Love that Honey Bee

By Tony Ricci, Sales Associate

If you like to eat, you should love honey bees.

Honey bees are fascinating creatures that play a vital role in the cycle of life. In the process of collecting pollen and nectar, they are pollinating plants.  Pollination is the act of transferring pollen grains from the male part of a plant to the female part of a plant. Once the pollen is transferred, the plant can create offspring by making seeds. Those seeds contain the genetic information to produce a new plant. The success of your flowers and vegetables depends on this process.

Honey bees are the maternity doctors of plant life!

Honey Bee at Work

Honey bees are very sophisticated. Even though a honey bee lives for only short six weeks, it has a very specific role in the success of a hive. Wild bees make hives in rock crevices, hollow trees and similar places. Domestic bees live in hives created by a bee keeper.

Honey bees spend their entire lives performing tasks that benefit the survival of their colony. Workers make up at least 85% of the colony and do all of the hard work. Tasks are assigned by age of the bee.  For the first three weeks of life, a honey bee lives inside the hive and take care of the queen bee as well as the new baby bees.  After the third week, the bee leaves the hive as a forager.  A bee can travel up to two miles to collect pollen and nectar to bring it back to a hive. Pollen is used mainly to feed the brood, while the nectar is used to make honey.

Apiarist at Work.

An “apiarist”, otherwise known as a beekeeper, manages and maintains colonies of honey bees. One job of a beekeeper is to keep the hives healthy and productive, so they can yield honey and other related products like beeswax and royal jelly. A beekeeper can also provide pollination services to farmers.

But for most of us, it’s all about the honey! That golden elixir that sweetens our tea, yogurt and baked goods and is so very, very delicious.   


Next time you see a honey bee in your yard or garden, send your “thanks” for all the hard work it does to provide us with our foods!

“Just for Fun” well, because, it’s fun to know this.

Tony Ricci is a Sales Associate at Abbott Properties LLC specializing in residential real estate and licensed in Rhode Island. Tony is also a committed and dedicated apiarist.

The Value of Paint

By Paul Harrison, Sales Associate

If you are looking to sell your house, building a new house, or just want a change, paint can go a long way.  It will give you the biggest bang for your buck.  A DIYer can achieve a good result by following some simple rules.  These are the rules that every professional painter will follow.

You might think that buying the paint color is your first step.  That’s a rookie mistake, it’s not.  The first step is prep, prep, prep.  A great paint over walls or trim that hasn’t been prepared properly just won’t look good. 

If you’re building a new house, but doing the painting yourself, prepare the substrate, meaning the walls and trim.  Fill in nail holes with a high quality wood filler. Sand and tack rag the surface to remove all traces of dust.   Don’t use painter’s putty. Painter’s putty dries quickly, but doesn’t give you the same finish, and because it is oil based, most latex paints won’t dry properly over it. You will know you did it right if there’s no sign of nail holes on your trim once the paint dries.  

New walls should be lightly sanded, then vacuumed to remove all of the dust.  This is important, because dust on the walls can lead to paint failure.  Apply a good quality primer.  Once the primer dries, examine the surface carefully to identity any imperfections on the surface.  Apply joint compound to the imperfections, wait for it to dry, then sand, vacuum and prime that area again.  Similar process for drywall, but sanding should be done only on the compounded joints.  Two coats of good quality paint will get you to that high quality finish. 

For an existing home, follow the same rules on the trim. Fill those holes and fix any imperfections on wall surfaces. You won’t need to prime painted trim. But do prime walls if you are going from an existing dark color to a new light color. If you don’t, two coats of paint may not be enough.

If you want to take on an exterior paint project, power wash before doing anything else.  To protect your foundation plantings and flowers, make sure you spray them with water before you begin the power wash.  Mix beach or TSP, apply liberally, then power wash.  Give the surface time to fully dry, then scrape any loose paint from the body and trim with a carbide tip scraper.  Apply primer to all bare wood areas.  Once the prep is done, apply two coats of a good quality exterior paint.


Now for the color! 

Color choice is the biggest obstacle for most DIYers.  That color you picked out from the paint chip under the florescent lights in the big box store will look very different on the surface in your home.  Before choosing any color, you should pick out the colors of the things that will also be in the room.  That means flooring, furniture and even curtains.  Go to the paint store and pick up a “painter’s fan”.    That’s the color tool that all professional painters have in their toolbox. Take the painter’s fan home and chose the colors in the room you are painting.

Painter’s Fan

If you are painting the trim and go with white, understand that there are hundreds of shades of white. Same for the color you choose for the walls. A particular shade of blue, for example, can look very different on walls based upon the white you chose for the trim. In the images below, same blue, different white, different result.

Narrow it down by placing the sample colors in different areas of the room you are painting, placing the colors together near your flooring, furniture and accessories.  This will give you a good feel of how the colors will flow in the room.

If you don’t like what you see, pick out more samples and try it again.  When you “think” it is right, buy small samples of the trim and wall paint colors and apply it to an area.  Look at it during different times of the day. Once you “know” it is right, you are ready to buy that paint for your project. With the work involved, you don’t want to have to do it a second time. Get the color right the first time.

Use eggshell for the walls and semi-gloss for the trim, again applying two coats of quality paint.  A good paint job will last about five years. Final tip. Use a good quality paintbrush and roller appropriate for the paint you purchase.

By following these simple rules and taking your time, you will achieve a result you will enjoy for years to come.  

Consider This” is a series that provides tips to buyers and sellers of residential real estate.

Paul Harrison is a Sales Associate at Abbott Properties specializing on new construction and residential real estate developments. He has extensive experience in the construction industry. Paul also owns and operates Harrison Painting.

Declutter = Money

By Erin Sheridan, Sales Associate

Spring is here and the season to sell is upon us.  If you are prepared to dive in and sell your home, where do you start?  

First and foremost, declutter!  Why?  Because Space Sells!

Decluttering is an essential aspect of achieving the highest sale price for your home, period. Nothing gives you the greatest return on your investment than decluttering, period.   Decluttering before your first showing will result in thousands more in your pocket.  And it’s absolutely free. You just have to do it.

Remember, the biggest reason people give for moving is lack of space in their current home. Buyers are looking for a home that gives them the space they need now, plus more to grow into in the future. As the seller, you want to visually encourage the buyer to see the space in your house and imagine themselves happily living in it.

Here’s the psychology. Buyers get distracted by the stuff they see when they walk into a cluttered home and overlook what they should be looking at instead.   Things like the great light, the floor space, the spacious storage and the flow of the house.

Whether it’s done consciously or subconsciously, the Buyer is making a judgment comparing your life to the better life they aspire to in a new home. If they come into your home and conclude that you are running out of space because they see too much stuff, then they will conclude they will not have enough room for all of their stuff. It’s that simple. It’s the biggest turnoff you could give.

A buyer should be able to open cupboards and doors easily. There should be no obstacles to prevent them from walking within a room or from one room to the next. Closets, storage spaces and garages should be cleaned out and organized. You certainly don’t want a buyer to open a closet and have things that will fall on them or trip over the snow shovel as they walk from the kitchen into the garage!

To start to declutter, walk from room to room in your house and make a real objective judgment about what stays and what goes. If you don’t trust your judgment, ask a friend to look and don’t be sensitive about what you hear. Make a list. Then pull out the trash cans, rent a dumpster and grab a bunch of boxes or plastic bins.

Either pack or trash anything that you don’t need for your immediate day-to-day life starting from the day the house goes on the market. . Things like off season sports equipment, out of season clothes and that crock pot and bread maker you haven’t used for the last five years are all examples of items to pack or trash. You will probably find outdated food if you look in the back of the kitchen cabinets. And those pants you hoped would fit one day, probably won’t. While you are at it, pack those family photos, the awards from work and remove all the clutter from your counters and surface space. 

Say to yourself Space Sells as you go from room to room.

Once you think you are done, take a second look. Do more things need to go to achieve your Space Sells goal? If so, do it again. When you are satisfied that a Buyer will see all that space in your house and imagine themselves happily living in it, you are done. Your house is ready for showings, plus it will be easier to keep it ready for showings during the process.

The other added benefit of decluttering? Your packing and clean out is half finished.

And most importantly, the decluttering makes you emotionally moved out and ready when the house does sell.  As you start to see your house changing, it will become less your home and more like a place you are staying temporarily while getting ready for your next adventure.  That next adventure being your new home!

Consider This” is a series that provides tips to buyers and sellers of residential real estate.

Erin Sheridan is licensed in both Rhode Island and Connecticut. She is a sales associate and Team Leader of the Sheridan Group at Abbott Properties.

10 Ways to Decorate a Beach House on a Budget

By Maureen Lawton, Guest Blogger


Vintage and antique add charm.  There’s a lot to be said about furniture and objects of yesteryear.  Nothing is more sturdy and made with such craftsmanship as those pieces.  Breathe new life into them.  Paint them.  Re-purpose them. Use them. Love them!


Paint goes a long way in making an impact and making things feel fresh.  And you don’t have to paint everything.  Try a pale blue ceiling in one room, or just paint the bottom half in another room.  How about a coat of dark navy blue on an old set of stairs?  It’s gorgeous!


Mix painted and natural woods.  Even though the chalk and distressed painted looks are awesome, don’t forget to use some of your beautiful old natural wood pieces in the mix.  Natural wood warms a space, brings depth and grounds us to our roots.


Use your imagination.  Hang something unexpected on the wall and it will transform your space. Use architectural pieces like an iron gate, a door or shutters for interest.  Be sure to include a mirror or two in every room to bring in light.  And hang things low on the walls to ground the eye.  


Always a pretty option. Go to a junk shop or flea market and look for something you can turn into a shelf.  Or find a weathered one.  Start with a seascape, then layer it by adding a lantern, a starfish, a block and tackle……


Lanterns or boat lighting are amazing in a beach house.  Did you know its okay to hang an exterior light inside your house?  You don’t have to spend a fortune to find unique lighting.


Don’t get caught up with millennial grays.  The days of gray are over. Coastal beiges and blues are back in style, classic and just as beautiful as ever.   Everyone loves the beautiful tones of the sea and sand in a beach cottage.


Choose ONE piece you love and build upon it.  It can be a bowl, a lamp, a rug, a couch or a painting.  Then search your cabinet, hutch and another rooms to find things to compliment that ONE piece.   You can change up a whole house with things you already have in the basement or in another room.  Re-arrange it.


Gone are the days of heavy drapery. A sweet valance in the kitchen or a shade and a valance in a bedroom is a nice touch. Or my favorite, use a white sheer that will blow in the breeze of an open window.  Be creative. You can use a scarf, runner, lace tablecloth, shawl or anything interesting to embellish a window.  Look in your drawer, go to the thrift shop or a church bazaar to find inexpensive gorgeous textiles.  Just love it!


We live in an area of all things nautical. It is easy to find “things of the coast” to embrace to make your home the quintessential beach house.  Dark woods and nautical objects of yesteryear are all around us.  Buoys, ships wheels, anchors, propellers, barometers, block and tackle, portholes, clam baskets, oars, rope, memorabilia are easily found in our area.  Go to a marine consignment shop or tag sale. Or just walk the beach and scour the dock for unique objects to incorporate into your décor.

Maureen Lawton is the owner of Cottage Cottage Chic, a Rhode Island design company located in South County RI that specializes in coastal property interior decorating, furniture and furnishings.

Tips for the First Time Home Buyer

By Amanda Rose, Sales Associate

If you’re a first time home buyer, the stress of choosing the perfect house for your family can feel overwhelming at first.  While that stress may seem very real, it is often unnecessary. Instead of entering the market trying to find a house that is perfect in every way, keep an open mind. Approach the situation with a willingness to hear ideas and you are much more likely to find a home that you and your family will love. The process can be long and require work, but it will be worth it in the end.  And it doesn’t have to drive you crazy.

Here are some tips to guide you when you are trying to find a new home and how to know if it is the right one for you.


The easiest way to narrow down the right house for you is to start by deciding what you either can’t live without or cannot tolerate. If two bedrooms will never work for you, or you must have a large backyard for your pets, create a list of those things so that you can rule out properties that just aren’t worth your time. 


There may be times when you walk into a home and it seems like it may fit what you need, but there is just something off that you can’t shake. On that same note, if you tour a home and you instantly fall in love, don’t doubt your feelings. Sleeping on a house you love for too long can result in you losing that home to someone else. Trust your instincts and you will end up in the home that is perfect for you.


Can you see yourself in this home? Can you imagine your children playing in the backyard and doing homework in the kitchen? If you are touring a home and can already picture of what it would be like for your family to live there, you are heading in the right direction.


While a house may check most of your boxes, don’t forget to consider the neighborhood. Are things that are important to your family close by? Are you close enough to good schools or your place of employment? Make sure that you consider location factors so that you don’t end up in a home that becomes an inconvenience.


While it is important to know what you want and trust your gut in the process, don’t forget that your agent has your best interest in mind. Your agent wants to find you the perfect home and will work hard.   An experienced agent knows the “ins and outs” of the real estate world. Trust your agent.

The experienced buyer agents at Abbott Properties can help you find that perfect home.  Give us a call.

Consider This” is a series that provides tips to buyers and sellers of residential real estate.

Amanda Rose is a buyer agent who specializes in working with first time home buyers. She is a team member of the Sheridan Realty Group at Abbott Properties.

The “Colonial”

  By Karen Catuogno, Broker/Owner, Abbott Properties LLC  

When someone describes a house by saying “It’s a Colonial”, different things will come to mind to different people. That’s because the term “colonial” refers to several different building styles. 

Why is that?

What a colonial looks like depends upon where you live. Let’s look at the term “colonial” first.  The term comes from the word colony, meaning a group of people who settle in a new, usually distant, place but keep ties to their homeland.   It’s the ties to the homeland that defines the specific colonial style.  Keep in mind that people from many different countries settled in America.  English, Dutch, French, Germans and the others all wanted “a little bit of home” in this new world.   They built what they knew.

New England colonists built primarily of wood, in a style similar to the homes found at that time in the southeastern areas of England.   Both the steep rear roofed structure called the Saltbox and the simple rectangular house called the Cape Cod are common examples of a New England Colonial. 

“New England Saltbox”

In what is now New York, New Jersey and Delaware, many of the colonists were from the Low Countries, like Holland and Flanders, and from Germany.   A style known as the “Dutch Colonial” developed there.  The gambrel roof, a symmetrical two sided roof with two slopes on each side, is its most recognizable feature.  You are more likely to see stone or brick construction, not just wood, in an original Dutch Colonial. 

“Wood Dutch Colonial”
“Brick Dutch Colonial”

The southern colonies of Maryland, Virginia and the Carolinas favored a style known as the Georgian Colonial.  It also looks back to styles form England, but you will likely see a two story symmetrical brick or wood house with a central passage hall and large chimneys on either end of the house.

“Georgian Colonial”

The Swedes introduced the log cabin to America.  The French in the Louisiana territory built houses with raised basements which supported the living area reached by an exterior staircase that led you to a veranda that stretched the length or around the entire exterior.  Roofs were typically steep, sometimes with dormers.   

“Log Cabin”
“Louisiana French Colonial”

The Spanish colonized a huge area over a long period of time.   Florida, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, California as well as parts of Louisiana were once Spanish colonies.   As a result, a Spanish Colonial looks different in Florida than what it looks like in California or Texas.   Floor plans varied, and it could be asymmetrical. Roofs were typically low pitched or flat, frequently with a tile roof.  Half round arches might appear over doors and windows.  Stucco was a commonly used building material.   The variations are many.

“Spanish Colonial in Florida”
“Spanish Colonial California”

Of course, no one style of an original colonial was restricted to any one area. Colonial builders used materials that were readily available to them, so that homeland styles were modified. As people moved, they brought their distinctive styles with them.  And as time passed, these original colonial styles underwent series of changes and saw periods of “revival”.

Stay tuned for more in this series in which each of these styles and many more will be explored in more detail.  The architecture in America is as varied as its people. 

American Architecture” is a series that explores the many styles of homes found throughout the United States.

Karen Catuogno is a commercial and residential broker licensed in Rhode Island and Massachusetts. She maintains, develops and grow business at the agency as it relates to sales and listings. She also works to recruit agents, in talent development and leads the agency’s marketing program. Karen is a retired attorney.

Historic Districts

  By Karen Catuogno, Broker/Owner, Abbott Properties LLC  

If you’ve driven through an older neighborhood and noticed all of the houses have something in common that makes you go “wow”, chances are you have come across a Historic District.

Historic Districts are groups of buildings or properties recognized as historically or architecturally significant and linked together in some fashion. Think Greenwich Village in New York, the French Quarter in New Orleans or Ocean Road in Narragansett RI. 

Historic districts are tangible links to our past.  The buildings and neighborhoods bring meaning to history and to peoples’ lives.  When you can see and touch something, it is more real.  In the less than 100 years since the idea for historic districts was born, there are now more than 2300 historic districts in the United States.  They are an important part of the American real estate fabric.

Is a historic district home right for you? If you are considering a home in a historic district, be aware of what it means. If you are looking, it’s probably because you want to be a part of that special feeling.  There’s a certain prestige and pride associated with owning a home in a historic district.  You become a part of a large, like-minded group of people interested in keeping history alive.  But there are some constraints.

So what are the pros and cons?

Two of the biggest benefits of historic district home ownership are value and aesthetics, two factors intertwined.  Property values in local historic districts appreciate significantly more than value in the market as a whole and even in terms of other neighborhoods in the same town.  That boundary line makes a big different.

And you will be protected from your neighbors’ bad taste, something you can’t protect against under the building code. Being assured that a sliding glass door and deck will never be installed across the street in that pristine Second Empire neighborhood gives you peace of mind and value stability.

The quality of design is better. The local economy is also positively impacted because of tourism, resulting in a more stable tax base. Plus there are the social and psychological benefits of living in an attractive and walkable neighborhood where the existing resources continue to have a purpose and use.

But what if you need to make a repair or wish to build an addition?  The purpose of a historic district is not to make change impossible.  It’s to make sure that the change is appropriate.  Repairs and changes are permitted, but there’s a process which takes extra time. There will likely be materials and construction requirements which may cost you more out of pocket dollars.

Take that pristine Second Empire neighborhood you live in.  Neighbor’s house is in dire need new siding and your neighbor loves the ease and cost of that “in stock” vinyl siding.  Before a building permit issues, your neighbor must first go to the local governing agency, probably the Historic District Commission, to have the proposed change reviewed. A hearing date will be scheduled.  Residents of the neighborhood like you have the right to appear and voice an opinion.

The Commission will apply standards to determine if the change is appropriate to the aesthetic of the district. If that vinyl siding doesn’t meet the “appropriateness” standard, it won’t be allowed. Neighbor will then have to buy that custom wood replica of the original, plus pay for a specialist to install.   And that addition?  It will be reviewed and allowed if the design and materials “fit” the district.  Think architect costs, not Bob the Builder. 

The cost of that “wow” will likely mean more time to secure permissions and more out of pocket dollars for repairs, additions and other improvements. 

Like any other decision in deciding to buy real estate, do your research up front and make an informed decision.  Rules and laws vary from state to state, and even from town to town, so know the rules and regulations that apply to the specific Historic District that interests you.  

Lastly, consider hiring a realtor with expertise is historic districts who can help your with questions.  The agents at Abbott Properties can provide helpful guidance in navigating those Historic District questions.

If you do buy, enjoy your “wow”! 

Government Rules and Your Property” is a series that explores how federal, state and local laws and regulations affect your property. Karen currently services as a Member of the Historic District Commission in Narragansett RI

Karen Catuogno is a commercial and residential broker licensed in Rhode Island and Massachusetts. She maintains, develops and grow business at the agency as it relates to sales and listings. She also works to recruit agents, coaches in talent development and leads the agency’s marketing program. Karen is a retired attorney.

Zoning and Use

 By Karen Catuogno, Broker/Owner, Abbott Properties LLC  

            One of the biggest factors that determine what you can do with your property is zoning. 

Zoning is a set of local laws or regulations that dictate how property can and cannot be used in a certain geographic area.   Cities and towns, as well as its residents, are always concerned about the orderly development of its land, which is the reason for zoning.  By dividing up by zones, everyone can be reasonably assured about what is likely to happen with the land near to them.  

            Zoning and “use” are concepts that go hand in hand.  Zoning is the designation.  Use is the things you can actually do in the zone.  All cities and towns maintain zoning maps to tell you the zone designation.  They also maintain lists or tables of “use” that explain what you can and cannot do in a particular zone.

            What is the purpose of zoning?  In very simple terms, it makes sure things that belong together stay together.   Think Mary Smith, who bought that vacant parcel on a lake and built her beautiful dream home.  Can Big Gas Company buy that 20 acre vacant parcel next door to build a supersized 20 pump truck stop for long haul truckers?  Probably not.   Mary will be protected by local zoning ordinances that will limit what can go into this area while Big Gas Company will be allowed to build its complex in an area that’s better suited for that purpose.

            While the types and number of zones can vary from municipality to municipality, they generally fall into similar categories.  Residential zones are where people live, and can be divided up into small sub-zones that separate out single family from multi-family units.  Business zones, where you see restaurants, gas station, stores and offices, are separate zones.  Industrial is also a special category that puts heavy duty uses like manufacturing into their own areas.  Each of these zones can be divided in smaller type zones, depending on the size and location of the municipality.  And municipality with bodies of water, farms and other special features can have special zones, like waterfront and agricultural.

            In many cities and towns, what people actually use the land for can sometimes seem inconsistent with the designated zone.  That family market on the street level with the apartment upstairs doesn’t fit in with the designated business zone. It’s probably allowed to exist because the apartment existed before the area was zoned business.  When that happens, it’s called a “pre-existing, non-conforming use”. 

            Zoning is not usually a big concern for most people buying a house. Look around the neighborhood and you can probably guess the zone.  But it can be.  If you want to buy that big old mansion and divide it into four units, be sure to check that the residential zone allows more than one unit.  When in doubt or if you have questions, check with your local zoning office.

            Zoning is a bigger concern for people looking for property for business use.  The “look around” approach doesn’t work here, because even though an area might “look” right for business, not every type of business is permitted in every type of business zone.

            For example, Main Street Everytown is a beautiful oceanfront town and is lined from end to end with all types of restaurants, specialty stores, and coffee shops.   John thinks it’s a perfect place to open a tattoo business.  Can that happen?  John should not automatically assume yes just because everything on Main Street is a business.  The list of permitted uses in that particular zone may limit what type of businesses can open in this area.  If John’s tattoo business isn’t on the list, he can’t open there. He may have to look in an area off of Main Street.   The same is true with vacant land.  A developer may think that 20 acre parcel is the perfect place to build 15 new houses.  But if the land is in a residential zone that requires 4 acres per house, he’s out of luck. 

            It’s always important to work with an experienced agent when buying residential property.  It’s absolutely critical if you are buying for a business use.  The residential and commercial agents at Abbott Properties are experienced with zoning issues and will get you the right answers.

Government Rules and Your Property” is a series that explores how federal, state and local laws and rules affect your property.

Karen Catuogno is a commercial and residential broker licensed in Rhode Island and Massachusetts. She maintains, develops and grows business at the agency as it relates to sales and listings. She also works to recruit agents, in talent development and leads the agency’s marketing program. Karen is a retired attorney.

Flood Zones

     By Karen Catuogno, Broker/Owner, Abbott Properties LLC     

It’s important to know if that property you want to buy is located in a flood zone. 

What is a flood zone?  In simple terms, a flood zone is a geographic area where it’s been determined there’s a risk of flooding.  The zone looks at the elevation of the property in relation to the nearby water areas. The risk of flooding can be low to very high.    You might automatically think ocean property because that’s obvious.  But flood zones exist all over the country. They are found next to rivers, lakes and streams when low lying land is close to water. You would be surprised where you will find a flood zone.

There are three basic types of flood zones. 

The “V” zone is the most hazardous type of area.  It includes beachfront properties where the hazard of flooding is increased because of wave velocity.  Waves can grow to enormous heights during a hurricane and high winds will push that water with great force and long distances inland.  The “V” Zone can include that waterfront cottage, but it might also include those houses going several streets back if the area is flat.

The “A” Zone” is the next in line for risk because it is subject to rising waters from a body of water.  That body of water can be near the ocean is right and might be right next to that “V Zone.   But an “A” Zone can also be near a lake, river or stream.   Remember, lakes, rivers and streams are everywhere.  That lazy, gentle creek next to the rural house in the Mid-West can turn into a raging floodwater under the right weather conditions.

That last major zone, the “X” Zone has minimal risk of flooding.  Again, it’s safe for now.  But keep in mind that could change in the future.

Knowing if a property you own or plan to buy is in a flood zone is critical because it affects your ability to borrow using your property as collateral. Think mortgage.  If you plan to buy a property in a “V” or “A” flood zone, you will be required to purchase flood insurance in order to get a mortgage.  Flood insurance is different than your homeowners’ insurance.  Homeowners’ insurance typically excludes flood damage.  Think two insurance policies, not one.

The yearly cost of flood insurance can sometimes be very significant.  Because the bank or mortgage company always wants to make sure you can afford that house, it will look at the cost of that flood premium and the homeowners insurance premium, in addition to the taxes, principal and interest payment. And if you already own that home?  If you decide to refinance or take out a line of credit, flood insurance will be alomost always be required, even if you have never had it in the past.  

There are also the non-financial factors.  Flood insurance will get you cash if you have a loss. But it won’t replace your precious family photos and mementos.  If you have a major loss, it could be months of rebuild before you are able to live in your house again, And that’s after you go through the red tape of filing that flood insurance claim.  Are you ready to live in temporary house for months while you rebuild?  That’s an emotional cost. 

FEMA, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, is responsible for determining whether an area is “in” or “out” of a flood zone.  These determinations are updated from time to time.  After Hurricane Sandy, for example, many of the flood zones on the east coast were updated.  A property once considered “out” of a flood zone, can find itself “in” a flood zone when the flood zone boundaries are updated. Keep that in mind if you buy in an “X” Zone.

If you do make the decision to purchase in a flood zone, there are two ways to buy a flood policy.  You can purchase insurance through the federal government under the National Flood Insurance Program.  That program will get you a maximum of $250,000 coverage for your home’s structure and $100,000 for the contents.  If your house costs more than that to rebuild or repair, that’s an out of pocket cost for you.  Or you can buy flood insurance through a private insurance company.  That will provide you with higher coverage limits.  The cost will depend upon the coverage you buy as well as the zone in which you live.

There’s a lot to think about when buying any house.  Flood zones is one big factor most people don’t think about upfront.  That’s why it’s important to work with an agent that knows how to help you determine if the house is in a flood zone and where to go for information about flood insurance.   

The real estate professions at Abbott Properties are always happy to help with any  questions you have on Flood Zones. Give us a call.

Government Rules and Your Property” is a series that explores how federal, state and local laws and regulations affect your property.

Karen Catuogno is a commercial and residential broker licensed in Rhode Island and Massachusetts. She maintains, develops and grows business at the agency as it relates to sales and listings. She also works to recruit agents, in talent development and leads the agency’s marketing program. Karen is a retired attorney.