10 Ways Savvy Sellers Attract Buyers

Wonder how your neighbors sold their house for more than their asking price? Take a few clues from savvy sellers to make your home attractive to buyers. Before you put your home on the market, review the following tips to attract buyers.

1. Move-in Condition
Buyers have a wide range of selection criteria when looking for a new house, but the thing they want most, is a home that’s move-in ready. Before you put your house on the market, you may have to make some repairs and touchups, like getting the carpets cleaned or repainting the exterior. If the buyer finds that a lot of repairs and touch-ups are needed, they will discount their offer or opt for a different property instead.

2. Curb Appeal
Like much of life, including job interviews and new relationships, the first impression of a home can make a big impact on a buyer’s curiosity and willingness to pursue a property. Some simple steps to improve curb appeal include tidying the yard, planting fresh flowers, adding shutters to bare windows, and touching up the exterior paint. To go the extra mile, make sure the front door areas such as porches, patios, and walk-ways are cleaned, clear of cobwebs and debris, and painted if necessary.

3. Stage Your Home
You might love your sponged orange bathroom, but the average homebuyer probably won’t. Take an objective look around your house and determine which areas need redecorating or painting, so you can attract the largest possible pool of buyers. Homes that sell quickly usually have a modern, contemporary design, which means lots of neutrals, natural light, and clean surfaces.

4. High Quality Photos
The first step of any research project starts online. Buyers first discover homes on sale from Internet listings. When you develop your listing plan, the most important feature is the photo gallery. Experts recommend having at least fifteen photos of your home in its best, move-in ready condition, as seen in these before-and-after pictures.

5. Competitive Asking Price
The price is probably the biggest factor in any home purchase. Whether you have a luxury apartment in the city or a 4,000 square feet home, you need to quote a competitive price if you want to attract buyers. To get the right price, do a little research on the cost of homes for sale in comparable neighborhoods. Experienced real estate agents have been in most of the homes for sale. They have first hand knowledge of how your home compares to others. Your real estate agent can provide valuable information.

6. Eco-Friendly Renovations
Many buyers in the market are serious about eco-friendly and energy efficient features in their future homes. The next time you make an upgrade, consider the environment. Not only is it eco-friendly and in some cases, cost efficient, but it is also more appealing to buyers.

7. Aromatic Scents
If you’ve always lived with pets or have an older home that may have more mold, visitors can always smell it upon arrival. To improve the air quality, use indoor plants like Rubber Plant, English Ivy, Ficus, and Spider Plant to reduce airborne molds and bacteria. You can also use aromatic essential oils, like lavender, sage, and citrus to give your home a freshening boost.

8. Social Networking
When your home is finally ready for the market, spread the word. Buyers can come from anywhere, so tell your family, friends, and co-workers that you’re looking to sell your house. With online social networking sites like Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter, sharing among friends and acquaintances has never been easier.

9. “For Sale” Sign
Like window shopping, many potential buyers scout their ideal neighborhoods for “For Sale” signs. You won’t want to miss out on this group of shoppers. “For Sale” signs have evolved recently with technology. The latest “For Sale” signs can be custom made to show off your home with interior pictures, a web address (see below), and a QR code. Scanning the QR code with a smart phone can lead buyers to your homes features and amenities. So, be sure to put a sign in your yard that’s visible from as many angles as possible.

10. Internet Advertising
The Internet is often used in the research stage of the home buying process. Many potential buyers research their favorite neighborhoods and list ten to fifteen of the best houses. A tech-savvy agent will be able to list your home on all the popular real estate websites. If your home isn’t listed online, you’ll miss out on a huge portion of the buyer’s market. Another semi-new idea is to create a website with your property’s street address. For example: www.123StreetAddress.com. Web addresses like this are easy to remember and can easily be found when someone does a search for your home.

Protect Your Home Against These Common Threats

Thousands of homes are damaged or destroyed every year by these common threats. Here’s what you can do to prepare and protect your property.

Crime

Crime from burglary, thieves, and intruders is a common cause of damage in a home. To prevent crime in your home, secure it with these basic crime tips. Burglars usually break into homes when people are away at work or on vacation. To prevent your valuables from being stolen and incurring damage like broken windows, locks, and garage doors, install a security system. To deter burglars from entering your home at night, install flood lighting which turns on when movement is detected.

Tornados and Storms

In places like Kansas, North Texas, and Oklahoma, wind and hail cause the most damage to households located in what’s called the Tornado Alley. Natural disasters are unavoidable, but there are certain things you can do to protect your home. To make your home sturdier, make sure that the ceiling, roof, foundation, and shelving are free of any cracks or weak spots that may collapse in a strong tornado or storm.

Water

Water damage from leaky pipes and basement flooding can lead to expensive repairs. In case of leaking plumbing systems and appliances, the damage caused by water is usually only detected after the worst damage has already happened. Knowing common culprits and signs of water damage is an easy to way to keep a problem from getting bigger. Examine all house appliances that are connected to a water supply, and check for leaks. The dishwasher, refrigerator, sinks, showers, tubs, and toilets are all connected to a water supply. Signs of leaks near these appliances include discolored, warped, or soft flooring and cabinetry. Once you’ve located the source of a leak, you can repair it with grout and caulk. For most leaks, you can shut off the water supply and repair it yourself. However, if the leak is connected to the plumbing system in the drainpipes or water supply lines, it’s time to call in a professional.

Fire

In the U.S. alone, over 100,000 house fires happen every year, and it can be one of the most devastating events for you and your property. Forty percent of house fires start from inside the kitchen, usually on the stovetop, where something is left on a burner. House fires start small, when combustible items like paper towels or pot holders are left near red-hot burners. A simple measure of caution is to double check that all burners are off after cooking. Additionally, never leave burners or cooking pans unattended.

Smoke alarms can be a great security system against house fires. Unfortunately, alarm batteries can malfunction and eventually die. Making sure your smoke detector has working batteries is an easy way to keep you and your family safe in the instance of a fire. Replace smoke detectors every ten years, and make sure there is one located on every floor of your house. If you or someone is your family is a regular smoker, you may want to review some of these other fire safety tips.

What other common threats apply to your home and how do you protect yourselves against them?

Fight Home Odors with These Natural Air Fresheners

If you want to fight bad odors in your home, throw out the synthetic, toxic chemical sprays. Exposure to toxins called VOCs from synthetic sprays, air fresheners and scented candles can cause a wide array of health issues, from mild irritation to possible links with cancer. Do you want to find a natural way to freshen your home? Follow the tips below to combat common smelly odors naturally without resorting to harmful chemicals.

Open the Windows
Sometimes the simplest remedy is the most effective. If your house or car has an unpleasant smell, allowing for some fresh air circulation can quickly get rid of the problem. A cross breeze from open windows circulates fresh air so that smells can quickly dissipate. In case of strong smells, such as burnt popcorn or cigarette smoke, you may need to open a window and turn on an oscillating fan to air our your home.

Stop the Source
Opening the windows can only go so far if you don’t identify the source of the smell. Experts say the key to odor removal is removing the source. Natural fresheners can only temporarily mask strong foul odors, especially if the problem has anything to do with faulty plumbing, mildew, mold, or dead animals caught under the house or in the chimney. Follow this guide to determine where foul odors are coming from and how to combat the problem.

Essential Oils
Houses get a lot of heavy traffic, from people, pets and pests. It’s to be expected that your home will smell funky on occasion if it’s not kept regularly cleaned. One natural way to keep bad smells under control is to use pure essential oils, which can be diffused throughout your home with reeds, oil burners or a homemade spritz. Essential oils not only smell good, they can have positive effects on your mood, too. Oils like bergamot, sage, sandalwood and rose have calming effects. Oils that relieve stress and tension are cedarwood, lavender, geranium and neroli. If you want a scent that will energize and refresh you, try peppermint, lemon or clove. Many essential oil remedy recipes, such as this one, combine an essential oil, vinegar and water to freshen rooms.

Vinegar and Baking Soda
White distilled vinegar and baking soda are traditional home remedies for bad odors. For carpets that have been stained by pets, sprinkle equal parts vinegar and water to neutralize the bad-smelling ammonia from pet urine. You can also sprinkle baking soda on carpets, let it sit for an hour as it absorbs odor and moisture, then vacuum the baking soda and bad odor away. Smelly shoes and refrigerators often get baking soda treatment. To prevent shoes from smelling, sprinkle baking soda in them at night and simply shake out the shoes in the morning when you’re ready to put them on. Stick an opened box of baking soda in your refrigerator and freezer to absorb bad smells for up to three months.

Fresh Flowers
If you’ve got sick children in your home, their bedrooms and bathrooms can easily turn odorous. One easy way to keep rooms fresh is to put a bouquet of fragrant flowers like freesia by a window or bedside. Not only are freesia flowers a visual delight, they have a light, citrus scent which can freshen a room. Some pleasant smelling flowers should be used with caution, as a sick person may become irritated by the heavy smells of mums, lilies or carnations. Roses are a perennial favorite to keep in a room with their distinctive floral aroma that’s light enough to perfume a room without an overpowering, headache-inducing smell.

Do you use other Natural Air Fresheners? Let us know in the comments!

7 Quick Tips to Get Your Swimming Pool Ready for Summer

Summer is nearly here, which means it’s time to get your pool back into shipshape form. Before you bring out the floats, sunscreen, and other pool accessories, there are a few steps you need to take to get your pool ready for swimming. Whether you kept your pool under a cover, or the water’s turned into a green, leafy soup, the following quick tips can get you well on your way to that first summer swim.

1. Clean the deck
The pool deck area is, aesthetically speaking one of most important aspects of the pool, and it’s been practically abandoned during the cold winter months. Before you pull off the pool cover, be sure to sweep away or hose off any leaves, pine needles, or other debris from the pool deck.

2. Remove the pool cover
Before you remove the pool cover, be sure to wipe off any leaves or debris that has collected. If water from rain or the hose has collected on the pool, drain it using these instructions before you take off the pool cover. Feeding that water back into the pool is a bad idea, as it could drastically upset the chemical balance of the pool. Once you’ve removed the pool cover, lay it out on the deck and give it a thorough cleaning. Use a mild detergent to remove any dirt stains, and then simply hose it off.

3. Top it off
Water from the pool will evaporate when it’s not in use. If the water level dropped during winter, you’ll need to top it off with clean water. When you fill it up, allow the water to reach the middle of the pool tile or the middle of the skimmer opening.

4. Check chemical levels
Before you start treating your pool, you’ll need to check the chemical levels. Read the instructions that came with your pool to find the recommended water chemistry levels to keep swimmers safe. You can take a sample of pool water for testing by a pool professional, or you can purchase test kits which determine levels of alkalinity, stabilizer, hardness, pH, and chlorine.

5. Filter the water
Before you use a filter, inspect and clean it if necessary. To clean a filter, remove the cartridge and wash it with a hose. If you need to lubricate any of the filters, check the manufacturer’s recommendation. Replace broken filters and fix any filter leaks before they become an expensive repair. After you’ve turned on the filters, clean them every day until the water is clear. This process can take about a week.

6. Clean pool tiles
After you’ve balanced the chemicals and filtered the water, you can focus on cleaning the pool tiles. Calcium deposits and stains from hard water can be removed by gently rubbing a pumice stone against the tile. Use a disposable cleaning sponge and a small amount of diluted detergent to remove residue and grime that builds up on tiles. If some areas still look dirty, go over them again with the cleaning sponge. Through the summer, you can periodically clean the tile to keep buildup at a minimum.

7. Keep it clean
Some simple and regular housekeeping will keep your pool pristine all summer. Keep filters clean of debris. To remove any fallen leaves or debris, vacuum the pool once a week. For safety reasons, check the water chemistry levels every day and have a pool professional test the water once a month.

6 Ways to Win in a Multiple-Offer Situation

Since the housing market recovery has officially begun, demand for homes at record low rates has increased, and the supply for desirable homes is limited. As a home buyer this time of year, you can expect to have competition from multiple bidders. While the winner is usually the most qualified home buyer with the highest price, there are a few tricks to the trade that can increase your chances of winning against competing home buyers.

1. Highest offer
As stated above, the bidder with the highest offer is usually the winner. Before you make your bid, learn as much as possible about the local market and prices of comparable properties. You can ask your realtor to prepare a comparative market analysis (CMA). A CMA discloses the recent selling prices of similar properties. When market values are on the rise, as they are in certain cities, there is more guesswork involved in pricing. To be the successful bidder, you may have to pay more than yesterday’s comparable sales. However, the most important thing to remember in a multiple offer situation is matching what the seller desires.

2. Clean offer
Aside from the right price, sellers want offers with the least number of contingencies; conditions that must be fulfilled before the sale is completed. Common contingencies include financing, inspections, and sales of other homes. If you can shorten the contingency period, or waive it altogether, your offer will be more appealing to sellers. As you craft an irresistible package, be sure to take in to account any expensive, necessary repairs, like a cracked foundation or leaking roof.

3. Show your loan pre-approval and credibility
One way to stand out above the pack is to show your financial credibility. Submit a loan application to a lender before you make an offer. Once your credit is checked, the loan officer will write a letter stating that your mortgage is pre-approved. Attach a copy of the pre-approval letter to your offer. There are a number of benefits for getting pre-approved first.

4. Make a large down-payment
Sellers will be impressed when they see are large down-payment. If you can afford up to 10 or even 20 percent of the price, you’ll be much more competitive than those who can only put down 5 percent. If you can also show the source of your down-payment, like your bank statement or the sale from your previous home, you’ll gain more ground with the seller. Among other benefits, making a large down-payment has the added advantage of keeping the costs of your fifteen or thirty year mortgage lower than if you put less toward the down-payment. If you need to, you can always change your financial terms later, but a large down-payment can get you to the closing table.

5. Earnest money deposit
Another way to show your intention to buy is to put down an earnest money deposit. An earnest money deposit, which is part of the down-payment paid one to three days after agreeing on a price with the seller, tells the seller you’re serious about the offer. Putting as much of your down-payment as possible will impress the sellers.

6. Personal touch
Sellers are people just like you. If you go the extra mile, sellers can be swayed by a more intangible, emotional appeal. Some easy ways to add a personal touch to your offer is to include a photo and letter about you and your family, and why the house is perfect for you. Find out as much as you can about the sellers and try to meet them face-to-face, so you express how much you love their home. You can also request your real estate agent to hand deliver your offer. When sellers are looking at multiple bidders, you want to do something that makes you stand out.

7 Ways to Save Big on Your Next Remodeling Project

When it comes to renovation, nothing is cheap. With some strategic thinking and negotiation, you can have a great remodeling project without busting your budget.

Off season discounts

In the same way you can buy winter coats at a discount in June, you can contract remodeling projects during the off season to get substantial savings. When home improvement contractors have a slow season, they slash rates. Replacing a furnace in July or installing a patio in November could yield 5 to 15 percent in savings.

Shop online

The online shopping mall is not just for clothes, books, and toys. You can buy all of your home improvement products online, too, from stores like Do It Best. Most of these items can be found at a 10 to 25 percent discount from the price at local home improvement stores. As you purchase your French doors or kitchen sinks from online vendors, be sure you know what you’re getting. Order early so you can exchange the item in case there’s a problem. A final tip, make sure you buy products from authorized resellers; you can verify this on the manufacturer’s website.

Bundle small jobs

When you run errands around town, you probably try to do as many as you can in one trip. First, you go to the bank, followed by the post office, then you pick up your dry cleaning, and finally, you pick up the kids from school. In the same way that you save time when you bundle errands together, you can save on small, bundled remodeling projects. Carpenters and handymen typically charge a minimum amount just to visit your house, usually two hours at $50 to $100 per hour. By bundling a few jobs for your contractor, you get more bang for your buck.

Negotiate with your contractor

Negotiation is a skill many business men, politicians, and diplomats profess to have. Even if you’re not in those industries, exercising your negotiation skills can get you the lowest price for your home remodeling projects. While the contractor-client relationship doesn’t prosper with haggling, you can still let the contractor know there are other competitive bidders for your project. When the contractor learns he has competition, he’ll be more willing to give you a discount.

Set a low budget

Before your contractor bids, give a ballpark price that is about 20 percent less than what you really expect to spend. As the contractor settles on a bid, he’ll have your low budget as an anchor.

Be friendly, collaborate

Ask your contractor for some strategic or painless methods by which you could alter the remodeling job to save money. Some contractors will offer consulting and mentoring services. If you’re eager to learn manual skills, it’s possible that you can partner with a contractor to build your construction skills.

Let the bid stew

Before you sign a contract for a bid, take time to let the numbers settle. Once you have a contractor’s offer, wait a few days before your agree. If the contractor has wiggle room and he’s desperate for work, he’ll reach out with a better deal.

How Can You Tell When it’s a Sellers Market?

Reports have been showing that the housing market is improving, which is good news to both buyers and sellers. There are several indicators that show we may be transitioning to a seller’s market.

Inventory

The length of time that it takes for inventory to turn over has dropped to around three months, which is good news for sellers. This means that if there were no new homes listed for sale, it would take three months for all of the homes to be sold.

More Jobs

When new businesses open or current businesses add new workers, more people will be buying homes. People may move into the area and others feel more confident to buy a house when they have a stable income.

House Prices Increase

This indicator is usually one of the later to be seen. However, you will begin to see less negotiation between buyers and sellers; buyers are more willing to pay the sales price. Sellers are less likely to offer deals or reduce their price because they know someone else will be interested in the house at the selling price.

Seller Deals Disappear

Sellers do not feel the need to offer benefits to sell their home, such as paying closing costs or paying for points. Buyers take the time to get approved before looking for a home because they know they don’t have time to waste when they find the perfect home. If they have to get approved, they know they risk the likelihood that the house will be sold before they can put in a bid.

What Happens in a Seller’s Market?

When the momentum shifts to the seller, interest rates as well as prices go up. Buyers that wait too long to get into the market will find that they are paying more than they would have just a few short months ago. There will also be fewer houses to choose from and the ones that are on the market will be available for a shorter time.

The best time for a buyer to make a purchase is when the market has hit bottom and is just starting to move upward. They can still get attractive interest rates and find a good selection of homes to choose from. They will get a good price for the house before values start to go up. This will allow them to purchase at a reasonable price and as the value of the house increases, they will owe less than what their home is worth.

If buyers do not watch the housing market closely, they will find that they missed the ideal opportunity to become homeowners.

7 Ways to Ruin Your Yard

There’s nothing more exciting than seeing daffodils and azaleas bloom in the warm weather. Inspired by the verdant blossoms in your neighbor’s yard, it’s easy to get carried away with unmanageable landscaping projects. This spring, as you consider your landscaping strategies, you may want to note these landscaping pitfalls so you can avoid lost time, wasted money, and tiresome maintenance.

  1. Projects with unmanageable budgets and maintenance. Underestimating the cost and time necessary to make your yard look good can cause a lot of problems down the road. Before you jump in headfirst, sit down and draft a landscaping plan. Estimate the cost of each project, revising your plan to fit your allotted budget and time commitment.
  2. Focusing on the backyard rather than the front. Just as you wouldn’t read a book from back to front, you don’t want to landscape from the back yard to the front. Creating curb appeal is one of the first things you should try to accomplish as you begin landscaping.
  3. Buying things you won’t use, like concrete curbing and lawn ornaments. It’s easy to get carried away in Lowe’s or other home supply stores. As you strategize your spring landscaping projects, whatever you do, don’t splurge your entire budget on one or two superfluous items. Concrete curbing is one of those luxury items that can easily cost upwards of $1,000. Large lawn ornaments, like outdoor fireplaces or statues, are expensive, and for the most part, unnecessary.
  4. Too many lights in your yard. Lighting can be a great way to accent your yard at night, especially if you have friends coming over often for parties on the patio. There are, however, homes that go overboard on lighting, which can lead to a higher electricity bill. To curb your monthly bill, place low-energy lights where they can be seen by you and your visitors. Stringing lights on trees and along walkways, as well as these other tips, are great ways to provide visual punctuation without causing an inordinate electricity bill.
  5. Overplanting. It’s an innocent mistake to pick plants and trees that breed quickly and soon overcome your house, your driveway, and your yard. If you don’t want to spend your days pruning endlessly, be mindful of the size of your plot. Choose varieties of plants that grow a size that suits your house and property.

    A similar problem can be planting too many of one variety. If you plant only crepe myrtle trees in your yard, how will your yard look once the crepe myrtle blooms have died? Balance out varieties with different blooming times so your yard will always have something special to offer.
  6. Outdoor kitchens in cold climates. Admittedly, there’s nothing more satisfying than grilling and cooking outdoors. If you live in cold weather areas, however, you’ll only be able to use your outdoor kitchen for one season. Outdoor kitchens are expensive, and you’ll get the most out of the investment only if you can use it year-round; or, at least three quarters of the year.
  7. Opting for pebble yard or patio rather than a lawn. It’s true that a patio or gravel yard is much easier to maintain than a lawn, but it can be an eyesore, especially if there’s no soft greenery to offset harsh surfaces. Grass in your yard provides padding for small children who love to play (and sometimes fall) outdoors. It can be a challenge to put grass down, whether growing it from seed or installing turf, but once it’s laid down, maintenance is minimal, and it lasts forever.

Banishing Dust from Your Home

As ubiquitous as gnats in Georgia, dust is seemingly inescapable, no matter where you are. As a matter of fact, dust occurs wherever humans reside. The term dust is actually just a polite way of describing human skin cells that slough off during the night. But it doesn’t stop there. Cloth fiber, tiny dust mites and their excrement, animal dander, and decomposing bug parts also fall under the umbrella of dust. To reduce the amount of dust in your home, try the following dust-busting tips.

Clean dust with a microfiber dust cloth
A microfiber dust cloth works better than an old t-shirt or feather duster because it attracts dust. Other products stir dust into the air, which gets pushed deeper into unreachable spaces. The microfiber cloth uses an electrostatic charge to pull dust away from surfaces. Microfiber dusters come in a variety of sizes and shapes, so you can clean those hard to reach fan-blades and blinds.

Vacuum
When it comes to banishing dust from your home, the vacuum is your right hand man. A vacuum with a high-efficiency particulate air filter (HEPA) can capture the tiniest dust bunnies. Vacuum heavily-trafficked areas like hallways, doorways, dens, and bedrooms once a week to keep dust at bay. Almost as important as using the vacuum, keeping it in good maintenance can make your dust-busting endeavor less frequent and more successful. Empty the vacuum canister often and keep the brush wheel free of hair and other debris.

Change air filters
Old air filters can be packed with germs and dust-spreading mites. Change the air filters in your home or apartment at least once a month. As an added health benefit, some air filters have pleats and electrostatic charge that attracts pollen, dust, and other allergens. If you suffer from asthma or endure other allergy symptoms, change the air filter frequently to prevent dust and allergens from circulating in the air.

Cut down on textiles
Textiles like carpets, rugs, curtains, and clothes not only trap dust, but they create it, too, as fibers shed and disintegrate. Carpets are huge reservoirs of dust, and should be cleaned regularly. Besides vacuuming weekly, you should beat and shake out area rugs three to four times a year. Upholstery fabric used on furniture and pillow cushions cannot be tossed easily into the washing machine. To rid these of dust, regularly beat them outside with a broom or tennis racket. The only way to totally eliminate dust from textiles and fabric is to install hardwood floors, and have only leather or vinyl furniture.

Rotate bedding
Every time you roll from one side to another in your bed, you’re sending an invisible cloud of dust into the air. Not just a reservoir of dead skin cells, your bed contributes to its own dust content, as sheets, pillows, and mattress fibers disintegrate. To minimize dust fallout from your bed, change all sheets and pillow cases weekly. For bedding that can’t be washed easily, like quilts and comforters, take them outside for a good shaking. Once or twice a year, take pillows and other bedding to the dry cleaners to minimize dust in your bedroom.

Quick Tips for Lowering Your Home Insurance Premium

The price you pay for homeowners insurance can vary widely, depending on your policy and your policy provider. Consider the following tips as you look for ways to lower your premium.

-Shop Around. Spend time researching different providers. To start with, it may be easiest seek advice from friends and family members. You should also consult your state’s insurance department, which usually displays typical rates that major insurers charge and the frequency of customer complaints. You can also check online quote services to get a better idea of your premium. Consumer guides and insurance agents can give you an idea of price ranges and companies with the lowest prices. Aside from low prices, you also want a stable company. It’s important therefore, to check the financial status of the providers you’re considering, using rating companies like Standard & Poor’s and A.M. Best. Rank your top three insurers, and get price quotes from them.

-Raise Your Deductible. Your deductible is the amount of money you pay out of pocket before an insurance policy will kick in to pay a claim. The more you pay on your deductible, the less you’ll pay for your premium. The premium is paid either monthly, quarterly, or biannually. If you can afford to raise your deductible, say from $500 to $1,000, you would save 25 percent on the amount paid for premiums. For certain disaster-prone areas, like cities along the Gulf Coast, there may be separate policies for wind damage and hurricane disasters. For most insurers, a higher deductible wouldn’t apply if there were damage due to a common regional threat; which is why they set up a separate policy for frequent threats. When you do raise your deductible, make sure you know exactly what your policy will cover in case you have to file a claim.

-Consolidate Your Policies. If you can bundle your auto and homeowner’s insurance with the same company, you may save between 5-15 percent of your premium. Many companies will offer incentives to bundle policies, such as a discount on premiums or a combined deductible. The added benefit of a bundled policy is the convenience of paying only one bill. Nevertheless, if you’re trying to save money, you should compare separate auto and homeowners insurance policies with a bundled policy. You may even find that it’s more cost effective to have separate homeowners and auto coverage.

-Improve Your Home’s Security. Beyond keeping you and your loved ones safe, beefing up your home’s security can actually get dollars shaved off your insurance premium. Simple security enhancements in your house, such as deadbolt locks, smoke detectors, and burglar alarms, can help you save at least 5 percent. For more advanced and expensive home security arrangements, make sure you check with your insurer to find which system they recommend. Typically, sprinkler security systems, burglar alarms that phone the police, and other monitoring devices can cut your premium by 15-20 percent.

-Actively Seek Out Discounts. There are a great number of discounts to be had; you simply have to ask. If you’ve been with the same insurer for a long period of time, you may be eligible for a loyalty discount. If you or someone in your family recently quit smoking, mention it to your insurance agent to see if you can get a discount on your premiums. People over the age of 55 can receive discounts. Many groups, such as AARP, university alumni associations, and employers, partner with insurance companies, and may have a lower group rate than the one you pay as an individual.