Seven Splendid Reasons Why You Should Hire a Buyer’s Advocate

Buyers advocates or buyers agents are capable real estate professionals who are hired by people interested in buying property. Unlike traditional real estate agents, buyers advocates only work for purchasers. Their goal is to achieve the best possible purchase price for their clients, as well as make sure their rights are being respected.

Life in the 21st century is hectic, and today, the amount of people taking advantage of a buyer’s agent is increasing steadily. Because of their busy schedules they count on the exclusive services of these experts to help them find and buy the property of their dreams, regardless if this is a condo, a townhouse, a single detached home, an apartment, or a commercial building.

One of the main reasons why property purchasers hire buyers advocates is because it will save them time and money. Other motives are:

1. Familiarity with the region

A proficient property buyer’s advocate is familiar with the areas their clients are interested in. They know exactly what properties are in demand, what amenities are available, where the schools are, the local property values, and much more.

2. Locating suitable properties

Buyers advocates review hundreds of properties each week. They will also inspect as many listed homes as they can to acquire a feel of what is available on the current market. Their clients do not have to spend hours researching the property listings on the Internet or in newspapers, nor do they have to run all over the area to view properties. A buyer’s agent will do the preliminary work for them and present them with a shortlist.

3. Finding properties before they are listed

Through their professional contacts, buyers advocates often locate properties before they are officially listed. Many times, they also hear about silent sales, which purchasers without a buyer’s agent would miss out on. Although most sellers will list their home, some prefer to keep their property sale quiet. Some sellers do not want to deal with invasive home inspections and open houses, while others want to save on advertising costs.

4. Increased selection

As established buyers advocates have a full range of real estate to choose from, and have access to these properties’ information, they are able to find more suitable homes or commercial building than their clients would on their own.

5. Taking care of prep work

Buying property is more than shaking hands and handing over a set of keys. Buyer’s agents also act as liaisons between their clients and property valuers, building inspectors, pest consultants, surveyors, contractors and everyone else involved in the buying process. They also make sure their clients receive good value for their money.

6. Performing negotiations

The members of a buyer’s agency are trained to negotiate. Using a variety of techniques and strategies, they will discuss and bargain with real estate agents until their clients will receive the best possible deal.

7. Professional connections

Most property buyers advocates deal with solicitors, financial institutions, building inspectors, contractors, and other professionals involved in the purchase of real estate. Because they have such an extensive network of professional connections, these property agents can recommend reliable craftsmen who will charge competitive rates to their clients. Renovations or upgrades will be affordable and finished in no time.

With the help of a buyers advocate agency, you too can find affordable property in your preferred neighborhood!

A Beginner’s Guide to Insurance

Having the right kind of insurance is central to sound financial planning. Some of us may have some form of insurance but very few really understand what it is or why one must have it. For most Indians insurance is a form of investment or a superb tax saving avenue. Ask an average person about his/her investments and they will proudly mention an insurance product as part of their core investments. Of the approximately 5% of Indians that are insured the proportion of those adequately insured is much lower. Very few of the insured view insurance as purely that. There is perhaps no other financial product that has witnessed such rampant mis-selling at the hands of agents who are over enthusiastic in selling products linking insurance to investment earning them fat commissions.

What is Insurance?

Insurance is a way of spreading out significant financial risk of a person or business entity to a large group of individuals or business entities in the occurrence of an unfortunate event that is predefined. The cost of being insured is the monthly or annual compensation paid to the insurance company. In the purest form of insurance if the predefined event does not occur until the period specified the money paid as compensation is not retrieved. Insurance is effectively a means of spreading risk among a pool of people who are insured and lighten their financial burden in the event of a shock.

Insured and Insurer

When you seek protection against financial risk and make a contract with an insurance provider you become the insured and the insurance company becomes your insurer.

Sum assured

In Life Insurance this is the amount of money the insurer promises to pay when the insured dies before the predefined time. This does not include bonuses added in case of non-term insurance. In non-life insurance this guaranteed amount may be called as Insurance Cover.

Premium

For the protection against financial risk an insurer provides, the insured must pay compensation. This is known as premium. They may be paid annually, quarterly, monthly or as decided in the contract. Total amount of premiums paid is several times lesser than the insurance cover or it wouldn’t make much sense to seek insurance at all. Factors that determine premium are the cover, number of years for which insurance is sought, age of the insured (individual, vehicle, etc), to name a few.

Nominee

The beneficiary who is specified by the insured to receive the sum assured and other benefits, if any is the nominee. In case of life insurance it must be another person apart from the insured.

Policy Term

The number of years you want protection for is the term of policy. Term is decided by the insured at the time of purchasing the insurance policy.

Rider

Certain insurance policies may offer additional features as add-ons apart from the actual cover. These can be availed by paying extra premiums. If those features were to be bought separately they would be more expensive. For instance you could add on a personal accident rider with your life insurance.

Surrender Value and Paid-up Value

If you want to exit a policy before its term ends you can discontinue it and take back your money. The amount the insurer will pay you in this instance is called the surrender value. The policy ceases to exist. Instead if you just stop paying the premiums mid way but do not withdraw money the amount is called as paid-up. At the term’s end the insurer pays you in proportion of the paid-up value.

Now that you know the terms this is how insurance works in plain words. An insurance company pools premiums from a large group of people who want to insure against a certain kind of loss. With the help of its actuaries the company comes up with statistical analysis of the probability of actual loss happening in a certain number of people and fixes premiums taking into account other factors as mentioned earlier. It works on the fact that not all insured will suffer loss at the same time and many may not suffer the loss at all within the time of contract.

Types of Insurance

Potentially any risk that can be quantified in terms of money can be insured. To protect loved ones from loss of income due to immature death one can have a life insurance policy. To protect yourself and your family against unforeseen medical expenses you can opt for a Mediclaim policy. To protect your vehicle against robbery or damage in accidents you can have a motor insurance policy. To protect your home against theft, damage due to fire, flood and other perils you can choose a home insurance.

Most popular insurance forms in India are life insurance, health insurance and motor insurance. Apart from these there are other forms as well which are discussed in brief in the following paragraphs. The insurance sector is regulated and monitored by IRDA (Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority).

Life Insurance

This form of insurance provides cover against financial risk in the event of premature death of the insured. There are 24 life insurance companies playing in this arena of which Life Insurance Corporation of India is a public sector company. There are several forms of life insurance policies the simplest form of which is term plan. The other complex policies are endowment plan, whole life plan, money back plan, ULIPs and annuities.

General Insurance

All other insurance policies besides Life Insurance fall under General Insurance. There are 24 general insurance companies in India of which 4 namely National Insurance Company Ltd, New India Assurance Company Ltd, Oriental Insurance Company Ltd and United India Insurance Company Ltd are in the public sector domain.

The biggest pie of non-life insurance in terms of premiums underwritten is shared by motor insurance followed by engineering insurance and health insurance. Other forms of insurance offered by companies in India are home insurance, travel insurance, personal accident insurance, and business insurance.

Buying Insurance

There are an umpteen number of policies to choose from. Because we cannot foresee our future and stop unpleasant things from happening, having an insurance cover is a necessity. But you need to choose carefully. Don’t simply go with what the agent tells you. Read policy documents to know what is covered, what features are offered and what events are excluded from being insured.

1. Know your Needs

Determine what asset or incident must be protected against loss/damage. Is it you life, health, vehicle, home? Next determine what kinds of damage or danger exactly would the assets be most probably be exposed to. This will tell you what features you should be looking for in a policy. Of course there will be losses which cannot be foreseen and the cost of dealing with them can be very high. For instance nobody can predict that they’ll never suffer from critical illnesses no matter if they’re perfectly healthy at present.

The biggest mistake while it comes to buying insurance, particularly life insurance is to view it as an investment. Clubbing insurance and investment in a single product is a poor idea. You lose out on both fronts because for the premiums you’re paying more cover could’ve been got in a term plan and if the premiums were invested in better instruments your returns could’ve been several times more.

Be wary of agents who want to talk you into buying unnecessary policies like child life insurance, credit card insurance, unemployment insurance and so on. Instead of buying separate insurance for specific assets or incidents look for policies that cover a host of possible events under the same cover. Whenever possible choose riders that make sense instead of buying them separately. Unless there is a fair chance of an event happening you do not need insurance for it. For instance unless you are very prone to accidents and disability due to your nature of work or other reasons you do not need an Accident Insurance policy. A good Life Insurance policy with accidental death rider or waiver of premium rider or a disability income rider will do the job.

2. Understand Product Features and Charges

The worst way of choosing an insurance product or insurer is to blindly follow the recommendation of an agent or a friend. The good way to do it is to shop around for products that suit your need and filter out the ones offering lower premiums for similar terms like age, amount of cover, etc. All details you need about the product features and charges will be provided on the company’s website. Many insurance policies can now be bought online. Buying online is smarter because premiums are lower due to elimination of agent fees. If buying offline in case of life insurance, tell the agent that you’re interested only in term insurance.

Before you sign on the contract make sure you have understood what items are covered and what items are exempted from the cover. It would be so devastating to learn in the event of damage or loss that the item you hoped to cover with the insurance was actually excluded. So many people rush to their insurers after being treated for diseases only to realize that the particular disease was excluded. Understand details like when the cover begins and ends and how claims can be filed and losses be reported.

Don’t choose an insurance company because your neighbourhood friend is their agent and never let them coax you into buying from them. Insurance premiums run for years and it means a sizeable amount of money. Apart from the premiums charged look for the service provided. When you are faced with a peril you want the claims collection processed to be complicated with non-cooperating staff in the insurance company’s office. Seek answers from people who have had previous experience with the company for questions like how customer friendly and responsive the company is when it comes to handling claims.

3. Evaluate and Upgrade in Time

As you walk from one life stage to another or when the asset insured changes your policies must be reviewed. Perhaps your cover will need to be increased (or decreased) or you’ll need to top it up with a rider. Some instances when you need to review your cover are when you getting married, when you have children, when your income increases your decreases substantially, when you’re buying a house/car and when you’re responsible for your ageing parents.

Be Your Own Patient Advocate Before Surgery

When planning for surgery it is useful to learn the art of being your own patient advocate. Today’s health and wellness industry has made it easy for us to obtain information to ensure we receive quality care. When we do our own thorough research ahead of time we can feel confident about having a positive surgery outcome.

How to be a patient advocate in navigating health insurance:

It is important to have a full understanding of your health insurance plan. Here are some of the things I learned this past year:

· When in need of a new insurance plan seek out a local insurance broker to help sort out the best plan for your specific needs. Free of charge, they help us attain emotional health about the coverage we choose. These agents know which plans do not raise their rates yearly, which ones are most appropriate to choose with pre-existing conditions, and which plans will be available long-term.

· Whenever you receive a new insurance plan you need to become your own patient advocate by reading through the policy right away. This will inform you if they have placed any restrictions on covering any of your current medical conditions. You do have 30 days to cancel the plan if you find the policy unacceptable.

· If a situation presents where you are not able to pay your medical bill you can make alternative payment arrangements. Those with financial hardships are able to reduce their hospital fees or perhaps waive them entirely.

How to be your own patient advocate for medical visits:

· The health and wellness industry has been great at educating us how to prepare ahead of time for a medical visit. Most of us have already experienced the value of writing down our questions before the visit. To optimize your limited time with the doctor I advise asking your practitioner only those questions they themselves can answer. As my own patient advocate I have learned to query other staff with the remainder of my questions. For example:

1. Direct inquiries about pre-post surgery issues to the surgery scheduler.

2. Ask the front desk staff how to obtain the morbidity & mortality statistics for the doctor and hospital.

· The health and wellness industry has encouraged us to have a trusted person with us during the medical visit. When another is present it allows them to become your patient advocate. I have found their presence vital since way too often my trusted friend brings up issues I failed to mention. It helps me take care of my emotional health when the trusted person is my scribe and documents the doctor’s comments.

· When you need a physician to submit a form (or write a letter) on your behalf it is best to prepare ahead of time. Here are a few examples:

1. When requesting a temporary handicapped parking permit find out ahead of time if the DMV requires you to download their form. If not, draft a letter with your request for the doctor to sign.

2. Whenever you need the doctor to write a letter confirming a medical condition it is best to become proactive as your own patient advocate. Arrive at the medical visit with a sample letter which includes all the pertinent information so you leave with it in-hand.

3. When you need a medical test ordered at another facility come prepared with the name of the facility and FAX number where the request can be sent.

When you follow these guidelines chances are greater you will leave the visit with total confidence that your needs are being handled.

How to be your own patient advocate before and after surgery:

· Know that you can request an early morning surgery when necessary. In taking care of your health and wellness inform the surgery scheduler of needs for early morning surgery if you have health issues that would be compromised when pre-surgery requirements forbid the intake of food or water. Prior to surgery it is best to take care of your emotional health and speed up the time your body is without nourishment.

· It is desirable to have a trusted friend stay in your hospital room overnight. If something unusual presents they can be of immediate value. Today hospitals have a chair that folds down into a bed for these specific purposes.

How to be your own patient advocate in finding the best surgeon:

· The health and wellness industry has made it easy for us to do research online. In your inquiry, seek out the latest state-of-the-art surgery technologies. After studying the various options you are more ready to select a surgeon.

· Search for doctors that use minimally invasive surgical techniques to reduce pain, restore mobility, and promote a quicker return to normal activities.

· In being your own patient advocate you may find the need to look outside your local area for a surgeon. Surgery is an invasive medical procedure. It is in your best interest to feel confident you will receive the highest quality of care.

· I encourage you to inquire how experienced your potential surgeon is. You want someone who has done the procedure hundreds of times to ensure the best outcome.

Hopefully you feel more feel confident about being your own patient advocate when planning for surgery. There are countless online resources available to help sort through the maze of information. Use these guidelines when seeking out what is available and you will find balance in your emotional health.

To Get The Best Credit Cards – Credit Repair = Prime Rate Cards

There are literally thousands, of different credit cards out there for consumers to sift through. Some cards are extremely good, others; not so much. Finding the right credit card can be difficult, especially with so many choices, but most consumers understand one basic principle of credit cards: the lower the interest rate, the better.

The best interest rates on credit cards will be less than 10%, though these credit cards are difficult for many people to get a hold of. They are reserved for people with the absolute best credit scores — people whom banks and other credit agencies view as extremely safe investments. These are people who the financial institutions know are more likely to have the money to pay them back without any bumps along the way.

The best cards are called “prime rate cards” because these credit cards are often tied very closely to the prime rate set by the credit marketplace, one of the main factors used in determining the interest rates for loans and credit cards alike. These cards are going to have the lowest interest rates, and will almost never have any additional fees.

If you don’t already have a top notch credit score, then your chances of scoring a prime rate card isn’t good, but that doesn’t mean you can’t work yourself up to a point where you qualify. No matter how bad your credit is, it can be repaired given time and the right advocate on your side.

If you’re credit score is bad or even just average — you will want a prime rate card, then you need to remember that credit repair equals prime rate cards. There is no easy way to “cheat” the system, and having good credit is far more important than getting one prime rate card. Besides, if you repair your credit correctly and maintain a high score, then you won’t have to chase after a prime rate credit card because the banks and lenders that make these cards will start coming after you.

Credit repair can be done by anyone, and many people would be surprised by how quickly a score can recover if you do the right things. A friend of mine at one point in his life had about $3,000 in credit card debt in grad school, and late payments on his credit report from as early as two years before, and a score around 550. Not good. But he paid all his bills on time after that initial missed payment (and always added a little extra just to make sure he was over) and paid all his debt off so his balance was $0.

The result? In about four months of not having any balance, his credit score was a 729. That’s an excellent score, especially considering how close those last delinquent payments were. In addition to that, my friend had less than seven years of total credit history, meaning if the balance stayed at zero the score was only going to continue to climb and get better.

The point of is that it doesn’t have to take ten years to clean up a credit report. If credit repair is one of your tactics then a score can improve rapidly. Even if it takes more time, doing the right thing tends to have a snowball effect. Don’t be surprised if your score goes up five points in one month, then seven, then seven, then thirty-eight. More often than not — that’s exactly how it will happen when you represented by a reputable credit repair company such as Lexington Law.

When aiming for the best credit cards possible: all you need to remember is that credit repair = prime rate cards. It really is that simple. If you want the best cards, get your credit repaired and before you know it the companies will be flooding your mailbox with prime credit card offers and low interest financing.