Top Concerns for Relocation Buyers

relo1Human resources executives of global companies are most concerned about rising housing costs and increasing requests from transferring employees who want additional spouse career assistance, according to a survey from Cartus Corporation, a leading provider of global relocation services.

The survey of more than 150 human resources and relocation professionals was taken at the recent Worldwide ERC meeting held in Las Vegas.

relo3When asked, “In what areas have you seen relocation costs rise dramatically in the past year?” relocation managers ranked the following as their top five areas of concern:

1. Housing
2. Temporary Living
3. Household goods shipments
4. Compliance
5. Schooling

“Housing costs and temporary living expenses are the top two areas of concern for relocation professionals worldwide,” says Michelle Vallejo, Cartus senior vice president, Account Management, Americas. “Additionally, the Cartus survey found that relocation professionals need to find additional ways to help their transferring employees get assistance for their spouses and also look for ways to provide additional settling in services.”

When it comes to benefits, human resources professionals say their relocating employees are increasingly asking for additional help for spouses as well as settling in services.

relo2The following are the top four employee requests when asked, “In which areas have you seen more requests for coverage?”

1. Spouse Career Assistance
2. Global Settling-in Services
3. Pets
4. Elder Parents

Last, when asked “Which demographic group do you find the most demanding in terms of relocation benefits and process?” relocation professionals says Gen X’ers were the most demanding, followed by Millennials and then Baby Boomers.

 

6 Insurance Mistakes Homeowners Make

homeowners-insThough saving money is important, shaving off key protections in order to reduce homeowners insurance premiums can be costly in the event of a disaster. “The best way to avoid living the cliché of being ‘penny wise and pound foolish’ is to know what less-than-full coverage will cost you,” says Lynne McChristian of the Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.). “Talk with an insurance professional before the winds kick up to understand the difference between smart shopping and possible costly mistakes.”

Those potentially costly mistakes include:

1. Going “bare.”
Homeowners without a mortgage are not required to have home insurance—but going without insurance protection means the risk of losing what you’ve invested in what is likely one of your most important assets. For most people, setting aside a pool of money large enough to rebuild a home or replace all their possessions is too much of a financial challenge, leaving them with insufficient funds in the event of a total loss
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2. Eliminating windstorm and contents coverage.
While a residential property insurance policy typically includes this protection, homeowners may choose to send a handwritten and signed letter to their insurer asking that such coverage be excluded and acknowledging they will pay for any losses. Excluding windstorm and/or contents coverage can save you hundreds of dollars a year on insurance. “But the downside is you will need to pay thousands of dollars—or even hundreds of thousands of dollars—out of your own pocket if a hurricane strikes,” says McChristian.

3. Declining Building Ordinance or Law coverage.

Homes age and building codes improve. That often means that there can be a big difference in the structural strength of a newly built home and one that is 10 or more years old. If a home is damaged or destroyed, rebuilding to current building codes will raise the cost of reconstruction. Building Ordinance or Law coverage pays for this additional expense.

4. Choosing a high hurricane deductible.

High deductibles lower the cost of insurance, but they also mean higher out-of-pocket costs after a storm. For example, a homeowner with a house insured for $200,000 with a 10 percent hurricane deductible would have to contribute $20,000 toward rebuilding costs. Lowering the hurricane deductible to 2 percent would cut that amount to $4,000.

5. Insuring for less than the rebuilding cost.
Most insurance companies will allow a homeowner to insure for less than what it costs to rebuild–though never below 80 percent of the home’s replacement cost. Homeowners who choose this option would be responsible for paying both their deductible and the additional cost to cover the gap in their rebuilding coverage. In hurricane-prone areas, it is worth considering a homeowners policy that provides broader coverage, called extended replacement cost coverage. After a major natural disaster, construction professionals may be in short supply and building materials in great demand. This combination increases the cost to rebuild. Extended replacement cost policies will pay an additional 20 percent or more above the policy limits to account for such increases.

6. Forgoing flood insurance.
A standard homeowners insurance policy does not cover flood damage. Because it can rain hard —and for extended periods—even during a regular storm, every homeowner should consider purchasing a separate flood insurance policy from the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) or from a private insurance company. Excess flood insurance is also available from private insurance companies if more coverage is needed than the amount available from the NFIP.

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Designer Tips for Layering Decor at Home

A growing trend among interior designers is layering unique patterns and textures for heightened visual interest. Get inspired to layer elements in your home with these ideas.

livingroom1Fancy Frames – An empty wall holds endless potential. If the room is small, expand your space with a mirror collage featuring a variety of shapes and varnishes. Is your heart set on colorful patterned wallpaper? Showcase your favorite print in a large frame for a beautiful living room backdrop to avoid feeling overwhelmed. Art fans should collect a variety of frames in different finishes and styles to create a living room gallery.

livingroom2Pillow Patterns – While it’s fun to mix and match pillows, certain textures complement each other better than others. For example, linens and wool tend to look better with woven fabrics, while shiny and matte fabrics are best kept separate. Mixing contrasting textures such as silk and corduroy calls for a strong sense of design confidence, but it can be done.

livingroom3Rugs on Rugs – Start with a flat, neutral rug as your foundation and add a smaller, accent rug on top. Investing in a large rug with a subdued color is wise, but have fun with the accent rug. Whether cowhide or a geometric print, choose a similar color scheme and play with the positioning by placing the top rug at a purposeful angle.

livingroom4Old, Renewed – When thinking about your space, it’s important to remember that design inspiration can be found anywhere. Look for antique candle holders or paperweights. Check out antique shops or thrift stores for hidden treasures. When traveling, visit flea markets and local art fairs. Transform an old object like a rustic slab of wood into a glossy countertop for your kitchen island. No matter where you travel, keep an eye out for timeworn treasures for your home.

Layering textures and patterns, combining modern with rustic – blending home design can result in a truly transformative space that captures your individual style.

Listing Your Home on Airbnb? Don’t Forget Insurance

vacayhouseHome-sharing, or peer-to-peer renting, has soared in popularity thanks to sites like Airbnb, HomeAway and Roomorama that give renters the opportunity to room with a host in a privately-owned property, paying similarly to a hotel stay. The property is not a licensed hospitality provider, so insurance concerns are common for hosts.

According to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC), standard homeowners and renters insurance policies generally do not cover home-sharing-related claims. Hosts must consider what their course of action will be if a guest is injured on or vandalizes the property. If you rent your home frequently, your insurer may deny coverage because your policy does not cover home-based businesses. If you rent your home only occasionally, your insurer may be able to provide an endorsement to protect you, but it is not guaranteed.

Because these and other factors must be considered, it’s important to discuss home-sharing with your insurer prior to renting. The NAIC recommends purchasing a landlord policy for liability protection and to cover possessions, any legal fees and lost rental income due to damage. You might also require renters to provide proof of their own homeowners, renters, or personal liability insurance for added protection.

At present, Airbnb offers host insurance coverage up to $1 million if a guest is injured on or damages the property.

 

Empty Nesters: How to Reclaim Your Space

The departure of children from the home may be bittersweet, but it is also an opportunity for empty nesters to reclaim their space. Updating the home after the kids move out with savvy improvements can help facilitate aging in place and boost resale value for those planning to downsize in the future.

If your children have left the nest, consider these home projects:

1. Find Your “Me” Space

homeofficeajpgTurn junior’s room into a space that works for you, like a home office, exercise room, music studio, craft room, workshop or home theater. Keep in mind your long-term plans. If you’ll be selling the home at some point, consider a room that will have broader appeal, like a home office.

If you plan to age in place, remember to incorporate features in your “me” space that will facilitate your use of the room even if you experience mobility issues down the road. For example, you may want to take the opportunity to widen doorways, replace doorknobs with door handles, replace loose carpet or slippery tiles with slip-resistant flooring, and improve ventilation.

2. Embrace Natural Lighting

natural-light-living-roomVision changes as you age, so the artificial lighting that worked for you when you were in your 30s or 40s may not be adequate when you enter your 50s and 60s. Lighting is an important upgrade if you plan to remain in your home into your golden years. Look for improvements that will help aging eyes see better, like increased natural lighting and task lighting in work areas.

3. Create a Bathroom Retreat

masterbath1Bathrooms sell homes, and if you’ve lived with an outdated master bathroom – or none at all – now’s the time to renovate. In addition to all the luxurious features you’ve been dreaming of, like a rainfall shower head and heated floor, keep in mind the practical improvements that will make the room safe and usable as you grow older.

Look for slip-resistant flooring, improve natural and task lighting and replace faucet knobs with easy-to-maneuver levers. Install grab bars around tubs and toilets, as well as in the shower. Bath product designers are now making grab bars that offer the look of design elements coupled with the security of sturdy support.

Ceiling Trends That Raise Rooms to New Heights

Want to infuse your home with architectural interest? Start at the top, says Brian Patrick Flynn, owner of FlynnsideOut Productions and whose interiors are regularly featured on HGTV.com.

“The ceiling is the most overlooked design element in a space, hands down,” says Flynn. “Just like people, rooms need different layers to be one-of-a kind. That includes a ceiling that makes people look up and scan the entire space.”

The largest solid surface in a room – besides the floor – is the ceiling. Instead of leaving it bright white or builder beige, convert this blank canvas into a decorative canopy of color and texture with these hot ceiling trends.

liv2Layer on the Luster                       Stamped metal ceilings have added shine and sophistication to American homes since they were introduced in the 1880s. Besides beauty, metal ceilings offer practicality. They resist mold and mildew, offer sag resistance and last longer than plaster or drywall. Regardless of the finish, the texture of the tiles creates a tactile top layer.

liv1Mix and Match Styles                           Some interior designers are combining different decorating elements at the top, such as inlaying the recesses of coffered ceilings with gold or copper tiles. Flynn says he’s also a fan of tongue-and-groove ceilings accented with beams. “This adds a ton of visual interest to the room, and can make it feel much larger.”

liv4Create Character with Wood           From rustic timber to sleek teak, wood hues help set the tone in a room. Besides imparting a sense of warmth, the grains and knots in wood panels add a textural layer that contrasts nicely with smooth surfaces like painted walls and granite countertops.

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Add Architectural Depth               Coffered ceilings first appeared in Roman architecture, and their geometric elegance has graced grand buildings ever since. Today, the cost and complexity of building coffered ceilings have been reduced by lightweight materials and easy-to-install prefabricated systems.

How Landscape Design Can Boost Home Value

yard4A recent survey conducted by the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) found that sustainable, low-maintenance designs are top trends among residential landscape projects. The study, which asked landscape architects to rate the expected popularity of outdoor design elements, points to a great demand for ecologically sensitive upgrades intended to preserve the environment, conserve water and reduce landscape maintenance.

yard3According to the study, the top five upgrades are native plantings, adapted drought plantings, food or vegetable gardens, fire pits and fireplaces and low-maintenance landscapes. Others include permeable paving, drip/water-efficient irrigation, rain gardens, outdoor lighting and rainwater/graywater harvesting.

The majority of respondents reported the most popular outdoor recreation amenities will include spa features—hot tubs, Jacuzzis, whirlpools and indoor/outdoor saunas—and swimming pools. Another anticipated amenity is a sport court, such as for tennis or bocce.

yard2Among the results, the top three most popular outdoor design elements include fire pits or fireplaces, grills and lighting. Pergolas, decks and fencing are expected to be the most popular outdoor structures. In terms of sustainable features, respondents named compost bins, geothermal heated pools and solar-powered lights.

If you’d like to incorporate these ideas into your outdoor space, it’s best to hire a professional. Here’s why:

yard51. A landscape architect is well equipped to design an outdoor living space that will add value to your home, extend your living space and allow you to enjoy all that nature has to offer in a controlled setting. From arbors to fountains, they can create a space that is both inviting and environmentally sustainable.

2. Hiring a landscape architect is a terrific investment for your home. Research from Virginia Tech shows that landscapes literally grow in value over time, while traditional home additions or remodels start to lose value the minute the dust settles.

yard63. Landscape architects are licensed professionals who often work with landscaping or other construction companies to install their designs. Think of the fashion designer imagining an outfit while a clothing manufacturer makes the apparel, or an artist designing a wall poster that’s printed by another company.

4. Landscape architects are trained to think about landscapes as systems. They will assess your property’s problem areas, as well as possibilities, and create a solid plan that addresses both the big picture and exact details of how your landscape will look. They will handle all the details, saving you time and stress.

yard75. Landscape architects will deliver a finished project that you will love and that will comply with regulations and codes. It will be a special place that you and your family and friends will enjoy for years to come.