, Bagley & Mayo, we strive to stay up to date on risks that may bring harm to our clients, including threats to their businesses. If you are a business owner who has concerns about increased risks due to employees working from home, please contact Rich or Tom Bagley today for a complete review of your insurance protection. If you are an employee working from home, this is also a good time to review your insurance protection, to make sure that your home office, data, and personal information is secure and properly insured. Contact us today, and let Anderson, Bagley & Mayo help protect what matters most to you....
Anderson, Bagley, and Mayo Insurance is here to do our part in support of you — our customers, neighbors, and community. We know that many of you are doing your part to help stop the spread of COVID-19 by staying at home. That means many of you are driving fewer miles, resulting in a decrease in auto claims and vehicle usage.
To recognize this change in driving behavior, and to ease some of the financial burdens, many of our carriers are now offering auto relief programs. For details on what your carrier has for billing options and/or credits towards premiums for customers, follow the links below:
Arbella's Here. For Good.® Give Back Program
MAPFRE Insurance Staying Home Refund
Traveler’s Stay-at-Home Auto Premium Credit Program
The Main Street America Group Personal Lines Auto Premium Relief Program
Safety Personal Auto Relief Credit
Vermont Mutual Auto Premium Payback
Plymouth Rock Assurance Home and Auto relief
Frequently Asked Questions about COVID relief programs
1. Do I need to do anything in order to receive my credit?
You do not need to take any action to receive your auto premium credit.
2. How do I know if I qualify for the auto credit?
All active auto policyholders qualify for the credit, regardless of payment status
3. Do I need to be staying home to qualify for the credit?
You do not have to be sheltering-in-place to receive the discount. All active policyholders are eligible.
4. How will I get my credit?
Clients that have paid their premium in full will receive a refund check. All others will receive a credit on their bill.
For any other questions regarding your auto credit, MAPFRE has put together an extensive FAQ sheet. To view, visit: bit.ly/2zS2cFD
As this situation evolves, we will provide updates about how we will continue to support you during this crisis. In the meantime, if you have any questions, please contact us by email, phone, or form. Contact ABM today for help protecting the most important things and people in your life.
We thank you for your business. Stay safe and be well....
01 May, 2020
It’s your life, let ABM protect it with the right coverage at the right price