Home, Cooperative, and Condominium Insurance for First-Time Buyers

For many people, buying a home or apartment usually involves borrowing a large amount of money.

What You Need to Protect Your Investment

So, when you borrow a great deal of money from a lender to purchase your home or apartment, you need to make sure you’re protecting one of the single largest purchases you’ll make during your lifetime. A comprehensive Homeowners, Cooperative or Condominium Insurance policy represents the best way to protect your investment from many kinds of property and liability losses.

What Goes Into Rating Your Homes’ Insurance

First, don’t wait until two or three days before your closing to start looking for the perfect homeowner’s policy. Start getting quotes when you go to contract because this usually gives you a window of opportunity of at least 30 to 50 days to get quotes and make an intelligent insurance purchase. Ask every broker or agent you contact for a quotation based on your homes’ full component replacement or construction cost (RCT), not the market value or the mortgage amount. Ask them to provide you with a printed copy of the replacement cost calculations. You want to guarantee you own enough coverage to completely rebuild your home after a covered loss. Our office uses a “Property Insurance Quote Work Sheet,” to develop an accurate replacement cost.

Following is just some of the information you should know and provide to each insurance agent:

  • Your homes’ outside square footage (If you just give the inside dimensions, you won’t have any walls;
  • How many legal apartments (Illegal apartments/tenancies are a huge no-no);
  • Number of floors above the basement or slab;
  • Whether your walls are plaster or drywall. Are they painted, wallpapered, wainscotted, have ceramic tile or other coverings and the percentage of each;
  • Number of bedrooms;
  • Number of  bathrooms;
  • Number of  kitchens;
  • The last partial or complete repairs or upgrades were made to the roof, plumbing, heating, and electrical systems;
  • Is the roof gabled or flat? What type of roofing material is on the roof?;
  • Does the house use gas or oil for heat?
  • Does the electrical system use circuit breakers, or fuses?

Building Ordinance

If your home was constructed before the current building codes became law, include  Ordinance or Law coverage. This is necessary so you can meet those additional rebuilding costs caused by building code changes.

When buying a home, purchase an HO3 policy. Besides replacement cost coverage, this policy also provides coverage for detached garages and tool sheds on your lot, your personal property, additional living expenses so you can rent a temporary apartment in case of catastrophic damage to your home, and liability insurance in case you’re sued. If your property doesn’t qualify for an HO3 policy, you do have an option. The New York Property Insurance Underwriting Association (a.k.a. “The Fair Plan”) offers a fire insurance policy that meets bank insurance requirements.

Determine how much personal property coverage you need by preparing an up-to-date home inventory of everything you own, down to your last sweat sock. With a good home inventory, you stand an excellent chance of being fully compensated after a covered loss. Without one, your full recovery is doubtful.

Unsure about the value of your jewelry, furs, silverware, cameras, and fine arts? Get them appraised. Even the best policies offer only limited amounts of coverage in their basic contracts for these valuable articles. To get proper coverage for valuable items, you’ll need to show a current appraisal before you can add an endorsement to your policy for each item’s value.

Why Flood Insurance

Consider buying flood insurance. A typical home, renters, coop, or condo policy does not cover flood losses. If your home is located in a Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA), the law mandates your bank must require flood insurance for closing and for the life of your mortgage. Even if your home isn’t located in an SFHA, broken water mains, or even severe thunderstorms or hurricanes can create flood losses.

Why Renters Insurance

Not ready to purchase just yet? Purchasing a Renters Insurance policy to protect your possessions is a smart move. Should you suffer a burglary or fire loss without Renters Insurance coverage, you may be forced to replace your lost possessions using the money you saved for your future home.

Other Coverages To Consider

Buy life, disability, and long-term care insurance policies, and establish an emergency repair fund. The worst tragedy your family could suffer is losing your home because a family wage earner who lacked insurance dies or becomes disabled. Also, unexpected home repairs force choosing between either paying the mortgage on time or making necessary repairs. Don’t let your sacrifices and hard work to become a home or apartment owner go to waste. Buy the life, disability, and long-term care insurance coverages necessary to protect your investment, and create an emergency fund so life’s unexpected events won’t destroy your dreams.

You’ll work hard to purchase and keep that home, so put plans in place to protect your investment.

Eustace L. Greaves, Jr., LUTCF, a.k.a. BrooklynCovered.com, is a New York State licensed Insurance Agent and Broker and Continuing Education Monitor. Call him at 718-783-2722, or email him at Eustace@insuremeeg.com to check your life, home, flood, disability, renters, coop, condo, long-term care, and auto insurance needs.

 

Posted in Co-op Insurance, Condominium Insurance, Disability Insurance, Flood Insurance, Homeowners Insurance, homeowners insurance policy exclusions, insurance quotes, Life, Life Insurance, Long Term Care Insurance, Personal Insurance, Renters Insurance | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) Overview 1.5

An overview of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act

The recently enacted Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) represents major changes our nation’s tax code.

Here’s a look at some of the more important elements of the new law which will impact  individuals and families. Unless otherwise noted, the changes are effective for tax years beginning in 2018 through 2025. That’s right. The next seven (7) years.

 

  • Tax Rates.  The new law imposes a new tax rate structure with seven tax brackets: 10%, 12%, 22%, 24%,  32%, 35%, and 37%. The top rate was reduced from 39.6% to 37% and applies to taxable income above $500,000 for single taxpayers, and $600,000 for married couples filing jointly. The rates applicable to net capital gains and qualified dividends were not changed. The ‘kiddie tax’ rules were simplified. The net unearned income of a child subject to the rules will be taxed at the capital gain and ordinary income rates that apply to trusts and estates. Thus, the child’s tax is unaffected by the parent’s tax situation or the unearned income of any siblings. 
  • Standard Deduction.  The new law increases the standard deduction to $24,000 for joint filers, $18,000 for head of household, and $12,000 for single and married taxpayers filing separately. Given these increases, many taxpayers will no longer be itemizing deductions. These figures will be indexed for inflation after 2018.
  • Exemptions.  The new law suspends the deduction for personal exemptions. Thus, starting in 2018, taxpayers can no longer claim personal or dependency exemptions. The rules for withholding income tax on wages will be adjusted to reflect this change, but IRS was given the discretion to leave the withholding unchanged for 2018.
  • New deduction for “qualified business income.”  Starting in 2018, taxpayers are allowed a deduction equal to 20 percent of “qualified business income,” otherwise known as “pass-through” income, i.e., income from partnerships, S corporations, LLCs and sole proprietorships. The income must be from a trade or business within the U.S. Investment income does not qualify, nor do amounts received from an S Corporation as reasonable compensation or from a partnerships a guaranteed payment for services provided to the trade or business. The deduction is not used in computing adjusted gross income, just taxable income. For taxpayers with taxable income above $ 157,500 ($315,000 for joint filers), (1) a limitation based on W-2 wages paid by the business and depreciable tangible property used in the business is phased in, and (2) income from the following trades or businesses is phased out of qualified business income: health, law, consulting, athletics, financial or brokerage services, or where the principal asset is the reputation or skill of one or more employees or owners.
  • Child and family tax credit.  The new law increases the credit for qualifying children (i.e., children under 17) to $2000 from $1000, and increases to $1,400 the refundable portion of the credit. It also introduces a new (nonrefundable) $500 credit for a taxpayer’s dependents who are not qualifying children. The adjusted gross income level at which the credits begin to be phased out has been increased to $200,000 ($400,000 for joint filers).
  • State and local taxes. The itemized deduction for state and local income and property taxes is limited to a total of $10,000 starting in 2018.
  • Mortgage interest. Under the new tax law, mortgage interest on loans used to acquire a principal residence, and a second home is only deductible on debt up to $750,000 (down from $1 million), starting with loans taken out in 2018. And there is no longer any deduction for interest on home equity loans, regardless of when you incurred the debt.
  • Miscellaneous itemized deductions. There is no longer a deduction for miscellaneous itemized deductions which were formerly deductible to the extent they exceeded 2 percent of adjusted gross income. This category included items such as tax preparation costs, investment expenses, union dues, and unreimbursed employee expenses. So, all of your auto expenses, for example, are no longer deductible.
  • Medical expenses. Under the new law, for 2017 and 2018, medical expenses are deductible to the extent they exceed 7.5 percent of adjusted gross income for all taxpayers. Previously, the AGI “floor” was 10% for most taxpayers.
  • Casualty and theft losses. The itemized deduction for casualty and theft losses is suspended except for losses incurred in a federally declared disaster. So, if you are renter, or a coop or condo or dwelling owner who lacks comprehensive coverage for your personal property, now is the time to purchase coverage.
  • Overall limitation. The new law suspends the overall limitation on itemized deductions that formerly applied to taxpayers whose adjusted gross income (AGI), exceeded specified thresholds. The itemized deductions of such taxpayers were reduced by 3% of the amount by which AGI exceeded the applicable threshold, but the reduction could not exceed 80% of the total itemized deductions, and certain items were exempt from the limitation.
  • Moving expenses. The deduction for job-related moving expenses is eliminated, except for certain military personnel. The exclusion for moving expense reimbursements has also been suspended.
  • Alimony. There is some truth in the old song, “It’s Cheaper To Keep Her.” For post-2018 divorce decrees and separation agreements, alimony  is no longer deductible by the paying spouse and is no longer taxable to the receiving spouse.
  • Health care “individual mandate.” Starting in 2019, there is no longer a penalty for individuals who fail to obtain minimum essential health coverage. (This will probably lead to fewer Americans purchasing health insurance, and more states reducing or eliminating Medicaid contributions for health care plans.)
  • Estate and gift tax exemption. Effective for decedents dying , and gifts made, in 2018, the estate and gift tax exemption is now increased to roughly $11.2 million ($22.4 million for married couples).
  • Alternative minimum tax (AMT) exemption. The AMT has been retained for individuals by the new law but the exemption is now increased to $109,400 for joint filers ($54,700 for married taxpayers filing separately), and $70,300 for unmarried taxpayers. The exemption is phased out for taxpayers with alternative minimum taxable income over $1 million for joint filers, and over $500,000 for all others.

As you can see from this overview, the new law affects many areas of taxation. I plan to hold at least one (1) public seminars in Brooklyn, to ‘drill down’ into just how the new law will affect you. There will be a fee charged for attendance at these seminars to offset the cost of the venue, and painkillers.

Eustace L. Greaves, Jr., LUTCF is a frequent presenter in the areas of personal insurance, personal income taxation,  and budget and credit strategies for many organizations, including, Neighborhood Housing Services of NYC, Inc., HCCI, Impacct Brooklyn, and Bridge Street Development Corporation. He is a New York State licensed insurance agent and broker, and  NYS Defensive Driving Delivery Agent and Instructor.

You can reach Eustace at Eustace@insuremeeg.com, or 718-783-2722.

 

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Someone Else’s Opinion

So, I arrive home from another long insurance and income tax preparation day at my office when, lo and behold, there is one car with it’s lights on and another where the owner-driver is getting ready to open his door.

Now the driver in the first car occupied a space large enough for two cars. Unfortunately, as many people tend to do, the driver was running the engine, wasting precious gasoline, and making their own contribution to global warming while checking messages and updating their social media sites (“I’m in the car, class was okay, too many interruptions while I was Pinning. On my way home. Weather is yucky””.

So, I waited for the other spot. Now this car had about 5 inches of clearance on either end of the car. No problem, those are the spots I usually slide into on the first try.

The driver, a Black man with an African accent., kept looking at me and finally walked over to my car and with the most condescending attitude proceeded to tell me how he didn’t think I would be able to get my car into the spot he should have been in the process of vacating.

As he walked back to his car, I prayed God would make the other person in the two-car spot leave quickly, because this fool needed a good talking to.

Well readers, the Lord answered my prayer and Social Media vacated their spot. I zoomed into it, leaving enough room for another vehicle, got out of the classic, and walked over to the human I named Captain Stupid Head.

He opened his window and I got right in his face. “Let me school you Bucko. I don’t know where the you’re from, or what they taught you about the American Black Man before you got here, but don’t you ever again in your life, never again in your life, think you have the right to tell another Black man what he can and cannot do. You don’t know me, you know nothing about me, but I’ll tell you this slick, my ancestors picked cotton in this country without the benefit of paychecks, pensions, vacation days, the ability to love and legally marry, the right to watch their family sold away, and without the right to even learn how to read the slave master’s Bible, and your trifling ass shows up here with a student visa and probably all kinds of funding to get a college education, the benefit of which you will never realize if you keep telling people what you feel their limitations are. You feel me dog?

“Now stop driving like a damn punk, get out of this spot and go home. And give thanks to whatever Creator you worship you ran into me and not some fool with a gun, a foreclosure notice, and a layoff notice. At least with me, you’ll get to go home tonight. Next time, you could come across the wrong one and you won’t be so lucky.

“Oh, and if you get any stupid ideas in that empty head of yours, I wrote down your plate number and I just got the year and make of your car from your window registration. So got straight home, and please pray my car doesn’t ever even catch a cold.

“Leave. Now.”

My apologies to the cars at either end of his – he got out real quick.

Was I wrong, even foolish, to approach his vehicle and spew my mild venom?

Yes.

Absolutely.

While many will agree with my yes, others, knowing what my life has been like the past few months, are happy I didn’t pick up his car with him in it and toss them both into the bushes.

I believe God made this particular meeting possible for three reasons. One, Captain Stupid Head needed to be put in his place, possibly for the sake of a family back home, depending on whatever he can send back.

Two, I released a ton of pent-up despair I didn’t know I had, or refused to acknowledge I had. And oh boy, am I feeling better.

Number three, he knew this one wouldn’t try to shoot or stab me.

Thank you, God.

In other words, a rather propitious meeting.

Sometimes in life, the words of others can destroy us. And yes, I do mean destroy us to the point of wanting to say to hell with this thing called life. Recently, while sitting in the office wondering where I’d gone wrong in life (don’t act so sanctimonious, I’m sure a lot of you wonder the same thing at times. If you can really be honest with yourselves), when I felt compelled to call a client I hadn’t spoken to in ages.

I called the number I had on file without success. Temporarily disconnected, the message said.

Don’t ask me why, but I went a step further and sent her emails to every one of her email addresses. Couldn’t figure out why. Just had this impelling need, for some inexplicable reason to connect with this lady. Wrote some of my funniest, off the cuff material. Don’t know why. Just felt good doing it.

About five minutes later, my phone rang and lo and behold, it was her. The first thing she said to me was, “If it had been anyone else, I’d of gone through with it … ”

“Gone through with what?

“Killed myself. I was so finished with this life, and you had to send me those emails, you had to make me laugh again, when all I wanted to do was cry myself to sleep. Forever.”

“Where you at?”

“My girlfriend’s house. I’m staying here now.”

“What about your apartment?”

“Gave it up.”

“Why? That was a great, huge, and rent-stabilized apartment.”

“Uhhhhh, duh?”

“Oh yeah. Tell you what, give me your girlfriend’s address, I’m on my way.”

We talked, went for the coldest walk I’ve ever endured, shared coffee at a café, shed some tears together.

“Why?” I asked.

“I thought he loved me, he told me he loved me, but he just decided one day he could do better.”

She turned and looked at me. “G, what did you do when your heart was broken?”

“When I stopped crying, I sent my heart out for repair.”

“What? Where do you send a heart for repair?”

“The Universal Twenty-Four Repair Shop. Always an open bay. No need to schedule an appointment, drive-in service is available twenty-four hours a day, no waiting. You see, whichever Creator you believe in knows just when you are coming in for some work. You don’t even need money. Just give thanks for the repair. Heck, they’ll even loan you tools to do your own tune ups after the initial maintenance.”

“And guess what? All of the work comes with a lifetime warranty.”

Tears started falling from her face,her body began to shake and quake, and she began to moan, “Oh God, oh God.” I just put my arm around her shoulder and waited.

After a time, her quaking and crying stopped. “Where do you find this repair shop to start the healing?”

“You already found yours. You called out his name. The work’s begun.”

“G, I don’t know last time I prayed, and I don’t know how to pray, but …”

“Hell, if there is one thing I’ve learned over the past couple of years, it’s that the same people who think they are qualified to tell you how to pray really need to go in for a refresher course on what real prayer truly is.”

“Tell you what, let’s hold hands, and you just talk to The Universal Power. Some say God, some Yahweh, some Jehovah, some Allah, and some Buddah. Just talk, that’s prayer to me. Pray for what you want, not what you have. Work from your imagination, not your history.”

“How do I start, G?”

“Just talk. Tell you what, start by giving thanks and gratitude for life.”

“G, that seems so easy.”

“Yep, no need for soaring theatrics, loud screaming, jumping up and down. It’s not a performance, just a simple talk. Such a beautiful, simple prayer.”

We sat for a time, just talking when she looked at me and asked, “How did you survive feeling like you were inadequate, you weren’t enough?

“One day I looked my daughter’s high school yearbook, and realized I did something right for her to be positioned for the Blessings she enjoyed, enjoys now,  and the many more she will enjoy. Then, suddenly, I found all the photographs of her at college, photographs I’d had trouble finding before.

“Then, I just wound up viewing to a T. D. Jakes sermon. Next thing I knew, I was listening to Dr. Myles Munroe. I pulled out all of my old tapes by Les Brown, Earl Nightingale, Jim Rohn, Brian Tracy, James Weldon, Tony Robbins, Zig Ziglar, and other speakers, and did nothing but listen to them,  and read books necessary for the feeding of my soul, for about a month.

“What’s funny is I finally heard a quote, something Les Brown says every time he speaks. I mean, I’ve heard it at least 50 times, but I finally heard it for the first time.”

“What quote G?”

“Someone else’s opinion of you does not have to become your reality.” I would add though, “Unless their opinion of you speaks to your greatness,your kindness, your love, your glory, and your ability to use the unique gifts and purpose God has given you to positively affect his world.”

“Now, make me a promise.”

“Anything G. Anything.”

“Promise me you’ll obey the three-day rule from this day forward.”

“What’s the three-day rule?”

“When you are under attack, take the problem, put it aside for three days, and then examine it again. Chances are during those three days you’ll come up with a solution, the problem will resolve itself, or you’ll realize what you thought was a problem or a failure wasn’t that at all. It is just the way you reacted to what you thought was a problem, and you now recognize it for the Blessing it really is.”

“You sure must have listened to a lot of tapes, huh?”

“You mean still listen to daily. You’ve got to feed what feeds you. And these meals are delicious.”

“Does the hurt ever go away?”

“I’ll let you know when it does. In the meantime, you do learn who loves you for you, who truly values you for who you are and what you bring to the table. You will smile and laugh at good jokes, and your heart will learn to soar again as you watch a play or movie, or hear a choir sing. And, as Les Brown would say, if you’ve got to fall, then fall on your back, because as long as you can look up, you can get up.

“And remember, the only people who don’t feel pain, don’t know hurt, are dead. Or damn liars.”

“Thanks G. Wait a minute, isn’t this your cell number, a number more difficult to get than President’s Obama’s?”

“Yep. I save it for the really special people, people who may need to reach me, especially when Evil declares war on my buddies. And don’t you ever leave home without it.”

 

Eustace L. Greaves, Jr., LUTCF, is a New York State licensed Insurance Agent and Broker, Income Tax Preparer, New York State licensed Continuing Education Monitor, and a Defensive Driving Delivery Agent and Instructor for Empire Safety Council.  You can reach him at 718-783-2722 or Eustace@insuremeeg.com to buy  flood, life, home, disability, condo, coop, renters, wedding, and long-term care insurance coverages you need to solidify your financial pyramid.

And, if you are his friend, he is available for the talk you never thought  you’d need.

 

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