May is New Home Buyer’s Month. I remember getting ready to buy my first Florida home. It was an exciting time and an apprehensive time. Excited to own a home and wondering what other costs were going to be. In addition to the mortgage, there are taxes, furniture, changing out carpeting and painting to match my wife’s chosen color scheme, pest control, lawn care, electric bills, alarm monitoring, and INSURANCE! Yikes!
You can shop out the mortgage to get lower interest rates and fees. Taxes are the taxes after filing your homestead exemption. You can shop around the other services and search out good deals. However, you can also lower your insurance costs BEFORE you decide on which home to buy!
If your prospective home is built entirely of concrete and concrete blocks, your insurance will cost less than if it is built with a combination of concrete and wood (joist and masonry), or just wood. Joist and masonry will be less than complete wood.
If your prospective home has a hip shape roof, your insurance will cost less than if the roof shape is gable or if it is a flat roof. A gable roof will cost less than a flat roof.
If your prospective home comes with Hurricane protection, such as shutters or impact glass on all the openings and a hurricane rated garage door, your insurance will cost less. You can always purchase shutters or install impact glass and a hurricane rated garage door after you purchase the home to lower your insurance costs.
If your prospective home has PEX or Polybutylene plumbing, your insurance will cost more than if it has copper plumbing. If your prospective home has a Federal Pacific Electrical Panel Box or aluminum electrical wiring, your insurance will cost more.
Flood insurance costs less if you are in Zones B, C or X. Your mortgage lender doesn’t require flood insurance if you are in one of these zones, but you should still buy it because all of Florida has the potential to flood when we get heavy rains. Flood Zones AE, AH or AO will require flood insurance if you are financing your purchase.
Bonus Tip: Once you decide on a home to buy, ask the current owners if they have a recent 4-Point Inspection and a recent Wind Mitigation Report. If they are recent, you may be able to use these required documents to buy your insurance policies and save up to $300 in costs. Plus they are full of valuable information such as roof condition and life left, HVAC age and condition, roof shape, electrical box type and plumbing information that will help you estimate future maintenance costs.
I wish that this kind of information was available when we purchased our first Florida home back in 1993, right after the infamous Hurricane Andrew struck and changed the face of the Florida insurance market! If you are in the market for a new home, please feel free to contact us to see if you qualify for insurance discounts!