Are You Prepared for Water Backup?

May 17th, 2019

Steve Hollander – The Keyes Company
Insurance Office of America

Are You Prepared for Water Backup? 
Last year, several states experienced record precipitation and more than half were above average or well above average. As we head into the summer and some of our wettest months, it’s a good time to make sure you are protected against water backup.

“Water backup occurs when the water around the foundation of your home exceeds the capacity of removal systems to drain it,” according to Liberty Mutual. If surface water seeps into foundation walls or there is an overflow in the sewer system, water backup may occur.

Maintaining your home is your first line of defense in preventing water backup. Use the following tips to make sure you have the upper hand in water backup prevention.

  • Remove leaves and debris regularly from gutters and downspouts. When sagging occurs, make the repair as soon as possible.
  • Keep an eye on the capacity of your gutters. If water overflows after 15 minutes of heavy rain, additional downspouts are needed.
  • Make sure downspouts extend at least 10 feet away from your house.
  • Remove or relocate any landscaping that hinders proper water flow away from the house.
  • Raise all appliances, electrical wiring, and personal items off the ground in areas prone to water damage.
  • Install backflow valves and standpipes for drains in basement locations, including sinks and toilets.
  • Drain subsurface groundwater and stormwater with a sump pump, preferably one with a battery backup and replacement warnings.
  • Run your sump pump every few months, and clean it annually ahead of the rainy season.

After a water backup event, be sure all standing water is remedied and all affected items are dried out quickly to prevent mold growth. Seek a professional water mitigation company, if needed.

In the event of a loss due to water backup, contact your IOA advisor.

Read more:

Things To Do This Weekend

May 16th, 2019

Steve Hollander – The Keyes Company

Clematis By Night – Thursdays
Clematis by Night is the place to be for great live music, a taste of mouth-watering foods and fun people all in the hip ambiance of an energized downtown waterfront. Centennial Square at the end of Clematis Street in Downtown West Palm Beach.
100 N Clematis St. – West Palm Beach, FL 33401  Clematis By Night

Friday Night Live Outdoor Concerts – Now to May 31st
This free weekly concert series features a diverse lineup of local and regional bands from country, jazz to classic rock and everything in between. Join us in Centre Court at Downtown at the Gardens and start your weekend on the right note! Seating is provided.
11701 Lake Victoria Gardens Ave – Palm Beach Gardens, FL 33410   Outdoor Concerts

Kids Club Wellness Party – Saturday
Interactive Wellness Party in Bloomingdale’s Court Saturday from 10AM to 12PM. Kids will enjoy a yoga class, arts and crafts, raffles, store activities, store promotions and more!
3101 PGA Blvd – Palm Beach Gardens, FL 33410   Kids Club Wellness Party

Canoe Cruise – Sunday
Guide your canoe through the shallow waters of the Everglades as you learn about the history and ecology of Grassy Waters. Must sign up with a partner, canoes require two paddlers. Bring closed-toe shoes, refillable water bottle, hat, and sunscreen. *Check-in 30mins before program at Nature Center*. Call the nature center to reserve your spot 561-804-4985.
8264 Northlake Blvd – West Palm Beach, FL 33412     Canoe Cruise

The Gardens GreenMarket – Sundays
At the Market, you can shop an abundance of just-picked, orchard-grown goods, a wide selection of seasonal vegetables and fruits, fragrant herbs, honey, homemade old-fashioned breads, pies, cheeses, sauces, handmade crafts and much, much more. This event is rain or shine.
11010 N. Military Trail – Palm Beach Gardens, FL 33410   The Gardens GreenMarket

Manatee Lagoon Tour – Now to May 31st
Join us on a walking tour of our visitor center and learn about manatee anatomy, physiology and the importance of GPS tracking devices, as well as the Lake Worth Lagoon. Meet at the manatee skeleton display at the entrance of the building. Recurring weekly on Tuesday through Saturdays. Check website for more details.
6000 N. Flagler Drive – West Palm Beach, FL 33407   Manatee Lagoon Tour

Are You Overimproving for Your Neighborhood?

May 14th, 2019

Steve Hollander – The Keyes Company
Zillow Porchlight – by Erica Sooter

Home improvements always pay off come selling time, right? Turns out it’s all relative.

We all love a house-flipping reality show — we shout our opinions and weep when we see the final reveal. It’s an innate human instinct to want to make things better. And when it comes to selling your own home, it’s often a good instinct to follow.

But while it may be OK to max out the budget on a reality TV show, pulling out all the stops in your own home renovation might not be the best choice. Depending on the real estate market, your neighborhood and what buyers are looking for, you may need to do less — or more — than you think.

Before you demolish all the walls, take these four considerations into account.

Sellers market vs. buyers market

Does your local market favor buyers or sellers? You can tell the difference by looking at trends on Zillow, talking to a real estate agent or checking out nearby neighborhoods.

If a lot of nice for-sale homes in your area haven’t sold, it’s likely a buyers market. This means that shoppers have many homes to choose from, so the ones with the nicest updates, lowest prices and better neighborhoods will go first, leaving a lot of homes sitting idle on the market.

If homes are selling right and left, then it’s a sellers market. In this case, there aren’t as many homes for buyers to choose from, so sellers can often get above asking price as a result of bidding wars.

If you’re thinking about selling your home, understanding what the market is doing will help you determine how much you need to upgrade your home.

Improving in different markets

If it’s a buyers market, you’ll likely need to do more to your home to stand out. The average garage door replacement costs around $1,600, but if it makes your home stand out and sell faster, it may be a good move.

If it’s a sellers market, you can get away with upgrading less, since homeowners will be competing for your home regardless of how tricked out it is. Spend your money wisely on things like new counters or fixtures, and spruce up the rest with a fresh coat of paint and some elbow grease.

Consider your neighborhood

The next important factor is your neighborhood, because you don’t want to price yourself out of it. Do you live in a new development? Or an older one where the homes are 40, 50 or 60 years old? Do you have a homeowners association that will limit what you can do? Or can you renovate at will?

In older neighborhoods, you don’t want to renovate your house so much that it looks out of place or becomes a target for theft. You want to find a nice balance.

If most homes in your area have dated finishes, focus on a few crucial updates that’ll help your house stand out and stay within your neighborhood’s average pricing. People are less willing to buy a $475,000 house in a neighborhood where homes don’t usually sell for more than $300,000.

A good rule of thumb: Don’t raise your home’s value any higher than 10 percent of the average cost of homes in your neighborhood.

However, if you live in a nicer area and your house is the shabbiest on the block, you’ll want to spend a little more to keep up. Take a look at homes in your neighborhood that have sold in the last 90 days (you can find this right here on Zillow). Emulate the finishes those homes have while remaining within your budget.

Where to invest your money

Give your home the features buyers look for most. Many homeowners look for updated kitchens, master bedrooms and bathrooms. These three spaces alone can sell your home, so consider investing extra money in these areas.

If you have additional funds, consider replacing flooring or upgrading small things like lighting, fixtures and doorknobs.

Use your budget wisely, and consider going the DIY route — some projects can recoup a large part of your investment! If brand-new kitchen cabinets are out of your budget — or if they’d price you out of your current neighborhood — consider painting your current ones.

Of course, watch for sales or deals on things you can use in your renovations. Regardless of how old or new your neighborhood is, choose timeless styles and colors that will appeal to a wide range of home buyers.

If you do your market research and follow the trends, you’ll end up with a beautifully renovated home that will appeal to a large range of buyers.

Erica Sooter is the blogger behind Dwell Beautiful, an interior design and DIY/craft blog specializing in advice and tutorials for those on a budget. She and her husband are new homeowners living in the beautiful Pacific Northwest and are making over their home one room at a time.

Recent Sales

May 13th, 2019

Steve Hollander – The Keyes Company

What is Water/Sewer Backup Coverage?

May 10th, 2019

Steve Hollander – The Keyes Company
Traci Sihle – Sihle Insurance Group

Backed up sewers can cause thousands of dollars in damage to floors, walls, furniture, and electrical systems. And think of the smell and clean up! If this happens to your home or business, will your insurance cover the damage?

Many people assume sewage backup or sump pump overflow is covered by their homeowners or business insurance policies. This is not true! Standard policies don’t cover the damage. If it is on the policy, the coverage is minimal.

The good news is that water and sewer backup coverage can be purchased under your homeowner’s or commercial property policy and it’s very affordable. We recommend that all property owners have this coverage.  Water that backs up from a sewer or drain can create a clean-up nightmare and also damage appliances like electrical circuitry, furnaces and water heaters as well as personal belongings.

What Protection Does Water/Sewer Backup Provide? 

  • The backup of water or waterborne materials through a sewer or through a drain
  • Water or waterborne material that overflows from a sump, even if the backup of water is due to the mechanical breakdown of the sump pump. Coverage includes damage to covered property but excludes the sump pump and any related equipment that has broken down.

What causes water and sewer backups? 

1. Blockages Due To Tree Roots
The trees in your yard may be beautiful, but their roots can cause damage to your plumbing. Tree roots can dig very deep in search of water and nutrients, things that can be found in abundance in pipelines. These roots can enter pipes through small cracks and continue to grow until extensive damage is caused. Different tree roots grow in different ways, so it’s a good idea to know about each kind located on your property.

2. The Flushing Game: Toys & Other Strange Items
Plumbers are no strangers to discovering weird objects in toilets like toys, keys and watches. However, some mystery clogs are caused by the most bizarre and unlikely items.

3. Improper Disposal of Paper Products
There’s a good reason why you shouldn’t flush paper products down the toilet! Every year baby wipes, dental floss, paper towels and other such products end up in the sewer. Specifically wet wipes, which don’t degrade after they are flushed and are causing thousands, if not millions, of dollars in damage.

4. Aging Sewer Systems
According to the Civil Engineering Research Foundation, the number of backed up sewers is increasing about 3% per year. Sewer systems in the United States are on average over thirty years old, which is a huge contributing factor to the rapid increase of sewer backups, overflows and flooded basements.

5. Improper Disposal of Grease
Pouring grease down the drain can cause clogged pipes and even sewer overflows. Liquefied fat, oil and grease (FOG) that is poured down kitchen sinks will build up over time, and can cause major damage to your home. These fat and oil buildups cause about 36,000 sewer overflows each year! To properly dispose of your cooking greases, simply place the cooled liquid into a sealed non-recyclable container and discard it with your regular garbage. If you pour grease down the sink or even into the toilet, it will cool and harden in your pipes (or in the sewer) down the line.

6. Combined Pipelines
Sometimes sewer systems combine the raw sewage pipeline with the storm water pipeline. During times of intense storms and runoff, this combined pipeline can become clogged with debris. This can result in a sewage backup situation in low-lying drains.

Read more:

Teen Driver Facts and How to Keep Your Teen Safe

May 7th, 2019

Steve Hollander – The Keyes Company
Insurance Office of America

Teen drivers are inexperienced, which mean they are more likely to be involved in accidents. But exactly how dangerous are they on the road?

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) data shows that in 2016, teens ages 15-19 were 6.5 percent of the U.S. population, yet they were responsible for 8.4 percent of the total cost of motor vehicle injuries—representing $13.6 billion in damages and other accident-related costs. In the same year, over 2,400 teens ages 16-19 were killed, and nearly 300,000 were treated in emergency rooms due to motor vehicle crashes.

In fact, the data shows that per mile driven, teens ages 16-19 are nearly three times more likely to be involved in a deadly vehicle crash compared to drivers over 20 years old. The most affected groups are males, teens with teenage passengers, and newly licensed teens.

How can you make sure your teens are safe when they’re behind the wheel? The easiest way is simple—make sure they use their seat belts. Of those teens who died in motor vehicle crashes, at least 48 percent were not wearing seat belts. Enforcing the use of seat belts can help save lives and potentially reduce crash-related injuries and death by 50 percent.

Parents also can teach their young drivers about the eight danger zones:

  1. Driver inexperience
  2. Driving with teen passengers
  3. Nighttime driving
  4. Not using seat belts
  5. Distracted driving
  6. Drowsy driving
  7. Reckless driving
  8. Impaired driving

Educating your teens on how to be safe behind the wheel will not only help protect their lives but everyone else on the road as well.

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Maximizing Space in a Small Kitchen

May 6th, 2019

Steve Hollander – The Keyes Company
Zillow Porchlight – by Natalie Wise

Small kitchens can be a challenge. Use these tips to set up a kitchen that lets your inner chef shine.

Many homes come with kitchens that are less than ideal. The lighting can be terrible, the appliances old, the floors grimy … and counter space? Well, that’s a nice idea.

Get the most out of the kitchen space you do have with these tips.

Make room
You can create extra space, even when it seems impossible. Over-the-sink covers, cutting boards and colanders help increase your workspace.

Burner covers for your stove and a large cutting board or tray can create extra counter space when you’re entertaining and want to set out snacks (provided you don’t need to use your stove).

Fold-up tables (attached to the wall or stand-alone) offer extra space when needed. If there’s room, a butcher block or island instantly create food prep or storage space.

Another simple way to create space? Pare down your belongings — especially on the counters — and only keep the necessities.

Go vertical
A wall above the stove may be perfectly suited for a pegboard where you can hang pots, pans and utensils. Magnetic knife and spice racks can fit into small wall spaces under cabinets or above sinks.

Refrigerators can serve as storage space for magnetic spice racks, towels, pot holders, or dry-erase boards or chalkboards, which are both useful and decorative. And over-the-cabinet hooks and towel racks add extra storage quickly and easily.

Use bookcases
Small bookcases are a kitchen’s best friend. They are perfectly narrow, they come in many heights and they offer tons of storage options.

In addition to keeping cookbooks tidy, they can also hold pots, pans, dishes, food items, storage containers and baskets.

Add hooks to the side of your bookshelf to store aprons or other lightweight tools.

Add art and color
Art and color are fast ways to personalize a small kitchen. Color-coordinated kitchen accessories become art in and of themselves, and a simple color palette lets the eye rest in a small space.

When using every inch of space, don’t forget to leave room for a few decorative elements. Hang attractive tea towels with pushpins for a practical splash of color. And fresh flowers on a shelf or table instantly brighten the space and add life.

If you have a windowsill, an herb garden is the perfect way to use the space and bring vibrancy. You might even consider installing a vertical garden.

Cover eyesores
Every older kitchen has at least one eyesore: an ancient microwave, a scratched-up refrigerator or a hideous vinyl floor. If you’re not ready to put down the cash for a remodel, cover these as best you can.

Cover exposed sink pipes with curtains attached to the bottom of the sink (bonus: extra storage space). Store your old microwave or replace it with a newer, more attractive version.

As for scratched or just plain ugly refrigerators and appliances, adhesive vinyl can create a like-new look in a matter of minutes.

Cover unsightly floors with kitchen-friendly mats that also make standing at the counter easier on your feet, and refresh old cupboards and drawers with plain or patterned drawer liners.

Upgrade lighting
Lighting in any kitchen is hard to get right. Many fixtures make the space feel dated, and upgrading bulbs and cleaning light covers will make a difference right away. Consider installing adhesive under-cabinet lighting to better illuminate your workspace.

If you can direct your lighting, such as track lighting, make sure it points to the kitchen triangle — that well-worn path from the stove to the sink to the refrigerator.

If overhead lighting is scarce, consider using table lamps and even floor lamps. A floor lamp in a kitchen might seem odd at first, but put it at the end of a counter or tucked behind a table, and you’ll be grateful for the extra light.

Natalie Wise, M.A., covers real estate and celebrity real estate for Zillow.

How to Spot a Rental Scam

May 3rd, 2019

Steve Hollander – The Keyes Company
Trulia Guides\Rent

Here’s what to do when finding an apartment goes from annoying to criminal.

The stress of finding an apartment is almost inevitable – the search, the competition, the upfront money … most renters avoid frequently moving for these reasons. But sometimes the rental process goes from merely aggravating to actually illegal. While a majority of rental listings are legitimate, rental scams are out there, and not always easy to spot.

The 5 most common rental scams (and how to avoid them)

1. Fake real estate agent services.

Services offering to generate a list of pre-foreclosure or rent-to-own rental properties for clients are another type of rental scam. Although appealing because of lower price points, these services request either a sign-up fee or a monthly fee of up to $200. The list is usually full of sham real estate listings, either fake or expired, and it’s impossible to get a refund on the sign-up fee. Avoid this one by searching rental listings on Trulia.

2. Asking for money before seeing the apartment.

Imagine finding a terrific online listing with a request for money upfront. This may not seem entirely unreasonable if you’re in a competitive market. And unlike some noticeable scam listings of the past, which might include misspellings or photos stolen from another site, these write-ups seem completely aboveboard. It’s important to recognize fraudsters constantly adapt to improve their odds of successfully stealing money from renters. They’ll even go so far as to make their fake listings look increasingly legit.

Still, there should never be a cost for admission, so if the listing asks for cash up front, walk away. There is never a reason to send money without viewing an apartment or meeting in person especially if the request is for a money transfer. This is because it’s basically impossible to stop payment on a wire transfer, unlike a check or credit card payment.

3. A copy-and-pasted ad.

Say a legitimate landlord writes up a compelling description of a real vacant apartment and posts the listing online. A scammer can very easily copy and paste the listing but significantly lower the price, which will generate furious interest. Otherwise known as the “clone scam,” this maneuver is especially aimed at someone who’s busy or renting from out of town and is willing to put down money before seeing the rental unit.

Another clue will be a request for an unusually high security deposit, since the scammer is seeking to take off with as much money as possible, and as fast as possible.

4. An MIA landlord.

The setup: A scam artist finds a vacant property because it’s either bank-owned, a vacant vacation home, or maybe even rented by the scammer who plans to pull off this scheme several times over. They then insist they’re out of the country, sick, or otherwise detained, but still want first, last, and a security deposit. Don’t do it! Regardless of where they live, a legitimate landlord or property manager will be willing to arrange for someone to meet you and show you inside the unit.

5. Withholding your deposit.

This happens all too often. Your landlord behaves normally throughout the duration of your lease. But get cagey about the deposit when the time comes for you to move out, saying they’ll mail you a check that never arrives. Or they’ll claim excessive damages to keep the security deposit to make the necessary repairs, even though you left the place in great shape. To avoid the latter, make sure to take photos before you leave (and, ideally, when you’re moving in) to prove you didn’t trash the apartment. If the deposit still hasn’t materialized, send a certified-mail request for its return. If that doesn’t work, you might be looking at small claims court.

Read more:

Things To Do This Weekend

May 2nd, 2019

Steve Hollander – The Keyes Company

Clematis By Night – Thursdays
Clematis by Night is the place to be for great live music, a taste of mouth-watering foods and fun people all in the hip ambiance of an energized downtown waterfront. Centennial Square at the end of Clematis Street in Downtown West Palm Beach.
100 N Clematis St. – West Palm Beach, FL 33401  Clematis By Night

SunFest – Now to Sunday
Florida’s largest music, art and waterfront festival will take place in Downtown West Palm Beach featuring more than 50 performances over four days. End your evening on Sunday with an amazing firework show at 9:00 pm.
Intracoastal Waterway in downtown West Palm Beach    SunFest

West Palm Beach Antique Festival – Friday to Sunday
We are a monthly event showcasing great merchandise for sale that includes all things Vintage, Antiques, Collectible and Retro. Our Dealers come from all over the United States to bring you one of a kind, unique items to add to your collection, resell or decorate your home.
9067 Southern Blvd – West Palm Beach, FL 33411   Antique Festival

Fort Lauderdale Air Show – Saturday & Sunday
The 2019 Fort Lauderdale Air Show will soar over Fort Lauderdale Beach on May 4-5 featuring the U.S. Navy Blue Angels and the F-22 Raptor Demo Team!
Fort Lauderdale Beach     Fort Lauderdale Air Show

Friday Night Live Outdoor Concerts – Now to May 31st
This free weekly concert series features a diverse lineup of local and regional bands from country, jazz to classic rock and everything in between. Join us in Centre Court at Downtown at the Gardens and start your weekend on the right note! Seating is provided.
11701 Lake Victoria Gardens Ave – Palm Beach Gardens, FL 33410   Outdoor Concerts

The Gardens GreenMarket – Sundays
At the Market, you can shop an abundance of just-picked, orchard-grown goods, a wide selection of seasonal vegetables and fruits, fragrant herbs, honey, homemade old-fashioned breads, pies, cheeses, sauces, handmade crafts and much, much more. This event is rain or shine.
10500 N. Military Trail – Palm Beach Gardens, FL 33410   The Gardens GreenMarket

Rocco’s Cinco de Mayo Party – Sunday
Join us for our annual Cinco de Mayo Block Party! • Drinks • Tequila • Street Food • Music and so much more. All day & all night!
224 Clematis Street – West Palm Beach, FL 33401
5090 PGA Blvd – Palm Beach Gardens, FL 33418     Rocco’s Cinco de Mayo Party!

Manatee Lagoon Tour – Now to May 31st
Join us on a walking tour of our visitor center and learn about manatee anatomy, physiology and the importance of GPS tracking devices, as well as the Lake Worth Lagoon. Meet at the manatee skeleton display at the entrance of the building. Recurring weekly on Tuesday through Saturdays. Check website for more details.
6000 N. Flagler Drive – West Palm Beach, FL 33407   Manatee Lagoon Tour

11 Home Features that Help You Sell Faster

May 1st, 2019

Steve Hollander – The Keyes Company
Florida Realtors® – National Association of Home Builders