Pros and Cons to Owning a Historic Home

Imagine this: you’re out house hunting and stumble upon a gorgeous, one-of-a-kind home. A place where George Washington would’ve sipped his tea, gazed onto the gorgeously sprawling grounds, and said, “What ho, good times.” You have a strong urge to buy it on the spot. But, if you’ve seen the movie The Money Pit, you know that historic properties can be desirable while also leaving something to be desired — particularly those that require more than a little work (the staircase scene, anyone?).

We put together a crash course on the criteria for, restrictions of, and benefits to buying a historic property so you can avoid ever having to utter the phrase “Home Bleep Home.”

What makes a house historic?

According to the National Register Criteria for Evaluation, the property is only eligible if it meets the following criteria:

  • Age. Is this property old enough? Like most cheeses, historical homes get better (aka more venerable) with age. There are, as always, exceptions to the rule, but most properties must be at least 50 years old in order to qualify.
  • Integrity. According to the National Register, the integrity of a specific property can be  defined through 7 qualities: location, design, setting, materials, workmanship, feeling, and association. In other words, does your property still look the way it did in the past? Is it in its original location? Does it exude or inspire an aesthetic feeling of history? Is the workmanship representative of a specific architectural style or method of construction used during a certain time period?
  • Significance. Does this property have a rich, historic back story? Was it witness to Gatsby-like parties in its day? Or the discovery of gold? If the property is connected to  or associated with important events, people, or developments of the past, this is a good sign that you may have a historical landmark on your hands.

Benefits of owning a historic home

When you own a historical landmark home, you might see benefits like:

  • Tax incentives, tax credits, and lowered interest loans. To encourage the preservation of the home, the government may offer inducements ranging anywhere from state tax credits to easements (legal agreements that offer tax deductions in exchange for preserving the historic property). Since incentives vary by state, you’ll need to look into what specific tax breaks might  apply to you and your new home.
  • A richer understanding of history. It’s hard not to answer the siren call of the historic home. What’s not to love? It’s quaint, it’s unique, it offers a glimpse into the past which few are privy to — and it could turn you into the historian you always wanted to be. What’s more awesome than finding out that your home was once witness to the bawdiness of the Barbary Coast? Or that it was there in the midst of the Salem Witch Trials? Living in a historic home is like living in a text book, and whether you’re a history buff or not, you have to admit that that’s pretty darn cool.

Restrictions of owning a historic home

There’s a lot of work that goes into maintaining and restoring a historic home in order to make sure it’s up to snuff safetywise as well as integritywise. Here are some steps to take:

  • First, you should have a formal, professional home inspection by an expert who specializes in historic homes. Get a price estimate from at least 2 contractors to see what repair work (if  any) you’ll need to take care of before your move-in date.
  • Then (this is a big one), make sure that the home meets all health and safety standards, by having a sound structure and passing lead paint and asbestos tests.
  • Read up on the Standards for Rehabilitation of Historic Buildings imposed by local and state laws. So long as the integrity and style of the home are maintained, historic home owners are permitted to make certain additions and expansions to their homes, but strict guidelines must be adhered to. And keep in mind that you’ll need to continue protecting and preserving  your home over time.
  • Unfortunately, many personal insurance companies don’t offer the type of coverage you’ll need to insure your home, meaning you often have to go with historic property insurance, which can be more expensive.

It’s up to you

The cost of owning and maintaining a historic home is probably more intensive than most people realize. Is it worth it? Certainly owning a historic home isn’t for everyone, but if you do choose to buy one, you have the benefit of knowing that your home is a unique component of U.S. history. Not only will it a part of your life, but you’ll be a part of its life as well.

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You Don’t Have to Be a Billionaire to Buy Homeowners Insurance in Illinois

Fifteen of the world’s richest people call the Land of Lincoln home. And we’re pleased to announce that those 15 billionaires, along with 12.8 million other residents, can now get primo homeowners insurance in Illinois (without spending a fortune).

Because most of us aren’t billionaires — or even millionaires — Esurance offers great rates on fully customizable insurance, designed to fit your modern lifestyle and your needs.

Owning a home in Illinois

According to Zillow, Illinois home values have gone up 5.8 percent since last year. Even still, with a median home value of  $148,600 (or $118 per square foot), the Prairie State is still a relatively affordable place to buy a home.

Additionally, if you live in Illinois, you have a better chance of owning a Frank Lloyd Wright home than anywhere else in the nation (presumably). The famous architect spent the first 20 years of his career in Oak Park and the state is generously peppered with his classic, light-filled homes.

Just be prepared to plunk down a pretty penny if one happens to come on the market. Frank Lloyd Wright homes can range in price from $690K to $5.6 million!

Homeowners insurance in Illinois

Every home is different and every homeowner unique. Your homeowners policy should fit your individual needs.

To make it easy for Illinois homeowners to find the right level of protection for them, we provide a wide range of coverages, including:

  • Dwelling protection
    If fire, wind, hail, vandalism, or another covered incident damages your home, your homeowners policy can help you repair or rebuild it. Simple as that.
  • Other structures protection
    Your homeowners policy doesn’t just protect your home — it also extends coverage to structures unattached to your home, like a gazebo, shed, fence, or stand-alone garage.
  • Additional living expense coverage
    If a fire (or another covered incident) damages your home and you need somewhere to stay, we’ll help cover your hotel bill, food costs, and other reasonable extra expenses for up to 12 months.
  • Fire department charges coverage
    Believe it or not, many fire departments charge fees for responding to a call. This coverage gives you $500 to cover those charges. And, if you want more, you can get as much as $5,500 in coverage.
  • Identity theft expense coverage
    For just $3 a month ($4 if you’re getting coverage for 2 people), we’ll help you prevent ID theft and recover from it.
  • Electronic data recovery
    With this optional coverage, we’ll pay a data recovery firm up to $5,000 to restore your hard drive if a virus or crash destroys data stored on your computer, tablet, etc.

And we cover lots, lots more. Learn how to protect your biggest investment or get a quote today to see how smart and affordable Esurance homeowners insurance can be.

Bundling homeowners and car insurance in Illinois

Since Esurance also offers car insurance in Illinois, customers who choose to bundle their policies together can save with the Multi-Policy discount.

In fact, when you bundle, you could save up to 10 percent on your homeowners insurance AND save on your car insurance too.

Esurance across the country

If you don’t live in the great state of Illinois, not to worry. We now offer homeowners insurance in 6 states, including Arizona, Colorado, Missouri, Oregon, and Wisconsin (with many more states on the way!).

If you’re looking for motorcycle insurance, we can help there too. We’re pleased to offer great coverage for all kinds of bikes in the following 9 states: Arizona, California, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Wisconsin.

And, of course, Esurance car insurance is now available to drivers in 42 states! See if we’re in your state.

This year we’ll continue to roll out great insurance products in more and more states. So, if you happen to be on the market for smarter, more efficient insurance that makes your life simpler instead of more complicated, get a quote from Esurance. And hey, welcome to the modern world.

Rolling Thunder: Showing Support for Veterans with an Epic Rally

Every Memorial Day weekend, thousands of motorcyclists descend on Washington, DC. The idea was born in 1987 when Vietnam veterans Ray Manzo and Artie Muller met to voice their concerns over prisoners of war (POW) and those missing in action (MIA) following the end of the Vietnam War. Vowing to make sure that those soldiers who sacrificed their lives were never forgotten, they used their passion for riding to garner support from coast to coast.

In May 1988, Rolling Thunder®, Inc was born. The name was inspired by the sound of 2,500 engines making their way across the Arlington Memorial Bridge into Washington, DC. Since then, the annual rally has continued to grow. This past Sunday, approximately 4,000 motorcyclists from nearly 100 nationwide chapters attended one of the world’s largest single-day motorcycle events. The participants gathered in the Pentagon parking lot before riding on to DC’s Constitution Avenue at noon, which was an impressive spectacle for anyone watching from the banks of the Potomac River.

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Since its inception, Rolling Thunder’s mission and attendance has brought attention to POW/MIA issues through the collective power of motorcycling. In addition to influencing our government’s veteran policies, Rolling Thunder® Charities, Inc. spends hundreds of thousands of dollars each year to provide food, clothing, toys, financial assistance, and other forms of aid to veterans and military families in need.

Honoring veterans at Esurance

Here at Esurance, we understand that veterans often face unique challenges when returning to civilian life. Because of this, one of our employee resource groups, Esurance Veterans Engagement Team and Supporters (EVETS), is dedicated to providing assistance to veteran associates and their families through career development opportunities and the support of veteran causes.

To all our country’s veterans and troops, we extend our gratitude for your service.

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Motorcycle Insurance: Esurance Rumbles into Arizona

Since we first launched our top-shelf motorcycle insurance in Wisconsin last year, we’ve been steadily rolling it out to new states. This month, we rumbled into Arizona.

With an average rainfall of just 11.32 inches, Arizona has a longer riding season than many states. And, with the Grand Canyon in its backyard and Route 66 running its width, the Copper State offers up some spectacular rides.

Best motorcycle rides in Arizona

As with any state, there’s much debate on which is the best ride in Arizona. But, if you’re looking for a few ideas, here are some helpful resources to get you started.

  • The Mother Road: Route 66 (here, focuses solely on the storied roadway, which Arizona claims is the longest stretch still in use today)

Motorcycle insurance in Arizona

Esurance offers numerous great coverages to help riders in Arizona protect their bikes (and mopeds, scooters, golf carts, ATVs, and more).

  • New motorcycle protection
    With this coverage, Esurance will pay the MSRP on a current-year bike of the same make and model if your ride’s declared a total loss.
  • Trip interruption coverage
    Don’t let a mechanical breakdown, collision, or comprehensive claim get in your way. Get trip interruption coverage and we’ll cover:
    • $100 for lodging
    • $50 for alternate transportation
    • $50 for food

   Yep, that’s per day until your bike is fixed (up to $500 per incident).

  • Optional equipment coverage
    Get a whopping $3,000 in optional equipment coverage free when you add comprehensive or comprehensive and collision coverage. If you need more, you can add up to $30,000 in additional coverage.
  • Collision coverage
    Esurance motorcycle collision coverage helps repair or replace your vehicle, riding leathers, and other apparel — including up to $500 per helmet.
  • Roadside assistance
    We’ll cover up to $100 if you need a tow to the nearest qualified repair facility.

Motorcycle insurance quotes

Check out the motorcycle pages on our site to get a motorcycle insurance quote or learn all you need to know about motorcycle coverage and discounts.

Motorcycle safety

You can also visit the Esurance blog for tips on everything from navigating wet weather to staying visible:

Finally, if you like to punctuate your life with adventure, check out our “Why I Ride” video to see the passion of the road described by fellow enthusiast, Matt Work.

10 Amazing Uses for Baking Soda

It’s natural. It’s in your cupboard. It costs less than $5. And it can clean just about everything. Yes, it’s baking soda. And, yes, it really does work.

In my own home, I keep a 5-pound bag on hand because there are literally hundreds of everyday uses for this miracle product. Don’t believe me? Here’s how it works and 10 ways you can try it out for yourself.

How baking soda works for cleaning

Baking soda (aka sodium bicarbonate) is a naturally occurring substance found in ALL living things! (Yes, it’s even in you.) Because of its chemical properties, it can:

  • Help dirt and grease dissolve in water
  • Act as an abrasive to scrub dirt and grime away
  • Neutralize odors
  • Regulate pH balance

Since it’s natural — really, it’s just salt, hydrogen, and carbon — it’s a safe, eco-friendly, and affordable method for cleaning almost anything in your home.

10 amazing uses for baking soda

From bringing the sparkle back to your bathroom to making your silver gleam, baking soda does it all.

1. Scrub the tub

Make a paste using one cup of baking soda, one teaspoon of liquid dish soap, a few drops of tea tree or peppermint essential oil, and just enough water. Scrub your tub as you normally would. The essential oil and soap helps disinfect while baking soda lifts away soap scum and dirt.

In fact, you can use this same paste to clean all the hard surfaces in your home (countertops, bathroom sink, etc.)

2. Bring the shine back to your silver

Line a deep pan or large pot with aluminum foil, shiny side up. Put your silver on top of the foil. Add boiling water and a few tablespoons of baking soda. Let everything soak for at least 10 minutes.

The chemical reaction will get rid of oxidation, which tarnishes silver, and make your jewelry, forks, and candelabra bright and shiny again.

3. Get the funk out of everything

A little bit of baking soda will go a long way towards deodorizing everything.

  • Pour baking soda in your trash or compost bin to eliminate odor.
  • Soak your lunch container in a solution of baking soda, soap, and water and that day-old-leftover-lunch aroma will disappear.
  • Sprinkle it on your carpet and upholstery. Let it sit for 15 minutes or more. Vacuum. Any residual smell from pets, smoke, etc., will be gone.

In short, if there’s an offending odor in your house, don’t make a stink about it. Just sprinkle some baking soda to neutralize it.

4. Scour baked-on food and grease from pots and pans

Why expend elbow grease to get rid of grease? Just soak grimy pots and pans in hot water, baking soda, and dish soap. Then, wash as normal.

Alternatively, you can add baking soda to a damp sponge to create a mild abrasive and scrub stubborn stains away.

5. Boost laundry detergent

Add a cup of baking soda to your laundry to get your clothes cleaner and fresher. As a plus, you can cut back on detergent too.

6. De-gunk your hairbrush

To get rid of oil and residue, soak your comb and hairbrush in a solution of baking soda and water for an hour. Then, rinse with hot water. Your hairbrush will look just like new again.

7. Remove coffee and tea stains

Yup, you guessed it. Add a bit of baking soda and a little water. Wipe it with a soft cloth or sponge, and presto: stains be gone.

8. Clean the oven

Get the grimiest of ovens spotlessly clean. Make a baking soda paste (1 cup baking soda, about 6 tablespoons of water) and spread it over your oven’s interior. Steer clear of the heating/electrical elements. Close the oven door and let it sit overnight.

Then use a damp cloth to wipe the paste away. Spray any residual paste with regular white vinegar and sponge off. Repeat as necessary.

9. Wash produce

Lift dirt and pesticide from fruits and vegetables safely. Simply sprinkle some baking soda onto a vegetable brush or clean sponge, scrub gently, and rinse.

10. Get rid of stubborn stains

Nothing can ruin your favorite shirt like a nasty sweat stain. Remove it by scrubbing the stain with a baking soda paste, letting it sit for at least an hour. Wash as you normally would.

Other uses for baking soda

Once you dig into it, you’ll find that baking soda can do more than just clean and deodorize. It can soften skin, ease heartburn, make omelets fluffy, and soothe itchy skin. And, of course, you can bake with it too.

Do you have a baking soda use we haven’t covered here? Tell us about it in the comments section below.

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