Lemonade Home Insurance Review

Key takeaways:

  • Unlike other insurance companies that exist to make profit, Lemonade charges a flat fee for coverage and overhead, and they donate leftover premiums to charity through their Lemonade Giveback program.
  • Consumers can purchase Lemonade home insurance coverage online or through the company’s app. Once a plan has been purchased, they have to download the Lemonade app to manage their policies. 
  • In addition to homeowners insurance, Lemonade also offers renter’s insurance coverage, life insurance and pet insurance.
  • Lemonade insurance policies are reinsured by an array of top providers including Swiss Re, Munich Re, and Hannover Re.
  • Lemonade is only available in 37 states plus Washington D.C. 

Lemonade may not be one of the biggest names in the insurance industry, but they do promise coverage that is simple, fast, and transparent. The technology-based provider also boasts 4.9 out of 5 stars in the App Store, which shows that real-life Lemonade customers are actually pretty happy with their plans.

When it comes to Lemonade home insurance, you should note that the company promises a no-hassle shopping experience and great prices that are often lower than the competition. Prices for their coverage start at just $25 per month, and your mortgage company will accept your plan just like they would with traditional homeowners insurance.

When it comes to Lemonade home insurance, you should note that the company promises a no-hassle shopping experience and great prices that are often lower than the competition. Prices for their coverage start at just $25 per month, and your mortgage company will accept your plan just like they would with traditional homeowners insurance.

If you’re in the market for homeowners insurance and taking a closer look at Lemonade home insurance reviews, you’re in the right place. Read on to learn how Lemonade homeowners insurance works, what their plans include and how to find the right plan for your needs and budget.

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About the Company

Lemonade Insurance was only founded in 2015, yet the company has grown by leaps and bounds since then, both in their customer base and in their reputation. In fact, Lemonade even earned the top ranking in J.D. Power’s 2020 U.S. Home Insurance Study for their renter’s insurance coverage, beating out major players like Erie Insurance, Allstate, and Nationwide.

While most major insurance companies have an app these days, Lemonade relies more on its technology than other companies in this space. You can buy a Lemonade home insurance policy on the company website or through their app, but you have to have the app if you want a way to manage your policy.

With that being said, Lemonade manages homeowners insurance policies the same way as other companies, meaning they will let you pay your insurance premiums in your mortgage payment and collect them through escrow. This makes the company just as convenient to use for home insurance as other providers, yet you may qualify for lower prices due to the way this company is set up.

As we mentioned already, Lemonade really does have positive user reviews, including 4.9 out of 5 stars in the App StoreLemonade home insurance reviews on Trustpilot are also exemplary with an average star rating of 4.1 out of 5 stars.

In addition to homeowners insurance, Lemonade also offers renter’s insurance coverage, life insurance and pet insurance. Their home insurance in particular is set up to protect you financially if:

  • Your home is damaged
  • Your home becomes unlivable for a covered reason
  • You are a victim of theft in your home
  • Someone sues you for liability
  • A visitor in your home gets injured

You can also add on additional coverage for items you own, such as fine art, expensive jewelry, bikes, cameras, musical instruments, and more. Other Lemonade add-ons available for homeowners insurance coverage include:

  • Swimming pool liability coverage
  • Water back-up insurance
  • Coverage for a spouse or significant other
  • Extended reconstruction cost coverage

Meanwhile, Lemonade does list some items that are explicitly excluded from their home insurance coverage. These include “your power, water, or heat going out in the dead of winter, or a bed bug infestation,” they write. They also do not cover personal property that is mistakenly lost or broken.

Beyond the fact Lemonade prices their policies based on what your claims might actually cost without excessive need for profit, Lemonade home insurance also comes with some standard discounts. For example, you can qualify for a multi-policy discount if you also have a pet insurance policy, or you could save money by paying your premiums upfront instead of on a monthly basis.

How Lemonade Calculates Your Home Insurance Premiums

Like other home insurance providers, Lemonade determines your premiums by looking at the value, condition, and construction quality of your home. They also take a closer look at your insurance history and any previous claims you’ve had.

Factors that can impact the cost of your homeowners insurance policy with Lemonade include:

  • Choosing higher (or lower) coverage limits
  • Your deductible amount
  • How well your home has been maintained
  • Your insurance history
  • Protective devices you have such as a burglar alarm, deadbolts, smoke detectors, and more
  • How many other policies you have with Lemonade
  • Whether you pay your insurance premiums monthly or annually
  • Your credit score, whether it’s good or bad

Unique Features

There are quite a few factors that help Lemonade home insurance stand out, including the following:

  • Easy Quotes: Lemonade makes shopping for home insurance coverage a breeze thanks to their easy online quote process. All you have to do is enter basic personal information and details of the home you want to insure, and you’ll get a free and fast quote for coverage.
  • Mobile Chat: You can speak with a Lemonade team member over the phone if you need help with your policy, but you can also access customer service via the mobile chat function through the app.
  • Lemonade Giveback: The Lemonade Giveback program lets the company give extra profits to various charities, although funds are donated on a discretionary basis and never guaranteed.

Who Lemonade Is Best For

Lemonade home insurance and renter’s insurance could make sense for almost anyone, but a policy from this company could be especially beneficial for:

  • Consumers who are quoted lower premiums for homeowners insurance or renters insurance through Lemonade 
  • Anyone who is able to bundle multiple policies with the insurance carrier
  • People who are comfortable shopping for insurance online and without the benefit of a dedicated agent

At the end of the day, consumers shopping for homeowners insurance need to make sure they have enough coverage to protect their financial interests, as well as coverage for any extra situations that might apply. This is true whether you go with Lemonade or another home insurance carrier. With that in mind, it always makes sense to compare at least a few other homeowners insurance providers in order to see how coverage and pricing stacks up.

Lemonade vs. Other Home Insurance Competitors

Are you currently comparing home insurance quotes? If so, there are several competing firms that offer similar coverage to Lemonade. The chart below shows how Lemonade insurance coverage might compare to other popular providers:

Lemonade Home Insurance Hippo Home Insurance GEICO Home Insurance
Financial ratings Financial Stability Rating® of A-Exceptional from Demotech Inc. Partners with companies that are rated A- or better for financial strength from A.M. Best Rated A++ for financial strength from A.M. Best
Discounts offered Multiple policy discountsSafety feature discountsFull payment discounts Multiple policy discountsSafety feature discountsFull payment discountsNew home discounts Multiple policy discountsSafety feature discountsFull payment discountsNew home discountsMembership and employee discountsMilitary and federal employee discountsGood student discounts
Customer star rating (Trustpilot) 4.1 out of 5 stars 2.9 out of 5 stars 1.7 out of 5 stars

What To Know About Home Insurance

When it comes to homeowners insurance, there are quite a few important details to keep in mind. The first of which is knowing about the types of home coverage you can buy and why each component of your policy is so important.

The Insurance Information Institute (III) provides a wealth of information about various types of insurance, including homeowners insurance. They also list the following types of home insurance coverage as the most important:

  • Coverage for the structure of your home
  • Coverage for your belongings
  • Liability protection
  • Coverage for additional living expenses

Also note that you can buy more or less coverage depending on your needs, and that some of the specifics in your policy will determine your reimbursement if you have to make a claim. For example:

  • Actual Cash Value: A policy that pays Actual Cash Value will replace your home and possessions after making a deduction for depreciation.
  • Replacement Cost: Replacement Cost policies pay for the cost of rebuilding or repairing your home and replacing lost, damaged, or stolen items without a deduction for depreciation.
  • Guaranteed or Extended Replacement: Policies with Guaranteed or Extended Replacement cost coverage offer the most protection. These policies guarantee full replacement or repair regardless of whether the cost exceeds your policy limits.

Before you invest in homeowners insurance, you should take the time to shop around with at least four or five different providers. From there, compare the monthly or annual premiums you’re being asked to pay, as well as the coverage types and limits you’re being offered. Also check whether your policy provides Actual Cash Value or Replacement Cost coverage.

In addition to comparing the specifics of your premium, you should also compare the deductible you’re being asked to pay — or the amount you have to pay in cash for your policy to being taking responsibility for a claim. Some homeowners policies may initially offer you a deductible as low as $500, but you can tweak your deductible higher in order to secure lower home insurance premiums.

The Bottom Line

Lemonade definitely has positive user reviews, and they say they can save most people up to 25% off their homeowners insurance premiums. However, you should really shop around with a few different home insurance providers before you take their word for it. You may find you’ll have to pay more for coverage with Lemonade than you might with a competitor, but you won’t know unless you check.

In the meantime, you should also consider whether you’re comfortable with shopping for homeowners or renter’s insurance online, or whether you prefer to work with an agent who can get to know you and your family. By and large, that’s the biggest downside of Lemonade. While they do offer customer service online, over the phone and through their mobile app, this insurance provider does not use the agent model like some of the bigger insurance companies do.

Lemonade Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Is Lemonade homeowners insurance legit?

Lemonade insurance is a reputable company that is known for their high quality home insurance, renter’s insurance, and pet insurance coverage.

What is different about Lemonade homeowners insurance?

Lemonade works diligently to price your premiums as close to actual claims as they possibly can. They take a flat fee to pay for company salaries and overhead, and they donate any excess funds to charity through the Lemonade Giveback program.

Which states does Lemonade insurance operate in?

Lemonade is currently available in Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin.

Lemonade does plan to extend their coverage in other states in the future, so make sure to check back if you currently live outside of one of their coverage areas.

How can I save money on homeowners insurance?

You’ll save money on homeowners insurance if you spend some time getting quotes from at least a handful of insurers. Other ways to save include checking for discounts you may be eligible for, and agreeing to a higher deductible on your policy. 

You’ll also pay less for homeowners insurance if you lower your coverage limits, although this could also put you at risk for insufficient coverage if you face a major disaster and need to file a claim.

What is Hippo home insurance?

Hippo is another technology-based insurance provider that also promises big savings. Make sure to read our Hippo home insurance review to see how this company stacks up.

The post Lemonade Home Insurance Review appeared first on Good Financial Cents®.

Source: goodfinancialcents.com

What to Know Before Buying a Foreclosed Home

If you’ve been keeping your eye on real estate home listings, you might’ve seen more foreclosed properties for sale at a reduced price. 

With record levels of unemployment and underemployment, many homeowners are falling further behind on their mortgages. Currently, there’s a federal moratorium on the most common mortgage programs through December 31, 2020. Unless further homeowner protections are in place, the foreclosure market will see an unfortunate rise.

In fact, according to mortgage and real estate analytics company Black Knight, 2.3 million homeowners are already seriously past-due on their mortgages. 

As devastating as it is to have more homes undergoing foreclosure, it also means that prospective home buyers, who were otherwise priced out of buying a home, might have greater access to homeownership. Here’s what you should know if you’re thinking about buying a foreclosed home.

Buying a Foreclosed Home 

There are many ways you can buy a foreclosed home, depending on what stage of the process the foreclosure is in:

  • Pre-foreclosure. Many homeowners are willing to sell before they’ve officially been foreclosed on. Depending on how much equity they have, they might need to do a short sale. 
  • Short sale. Homeowners can seek approval from their lenders to sell you the home for less than they owe on the mortgage. The bank will get less than it’s owed, but it still often approves short sales since they usually cost less than a foreclosure. 
  • Auction. Once a home is foreclosed it’ll often be auctioned off by the bank. But you’ll need cash on hand for this, and that’s not an option for most folks who need mortgage financing. 
  • Real-estate owned (REO) properties. Alternatively, banks can simply sell the foreclosed home through more traditional markets, just like a normal home.

It’s usually easiest to buy the foreclosed home once the bank takes over and it becomes an REO property. That’s because you can take your time and go through the mortgage underwriting process. You can also work with a realtor, and — importantly — write contingency clauses in the contract that let you pull out of the deal if a home inspection reveals more repairs than you expected. 

7 Caveats to Buying a Foreclosed Home

Buying a foreclosed home isn’t exactly the same as buying one directly from the homeowner. You’re potentially buying a home from a bank who took over after the previous homeowners were unable to afford the home anymore. This introduces a few twists into the home-buying process for you. 

1. You’ll Need a Realtor Who Specializes in Foreclosed Homes

The world is full of realtors, even including your Uncle Bob and Cousin Carolyn. But not everyone is equipped to handle the nuances of buying a foreclosed home. There are a lot of issues that can crop up — unplanned property damage, squatters, homeowners who settle the bill and try to reclaim ownership, etc.

If you’re serious about buying a foreclosed home, seek out a realtor with extra experience in this area. There are even special designations that some realtors can get, such as Short Sales and Foreclosure Resource (SFR) or Certified Distressed Property Expert (CDPE).

2. Houses Are Sold “As-Is”

With a typical home sale, you have the change to get the property professionally inspected before signing on the dotted line. It’s not uncommon for new issues to arise, and in a normal home buying transaction, you can often negotiate with the sellers to either fix the damage or discount the price. 

That’s not the case when you buy a foreclosed home. If a home inspection reveals unexpected damage — like the need for a full roof or a septic system replacement — banks often aren’t willing to negotiate. It’s a take-it-or-leave-it sale. 

3. Expect to Put In Some Work

The above point is especially important considering that most foreclosed homes do, in fact, need a lot of fixing up. 

Think about it: the previous homeowners lost the house because they couldn’t afford the mortgage. There’s a good chance they also weren’t able to keep up with routine maintenance either. From their perspective, even if they did have the cash, what’s the point of spending money on repairs, if they know they’ll lose the home in a few months?

You can save money by putting in some sweat equity (HGTV, anyone?), but even then you’ll need the cash to pay for materials. This also means that the home might not be move-in ready. If you do move in, you might need to put up with construction debris for a little while. On the bright side, though, this does give you a chance to upgrade the home to your own aesthetics. 

4. You Might Need Creative Financing

This brings up another issue: how do you pay for those renovations? Generally, you can’t just ask for a bigger mortgage to cover the necessary repairs. Most lenders will only lend you as much as the current home appraisal is worth, minus your down payment. 

You have a few options, though. You can hold some money back from your savings to pay for it in cash, but this means you’ll have a smaller down payment. An alternative is getting a loan from a different lender, like a personal loan, a 0% APR credit card, or even a home equity loan or line of credit if you’re lucky enough to start from a position with equity. 

Finally, there are some special “renovation mortgages” available through Fannie Mae and other lenders. These mortgages actually do allow you to take out a bigger mortgage so you can pay for renovations. You might need to provide a higher down payment or have a higher credit score to qualify, however. 

5. Watch for Liens on Foreclosed Homes at Auctions

If you have a big pot of cash and can pay for a home on the same day, an auction might be your best bet. But then you have to worry about a new factor: liens. 

If the property had any liens attached to it (such as from the previous homeowners not paying their taxes, or a judgement from unpaid debt), you’ll inherit that bill, too. 

This is usually only the case for auctioned homes. If you buy a foreclosed home as an REO sale, the bank generally pays off any liens attached to the property. Still, it may be worth double-checking if you have interest in a specific property. 

6. Be Prepared to Act Fast

You’re not the only one with the bright idea to get a low-priced, foreclosed home. Chances are good that there are a few other buyers interested in the property, which increases competition. Even though the home is listed at a big discount, this competition can still drive prices up. You might need to be ready to act fast, just the same as in any hot real estate market. 

7. Be Prepared to Wait

On the flip side, there’s a lot of extra bureaucracy involved in buying a foreclosed home once the seller accepts your offer. There’s often extra paperwork to fill out or other complications. 

For example, the home appraisal might come back lower than expected, which might make it harder to get enough financing for the agreed-on purchase price. If it’s a short sale, it might also take longer for the bank to approve the lower sale price for the home, based on what the homeowner’s mortgage is currently worth. 

Pros and Cons of Foreclosed Homes 

Buying a foreclosed home isn’t necessarily a good or bad idea on its own. It all depends on your own goals — for example, are you willing to figure out financing for repairs to get a deal on the home purchase price? Also consider how important it is for you to have a “move-in ready” home with no hassle. 

Weigh these pros and cons carefully, and what’s most important to you when buying a home. 

Pros Cons
Can get a deal that’s lower than market price Property is sold “as-is” and might not be move-in ready
Can customize the home to your specifications with repairs and upgrades Likely needs a lot of repairs and upgrades 
Requires creative financing for repairs and upgrades
Foreclosure process is long and might fall through 

The Bottom Line

Buying a foreclosed home can be a win-win situation. You get a home at a good price, and (usually) you can bring the property back to good, working order by fixing it up. As long as you go into the deal knowing that it’s not the same experience as a typical home purchase, buying a foreclosed home is a great way to launch into homeownership or real estate investing.   

The post What to Know Before Buying a Foreclosed Home appeared first on Good Financial Cents®.

Source: goodfinancialcents.com

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One of the biggest decisions in making a move is choosing the right moving company. Since most people move only occasionally, the selection process can be a challenging one. But to help you in that effort, we’re providing this list of the five best moving companies, as well as specific information you need to be an informed consumer in the selection process.

The most important factor in choosing the right moving company is to find the one that provides the highest level of service for the best price. Choosing the company that only offers the lowest price can lead to an unnecessarily complicated and stressful move.

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Congratulations on your new home! Now, let a Moving Company do the heavy lifting.
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The Most Important Factors for the Best Moving Companies

The most important factors in choosing the right moving company – which are the same ones we’ve incorporated into this guide – are as follows:

  • Coverage area – does the company provide moving services to the specific region of the country you are moving to?
  • International moves – this is a special type of moving service, not offered by most moving companies.
  • Provide packing supplies – one of the biggest ways to save money on a move is to do your own packing. Does the moving company provide supplies to help you do this?
  • Offer packing and unpacking services – you’ll need to work this into the search if that’s your plan. But even if you intend to do your own packing, it’s still best to choose a company that offers the option – just in case.
  • Special items transport – this can include artwork, or large or expensive pieces of furniture. If you have any, you’ll need a moving company that will transport them.
  • Vehicle transport – if it’s a long-distance move, you may prefer to have the movers transport your vehicles, then fly to your destination.
  • Insurance options – the movers themselves should be properly licensed and insured. But they should also provide an option for you to buy insurance to cover your contents during the move.

The 5 Best Moving Companies of 2021

We’re going to go into a deeper review of each of the five best moving companies of 2021, but the table below provides a summary of the major features offered by each. You can scan the table, then decide which movers you want to focus on in the reviews.

Trinity Moving and Storage Review

Trinity Moving and Storage LLC are moving and storage brokers that enable you to get a quote 24 hours a day, seven days per week. They provide residential services, including packing and storage, and are available for long-distance moves nationwide. The company also offers corporate moving and relocation. They provide these services through a network of local providers and storage facilities.

The company made our list because they provide moving and storage services nationwide, provide packing supplies, as well as packing and unpacking services, and also offer insurance options to protect your belongings during the move. The company can also accommodate special items, and even move your vehicles.

Pros and Cons

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Pros
    • Operates nationwide
    • Packing and unpacking services provided
    • Insurance coverage options
    • Storage facilities nationwide
    • Quotes available 24/7
Cons
    • Does not accommodate international moves
    • Does not accommodate international moves Makes use of independent providers, which means your results will depend upon the specific provider used

Allegiance Review

Allegiance Moving and Storage LLC is also a moving broker taking advantage of a large database of recommended moving companies. They represent companies that can provide moving services locally or nationwide. Services are available for both residential and commercial moves.

 

As a moving broker, Allegiance represents your interest in the moving experience. They negotiate competitive prices on your behalf, which they’re uniquely positioned to do as a high-volume provider of customers. Discounts are provided when you reserve a move through the company. They handle all the research and prescreening of moving companies to make sure you have a stress-free move.

Pros and Cons

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Pros
    • Nationwide network of movers
    • Provides discounts for booking your move through the company
    • The company website is a virtual library of information on moving
Cons
    • Makes use of independent providers, which means your results will depend upon the specific provider used
    • Not available for international moves

New Leaf Review

Family-owned New Leaf Moving Group is located in Florida, and accommodates both local and out-of-state moves. Services are available for both residential and commercial moves. The company also offers storage services, though their facility is located only in Florida.

 

Moves are available seven days per week, 9:00 AM to 8:00 PM, including weekends. Provides for transport of special items, including pianos, which not all movers will accommodate. The company also has one of the most flexible cancellation policies in the industry. Your deposit can be refunded up to five business days prior to the first available pickup date you reserve (though a 5% cancellation fee will be deducted from the refund of the deposit).

Pros and Cons

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Pros
    • Designed primarily for customers in the state of Florida, where the company has multiple offices
    • Will move special items, including pianos
    • One of the most generous cancellation policies in the industry
Cons
    • Storage and packing services are available only in Florida
    • Does not accommodate international moves

Nationwide Moving Services Review

Nationwide Moving Services Inc. is a full-service moving broker. That means the company works with a network of moving and storage providers. All providers are fully licensed and insured to operate throughout the US. The company provides local and long-distance moving, for both commercial and residential moves.

The company is especially strong on moving special items. That includes not only vehicle transport, but also moving pianos, pool tables and fine art, as well as providing military, senior and student moving.

Pros and Cons

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Pros
    • Excels at moving special items, including pianos and fine art
    • Specializes in providing military, senior and student moves
    • Company website emphasizes particular expertise in packing services
Cons
    • As a broker, you’ll ultimately be dealing with the contracted mover, not with t
    • Does not provide international moves

Monster Moving Review

Monster Moving, Inc. is another family owned and operated moving company, and it’s been in business for 25 years. They provide moving for both local and long distance, as well as packing and storage. The company handles both residential and commercial moves.

One of the advantages of using Monster Moving is that there are no fuel charges on local moves. They also provide complementary wardrobe boxes for your move, which are super important supplies that only experienced movers know about. In addition, they have no minimum weight requirements for long-distance moves. So, if you’re going long-distance, and packing light, Monster Movers may be the right choice!

Pros and Cons

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Pros
    • Family-owned business, operating for 25 years
    • No fuel charges on local moves
    • Complementary wardrobe boxes provided for your move
    • No minimum weight requirements for long-distance moves
Cons
    • Does not offer international moving services
    • Doesn’t indicate a vehicle transport is offered

How We Found the Best Moving Companies of 2021

To determine what we believe to be the best moving companies of 2021, we used certain criteria that’s both common and necessary within the moving industry.

Those criteria include:

Coverage Area

There are thousands of moving companies across the country, but many only cover a local area. Their area of operation may be limited to a single state, neighboring states only, or even a limited area within a very large state.

That type of company is an excellent fit if you’re doing a local move. But if you’re moving hundreds of miles, or even clean across the country, you’ll need a moving company that can get the job done, even if you need to move coast-to-coast.

Each of the companies included on our list provide nationwide moving services. This is done either by the company itself, or by an extensive network of providers that operate across the country.

Unfortunately, none of the providers offer international moves. That seems to be a specialization requiring the services of a company dedicated to foreign moves.

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Provide Packing Supplies

If you’ve ever moved before, you know how important packing supplies are. This will include boxes, pads, plastic wrap, Styrofoam packing peanuts, paper wrapping for breakable items, as well plenty of packing tape.

All five of the companies on our list provide these supplies. They are as important to the packing process – if you plan to do that yourself – as the movers themselves are.

Offer Packing and Unpacking Services

Packing and unpacking services can significantly increase the cost of a professional move. But if you lack the time and patience, and have the budget to pay for it, packing and unpacking services are a major relief. Most of the time spent preparing for a move, as well as the aftermath, is in packing and unpacking. The option to hand that job off to the moving company is a major benefit.

All five of the providers on our list offer both packing and unpacking services. This is an important option to have, even if you don’t plan to take advantage of it upfront. Circumstances may intervene and prevent you from handling the packing job yourself, either before the move, or upon arriving in the new location.

Special Items Transport

Plenty of moving companies will move basic items, like furniture, appliances, rugs, lamps, and boxed items. But some draw the line at moving items that may require special handling. This can include high-value items, or anything that may be especially delicate.

True story, I once hired a moving company that didn’t move houseplants. The reason they didn’t is because they didn’t want to be responsible if a plant died during the move.

All the moving companies we selected will move special items, but the list of those items will vary from one company to another. Nationwide Moving Services is particularly strong in this area, because they will move items like pianos and fine art.

Vehicle Transport

Though it’s common for people to hire a moving company to move their personal possessions, then drive to the new location themselves, there are times when that is impractical. This is true during multistate moves, or you may simply prefer to have the moving company transport your vehicles, freeing you to fly to the new location.

Three of the five companies we’ve included on this list specifically provide vehicle transport. It’s likely the other two do as well, but just don’t say it explicitly.

Insurance Options

There are two parts to this category. The first involves insurance maintained by the movers themselves, and the second is coverage for the content you will be moving.

Three of the five companies on our list explicitly state insurance coverage. But it’s very likely the other two do as well, and simply don’t include it on the websites.

What You Need to Know About the Best Moving Companies

Choosing the best moving company is a difficult process because most people don’t move very frequently. There may be a tendency to emphasize price as the primary determining factor but be careful! Price is always a consideration, but what’s more important is to weigh the services provided for the price charged.

The cheapest provider may be the least reliable, and fail to offer services, you may fully expect. For example, you may find the lowest-cost mover won’t transport certain special items, or your vehicles if yours will be a long-distance move.

You may also find the cheapest mover offers little or nothing in the way of packing supplies. And if you have any idea you might be in need of professional packing services, you should work with a company that at least provides the option.

Finally, be sure to check out the reputation of any company you are considering. You can do this by checking with the Better Business Bureau, the local Chamber of Commerce, or on websites like Yelp. If possible, the best indication of reputation will be a referral from another person. Though it isn’t a guarantee you’ll have a similar experience, another person who’s worked with a moving company can give you the details of the company’s strengths and weaknesses.

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FAQ
Who is the best moving and storage company?
chevron-down
chevron-up
There’s no one best moving company in all geographic regions, for all individuals, and for every moving situation. You’ll need to start by evaluating exactly what it is you need in a moving company then find which company best matches that need. Price is always a factor of course, but only if the company is able to provide all the services you need.
How do I find the best moving company?
chevron-down
chevron-up
Start by investigating the five best moving companies included in this guide. But you’ll have to investigate at the local level. Sometimes a company that has good ratings nationally doesn’t have the best reputation locally. Getting referrals from others who have recently used a moving company is one of the best strategies. But be sure to consider three or four companies to make sure you’re getting the best for you.
Who is the most affordable moving company?
chevron-down
chevron-up
There’s no one company that will be the most affordable for all consumers in all situations. You’ll need to get competitive quotes from several different companies. But that’s just a starting point. In addition to looking at prices offered, carefully examine what services each provides. You may find the company with the lowest price is excluding certain very important services for your move.
What is the best moving company for short distance?
chevron-down
chevron-up
personnel and resources in your area. They can often be lower in price, since they don’t have the costs associated with maintaining national marketing and moving networks. Once again, get referrals from others you know who have recently used local moving services. Get quotes from several and do a side-by-side comparison to see which provides the best combination of price and service.

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What Do Biden’s Mortgage Protection Extensions Mean for You?

If you’re having a tough time paying your mortgage, the Biden administration is extending certain programs to help you. Previously, these protections — including a temporary stay on foreclosures, and options for forbearance — were set to expire at the end of March 2021. 

But seeing as we’re still not done with the coronavirus crisis yet. Although millions of people have been vaccinated and millions more doses are administered every day, some homeowners are still struggling with their mortgage. 

Depending on the type of mortgage you have and your timing, you might be eligible for help until June 30, 2022. To get that help, you’ll need to know how the programs work. 

Who’s Eligible for Mortgage Assistance? 

Only certain types of mortgages are covered by these programs. To qualify, you’ll need either a federally-backed or a federally-sponsored mortgage, which include these types of mortgage loans:

  • VA 
  • USDA
  • HUD/FHA
  • Fannie Mae
  • Freddie Mac

If your mortgage is held by a private lender, you’re unfortunately not eligible for assistance through these programs. This is similar to the situation with student loans; only federal student loans qualify for automatic deferment, whereas it’s up to individual private lenders to offer private student loan assistance at their discretion. 

If you have another type of mortgage, it’s worth reaching out to your lender to see what assistance they can offer you if you need help.

How Does the Mortgage Forbearance and Foreclosure Moratorium Extension Work?

The protections put in place by the previous administration were set to expire in March. The Biden administration renewed these programs, and they currently consist of two big types of support:

Foreclosure Moratorium

Normally, if you don’t pay your mortgage and you don’t negotiate a temporary forbearance with your mortgage lender, you’ll have your home foreclosed.

A moratorium on foreclosures for federally-backed mortgages is in effect right now, extended until June 30, 2021, eliminating the risk of foreclosure during this time. 

Foreclosure is a bit of a long process and can take several months. If you’re going through foreclosure now, the proceedings will be stopped until the moratorium deadline. If you’re not yet in foreclosure, but you’re not paying on your home loan and aren’t in forbearance, you won’t have foreclosure proceedings started against you until June 30. 

COVID Forbearance 

If you’re going through just a temporary hardship and your work will pick up again (or if you’re able to get another job), forbearance is a handy option. This gives you a temporary break in payments, hopefully until you can get back on your feet. 

With this COVID forbearance, things work a little differently and it’s important to understand the timelines. There are two types of forbearance you may qualify for:

Initial COVID Forbearance

This offers you a 180-day (i.e., six-month) break from payments. 

For HUD, FHA, VA, or USDA loans, you need to request initial forbearance on or before June 30, 2021, otherwise you won’t be eligible for any other COVID forbearance extensions if you need them later. 

For Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac loans have no deadline to request an initial COVID forbearance. But if you plan on applying for a forbearance extension later, you’ll need to have requested your initial forbearance by at least February 28, 2021. If you wait until June 30, 2021 like with HUD, VA, USDA, and FHA loans, you might be eligible for an initial COVID forbearance period but not an extension.  

Forbearance Extension

If you’re still in rough times after the initial forbearance period ends, you can request up to two three-month forbearance extensions, one at a time. This gives you a total of up to six additional months of forbearance. 

If you were already in forbearance, you’re eligible for a maximum of 18 months of forbearance total. You might bump into this deadline if your mortgage was already in forbearance from earlier in the pandemic.  

How to Request COVID Forbearance

It’s also important to know that forbearance is not automatic. If you’re having a tough time, you need to reach out to your lender to arrange forbearance. Otherwise, if you just stop paying your mortgage, you’ll be recorded as defaulting on your loan. 

And while this won’t cause you to be foreclosed on due to the foreclosure moratorium (until June 30, 2021, at least), it still severely damages your credit score. 

To request forbearance, reach out to your lender and request a “COVID hardship forbearance.” You don’t need to provide any documentation or any proof of hardship. There are also no fees or additional charges, although interest will accrue on your loan to be paid off later. 

Remember, you might qualify for up to a full year of forbearance (six months of initial COVID forbearance, plus a three-month extension in two separate periods). You have until June 30, 2021 to request the initial COVID forbearance for whatever type of covered federal mortgage you have. 

To ask for a forbearance extension, you’ll need to have first applied for that initial forbearance by February 28, 2021 (for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac loans), or June 30, 2021 (for VA, FHA, USDA, or HUD loans). 

What Happens When Forbearance Ends?

Forbearance is a great way to keep your house and preserve your credit score if you run into a temporary financial hardship with COVID. But it’s not a free pass on payments. You’ll still need to pay back skipped payment from the forbearance window. How that looks when you restart payments can take several forms:

  • Lump sum. This is NOT required for any of the federally-backed or federally-guaranteed loans covered by this program. But if you have the financial ability, you can always repay those missed payments in one lump sum if you choose.
  • Deferral. You may be able to simply tack on those extra payments to the end of your loan. So, if you took a six-month break, for example, you’d simply pay your mortgage for six additional months before it’s paid off. 
  • Repayment plan. If you can afford slightly higher payments when you come back, you may be put on a repayment plan. This allows you to pay slightly more each month so you still pay off your loan by the originally-planned date. 
  • Modification. If you took a permanent pay cut when you get back to paying off your loan, your lender may be able to modify your loan so that your payments are lower moving forward. 

It’s up to your lender which of these options you may be offered. But rest assured, you won’t be required to pay back all of those missed payments in one lump sum.

FAQ

Here’s a quick rundown of the common questions people have:

Biden extended two relief protections for federally-backed or federally-guaranteed mortgages: a moratorium on foreclosures until June 30, 2021, and COVID forbearance options.

The new extensions only cover federally-backed or federally-guaranteed mortgages. This includes mortgages held by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, as well as USDA, VA, FHA, and HUD loans.

For HUD, FHA, VA, and USDA loans, you have until June 30, 2021 to apply for your first COVID forbearance period, which will last six months. There is no deadline to apply for COVID forbearance for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac loans. To be eligible for the extensions, you’ll need to have requested the first forbearance by February 28, 2021.

For HUD, VA, FHA, or USDA loans, you can apply for up to two three-month extensions as long as you’ve requested your first COVID forbearance by June 30, 2021.

For Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac loans, you can also apply for up to two, three-month extensions. You’ll need to have requested your first COVID forbearance by February 28, 2021.

For covered mortgages, you can apply for up to a year’s worth of forbearance. If your loans are already in forbearance, you can only request up to 18 months maximum of forbearance.

No; you need to request it from your lender. Unlike the program for federal student loans, payments on your mortgage are not automatically paused.

The post What Do Biden’s Mortgage Protection Extensions Mean for You? appeared first on Good Financial Cents®.


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Why Refinance Rates Are Higher Than Purchase Loan Rates

Mortgage interest rates dropped dramatically over the summer, to the point where home loans have never been cheaper in most of our adult lifetimes. With rates at historic lows, you might’ve considered taking advantage of them, either by purchasing a new home or refinancing your current mortgage.

Recent figures from Freddie Mac show that mortgage refinances surged in the first quarter of 2020, with nearly $400 billion first home loans refinanced. However, as it turns out, refinancing your mortgage might actually be more expensive than purchasing a new home. 

This surprised us, too — why would there be a difference at all? 

We investigated how refinancing rates and new purchase home loan rates are set, and found several reasons for this rate disparity. On top of the rate difference, mortgage refinancing is even more difficult to qualify for, given the current economy.

Before rushing to refinance your home, read on to gather the information you need to make the right financial decision for your situation.

Pandemic Effects on Home Lending

Just as mortgage rates have stumbled, banks and lenders have tightened the screws on borrowers due to COVID-19, requiring higher credit scores and down payment amounts. Chase, for example, raised its minimum FICO score requirements for home purchases and refinances to 700 with a down payment requirement of at least 20%. 

Low rates have also driven a massive move to mortgage refinances. According to the same Freddie Mac report, 42% of homeowners who refinanced did so at a higher loan amount so they could “cash out.”

Unfortunately, homeowners who want to refinance might face the same stringent loan requirements as those who are taking out a purchase loan. Mortgage refinance rates are also generally higher than home purchase rates for a handful of reasons, all of which can make refinancing considerably less appealing. 

How Refinance Rates Are Priced

Although some lenders might not make it obvious that their refinance rates are higher, others make the higher prices for a home refinance clear. When you head to the mortgage section on the Wells Fargo website, for example, it lists rates for home purchases and refinances separately, with a .625 difference in rates for a thirty-year home loan. 

There are a few reasons why big banks might charge higher rates to refinance, including:

Added Refinance Fees

In August of 2020, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac announced it was tacking on a .5% fee on refinance mortgages starting on September 1. This fee will be assessed on cash-out refinances and no cash-out refinances. According to Freddie Mac, the new fee was introduced “as a result of risk management and loss forecasting precipitated by COVID-19 related economic and market uncertainty.”

By making refinancing more costly, lenders can taper the number of refinance loans they have to process, giving them more time to focus on purchase loans and other business.

Lenders Restraining New Application Volume

Demand for mortgage refinancing has been so high that some lenders are unable to handle all requests. Reluctant to add more employees to handle a surge that won’t last forever, many lenders are simply limiting the number of refinance applications they process, or setting additional terms that limit the number of loans that might qualify.

Also note that some lenders are prioritizing new purchase loans over mortgage refinance applications since new home buyers have deadlines to meet. With the housing market also on an upswing in many parts of the country, many major banks and lenders simply can’t keep up.

Rate Locks Cost Money

Generally speaking, it costs lenders more to lock the rate for refinance loans when compared to purchase loans. This is leaving lenders disinterested in allocating resources on the recent surge in mortgage refinance applications.

This is especially true since many refinancers might lock in a rate with one provider but switch lenders and lock in a rate again if interest rates go down. Lenders exist to turn a profit, after all, and it makes sense they would spend their time on loans that provide the greatest return.

Tighter Requirements Due to COVID-19

According to the Brookings Institute, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have been asking lenders to make sure any disruption to a borrower’s employment or income due to COVID-19 won’t impact their ability to repay their loan. 

Many lenders are also increasing the minimum credit score borrowers must have while making other requirements harder to meet. As an example, U.S. Bank increased its minimum credit score requirement to 680 for mortgage customers, and it also implemented a maximum debt-to-income ratio of 50 percent.

This combination of factors can make it difficult to save as much money with a refinance, or to even find a lender that’s willing to process your application. With this in mind, run the math and to see if refinancing is right for your situation before contacting a mortgage lender.

How Mortgage Purchase Rates Are Priced

Mortgage purchase rates are priced using a similar method as refinance rates. When you apply for a home mortgage, the lender looks at factors like your credit score, your income, your down payment and your other debt to determine your eligibility.

The overall economy also plays a giant role in mortgage rates for home loans, including purchase loans and refinance loans. Mortgage rates tend to go up during periods of speedy economic growth, and they tend to drop during periods of slower economic growth. Meanwhile, inflation can also play a role. Low levels of inflation contribute to lower interest rates on mortgage loans and other financial products.

Mortgage lenders can also price their loans based on the amount of business they have coming in, and whether they have the capacity to process more loans. They might lower rates to drum up business or raise rates when they’re at or nearing capacity. This is part of the reason rates can vary among lenders, and why it always makes sense to shop around for a home loan.

Many people believe that the Federal Reserve sets mortgage rates, but this is not exactly true. The Federal Reserve sets the federal funds rate, which lenders use to ensure they meet mandated cash reserve requirements. When the Fed raises this rate, banks have to pay more to borrow from one another, and these costs are often passed on to consumers. Likewise, costs can go down when the Fed lowers the federal funds rate, which can mean lower costs and interest rates for borrowers.

The Bottom Line

Refinancing your existing mortgage can absolutely make sense in terms of interest savings, but don’t rule out buying a new home instead. Buying a new home could help you save money on interest and get the space and the features you really want. 

Remember, there are steps you can take to become a more attractive borrower whether you choose to refinance or invest in a new place. You can’t control the economy or the Federal Reserve, but you have control over your personal finances.

Improving your credit score right away, and paying down debt to lower your debt-to-income ratio are just a couple of strategies to start. And if you’re planning on buying a new home, make sure you save a hefty down payment amount. These steps help you improve your chances at getting the best rates and terms whether you choose to move or stick with the home you have. 

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