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Leave work at work: How to really relax during your holiday

Summer is upon us! Many of you are gearing up for the holiday season, the time of the year usually spent relaxing, seeing family and for some, travelling to exotic locations. Even though this is time spent away from the office, many people find their minds drifting back towards work. In the modern work space, it appears that for some, it’s difficult to escape their work responsibilities fully, even if they’re a million miles away on some tropical island and work should be the last thing on their mind. That’s why we’ve compiled some tips to help you take advantage of the holiday period and leave work where it belongs – at the office.

Get work done ahead of time


Many employees feel that over the holiday period they have accumulated so much work that they wish they had never taken time off at all. To avoid feeling overwhelmed during your holiday, get ahead of tasks before you leave. Wrap up as many projects as you can before your holiday begins so they aren’t lingering in the back of your mind. By doing this you can start your holiday off on a relaxed note.

Limit your use of technology


Technology can either be your worst enemy or your greatest ally. Today, we are surrounded by items such as handheld devices, notebooks and mobile internet everywhere we go. All of these keep us connected no matter where we are in the world. Access to technology often helps us to be more productive and do our jobs better, but this easy and constant accessibility can turn out to be a curse when we’re trying to take a break from it all – there’s no way that you’ll be able to relax completely if you’re constantly checking your emails and dealing with work-related matters. The best way to deal with this is by notifying your colleagues at work that they should only contact you in emergencies – that way you know that if you are contacted, it must be something urgent that requires your immediate attention. If you must, you can also allocate a certain amount of time each day during which you can check in and reply to emails, but the trick is to stick to that timeframe and not get sucked in. If you set aside an hour a day, honour that and when the hour is up, put the laptop away and get back to relaxing. Allow your “personal anxiety level” to determine how long and how often you check in. Often a quick scan of your emails can put your mind at ease and confirm that the office isn’t falling apart without you, thus allowing you to return to your holiday less anxious.

Empower your team

When you know your work back home is in good hands, it’ll be so much easier for you to let go and unwind. Part of this is learning to trust your colleagues and allowing them to shoulder certain responsibilities in your absence. In doing this, you empower your team members, something that not only builds trust between you and them, but also gives you the freedom to enjoy your time off without worrying about your projects back home. At the end of the day, delegating can really help you escape work properly because you’ll take comfort in the fact that your work is in good hands, and in turn you’ll hopefully be able to switch off your mind and truly relax.

Have a re-entry strategy


Even if your vacation was the most relaxing break ever, you’re likely to lose that relaxed feeling fast if you return to an overwhelming to-do list and bulging inbox. Whilst this is almost unavoidable, the best thing to do is to block out your first day back in the office completely to give yourself time to sort through emails, get up to speed with projects and catch up with the relevant people. Leave your Out of Office on too as this will give you a chance to get up-to-date with things before being bombarded with new issues once people realise you’re back. Try and ease back into things after a holiday – the chances are your refreshed brain will be able to tackle things far better any way after having had a good rest.

Finding that perfect work/life balance is difficult at the best of times, so it comes as no surprise that successfully leaving work at work during your holiday is no easy task. Bear these tips in mind when you’re planning your next getaway though and ensure that you get the time off you deserve.



Four tips for estate agents in 2016

It’s hard to juggle do-to lists whilst keeping a smile on your face, isn’t it? Clients are calling left, right and centre, appointments are delayed and potential homebuyers never seem to be really happy with what you propose to them. The property market can be a tough industry to be part of and that’s why as an estate agent, you need to arm yourself with the knowledge and information required to get you ahead of the rest. 2016 is almost upon us so don’t let the challenges of last year dim the sunshine of this New Year. Here are four tips that are sure to kick-start your 2016 and make it the best year in property yet.

Use technology to your advantage


Everyone knows an estate agent’s weapon is a great smile, but so can a user-friendly and fresh-looking website be too. Travis Balinas, product and content manager at OutboundEngine, speaks about a variety of non-negotiable technological elements that could either make or break estate agents in 2016:

  • Allow for a greater consumer experience by making sure your website is both mobile and responsive so that it’s not only accessible for clients from anywhere, but it also looks good and is easy to use.
  • Use GIFs where you can in your e-mails. They have recently resurfaced and are becoming popular again. They’re a great way to give your online communication a fun, human aspect to it.
  • Have you heard of Hyperlapse? It is a new app launched by Instagram that allows you to do time-lapse photography really easily, and the best part is, it’s free. Balinas adds: “I see Hyperlapse as a unique way for agents to liven up the content they share to Instagram, Facebook and Twitter, and also as a way to (almost) literally liven up their listings.” You can use Hyperlapse for quick home walk-throughs as it will allow you to show off a lot of space in a short amount of time. Maybe even use it to do a quick drive through the neighborhood? This will give potential buyers a more in-depth view of the area they may eventually call home.

Try to find a routine within the chaos

Famous blogger, Carson Tate, says: “Information overload is the new normal… You need to manage the flow of information in your life.” All too often, the life of an agent can be nothing short of manic, jam-packed with appointments, meetings and running from one property to the next. In order to stay sane and not get overwhelmed by the constant flow of information coming your way, you need to streamline your information inflow by doing the following:

  • Carefully choose who you follow on Twitter and Facebook – avoid following people and pages that bring you nothing useful
  • Remove yourself from unnecessary mailing lists
  • Screen your phone calls and make a time to call people back each afternoon (if possible)
  • Check your mails regularly to ensure you don’t miss any important client messages.

Finding your way through the chaos is much easier when you’re more organised and you’ve stripped everything down, leaving you with only the things you really need – decluttering in every way possible is key.

Create an inspiring work environment


Have you been dreaming about putting more art up in your office, or maybe changing that wall colour, adding a quote to your desk, spring cleaning the place or personalising your workspace in any number of ways? Tate explains that one spends an average of 44,2 hours a week at work, and since that’s quite significant, it makes sense for you to create a space in which you’re happy to spend a lot of time. In many ways, your space is your sanctuary, so why not start this New Year by creating a cosy little world for yourself? Everything will seem more enjoyable, you’ll see.

Learn how to photograph a house better than last year


There are loads of tricks to photograph a space and make it look its best. Professional photographer, David Duncan Livingston, indicates that composition is key in creating beautiful photographs. You can vary your compositions: diagonal, straight on and even asymmetrical, each of which highlight certain details. Taking the time to compose a shot meaningfully can make a huge difference for the end result. Here are a few things to bear in mind when next photographing a space:

  • Make sure your camera isn’t too close to any furniture
  • People tend to like symmetry so the space should be balanced without too many objects on one side or the other
  • You can crop your photo after you shoot it to give you more options
  • Use natural light as much as possible, so be sure to shoot at the right time of day, whether you’re shooting on the go with your phone or using professional equipment
  • Keep the light consistent for the entire house or apartment if possible.

Very often, the first glance people will get of a property will be via photographs, so it will greatly benefit you as the agent if you present images that do the particular home justice – it is, after all, your chance to pique the interest of potential buyers in a matter of seconds.

Just like in any other profession, becoming better at what you do requires investing the necessary energy in learning and growing, both of which can benefit you and your career in the long run. Using these simple four tips in 2016 can really help elevate you from being a good agent, to being a great one. On top of that, you’re bound to enjoy your work more and in return, have happier clients – what more could you ask for really?


Apps to optimise your productivity while on the go


It’s no secret that a typical day for an estate agent involves long stretches of time spent on the road between viewings and meetings. Luckily, modern techology allows us to stay in touch and continue working on-the-go, two things that definitely help to make the lives of estate agents that much easier. There is a range of different tools designed to help you manage your life efficiently and in turn, allow you to be as productive as possible, day in and day out. Here’s our list of must-have mobile apps for the savvy estate agent.

Google Maps

Whilst this may seem like an obvious suggestion, it really is a vital one nonetheless. As an agent, you’ll be going from one property to the next all day, so it’s important that you know exactly where you’re headed each time. In some cases, you may find yourself having to venture into an area that you’re not very familiar with, in which case Google Maps is bound to come in very handy. Instead of getting lost and wasting your precious time as well as your clients’, use this ingenious tool to help guide you to your next destination safely and quickly.

Available on: iOS, Android, Windows Phone and web

Price: FREE


Tired of having to make countless runs to the office to make scans of important documents? Well, with the CamScanner app, you won’t have to do that anymore. Now you can scan documents and contracts directly from your mobile device and they will look like real scans. All you have to do is take a photograph and CamScanner will do the rest – it really is that quick and simple.

Available on: iOS, Android, Windows Phone and web

Price: FREE (Premium Account available at a cost)



This is a real winner for estate agents as well as for people looking to purchase or rent a home. AroundMe provides information on a specific area, giving you a clear overview of the suburb you’re interested in. Find out where the nearest bank, petrol station and hospital is located in order to gain an idea of the proximity of local amenities to the property. Potential buyers will find this information highly useful as it can help influence whether or not a certain home is purchased in the end or not. Not only will clients find the information useful, but when they see you have all of it at your fingertips, they’re likely to be even more impressed with your dedication to the selling process.



This one is a favourite, not only for estate agents, but for anyone who wishes to safely store their documents where they can access them anytime, anywhere. Dropbox allows you to keep images, documents and all information relating to various properties in the Cloud. Gone are the days of you having to be tied to the desktop on your desk – now you can safely access everything you need via Dropbox. You can also use folders to organise your information which means that you’re able to locate what you’re looking for at a glance – no hassles, just instant access. And when you’re an estate agent juggling a huge number of different properties, organisation and easy retrieval of documents, contracts, pamphlets and images are two things that can make all the difference to your daily routine.

Available on: iOS, Android, Windows Phone and web

Price: FREE up to 2GB

Working on-the-go means that anything and everything that can help to make you more productive and carry out your duties more efficiently are necessities. With so many fantastic mobile apps available today, your biggest problem won’t be being the most capable and best possible agent for your clients, but rather deciding which one you need to download first.

BetterRewards App

This list wouldn’t be complete without the BetterRewards App from BetterLife. It provides easy access to rewards and benefits for BetterReward’s members (that’s you, the agent) and members can log in using the same credentials they use on the web portal and view their points balance and tier status. The app also features Estate Agent Tools in the form of Savings Calculators, Quick Calculators and Affordability Calculators, all of which assist you on the go. The BetterRewards App allows easy redemption of points for rewards, access to the Concierge Service via the one press “Call Me Button” (that provides a call back), as well allowing the user to view their MasterCard Balance and OTP Statement. There is also an in app messaging service that notifies you of card loads and redemption of points – this is an app you’ll definitely want in your life.

When it comes to technology: Potential homebuyers can rely on BetterLife’s bond calculator to help them work out how much they can afford to spend on their dream home.

When it comes to optimising your time as an agent, you need all the help you can get, so why not looking into downloading one (or more) of the amazing apps mentioned here? Productivity awaits!

Men are from Mars and Women are from Venus: The differences between male and female homebuyers

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A big part of your role as an estate agent is knowing your clients and doing whatever you can to meet their needs as homebuyers. The more familiar you become with peoples’ behaviour and their attitudes towards purchasing property, the more helpful you’re ultimately going to be. When looking at female and male buyers, it comes as no surprise that each has their own way of approaching the homebuying process. At the end of the day, the more in tune you are with this as an agent, the more successful your interactions with clients are likely to be and in turn, the more deals you will end up closing. Here are a few common differences between female and male clients that are worth remembering, as they are sure to help you develop an educated approach to potential homebuyers of different genders.

Men speak ‘money’

When it comes to the financial research that goes into the costs involved in buying a home, it’s usually the men who spearhead this task. They are more often the ones in charge of negotiating, getting bond approval, coming up with a deposit and making an official offer. As an agent, it would be beneficial to you to ensure that the male client is made to feel included in and an active part of all conversations regarding these matters. More often than not, you’re safer having major discussions surrounding finances with the guys.

Women think about the long-term

In a lot of instances, it’s the female clients who are the ones in search of more long-term residences. In it for the long haul, female buyers often plan to make a house their home for more than five years. This is not to say your male clients don’t share the same view, but it’s all too often the nesting urges of women that seem to kick in when they’re house hunting, which would explain why they’re more inclined to buy a home that they can see themselves living in for quite a few years.

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Men handle the business side

All that detailed paperwork, lawyers meetings and the general handling of business that comes with buying a home, are more often than not left to the men. They generally enjoy getting into the nitty-gritty, so whilst finding the perfect place and having a vision for it usually lies with the woman, it’s the numbers and forms that fall into the man’s domain.

Mars 3

Women are the planners

This is not to say that men can’t be organised, it’s just that when it comes to things like scheduling house viewings and appointments with the agent, it’s usually the women who take the wheel here. Essentially, women are, more often than not, the schedulers and planners. Instead of trying to arrange a meeting with your male client, opt to contact the woman rather –chances are that he’ll have to confirm with his better half first, before giving you a definite answer.

And women like to research the neighbourhood

Women are usually the ones who set out to familiarise themselves with the prospective areas they may eventually call home. They are the ones who learn about the pros and cons of a particular area to determine whether or not it’s the right place in which to settle down. It’s for this reason that as an agent, you need to be aware that your female clients will most likely be interested in hearing about statistics linked to things such as a community’s crime rate, its architectural style and its proximity to desired locations and amenities. In order to satisfy your clients, you’ll need to paint a clear picture of the neighbourhoods under consideration – it could make or break a sale.

Whilst men and women may differ in their approaches to buying a home, there are also certain things that inevitably are in agreement on; the overall condition of a home, the number of bedrooms a house has and whether or not the neighbourhood is safe. Very often, it’s the agent who ends up playing the mediator between the two so it’s important to give your professional and honest opinion at all times. Being aware of how your male and female clients differ should better equip you to interact with them in the most effective way, something that will hopefully benefit both you and them in the end.

*Please note: Whilst all the information mentioned here can be true in many cases, there will of course be instances in which the differences will not apply to every female or male you encounter. It’s best to gauge each situation on an individual basis.

Here’s what agents can do for millennials

Millennial blog imageWhen considering millennial buyers, agents most often think about the difficulty such buyers may have in qualifying for a home loan due to student loan debt or the lack of a deposit. However, another thing they need to bear in mind is that many young adults simply don’t know where to start when it comes to buying a home, and may just need a straight-talking “coach” to get them on their way up the property ladder.

Millennials (aged 15 to 30) obviously spend a lot of time online and with so much real estate information available online today, it’s easy to become overwhelmed and give up on the whole process.

Agents who want to secure their future “pipeline” of buyers really need to get to grips with this and provide some simple guidelines that will turn them into trusted advisers. In this way, they improve their chances of becoming the people who first-time buyers will most likely turn to when they decide to stop renting and become home-owners.

To start with, here are three basic concepts agents need to build into their communications with millennials:

If you think you can afford a home, get pre-approved for a home loan

Potential buyers need to assess their own financial ability, and a good way to do that is to seek pre-approval from a reputable mortgage originator like BetterLife Home Loans.

The purpose of this process is to determine how much they are actually eligible to borrow, and ultimately, how much they can comfortably afford to spend (including their deposit). This is not only a time-saver for both buyers and estate agents, but also gives buyers an advantage in a competitive market because it lets sellers know that they are serious purchasers with every likelihood of being able to get a home loan.

There are big benefits in paying a deposit

It is of course possible to obtain a loan for 100% of the purchase price, but first-time buyers need to understand that it is really worth saving up a substantial deposit before they commit to a purchase.

The more money they have to invest in their own homes, the faster the loan application process will go and the more likely they are to obtain a preferential interest rate that will mean lower monthly bond repayments. Also, the bigger their initial equity, the greater the likelihood that they will be able to pay off their loan earlier, which will mean even more savings.

Before you go househunting, think about your lifestyle

Millennials generally have a very different lifestyle to that of their parents, and the chances are that they will need homes that are very different to those they grew up in.

The most important thing is to think about where they and their families spend the most time – such as work, school, shops and the gym – and concentrate their attention on areas where they can live as close as possible to all these and avoid long commutes. After that, they should think carefully about what type of home they would prefer – an apartment, a townhouse or a stand-alone house with a garden – and how much space they need. The more specific they can be, the more likely agents are to be able to match them to their perfect property.

As an agent, understanding the different kinds of clientèle you deal with on a daily basis is key to making successful sales and positioning yourself as someone buyers will consider reliable, knowledgeable and helpful.

Four Real Estate Success Tips: How to give your next deal the “Trump Touch”

Ok, so maybe nobody wants Donald Trump’s hair, and aside from the jury still being out on his political views, it’s safe to say that most of us are really interested in how he masterfully conducts innovative and cutting-edge deals. Love him or hate him, there’s no denying he’s a bona-fide real estate business genius. Here are four simple tips on how you can “Trump” your next real estate deal:

Be prepared

Preparation is key when it comes to creating the perfect real estate deal. It goes without saying that Trump uses various tools and tactics to prepare for a property transaction, and so can you as an estate agent. Part of the preparation process includes researching the area you’re promoting inside out. This includes knowing the status of businesses, schools, crime rates and grocery stores. Remember though, that in order to avoid your discussion coming across as a hard sales pitch, touch on the negative aspects of the area as well – even the most desirable areas will have some cons. Listing these negative aspects along with the pros will transform your delivery into an honest pitch, in turn, making it more appealing to the client. And for a straight-shooter like Trump, honesty really does seem to be the best policy.

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Assist your clients

Go a step further and prepare your clients for the process by informing them about tools such as a bond calculator. This will allow them to work out the amount that they’re able to afford so that when it comes to them purchasing a home, they know the size of the loan they’re likely to need. Always make yourself available to answer any questions potential buyers may have – there are bound to be many, particularly with first-time buyers. Whatever you can do to put them at ease will be a benefit and make things move forward more smoothly in the process.

Highlight exclusivity

Exclusivity is always desirable because people tend to want what others can’t have. When promoting an area, highlight any and all exclusivity it may offer. Find ways to demonstrate the high demand for the properties in the area, and at the same time, emphasise the fact that availability is simultaneously limited. This is sure to create a strong interest from people, especially those who prioritise exclusivity above most other things when looking for a property to invest in.

Take your time

Time is money. It’s been proven that the more time someone spends on a transaction, the less likely they are to walk away down the line. Even when the deal isn’t perfect, they wouldn’t want to feel they have wasted time, and by extension, money, so they make it work as much as they can. The longer you have the other party participate in the meeting, the more it’s likely that the outcome will be positive and a sale will be made. What’s important to remember here is that whilst nice guys finish last, what matters is that they still finish.

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When it comes to real estate, we can all take a feather out of Donald Trump’s cap. As with most things, there’s an art to ensuring success and there’s no arguing that Mr Trump has it down pat (unlike his toupee) when it comes to the business of real estate. So what have you got to lose? Why not consider channelling the legend himself the next time a new deal presents itself? Good luck.

Here’s what it takes to really stand out as an estate agent

A new Australian survey has revealed that estate agents need to hone just three skills if they want their clients to regard their service as outstanding and therefore refer them to all their friends. While it may surprise many, these skills are not especially high-tech or difficult to learn.

It’s not necessarily about years of experience or market conditions

CoreLogic, which conducted the survey among hundreds of people who sold their homes with the help of an agent, says they also do not require agents to have years of real estate experience or a particular set of market conditions. “Rather, the three key skills that make for really memorable service by an estate agent are ‘basic’ skills based on respect, empathy, sincerity and the willingness to champion the rights of your sellers and guide them through the whole process,” it explains. Happily, the survey showed that 66% of the home sellers that were surveyed regarded their experience of working with an agent as excellent or good, and that 68% would recommend their agent to family or friends.

A closer look at the three key skills

However, CoreLogic says, what was even more interesting was what they had to say about what was lacking from the skill set of the agents they did not like working with and would not recommend. “At the end of the day, three key skills were identified that spelt out the difference in every case. It was these skills that resulted in good agents being ranked as amazing and ordinary agents being ranked as poor.”

Those three skills were:

The willingness to follow up
The agents who received the very worst reviews were those who promised to call sellers and give them feedback after a show day, yet never did.

Good customer service
For example, sellers were also scathing about agents who “dumped” them the minute the sale agreement was signed, leaving them to follow up on all the ensuing paperwork and manage the transaction themselves.

Negotiation priorities
Sellers really did not appreciate agents who seemed to “switch sides” mid-sale, trying to convince them to accept lower offers instead of pushing buyers to make better offers.

Performance in these areas are key

On the other hand, sellers who rated their agents’ performance in these three areas as “excellent”, were those who had the highest satisfaction levels with the sale process and gave their agents glowing testimonials.

What is more, notes CoreLogic, the positive feelings those sellers expressed were consistent regardless of when they had sold. Just over half of those surveyed had sold within the past two years, with the rest having sold prior to that (with most of them not even having received a remarkable price for their property in the end).

“The bottom line is that agents who are truly serious about improving their performance can do so easily if they are genuine, do what they say they will do and demonstrate to their clients that they have their best interests at heart.”

You don’t need to say a word…

shutterstock_171921911Every agent worth their salt knows how important it is for prospective clients to understand that they are trustworthy – but not many know that those they meet will decide on their trustworthiness in just one-tenth of a second.

This was just one of the results of a recent survey by Princeton university aimed at showing just how quickly people decide what to think about others they have just met, including their status and intelligence.

During the survey, researchers at the university gave one group of students 100 milliseconds to rate the attractiveness, competence, likeability, aggressiveness, and trustworthiness of actors’ faces.

Members of another group were able to take as long as they wanted and while the assessment of other traits differed depending on the time spent looking at the faces, the assessment of trustworthiness was basically the same for everyone – one-tenth of a second.

What is more, it takes the average human twice as long as this to consciously recognise a face, which suggests that the assessment of trustworthiness (or threat) in others is something that people still do almost sub-consciously – and certainly long before any verbal interaction has taken place.

Meanwhile it is interesting to note the outcome of similar studies conducted around different characteristics over the years. These have found, for example, that people wearing name-brand clothes are generally perceived to be of higher status than those wearing non-designer garments, and that those wearing tailored clothes are perceived as being more successful in business and more likely to get promoted than those in casual attire.

A study at Loyola Marymount University found that looking people in the eye when speaking resulted in a better rating for intelligence as well as credibility, while a University of Pennsylvania study found that men with shaved heads are perceived to be more dominant than similar men with full heads of hair.

Psychologists call this type of instant decision-making about others “thin slicing” and it underlines the importance of practicing and perfecting non-verbal communication skills that will give people the right micro-clues about your personality.

Tips for avoiding terrible tenants

shutterstock_29218306Managing agents are the “first line of defence” for landlords when it comes to keeping problem tenants out of their properties, so they need to ensure that they have the systems and knowledge necessary to do so.

“As the laws governing the relationships between landlords and tenants become ever more complicated, rental property owners are increasingly turning to professional managing agents to help them find tenants that are not going to default on the rent, damage their property, or involve them in lengthy court proceedings,” says Shaun Rademeyer, CEO of BetterLife Home Loans, SA’s leading mortgage origination group.

In addition, they are looking for help with lease documentation, and the consequences of getting things wrong can be just as serious for an agent as for the landlord, so here are some tips for steering clear of the “tenants from hell”:

Check the credit records of all potential tenants.
Even if you can see that they will be able to afford the rent on their salary, you need to establish whether they have a history of paying their debts on time and how much outstanding debt they have, because those repayment obligations obviously also have to come out of their monthly cheque.

Check their rental history with their previous landlords.
If that is not possible, look out for warning signs such as a history of moving around a lot. Most landlords prefer tenants who will commit to longer leases.

Interview potential tenants in person.
It is never a good idea to let a property to people you have not met and taken through the property yourself. Even more importantly, never give the keys of a rental property to a prospective tenant who has not paid the required damage and utilities deposits in full.

Make sure your paperwork is impeccable.
Keep copies of tenants’ identity documents or passports as well as their proof of income such as a contract of employment and most recent pay slips. You will also need their written permission to obtain a copy of their credit record and, of course, a copy of the lease and any supplementary documents.

Subscribe to a good online rental property management system.
This will help you track the rental payments, municipal account payments, inspection dates and lease renewal dates for each property in your portfolio, and to alert you immediately if something goes wrong. If a tenant defaults, you need to be aware of it as soon as possible so that you can inform the landlord and start taking action to remedy the situation right away.

Listen to your instincts.
If you feel uncomfortable renting to someone even when all the information and documentation they provide seems fine, don’t give them they keys until you’ve run a few more checks. If you’re an experienced agent, the chances are that your instincts were right and that you will find out not all was as it appeared to be – and be saved from a potentially costly mistake.

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