Month: March 2014

The New Flood Insurance Bill Passes Congress, Is Signed Into Law


Matthew Whitaker - Saturday, March 29, 2014

We spoke previously about how Birmingham renters and homeowners could see lower flood insurance premiums as the result of an effort to overturn key parts of a previous law concerning flood insurance rates across the country. On Friday, March 21st, President Obama signed into law the Homeowner Flood Insurance Accountability Act, which – among other things – limited annual premium increases to a hard cap of 18 percent per year, which works out to just 15 percent on average compared to a previous increase of 20 percent per average. Homes can now be grandfathered into subsidized rates once more, something removed by the previous law, Biggert-Waters, which passed in 2012. Now, if your home complied with a flood map that was drawn up before Biggert-Waters called for new maps, you can have the same coverage – even if your home was put into a higher risk zone with the new maps. Also, homes that sell can transfer their subsidized policies to the buyer, instead of having the buyer have to pay for new coverage. This was a key point that many real estate professionals wanted emphasized, since higher premiums caused many potential buyers to balk at going through with a transaction. Owners who purchased a home after July 2012 can also get a refund for those who paid higher premiums after buying their homes. Finally, FEMA will now have to complete a feasibility study within two years that could further impact costs and coverage. Not all Birmingham homeowners and renters were affected, but those who were will likely be faced with lower premiums than the ones they have been paying for two years. For that reason alone, the new bill is a popular one in several parts of the country.

The New Flood Insurance Bill Passes Congress, Is Signed Into Law


Matthew Whitaker - Saturday, March 29, 2014

We spoke previously about how Birmingham renters and homeowners could see lower flood insurance premiums as the result of an effort to overturn key parts of a previous law concerning flood insurance rates across the country. On Friday, March 21st, President Obama signed into law the Homeowner Flood Insurance Accountability Act, which – among other things – limited annual premium increases to a hard cap of 18 percent per year, which works out to just 15 percent on average compared to a previous increase of 20 percent per average. Homes can now be grandfathered into subsidized rates once more, something removed by the previous law, Biggert-Waters, which passed in 2012. Now, if your home complied with a flood map that was drawn up before Biggert-Waters called for new maps, you can have the same coverage – even if your home was put into a higher risk zone with the new maps. Also, homes that sell can transfer their subsidized policies to the buyer, instead of having the buyer have to pay for new coverage. This was a key point that many real estate professionals wanted emphasized, since higher premiums caused many potential buyers to balk at going through with a transaction. Owners who purchased a home after July 2012 can also get a refund for those who paid higher premiums after buying their homes. Finally, FEMA will now have to complete a feasibility study within two years that could further impact costs and coverage. Not all Birmingham homeowners and renters were affected, but those who were will likely be faced with lower premiums than the ones they have been paying for two years. For that reason alone, the new bill is a popular one in several parts of the country.

Lightbox – Rent Range


Matthew Whitaker - Wednesday, March 19, 2014

We’re proud to announce that we’ve been awarded a 2013 Visitors’ Choice Award from All Property Management, one of the foremost property management websites in the world. Each year, over 2,000 active property management companies are considered for the award. Out of all of these, only 300 companies receive the recognition – and we were the only company in Alabama to be given this prestigious honor. The same qualities that helped us to win this award – tireless dedication to customer service and greater accessibility to our tenants and owners – have helped us as professional Alabama property managers. We’re just grateful to be able to serve our valued clients and tenants, and are thankful for this recognition. More information about the Visitors’ Choice Award can be found at AllPropertyManagement.com.

gkhouses Awarded the All Property Management Visitors’ Choice Award for 2013!


Matthew Whitaker - Wednesday, March 19, 2014

We’re proud to announce that we’ve been awarded a 2013 Visitors’ Choice Award from All Property Management, one of the foremost property management websites in the world. Each year, over 2,000 active property management companies are considered for the award. Out of all of these, only 300 companies receive the recognition – and we were the only company in Alabama to be given this prestigious honor. The same qualities that helped us to win this award – tireless dedication to customer service and greater accessibility to our tenants and owners – have helped us as professional Alabama property managers. We’re just grateful to be able to serve our valued clients and tenants, and are thankful for this recognition. More information about the Visitors’ Choice Award can be found at AllPropertyManagement.com.

Birmingham Renters and Homeowners Could See Lower Flood Insurance Premiums


Matthew Whitaker - Tuesday, March 18, 2014

If a bill currently in Congress makes its way through to President Obama, homeowners in Birmingham could see some relief when it comes to flood insurance premiums. The bill – a measure that would delay or outright repeal key sections of the Biggert-Waters Act of 2012 – would work to lower flood insurance premiums that have been steadily increasing for the past two years for flood-prone areas. It recently passed the House of Representatives and will go before the Senate. The Senate has already passed its own version and would likely fight to heavily change the version passed by the House. If any version of the bill eventually passes and is signed into law then flood insurance premiums could fall. While the main proponents of the bill live in low-lying areas of Florida, Alabama, and other coastal states, there are communities in the metro Birmingham area who could benefit. Already, rates have risen by as much as 20 percent for some constituents, a pace that would continue for a few more years unless something is done to check the pace. The bill still has its opponents, who argue that it undoes the spending cuts enacted by the first bill in 2012 and goes against small government principles. Homeowners who have to pay 20 percent more for flood insurance, though, don’t see it that way; they see it as relief for their bank accounts. One major part of the relief would be in the form of refunds for people who have had their rates increased as a result of a home purchase or sale. There could also be subsidies for Birmingham renters or homeowners who find themselves in need of affordable flood insurance. A composite bill should be debated in committees between the House and Senate and sent to President Obama before the beginning of summer.

Birmingham Renters and Homeowners Could See Lower Flood Insurance Premiums


Matthew Whitaker - Tuesday, March 18, 2014

If a bill currently in Congress makes its way through to President Obama, homeowners in Birmingham could see some relief when it comes to flood insurance premiums. The bill – a measure that would delay or outright repeal key sections of the Biggert-Waters Act of 2012 – would work to lower flood insurance premiums that have been steadily increasing for the past two years for flood-prone areas. It recently passed the House of Representatives and will go before the Senate. The Senate has already passed its own version and would likely fight to heavily change the version passed by the House. If any version of the bill eventually passes and is signed into law then flood insurance premiums could fall. While the main proponents of the bill live in low-lying areas of Florida, Alabama, and other coastal states, there are communities in the metro Birmingham area who could benefit. Already, rates have risen by as much as 20 percent for some constituents, a pace that would continue for a few more years unless something is done to check the pace. The bill still has its opponents, who argue that it undoes the spending cuts enacted by the first bill in 2012 and goes against small government principles. Homeowners who have to pay 20 percent more for flood insurance, though, don’t see it that way; they see it as relief for their bank accounts. One major part of the relief would be in the form of refunds for people who have had their rates increased as a result of a home purchase or sale. There could also be subsidies for Birmingham renters or homeowners who find themselves in need of affordable flood insurance. A composite bill should be debated in committees between the House and Senate and sent to President Obama before the beginning of summer.

Should You Rent or Buy? Tips from Professional Alabama Rental Managers


Matthew Whitaker - Wednesday, March 5, 2014

As professional Alabama rental managers, we may seem like we are biased when it comes to whether or not people should rent or buy homes. Believe it or not, though, we think people should make whatever decision is best for them. Sometimes, it’s best to buy if you can. Sometimes, it’s best to rent. Figuring out which one fits you best is actually one of the most important decisions you’ll make. There are a lot of factors that play into whether you should rent or buy, and not all of them involve finances. Some involve family. Others involve work. But overall, you should consider a list of variables that will help you determine whether renting or buying is best. Your Work Matters One factor that plays a big role is your work. What you do – and where you have to go to do it – will help shape your real estate decision. If your occupation takes you around the country or world on a regular basis, and requires relocations at a predictable interval – like the military – renting may be better than buying. Having to buy and sell homes so often can get tiring and can also be costly. Plus, you may need to stay mobile for work purposes. Renting helps with that; buying doesn’t. What Does the Market Look Like? Another factor is the market itself. Some markets are less expensive for renting than buying, and vice-versa. If rental rates are up and vacancy is down, renting can cost more. But if area demand is sky-high and it’s a seller’s market, it can be expensive to buy. (Don’t forget about other factors, such as property taxes and maintenance costs.) All of this will play into your finances and how much you can afford. You need to pretend you are considering both options and do a bit of math based on that. Say, you have a home you’d like to purchase and a home you’d like to rent. How much would it cost after a year for each property? Two years? Five years? Which is cheaper? Think about when you should rent or buy and you’ll have a better time making that decision and finding a great place to rent should you decide to go down that path.

Should You Rent or Buy? Tips from Professional Alabama Rental Managers


Matthew Whitaker - Wednesday, March 5, 2014

As professional Alabama rental managers, we may seem like we are biased when it comes to whether or not people should rent or buy homes. Believe it or not, though, we think people should make whatever decision is best for them. Sometimes, it’s best to buy if you can. Sometimes, it’s best to rent. Figuring out which one fits you best is actually one of the most important decisions you’ll make. There are a lot of factors that play into whether you should rent or buy, and not all of them involve finances. Some involve family. Others involve work. But overall, you should consider a list of variables that will help you determine whether renting or buying is best. Your Work Matters One factor that plays a big role is your work. What you do – and where you have to go to do it – will help shape your real estate decision. If your occupation takes you around the country or world on a regular basis, and requires relocations at a predictable interval – like the military – renting may be better than buying. Having to buy and sell homes so often can get tiring and can also be costly. Plus, you may need to stay mobile for work purposes. Renting helps with that; buying doesn’t. What Does the Market Look Like? Another factor is the market itself. Some markets are less expensive for renting than buying, and vice-versa. If rental rates are up and vacancy is down, renting can cost more. But if area demand is sky-high and it’s a seller’s market, it can be expensive to buy. (Don’t forget about other factors, such as property taxes and maintenance costs.) All of this will play into your finances and how much you can afford. You need to pretend you are considering both options and do a bit of math based on that. Say, you have a home you’d like to purchase and a home you’d like to rent. How much would it cost after a year for each property? Two years? Five years? Which is cheaper? Think about when you should rent or buy and you’ll have a better time making that decision and finding a great place to rent should you decide to go down that path.

Cold Weather Helps Drive Down Birmingham Real Estate Sales


Matthew Whitaker - Sunday, March 2, 2014

Anyone who has been in Birmingham for the past month knows that the weather has been less than kind. Between two major bouts of snow and ice, and a smattering of messy sleet in between, cold weather has dampened virtually every part of life – including, apparently, real estate activity. According to the latest stats released by the Greater Alabama MLS, residential sales for the Birmingham metro area fell by 7.4% in January, which was well below the monthly forecast for last month. Only 635 units were sold, which was 114 units below the forecast. All of this can reasonably be blamed on the cold weather and winter storms that rocked the region and put the city in a standstill. Of course, there’s no real reason for alarm. Homes that weren’t sold last month will merely be pushed into February’s figures, or into March at the latest. It’s not as if those individuals decided to simply not buy or sell because of a bit of snow. With that in mind, this year is actually shaping up to be a good one, if forecasts can be believed. ACRE predicted a substantial 8.2% increase in residential sales for 2014 over 2013’s numbers, which was one of the highest predictions in the entire state. Even with the spate of winter storms we’ve had to deal with, real estate should still be in great shape and ready for investors interested in a fast-growing market with plenty of upside potential. Learn more about how Birmingham real estate continues to heat up, or check out how we believe the rental market is about to explode –in a good way. And contact gkhouses.com for more information on how you can tap into a market that is primed for greatness.

Cold Weather Helps Drive Down Birmingham Real Estate Sales


Matthew Whitaker - Sunday, March 2, 2014

Anyone who has been in Birmingham for the past month knows that the weather has been less than kind. Between two major bouts of snow and ice, and a smattering of messy sleet in between, cold weather has dampened virtually every part of life – including, apparently, real estate activity. According to the latest stats released by the Greater Alabama MLS, residential sales for the Birmingham metro area fell by 7.4% in January, which was well below the monthly forecast for last month. Only 635 units were sold, which was 114 units below the forecast. All of this can reasonably be blamed on the cold weather and winter storms that rocked the region and put the city in a standstill. Of course, there’s no real reason for alarm. Homes that weren’t sold last month will merely be pushed into February’s figures, or into March at the latest. It’s not as if those individuals decided to simply not buy or sell because of a bit of snow. With that in mind, this year is actually shaping up to be a good one, if forecasts can be believed. ACRE predicted a substantial 8.2% increase in residential sales for 2014 over 2013’s numbers, which was one of the highest predictions in the entire state. Even with the spate of winter storms we’ve had to deal with, real estate should still be in great shape and ready for investors interested in a fast-growing market with plenty of upside potential. Learn more about how Birmingham real estate continues to heat up, or check out how we believe the rental market is about to explode –in a good way. And contact gkhouses.com for more information on how you can tap into a market that is primed for greatness.