HomeServiceContract.org Should Be First Stop for New Homeowners

National Home Service Contract Association offers helpful tools allow consumers to select the most reputable providers of home service contracts.

(Lenexa, KS)  Contracts are only as dependable as the providers behind them. The members of the non-profit trade association, National Home Service Contract Association (NHSCA,) are the leaders and professionals in the home service contract industry trusted to serve millions of consumers each year.

NHSCA members are registered and are easily identified through a NHSCA Company Code number and use of the NHSCA logo. Links to individual websites may be found on the NHSCA website at www.homeservicecontract.org  These are providers who adhere to a code of ethics and actively work with state regulators to protect consumer interests.

In 2015, the state of New Jersey filed charges against Stanley Safe Club or Stanley Warranty alleging the company and its owner defrauded consumers in New Jersey and other states. The alleged violations include: conducting business under the name “Stanley Warranty” when the company sells residential and motor vehicle service contracts; advertising and representing that consumers can call the company’s claims department 24 hours a day and that the company has more than 90,000 service providers, when it does not; continuing to charge consumers after they cancelled service contracts; and failing to respond to consumer inquiries for several weeks, if at all.

In another 2015 case, Edison New Jersey based CHW Group, Inc., which does business as Choice Home Warranty, agreed to pay the State $779,913.93 in a lawsuit filed against them. The state alleged the company enticed consumers to buy so-called comprehensive coverage for crucial home systems and appliances and then denied their claims using alleged deceptive practices. As part of the settlement, the company also agreed to revise its business practices and retain a compliance monitor for at least a year.

Neither company is a member of the NHSCA.

“No matter what the industry, there will always be companies that operate beyond the law and fail to meet their obligations,” Art Chartrand, legal counsel for the NHSCA, said. “One of our primary missions is to educate and inform homeowners about home service contracts so that expectations can be met fairly. At the NHSCA, we work directly with state regulators and have a near constant presence in each state capital to protect consumers and provide fair and honest competition.”

The home service contract industry has a strong reputation and long history of serving consumers. As with any industry, not all companies grow and flourish. Selecting a NHSCA member company provides added security with the knowledge that your contract provider meets certain criteria that will help ensure they will be there when you need them. Using a non-NHSCA member is a risk consumers do not need to take. Consumers may locate NHSCA members operating in their state by visiting www.homeservicecontract.org/state-associations

The New Jersey Home Service Contract State Association was formed as a division of the National Home Service Contract Association and represents the premier and most respected providers of home service contracts in New Jersey. It provides news, information, education, regulation and legislation resource for the industry.

Here are a few items to consider when selecting your contract provider:

  • If the price or benefits sound too good to be true – you know it likely will be. Visit the NHSCA website and contact a member in your state to compare price and benefits.
  • Ask your local REALTOR®. Nobody is more familiar with or understands the industry better. They work with home service contract providers on a daily basis and can offer knowledgeable guidance.
  • If despite your best efforts, your provider disappears or fails to perform, contact a member of the NHSCA to replace your coverage. Competitive members operate in all states and are ready, willing and above all, able to offer you a service contract on your house.

Home service contracts are optional contracts that provide consumers with a single point of contact for most household appliances and systems. A call to an 800 number dispatches a screened,  licensed and qualified local contractor to your home. This eliminates having to shop-around or price compare at what could be a very stressful time. With one call, consumers receive the service, repair or replacement needed to keep their home running smoothly.

The National Home Service Contract Association (NHSCA) is a non-profit 501(c) (6) industry trade organization of member companies serving home service contract providers and consumer interests throughout the United States. To learn more about the NHSCA and to find answers to the most common questions regarding the purchase of home service contracts, visit www.homeservicecontract.org    or call 913-871-5600.

#11

 

 

 

 

Helpful tools allow consumers to select the most reputable providers of home service contracts.

(Lenexa, KS – July 14, 2015)  Contracts are only as dependable as the providers behind them. The 15 members of the non-profit trade association, National Home Service Contract Association (NHSCA,) are the leaders and professionals in the home service contract industry trusted to serve millions of consumers each year.

NHSCA members are registered and are easily identified through a NHSCA Company Code number and use of the NHSCA logo. Links to individual websites may be found on the NHSCA website at www.homeservicecontract.org/contact-nhsca-members. These are providers who adhere to a code of ethics and actively work with state regulators to protect consumer interests.

In the last few weeks the state of New Jersey filed charges against Stanley Safe Club or Stanley Warranty alleging the company and its owner defrauded consumers in New Jersey and other states. The alleged violations include: conducting business under the name “Stanley Warranty” when the company sells residential and motor vehicle service contracts; advertising and representing that consumers can call the company’s claims department 24 hours a day and that the company has more than 90,000 service providers, when it does not; continuing to charge consumers after they cancelled service contracts; and failing to respond to consumer inquiries for several weeks, if at all.

In another case, Edison New Jersey based CHW Group, Inc., which does business as Choice Home Warranty, agreed last month to pay the State $779,913.93 in a lawsuit filed against them. The state alleged the company enticed consumers to buy so-called comprehensive coverage for crucial home systems and appliances and then denied their claims using alleged deceptive practices. As part of the settlement, the company also agreed to revise its business practices and retain a compliance monitor for at least a year.

Neither company is a member of the NHSCA.

“No matter what the industry, there will always be companies that operate beyond the law and fail to meet their obligations,” Art Chartrand, legal counsel for the NHSCA, said. “One of our primary missions is to educate and inform homeowners about home service contracts so that expectations can be met fairly. At the NHSCA, we work directly with state regulators and have a near constant presence in each state capital to protect consumers and provide fair and honest competition.”

The home service contract industry has a strong reputation and long history of serving consumers. As with any industry, not all companies grow and flourish. Selecting a NHSCA member company provides added security with the knowledge that your contract provider meets certain criteria that will help ensure they will be there when you need them. Using a non-NHSCA member is a risk consumers do not need to take. Consumers may locate NHSCA members operating in their state by visiting www.homeservicecontract.org/state-associations

The New Jersey Home Service Contract State Association was formed as a division of the National Home Service Contract Association and represents the premier and most respected providers of home service contracts in New Jersey. It provides news, information, education, regulation and legislation resource for the industry.

In 2013, consumers contracted with members of the NHSCA received over one billion dollars in benefits. Members include: 2-10 Home Buyers Warranty, American Home Shield Corporation, Fidelity National Home Warranty Company, First American Home Buyers Protection, HMS/National Cross Country Home Services, Inc., Home Security of America, Inc., Home Warranty of America, Inc., HomeGuard Home Warranty, Inc., Landmark Home Warranty, National Home Guaranteed Inc., Nations Home Warranty, Old Republic Home Protection Co. Inc., OneGuard Home Warranties, The Warranty Group and Universal Home Protection.

Here are a few items to consider when selecting your contract provider:

  • If the price or benefits sound too good to be true – you know it likely will be. Visit the NHSCA website and contact a member in your state to compare price and benefits.
  • Ask your local REALTOR®. Nobody is more familiar with or understands the industry better. They work with home service contract providers on a daily basis and can offer knowledgeable guidance.
  • If despite your best efforts, your provider disappears or fails to perform, contact a member of the NHSCA to replace your coverage. Competitive members operate in all states and are ready, willing and above all, able to offer you a service contract on your house.

Home service contracts are optional contracts that provide consumers with a single point of contact for most household appliances and systems. A call to an 800 number dispatches a screened, licensed and qualified local contractor to your home. This eliminates having to shop-around or price compare at what could be a very stressful time. With one call, consumers receive the service, repair or replacement needed to keep their home running smoothly.

To learn more about the NHSCA and to find answers to the most common questions regarding the purchase of home service contracts, visit www.homeservicecontract.org

-30-

About the NHSCA The National Home Service Contract Association (NHSCA) is a non-profit 501(c) (6) industry trade organization of member companies serving home service contract providers and consumer interests throughout the United States.

 

 

 

Buying Beats Renting in Most of America

We know that buying a home is overall cheaper than renting in most major metros, but now there is evidence that buying a home is a better financial decision than renting for homebuyers who plan to stay in their home for at least two years in half of all U.S. markets. Read more, click here

The National Home Service Contract Association (NHSCA) is a non-profit 501(c) (6) industry trade organization of member companies serving home service contract providers and consumer interests throughout the United States. For more great industry and consumer information, visit  http://www.homeservicecontract.org or call 913-871-5600.

#12

Tips on Winterizing Your Home

 

Take a few minutes to read and make sure you have properly winterized your home.

The NHSCA contributed to a terrific article on SheKnows.com 
Read the entire (original and unedited) SheKnows.com by Rolla Bahsous online here.

winterizing-your-home

How to get your home ready for the cold season
If you’ve already pulled out your winter coat and put snow tires on your car, there’s still one thing you’re missing before the cold weather hits. Most people completely overlook the few simple steps needed to winterize a house. It’s important to remember that while home service contracts generally provide service, repair or replacement for the major built-in appliances and systems in your home – such as dishwashers, electrical and plumbing systems, heating ventilation and air conditioning systems  – regular maintenance is still very important.

  1. Self-check your heater and HVAC

Turn the heat on and be sure that all the rooms in your home are getting enough heat through the vents. Check and change your HVAC (furnace) air  filters.  “Many of us think of changing our furnace filters just once or twice a year, yet experts say we should replace them every month during the heating season,” says Andrea Woroch, a consumer and money-saving expert.

  1. Schedule a professional furnace maintenance visit.

A furnace tune-up not only includes cleaning that keeps your furnace running efficiently, but it also catches small problems before they turn into big problems that can not only cause inconvenience and discomfort. An annual maintenance contract from a local, trusted HVAC company is also a great idea. They will not repair or replace broken units like a home service contract, but they go a long way to keeping your home running happy and healthy.

  1. Check batteries and update your fire and CO detectors.

Check and replace all batteries as needed. Don’t forget a good quality carbon monoxide detector in your bedroom and near your gas heater and/or gas water heater.  Even a small problem can lead to gas leaking into your home or dangerous carbon monoxide levels. Carbon monoxide (CO) is a deadly, colorless, odorless, poisonous gas. According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, on average, about 170 people in the United States die every year from CO produced by non-automotive consumer products. Be mindful, many  detectors typically need to be replaced every five to seven years. 

  1. Get the fireplace ready

If you have a fireplace, be sure it’s ready by ensuring the chimney is clean. If you have burned a few cords of wood, having a professional chimney sweep is mandatory. If you don’t have a fireplace but wish to have the cozy ambience, check out some faux fireplace units at your local décor store. Some of these fireplaces are designed to emit heat in addition to the “fire” display.

  1. Check your gutters

Letting leaves pile up in the gutter can cause big problems any time of year, and in cold weather especially. The NHSCA says, “During winter months, leaves can potentially cause melting ice and snow to backup into your attic, and even your basement. Be sure to pay particular attention to gutters that have branches directly over them. Not all trees shed their leaves at the same time so you may need to check the gutters in both the fall and early winter.”

  1. Check your windows

To keep warmth inside your home, inspect all windows and make sure there aren’t any cracks where heat may escape. It might be wise to cover all your windows facing North with a plastic sheet. You can find these at your local hardware store and the cost far outweighs the heating saving you’ll gain by covering your windows. Pella Corporation, the leading manufacturer and designer of windows, doors, blinds and shades for homes and commercial buildings, also recommends clearing windowsills of dirt and debris since pre-winter window cleaning is one task most homeowners overlook: “Debris like sand, dirt or leaves can get caught in windowsills and moving parts of windows or doors. Clean these areas with a dry paintbrush to create a tighter seal and enhance window and door performance.”

  1. Check the outside of your house

If you haven’t eyeballed your home’s exterior in a few months or more, now’s the perfect time to reassess at the start of a new season. Before that first snowfall, Pella Corporation recommends repairing or replacing damaged exterior surfaces that could expose your home’s interior to the outside elements. Pella Corporation advises, “Cracked or deteriorated wood on the roof or near the foundation is typically associated with water penetration and may allow moisture or cold air to leak into your home. Look closely for signs of moisture leakage and replace damaged wood. Consult a professional to help correct any roof or drainage problems around your home.”

  1. Remove leaves around your outside HVAC unit.

The HVAC unit is likely your home’s largest operating system. The compressor part of your air conditioner is located on the exterior of your home and can become inefficient with debris and leaves blocking it. You can even use a wet dry vacuum or your hands to remove the debris from the bottom for manual cleaning. Wear gloves if using your hands for manual cleaning and turn off your main breaker first – just to be safe.

  1. Turn off exterior faucets

This may seem like a no-brainer, but it’s also one of the easiest home winterizing tips to overlook — because it’s so simple. According to the NHSCA, “Un-drained water in pipes can freeze, which will cause pipes to burst as the ice expands.” The NHSCA recommends, “Start by disconnecting all garden hoses and draining the water that remains in faucets. If you don’t have frost-proof faucets (homes more than 10 to 15 years old typically do not), turn off the shut-off valve inside your home.

  1. Install a programmable thermostat

To keep home temperatures regulated and energy costs to a minimum, we recommend installing a programmable thermostat to lower temperatures when the house is empty and warm it up again in the morning. We have used and love the internet controlled NEST brand which retails for about $199.00. However cheaper models are available that work fine. Woroch says, “You can pick one up for as little as $20 and save an average of 10 percent a year on your heating and cooling bill. Since some of these are expensive, look for deals to save money on programmable thermostats and other home energy products.”

The National Home Service Contract Association (NHSCA) is a non-profit 501(c) (6) industry trade organization of member companies serving home service contract providers and consumer interests throughout the United States. For more great industry and consumer information, visit  http://www.homeservicecontract.org or call 913871-5600.

 #10a

                                                            

Popular Mechanics – How to Get the Most From Your Home Warranty

While written in April 2013, this advice from PM is pretty much timeless.

Suppose someone is considering buying a home…READ MORE

The National Home Service Contract Association (NHSCA) is a non-profit 501(c) (6) industry trade organization of member companies serving home service contract providers and consumer interests throughout the United States. For more great industry, media  and consumer information, visit  http://www.homeservicecontract.org or call 913-871-5600.

#13

 

COLD TEMPS NOT OPTIMAL FOR HVAC TESTING

 

National Home Service Contract Association cautions home buyers about limitations on HVAC testing in colder temperatures

Lenexa, KS – The National Home Service Contract Association is cautions consumers purchasing an existing home in the winter that colder temps make it difficult to determine the proper function of residential air conditioning units.

HVAC professionals generally caution that anytime the mercury falls below 65 degrees Fahrenheit, a home inspection report can only verify that a unit will turn on, but cannot verify it actually cools without high risk of severely damaging the compressor.  In winter, the coldest spot in a refrigeration circuit is in the compressor crankcase, located outside the home. Because refrigerant naturally migrates to the coldest spot in the unit, if the system is tested, the refrigerant may travel into the compressor, causing damage.

The NHSCA urges buyers purchasing an existing home to hire a qualified and experienced home inspector, pay special attention to the testing of their HVAC unit and request the seller provide a home service contract as part of the real estate transaction to help insulate them from costly repair or replacement costs of for undetected problems in future months.

To offer reassurance that the system is operating properly, real estate agents representing the buyer will generally ask the seller to sign a form stating the date of the last time the air conditioning system was fully functioning. However, if a home has been on the market for an extended period of time, this statement may not provide accurate information on the current condition of the unit.

“If a house has been sitting empty and an undetected leak has slowly depleted the refrigerant, the new owner will have no idea until they turn the air conditioning on in the summer,” says Art Chartrand Executive Director of the NHSCA. “At that point, a service call to get the refrigerant level back up and the unit running will likely cost in excess of the cost of an annual home service contract on the entire home. “  One also need to understand that low levels freon would indicate a leak in the line that will continue to deplete refrigerant until it is located and fixed. That translates into more repair dollars for the homeowner.

The NHSCA also notes that in the past some homeowners have opted for a temporary fix by simply having refrigerant added to their systems to keep them operational. However, the dramatic increase in the cost of refrigerant in recent years can make this approach as costly as a repair. Freon is currently scheduled by the EPA to be unavailable after 2020 due to its adverse environmental concerns.

Home service contracts generally provide service, repair or replacement for items such as dishwashers, ovens, disposers, electrical and plumbing systems – and most importantly, heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems (HVAC), but do not cover pre-existing conditions. Paying particular attention to the contract’s terms and conditions can help avoid confusion when a service call is needed.

The National Home Service Contract Association (NHSCA) is a non-profit 501(c) (6) industry trade organization of member companies serving home service contract providers and consumer interests throughout the United States. For more great industry, media and consumer information, visit  http://www.homeservicecontract.org or call 913-871-5600.

#10c

           

 

Interview with NHSCA Executive Director & Counsel, Art Chartrand

HomeWarrantyWiz.com published this interview in 2011 on consumer resources to home warranty consumers

 

Click to read the original and full  Home Warranty Wiz – NHSCA interview article. The following is an excerpt.

Home warranty is a service that is known by many different names. As an industry the generally preferred terminology for services that assist home owners with the costs and hassles of certain household repair and replacement needs is “home service contract”. But depending on the part of the U.S. a home owner resides in, there may be other commonly used names such as residential service contract and of course, home warranty. The National Home Service Contract Association is made up of some of the U.S. companies that are leaders in delivering home service contracts to home owners. This is distinct from the industry that works with home builders on new home construction warranty programs that cover builder issues and home structure.

The industry that offers home service contracts to owners of existing homes includes many well-known companies such as First American Home Buyers Protection, American Home Shield, and Old Republic Home Protection. This is the industry which the NHSCA and Art Chartrand work to represent and promote best practices within. I spoke with Art about a number of key areas that the NHSCA is lending its energy to in the United States. What I learned is that home warranty customers have a lot to look forward to as the NHSCA improves its ability to communicate with consumers. The home service contract industry also seems likely to benefit from the work that the NHSCA is involved in and ultimately it may see fewer fly-by-night home warranty companies as a result of the access that the organization is giving consumers to information about reputable home warranty companies.

My first questions for Art were about the mission of the NHSCA, something that is described in good detail on their website, www.homeservicecontract.org. First and foremost I was interested in the work that the NHSCA is involved with in the U.S. Capital and state capitals. Legislative relations are important to all industries but Art keyed me in one some reasons why it’s especially important to industries around the consumer space generally referred to as “warranties”. Based on what Art shared with me it seems that federal and state legislators often confuse or associate unduly the home service contract industry or its products with other products such as retail, new product extended service agreements and for automobiles service plans. For this reason the NHSCA spends a lot of time talking with states’ law makers about the home service contract industry to foster a better understanding of the services its member companies provide to home owners. Laws that are intended to protect consumers can sometimes cast too wide a net and wind up snaring services or affecting industries that by definition should not be included. In this respect NHSCA efforts to engage legislators at both the national and state level are a benefit to consumers and the home service contract industry alike.

Interacting with legislators is one part of the work that the NHSCA is committed to but there are also efforts to assist consumers in a more direct way that interested me greatly. I asked Art to tell me about some of the things that the NHSCA is doing to help home service contract customers as well as those who may be considering purchasing this type of service agreement.

As a trade organization the NHSCA does not become involved in resolving disputes between consumers and its member companies. But the NHSCA does seek to be the trade group for the home service contract industry and thus strives to be helpful to consumers as well as the companies providing home service contracts. Consumers who contact the NHSCA for advice can expect to receive the best information available since the NHSCA itself is made up of some of the most prominent companies providing home service contracts in the United States. Member companies are held to high standards and though the NHSCA is not a regulatory body it does communicate with its member companies regarding industry trends, consumer concerns, concerns from lawmakers, and many other relevant topics that consumers may sometimes be interested in knowing more about. The NHSCA website is an excellent place for interested home owners to visit but according to Art, one of the best ways for home owners to get trustworthy feedback about a particular home service contract company is through a local real estate agent. Art spoke highly about the role that real estate professionals play in referring their clients to companies that they believe are trustworthy. Art had this to say about the licensed professionals who assist home sellers, buyers, and owners with such referrals.

“Agents know a great deal personally about how the home service contract companies they’ve referred their clients, have dealt with service calls. This knowledge is invaluable to home owners trying to decide whether or not to do business with a particular home service contract company.”

Art also told me that based on recent years’ statistics somewhere around 2/3 of the home service contracts sold in the U.S. are chosen during a real estate transaction. This would mean that a great number of consumers who choose a home warranty or are provided with one by a seller have the opportunity to consult a real estate professional prior to making the final purchase decision. It makes a lot of sense to put that to a real estate professional since they may have a great deal of first or second hand experience with how different home warranty companies handle service calls from their customers. The point of service is when a home warranty customer really learns how well a home warranty company handles repairs or replacements of covered items in the home. Though the NHSCA does not intervene directly in matters involving its members and customers who have complaints, the organization does seek to provide consumers with ways to report dissatisfaction with particular home warranty companies. In the coming months new features will be made available on the consumer-facing NHSCA website including a complaint and feedback area where visitors to the website can report problems and share their personal experiences. That information, Art told me, does not just hit a dead end but rather is shared with the companies that are named in the complaints. Though the home warranty industry has many reputable companies Art did point out that the less reputable ones will be discovered faster when consumers have the ability to share their stories with the NHSCA and have that information be reviewed alongside similar reports from other consumers. Policing the industry is not the job of the NHSCA but in Art’s explanations of the way the organization wants to engage and assist consumers I saw the potential for some cleaning up in the home warranty industry, specifically where fly-by-night companies are concerned. I asked Art what the NHSCA typically does with regard to reporting suspicious activities to state authorities and this is what he told me.

“We actively work with members, consumers and state regulators. We have contacts in every state with regulators and are constantly trying to educate them and their enforcement bureaus on any suspicious activity. Fortunately, we have had very little, but we need to be vigilant. We are a very regulated industry, so we also contact new companies directly and offer to guide them to proper regulatory compliance.”

Art added, “Real Estate agents are our best friends. They understand a solid home service contract industry is a win, win, win for everyone.”

The NHSCA is not a regulatory entity, nor is it a consumer advocacy group per-se, but the work that it does has the potential to make a positive impact in both of those arenas.

I asked Art to sum up what the NHSCA seeks to be for those it works for and his answer was a simple one, “Serving consumers and providers, one call at a time.”

*******

The National Home Service Contract Association (NHSCA) is a non-profit 501(c) (6) industry trade organization of member companies serving home service contract providers and consumer interests throughout the United States. For more great industry, media and consumer information, visit  http://www.homeservicecontract.org or call 913-871-5600.

 

A REALTOR SHARES TIPS ON BUYING IN A SELLERS MARKET

When the market shift to sellers, buyers need to change their approach.

(Lenexa, KS)

When the sellers market turns hot, buyers need to be ready to pull the trigger.

We recently  interviewed Mitch Miller, an experienced REALTOR with Better Homes and Garden Real Estate. He indicates many home shoppers are often slow to fully comprehend when the market shifts. The laundry list of a demands for perks and accommodations that buyers get used to demanding can just can disappear overnight. 

He offers the following tips when a sellers market hits:

Don’t be too picky over painted walls and the front door. You can change all the painted colors and put your own mark on the home with a new front door fairly inexpensively.

If the house meets most of your needs, make a an offer. The perfect house will not come along and this one will go to another buyer tomorrow. 

Location, Location, Location. You can update the house or add on, but you cannot change the location. Never forget that.

Get pre-qualified for the loan you can afford. Nothing gets a sellers attention like a ready to go buyer.

Be flexible on closing date and possession. Sellers will prefer you as a buyer if you know their needs as well. Your agent can inform you.

The one thing you can still ask for is a home service contract. This is the one request you can make because it benefits and protects not only you, but the seller and their agent as well.

The National Home Service Contract Association (NHSCA) is a non-profit 501(c) (6) industry trade organization of member companies serving home service contract providers and consumer interests throughout the United States. For more great industry, media and consumer information, visit  http://www.homeservicecontract.org or call 913-871-5600.

#09b