The Flooding in Louisiana

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Louisiana has seen some of the worst flooding in the states history over the past 3 days. Since the flooding has started, President Obama has signed a Disaster Declaration on August 11th 2016 which lets Federal aid to start flowing to the affected areas of the state including the Parishes of East Baton Rouge, Livingston, St. Helena and Tangipahoa.  With the signing of the Disaster Deceleration, this allows grants for temporary housing and home repairs as well as low interest, emergency loans to help cover uninsured property damage.  This comes in very handy since many of the homes that have taken on water have never flooded prior and do not have any flood insurance.

Extent of Louisiana Flooding

louisiana floodingThe extent of the Louisiana flooding is massive. Currently over 10,000 people are staying in temporary facilities in the Baton Rouge area with many more evacuated. As of today, the flooding has caused 5 deaths.  Celtic Movie Studios, a massive warehouse on Airline Highway in the city, is currently housing about 3,000 people on its campus alone.  Over 20,000 people have been rescued so far by the National Guard and private citizens.  Many residents are still stranded in their homes since the water has yet to recede.  Thousands of people were stranded in their automobiles on Interstate 12 since Saturday.  Only on Sunday were the National Guard and good seminarians able to start rescuing people by boat.  the Stranded motorists that have been rescued were brought to the Hammond Parks and Recreation Center.

Prior to the President’s deceleration, Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards, declared a State of Emergency.  In a statement, Edwards stated:

“We are in constant contact with local officials and first responders, and assistance is already on the move to affected parishes. … The most important thing to remember is to obey road signs and to constantly monitor the news for updates to ensure everyone’s safety. Every available resource will be used to assist citizens as this situation continues to unfold.”

Louisianians Take To Their Boats

boats in tow to rescue stranded residentsThe scene on Monday morning was thousands of Louisiana residents traveling into the deviated areas with boats in tow.  As of Monday morning, private residents have rescued hundreds, possibly thousands of fellow Louisianians from their flooded homes.  Many of the good seminarians have traveled for hours from outlying cities to assist in the evacuation efforts. With the Governors Emergency Deceleration, over 1000 National Guard soldiers are on the ground in “search and rescue” mode.  In addition to the troops, the state of Louisiana has deployed 170 high water vehicles, 20 boats and five helicopters.  Many Louisiana residents are still stranded in their homes, without electricity or proper supplies.  As of now, thousands of people and hundreds of pets have been saved from the flood that seemed to “come out of nowhere” with over 21 inches of rain in 24 hours. As of now, it is estimated that over 20,000 residents and travelers have been rescued.

 

Trump Answers Real Questions – The Answers May Surprise You

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Donald Trump answers quesitons

Donald Trump the full blown Republican Candidate for President of the United States has been quite elusive on providing details on how he would handle specific political issues throughout the world.  We will lay out the direct questions and answers posed to Trump.

News By Headline

trump answering real questionsI personally believe that it dumbs down the American public when we take our news in by headline or soundbite.  We have become accustomed to choosing our leaders based off of very limited information.  Understanding that most Americans will not take the time to read full interviews, and the mainstream news sources generally only report via headlines, we will provide the legwork so you can get to the meat of the topics.

This is the first, in a string of articles, were we will find hard questions posed directly to the Republican Candidate, with his direct responses.  All of the questions and answers will be direct quotes from interviews and nothing will be added or redacted from the question or the response.

In an interview with Donald Trump, David E. Sanger and Maggie Haberman of The New York Times ask very direct questions — here are the responses.

When Donald Trump Was Asked About Details of NAFTA:

HABERMAN: What kind of change could you make in terms of Nafta without fully withdrawing from it? How could you?

TRUMP: You’ve got to be fair to the country. Everyone is leaving. Carrier just announced they’re leaving. Ford is building a massive plant. So I have a friend who builds plants and then I have to go. I have a friend who builds plants, that’s what he does, he’s the biggest in the world, he builds plants like automobile plants, computer plants, that’s all he does. He doesn’t build apartments, he doesn’t build office space, he builds plants. I said to him the other day, “How are you doing?” He goes, “Unbelievable.” Oh, great, that’s good, thinking about the United States, right, because he’s based in the United States. So I said, “Good, so the country is doing well.” He said, “No, no, not our country, you’ve got to see what I’m doing in Mexico.” He said: “The business there is unbelievable, the new plants we are building. People moving from the United States.” That’s what he does. One-story plants. You understand?

Here is a short, but poignant response on if Trump would use cyberweapons as an alternative to traditional weapons of war:

SANGER: Would you support the United States’ not only developing as we are but fielding cyberweapons as an alternative?

TRUMP: Yes. I am a fan of the future, and cyber is the future.

Here is the response of Trump when being asked if we should support Assad in his battle against ISIS:

SANGER: You would keep Assad there if he’s also fighting ISIS?

TRUMP: I don’t want to say that, I have a very specific view on Assad, but I think we have to get rid of ISIS before we get rid of Assad.

SANGER: So you agree with President Obama in that regard?

TRUMP: Look, Assad hates ISIS; ISIS hates Assad. They are fighting each other. We are supposed to go and fight them both? How do you fight them both when they are fighting each other? And I think that ISIS is a threat that’s much more important for us right now than Assad. You understand what I’m saying?

SANGER: Mmm.

TRUMP: Because Assad and ISIS are fighting. Now we are going to go in and fight them both, because we have people that don’t know what they are doing. We have people that don’t know what they are doing. So I would get rid of ISIS, but I don’t want to fight at the same time. The other thing you have is, is Assad is backed by a country that we made a power, O.K.? Iran. And Russia, O.K.? So why didn’t we do something about that before we made Iran rich, and before we gave them this tremendous power that they now have, that they didn’t have and shouldn’t have had?

This is Donald Trump’s response to how well he personally believes the Republican National Convention went:

HABERMAN: What do you think people will take away from this convention? What are you hoping?

TRUMP: From the convention? The fact that I’m very well liked. Look, I got more votes than anybody in the history of the Republican Party. Almost 14 million votes. I got 37 states. Kasich has one. As an example, Ted had, you know, not many. Thirty-seven states. Now, with the roll call, I had 44 states. It was 44 to seven and the seven was everybody else: 44 to seven. It was 44 to six because we are including the different islands. And when you are in that hall and you see those people, like yesterday, my daughter called up, she said, “Dad, I’ve never seen it — it’s total love.”

Trump made headlines when he said he would back out of NATO and possibly not support a NATO Nation if they couldn’t pay for it.

Here is the full quote when Trump was asked about possibly not following the NATO rules by supporting a fellow NATO country:

SANGER: But I guess the question is, If we can’t, do you think that your presidency, let’s assume for a moment that they contribute what they are contributing today, or what they have contributed historically, your presidency would be one of pulling back and saying, “You know, we’re not going to invest in these alliances with NATO, we are not going to invest as much as we have in Asia since the end of the Korean War because we can’t afford it and it’s really not in our interest to do so.”

TRUMP: If we cannot be properly reimbursed for the tremendous cost of our military protecting other countries, and in many cases the countries I’m talking about are extremely rich. Then if we cannot make a deal, which I believe we will be able to, and which I would prefer being able to, but if we cannot make a deal, I would like you to say, I would prefer being able to, some people, the one thing they took out of your last story, you know, some people, the fools and the haters, they said, “Oh, Trump doesn’t want to protect you.” I would prefer that we be able to continue, but if we are not going to be reasonably reimbursed for the tremendous cost of protecting these massive nations with tremendous wealth — you have the tape going on?

SANGER: We were talking about alliances, and the fundamental problem that you hear many Republicans, traditional Republicans, have with the statement that you’ve made is that it would seem to them that you would believe that the interests of the United States being out with both our troops and our diplomacy abroad is less than our economic interests in having somebody else support that. In other words, even if they didn’t pay a cent toward it, many have believed that the way we’ve kept our postwar leadership since World War II has been our ability to project power around the world. That’s why we got this many diplomats ——

TRUMP: How is it helping us? How has it helped us? We have massive trade deficits. I could see that, if instead of having a trade deficit worldwide of $800 billion, we had a trade positive of $100 billion, $200 billion, $800 billion. So how has it helped us?

SANGER: Well, keeping the peace. We didn’t have a presence in places like Korea in 1950, or not as great a presence, and you saw what happened.

TRUMP: There’s no guarantee that we’ll have peace in Korea.

SANGER: Even with our troops, no, there’s no guarantee.

TRUMP: No, there’s no guarantee. We have 28,000 soldiers on the line.

SANGER: But we’ve had them there since 1953 and ——

TRUMP: Sure, but that doesn’t mean that there wouldn’t be something going on right now. Maybe you would have had a unified Korea. Who knows what would have happened? In the meantime, what have we done? So we’ve kept peace, but in the meantime we’ve let North Korea get stronger and stronger and more nuclear and more nuclear, and you are really saying, “Well, how is that a good thing?” You understand? North Korea now is almost like a boiler. You say we’ve had peace, but that part of Korea, North Korea, is getting more and more crazy. And more and more nuclear. And they are testing missiles all the time.

SANGER: They are.

TRUMP: And we’ve got our soldiers sitting there watching missiles go up. And you say to yourself, “Oh, that’s interesting.” Now we’re protecting Japan because Japan is a natural location for North Korea. So we are protecting them, and you say to yourself, “Well, what are we getting out of this?”

SANGER: Well, we keep our missile defenses out there. And those missile defenses help prevent the day when North Korea can reach the United States with one of its missiles. It’s a lot easier to shoot down from there ——

Below, here is the response when Trump was asked about how the Turkish Government handled the failed coup:

SANGER: Erdogan put nearly 50,000 people in jail or suspend them, suspended thousands of teachers, he imprisoned many in the military and the police, he dismissed a lot of the judiciary. Does this worry you? And would you rather deal with a strongman who’s also been a strong ally, or with somebody that’s got a greater appreciation of civil liberties than Mr. Erdogan has? Would you press him to make sure the rule of law applies?

TRUMP: I think right now when it comes to civil liberties, our country has a lot of problems, and I think it’s very hard for us to get involved in other countries when we don’t know what we are doing and we can’t see straight in our own country. We have tremendous problems when you have policemen being shot in the streets, when you have riots, when you have Ferguson. When you have Baltimore. When you have all of the things that are happening in this country — we have other problems, and I think we have to focus on those problems. When the world looks at how bad the United States is, and then we go and talk about civil liberties, I don’t think we’re a very good messenger.

Lastly, when Donald Trump was asked about the complex relationship between Turkey, the Kurdish Army and ISIS:

SANGER: You said that they could be much more helpful with ISIS. I’m sure perhaps they can. The big difference they’ve had is that we’ve been supporting Kurdish forces that have been very effective ——

TRUMP: I’m a fan of the Kurds, you understand.

SANGER: But Erdogan is not. Tell us how you would deal with that?

TRUMP: Well, it would be ideal if we could get them all together. And that would be a possibility. But I’m a big fan of the Kurdish forces. At the same time, I think we have a potentially — we could have a potentially very successful relationship with Turkey. And it would be really wonderful if we could put them somehow both together.

 

The Dirty Underbelly of Democracy

Most people have come to respect Democracy as a positive form of Government.  It is one of the forms of Government that lets “the people” have a voice in the laws that are created.  There is a dirty underbelly to Democracy that is currently being exploited in our current political system..

What is a Democracy?

Its important to understand that the United States is not a true Democracy, we are a Democratic Republic.  There is a monstrous difference.  In a true Democracy, the rules, laws and implementation of Government is a simply majority.  In a true Democracy, the any group that falls into the minority, have absolutely no protection against the power of the majority.  Simply put, it is Mob Rule.  In a true Democracy, if you have 10 people and 7 of them vote to kill everyone with red hair…then anyone with red hair (most likely the 3 that voted against it) would be put to death.

The Representative Democracy

what is democracyIn a Representative Democracy people are elected to place the Democratic Vote on their behalf.  In theory, the elected official is elected because they hold the same beliefs as the people they represent, thus voting in the manner in which their electorate would vote.

In both types of Democracy, True and Representative, the majority’s power is absolute and unlimited.  Any decision by the majority is final and the minority has no retort.   Because of this, True Democracy opens the door to unlimited Tyranny-by-Majority.

The United States is a Democratic Republic

A Democratic republic uses elected officials to place votes, but the entire system must run within a set of rules.  In the United States’ case, the most basic set of rules are the Constitution.  This means that regardless of what the majority votes, it is unenforceable that the outcome will be outside of the rule of law.  This is an important difference and its what keeps the Majority from absolute tyranny over the Minority. This protects the Minority because of the rights instilled by the Constitution.

The Challenges With Our Democratic Republic

Democracy mediaAs we go into the Presidential Election, we are starting to see the dirty underbelly of Democracy.  With a 24 hour news cycle and social media breaking complex issues into Memes, we have watered down the complex issues of government and have politicians running on platforms that cannot be enforced because of the Constitution and our more granular laws.

With the light-speed pace of the media, exploiting one line statements as a political platform, we are leading people to believe that they are educated on the topics relating to government, while misleading them in the political direction of the news source itself.  There is a quote that says “today, the people use the news like a drunk uses a light pole…more for support than for enlightenment.” With websites so easily created and articles shared on social media, just about anyone can now become a “news source” and have absolutely to culpability to the truth.  This instills misinformation in the minds of the voter.

The Challenges With Our Democratic Republic

democracyBecause, in America we let almost anyone vote, it has become obvious that the influence put forth by making headlines (regardless of the truth) influences the group of people that generally do not follow politics closely.  We must be honest with ourselves and acknowledge that a large portion of the United States do not spend a lot of time learning the background and details of the political arguments.  This, by definition, is ignorance.

Manipulation By Politcal Candidates

Because we should be able to agree that a large portion of the population receives their political views in a myopic manner, we must acknowledge that the purposeful manipulation by the political candidates can put the wrong person in office.  Because generally, we see approximately only 60% of the population vote in Presidential Elections, many citizens realize they do not possess the intimate knowledge (of the current political landscape)needed to make an educated vote.  The new challenge that we face is that a political candidate can now empower a large portion of the population (the other 40 percent), based off of talking points and politically unenforceable views. This lets people running for political office manipulate the vote.

The Downfall of Democracy

The downfall of Democracy is sure to be the fact that every vote is counted equally.  The ability to appeal to the ignorant and mobilize their vote dilutes the vote of the politically savvy voter.  From advising the ignorant to vote, you can control a larger portion of the outcome. This has been a political strategy for decades, many with the best of intentions, but still manipulation of the system.  From MTV telling all 18-21 year old’s to vote, to busing in citizens (who would otherwise stay home) to the polls, our Democratic system has been exploited.  Although this was implemented by the Democrat party, it is now become commonplace in both political parties.

How Do We Fix It?

The fix to the downfall of Democracy as we know it is NOT to push every citizen to vote.  It is not to make people feel guilty if they choose to not exercise their rights in the Democratic process.

If one wants to push for further involvement of the ignorant, push them to become educated.  Don’t push them to vote.

To have uneducated votes dilutes the vote of the people who follow what is truly happening.  As opposed to guilting someone to simply vote, guilt them to learn about the topics and policies.  Once educated, regardless of where they stand, then they should vote.

 

 

 

Choosing a Digital Marketing Agency

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CHOOSING A DIGITAL MARKETING AGENCY

 

Unless you have been in a cave for the last 10 years, you understand that you cannot market any business today without leveraging the Internet.  There is a multitude of options when it comes to internet marketing including:

  • Search Engine Optimization
  • Paid Google Ads – PPC
  • Facebook Advertising
  • Social Remarketing
  • Google Remarketing
  • and a thousand variations of each of the above.

Most business owners understand that if they want their advertising spend to not go to waste, they need to hire a professional digital marketing firm.  Since the government shutdown is over, we expect real estate to be ferocious in 2019

Check Your Websites SEO

Unfortunately, one of the biggest scams on the internet is people claiming to “get you on the first page of Google” for $99 per month.

Digital Marketing is the use of the web to get your business in front of a targeted group of people.

Choosing The Right Digital Marketing Company

Choosing a reputable internet marketing agency can be a trying process.  It’s easy to get taken advantage of. Many unsuspecting business owners get burned when they move forward with one of those bad actors who claim to get you on the first page of Google for $99 per month.

What makes things even worse is that since organic ranking of a website takes time, sometimes upwards of over 12 months, a lot of time and money can be wasted before you recognize that you have been duped.

All search engine optimization strategies should be custom designed for your industry and business goals.  There is never a “one size fits all” SEO strategy

Digital Marketing can be extremely complicated.  If you speak with the most reputable SEO agencies, you will find out that they spend an enormous amount of resources on SEO tools and staying up to date.  It has been said that Google updates its algorithm 200 times per year.  To stay abreast of the changes in ranking factors requires someone who is dedicated to their craft.

Asking the right questions can assist you in making sure that you are dealing with a reputable SEO firm.

  • Ask how long they have been in business
  • See if they are listed with the Better Business Bureau
  • Does their website rank organically on Google?
  • Get a list of their current clients and find out their rankings

Since fraudulent online reviews is a common Black Hat SEO tactic, we recommend being cautious when leaning on reviews to prove an online marketing agencies validity.

Google Penalizes Bad Actors

Not only will a fraudulent SEO agency waste your valuable time and money, but they can cause irreparable damage to your brand and business.  If the SEO guru you have hired is using unscrupulous SEO tactics – known as Black Hat SEO – you may find that Google penalizes your website by pushing it further down in the rankings.  In the worst of cases, they may even “deindex” your website, which means that you are not able to be found at all.

Black Hat SEO Tactics

Black hat SEO tactics are maneuvers that are implemented that fall outside of the stated Google guidelines.  This may include:

  • Keyword Stuffing
  • Automatic Link Generation
  • Links from Private Blog Networks or PBNs
  • Spinning Copy as Opposed to Original Copy
  • Hacking Other Sites to Inject Links
  • Mass 301 Redirects

 

The Tools of an SEO Agency

Find out what digital marketing tools the prospective agency uses.  Some of the most common SEO tools are:

SEMrush

Conclusion

At the end of the day, the Digital Marketing Agency that you choose is an ultra-important decision for the success of your business.  Unfortunately, since most business owners are novices (at best) when it comes to the world of search engine optimization, it can be easy to be taken advantage of.  Be careful and do your own due diligence.

Top New Orleans Real Estate Broker Rolls Out Website

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new orleans real estate broker

Urban Vision Properties, a Top New Orleans, LA Realtor Announces Their New Website

New Orleans, LA – Urban Vision Properties is the premier realtor serving residents in and around New Orleans, LA with the best real estate services. Their company, having been in existence for years and having a reputation of selling more than a thousand homes, is announcing the launch of their newly designed website which is aimed at easing the stress of property buyers and sellers.

As the leading realtor in New Orleans, LA, Urban Vision Properties and their team understand the dynamic nature of the New Orleans real estate market, and as such, have developed their new website to cater to the needs of property sellers seeking to sell their properties fast, while also providing buyers with a platform that exposes them to a wide variety of luxury properties within their search criteria.

Operating with customer satisfaction in mind, Urban Vision Properties newly designed website features a range of additions and resources which have been implemented to create the best possible property search experience for users.

Describing the top New Orleans Realtors at Urban Vision Properties, the spokesperson for their company said, “Urban Vision Properties came into existence after the levee failure in Hurricane Katrina and as an answer to the typical, impersonal real estate agency. Based in the hard-hit neighborhood of Mid-City, Urban Vision Properties is committed to being an active part of the revitalization of the city of New Orleans, by helping individuals understand and conquer the unique challenges of our current real estate market. Sharing our personal and professional experiences in dealing with issues of New Orleans permits, renovating, and insurance, we cater to the underserved population of the first-time home buyers, do-it-yourselfers, and those with moderate income.”

Having been a part of the New Orleans real estate market since 2005, Urban Vision Properties has steadily built a network of real estate agents who are capable of providing top-notch advises and guidance for town buyers, out-of-state buyers, as well as those looking to relocate to New Orleans.

Their team at Urban Vision Properties have over the years remained committed to customer satisfaction by matching each property buyer with their preferences, while also preserving the integrity of the fantastic community in which they serve.

Urban Vision Properties New Orleans Realtors is located at 4025 Ulloa St, New Orleans, LA 70119. For inquiries and all real estate needs, contact their team via phone at (504) 488-0950 or via email at mj@urbanvisionproperties.com. Visit their website for additional information regarding their services.

 

How the Government Shutdown is Affecting The Housing Industry

the real estate market feels the government shutdown

The Effects of the Government Shutdown on Real Estate

Home buyers across the nation are feeling the impact as the government shutdown as it pushes further into the longest Government shutdown in American history.  The shutdown began on December 22, 2018, and continues to cause havoc for federal employees and the public alike. Real Estate, generally seen as a major force in the overall economic outlook of the country, is starting to feel the pain too.  Where the 2019 real estate trends were more positive, experts feel the effects on the extended government shutdown could be massive. Federal agencies such as the HUD, FHA and the USDA, are severely understaffed and falling behind in the number of loans they can process.

Real Estate Sales Influence the Entire Economy

As proven with the Great Recession, when the real estate industry takes a dive, so does the entire economy.  With real estate sales touching many businesses outside of the direct sale of a home, there is a ripple effect in the economy when a home is purchased.  It is easy to see the connection to local contractors, but the ripple effect goes much further. 

Not only does a large sum of money get moved through the economy when a real estate transaction takes place but most new homeowners spend an enormous amount of money on many products such as:

  • Home furnishings
  • Consumer electronics – such as new TV’s, home theater systems, etc.
  • Lawnmowers and yard supplies
  • Kitchen appliances
  • Construction materials
  • Much more

Effects of the Shutdown on Real Estate

Although some markets are still seeing home prices continue to rise, we are starting to see parts of the mortgage industry back up.  Almost every home that is purchased is done so with a mortgage. It is common knowledge that the most common problem encountered by first time home buyers is securing the mortgage.  There are countless interconnections with the mortgage industry and the federal government.

government shutdown and real estate
An extended government shutdown’s effects on the real estate industry could also affect the other industries that are tied to home sales.

The government shutdown is causing mortgage rates to drop making it a great market for refinancing and buying a home. The challenge is that, on the other hand, the influx of applications due to the low rates is further overwhelming an already overwhelmed system. Lenders and real estate agents across the country are preparing their clients to expect delayed closings.

Terrible Timing for a Shutdown


In the last quarter of 2018 the US housing market was struggling to regain momentum; however economists were optimistic for 2019 predicting a more stable market – but no one was expecting a prolonged government shutdown. The uncertainty resulting from the shutdown is hitting consumer confidence hard, according to Lawrence Yun, chief economist with the National Association of Realtors.


“For ordinary Americans, the shutdown adds to economic uncertainty about their future,”

Yun says.

“Buying a home is a high-anxiety transaction, and by adding another complexity to it with possible delays in [the transaction], it hurts the economy and hurts consumers.”

 

The 2013 government shutdown lasted for 16 days. Until now, that was the longest government shutdown in history. Through it all the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) was able to continue insuring single-family loans.

However the Housing for Urban Development, HUD website states that “with each day the shutdown continues, we can expect an increase in the impacts on potential homeowners, home sellers and the entire housing market.”



“A protracted shutdown could see a decline in home sales, reversing the trend toward a strengthening market we’ve been seeing.”


The Federal Housing Administration will continue to endorse certain loan products however the process could be slowed down as a result of the shutdown. Some specialized products will not be available at all due to a lack of statutory authority needed to originate them.

Whether the shutdown will delay loans in the pipeline from closing will depend on whether other aspects of the government shutdown affect lenders’ ability to verify borrower information and continue processing mortgages.

How The Shutdown is Impacting Buying a Home



The mortgage industry is further impacted by the shutdown with the disruptions of some of the functions the Internal Revenue Service and the U.S. Department of Agriculture have that affect home loans. Even now, with some IRS workers going back to work with promised pay sometime in the future, the system has fallen far behind and delays are inevitable.

 

Here is the good, the bad and the ugly for home loans.

Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac Loans


Generally, a government shutdown is not going to impact processing home loans at these agencies as they are not government funded. However, to further disrupt the lives of our federal workers these lenders will be unable to get a verbal verification of employment their federal employers causing a loan approval to be denied or delayed.


FHA Loans


Federal Housing Administration (FHA) and U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) have not historically been impacted by our government shutting down. However, with decreased staff, some borrowers may experience a delay in their closing due to the increasing backlog. VA loans are typically not impacted by a shutdown as VA staff are paid through borrowing fees and not the federal government.


USDA Loans


Although the U.S. Department of Agriculture is temporarily calling back 2,500 workers, they will not be issuing any new USDA Direct Loans or Guaranteed Loans according to their website. Closings for Direct Loans that have already been scheduled are being canceled meaning some homebuyers may have to wait until the shutdown is over to buy their home.


IRS Verification


Transcripts of tax returns (Form 4506-T) are generally required by lenders at the time of or before closing for income verification. The IRS program, called the Income Verification Express Service or IVES, was reinstated in January to allow home buyers to make these requests after it was suspended during the first few weeks of the government shutdown. The IRS said in a statement that lenders may still experience delays in IVES requests as they work through the backlog.

IVES is critical for self-employed borrowers because they don’t have pay stubs or a W-2 wage report. Without the IVES verification, self-employed borrowers will find it difficult to get approved for a mortgage.

 

The Good News

According to Bankrate.com’s latest survey of the nation’s largest mortgage lenders Mortgage rates fell in the first part of January, and home buyers and homeowners are taking the opportunity to get a lower rate on their home loan and refinance loans.  

The benchmark 30-year mortgage rate fell to 4.63 percent, down from 4.68 percent a week ago. That’s the lowest average rate borrowers have seen since April 18, when it hit 4.58 percent. The benchmark rate peaked at over 5 percent in October.

Digital marketing agencies that specialize in real estate such as One Click SEO have reported a spike in real estate brokers and large teams spending more money on marketing.  If the shutdown continues for an even more extended period, advertising spending by real estate businesses may contract too.

 

Problems You Might Overlook When Buying

Problems You Might Overlook When Buying

Problems That Home Buyers Don’t Think About

For your health, well-being and safety, there are certain things that must be considered before purchasing real estate. These are the same type of things that should also be considered when selling a home.  Here are a few concerns many home buyers don’t recognize until it’s too late.

 

Natural Phenomena, The Wildlife, The Land, And The Weather

 

Before you think about communities to buying a home in , think about the landscape and the place where the home is located. What types of natural disasters is the area prone to? Is the area prone to earthquakes? It is it prone to flooding?

Has the neighborhood been built squarely in the way of mudslides, landslides or hot lava flows? Is the area where you are looking to buy a home prone to massive fires? How is the weather of the area where you are thinking about buying a home? Are there tornado’s? Hurricanes? Do the temperatures stay warm all year long, or are there seasons? How cold do the coldest seasons get?

 

Is there a presence of wild animals in the place where you are looking to move to? Are you looking to move to a place where large, dangerous reptiles may be hiding in ponds and lakes? Are you looking to move to a place where there are deer, moose and bears lingering around? Are you looking to move to a place that is built up where there isn’t much in terms of large wildlife?

 

You cannot just buy a home randomly. You should take care to consider factors pertaining to the land’s natural features, wildlife and climate, because these things determine how your lifestyle will be.

Can you physically, financially and emotionally deal with natural disasters that commonly happen in a given area? Are you willing to prepare for such events? Even if natural disasters don’t happen, can you deal with the weather conditions that normally happen in a given place? Are you able or willing to do what you need to do in order to avoid and protect yourself from wildlife?

 

Pollution

 

If you want to purchase a home, it is worth it to look into the history of the land and whether or not the land has been polluted. It is an unfortunate fact that many lands have been poisoned by spills, accidents, dumping and the intentional use of chemicals.

Across America and the rest of the world, various neighborhoods, streets, and regions have become disease clusters as a result of people being exposed to polluted land. When people live on polluted lands, there are elevated rates of cancers, autoimmune diseases, birth defects, developmental problems and neurological problems.

 

The internet makes it easier than ever to look up whether an area is a superfund site or a known cancer cluster. If you look up a neighborhood online and find out that it is a known fact that the land is polluted and that people who live in the neighborhood happen to suffer from elevated rates of certain diseases, you may want to think twice before moving to that neighborhood.

 

If industry and manufacturing has gone on in the area, or if it still goes on, you should be suspicious. There is a chance that toxic substances could have been released into the atmosphere, released into the ground, accidentally spilled or intentionally dumped. If a house is built on land that was once some sort of official dumping ground, you should probably think twice about buying that house.

 

Sometimes, it may be tricky to find out the history of the land and neighborhood that you are thinking of moving to. However, you must find out the history of the place that you want to move to and whether the land is clean or not, for the health and safety of you and your loved ones.

Sometimes, officials and organizations are unable to, or refuse to, give a straight answer about whether land is polluted. Sometimes, not enough research has been done to have suitable sources on record about whether land is clean or not.

 

Local Laws And Politics

 

Before you think of buying a home, you should really look into the local politics of the area. How is the area set up, politically? Are you moving to a house that is located within a small, incorporated municipality or town?

Living in an incorporated town may come with its own staunch rules of how to manicure your property and where to park your car. In the locality that you are looking to buy in, are you allowed to ride a bicycle on the sidewalks? If not, does this bother you?

Are you looking to raise farm animals? If so, certain municipalities may or may not allow it. Some places put a limit on how many farm animals you can raise, or whether or not you can have them at all.

 

Also, in general, you should really know your rights in a variety of situations. For example, if you want to homeschool a child or take advantage of certain services that a school district can provide, you should know what your rights are and what you are entitled to.

 

For more helpful information about buying a home in an area you are unfamiliar with, you should rely on the resources of a trusted local Realtor.  Not only can you hire the Realtor, as a buyer, for free, you get access to the Realtor’s experience and knowledge about a given area, city, neighborhood, or home, which can be a great help when determining where to buy your next home.

Blockchain And The Real Estate Sector

Blockchain And The Real Estate Sector

Blockchain Destined to Impact The Real Estate Sector

 

The arrival of the Blockchain and cryptocurrency in the digital world has become one of the main components of technology being explored in every industry. Blockchain has been highlighted as an area of interest for all industry leaders who want to complete transactions quickly and easily.

 

When an individual wants to buy a home, the chance to do so using digital technology is of the greatest importance in completing the sale in a safe and secure online environment.

 

The question many Realtors are asking is, how will Blockchain technology affect the future of their industry? The initial answer is that anybody who is hoping to sell a home will generally look to work with a professional who can walk them through a sale in a positive way.

 

What it is important for you to remember is most people are unsure of completing the sale of their home without understanding the laws of their state in a thorough way. The real estate sector is as much about the interaction of an agent with their client as it is about the evolution of new technologies.

 

Which is not to say a Realtor cannot benefit from the use of technology such as the Blockchain. One of the most frustrating aspects of working as a Realtor is often using the MLS listings which are notoriously slow to update because of a lack of centralized documentation passing between Realtors and listing agents.

 

Using the Blockchain is one way a more concise and up to date MLS record can be kept as this technology was created to share databases and spreadsheets in real time.

 

The Blockchain could provide a much more important aspect of life for both Realtor and client in terms of the passage of titles and deeds with more counties across the U.S. shifting to digital records.

 

The unwieldy use of paper records needing to be transferred between buyers and sellers has always been a headache for agents and industry professionals. A lack of access to online records has left many agents and buyers open to fraud and potential problems, but the Blockchain could change all that with an increased level of online transparency entering the real estate sector.

 

The shift you have been waiting for in terms of online record keeping began in Cook County, Illinois in 2016 when the first digital tokens were issued to allow Blockchain technology to track purchases. A paper record of each deed is handed over when an individual chooses to buy a home along with a digital token recording the transaction.

 

Embracing the Blockchain is vital whether you wish to buy or sell a home and hope for a secure transaction to take place. Essentially, the Blockchain uses hundreds of thousands of remote viewers as witnesses to a transaction taking place using complex algorithms to ensure each aspect of a deal is completed securely.

 

One of the main benefits of Blockchain technology is the ability of the individual to navigate a transaction securely, as funds will only be released when members of the Blockchain are certain all paperwork is complete and funds are available.

 

The security on offer through this type of technology linked to cryptocurrency is of the highest levels and should aid the reduction in fraud and common financial issues associated with any real estate transaction.

Savannah’s Home Prices Continue Rising

Savannah's Home Prices Continue Rising

Home Prices In Hurricane Areas Like Savannah Continue Rising

The housing market in Savannah continues growing in areas prone to hurricane & storm disaster. With potential hurricanes, tornadoes, and flooding, it seems as if people would avoid building or buying a home here. With a great location and available job market, many people simply put the thought of disasters out of their mind.

 

Hurricanes

The houses here are designed and built better to withstand hurricane force winds. This is one of the reasons for continuing rising prices in the housing market. Flooding is more difficult to protect against so the purchase of flood insurance is almost mandatory. Yet the hurricanes don’t affect the economy, as Savannah continues to attract buyers to this area.

 

A Seller’s Market

For those wanting to sell a home, now is a great time with potential buyers eager to purchase. A great local Savannah Realtor will bring top dollar for houses in Savannah. With an expanding job market, many people are looking to buy a house to avoid the high cost of renting.

 

The price of buying a home here looks to keep increasing in the near future so purchasing now is also a great investment. There is a good market of available homes for different size families and individual tastes. This is a great time to buy a home in Savannah.

 

Low Interest Rates

Buying a home now while interest rates in Savannah Georgia continue to be low is a smart thing to do. Taking advantage of low interest rates saves thousands of dollars on the purchase of a home. A Realtor can also help you find the best source of financing.

 

The real estate market is booming with houses being offered for sale in different areas of the city. This will give you a choice when searching for a perfect place to live. With good schools located throughout Savannah, finding a place to locate in a good neighborhood becomes much easier. Buying now while the interest rates are low will help you save money in the long run.

 

Recreation

There are many things to do for family entertainment in this beautiful place. With Savannah being the oldest city in Georgia, they have a great historic museum. With Georgia being one of the original 13 colonies, Savannah has a rich and diverse history. The museum contains information from its early history and goes on to the revolutionary war, as well as the civil war.

 

There are also many historic homes located throughout the city that are open to tours. The history and deep culture of this city can keep a family entertained with many new adventures. River Street is also the oldest part of the city with many places to explore along the river.

 

There are nature sites and art museums as well. The food here is diverse and caters to many different cultures. Finding things to do in Savannah is exciting and entertaining.

 

When you are ready to buy a home in Savannah, contact a local Realtor who will be happy to show you houses that are absolutely gorgeous and ready to move in. Enjoying life near the ocean is like a personal paradise.

 

Terrorism is a Mental Illness Not Prescribable to One Race

As the level of world divisiveness grows higher, so does the diversity of causality, with the most recent example being “white men” described as the country’s true terroristic threat. Famously put by CNN’s Don Lemon, “The biggest terror threat in this country is white men”. Apparently white men, by no factors other than race, are everyone’s problem- including their own. People have begun to conflate, abuse, and misunderstand acts of terrorism with other unfortunate circumstances of anger, violence, and mental health.

What is Terrorism again?

Thankfully a simple Google search for “terrorism definition” reveals the most critical element of the definition: “The unlawful use of violence and intimidation, especially against civilians, in the pursuit of political aims”. A “political aim” means with the backing of a certain ideology- a political ideology. This is the part that emphasizes mental illness. It may seem like a leap, but when understanding this motivation it will make more sense.

The Political Aim

Don Lemon kissing his boyfriend live on TV – Don’s own private “White Terrorist”?? Source: CNN

Ideologies show up in many forms, but that does not mean each one should be taken any less seriously than the others. Religious ideology has started many wars, and the modern world should not hide from that fact. With the decline of religious ideology and the rise of political ideology there is room for concern. The ideas that make the most sense to someone becomes their belief… and when their beliefs cannot be disproven, it becomes their faith. When faith leads a person into the world, it becomes immensely harder to stop them.

This is a mental illness. It does not mean it is their forever mindset and it as well does not mean that by nature it is either good or bad. It is something that exists and changes and continues and goes back and never ends. It is a struggle. It is life. People have minds of their own but that does not mean everyone is capable of using it for him or herself, only. Outside factors of control and persuasion, whether inadvertent or not, is real and not everyone is strong enough to cope with them alone, if at all. The only way to handle someone’s ideology that differs from yours is to try and best understand their logic and try to poke holds in it without stepping on their toes.

Anger as a new Faith

Daryl Davis, a black man, went into the underbelly of the Ku Klux Klan and did just this. Because of it his outcome has been changing the lives of over 200 KKK members, including members within the highest of rankings. Davis gives a TED talk on this experience and most certainly everyone should view it (click link here).

It seems almost silly to be looking into the so recent past for guidance in today’s struggles but the voices of Dr. King and his fellow Baptist pastors is becoming so thin it is likely to be never heard again, especially if people do not persist in his faiths. Anger and blame runs through the mind of today’s radicals. The Moral Radicals such as Dr. King are lost and the new American Pernicious Radical persists with leaders on every side of the isle, in every color.

Ideology Explained

Ideology has no race, no sex, no gender, nor any human trait. Ideology is the true shape-shifting [puppet] master. Ignorance is not bliss, nor is it willful blindness. It is an illness of the mind.

Let us assume Mr. Lemon’s ideology is true and white men are the biggest threat in the country. If this statement were true Mr. Lemon knows the problem, however does not understand it (The reason he does not understand it is, if his true belief of this problem lies within their race then all hope is lost for Don). There is a large distinction between knowing and understanding. Put in universal terms, mathematics, to know that 2+2=4 is very different than from understanding the fact that 2+2=4. To understand it means that the equation comprises of individuals collected together, separated into halves then added together once again (another- different- complex way of breaking it down can be proposed as well, that is part of the understanding). If one knows the problem but does not understand it then a proper conclusion cannot be assumed. A child can be told this equation, recite it, and know it to be true simply “because”, but nowhere can the child prove he or she is capable of breaking it down any further because they will not understand it.

Where is the Truth?

“Why?” -this is the critical question and answer in understanding life, the universe, and everything. The more a person asks why something exists, persists, has happened, and repeats the more the person understands. If someone tells you the solution to a problem before they explain how the problem came to fruition then that person knows everything and understands nothing. This is the true terror threat that America faces today, tomorrow, and yesterday. This is nothing new to America or to the world.

Letting His Followers Speak For Him

Mr. Lemon’s followers have come to his side to defend him, “If you look at most mass shootings in America they have been done by white males. While we keep being told it’s Muslims or caravans we should fear because they are all ‘dangerous’. That was the point he was trying to make”. This quote taken from one of his Instagram followers when prompted on a post Mr. Lemon made today (Nov. 9th). Some of his followers have not addressed that Mr. Lemon was trying to make a certain- different- point, but instead believe the point was made exactly clear and no deeper.”

One follower even disagreed with him being (satirically) called a hypocrite.  Instead she was proud and happy to find out that a white male was coming to a new (true) revelation, “Thank you for proving Don right in his commentary, and glad you know his words and memorized the truth about it yourself. I hope you learn and find positive things” from this.  Again, defending a man who called white men “the biggest terror threat in this country.”

Too Much Power to the People

Signe cartoon SIGN18e Free Speech

People have been given a new power over the last few years- True freedom of equal of speech. This power has shown to be too much for some of the largest companies, Twitter, YouTube, Facebook, etc. With the banning of certain individuals they show that they do not want to be responsible for others’ words. Out of fear they react and choose their easiest option- censorship. When giants fall they grab hold to everything, but are too heavy to be stopped.

Terrorism is a mental illness dormant in every person. For some people it is recessive and others it is not. For some it is fatal and for others treatment exists. For most it lives within them doing no harm and having no outside (or inside) side effect. But “the most” of us should not be weary or forgetful but understanding and hopeful, not filled with blame and fear but with eagerness to better a life, for all.

 

Author:  A. S. Ellzey

https://asellzey.wordpress.com/

DHS Publishes Stance on Immigrant Caravan

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The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has released a special summary of the United States’ understanding and stance of the caravan crisis. As of November 1, 2018, the DHS confirms their goal, “is to provide protection to those individuals who qualify for asylum under our laws, Individuals who want jobs or want to reunify with family members in the U.S. aren’t eligible to qualify for asylum.”

 “Over 270 individuals along the caravan route have criminal histories”, these histories include- but are not limited to- aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, sexual assault on a child, accounts of armed robbery and assaults on women.”

In this summary they as well released their official understanding of what is known concerning the criminal background of certain migrants. “Over 270 individuals along the caravan route have criminal histories”, these histories include- but are not limited to- aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, sexual assault on a child, accounts of armed robbery and assaults on women.”

“The Guatemalan Intel Minister said that the caravan is employing tactics to push women and children to the front to act as human shields as the caravan pushes against its military force”. In the summary it is noted that the Mexican government has warned the U.S. of potential dangers coming from the caravan, one of those dangers being the infiltration of gangs into the caravan. Reports of very violent behavior towards authority and even the prepping of Molotov cocktails have been confirmed.

Troops To Deploy

With the warnings coming from Mexico and other Central American countries the United States has confirmed in the deployment of troops. The DHS reports, “By November 2, there will be approximately 5,200 deployed [troops] to support U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) at the Southwest border as part of Operation Faithful Patriot. This is in addition to the 2,000 National Guardsmen currently deployed for Operation Guardian Support.”

Caravan Soon To Arrive

The estimate reported on when the caravan may arrive at the border is, “between four days and two weeks” (this being measured from October 31st). The DHS addresses the legality of who will be allowed and who will be denied at the border. Aside from the issue of asylum entrance the DHS states that, “We will not allow a large group of illegal migrants attempt to enter into the United States if they have no lawful right to gain entry.”
The DHS brings special attention to the fact that many of the illegal immigrant cases within the United States have been due to various loopholes within the countries own legal system. “As a result of these loopholes, when illegal alien minors or adults traveling with minors unlawfully enter the United States, rather than being detained and removed, they are released in American communities. Once released, those who have no legal right to stay here are almost never removed”.

According to the DHS, because of these loopholes and the recent learning of them by citizens of other countries is has caused a, “dramatic transformation in the population of those seeking to enter our country legally”. These other countries have expanded to over 20. The DHS reports migrants among the caravan not only to be from Central and South American but as well as, “Somalia, India, Haiti, Afghanistan, and Bangladesh.”

Author:  a. s. ellzey

https://asellzey.wordpress.com/

 

Should The U.N. Step In on the Migrant March?

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immigration mexico boarder

Mexico’s southern border is currently undergoing an immigration crisis. Migrants seeking solace and refuge from Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, and other Central and South American countries are traversing their way North trying to make it to America or at least into Mexico.

Conflicting Reports

Around 3,000 migrants have collectively caravanned to the border, however Time magazine reported that caravan has reached a third of its original size on Saturday when

 “its remaining members woke up on a bridge that divides the borders of Guatemala and Mexico and waited to get past a crossing guarded by hundreds of Mexican federal police”.

 

However, Sunday morning (Oct. 21) Washington Post reports differently, “A migrant caravan whose numbers swelled overnight to an estimated 5,000 people at the Mexico-Guatemala border has resumed its march toward the U.S. frontier”. In the same report they claim, “It’s not immediately clear where the additional travelers materialized from”.

On The Mexican Boarder

 

immigrants on the boarderThe Mexican police have been somewhat successful at blockading the mass, but hundreds of illegals have already crossed through. If the situation worsens, President Trump has commented on the topic with a plan. The National Public Radio (NRP) reported on Friday, “He’s thanked Mexico for its efforts to stop the so-called caravan. He has also said he will close the U.S. border to these migrants”. This threat is preemptive and has not yet needed to be taken into action. The United Nation (U.N) is currently addressing the best way for their intervention to take place.

The United Nations

As of now the U.N. has only made vague statements concerning the individuals and the treatment they should be given with concerns to their human rights. Friday the Washington Post had this to say, “The U.N. special investigator on the human rights of migrants has a message for the Mexican and U.S. governments: Respect the human rights of every person on the caravan heading from Central America and consider each case individually”.

 

The United Nations has been aware of Central and South American growing immigration crisis for quite a while, though seemingly has not stepped in preventatively. As early as May of 2018 the U.N. reported, “The number of people fleeing violence and persecution from States in Central America, including Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras, has risen by nearly 60 per cent in the space of just a year, the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) has warned”. To escape and seek shelter from the ongoing rise of homicide and violence in their home countries these immigrants are hoping to find a better place to live instead of relying on their own governments to help them.

 

Border Security Remains Key Issue In Presidential Campaigns
Photo by John Moore/Getty Images

The U.N. has known there to be a southbound immigration crisis on the North and South American hands for quite some time. The U.N. has this to report, “Since 2015, more than two million Venezuelans have left their country. Some 250,000 Venezuelans have remained in Ecuador”. From the same report the U.N. confirmed, “In early September, representatives from 12 Latin American nations met in Quito in a first step to devise a harmonized regional response. A second meeting is planned for the end of November, also in the Ecuadorian capital”.

 

This meeting may come at either the perfect time or precisely too late. Decisions on whether or not the U.N. will support a military intervention is as well on the table, but still remains to be confirmed.

Author:  a. s. ellzey

https://asellzey.wordpress.com/

 

Two Real Estate Brokerages Merge to Make a Monster

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Howard-Hanna

Howard Hanna is Acquiring Allen Tate

Howard Hanna Real Estate Services is acquiring Allen Tate Companies to create a powerhouse real estate force in the Mid-Atlantic and Eastern United States with 11,000 employees, the companies announced today.  This is one of the many changes is brokerages happening. 

“We’ve created this new company with us being a partner with the Tate family and with Pat Riley [president and CEO of the Allen Tate Companies] where we are the majority shareholder, but we are a partnership,” Howard “Hoby” Hanna, president of Howard Hanna Real Estate Services told Inman.

Pat Riley
Pat Riley, president and CEO, Allen Tate Companies

Allen Tate Companies, based in Charlotte, North Carolina, was the 10th ranked brokerage in terms of transactions in 2017 on the Real Trends 500, closing 22,273 transaction sides last year. It now joins Howard Hanna, which was ranked third on the same list – behind NRT and HomeServices of America – with 90,468 transactions closed in 2017.

“For us to grow – and we’ve had the ambition to grow regionally and nationally as a company – we feel that this model could be something new that really appeals to well-run independent brokerage firms that the ownership still wants to stay engaged and be involved and entrepreneurial as opposed to selling 100 percent out to some of the other consolidates or acquirers,” said Hanna. “We become an option for them to remain as we grow the business.”

In the Carolinas, Allen Tate will keep its name and in the eight other states that Howard Hanna operates, it will continue to operate as Howard Hanna — but they will all be in the same family of companies. With the acquisition, the Howard Hanna family of real estate companies now boasts more than 11,000 agents and employees in 326 offices across nine states.

How Much Did It Cost?

hoby hanna
Howard “Hoby” Hanna, president of Howard Hanna Real Estate Services.

Hanna declined to say how much they paid but said it was in the range of four to six times the yearly earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA). Hanna told Inman he believes the deal was a fair market valuation for a company that has a great brand, great legacy and whose culture merges well with what his company has done.

“Both companies were started by families and started in the late 1950s, we’ve grown up together in the industry with them and Pat Riley and I are both on the board of Leading Real Estate Companies of the World and our management teams have shared a lot of data over the years, our mortgage companies have shared best practices,” said Hanna. “So we think there’s an incredible synergy between our two companies.”

The Future

After the Allen Tate acquisition, Hanna said the company would like to expand even further. It’s looking not only in the Mid-Atlantic, Midwest and East but now the South.

“I personally believe that there’s a market for like-minded companies to come together,” said Hanna. “We’ve obviously been very inquisitive over the last 15 years and we think this is a new strategy. A lot of times we find somebody that wants to do something and thinks they should merge but they still want to stay in the game and we believe this is a new model for us to do that, to achieve that success.”

He added, “The right opportunities with the right entrepreneurial firms would attract us just about anywhere today.”

Other real estate companies like Compass and Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices have made major headline acquisitions this year, but Hanna told Inman that this isn’t so much a defensive move against these companies, it’s been part of their business plan for the past 15 years.

“We started in Pittsburg and began by doing acquisitions in Cleveland, New York, Michigan and Virginia, that’s been part of our business model,” said Hanna. “I think we put ourselves in a good capital position – we don’t have SoftBank behind us, we’ve got our family and the banks that support us for the measured risk we take – and it’s a time where we think people are looking for a different exit strategy or an opportunity.”

As of today, Hanna claims the company has the leading market share in Ohio, Pennsylvania, North Carolina and New York.

“We know this business, we have been a disruptor ourselves in the industry for a long time, going into markets and disrupting things and taking market share and growing,” said Hanna.

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