One thing that many homeowners fail to do on a regular basis is take a home inventory. But taking a look at what is actually in your home is an important part of keeping your valuables safe. If there's a burglary, flood or fire, your insurance company is going to want to know what you had before they'll agree to give you the funds to replace it. And if you don't already have insurance, taking an inventory can help you get an idea of whether you really need it. Another time it's crucial to have a solid home inventory? When you're moving.
"I have seen many homeowners overwhelmed with the amount of items they are trying to move to a new property," says Lawrence Finn, CEO Owner/Broker of Coach Real Estate Associates. "They want to ensure it makes it safely from place A to place B, and sometimes they are nervous about handing their belongings over to the movers." Knowing exactly what you're moving and what it's worth can help put you at ease.
"A home inventory is important for everyone, even renters," notes Finn. "It's always good to know how much your possessions are worth, especially the invaluable things, like your grandmother's china or silver."
Finn suggests doing a home inventory every five years or so, before you move, or if you are changing your insurance coverage. For a hassle-free inventory, get your camera and go through every room in the house, including closets, basements and attics. And if you're moving, a home inventory is the perfect way to put your possessions on a diet. Use the time to figure out what you need to take, and what you can sell or donate pre-move.
So what should you include in a home inventory? According to Finn, it's critical to record all larger, more expensive items that may be difficult to replace. This can include furniture, antiques, large electronics, jewelry, gold and silver, furs, power tools, cameras, musical instruments, and more. Even if you think they may not be worth that much alone, together these valuables can seriously add up, and increase the amount of insurance coverage you need.
"Head outside too, and document any large equipment or outdoor furniture," reminds Finn.
Finn suggests you store a digital copy of these somewhere outside your home, whether it's in the cloud or a backup file in the office. Or, create an inventory sheet on the computer using the photographs you've taken.
"Be sure to date the inventory sheet and update it as you make larger purchases," reminds Finn. A new LCD television for the living room or a ping pong table for the updated game room? Make sure it goes on the list!
Other items that may be important to include with your inventory list are serial numbers and receipts for all expensive electronics. Store that information with your inventory.
"Once you have an updated inventory list, keep it in a safe spot like your safety deposit box," Finn says.