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Vicki L. Biehl's Blog

By Randy & Vicki Biehl | Agent in Punta Gorda, FL
  • FEMA Up date

    Posted Under: Home Buying, Home Selling, Home Insurance  |  May 7, 2014 3:03 PM  |  287 views  |  No comments

    FEMA flood insurance update

    On April 15, 2014, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) issued a memo to insurers that sell flood insurance policies on FEMA’s behalf. In the memo, FEMA directs these insurers to stop charging the higher flood insurance rates for certain categories affected by the Biggert-Waters Reform Act of 2012 starting on May 1, 2014. Instead, the insurers are to charge rates in effect before Oct. 1, 2013. In issuing the memo, FEMA makes it clear that this is an interim step to bring relief to homeowners and buyers as directed under the new law. The actual cost of an individual flood insurance policy could change later as FEMA solidifies its long-term, ongoing rules.


    Base Flood: The flood having a 1 percent chance equaled or exceeded in any given year.

    Base Flood Elevation (BFE): The water surface elevation of the base flood adopted by the community.

    Advisory Base Flood Elevation (ABFE): Updated and more accurate flood hazard data developed after a disaster to help guide the rebuilding process until more detailed data becomes available.

    Flood Insurance Rate Map (FIRM): A map issued by FEMA showing flood risk, BFEs, and risk premium zones.

    Pre-FIRM: Buildings constructed before the community’s first FIRM. Communities might not have elevation information on file for these properties.

    Preliminary Map: The term used for updated FIRMs before they are adopted by a community and made effective. Insurance premiums are based on the effective maps.

    Post-FIRM Construction: A building constructed or substantially improved on or after December 31, 1974, or on or after the date of the initial FIRM for your community. FIRM dates can be found at: http://www.fema.gov/fema/csb.shtm.

  • Do you need a Elevation Certificate

    Posted Under: General Area in Port Charlotte, Home Buying in Port Charlotte, Home Insurance in Port Charlotte  |  May 7, 2014 3:00 PM  |  324 views  |  No comments

     Homeowner’s Guide to Elevation Certificates

    An Elevation Certificate is an important tool that documents your building’s elevation. If you live in a high-risk flood zone, you should provide an Elevation Certificate to your insurance agent to obtain flood insurance and ensure that your premium accurately reflects your risk. Obtaining an Elevation Certificate also can help you make decisions about rebuilding and mitigation after a disaster.

    Comparing Your Building’s Elevation to a Potential Flood Level

        Your insurance agent will use the Elevation Certificate to compare your building’s elevation to the Base Flood Elevation (BFE).

        The base flood is a flood with a 1 percent chance of occurring in any given year. The BFE identifies how high the water is likely to rise (also called water surface elevation) in a base flood. The land area of the base flood is called the Special Flood Hazard Area, floodplain, or high-risk zone.

        Flood insurance rates in a high-risk zone (a zone beginning with the letter A or V) are based on a building’s elevation above, at, or below the BFE.


    Elevation and Flood Insurance Rates

        Generally, in high-risk zones, the higher above the BFE a building is located, the lower the insurance premium will be for that property. The Elevation Certificate provides the documentation necessary to make that determination.

        In moderate- to low-risk zones (zones beginning with letters B, C, or X), rates are not based on elevation, so an Elevation Certificate may not be necessary to determine the premium.



     Finding Your Building’s Elevation

        Many municipal governments keep elevation information on file. Talk to community officials about the information they might have for your building.

        If no elevation information is available, you might need to hire a State-licensed surveyor, architect, or engineer to complete an Elevation Certificate. Depending on your location and the complexity of the job, the cost of a surveyor can vary from $500 to $2,000 or more. You may want to contact several local surveyors to find out what they offer.

  • News on Flood Insurance Rates

    Posted Under: General Area in Charlotte County, Home Buying in Charlotte County, Property Q&A in Charlotte County  |  April 25, 2014 10:48 AM  |  357 views  |  No comments

    March 21, 2014: President Obama signs flood insurance bill into law
    President Obama signed the “Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act” into law on March 21, 2014. This law repeals FEMA’s authority to increase premium rates at time of sale or new flood map, and refunds the excessive premium to those who bought a property before FEMA warned them of the rate increase. The bill limits premium increases to 18% annually on newer properties and 25% for some older ones. Additionally, the bill adds a small assessment on policies until everyone is paying full cost for flood insurance.

    To read the entire document from Florida Realtors, click the link below.
  • The Home Buying Process

    Posted Under: Home Buying in Charlotte County, Financing in Charlotte County  |  April 19, 2014 2:56 PM  |  232 views  |  1 comment

    The Home Buying Process

    Are you a first-time homebuyer eager to pursue the American Dream of owning your own home?

    Buying your first home can be an overwhelming process, but the benefits of being a first-time homebuyer and finally achieving the American Dream of homeownership can make up for it.

    1. Determine how much house they can afford

    First, buyers need to figure out how much house they can afford. A person’s purchasing power depends on income, credit rating, monthly expenses, down payment and the current interest rate. Balancing personal and family goals with a sound financial strategy will result in the best first-time home-buying decision.

    2. Shop for a loan

    After you determine how much home you can buy, you need to shop for a loan. You should talk with several lenders and get written quotes, comparing costs, loan duration, interest rates and other financial terms. You should also ask the lenders for a pre-approval letter for a loan, which buyers need when submitting an offer. Pre-approval demonstrates to sellers that you can afford the home and boosts your credibility and negotiating strength. Essentially, pre-approval means you have completed a loan application, had your credit checked and that a lender has approved your loan for a specific amount and interest rate. You can then present this document to a seller as proof that you can afford his or her property.

    • Most buyers will need a down payment. Most lenders insist that you put down 10 percent to 20 percent of the home’s purchase price before granting them a mortgage. So start saving now.
    • Lenders also require that buyers secure homeowner’s insurance before they fund a loan. So contact several insurance agents and get a least three written quotes for homeowner’s insurance.

    3.  Start shopping for a home

    The next step in the home-buying process is to start shopping for a home. Many new homebuyers begin their search for a new home by finding a local real estate agent to represent them. A local agent can save you time and money.

    Now that you’ve gotten pre-approved for a mortgage, hired an agent and found a property you like, it’s time to submit an offer. But how much should you offer? Check recent sales of comparable neighborhood properties. Evaluate sold homes with comparable age, style, square footage and bedrooms and baths.

    4.  Make an Offer

    Next, have your real estate agent write the offer and present it to the selling agent. Discuss the sales process with your agent.

    5. Hire a licensed home inspector

    You should hire a licensed home inspector who works in the area. A home inspection will reveal the condition of the house and will help you avoid purchasing a home that has major problems. It will give you peace of mind knowing that you are buying a safe home. Typical inspections include pest (termite) inspection, along with electrical, plumbing, heating systems, roofing, pool, and foundation inspections.

    Because of inspections, approvals and appraisals taking place in the days before closing, many issues naturally surface during this stage. As a buyer, remain patient when these issues arise. For example, an inspection may reveal that the roof leaks and significant roof repairs are needed. The seller may repair, replace, reduce the price or do nothing. Buyers need to be prepared for all scenarios. If the seller counters your offer, you and your agent will need to re-negotiate with the seller on the terms and conditions.

    6. Signing the paperwork (Closing)

    One of the final steps in the home-buying process is signing the paperwork at the “closing” or the final “settlement.” Before you sign anything, however, make sure you read all the documentation and understand what it is says. If you don’t understand the contracts and disclosures, ask your agent to explain them to you.

    For first-time homebuyers, purchasing a home is a major financial commitment that involves spending a great deal of money and time. Make sure you do your homework and prepare yourself for the home-buying process. That way, you ensure that the purchase you make is a wise one.

  • How Long is a Mortgage Pre-Approval Good For?

    Posted Under: Home Buying in South Florida, Financing in South Florida  |  April 19, 2014 2:18 PM  |  250 views  |  No comments
    Mortgage Banker with Total Mortgage Services, Conventional Loans, FHA, 203(k), USDA, VA, Jumbo loans NMLS #138061 TMSNMLS 2764 

     This is a pretty simple question, but as it is with most things real estate related, the answer is a little bit complicated.  On many pre-approvals I've seen, lenders note that it's good for 60 days.  Others say 30 days.  Others say 90, and some don't even list an expiration.  So what's a borrower to think?

    Read the entire article from link below!

  • Punta Gorda Florida: Metropolitan Statistical Area for Single Family home sales

    Posted Under: Market Conditions in Punta Gorda, Home Buying in Punta Gorda, Home Selling in Punta Gorda  |  February 15, 2014 9:05 AM  |  354 views  |  No comments
  • Florida Realtors: Average 30-year mortgage rate up to 4.28%

    Posted Under: Home Buying in Florida, Financing in Florida, Home Ownership in Florida  |  February 15, 2014 8:33 AM  |  333 views  |  No comments
    Florida Realtors: Average 30-year mortgage rate up to 4.28%

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