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Home Inventory Checklist

March 7th, 2017 | Comments Off on Home Inventory Checklist | Posted in Personal Tips, Trips & Traps

Why create a home inventory checklist?

Though your homeowners insurance policy provides the protection that you need in the event of a loss such as a fire or burglary, your policy can only pay for items that you can document. In order to assure that all your prize possessions will be replaced, you should conduct a home inventory so you have a finite record of everything that you own. This inventory will assist you in determining which items were destroyed or stolen.

How should you conduct a home inventory?

To complete a full home inventory, walk through every room in your home and identify all of the contents. It is also wise to take photographs or make a video of all of your possessions, and keep this media documentation with your list. Then, place all of this information into a fireproof safe or safety deposit box at your bank.

Periodically, update this list as you purchase more items for your home.

How does a home inventory list relate to my insurance policy?

Not only can a household inventory checklist assist you in the event of a loss, it can also help you determine whether you have enough insurance coverage. Your coverage should equal the cost of your possessions at today’s prices. Items such as jewelry, furs and fine art should be appraised on a regular basis to ensure that you have enough insurance to cover their high-priced value.

Once you have completed your home inventory walk-thru, contact Hodge, Hart & Schleifer for more assistance with your insurance needs.

Download the Home Inventory Checklist here.

Prepare for Tax Season

March 7th, 2017 | Comments Off on Prepare for Tax Season | Posted in Live Well, Work Well

Tax season is almost upon us and it is important that you have all the information you need to file your 2016 tax returns. Below is some general information to help you understand the filing process. If you have any specific questions related to your filing situation, it is important to consult with a tax professional.

How to File

Many people elect to file their tax returns electronically. This can be done in a variety of ways, including tax-preparation software, like Turbo Tax, consulting a tax return professional or using the IRS’ Free File software, if you qualify.

Forms to Include

If you are filing with a paper form, there are certain documents you must be sure to include. Required forms include the following:

  • A copy of your W-2 for each of your employers over the last calendar year.
  • A copy of Form W-2C (a corrected W-2 form), if received from your employer.
  • A copy of Forms W-2G and 1099-R, if federal income tax was withheld.

For more information on how to file, what forms to include, credits you qualify for or any other filing-related questions, please visit the IRS’ Interactive Tax Assistant tool. This interactive tool was designed by the IRS to help individuals navigate the tax filing realm.

View more Live Well, Work Well tips here.

Remodel: Do you have coverage?

March 7th, 2017 | Comments Off on Remodel: Do you have coverage? | Posted in Hedda's Hints

You’ve hired a reputable builder, collected paint swatches and selected the siding and now you’re finally ready to start that long-awaited remodeling project. CONTACT US TODAY: Tel: 240-644-6000

What Protection Does it Offer?

Whether your addition budget is large or small, you are adding both the value of your home and your exposure to risk. To ensure that your project goes smoothly and that you have the coverage you need, here’s what you need to know.

Working with General Contractors

The best way to minimize your renovation risk is to hire a reputable general contractor for the job. As part of the biding process, ask the general contractor to provide a Certificate of Insurance and/or copies of the policies. Specifically, check for coverage for the following:

  • Workers’ Compensation: Verify that he or she has workers’ compensation coverage in the event that an employee or subcontractor gets hurt on the job.
  • General Liability: Ask if the contractor has liability insurance, which covers losses due to negligence and errors or omission, which results in property damage. Also ask that you are added as an “additional insured.”
  • Builders Risk: This policy is designed to cover damage to your home and materials, including those not installed yet. We can help you verify whether you should require this from your contractor, based on your renovation project.

Advice for Do-It-Yourselfers

If you decide to do it alone and manage a renovation yourself, you assume all the risks. A review of your homeowners coverage for liability and property is prudent, as you are assuming more risks and exposures than contemplated by homeowners insurance.
Hiring subcontractors who can provide you with a “Certificate of Insurance” or copies of their policies showing their general liability and workers’ compensation coverage is mandatory for your legal protection. Otherwise, you could be subject to workers’ compensation laws, should they become injured while working on your home. If a friend or relative helps out as a favor and gets injured, your homeowners insurance typically covers the cost of their injuries, up to your policy limits. For an extra layer of protection, it’s a good idea to also carry umbrella liability coverage, which kicks in to provide liability coverage above your homeowners limits.

If a Tree Falls, Who Pays?

March 7th, 2017 | Comments Off on If a Tree Falls, Who Pays? | Posted in Misc

Every year, storms are responsible for felling countless trees and limbs. Unfortunately, some of those fallen trees damage homes and other property.

Cleaning up the damage from a storm can be a difficult task, both physically and emotionally, and things can become especially tense when you discover that it’s your neighbor’s tree that damaged your house.

To make matters worse, many homeowners are surprised to discover that if a neighbor’s tree falls on their house, it’s usually their own homeowners policy—not their neighbor’s—that will cover the cost of the damages. What follows are general guidelines for who pays what in various situations, but you should also check your homeowners policy for coverages and exclusions.

Your Property, Your Policy

Generally speaking, if your property is damaged, you are responsible for the damages. It doesn’t matter if the tree or limb came from your property, your neighbor’s property or even municipal property.

Keep in mind that a windstorm isn’t anyone’s fault; it’s an act of nature. If a tree does damage your property during a windstorm, your policy will cover the damages. After all, that’s why you purchased a homeowners policy—to protect yourself against unforeseen losses like a tree damaging your house.

Their Property, Their Policy

It might seem unfair that if it’s your neighbor’s tree that damages your home, you should have to pay. Fortunately for you, that standard applies both ways. If a storm rolls through and your tree falls and damages your neighbor’s house, his or her insurance is going to cover the damages.

Negligence and Liability

So far, these scenarios have been fairly straightforward, but what happens when it wasn’t a storm that fell the tree?

Instead, your neighbor’s tree was hollowed out from years of disease, and he’d neglected to do anything about it. In fact, it was so diseased that you expressed your concern to your neighbor that it might topple over and damage your property. Unfortunately, one day, that’s exactly what happens. What then?

Your insurance carrier is still going to be the one paying your claim. However, if you can prove your neighbor knew that the tree was diseased and that he or she neglected to fix it, your insurance carrier would probably attempt to collect from your neighbor’s insurance. If All your carrier is successful, you could be reimbursed for your deductible.

Remember, though, this rule also applies the other way. If you have diseased or damaged trees on your property and they damage your neighbor’s house, he or she can try to prove your negligence. Your property is your responsibility, so it’s best to inspect your trees every year for signs of disease or damage. If you’re not sure what you’re looking for, consider having a professional arborist examine your trees.

Other Structures

If the tree doesn’t damage your house but instead damages your fence, are you still covered? Generally, you are.

Most homeowners policies distinguish between two different kinds of structures on your property. The “dwelling” refers to your house and any attached structures (like an attached garage), as well as any fixtures attached to the house. “Other structures,” including detached garages, sheds, fences or gazebos, are also insured, but typically only for 10 percent of the coverage on your dwelling.


If, in the aftermath of a storm, you discover that a tree has fallen on your car, your homeowners policy doesn’t apply. Instead, you’ll be looking at your auto policy.

If you have comprehensive coverage on your vehicle, your auto insurance carrier will pay for the damages, after you pay your deductible. The same rule would apply to a guest’s car. Hopefully, he or she took out comprehensive coverage, too.

Removal and Cleanup

What if the tree fell but didn’t hit anything? Would you be covered for removal costs?

If the fallen tree blocks a path to your front door or driveway, then many homeowners policies would pay for removal. Generally, the maximum coverage is around $500.

If the tree simply falls in the middle of your yard, your policy likely wouldn’t cover it. Unless the fallen tree damaged insured property, there is no loss to file a claim for.


Replacing the trees themselves can be more complicated. Trees that have fallen due to wind damage may or may not be covered, so it’s best to check with your broker.

Most policies offer limited coverage for trees that have fallen due to fire, lightning, explosion, theft, vandalism, malicious mischief or aircraft. Amounts and exclusions will vary, so it’s important to read your policy and check with your broker if you have any questions.

Making Sure You’re Covered

Hopefully, your trees grow and endure. In the event that they fall, it’s important to know that you’re covered. Contact Hodge, Hart & Schleifer today to make sure that you have sufficient coverage for whatever might blow your way.

Staging Your Home for Sale

March 7th, 2017 | Comments Off on Staging Your Home for Sale | Posted in Misc

Las Vegas real estate broker Kamran Zand, founder of Luxury Estates International, knows a little something about staging a home for quick sale. He recently set a record for the highest price paid per square foot for a high-rise condo on the Las Vegas Strip: $1,633 per square foot for a 3,980-square-foot penthouse, once owned by famed developer Kirk Kerkorian, in the Mandarin Oriental Las Vegas. The condo was under contract with a local buyer before it was even listed.

Zand is steadily selling luxury in a postcrash economy where prices are on the rise, and he actively coaches his sellers on how to get their properties sold as quickly as possible. Staging is a key part of that equation: Zand even launched a virtual house-staging service to help clients succeed. In a recent Real Estate Staging Association study of 1,081 homes, unstaged homes spent an average of 184 days on the market; after staging, they sold on average in 41 days. Homes that were staged prior to going on the market sold on average in only 23 days.

We asked Zand for some of his top tips for getting your home ready to sell—fast.

If you want to sell your house but haven’t moved out, what are the most important things you can do to prepare?
Having your home impeccably clean is crucial! You’ll want to declutter and rearrange the furniture to open the spaces of your home. You want potential buyers to focus on your home, not on the items in your home.

Should you “neutralize” your home by, for example, painting over saturated wall colors? And can décor choices affect sale price?
Absolutely, on both counts. Neutralizing a home will open possibilities to more buyers, since this allows them to visualize the property’s potential. Saturated paint colors and very personal décor may inhibit a buyer, since they might not have the ability to see through your personal choices and envision themselves in the space. And make sure that you address the home’s curb appeal by having the landscape refreshed and any cosmetic repairs made to the home’s exterior.

Should sellers expect their broker to advise them on what to clear out and what to keep?
As an expert in my field, I make sure the properties I list are up to showing standards. It’s to everyone’s benefit to make sure properties don’t sit on the market for long periods of time. Agents should know what buyers are looking for.

Should you stage your empty home? If so, should you rely on a staging company or simply leave some furniture behind to illustrate the purpose of each room?
Lightly staging a home is crucial, since it gives the potential buyer some visual clues to what the home will look like. A staging company can fully stage a home or work around furniture you already have to help show the property in its best light. The best idea when working with a staging company is to let them do their job! Sometimes sellers are so personally invested in their home, they have a difficult time letting go. Professional stagers know how to do just enough—but not too much—to make your home look inviting, neutral and ready for your buyers.

March 2017 Festivals and Events

March 7th, 2017 | Comments Off on March 2017 Festivals and Events | Posted in Spotlight on the Community

The Washington, DC area and its surrounding communities in Maryland and Virginia host lots of annual festivals and special events. All dates, prices, and activities mentioned are subject to change, so please check the official website or call to confirm information. Please note that most of these events are held each year and the dates are updated as available.

Francophonie Cultural Festival
Throughout March 2017. Learn about French culture through a variety of concerts, theatrical performances, films, culinary tastings, literary salons, children’s workshops, and more.  Washington DC hosts the largest Francophone festival in the world.

Washington Wizards Basketball
See NBA games live at the Verizon Center or enjoy the national broadcasts throughout the season.

Washington Capitals
The NHL Hockey team plays at the Verizon Center. Find information on tickets, schedules and more.

Women’s History Month
March is Women’s History Month. Washington, DC is the home to the many important sites that are dedicated to preserving and honoring the contributions of women. This month is a great time to visit these museums and historical sites.

Intersections Arts Festival
Through March 5, 2017. Atlas Performing Arts Center,  Washington DC. The event features visual art, film screenings, literary readings and dance, musical and dramatic productions by more than 30 artists and cultural institutions.

Alexandria Saint Patrick’s Day Parade
March 4, 2017. Old Town Alexandria celebrates the Irish holiday with a classic car show, a dog show and a Saint Patrick’s Day Parade. Elected officials; the Irish Ambassador; military commanders; and other local celebrities participate along with local scouts, marines and high school bands.

Annapolis Irish Weekend
March 4-5, 2017. Annapolis celebrates St. Patrick’s Day with ten days of events including a parade, music, an Irish Coffee competition and more.

Frederick Restaurant Week
March 6-12, 2017. The 7-day promotion features fixed-price lunch and dinner options in the city of Frederick, Maryland and the surrounding area.

Grand Opening Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Visitor Center 
March 10, 2017. Maryland Eastern Shore.  A new state park, visitor center and national monument will commemorate the life and legacy of the legendary abolitionist through state-of-the-art exhibits and educational programming.

Rock and Roll Marathon
March 11, 2017, The Marathon is a 26.2 mile, 13.1 mile or 5K race to raise money for charitable organizations. A Health and Fitness Expo will be held on March 10-11.

Saint Patrick’s Day Parades
Dates vary by location. Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day at a parade in Washington, DC, Alexandria, Virginia or Gaithersburg, Maryland. Enjoy a day of Irish music, dancing and fun. See also Irish Restaurants and Pubs

National Shamrock Festival
March 11, 2017, 1-9 p.m. RFK Stadium, Washington DC. Enjoy a day of family fun at the largest Saint Patrick’s Day party and street festival in the DC area featuring more than 50 live bands.

DC Environmental Film Festival
March 14-26, 2017.Times and locations vary. See documentary, feature, animated, archival, experimental and children’s films from around the world at a variety of venues around Washington, DC.

National Cherry Blossom Festival
March 20 – April 16, 2017. See the blossoming of thousands of cherry trees on the Tidal Basin in Washington, DC. The capital welcomes spring with this annual tradition begun by the gift of 600 trees to the United States from Japan in 1912. Don’t miss the parade, kite festival, concerts, fireworks and cultural events.

Marine Corps Marathon Lottery 
March 22, 2017. The lottery is open to participate in the annual race in October. Don’t miss your chance to sign up.

Grand Opening American Revolution Museum at Yorktown 
March 23-April 4, 2017. Yorktown, VA. The new museum will host an opening event with a patriotic salute to America’s 13 original states, a dedication ceremony, and military music and 18th-century interpretive experiences. A specially themed event will take place each of the days in honor of each state that was among the original 13 colonies.

Maryland Day Celebration
March 24-26, 2017. Historical and cultural institutions in Annapolis and southern Anne Arundel County open their doors to the public offering special tours, events, and programming for $1.00 or less.

March 24-May 6, 2017. Crystal City, VA. The ?free one-of-a-kind art extravaganza features a wide variety of paintings, sculpture, photography, music, theater, poetry, dance and workshops. 

Marine Corps 17.75K
March 25, 2017. Prince William County, VA. The unique 17.75K distance of 11.03 miles will be held just outside Marine Corps Base Quantico taking runners on a course along the wooded paths and scenic roads of Prince William Forest Park.

Spring Theater in Washington DC
Check out the spring theater scene in Washington DC. With dozens of performances around the capital region, here is the schedule of the top shows for the 2017 season.

CineMatsuri – Japanese Film Festival
2017 Dates to Be Announced. The festival will screen five recent Japanese films, each in a different genre, that showcase the diversity and richness of Japanese film making today.

Annapolis Film Festival
March 30-April 2, 2017. The Annapolis Film Festival will showcase more than 70 African-American and African films with a focus on black storytelling.

For more information on attractions, sightseeing, entertainment, shopping, recreation, sports, and things to do all year-round, see Top 10 Things to Do in the Washington DC/Capital Region

Source: dc.about.com