Category Archives: Holiday

Moving Out? Know What Could Impact Your Home Resale Value

Home Resale ValueThe New Year brings with it a clean slate, a clear calendar page, and 365 days filled with opportunity. While some people are starting a new personal improvement or health regimen, others are excited about the memories they’ll be making in a new home. If you’re one who is looking to sell your home in 2017, here are some important things to know that might decrease the value of your home. Some of these you can’t change, but others are easy fixes that can keep your home resale value – and your hopes – up.

Major Key Points For Your Home Resale Value

Curb Appeal:

The first step you should take when you plan to list is to clean up your yard. Remove any trash, non-operational vehicles, dead plants, and be sure to secure your foundation. Planting a few flowering bushes and a fresh coat of paint on porch rails, shutters, and light fixtures can make a huge difference.

Interior Appeal:

A move-in ready home is one in which the buyer won’t have to make many changes to remove your personal taste. An individual or family is more likely to purchase a home if they can easily visualize themselves living there. Consider updating your kitchen or bath, repairing any holes in the walls, and painting in a neutral color to appeal to masses. And although they can be difficult to remove, work on eliminating any lingering odors caused by pets or years of accumulated indoor smoking. These can be big deterrents for potential buyers.

Type of Neighborhood:

It’s only natural to avoid homes with loud or inconsiderate neighbors. The same goes for dogs that are uncontrolled or bark constantly, as well as disruptive areas located on busy roadways. Families with young children may even note if there are registered sex offenders in the area. There is very little a person can do to change any of these unfortunate living scenarios, but by personally knowing these factors you’ll be less blindsided if they affect your home resale value.

Surrounding Foreclosures:

In areas where the market is overflowing with excess stock and houses in foreclosure or short sale status, property value has a tendency to plummet. The main reason for this is that buyers understandably grow suspicious of neighborhoods with a high number of surrounding foreclosures. The best way to keep interest in your house alive is to point out how many repairs and renovations have been done to make your property move-in ready, saving them time, stress, and extra investments.

Serious Repairs:

Whether your driveway is cracked or your siding is damaged, investing the small bit of time or money now to get it fixed can yield a higher return when selling your home. Plumbing repairs can especially cause conflict, so schedule a thorough inspection to address any problematic piping or leaks. Prospective buyers will shy away from a purchase that requires extra attention.

School District:

A major deal-breaker for parents or parents-to-be before deciding on a home purchase is the nearby school district. Schools with low rankings are detractors, so check out how your district rates on Great Schools before you list. A highly reviewed area can be a huge selling point to those with growing families.

Nearby Needs:

Individual buyers have very specific ideas of where they want to live. Your proximity or distance from shopping, dining, entertainment, and medical care can impact desirability. Some buyers may prefer the peace and quiet that comes with a secluded house, however, the majority of them seek convenience over isolation.

The Season in Which You Sell:

Most people sell and buy homes from late spring to early August, with May through September being the peak. Not only are families typically free from house-hunting during the school year, but they’re able to avoid trudging through inclement weather; as all New Englanders are very familiar with. To get the most, list your home in the spring.

Again, some of these circumstances can’t be completely avoided, but being aware of them will spare you any surprises about your home resale value. If you do decide to list your home in 2017, keep theses fixable instructions in mind for a greater return and better start for the next place you decide to call ‘home’.

Whenever you move to a new location, you want to always secure the homestead with the best possible insurance coverage. Receive your Massachusetts homeowner’s insurance quote from Northeast Insurance!

Spread the Word: December is National Impaired Driving Prevention Month

National Impaired Driving Prevention MonthThe holidays are upon us, and Americans are excitedly traveling to family homes, shopping hotspots and friendly parties. It is a wonderful time of the year for celebrating and being with loved ones. That is why it is so important to be aware of the dangers that impaired driving present during the holiday season.

While most Americans have a general awareness of these threats, there are still many who are uneducated about how this easily preventable problem could affect them and their loved ones on a personal level. That is why President Barack Obama designated December as National Impaired Driving Prevention Month.

What is National Impaired Driving Prevention Month?

This special proclamation by the president was enacted to warn and educate all Americans of the dangers that impaired driving can create for drivers, passengers, and pedestrians. Through this effort, Obama and the U.S. government hope to promote responsible choices and prevent this deadly behavior that robs people of beloved family members and friends.

Although impaired driving presents a constant threat all year long, there is a noticeable spike in road traffic during holiday travel. These numbers go up even higher in the month of December as families go on shopping trips and family outings ahead of the big travel days to spend time together. It is also a time when increased celebration also means increased alcohol consumption, and it is the hope that NIDPM can help Americans to realize the importance of not mixing travel and alcohol.

National Impaired Driving Prevention Month was first recognized in 2012 when impaired driving accidents were becoming an epidemic that especially affected young people. In 2013, over 10,000 people were killed in an accident involving a drunk driver; that is one person every 53 minutes. The number had decreased slightly by 2015, but still, 28 people die every day as a result of drunk driving crashes. By far, the highest percentage of these were young people. In 2011, the percentage of impaired driving accidents involved:

  • 32 percent between ages 21 to 24
  • 30 percent between ages 25 to 34
  • 24 percent between ages 35 to 44

Although these numbers do not account for drivers under the legal drinking age, many of them are involved in crashes involving other substances. A survey from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration showed that in 2010, 13.2 percent of drivers over age 16 operated a vehicle under the influence of alcohol. Meanwhile, 4.3 percent of those people ages 16 and older drove under the use of illicit drugs in that same year.

Due to increased traffic and celebration, these numbers significantly increase during the holiday season. It is important for all Americans to be aware of the dangers of impaired driving and educate family members, especially the youth of America. Through education and prevention efforts like NIDPM, we hope that everyone will have a happy and safe holiday season in 2016 and bring in a safer year in 2017!

One major task that is a must for your 2017 to-do list should be making sure that all of your insurance policies are updated. If you wish to review your current policy or want to inquire about purchasing new coverage, don’t hesitate to reach out to us at (800) 443-7007 or receive an online auto insurance estimate by clicking here.

Thanksgiving: Your Holiday Historical Overview

ThanksgivingWith Halloween now in the rear-view mirror, the holiday season is officially in full swing with Thanksgiving just a few short weeks away. Between family togetherness, time with friends and mouth-watering dishes prepared with pure love,  what’s not to love about Thanksgiving? Although, like most holidays, it has grown beyond its origins but has a rich history which we’d like to expand upon and explore further.

The Harvest

Thanksgiving is, above all, the celebration of the harvest. In a broad sense, the harvest is a time when something has grown to fruition and is ready to be enjoyed. This can refer, as it most often does, to food and produce, but also to one’s youth or personal relationships. By celebrating the harvest, you celebrate a time of plenty and abundance, and you express it through love to your friends and family.

The tradition of Thanksgiving stems from after the English Reformation under Henry VIII. At that time, there was an over-abundance of Catholic holidays, and while many were eliminated entirely with the break from Catholicism, many others were replaced. Some zealous Puritans hoped to eliminate or replace all holidays, and as such, many were replaced with days of fasting, or with days of Thanksgiving so as to maintain the importance of the day, but change the reason from holiday to religious observance.

Thanksgiving in the U.S.

In the United States, as many people know, the English carried on the tradition of days of Thanksgiving, and in particular, the tradition is traced to the Pilgrims in Plymouth placed around 1621. This story is steeped in myth and legend, but what two accounts both verify is, that somewhere during the harvest season, natives and pilgrims came together for a feast that included fowl, venison, and corn treats.

As time went on, most Thanksgiving celebrations were run and set up by church leaders until George Washington declared the first national Thanksgiving in 1789. With the advent of tradition, besides proclaiming the holiday, the President of the United States now pardons a Turkey annually, allowing it to be spared from the Thanksgiving festivities. In 1863 Abraham Lincoln, at the onset of the Civil War, and likely as a political move declared Thanksgiving a national holiday on the last Thursday of November. President Theodore Roosevelt would later change it to be the 4th Thursday of November to avoid clashing with Christmas.

Over the course of a couple hundred years, what was once a Puritan’s pious replacement for a Catholic holiday has developed into the day of stretchy pants and pumpkin pie we all know and love. So from all of us here at Northeast Insurance, have an extra serving of yams and a leg of turkey, but most importantly, have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

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Appraisals: What Are Your Valuables REALLY Worth?

AppraisalsThe winter holidays are approaching fast, which means many people will soon be brainstorming about all of the expensive purchases to make for friends and family. That brand-new, state-of-the-art flat screen television would go great in your son’s bedroom or the game room. You dream of that $500, high-powered mixer that looks fantastic on your kitchen counter. Don’t forget the new table saw in the shop out back!

Although you usually think of expensive gifts during the fall and early winter, you should consider protecting your valuables all year long, including your one-of-a-kind antiques and the gifts you just purchased. Take a look at the following five tips on the best ways to appraise your valuables, whether they are new purchases or family heirlooms.

Understand What You Have:

Understand what the value of certain pieces might be in terms of sentimental value passed down from one generation to the next. Antiques might be in the form of jewelry, toys, furniture, rugs, artwork, and even wine. You’d be surprised about the hidden value of certain items. Once you figure out what you’ve got, it’s time to find an appraiser.

Find the Right Experts:

If you have antiques that you think might be worth some money, find the right experts who may know a few things about what you have on hand. Ask around with your lawyer, insurance agent, real estate broker or financial adviser to see if any of these people know any good appraisers in town. Search the Appraisers Association of America website to find an appropriate expert. Some appraisers may examine an item using pictures you send them remotely as opposed to showing up to your home in person.

Vet Your Experts:

Once you find an expert for your item, ask them questions about their services. How much of a fee does an appraiser charge? What are the person’s qualifications? Does the appraiser have any referrals? Find out the answers to these questions before hiring someone to determine how much your valuables are worth and the additional costs of their appraisal services.

Update Your Appraisals Regularly:

Just like the value of your home or car changes over time, so does the price of your antiques and high-priced electronics. Experts recommend updating appraisals every five years. That way, you can adjust any insurance coverage you want to purchase. Every so often, peruse online auction sites such as eBay to see if any items similar to yours are selling. This can give you a rough estimate to see if the value of your item is going up or down.

Retain Your Documentation:

It’s very important that you keep your documentation as to what your items are worth, including a written statement by the appraiser. For your winter holiday gifts, retain your purchase receipt and any warranty information. It is also recommended to make a list of all items that you have had appraised and catalogue each one by estimated value, last date of appraisal, the name of the appraiser and next expected appraisal date. Keep these important papers locked away in a fireproof safe or in a safe deposit box in a bank. Otherwise, your insurance policy may not be able to help you.

Insurance for Valuables:

Your homeowner’s insurance doesn’t cover the contents of your house, just the structure itself. Taking out an insurance policy on your valuables protects your assets in case of fire, a natural disaster or even theft. If you don’t take out the right kind of insurance policy, an insurance claim for your valuables might be denied. Talk to the experts at Northeast Insurance to find out what insurance policy is right for you.

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15 of the Most Unusual U.S. Laws That Still Exist Today

Unusual LawsThe summer months are filled with holiday celebrations. Unfortunately, not all of the fun and games end well. This season finds police officers on high alert in protecting the public and ensuring that all of the festivities remain safe and within the guidelines of state law.

However, it may surprise you that some U.S. laws are so strange that they are sure to cause uproars of laughter. Concentrated in the New England states and surrounding areas, we’ve compiled 15 state laws that can serve as a humorous anecdote at your next summer shindig.

CONNECTICUT

Warm up the grill, round up the burgers and throw a pickle on the patio to test its authenticity. In Connecticut, a pickle must bounce for it to be officially considered a pickle.

DELAWARE

The state of Delaware claims no official state dog. Perhaps, this indicates the value of all dog breeds. Just check their books and you will find it unlawful to sell the hair of any dog.

MAINE

Call this Pine Tree State Scrooge, if you will, but all Christmas decorations must come down before January 15 to avoid a fine.

MASSACHUSETTS

No pranks or plotting allowed. Owning an explosive golf ball in Massachusetts evokes the wrath of the law.

NEW HAMPSHIRE

While the state motto may claim, Live Free or Die, this freedom does not extend to the beach. Picking up seaweed in New Hampshire proves illegal.

NEW JERSEY

While state laws on driving under the influence of alcohol are understandably strict, New Jersey socks it to offenders. Driving drunk removes your right to ever apply for personalized plates again.

NEW YORK

Beware trick-or-treaters. In New York state, any two or more masked people gathered together gain police attention and consequence.

NORTH CAROLINA

Senior citizens need to find alternative activities in North Carolina. No Bingo game may last over five hours except at a fair.

OHIO

Keep your beer to yourself. In Ohio, the police officials pick you up for intoxicating fish with alcohol.

PENNSYLVANIA

A fortune teller may foretell secrets, but do not return the favor in Pennsylvania. Sharing with a medium the location of buried treasure equals criminal activity in the Quaker State.

RHODE ISLAND

As if a bouncing pickle test seemed odd enough, Rhode Island takes things to a new level. Throwing pickle juice on a trolley lands you in trouble with the law.

SOUTH CAROLINA

Leave the retro gaming to those old enough to handle its intensity. Pinball machines remain off limits to those under 18 years of age in South Carolina.

VERMONT

The hermit thrush claims the spot of top bird in Virginia. However, all species gain a bit of honor in this state as shooting any bird simply for amusement is considered “fowl” play, according to the law.

VIRGINIA

All wildlife take a day of rest from hunters on Sunday in Virginia. All animals, that is, except raccoons. In this state, the raccoon remains fair game until 2:00 a.m.

WEST VIRGINIA

While residents can gain a permit to conceal and carry, be sure to keep it in check if you hold political aspirations in West Virginia. No person ever involved in a duel may run for public office.

We hope you’ve enjoyed these whacky state restrictions throughout New England and its surrounding states. Just remember that any and all laws should be abided by and respected not only during summer celebrations but all year long.

Before embarking on any short or long distance driving adventure this summer, make sure to review and update your automobile insurance policy. Looking for a change in your current policy? Get a free auto insurance quote from Northeast Insurance Agency by clicking here.

Summertime Safety 101

Summertime SafetySummer is finally within arm’s reach! The kids are out of school, the weather is fantastic, and there are plenty of opportunities to get together with family and friends. From May to September, there is a holiday each month. Celebrations can be a great time, but there are many hidden dangers that can ruin a good time if the proper precautions aren’t taken.

Hydration:

Drinking enough liquid, especially water, is vital for a healthy and happy summer. Most medical professionals recommend gauging your water needs at 64 ounces each day, or drinking half your weight in ounces of water; for example, a 150-pound person should drink 75 ounces of water. Without enough water, you run the risk of dehydration or more serious health conditions such as heat exhaustion and heat stroke.

Proper sunscreen use:

Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States, and about 20 percent of all Americans will develop this cancer at some point in their lives. It’s also one of the most preventable. Daily use of a high-quality sunscreen for children and adults can prevent the immediate pain associated with a sunburn while helping to cut the incidence of melanoma in half.

Water safety:

Getting in and on the water is a popular summer pastime. It’s important, though, that whether you’re in the ocean, at a local lake or pond, or in a pool, you follow state, local, and park rules. Don’t run on slippery surfaces near the water, always stay with children, and keep private, backyard pools properly secured to prevent accidental drowning.

Boating safety:

If you prefer being on the water, think of the same rules you’d follow on the roads. Never drive a boat under the influence, don’t text and drive, and make sure you have the boat running smoothly before heading out. Passengers should always wear properly sized life jackets.

Fireworks safety:

Many municipalities have laws and ordinances surrounding firework usage. If you choose to use fireworks, know the rules before you light the fireworks. Fireworks should always and only be used under adult supervision. Better yet, pack a picnic and find a public fireworks display.

Lawnmower safety:

While not as fun as other summer activities, mowing the lawn is certainly as satisfying when you look at your well-manicured yard. Following proper safety steps can make the results even better. Always wear shoes and keep your legs covered and protected from possible flying debris, never pull the lawn mower backwards, and follow the recommendations on keeping children under 12 years old from mowing the lawn.

Above all, when temperatures rise it is vital to consistently monitor those who are the most vulnerable to the heat; children and seniors. Make sure they are drinking enough fluid and are in cool, properly ventilated areas at all times.

When and if summertime fun ever takes a dark turn on the roads, you’ll want to make sure you, your loved ones and your property are all protected. Are you in the market for a new insurance premium? You can receive a quick auto insurance quote that caters to your particular needs by clicking here.

Memorial Day: Remembering Our Fallen Heroes

Memorial Day

Every year, the last Monday of May is a day to remember those who served and died while serving in the U.S. armed forces. Although most people recognize that Memorial Day is a great chance to take the day off and have a picnic outdoors, few people actually know the history of the holiday and how it came to be what it is today. It is exactly for this reason that it is important to recognize the sacrifice of the people who fought for our country, and to understand that the day is not just a day off from work or school. Most of all, it is especially meaningful for the youth of America to understand where Memorial Day comes from, so we can pass on our appreciation to our fallen heroes into future generations.

When it was first founded in 1868, Memorial Day was called Decoration Day, and its purpose was to honor those who had died in the Civil War by laying flowers on their graves – the “decoration” that gave the holiday its name. Prior to the official establishment of Decoration Day by an organization of Union army veterans called the Grand Army of the Republic, there were several possible origins for the holiday, including claims that women decorated Civil War soldiers’ graves as early as 1861 in Virginia, while the war was still raging in both the North and the South.

However, the first recorded mass observance of a holiday resembling Decoration Day was in 1865 in Charleston, South Carolina, where African-American residents of the city paid tribute to Union prisoners of war who had died there during the war and been buried in unmarked graves. The “official” birthplace of Decoration Day is currently known to be Waterloo, New York, although several cities including Boalsburg, Pennsylvania, Carbondale, Illinois, Columbus, Georgia, and Columbus, Mississippi all lay claim to this honor as well.

Although the name “Memorial Day” was first used in 1882, it did not become more common until after World War II, as people slowly grew to accept this name instead of the traditional “Decoration Day.” Memorial Day was not declared the official name by Federal law until 1967. One year later, Congress passed the Uniform Monday Holiday Act, which moved Memorial Day from its traditional May 30 date to the last Monday in May in order to create a three-day weekend, which would be more convenient for people to take the day off. Although the law took effect in 1971, it took several years for all 50 states to comply due to initial confusion.

Today, Memorial Day is celebrated officially by raising the American flag to the top of the staff and then lowering it to the half-staff position until noon, after which it is again raised to full-staff. Individual people often celebrate Memorial Day by hosting picnics and barbecues to enjoy the start of summer, but as a nation, we should continue to keep our fallen heroes in our thoughts all year round.

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