CR's Guide to Getting Better Internet Without Busting Your Budget | Shield Insurance Agency Blog

CR’s Guide to Getting Better Internet Without Busting Your Budget

How to solve WiFi problems and trim your monthly bill. Plus, what CR is doing to get everyone faster, cheaper broadband.

By Consumer ReportsJuly 13, 2021

Over the past 18 months, our home internet connections have helped us reach family, friends, and colleagues. They’ve been both practical tools and a needed source of entertainment during a difficult time.

That may be why 76 percent of Americans agree that internet service is as important as electricity or water, according to a February nationally representative Consumer Reports survey of 2,514 U.S. adults (PDF).

But using the internet at home can be frustrating, too, as many people confront dropped video-calls and sputtering movies—along with confusing bills and poor customer service. The good news is that some broadband problems are easy to fix. The following information can help you do that and maybe even help you save a bit of money.

To learn more about the issues that affect internet customers, Consumer Reports is launching a project called Broadband Together along with several other nonprofit organizations to collect and analyze tens of thousands of internet bills. You can read more about the project, and then consider joining the effort by taking an internet speed test, sharing a bill, and providing us with some basic information. 

The information we gather will help us learn how much people are paying in neighborhoods across the country, whether they’re getting what they were promised, and whether prices are fair.

If the internet is glitchy in your home, the first step toward a solution is to pinpoint the problem. And it helps to understand how online material—be it a Netflix show, Zoom call, or social media post—gets to you.

As you can see in the illustration below, movies, email, and other data are funneled by internet service providers (ISPs) through a series of cables and wires to homes with wired service. 

If something’s not working, the problem could lie outside your home and may require a call to the company to fix. Or the trouble could be with your home WiFi network, which distributes information wirelessly to your computers, TVs, and other devices.

Which is it? To figure that out, an easy first step is to test your internet speed.

How to Test Your Speed For Better Internet

It’s useful to know how fast data moves into and out of your home. To find out, you can check your speed at Measurement Lab or Speedtest. With a click or two, you’ll learn your download speed (how fast data such as a movie streams into your home), and your upload speed (how fast data like your end of a Zoom call streams out). The numbers, measured in megabits per second (Mbps), will vary a bit each time. If possible, first run a test with a computer that’s physically plugged into your router using an Ethernet cord. The results may vary a bit each time you run the test. But if the speeds are consistently much slower than the maximum speeds promoted by the ISP for your plan, call the company. Then do the same test wirelessly (over WiFi) throughout the house. If it’s only the WiFi speeds that are slow, focus on your router to find a solution. 

Is Your Service Level Fast Enough?
ISPs generally offer several plans, each promising a different range of speeds—the faster the connection, the more you pay. So which plan is right for you?

It depends on how many people you have at home and what they do online. You need only around 1 Mbps to listen to a Spotify song and 4 Mbps for a Zoom call—but 25 Mbps to watch a 4K movie on Netflix.

The numbers are cumulative. If two TVs are streaming 4K movies at the same time, that’s 50 Mbps.

Every ISP has its own tiers, but you can use the speed ranges below to see where you fit in. Many people may pay for more speed than they really need.

Up to 100 Mbps
This is plenty for two or three people with routine needs. That includes Zoom calls, high-definition movie viewing, and some online game play.

100 to 300 Mbps
These speeds should accommodate even a data-hogging family that plays several 4K movies and taxing online games all at the same time.

300-Plus Mbps
Few households need more than 300 Mbps. If you have internet problems, the solution is probably not to slap down the plastic for your ISP’s priciest superfast service.

Make Your WiFi Better

Let’s say you’ve signed up for the right internet service tier, and your speed testing confirms that your ISP truly is delivering the speeds it has promised. If your internet service is still acting finicky, the problem very likely lies with your WiFi network. You can probably fix things by fiddling with the equipment in your home. Below, CR has four expert tips to help, starting with the simplest and cheapest. And we have more detailed WiFi advice, as well. 

1. Try Moving Your Router
Tempting though it may be to banish your router from public view, exiling it to a cabinet or the outskirts of your home can hinder performance. That forces the WiFi signal to pass through more walls and other barriers, and to cover longer distances, to reach every corner of the house.

Place the router out in the open, away from corners, and high in the room. (The signal tends to be stronger below the router than above it.) Also, locate the router as close as possible to the middle of your home. You may be able to move it yourself, or you might need some help from your ISP or a handy friend.

2. Use an Ethernet Cord
If you’ve ever had a movie night derailed by sputtering WiFi, you know the feeling (major letdown). Need a more stable signal? A $10 or $20 Ethernet cable can save the day, linking a TV, streaming video box, or video game console directly to your router.

3. Use an Inexpensive WiFi Extender
Need to push a WiFi signal a little deeper into your home? A $30 palm-sized WiFi range extender could be the answer. Plug it into an outlet midway between your router and, say, the comfy reading chair in your bedroom, and it stretches the signal. There’s a catch, however: That extended signal can be only half as fast as the rest of your WiFi network, making this a great fix for emails, but maybe not movies.

4. If Needed, Invest in a Mesh Router
If you’re looking to improve WiFi coverage throughout your home, a mesh router system may be the way to go. Unlike a traditional router, which toils away on its own, a mesh router uses multiple units—a hub and one or two satellites—that work together to spread the WiFi network from one end of your abode to the other. If there’s a dead zone in the den, you can move the satellites around to eliminate it. You can also add satellites to broaden the network’s reach. Mesh routers used to cost up to $500, but prices have fallen in the past 15 months. You can now find highly rated mesh routers for less than $200.

Avoid Overpaying

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How to transform your backyard | Shield Insurance Agency Blog

How to Transform Your Backyard Into a Restaurant-Worthy Oasis with Outdoor Lighting

How to Transform Your Backyard Into a Restaurant-Worthy Oasis with Outdoor Lighting

We asked the pros how to install magical, twinkling outdoor lights — on a budget.

This year’s hottest venue? Your own backyard. Maybe you’ve got the plants and furniture down, but you want to take the space truly over the top, so it looks just as incredible as your favorite restaurant’s outdoor dining setup. Short of splurging on a fancy firepit area building outdoor awnings, there’s a functional, budget-friendly move you can make that’ll totally set the mood. And that’s installing outdoor lighting like a pro.

Many restaurants hire lighting companies to put up their twinkly string lights, but that can set you back thousands. With the right tips and tricks, you can totally DIY. That’s why we turned to event and experience production company Cloth and Flame. Their team is so adept at installing lighting, they can rig it up in the even the most remote places (think: the top of the Grand Canyon or the middle of a dessert). Here is their creative, resourceful advice.

Choose the Right Type of String Lights

Google “string lights” or “café lights” and hundreds of different varieties will pop up. Nathan Lesueur, the lead designer at Cloth and Flame gives us guidance.

Avoid interior lights. Stay away from Christmas lights or anything that’s labeled as an interior light, because these won’t be weather-proof.

Read buyer reviews. Amazon and Costco are great sources for inexpensive string lights, but terms on sellers’ pages like “industrial” or “commercial” don’t mean much. “My only reliable source, no matter what I’m buying is doing the research and reading verified reviews of what other people have experienced that item,” Lesueur says.

Make sure the bulbs are generic and replaceable. Bulbs might break when you install the lights, and they’ll burn out over time. You want to make sure that you can buy generic replacements that screw in. Proprietary bulbs will be more expensive and harder to source down the line.

Buy long strands instead of connecting strands end to end. 25-feet-long lights are the most common, but for safety reasons there’s usually a limit to the number you can plug together. To achieve lots of light yardage, look for 50-foot or even 100-foot light strands.

Use warm light, not cool light. “Warm bulbs are more natural and better on skin tones that bright white daytime lights or LED bulbs. Warm light is like the glow of the sun as opposed to a bright refrigerator light,” explains Lesueur. Plus, warm light photographs better than cool light. “It’s fun to create a sanctuary at home that’s also photographable so people want to share it,” says Lesueur.

Install Your String Lights with Upcycled Materials

There’s no need to buy a crazy expensive lighting kit. Instead, there are some simple, inexpensive ways to repurpose items around your home as lighting poles. “The best things you can use are practical, everyday things and are also reusable for other functions,” Lesueur says.

Some smart ideas? Home Depot sells flagpole yard inserts, which lots of people use. You can also buy inexpensive electric polls that are usually used as conduits. Home Depot will cut these lightweight polls to whatever height you’d like — they’re easy to mount to a wall, stick in the ground in your yard or even secure upright in an umbrella stand. If you prefer a wooden look, head to Ikea, and snag some wooden poles.

If you don’t want to hang your lights between poles, use natural suspension points like the side of your house or the support beams underneath a deck ceiling.

One thing to keep in mind? You should hang your lights so they fall in arches. “I’ve noticed with a lot of installations of this type of light, people trying to pull the lights too tight and that causes tension issues on the poles,” Lesueur explains. Plus, allowing the lights to drape down adds dimension from multiple angles — above you and to the side of you.

Make Your Setup Pop with Other Lighting Too

Click here for the rest of the story… and some great photos too!

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Should You Buy a Refurbished Phone | Shield Insurance Blog

Should You Buy a Refurbished Phone?

A pre-owned model can be a great deal, according to CR members, as long as you know what to look for.

Refurbished phones account for a small fraction of industry sales. But they can be a great option for anyone looking for significant savings—especially these days, when the price of a new model can easily exceed $1,000.

On Apple’s website, for example, you can purchase a refurbished iPhone XR with 128 gigabytes of storage for $470. A new XR with that much space costs $550.

Samsung offers a refurbished Galaxy S20 for $650, and that’s pretty much the only way to get one of those. All three of the S20 models scored well in Consumer Reports’ labs, but they were discontinued earlier this year. Buying the latest version, the Galaxy S21, will cost you $800.

And according to a spring 2018 survey, CR members have been generally satisfied with purchases like those, not to mention their overall shopping experience.

Among the 3,211 people who reported buying a refurbished phone since Jan. 1, 2016, 82 percent said they were highly satisfied with the product.

In fact, in our survey 67 percent of the owners of refurbished phones said they had no complaints. That’s just a hair less than the 69 percent of new smartphone owners who said the same thing.

“People are way more satisfied with refurbished phones than I would have thought,” says Karen Jaffe, who oversaw the refurbished phone survey

Know What You’re Buying

Not every company defines refurbished the same way. The bottom line is that you’re buying a used phone, one that someone probably bought a year or two ago and traded in for a discount on a new device.

The refurbished phones sold by Apple—online and in its stores—are restored with the same replacement parts used in new models, the company says. They come with a new battery, a new outer shell, new cables and accessories, and even a fresh white box.

Samsung uses similar standards for the refurbished phones sold on its website. It promises restoration to “like new” condition and a one-year warranty. 

But refurbished phones offered by other retailers don’t necessarily include new batteries. Only 52 percent of our survey respondents said the model they purchased came with one. Most (89 percent) said the phone came with a charging cord, but far fewer arrived with the earphones originally made by the manufacturer.

So look for products that are “certified pre-owned.” If they don’t meet that standard, ask the vendor for information on its restoration process, specifically whether it includes battery replacement, the standard accessories, and parts supplied by the manufacturer.

Amazon, the Apple Store, Consumer Cellular, and eBay are good places to start shopping. All earned favorable marks for overall satisfaction in our refurbished phone retailer survey.

AT&T and Verizon are among the lower-rated options.

Make Sure You’re Protected

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Mold: a silent but rapidly growing environmental exposure | Shield Agency Blog

Mold: a silent but rapidly growing environmental exposure

At first glance, mold may seem unassuming but for commercial property owners, mold can be a highly problematic hazard that presents significant environmental risk.

Although frequently associated with the aftermath of natural disasters, mold is much more likely to result from routine maintenance issues such as leaky pipes or HVAC malfunctions. Taking a proactive approach to address mold is critical to help reduce the risk of property damage, guard against personal health effects, and avoid potentially costly future claims.

The health risks of mold

Concern about indoor exposure to mold has been increasing as the general public becomes aware of health risks and symptoms. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, potential adverse health risks can include a stuffy nose, sore throat, coughing or wheezing, burning eyes, or skin rash–with increased concerns for those with asthma or immuno-compromised individuals. Given these potential issues, commercial owners should prioritize mold as part of risk-management planning.

Industry-specific factors driving mold claims

While any business can be at risk for mold, certain sectors have experienced a significant uptick in the frequency and severity of costly environmental claims due to mold and indoor air quality issues. Here’s a look at the factors driving this trend in these sectors.

Heat and humidity create fertile breeding grounds for mold in schools.

Elementary and high schools (K-12) are vulnerable to mold growth for several reasons, including:

  • increased moisture due to painting or carpet cleaning
  • high humidity with reduced air conditioning or outdated heating systems
  • Especially during the summer, a lack of ventilation combined with heat and humidity creates a perfect mold incubator.  

Without regular maintenance, a school can rapidly experience significant mold growth. To mitigate the risk of mold outbreaks, schools should perform regularly scheduled inspections for signs of mold, moisture, and leaks, including during long breaks. The Environmental Protection Agency’s  Mold in Schools fact sheet provides additional guidance on how schools can mitigate this risk.

Renovations can lead to contamination surprises for hospitals and hotels.

Deferred maintenance can lead to delayed problems for healthcare and hospitality sectors, especially when it comes to larger projects such as roof or room renovations:

  • As a roof comes closer to the end of its useful life, the likelihood of leaking increases exponentially, as does the risk of mold growth.
  • Mold thrives where there is plenty of organic material, such as wood, paper, paint, drywall, and insulation—frequently uncovered behind walls, under carpet and ceiling tiles, and surrounding corroded pipes during routine maintenance or renovation projects.

Not having a plan to address this risk can be very costly. In addition to the costs to address structural damage, hospitals and hotels may also experience lost revenue if facilities need to cease operations or are held liable for mold-related exposures of individuals.

Putting risk mitigation plans to work

Click here for the rest of the story…

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House Hunting? Be Prepared to Win a Bidding War

House Hunting? Be Prepared to Win a Bidding War

House Hunting? Be Prepared to Win a Bidding War

By: Carrie Whitney, Ph.D.  |  May 28, 2021

Bidding War. A home is listed for sale in Palm Beach, Florida, where single-family houses priced at $10 million or more surged 306 percent in March 2021, from just a year earlier. 

If the real estate market can be counted on for anything, it’s fluctuation. There are times when buyers have their pick of homes, and sellers must settle for sales prices that are less than what they’d hoped for.

Then there are those times when it’s a seller’s market, and it’s the buyers who have to pay top dollar — or even over asking price — to get into houses. In a really hot seller’s market, buyers can end up in a bidding war — essentially a homebuying competition where the highest offer wins.

Why Does a Bidding War Happen?

That’s exactly where the U.S. housing market is currently. Inventory is low; demand from buyers is high; and sales prices continue to surge. In fact, the National Association of Realtors’ (NAR) latest monthly sales report released May 21, 2021, says existing-home sales were down 2.7 percent in April — the third straight month of decline. But January to April sales are still up 20 percent, and median existing-home sales prices rose 19.1 percent year-over-year. Those are both record highs.

Total housing inventory (the number of houses for sale) in the U.S. at the end of April was up 10.5 percent from March, but still down 20.5 percent from just a year ago. These are near-record lows since the NAR began tracking the home supply in 1982.

Michael Schiff, a buyer’s specialist with Schiff Real Estate Team, with Ansley Real Estate in Atlanta, knows all too well these numbers. During a balanced market there should be about six months of inventory on the housing market. But Michael says in Atlanta, however, there is about a one-month supply.

These are the numbers that lead to bidding wars — a listing that receives multiple offers, and one where the listing agent puts a deadline on receiving the highest and best offers. But how do you win one? “There is strategy behind every single detail,” says listing specialist Leigh Schiff. She and Michael are the husband and wife team at Schiff Real Estate Team, with Ansley Real Estate.

Money Talks in a BIdding War

Just as not all listings are the same, not all bidding wars are the same either. Sometimes it might just be a threat of another offer. But other times a listing might get three, five or even 20 offers, Leigh says. Lower price point listings tend to have more offers, but she recently sold a home at $1.3 million that had seven offers and went 10 percent over asking price.

Before you make an offer, or even start house hunting, get your money together. Prequalifying for a mortgage is not enough, especially in a seller’s market. Prequalification simply means that you have spoken to a lender and provided information about your income.

“It holds no value,” Leigh says. Instead, you want to get preapproved for a mortgage, which means your lender has pulled and reviewed your credit, run your finances through an underwriting system, and has approved you for a loan, pending a contract and appraisal. In the Schiffs’ case, they go even one step further and ask for credit, income, assets and tax returns from the prior two years to be included in the process.

Some, although not all, lenders are willing to underwrite buyers for any home in their price range, says Michael. That means you won’t need to worry about including a financing contingency in your offer (meaning your offer is based on your getting a loan). This is a point in your favor because omitting contingencies makes you a more attractive buyer (more on that next).

Of course, “cash is king,” Leigh says. “Especially now that we are starting to see some issues with properties appraising.” When sales prices exceed market value, something not uncommon in bidding wars, lenders may not be able to lend you enough money to stay within an acceptable loan-to-value percentage. If you choose to pay above-market value, you’ll need to have the extra funds available to cover the difference. But if you can pay cash, you’re the optimum buyer in a seller’s eye.

It’s equally important to put down a substantial amount of earnest money, which is a “good faith deposit” that tells sellers you’re serious about buying. In a typical situation, that amount would be about 1 to 3 percent of the purchase price. If you change your mind, you lose the money and the seller keeps it. But if the deal falls through for other reasons, like information uncovered during an appraisal, you get the money back.

During a bidding war, offering a higher percentage of earnest money strengthens an offer because you’re less likely to walk away from the purchase — and your money.

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Pandemic’s Bolstered Claims Technology Shield Insurance Blog

Pandemic’s Bolstered Claims Technology

Workers Expect Savvy Claims Technology: Here’s How the Pandemic’s Bolstered Claims Technology During Uncertain Times

The COVID-19 pandemic sped up the adoption of claims technology, but many tools were already in place and poised for growth.

Even apart from the COVID-19 pandemic, 2020 was a significant year. According to the NOAA, 22 separate weather events including severe storms, wildfires, and cyclones totaled $95 billion in damages.

While many types of insurance bear the brunt of these disasters, workers’ compensation carriers, tasked with critical care needs that affect workers and their families, need special strategies to deliver care when catastrophe strikes.

For many organizations, these strategies utilize technology, built-in redundancies and, stepped-up conveniences like a direct deposit to ensure continuity of care, no matter the weather.

“We have to be ready for it all — hurricanes, floods, fires,” said Mark Bilger, CIO of One Call.

“In general, disaster recovery and business continuity are a staple of well-run IT management for any organization. Specifically, in claims and insurance, it’s heightened because of the critical care for injured workers.”

Especially in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis, workers’ comp claims teams were challenged with the immediate expansion of remote work, resulting in necessary changes that are likely to endure even after the pandemic concludes.

“Before work from home, One Call had a few concentrated contact centers,” Bilger said.

“After work from home, we look a lot more like the internet. We’re dispersed and we had to make major upgrades to our virtual private network, essentially 10-fold. We went from 1 gigabit to 10-gigabit capacity. We strengthened our endpoint protections and it went from firewalls in our locations to everybody’s home becoming the One Call network.”

This growth in gigabit capacity is not isolated to the workers’ comp industry; reports indicate that pandemic-related growth has resulted in an estimated global wireless gigabit market size of $19 million in 2021 and is projected to reach $70 million by 2026.

In tandem with the global wireless market, gigabit size is the growth of cloud computing. Gartner forecasted 18.4% growth in a 2020 report to a total of $304.9 billion, noting that “the proportion of IT spending that is shifting to the cloud will accelerate in the aftermath of the COVID-19 crisis, with cloud projected to make up 14.2% of the total global enterprise IT spending market in 2024, up from 9.1% in 2020.”

Workers Expect Claims Tech

Expectations have been set by regulation and digitization in the 21st Century that even in the wake of a natural disaster, services will continue.

“One of the technology solutions that we have had for a few years but that we pushed during COVID and any other type of catastrophic event is our claimant app, MyCare,” said Michael Jamason, SVP, business operations at CorVel.

“It gives the injured worker the ability to manage their pharmacy information, phone numbers for points of contact regarding their claim, information about payments being made to their accounts, and they can even establish their direct deposit in the app.”

Pharmacy information is especially important during disaster when medications are destroyed due to property damage or lost in an evacuation.

“We were able to utilize our partnership with our PBM to allow people to get early refills, and with mail order, we were able to even change the amounts of medication given,” said Melissa Burke, head of managed care and clinical, AmTrust.

“We expanded into other needs like telemedicine, ensuring that we have different types of providers available. We were able to expand that and ensure access in all of our states where allowed by regulatory governance, including digital doctor networks. Something important there too is transitioning injured employees. Typically a telehealth solution would be either on the frontend or the backend of a claim. We wanted to make sure that we could go back and forth depending on the state of the catastrophe,” Burke added.

Indeed, telemedicine expansion is at the forefront of many workers’ comp claims organizations’ radar. According to Mitchell’s “The Future of Technology in Work Comp 2020” industry survey, “many respondents believe that telemedicine will have the biggest impact on the industry within the next five years (32%), followed closely by artificial intelligence (30%) and predictive analytics (20%).”

The survey was conducted before the COVID-19 pandemic, which likely would have boosted telemedicine’s impact on the results due to significant expansions.

For many industry leaders though, the specific technological solution is not as significant as the strategy behind the solutions. “We have to ensure continuity of care and benefits,” said Michele Tucker, CorVel’s VP of EC operations.

“Any interruption — whether it’s a natural disaster or anything else — impacts many lives and families. We’ve been doing some regular testing with payments and system recovery so redundancy is set up, and if we have an office impacted, our system allows for immediate replication and the pickup of services by another office.”

Growth Brings Security Risks

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Shield Insurance Blog | Father's Day Gift Guide

60 Best Father’s Day Gifts

60 Best Father’s Day Gifts for Every Type of Dad

Father’s Day Gifts Ideas: Full of unique ideas to celebrate your husband, dad, grandpa, or another father figure in your life.

Although your dad may say he doesn’t want anything for Father’s Day this year, you know that showing up at his door without a present isn’t a possibility. After all, he’s the guy you looked up to (quite literally) all these years, and it’s only fitting to get him a Father’s Day gift that shows just how much you appreciate him and all that he does for your whole family. Finding the perfect present for your dad is tricky, though: You want to get a unique Father’s Day gift that he’ll use — something that’s meaningful, funny, or a little bit of both.

That’s exactly why we’ve rounded up the best Father’s Day gifts for every kind of father figure in your life, including your stepdad, father-in-law, or grandpa. That’s right, most of these picks work for any of the men in your life, like your brother who just became a new dad or your husband who is the best dad to your kids. Oh, and if you’re shopping for multiple people, we made sure to include plenty of budget-friendly options that will arrive in two days or less, everything from hilarious gag gifts to personalized keepsakes.


This article features a ton of gift ideas with everything from homemade beer to a nifty blue tooth shower speaker. And don’t stop there! More ideas are listed in fresh articles at the bottom of their page….. WOWZA!

Click here for the rest of the story…

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Hot Housing Market Shield Insurance Agency Blog

How to Navigate a Hot Housing Market

How to Navigate a Hot Housing Market

Competition for homes in many cities is leading potential buyers to take steps they may not have considered a short time ago, including waiving the inspection. Lets take a look at how to navigate a hot housing market.

By Ann Carrns Published May 14, 2021Updated May 29, 2021

The home-buying market this spring is not for the faint of heart.

The main challenge is that the supply of homes for sale in most parts of the country continues to fall far short of demand. That is pushing up prices to heart-stopping levels in many markets. A lack of construction over the past decade, plus pent-up demand from pandemic shutdowns, has unleashed a national seller’s market. The median price for a single-family home rose about 18 percent in March to almost $335,000, a record high, according to the National Association of Realtors.

Daryl Fairweather, the chief economist for the Redfin online brokerage, said homes being listed for sale are selling quickly. About half sell in less than a week, usually after multiple offers.

The usual tips — like getting preapproved for a mortgage — apply more than ever. But competition in many cities is leading potential buyers to take steps they may not have considered even a few months ago, including offering tens of thousands of dollars above the asking price; agreeing to let the seller live, rent-free, in the house for several months after the closing; and waiving certain contingencies, like the right to inspect the house before buying.

Waiving inspections has long been common in competitive housing cities like Seattle, but it is becoming more frequent elsewhere, real estate professionals say.

Buyers will sometimes send personal notes to sellers to distinguish themselves from others vying for the same property, though some Realtors discourage the practice. Such “Dear Seller” letters include an introduction to the buyers and copious compliments about the house.

Mark Strüb, a real estate agent in Austin, Texas, sometimes invites buyers to write the letters, he said: “It never hurts.” He said he once had a seller with a strong sentimental attachment to the house pass over the highest offer because the potential buyer failed to write a letter, while the others vying for the home had all done so.

Dig deeper into the Hot Housing Market.

But agents often discourage sellers from reviewing such letters out of concern that the letters may reveal details about a buyer’s family status, race or religion that could inadvertently cause sellers to run afoul of fair-housing laws in their decision-making.

“It can actually backfire,” said Francine Viola, an agent in Olympia, Wash.

Buyers may note, for instance, that they look forward to gathering around the fireplace on Christmas, or that they find the home attractive because it is near a mosque. Should the seller be influenced by those details, the thinking goes, other buyers whose offers were rejected could potentially challenge the sale, claiming that they were victims of religious bias.

The Realtors association issued guidance last fall recommending that agents avoid using “love” letters. “Seemingly harmless,” the association said, “these letters actually raise fair-housing concerns.”

Click here for the rest of the story…

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Stop by the Farmers Market in Hudsonville!

TODAY June 2, 2021 9am to 1pm

at the Terra Square

Stop by to meet Joe, Sean and his wife Kat, and register to win a robot vacuum or local gift cards!!

All the details can be found at the Chamber website be sure to check it out and visit the market!


TERRA SQUARE FARMERS MARKET Shield Insurance Agency

The home of Hudsonville’s Farmers Market.
Hudsonville farmers are passionate about bringing the community together over farm fresh produce they have been growing for generations. The Terra Square Farmer’s Market will be a place where we inspire healthy, full, and abundant living. Growing together, food and community.

Click here to visit the web site for all the detais !

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Shield Insurance Nominated for Business Excellence Award

Shield Insurance Nominated for Business Excellence Award

Shield Insurance Nominated for Business Excellence Award by Hudsonville Chamber of Commerce

Big News from the Hudsonville Chamber of Commerce!

It’s Awards Season!


The Chamber is SO excited to be hosting the Chamber Awards once again this year!

Here are our nominees for the 2021 Awards!

::::: drumroll :::::

Business Excellence Award

  • Hudsonville Physical Therapy
  • Advent Physical Therapy
  • Shield Insurance Agency

Leadership Award

  • Dr. Therese House-Vereeke
  • Patrick Waterman
  • Mary Jane Schreur

Spark Award

  • Hand 2 Hand Ministries
  • Meijer
  • Joy 99

The winners of the Awards will be announced at our official Awards Ceremony MEAL. June 17th at noon at the Pinnacle Center.

Make sure to get registered, we hope to see you there!

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