Category Archives: Real Estate

Why Fear Insurance?

by P. Andersen, 10/9/14

CAI Tradeshow

This Saturday, October 11th, Levitt-Fuirst will have a booth at the Community Associations Institute Conference and Trade Show at the Ramada Inn in Fishkill, NY.  In addition, Jason Schiciano, President of Levitt-Fuirst, will be a part of the 9:00 a.m. panel “Can We Do This?”, discussing the legal, accounting, and insurance ramifications of what a property board can and cannot do.  We are a proud member of the CAI, and many of our clients are members as well – we are truly happy to be a part of the show.

The Levitt-Fuirst booth was recently created, and is intended to initiate conversation – “Why Fear Insurance?” is the slogan we decided on.  It seems some people think of insurance like they do the dentist, and we feel it shouldn’t be viewed with fear or avoidance.  Insurance is one of the good things in life, protecting our families and businesses from catastrophic loss, and keeping our world comfortable in the face of adversity.  It is Levitt-Fuirst’s goal to make insurance as pain free as possible – why fear insurance indeed?

Niche Markets

Levitt-Fuirst writes insurance for just about anyone, from the new homeowner to the multi-national manufacturer, but one of our specialties is condo and coop, or “habitational” insurance.  This is the insurance that the condo or coop has to have to protect the building and property from losses or claims.  If you live in a condo or a coop the New York/Westchester/Lower Hudson Valley region, or are a part of a community association in that area, there is a chance that we write the property and liability insurance for your building or association.  It is one of our specialties, along with construction, bonding, and high net worth personal insurance.

Insurance is an interesting business, with your success tied to many factors.  Clearly, there is the experience and knowledge of the area of expertise – having worked in real estate and construction for going on 50 years, it is understandable that we have that skillset.  As we have grown, we have broadened our reach as well, covering new industries from restaurants and food trucks, to manufacturing and technology firms.  With experience comes experience, and each year we find a new niche to broaden our reach and expand our business.  With each new experienced employee we hire, we have a broader, deeper pool of information to pull from as we write new policies.

Beyond the knowledge, however, are the relationships with the insurance carriers, the relationships with the communities in which we work and live, and the amazing referrals we receive from clients that appreciate what we bring to the table.  Levitt-Fuirst has always been a referral based agency – we don’t grow by acquisition, we grow by impressing our clients enough that they recommend new clients.  It is an old school philosophy that has truly worked for us, as we continue to succeed even in a difficult marketplace.

The Community Association Institute Conference and Trade Show

But back to the CAI show…  We exhibit because we want more properties and property managers to hear about us and our success stories, and because we want to connect with our current clients who always have a question or two for us when we are at an event.  We want people to know that insurance should not be feared, that insurance keeps you whole when life conspires against you.  Our booth?  It is something to behold, and we hope it gets that point across… With the right professional organization behind you, there is no reason to fear insurance after all…

A Coop and Condo Primer

by P. Andersen, 9/10/14

 

Here in the region surrounding New York City, we have an abundance of both Condos and Coops.  In New York City limits, Coops account for 85% of all available apartments. The buildings look the same on the outside, but the ownership structure is very different. What do you need to know before buying an apartment in our area? Let’s take a look at the Condo and Coop situation.

Condos and Coops, Coops and Condos…

We will start simply with the condo, and go from there. A Condo is like any piece of real property you may own, such as a house. You are buying a parcel of property, and that apartment is considered property in your name. A Coop, however, is a bit different. When you buy a Coop, you are actually not buying a piece of property. Rather, you are buying stock in the corporation that owns the apartment, and leasing the apartment from the Coop.

A Condo owner is responsible for their own real estate taxes and its share of the common charges associated with the maintenance of the property. A Coop owner, on the other hand, pays monthly maintenance to the building corporation for maintenance, building operation, property taxes, and underlying building mortgages.

Here are a few more things to think about…

  • Buying a Condo is a contract between a buyer and a seller, but buying a Coop requires the board approval, and the process can be more time consuming and demanding. Horror stories abound, so be prepared with every financial document they request to make the process go smoothly.
  • A condo generally has a higher value than a comparable coop, but closing costs may be higher with regard to title insurance and other taxes. Also, monthly fees are generally higher with a Coop, due to underlying mortgage payments which are included (based on shares).
  • Coops may require a larger down payment, then a comparable condominium, often 20%, causing a barrier to entry for some home buyers.
  • Sub-letting your apartment is far more difficult in a Coop, due to board approval and financial requirements.

Insuring your Condo or Coop

Insuring your Condo OR Coop is very different than insuring your free standing home. The building itself will have a policy that covers the property’s common areas, and your insurance is generally meant to cover anything from the “walls in”. This unique situation is why a special form was developed, the HO-6. Freestanding homes utilize the HO-3 form, and renter utilize the HO-4 form – the HO-6 is designed for both Condos and Coops, and their unique requirements.

One last note regarding insurance. Take a good long look at the association documents, just to be sure you know what the association policy is covering. It is always better to go in knowing all the facts, than to be surprised when a claim happens.

So, if you are buying a Condo or a Coop, be it in New York City, Westchester, Connecticut, or anywhere else for that matter, do your due diligence beforehand with regard to your homeowners insurance policy. Give us a call, we would be happy to answer any questions.