Awesome home loss prevention and safety advice from an expert

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Awesome home loss prevention and safety advice from an expert

Our gratitude and thanks go out to our sponsor of this post, USAA.

Another segment to buying and selling a home during winter covers the important topic of home loss prevention and safety. I’ve had the opportunity to speak to USAA’s Senior Underwriter in loss prevention and safety, Melanie Hart.

In her own words, Melanie describes her job as one which focuses on “providing programs, information, and advice on ways to keep members themselves and their property safe. This covers auto and driving as well as home and maintenance tips and tricks to help members prevent losses which are not only costly but are a big headache.”

In the area of loss prevention and safety, what advice would be beneficial to a home buyer?

Get a professional home inspectionA professional home inspector can find the little things that have the risk of becoming big problems down the road. A home inspector should be checking all of these things:

  • HVAC systems– especially the A/C (if included) which otherwise could be overlooked in the winter months.
  • Attics – Check for proper insulation in the attic. Not only can it keep the home warm, but it will also keep your attic cool so ice doesn’t melt and refreeze creating damaging ice dams.
  • Plumbing
  • Proper drainage and potential problems with a septic tank. All things that can cause problems this time of year.
  • Roof – It is a big expense to replace a roof. Even minor leaks can cause big headaches down the road. If the roof needs replacing, you can ask for an allowance or price reduction to cover the cost. Also look into impact-resistant roofing materials to mitigate possible hail damage. Installing sealed, water repellant material under the roof covering can also be helpful.
  • Frozen yards and landscape warnings – Is the tree/shrub dormant or dead?  Yard insect problems may be frozen until spring, and you won’t be able to check the sprinkler system until it thaws.
  • Snowpack/ice dams– Look for signs of roof damage on the exterior and water damage on the interior
  • Gutters – Are they clear of debris such as leaves, needles or even ice? All of these things can clog up your gutters and back up under the shingles.
  • Dangerous or precarious trees or overhanging branches.
  • Siding – Is it worn-out, damaged or missing? This could have long-term effects by letting water or ice into the home.
  • Chimney – Is it leaning or is mortar missing or deteriorating?

What advice would be beneficial to a buyer?

  • If you’ve moved out, keep the heat on!  This will help avoid a burst pipe which could cost thousands in water damage repairs and deter would-be buyers.  A warm home is also more cozy to potential buyers and lets them know the furnace is working.
  • Consider selling your home with a 1-year Home Warranty that protects most major appliances and HVAC systems to give potential buyers peace of mind.
  • Slips and falls – be sure you or your realtor keep walkways clear of snow, ice and debris to help prevent a slip and fall during a showing.  This also makes the home look maintained to detract burglars and vandals.
  • If you must move out, consider a home staging service that not only provides appealing furnishings to attract potential buyers but makes the home look lived in to help deter burglary and vandalism.
  • When you’re selling during the winter it is a good idea to have some pictures that were taken during the summer. This will show any potential buyer how the yard and home look different from what they are able to see during the winter.

Where can I get more information? This information is all available on the USAA website and included in their newsletters. You can also get some great information from the Federal Alliance for Safe Homes, at

USAA is here to help you with your real estate transactions through their Real Estate rewards network

USAA Members are referred to a network of nationwide agents. These are seasoned agents who have been trained with USAA and able to help in the process of buying or selling.

For the seller, two full-time, qualified, and vetted agents are assigned to them. The seller can compare these two top agents and determine from there who they want to represent them.

A concierge is assigned to each individual who is there to ensure that the member has a gratifying experience. This person is paid out of the program and is not tied to a commission.

USAA provides a system of support

From time to time, problems can arise during a real estate transaction. Anytime that happens, members have USAA standing behind them. The support is there to help resolve whatever the issue is.

Referral fees are shared back to the members. In 2016 over 56 million dollars of referral fees went back to members. Money is divided amongst the members that buy or sell using this program. The members receive their reward at the time they sell or when they buy.

Who can take advantage of the Real Estate Rewards network? All USAA members can take advantage of the Real Estate Rewards network. The price of membership has already been paid through their service to the country.

Who can become a member of USAA?

  • Active Military – Individuals who are currently serving in the U.S. Air Force, Army, Coast Guard, Marines or Navy.
  • Former Military – Those who have retired or separated from the U.S. military with a discharge type of Honorable.
  • Family members – Widows, widowers and un-remarried former spouses of USAA members who joined USAA prior to or during the marriage and individuals whose parents joined USAA. One of the many benefits to a USAA membership is that it can pass down the line from parents or grandparents.
  • Cadets and Midshipmen – Cadets and midshipmen at U.S. service academies, in advanced ROTC or on ROTC scholarship, plus officer candidates within 24 months of commissioning.

If you are not eligible for a USAA membership yourself, you probably know someone who is. Please let them know about this wonderful money-saving program that USAA has to offer.


Other important home buying/selling information you won't want to miss:

How a good real estate agent can save you money and more
How to navigate the rise in mortgage interest rates

Written by Josh Elledge - Chief Executive Angel

Josh Elledge Consumer Savings Expert and Founder/Chief Executive Angel,®

Josh Elledge is on a mission to help Americans save money and time so they can give. He is Founder and Chief Executive Angel of®, which was created to bolster the buying power of the average U.S. family by combining technology, coupons and smart thinking for extreme savings on household consumables and everyday items.

Through his work with, Elledge has emerged as one of the nation's leading experts on consumer savings appearing in the media more than 2,000 times!


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