About 60 Ocean City homeowners on Saturday attended a free seminar titled “An Ounce of Prevention.”
The seminar “came about thinking of all the frozen pipes we dealt with last winter,” according to Deedra Bowen of the Ocean City Board of Realtors, which sponsored the event along with the City of Ocean City.
An array of presentations on Saturday at the Ocean City Free Public Library covered more than just preventing frozen pipes. Speakers addressed topics ranging from flood insurance to pest control to tax advantages for investment properties.
The Board of Realtors hopes to make similar seminars semi-annual — with the events scheduled for spring and fall near the downtown block parties on the calendar.
Saturday’s speakers included:
- Tom Heist of Heist Insurance Agency: Heist offered his assessment of the “Top 10 considerations when buying coastal property.” He outlined many of the implications unique to owning property at the shore. (See PDF below for an outline of his presentation.) And he urged owners to shop local for insurance. He said local agencies (not just his own) know flood insurance better than anybody.
- Bill McMahon of McMahon Insurance Agency: McMahon said his agency has paid more than $2 million in claims related to frozen pipes over the past two years. He said the average claim was for $21,000, but a dozen were for more than $100,000, including a few over $300,000. At the same time, 93 percent of the incidents were preventable with a few simple measures. He urged second homeowners to turn the water off for the winter … and to be there to watch when they turn it back on in the spring. He said new flow sensor products can detect unusual usage of water and automatically shut down the main supply. And he urged homeowners to read the sections of their insurance policies related to owner responsibilities for preventing frozen pipes.
- Jim Robey of Lenegan Plumbing: “We see some crazy stuff,” Robey said. He described opening the doors to some properties and seeing water pouring everywhere, kitchen floors frozen over like an ice rink and major damage across multiple floors. Robey said too many owners think they can set their thermostats at 50 or 55 and everything will be fine. That works well enough when the temperatures are in the 30s, he said, but not when they’re in the single digits and the Ocean City wind begins to blow the cold air into any space it can find. Robey said even when owners leave the heat on at a sufficient temperature, exterior condensate lines that freeze can shut down heaters, unbeknownst to nonresident property owners. He urged owners to consult with any local plumbing company before winter. “All the stuff that happens can be prevented,” he said.
- Myles Goevremont of Tri-County Pest Control: Goevremont offered a few tips for preventing insects and pests from taking up residence in properties: seal any entry point around the exterior (including utility and pipe entries); trim vegetation away from homes; keep homes dry (all insects and pests need water); take out the trash; repair damage (some insects thrive in deteriorating wood). He also reminded owners of any rental property that with so many people passing through, there’s a good chance that one could bring bed bugs. He gave pointers for recognizing any infestation and for being prepared to remediate quickly.
- Thomas Fitzpatrick of Fitzpatrick, Bongiovanni, & Kelly PC: Fitzpatrick outlined tax implications for various scenarios related to investment properties and second homes. (See second PDF below for an outline of his presentation.)
- Mike Allegretto of The City of Ocean City: The city’s Community Services director outlined Ocean City’s recycling and trash procedures (the most common question from homeowners, he said), responsibilities of owners to register rental properties and get annual smoke detector inspections. He also reminded owners of Ocean City’s ordinance governing signs (including real estate and rental signs).