Real Estate in The Time of the Virus

If you thought that The Virus had an impact on real estate, you’d be right … it’s just probably not what you’d expect.

As of right now, the impact on the housing market in Spanish Fort, Daphne and Fairhope, is negligible.

Home sales are up 19% over this time last year and the average sales price is up 2.4% on the Eastern Shore of Mobile Bay.

And of the 72 listings under contract on April 7 in Spanish Fort, 42 of those homes went under contract in March 2020. Hmmm ….

Some experienced local agents believe the impact has yet to be felt and the timing is tough in that it is the heavy selling season.  So I’ll continue to monitor this ….

Meanwhile, the industry is trying to rapidly adjust: There’s a COVID-19 policy for everything from open houses (forbidden) to contract extensions since mortgage loan personnel are working from home (common).

On to the stats:

Eastern Shore: 521 homes sold vs 437 sales in the first quarter last year. Average sales price rose to $319,085 from $310,503 last year. On average, sellers sliced 2.6% less to sell, while they gook 3.1% this time last year. Days on market dropped from 66 last year to 49 days.

New construction, which represented a third of all sales and a $56 million business in the first quarter alone, had an average sales price of $328,711

Fairhope: 190 homes sold with an average sales price of $394,572, compared with 179 sales with an average price of $399,178. This time last year, there were 179 sales with an average price of $370,823. List-to-sale percentage improved from 4.4% last year to 3.3% this year. Average days on market fell from 61 to 44

Daphne: 209 sold vs 161 in the 1st quarter last year. The average sales price rose from $257,309 to $261,870. Sellers trimmed just 2 % of the list price in order to sell -- the same as last year. And the average time it took to sell fell from 66 days to 55 days.

Spanish Fort: 122 homes sold with an average sales price of $299,539; last year there were 97 sales with an average price of $286,333. The list-to-sale percentage dropped from 2.7% to 2%. Days on market dropped from 76 to 49.

 

PULL IN CASE OF EMERGENCY:

While there are many programs that have been promised to alleviate the financial burden on folks, there may be some who know that their precarious employment/business situation is going to be dire now.

Some may qualify for a short sale of their home. A short sale is when the house is not worth what it owed on it and the owner has a bona fide distress. During the Great Recession I earned my Certified Distressed Property Expert designation to handle these complicated and challenging sales. The benefit to the owner is that the debt on the house is often forgiven and the damage to their credit is less than that of foreclosure.

 

 

 

 

Housing prices sputter after 2 supercharged years

 

New developments

 

Fairhope’s moratorium on new construction is over, but it seems to have led to longer-term consequences.

 

Of the three Eastern Shore cities, Fairhope, at present, has the lowest percentage of newly built homes for sale.

 

Here’s the percentage of new construction for sale in each city:

 

Fairhope: 24%

 

Daphne: 44%

 

Spanish Fort: 37%

 

One interesting bit of data is that construction behemoth DR Horton only has a few listings in one subdivision in Fairhope, leaving that new home market to Truland and some custom builders.

 

Fairhope did approve a planned unit development (PUD) and annexation request for the northwest corner of Fairhope Avenue and Highway 181. If this project by Gayfer Village Partners comes to fruition, there will be 16 commercial lots, 232 apartments and 67 single-family homes. The Alabama Secretary of State’s office lists Haymes Snedeker as the organizer of Gayfer Village Partners.

 

In Daphne, plans are under way for Savannah Estates subdivision at the northeast intersection of County Road 54 and County Road 64. A recent revised application that went before the Baldwin County Planning Commission proposed 327 lots on 148 acres.

 

Market status

 

If you need to sell, now is your time!

 

Inventory might be at an historic low on the Eastern Shore, at least so far as recent history is concerned. Houses that are priced right are moving quickly.

 

Here’s a nugget about the last two house sales in which I was involved: The first received competing offers in its first 72 hours on the market. The second received an offer after just eight hours on the market.

 

But the flaming hot appreciation of 6% the last two years flat-lined to 0.35% in 2019, even as the number of single-family homes sold increased 11%. The time it took between listing and getting a contract narrowed from 88 to 83 days.

 

  As a colleague of mine said: If home prices kept rising the way they were, none of us would be able to afford to live here. So taking a breather is not always a bad thing.

 

 

 

On to the specific numbers:

 

For the entire Eastern Shore in 2019, 2,420 homes sold with an average sales price of $308,262. That’s up from 2,165 sales in 2018 with an average price of $307,167. Sellers took 2.8% off list price in order to sell.

 

In the 4th quarter, 559 homes sold vs. 447 sales at this time in 2018. The average sales price  decreased from $310,782 to $300,988. In the 4th quarter, it took on average 75 days to sell. List-to-sell percentage was 2.5%

 

Spanish Fort: (this 36527  ZIP code includes TimberCreek in Daphne and Stone Bridge in Loxley).  494 homes sold in 2019 with an average price of $293,440, compared with 477 sales with an average price of $295,183 the previous year. It took 86 days to sell and sellers took 2% off the price in order to close.

 

In the 4th quarter, 109 homes sold vs 97 the prior year. Sales price dropped from $291,440 in 2018 to $275.598. Sellers took 1.8% less in order to sell. Days on market increased from 67 to 81.

 

Daphne: 676 homes sold with an average price of $241,700. In 2018, 873 homes sold with an average price of $249,884. List-to-sell percentage stood at 1.8%. Days on market rose from 47 to 74.

 

In the 4th quarter, 240 homes sold compared with 171 sales in that period of 2018. Average sales price dropped to $229,919 from $246,012 the previous year. Days on market rose from 41 to 64 days. But sellers only trimmed 1.6% off list in order to sell.

 

Fairhope: 924 homes sold with an average price of $391,404. This compares with 815 sales in 2018 with an average price of $375,540. Sellers took 3.9% off list in order to sell, almost the same as the prior year. It took on average 92 days to sell.

 

 

What's happening in Spanish Fort, Daphne, Fairhope

Janet English named No. 2 agent at RE/MAX By The Bay

Based on sales numbers, Janet English earned the No. 2 spot at RE/MAX By The Bay, which has offices in Daphne and Fairhope, Ala.

Janet English, top agent at RE/MAX By The Bay

English, who left print journalism to start her real estate career in 1998, is a perennial in the Top 10 at this brokerage. In 2009, she earned induction into the RE/MAX Hall of Fame.

"I love what I do," she said. "I've met so many friends and hope to continue to help folks get to their next destination."

 

New subdivisions in the works

January, 2019

 

Twenty years later, Spanish Fort home prices have risen 86%; Fairhope, 103%. (I can’t give you Daphne’s since along the way, Lake Forest was folded into the statistical mix).

 

I have these pricing figures stored in a stack of newsletters that I’ve been sending to neighbors for the last couple of decades, since I started helping buyers and sellers get to their next destination. The changes over time are truly remarkable.

 

In 2018, the average sales price for homes on the Eastern Shore, as a whole, reached $307,167, compared to $289,198 in 2017. That marked a 6.2% increase, topping the 6% jump the previous year.

 

New home construction accounted for 30% of 2018 sales, representing a whopping $206 million worth of property value.

 

 

 

The new construction isn’t likely to slow down any time soon. For example:

 

n  Lots of dirt and dump trucks in the Belforest area of Daphne herald the start of DR Horton’s 900-home Jubilee Plantation project.

 

n  The Bellewood subdivision on County Road 64 on the far eastern edge of what’s considered Daphne has been given a new lease on life after it was purchased by Breland Homes in late 2018.

 

n  A huge new multi-phase development could be on the way to Jimmy Faulkner Drive outside Spanish Fort’s city limits. I was part of a focus group in late 2018 that was asked what amenities should be included in a “Crystal Lagoon” that will be the main attraction in the giant project. Check out the video of a similar lagoon in Florida: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NusOclUZcAw

 

It’s worth your time to see it.

 

Meanwhile, older neighborhoods are rocking along, too. Housing is moving quickly once the “For Sale” signs go up. For example:

 

n  Sprawling Lake Forest has only 28 active listings, and 20 properties under contract, as of this writing in January 2019.

 

n  The large Spanish Fort Estates has a mere 4 active listings, and 7 properties under contract.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 In the words of Huey Lewis and the News: “The future’s so bright, I gotta wear shades.”

 

But before then, let’s take a look back at 2018. Here’s some of the key sales data for our local area’s specific markets, both for the year as a whole, and for the final quarter of the year.

 

 

 

Eastern Shore overall: In all of 2018, 2,165 homes with an average price of $307,167 sold compared to 2,109 homes with an average price of $289,307 in 2017. Days-on-market dropped to 50 days in 2018, although the formula for deriving that figure was tweaked by the Board of Realtors to represent the time from listing to contract rather than listing to closing. In 2017, it was 127 days. Sellers trimmed 2.7% off their list prices in order to sell, the same as in 2017.

 

In the 4th quarter, 447 homes sold on the Eastern Shore, compared with 424 in the 4th quarter of 2017. Average sales price dipped to $302,586 from $313,289. But the list-to-sale percentage improved to 3.3% from 3.8%, while days-on-market went to 54 from 99.

 

Spanish Fort: (This 36527 Zip Code includes some areas in Daphne and Loxley) 477 homes sold in 2018 with an average price of $295,183, up from 438 sales with an average price of $279,440 a year earlier. Sellers took 3% off list price in order to sell; a year earlier, they trimmed the list price only 1.9%. Days-on-market dropped from 146 in 2017 to 61 days in 2018.

 

In the 4th quarter, 97 homes sold with an average price of $291,440. That was up from 81 sales with an average price of $287,681 in the 4th quarter of 2017. Sellers took 2.8% off list in order to sell, while a year prior they took off 1.8%. Days-on-market went from 101 to 67.

 

Daphne: 873 homes sold in 2018 compared to 827 homes in 2017. Average sales price rose from $240,430 to $249,884. List-to-sale percentage was little changed from 2.2% in 2017 to 2.1% in 2018. The “Wow!” number was the drop in the time needed to sell: 47 days, compared to 124 days in 2017.

 

In the 4th quarter, Daphne enjoyed 171 sales, a jump from 157 in the same period of 2017; average sales price stood at $246,012, down from $261,695. In 2017, sellers settled for 3.7% less in order to close; that number dropped to 2.4% in 2018. Days-on-market was again a “Wow!” – It dropped from 111 days to 41.

 

Fairhope: (This municipality enacted a 9-month building moratorium for certain new construction that ended in September 2017). 815 homes sold in 2018, a decline from the 844 sales in 2017. But sales price rose from $367,992 in 2017 to $375,540 in 2018. In 2017, sellers took 3.4% off list in order to sell; in 2018, they took 3.7%. Days-on-market dropped from 119 to 48 days.

 

In the 4th quarter, 179 homes sold in Fairhope, compared to 186 in the same quarter in 2017. The average sales price also ticked down slightly: from $367,992 to $362,671. But sellers didn’t trim as much off their list prices in order to sell as a year earlier: 4% vs. 4.4% Days-on-market dropped from 89 to 56 days.

 

 

 

Homes prices continue upward march

October, 2018

 

Another stellar quarter for home sales on the Eastern Shore with prices up 7.3% compared to this time last year.  

 

  The number of single-family homes sold rose 10.6% in Spanish Fort, Daphne and Fairhope compared to the 3rd quarter of 2017.  

 

  The cheapest home sold was a cute 480-square-foot cottage in Fairhope that sold for $62,500; the most expensive, a 4,333-square-foot bay front home, also in Fairhope, that went for $2,325,000. The latter was one of six $1 million-plus sales in Fairhope in the 3rd quarter of 2018.  

 

  Before we get to the numbers: The Baldwin County Association of Realtors’ multiple listing service website has changed the way days on market (DOM) are calculated. Previously, this numbers started the day the property was listed and ended the day it was closed. Now, it freezes upon accepted offer time when the property is put in as a pending sale.  

 

  However, the time it takes to sell -- start to finish -- is shrinking.

 

On to the numbers;

 

  Eastern Shore: 594 single-family homes sold, with an average price of $300,778. In the 3rd quarter of 2017, 537 homes sold with an average price of $280,216. Sellers settled for 2.6% less than list price in order to sell. Homes were actively marketed on average 43 days before going under contract.

 

  Fairhope: 214 homes sold with an average price of $367,421 (very much skewed by the $1 million-plus sales). This time last year, 205 homes sold with an average price of $327,510. Sellers took 3.6% off list price in order to sell. Days on market stood at 46 days.  

 

  Daphne: 255 homes sold, compared to 224 sales this time last year. Average sales price rose to $250,620 from $239,013 in the 3rd quarter of 2017. Sellers trimmed 1.9% off list price in order to make a deal. It took on average 35 days from list to contract.  

 

  Spanish Fort: 124 homes sold with an average price of $300,778. This compares to 108 sales with an average price of $275,905 this time last year. Sellers settled for 2% less in order to sell. And days on market stood at 54. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Market swings to favor sellers

June, 2018

 

Home sales on the Eastern Shore are cruising ahead, keeping pace with this time last year almost exactly. With a notable exception: The average sales price is up 7.3%! That’s a large indictor of a market that is steadily tightening in the sellers’ favor.

 

And here are two other pieces of interesting data from the recently completed second quarter:

 

   * New homes represented 32% of all sales in Spanish Fort, Daphne and Fairhope.

 

   * The time it took to sell – “days-on-market” -- dropped to under three months, from more than four months at the same time in 2017. 

 

This year, the reporting of days-on-market freezes at the point that a house goes under contract, eliminating the closing or escrow period. Still, this drop is certainly eye-catching.

 

Let’s look at the compete sales numbers for the second quarter of 2018 on the Eastern Shore:

 

Eastern Shore as a whole: 670 single-family homes sold with an average sales price of $311,033, compared to 671 sales with an average price of $289,893 during the second quarter of 2017. Sellers trimmed an average of 2.3% off the asking price. And days-on-market tumbled to 88 days from 135 days.

 

Spanish Fort: 146 homes sold, compared to 147 sales in the same period last year. But the average sales price (largely fueled by new construction in this ZIP code) jumped to $301,087 from $282,679. On average, sellers took 1.55% off their asking price. (This number is very likely affected by new construction where few discounts are given). Days-on-market dropped to 94 days from 148 days.

 

Daphne: 283 homes sold, up from 261 sales this time last year. Average sales price also jumped, to $265,466  from $237,341. Sellers settled for 2.2% less than list price. And the time it took to sell dropped to 91 days from 134.

 

Fairhope: 241 homes sold, down from 263 sales in the second quarter of 2017. But the average sales price rose to $377,430 from $346,115. Sellers trimmed 2.9% off list in order to close. Days-on-market was the Eastern Shore’s shortest:  81. That figure was 125 days at this time last year.

 

 

 

June 8, 2019

Ground Zero in Termite Wars

 

Ground zero in Termite Wars

 

 

 

If you don’t have a termite bond, get one. If you have one and the renewal rate has skyrocketed, here’s why it happened and what you can do about it.

 

This spring has been a very active one for termites, those wood destroying insects that can cause thousands of dollars in damage to your home before you can even say “entomology.”

 

You may have had neighbors were shouting on social media to turn off your outside lights so you’d be protected from the zombie apocalypse swarms. What most of us didn’t know was the wheeling, dealing, litigation reeling had already set homeowners up for the perfect supply-and-demand storm of skyrocketing costs and limited suppliers.

 

Here’s the background:

 

In the last few years, a couple of independent termite companies that traditionally supplied economical bonds were gobbled up by larger companies: Terminix reportedly bought out Guardian. Then Arrow, an Atlanta-based company, bought Knockout Pest & Termite in June 2018.

 

Meanwhile, the then-standard practice of paying forward the existing termite bond when a house was sold suddenly wasn’t so standard:

 

n  Terms of bonds were changed upon transfer, potentially limiting the scope of coverage should termites eat away the floor joists Problem was, nobody noticed these changes until there was a termite problem.

 

n  Realtors did notice that their deals were jeopardized just before closing when certain termite companies revealed that they would NOT transfer at closing but after, when an additional fee was paid by the buyer. Or they would not produce a written contract. So Realtors drifted away from these companies, opting for the smaller shops. And you guessed it, those smaller businesses were the aforementioned acquisitions of Guardian and Knockout.

 

Then the Mobile Metro area gained the dubious distinction of being at the top of the heap of areas infested with termites, according to Terminix.

 

Poor business practices – shortcuts or ineptitude – lead to a rise in claims. One of those claims happened to be made by a Fairhope attorney, specializing in real estate. He is suing Terminix.

 

Meanwhile, this was happening, according to Campbell Law PC, in Birmingham:

 

$1,655,763.75 Fraud Award Against Terminix in Daphne, Alabama
Citing 30 Years of Criminal Conduct Arbitrator Awards $1, 655,763.75 in Baldwin County Alabama
A retired trial judge heard evidence in a four-day trial in January 2019. On April 29, 2019 Retired Judge Eugenia Benedict issued a sixteen-page Award for a Daphne, Alabama widow for $1, 655,763.75 against Terminix International. The widow’s husband died while the case was pending. The Award also provides that Terminix must pay attorney fees and expenses to her lawyers in the amount of $347,152.75 and $750,000 in punitive damages.
Campbell Law PC represents property owners with claims against termite companies. Campbell says, “Come June 3, we will have eight lawyers who do almost nothing but help property owners with claims against their termite companies. We are dedicated to helping these victims.” Campbell Law PC can be reached toll-free at 877-586-7582 or TermiteTeam@CampbellLitigation.com.

 

 

 

The lengthy saga of this lawsuit is available on the Campbell Law Facebook page.

 

You know when the lawyers make termite litigation a cottage industry you have a problem.

 

 

 

But consumers didn’t realize it until Terminix renewal skyrocket into the $900 realm vs. $350 or so. Arrow says it will bond homes starting at $499 going up to $699.

 

 

 

There are some small independent suppliers who are writing bonds more cheaply than this. Look up Alapest and Safety First, to name a couple.

 

 

 

But the burden is on you to protect your property and rights.

 

There are a couple of types of termite protection systems to choose from: soil-applied barrier treatment; and a bait system. Some suppliers only offer one system.

 

You’ll want a contract that offers not just treatment but repair and replacement in the event of damage and notice the dollar figure for that, as well. You’ll want to actually have a written contract. If the company can’t supply that, then you have nothing.

 

Posted in Community News
July 7, 2018

June 2018 Home Sales

 

Eastern Shore home sales shot up 41 percent in June, but a dip in pending sales points to the typical mid-summer slowdown.

 

In Spanish Fort, Daphne & Fairhope, pending sales dropped 17 percent at the first of July

 

 So here’s what’s happening in Spanish Fort, Daphne and Fairhope.

 

Total single-family houses for sale: 899

 

Homes for sale in Spanish Fort AL: 185

 

Homes for sale in Daphne AL: 306

 

Homes for sale in Fairhope AL: 408

 

Pending sales:

 

Total: 345

 

Spanish Fort: 89

 

Daphne: 148

 

Fairhope: 107

 

Closed sales for June 2018

 

Total: 296, up from 209 in May.

 

Average sale price: $310,009, up from $299,327 in May.

 

Median sales price: $259,650, down from $268,790 in May.

 

List to sale percentage: Tightened up with sellers getting 97.9%, compared to taking 97.1% in May.

 

May home sales:

 

Spanish Fort: 39

 

Daphne: 101

 

Fairhope: 69

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Market Reports
Oct. 18, 2016

Fortified roofs save homeowners money, grief

Of all the things one might replace on an existing home, a roof would be last on the list of costly updates that make you want to bask in its wondrous pattern, or admire its fine color. Really, a new roof is nice, but, at that cost, I could pay for three vacations.

Still, something has crept into the roofing industry since 2009 that is increasingly making homeowners take a second look at the old roof. It’s the Fortified roof that saves homeowners money and grief.

A little background: After Hurricanes Ivan and Katrina, coastal homeowners were choking on bloated insurance rates, so various industry and government folk set out to see what could be done about it.

Building standards were the focus, and out of that came the Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety (IBHS), a nonprofit that tests construction methods against natural disasters – winds up to 130 mph, wildfires, hail and so on.

It established three levels for Fortified homes: Bronze, which bolsters the roofing system; Silver, which goes further to brace gables and columns, and Gold, which secures the structure from foundation to chimney.

Buyers of new homes constructed to the Gold Fortified standard find that their insurance premiums are shockingly, delightfully dirt cheap. Like $800 for a 2,500-square-foot home.

But a homeowner must have the certificate indicating the level of fortification in order to receive the discount, says insurance agent Glen Gorowsky.

This piece of paper is the equivalent of a college degree for a home and, like that education, it is not obtained without money, study, research and examination.

“Don’t close without that certificate because you’ll need it to prove to your insurer that the roof is fortified,” Gorowsky cautions new home buyers.

When it comes to retrofitting existing homes, the process is a bit more involved and it depends upon the age and construction of the home.

I asked these folks about the process: (1) Alex Cary, fortified coastal programs manager for IBHS; (2) Lad Drago, a State Farm agent; and (3) a roofer with 39 years of experience who requested his name not be used for my report.

First you need to have the home evaluated, Cary said. A list of inspectors is on SmartHomeAmerica.org. The cost of this evaluation is $75 to $300.

Then you’ll need to contact a roofer who is able to follow through with the smart home process, including photographing the work and other important documentation.

The roofer says that going for the Bronze standard may add $1,500 in materials and labor to a roofing job.

So homeowners should examine the additional cost vs. the insurance savings.

And homeowners should know that this fortification certificate is good for only five years. The cost to renew it is $500.

One big positive about having a Fortified roof is coming home after a hurricane to a sound roof, both Drago and Cary point out.

Additionally, a Fortified roof that withstands a major wind storm saves you the deductible and other out-of-pocket costs.

Posted in Community News
Jan. 22, 2015

Will Spanish Fort school zones change?

Will Spanish Fort school zones change?

No. That was the unequivocal answer from Baldwin County School Superintendent Robbie Owen at the Jan. 20 Spanish Fort Education Summit at the Spanish Fort High School gym.

Currently, the Spanish Fort school feeder pattern encompasses four neighborhoods in the Daphne, Ala., city limits, as well as unincorporated areas of Spanish Fort in neighborhoods north on Hwy. 225. Some of these areas north of the city limits have Bay Minette telephone exchanges, as well as mailing addresses.

Parents have recently voiced concerns that as enrollment swells and the portable classroom count grows that the school zone will be redrawn to funnel students who are not living in Spanish Fort proper to other zones. Owen specifically addressed both the Daphne subdivisions and unincorporated areas. “No rezoning. No one’s going to be moved,” he said.

The news was met with applause from the crowd of about 200 parents and teachers. Owen’s comments came in a meeting to push for an 8-mil property tax increase to fund the capital construction plan. The tax increase will be up for a vote on March 31. The Daphne subdivisions that are zoned for Spanish Fort schools are TimberCreek, Historic Malbis, Bay Branch and Plantation Hills. Some of the subdivisions on Hwy. 225 include, Delta Woods, Saluda and Bromley Woods.

By Janet English. © Janet English Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Janet English and "Will Spanish Fort school zones change?" with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Posted in Community News
May 14, 2014

Homeowner Insurance 2014 update for Spanish Fort, Daphne, Fairhope and Baldwin County

Give me 2 minutes of your time and I may save you money -- or heartache.

I saved $1,100 on my homeowner’s insurance. Interested?

I also incurred more financial risk should catastrophe strike. That’s what I learned when I talked to two of my favorite go-to guys who sell insurance in Fairhope, Daphne and Spanish Fort … and beyond.

But first, let’s talk about my last insurance carrier, Wilshire. The policy was written by a Mobile insurance company in 2011 for $2,556. When my renewal notice arrived in April, the cost was $3,499, roughly a $1,000 increase in 3 years. When I called the local office about the increase, let’s just say their explanation was unacceptable.

Enter Glen Gorowsky, an independent agent, and Lad Drago of State Farm.

“People need to shop around at least on a yearly basis,” Gorowsky says. “If your insurance renews between May and say October, it’s good to try and shop it in the first quarter of the year and try to have your renewal happen in the first part of the year before hurricane season starts.

“No. 1, prices are more stable the first quarter up to say May” before the “Weather Channel says you’re going to have 900 storms coming up Mobile Bay.”

Both Drago and Gorowsky say there’s more to the policy than just the annual fee.

“I find a lot of people that have high percentage deductibles, and they’re really not saving that much. So their exposure is higher than what the savings is,” Gorowsky says.

Drago agrees: “The biggest mistake I see people making is exactly what’s it going to cost me instead of what is my coverage, what am I getting.”

For many, it will come down to how much risk you want to take.

  1. Named storm coverage (hurricane deductible) vs. wind and hail:Most carriers offer an a la carte menu of deductibles to choose from. Get out your calculator when you make those decisions. Gorowsky says you may find that a savings of $200 a year could cost you $15,000 if and when any wind deductible kicks in.“For five years, we weren’t writing wind,” Drago says. During that time, State Farm, like other carriers were offering what’s casually known as “fire,” and then going to the “beach pool” to cover wind.
  2. Drago says State Farm is again writing policies including wind and hail south of I-10 in selected areas. To be clear, State Farm offers named storm coverage vs. just wind and hail, which is more desirable but a bit more costly.
  3. Basically, you incur more risk as a homeowner if you choose the wind/hail deductible vs the named storm coverage, which is just confined to well, named storms, not just those terrible thunderstorms of late.
  4. “Beach pool” or AIUA perils:“It’s really designed for somebody who can’t get anybody else to write them,” Drago says. “It’s really an insurer of last resort.”Issues both men cite:
  5. Gorowsky adds: “It’s a non-profit org(anization).”
  6. Over the last few years, I’ve come across homeowners well inland who have elected to go into the beach pool, or the Alabama Insurance Underwriting Association. That raised the hairs on the back of my neck and now I know why.
  • On homes 25 years or older, it is a depreciated cost policy. (When someone totals that old car, they don’t get the full cost of what they paid nor do they get the cost of a brand new car to replace it. Imagine that with a house!)
  • Contents are always a depreciated cost.
  • Other structures – fences, decks, detached garages, boat docks, etc. – are not covered.
  • And it doesn’t come with personal liability coverage in the event someone is injured on the property.
  1. Replacement value:The price per square foot of new construction is a better barometer for true replacement cost if your home burned to the ground.
  2. “Replacement cost may be higher than market value for older homes,” he says.
  3. “Some people run the risk of being under-insured,” Gorowsky cautions. That’s because they confuse replacement cost vs. market value.
  4. Home contents and other structures:In fact, this is where my new lower cost insurance may have also left me at risk with only $75,000 for contents. And then there is whether you have other structures on your property that need coverage, such as out-buildings, detached garages, decks and fences. Gorowsky says some companies come with a package for other structures, even if the homeowner doesn’t have any. “Other providers, you can fine tune it to exactly what you need.”
  5. Ok, here I backtracked and had to add to my policy to cover a second garage and deck to the tune of $189, shaving my savings to roughly $900 a year.
  6. Tip: Photograph or video tape your contents, upload and then email them back to yourself so you have a record of what you have.
  7. Drago urges homeowners to examine their contents coverage. State Farm covers contents based on 75% of the home’s value (i.e. $300,000 for contents for a $400,000 home).
  8. The industry in general: In fact, some were advised that they didn’t need flood insurance. Please, folks, don’t rely on “experts” to give you a pass on flood insurance. Use common sense if you’re near a stream, creek or an area where water rushes through or collects and get flood insurance.
  9. Finally, with the recent storms and flash floods, we all heard stories of people whose homes were flooded in areas that had never experienced that before.
  10. New construction, meeting higher building code requirements, has very attractive insurance rates. State Farm has written policies on $400,000 homes on the eastern edge of Spanish Fort and parts of Daphne for as little as $1,900, Drago says.
Posted in Community News
Feb. 24, 2014

Spanish Fort Fire rating improves and so do insurance rates

Spanish Fort Fire Rescue has improved to a Class 3 ISO Rating.

This apparently applies to homeowners within a 5-mile radius of the station, according to independent insurance agent Glen Gorowsky.

Homeowners may receive a reduction in insurance rates, but to be sure that the change is noted, homeowners should contact their insurers.

One Spanish Fort resident reported that her rate dropped $315 annually

Posted in Community News
Feb. 24, 2014

Spanish Fort get second grocery ... and the crowd goes wild!

Rouses, a Lousiana-based grocery, opened its Spanish Fort location on Feb. 22 to a packed house.

Many residents of Spanish Fort had been forced to shop in Daphne or at the Publix near the Eastern Shore Centre since Bruno's closed its doors in November at the Hwy. 225 & 31 intersection.

Throughout the weekend, Rouses parking lot was full to overflowing as Eastern Shore residents streamed in to see what the newcomer grocery to Baldwin County would offer. They found plenty of the usual, but many offerings with a decidedly Louisiana twist, from hot French bread, to steamed crawfish to ready-made gumbo or shrimp & corn chowder.

Just having milk and bananas nearby was a nice thing, too.

Posted in Community News
Sept. 20, 2012

When you need a quick break from it all, try Bayfront Park in Daphne, AL

Bayfront Park pavilion overlooks Mobile Bay and is accessible by taking U.S. Hwy. 98 South to Scenic 98, then taking an immediate right on Bayfront Drive (or Bel Air). This is the perfect location for watching a pretty sunset or spending an afternoon fishing. Bayfront Park is also home to the Richard Scardamalia Pavilion, which can be rented for wedding celebrations and the like. Bay front also has several nature trails and that lead to two boardwalks with bench sitting. This is one park where you need to keep your dog on a leash as alligators can be spotted when in season.

Posted in Community News
March 30, 2012

Comparing Baldwin County schools by test scores

You can't judge a school system just by its test scores, but it sure is a good place to start.

So check out the Alabama State Department of Education's Accountability Reporting System.

Pick the school you'd like to research and then you'll have an option of choosing from 4 Alabama test reports, including the High School Graduation Exam, and the Stanford Achievement Test.

If you want to get my take on the school system from a veteran parent, just give me a call at 251 591-2411 --- Janet

Posted in Community News
Jan. 30, 2012

Cheryl's Cafe & Market: A lunchtime institution

If the Eastern Shore is where Mayberry meets Maguaritaville, then Cheryl's Cafe is pure Mayberry, where regulars are greeted by name and non-regulars are soon to find something so addictive on the menu that they join the following.

Unauspcious at the end of a small strip of shops at U.S. 98 and Hwy. 31 in Spanish Fort, Cheryl's offers a a variety of fresh sandwiches and sides, as well as a heartier host of specials that change each day. Get there too late and you may watch as your favorite is wiped off the board.

What it all comes down to is that Cheryl is a very good cook, who has compiled a few secrets that simply enhance a standard dish.

So here are some of my favorites from the printed menu:

Chinese Chicken Salad: Ramen noodles are toasted and tossed with sheddred cabbage, lean chicken, water chestnuts, scallions, sesame seeds and an oil-and-vinegar dressing.

Chicken Salad: Maybe best around. Light and refreshing with mayo and crushed pineapple (yes, Cheryl has revealed a few of her secrets over the years).

Club Sandwich: Easily feeding two, everything is fresh here from the Boar's Head meats to the tomatoes. This sandwich is so thick every bite's a challenge.

Mitch's Reuben: My father's favorite, with tender, lean corned beef piled high, kraut and Thousand Island dressing on rye.

Sides are pasta salad, fresh fruit, cole slaw or potato salad, all freshly prepared.

From the day's menu, you may find pot roast or chicken and dumplings, shrimp salad or crawfish bisque. Any one of these will please and you can pick from about a dozen vegetables to round out your meal.

Some of my favorites:

Taco salad, with fresh greens, taco meat, beans, avocado, cheese and chips topped with a sort of salsa/Thousand Island dressing.

Tender pot roast with sweet green beans and a to-die-for yellow squash casserole. Cheryl has shared the secret to the green beans, but I shouldn't give everything away.

Service is quick and efficient. So this is often where I stop for lunch with buyers looking for real estate in Spanish Fort or Daphne.

It's snug at Cheryl's with barely enough room to maneuver between the red-and-white checked tablecloths, so this is not the place for intimate conversations.

Prices are moderate.

Address: 6580-D Spanish Fort, Blvd.

Phone: 251-626-2602

Posted in Community News