Choosing The Right Insurance Agent

Personality of the Insurance Agent

Have conversations with prospective agents. Explain your situation and ask for a quote. Simply asking does not mean you have to work with them. This is a chance for you to get a feel for how they work and if you’re comfortable with them.

There are 2 types of Insurance Agents:

A. Independent Agents – These are people who own a small business who represents or an affiliate of a number of insurance companies.

B. Direct Insurance Agents – A direct insurance company sells directly to you without an agent, typically online.

Best choice:

Go with the Independent Agent since they have the opportunity to offer you a best match price and coverage for your needs. They have all the data that they can compare between insurance companies. They sell a variety of insurance and financial products, including property, life, casualty, health, disability and long-term care insurance. They are your one-stop-shop for insurance needs.

2. Credentials

A knowledgeable insurance agent can give advice when deciding what coverage and limits a client needs to protect their family and investments. An insurance agent who have credentials has attestation of qualification, authority or competence, and guaranteed professional in the field of insurance industry.

Nice to Have:

  • CFP – Certified Financial Planner.
  • CLU – Chartered Life Underwriter
  • CPCU – Chartered Property & Casualty Underwriter
  • ChFC – Chartered Financial Consultant
  • PFS – Personal Financial Specialist
  • CIC – Certified Insurance Counselor
  • ARM – Associate in Risk Management

Licensing

Before buying an insurance from an insurance agent, make sure that the agent has a license to sell insurance. It’s like a patient consulting a doctor and the doctor is required to get a license before they can provide prescriptions. Each state requires insurance agents to hold a license to sell policies. Some states require separate licenses to sell property and casualty insurance versus life and health insurance.

3. Client Feed Backs

While you’re checking whether the agent is licensed, also check to see if they’ve had complaints filed against them. For the company, you can check the NAIC’s CIS or call your state insurance department. The insurance department can also tell you if any complaints have been filed against the agent. You also might check with the Better Business Bureau to see if any consumers have filed complaints – or compliments – about the agents you’re considering.

4. Ask Questions

It is okay to ask questions when looking for an agent. In fact, you should be asking questions when deciding who you want to work with. Some good questions are:

  • What are your areas of expertise?
  • What is your reach? Are you local? Statewide? Nationwide?
  • What is your experience in my industry? How many years have you been writing this type of insurance?
  • Do you have any client references?
  • How long have you been in business?
  • How many companies do you represent? Which ones?

Of course there are lots of factor to consider when choosing an insurance agent. Take note of the most important things when trusting someone to provide you with the best coverage for your business needs. You always have an option to switch agents, but it is much better to do a research beforehand to find the great insurance partner.

How to Choose a Realtor – 7 Questions to Ask Your Real Estate Agent

Buying or selling real estate is probably the most significant transaction you’ll ever make in your life. That’s why it’s important to choose the best Realtor to help you achieve this goal. But before you hire the services of a real estate agent, there are important factors to consider.

Many people have the perception that all real estate agents are the same. Some sign with the first one that comes along. Unfortunately, they realize later on that they should have been more selective before signing an agreement. To guide you in choosing the best Realtor for your needs, below are seven questions to ask your prospective real estate agent.

1) What is your experience in real estate?

The first thing you need to ask a real estate agent is how long they’ve been in the real estate business. It doesn’t mean that you cannot enlist the services of newly licensed real estate agents. Just keep in mind that those who have years of experience under their belts are probably more knowledgeable on what to do, from listing to closing. Aside from the number of years in the business, ask them what segment of real estate they focus on – residential, commercial, luxury, etc. Find out if he/she is primarily a listing agent or a buyer’s agent (or both). Familiarity with the market is also essential, so ask what geographic areas the agent usually covers. You can even dig deeper by asking if the agent has received any awards for outstanding performance.

2) How many and what types of properties have you listed and sold in the past year?

It’s one of the most important questions you should ask a real estate agent. The number of properties he or she has listed and sold in the past year is a valuable indicator how good a real estate professional is in getting the job done. Take note that this question consists of two parts: properties listed and properties sold. Agents may demonstrate their ability to list homes; however, the more important thing is the sales part – the ability to close deals. If they have many properties listed and sold in the past year, it shows that whatever strategy the agent is using, it’s certainly working.

3) What was the average sales price for the properties you’ve sold over the last year?

Asking this will give you an idea in what kind of market the agent specializes. Find out if the real estate professional has experience selling properties in the price range you’re listing at. If a majority of properties sold falls on the low-end market segment, it might take longer for the agent to sell if yours is a higher-end home. Although agents can sell any property regardless of price range, it’s likely that they will have better success in the market and price segments in which they have the most experience.

4) What is your average sale to list price ratio?

The sale to list price ratio (sometimes called the sale-to-list or list-to-sale ratio) is the final sales price divided by the listing price, expressed as a percentage. If it is 100%, it means the sales price was equal to the list price. You can view this ratio in two ways. A skilled listing agent can negotiate sales prices that are equal or close to the list price, and sometimes even greater in a very competitive market. So ideally, listing agents should have sale to list price ratios closer to 100%. On the other side of the coin, a good buyer’s agent can often negotiate a sales price that is lower than the list price. Therefore, buyer’s agent ratios ideally should be lower than 99%.

5) What marketing strategies will you use?

Deciding on what strategies to use can spell the difference between success and failure. A poor marketing strategy will diminish the chances for success. Do your own due diligence by asking how the agent will sell your property. There are lots of options – staging, open houses, joint marketing, print advertising, and of course, online marketing. Whatever approaches are used, they should be designed to bring in the highest number of qualified potential buyers. Higher end properties can also often benefit from professional staging. In any case, your agent should advise you on how to best prepare the property to make it the most attractive to potential buyers.

6) Can you give me some references?

Reputation is important in this line of business. Whether you’re buying or selling a property, you should ask for references (past clients). If possible, call a few and ask them about their experiences with the agent. Were they pleased with the service provided? Also ask if they are in any way related to the agent. A list of references made up of friends or relatives generally won’t provide an objective assessment of the agent’s qualifications.

7) Do you offer any type of guarantee, and will you let me out of my contract early if I am not satisfied with your service?

You can’t say with certainty how things will go, even if you did your due diligence. For this reason, you should ensure that you’re prepared for any eventuality. If you sign a contract and later find that you’re not satisfied with the service, will the agent allow you to cancel the agreement? If things don’t work out the way they’re supposed to, you should have the freedom to choose another agent who can deliver better results.

As you can see, there are many things to consider when choosing a real estate agent. Finding and interviewing Realtors can be a very time-consuming and laborious task. However, now armed with these seven questions, you are on your way in choosing the best Realtor for your needs.

Interviewing a Web Savvy Listing Agent to Sell Your Home in the Crowded 2009 Atlanta Market

Over the last 24 months, particularly in large metropolitan markets like Atlanta, real estate print media has all but disappeared in favor of Internet promotion of listings and services. Web advertising continues to evolve; the ability of agents to provide enhanced listing details has captivated consumers who want easy access to every bit of online information that can be provided before they get into a car to begin the search. In the crowded 2009 Atlanta market with huge and stagnant inventories, differentiation is crucial. With approximately 45,000 single family homes and 10,000 condominiums available for purchase, there is significant motivation for sellers and listing agents to understand and implement high impact web marketing.

Customizable search criteria, birds eye views, street views, back yards, parking, amenities, questionable structures, bodies of water and topography are information used by enlightened Atlanta area buyers to eliminate properties in an oversupplied inventory. The Atlanta metro area has two MLS systems with significant overlap, so many agents list properties on both. In practice, a Multiple Listing System creates an equal playing field, so to leverage their listings, proactive agents are likely to advertise beyond the content of these systems. Powerful area specific websites, such as The Atlanta Journal Homefinder, Craigslist, Backpage, and Creative Loafing have evolved quickly to include extras like mapping tools and photo tours. However, these opportunities remain underutilized by listing agents, even when the advertising is free.

Specialized Internet marketing is not included in the skill set of most agents. Tech savvy agents who really get Internet marketing and property promotion are unique. An example of the typical disconnect is the property listing website, indexed by the house address url. What buyer knows your address before searching for their target dream home? How many web paths does your listing agent provide to move the buyer toward a site that showcases your home’s most appealing features?

More importantly, how does your agent achieve front page ranking on Google for your home? Occasionally I see listings that have placed an informational link in the private remarks section of the MLS listing, so that it may be viewed only by agents. If that is the sole online visibility of the path to a home’s virtual tour then everybody loses. The consumer browsing on a public access listing website misses some of the most compelling information. When I see this error, I know the agent has limited Internet marketing savvy; the chances of this home ranking high on Google are slim.

Descriptive property pages which achieve a high ranking on Google are not the result of large corporate brokerages which “stuff” listings into national real estate websites. In the large inventory of urban, suburban, and rural Atlanta housing, a home search can quickly confuse and frustrate buyers. The most successful web advertising for your home is a carefully crafted product managed by an agent who knows what really matters when consumers begin the search process. If Kennesaw Mountain Battlefield National Park, The Avenue of East Cobb, or Roswell Square are popular destinations near your home, then the agent will incorporate this information into the web page title to capture additional traffic.

Relevant interview questions to help you identify a web savvy listing agent capable of creating a high impact marketing campaign to sell your home are:

* On which local and national real estate websites will you list my home?

* How often do you update my home’s listing information on these sites?

* What keyword searches can consumers use to find my home on the front page of Google?

* Explain how you incorporate SEO techniques into your overall marketing plan.

* Which Atlanta area specific domain names do you own that help potential clients find my house?

* Do you hire a professional photographer to showcase my home’s interior and exterior?

* How many pictures will appear on my home tour and which websites will display the tour?

* Will you add information to the pictures to create additional interest?

* How many seconds does it take for a buyer to load and view my tour?

* Can the photo tour of my home be emailed?

* Can you show me an example of your high impact listings?

* Will you walk me through the process that demonstrates how a buyer will find my home online?

* Will you show me all the details of my home’s listing profile as the public will view it?

* Will I receive weekly emails showing the number of views of my home’s virtual tour?

In the crowded 2009 Atlanta real estate market, the answers to these questions and the derived benefits are important differentiators between top sales achievers and those who won’t get to the closing table.

Can You Juggle a Baby and Being a Mommy Real Estate Agent?

Many pregnant women and moms of young babies start to think about finding a career that will bring them the opportunity of decent money while also being flexible enough to allow for spending time with the baby. And real estate seems to combine that potential for large commission checks with a flexible schedule. But can you really juggle the demands of motherhood and a real estate business?

If you are pregnant or just had a baby, you’re in luck! It’s a great time to start a real estate business. While pregnant, you have some time to devote to your licensing education and finding a broker. By the time you have your baby, you’re all set to start looking for clients.

But if you have a young baby (or two), you’re still in luck! Most normal human beings LOVE babies. Especially cute babies who aren’t too fussy. If you have a baby who is not walking yet then you have a marketing strategy wrapped up in a baby blanket!

Once the licensing is out of the way and you’ve found a broker, you can hit the ground running and start finding clients. You can easily find clients with your baby in tow, from the mall to the grocery store to Mommy groups. So some of your prospecting can be done while you’re just doing your day-to-day Mommy routine. And you can also take your little one to the real estate broker’s office on those days where you need to drop off paperwork, make copies or perform other office duties.

Once you start working with clients, you can’t get away with taking a baby to every single appointment. Especially on buyer appointments where you are showing multiple properties, it may get a bit arduous to lug a baby with you while opening lockboxes, pulling out keys, opening doors and showing homes that you may not have ever walked through before.

Not to mention that a really cute baby can sometimes be the wrong distraction…you want your clients to buy a home, not drool over how cute your child is. So you have to use your common sense as to when you can include your baby in any aspect of your real estate business.

In these instances, you’ll want to have someone lined up to watch your baby. If you have family or a friend close by who can watch your baby on short notice, that’s ideal. But if you need to make other arrangements, then plan ahead. You need to know what you will do when you have that demanding client who needs to meet you on short notice.

Baby naptimes are a great time for you to prospect for new real estate clients or make phone calls to your current clients. You can research online, create marketing materials, return emails and more.

Can real estate be a great business for mommies of young babies? Most definitely! Much of your real estate business can be worked on with your baby along for the ride. Few other industries are as Mommy-friendly as real estate.

Important Features of a Good Real Estate Agent

With an increase in the property business in almost every state, many people try their hand at being a real estate agent. Though it’s not wrong to choose it as a career, but the competition in the field has made it difficult to be successful in it. A good real estate agent literally needs to have the capability to sell and buy the properties wisely and handle his clients. Here is a brief discussion of the qualities that a realtor must have:

A good communicator

Undoubtedly, buying or selling a property is the biggest decision in anyone’s life and the concerned person is definitely interested in getting A-Z information about the things related to it. So an agent’s duty is to communicate and provide even the little information to the client and satisfy them with your services.

It is important to maintain the communication level with the clients. It actually keeps them in touch with you and they prefer approaching you for any real estate issues.

As the real estate market is time sensitive, you need to be in regular touch with the clients and keep on informing them about every minor update.

A Patient Listener

If your agent is talking too much, you have not made a wise choice. A good agent is the one who listens to his clients patiently and understands his needs. He must give you the opportunity to speak your requirements and then deal accordingly. A good agent shall be asking all the questions and not the other way around.

Adapting to the Client’s needs

A real estate agent shall be adapting in nature. As, there are different comfort zones for everyone, so an agent needs to judge those and adjust himself accordingly. For example, some are comfortable with texting, some with the emails and others may be comfortable in talking over the phone. So, you need to understand every client’s needs and make yourself available.

Honesty

Honesty is the biggest attribute to be successful in any business, so real estate is not an exception. Sellers look for the agents that will honestly tell them how things are exactly. They literally get rid of the worries once they are sure about your honesty, which gives you an opportunity to make maximum clients and be successful as an agent.

Hardworking

A realtor shall be dedicated and hard-working. Though showing various properties and regularly communicating to the clients is a tiring task, but you need to stay tireless and keep on working with complete dedication.

Above mentioned are the common qualities, a realtor shall possess. Imbibe these qualities and you’ll be a successful agent, no matter how competitive the sales environment is.