How To Choose


April 28, 2014

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April 2014
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A Special Supplement to the Sweetwater Reporter
A Special Supplement to the Sweetwater Reporter
Page 2, Sweetwater Reporter, How To Choose 2014, April 27, 2014
Sweetwater Reporter, How To Choose 2014, April 27, 2014, Page 3
How To Choose...
Insurance agents and brokers can streamline your insurance purchases and become your ally if you run into insurance problems down the road. The terms “agent” and “broker” are often used interchangeably, but is there a difference? Technically, an agent sells insurance from one insurance company, while brokers represent many carriers. An “independent agent” is unaffiliated with any particular insurer and represents a range of companies. GETTING STARTED Do your homework before you set foot inside an insurance agency. First, identify what you want in auto, health, home, life, business and other insurance products. Write it down. This list of features becomes the summary plan that you will give to agents and brokers in exchange for price quotes. When you are in the shopping-around stage, you can go online to get price quotes and ballpark figures for useful comparative rates. It helps to know what costs you are facing. THE RIGHT AGENCY Look for strong service reputations and seek out testimonials from other satisfied customers. Use any contact you have in the insurance business to find out what agents are considered the most helpful. Ask how long the agency has been in business and what insurers it works with. Longstanding agencies have clout with insurers and they can be your advocate if you face a claims problem. Don’t be shy about asking for references — and following up on them. Work with insurers that are financially stable. Rating services such as Standard & Poors and A.M. Best rank insurance companies based on financial stability and performance, and good brokers will discuss with you the financial status of the insurers they work with. Often, one agency can handle all of your insurance business. According to the Better Business Bureau, one way to save money is to insure all your automobiles with the same company or agent and to buy your homeowner’s policy or other insurance policies from the same source. Multi policy discounts are common. Ask about long term holder discounts. Also, ask what other services the broker offers and at what costs. Alternately, you can shop around based purely on price comparisons. If you treat insurance just as a commodity, brokers might not appreciate it, but you have the right to shop until you are satisfied. However, watch out for low-ball quotes. HERE ARE SOME WORDS TO KNOW WHILE SHOPPING FOR INSURANCE: • Conditions: Explanations in the policy of your and your agent’s responsibilities. For example, how claims are to be filed and what proofs you must submit with your claim. • Coverage: Description in the policy on specific circumstances in which you can receive benefits. • Deductible: The amount of a loss or claim you must pay before you can collect. • Premium: The cost of the insurance policy. RATINGS ARE IMPORTANT It’s also important to understand the ratings, especially in car insurance. The rating is the process by which the price of your insurance coverage is determined. States are divided into rating territories. Your insurance agent, in the case of car insurance, bases part of the price of your policy on the claims history of all the drivers it insures in your territory. Often, there are discounts related to age and household or marital status.
GET SMART According to a recent survey commissioned by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, 67 percent of Americans feel they have about the right amount of insurance coverage, although only 28 percent say they understand the details of the coverage “very well.” Your state’s department of insurance can provide rate guides for both auto and homeowner’s insurance, which can help consumers shop wisely for the insurance they need. WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW • Check the financial ratings of insurers. • Shop around. • Low price may or may not be the deciding factor. • Write down what type of insurance features you want.
Page 4, Sweetwater Reporter, How To Choose 2014, April 27, 2014
Trust the Professionals
We’ve been a neighbor in this community for over 50 years, and we’re proud to be your hometown realtor. If you’re in the market for a new home or a real estate investment, it pays to do business with a name you know and trust. Step into our office today, and let one of our friendly agents assist you in the real estate buying, selling or appraisal process today.
909 E. 3rd
2006 Country Club Dr
Beautiful 4 bdr executive home with 2-3 living areas on the golf course! landscaped yard with sprinkler system, large oak trees. Hot tub. 2 car attached garage. Approximately 2923 square foot of living space per (CAD).
Pam Ludlum Reynolds
Lagena Weaver
Mandy Richburg
For all your Real Estate needs call
13 Lakewood
Superior Location! 3 or 4 bdr/2 bath brick home on large lot. Updated kitchen with granite counter tops, dining area, study, large utility room, sun room and covered deck.
LaGena Weaver.........................................338-0738 Pam Ludlum Reynolds...........................829-5192 Mandy Richburg........................................725-8988

Sweetwater Reporter, How To Choose 2014, April 27, 2014, Page 5
How To Choose...
A Realtor
WHO IS A REALTOR®? The terms sales associate, broker and REALTOR® are often used interchangeably, but have very different meanings. For example, not all sales associate or brokers are REALTORS®. Learn who is a REALTOR® and the reasons why you should use one. As a prerequisite to selling real estate, a person must be licensed by the state in which they work, either as an salesperson or as a broker. Before a license is issued, minimum standards for education, examinations and experience, which are determined on a state by state basis, must be met. After receiving a real estate license, most sales associate go on to join their local association of REALTORS® and the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®, the world’s largest professional trade association. They can then call themselves REALTORS®. The term “REALTOR®” is a registered collective membership mark that identifies a real estate professional who is a member of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® and subscribes to its strict Code of Ethics (which in many cases goes beyond state law). It is the REALTOR® who shares information on the homes they are marketing, through a Multiple Listing Service (MLS). Working with a REALTOR® who belongs to an MLS will give you access to the greatest number of homes. The following are important questions to ask a potential agent: • Are you a REALTOR®? • Do you have an active real estate license in good standing? To find this information, you can check with your state’s governing agency. • Do you belong to the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) and/or a reliable online home buyer’s search service? Multiple Listing services are cooperative information networks of REALTORS® that pro-
1. Look for a sales associate who is a member of the local board or association of Realtors®. 2. A sales associate should explain and disclose their role and who they represent at the serious first contact. 3. The sales associate should advise you on preparing your home for the market. 4. Be sure the professional shows enthusiasm, listens well, instills confidence and has a personality that is complementary to yours. 5. The sales associate should research your property and provide data on nearby homes that have or have not sold. Selling or buying on your own is not an easy undertaking. It requires a significant amount of time to study the process, understand your obligations, and do some of the complicated work that a real estate sales associate does.
vide descriptions of most of the houses for sale in a particular region. If there’s on nearby MLS, how often do you cooperate with other local brokers on a sale? • What have you listed or sold in this neighborhood lately? • Do you cooperate with buyer’s brokers? • What share of the commission will you offer a cooperating broker who finds the buyer? And in addition to the criteria mentioned above, there are a number of very important reasons you will typically prefer to work with a REALTOR®. Among them is the fact that they adhere to the NAR’s highest standards of ethical conduct and professional training. WHAT A REALTOR® WILL DO FOR YOU Some of the duties your REALTORS® will perform for you include: • Walk through the process of selling your home from beginning to end. • Provide comparable information about the prices for which other properties have sold and analyzing data for you to gain a true comparison. • Supply information regarding local customs and regulations you may want to consider. • Share information about your home through the Multiple Listing service and on the Internet. • Place advertisements for your home. • Field phone calls. • “Qualify” potential buyers to make sure they would be financially able to buy your property. • Prepare and present a sales contract. • Alert you to potential risks. • Comply with the disclosures required by law. • Provide you with an estimate of the closing costs you will incur. • Help you prepare for a smooth closing of the transaction.
Page 6, Sweetwater Reporter, How To Choose 2014, April 27, 2014
Sweetwater Reporter, How To Choose 2014, April 27, 2014, Page 7
How To Choose...
A Gift
Some of us spend days picking out the right present for friends and family, then spend even longer painstakingly wrapping them. Of course, not everyone enjoys this process, and choosing the right thing can be a minefield. WHAT TO BUY First of all, try not to spend more than you can afford. Giving expensive presents does not prove how much you love someone, and putting a little thought into something they’d really like is much better than splurging on luxury goods just for the sake of it. Other tips: • Try not to worry too much. Women worry more about present buying than men, with 52 percent of them saying that they found it stressful. • If someone asks for something that you can’t afford, find out what their second choice is instead. Don’t feel guilty about giving them a gentle reality check. • Don’t buy something for them with just yourself in mind. Go to the returns desk of any department store after Christmas and look at the long queue of women bringing back red and black lacy underwear and changing it for something a bit more classy. Nuff said. • How do they think of themselves? Buy a gift for the most flattering way they see themselves, not the everyday ordinary way that you usually see them. Don’t copy the boy who bought his mom a frying pan and wondered why she got upset. She resented the amount of time she spent in the kitchen and it made her feel taken for granted. • If you really can’t think of what to buy for someone, ask a close friend of theirs what they’d really like. • Gift certificates may seem a bit impersonal, but if you’re not sure about someone’s personal taste, they are a safe option. They are not good as a romantic gift, though. • If you’re buying online or from a catalogue, remember that although they may say it takes 14 days for deliver, the package is often delayed due to the extra number of things sent during holiday periods. Allow some extra time. YOUR SHOPPING RIGHTS • Goods that you buy must be safe and fit for the purpose that they are sold for. • Keep the receipts just in case something goes wrong or the gift is unwanted. • Don’t put down a deposit on anything without getting a receipt for it and reading the small print. Is it returnable? • If you’re buying online, remember that UK-based companies are bound by the same laws as other shops, unless it’s a single person trading on their own. GIVING THE GIFT After choosing your gift, pay attention to presentation. Wrap the gift beautifully. Include a warm note expressing your affection for the recipient and perhaps a bit of why you chose the gift you did. As a service, some stores may offer free gift wrapping and even mailing services, saving the customer the hassle of wrapping, packing and shipping the gifts purchased at the store. THAT UNWANTED GIFT If you have the receipt and the gift hasn’t been used, many shops will take things back. Returning unwanted items without a receipt can be tricky, although some items are often taken back as a goodwill gesture. If an elderly relative gets you a horrible jumper, you could always tell them that it didn’t fit and that you need to have the receipt so you can exchange it for the right size. Then you can exchange it for something you prefer. Then again, you could just auction it off on eBay. Try not to tell anyone outright that you hated their present. In most cases it’s better not to hurt their feelings. Just chalk it down to experience and start dropping hints in the spring about what you want for Christmas.
• HOME DECOR Art Dinnerware Stoneware Fragrances Candles Vases Lamps Linens. • FIGURINES Angels Bears Crystal Frogs • PERSONAL GIFTS Fragrances Jeweled purses Jewelry
Page 8, Sweetwater Reporter, How To Choose 2014, April 27, 2014
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