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TEXAS EDITION

How to Recognize TRUE LUXURY PROPERTIES

6 Habits of HIGHLY PRODUCTIVE AGENTS

Top 4 Ways to JUICE UP YOUR OPEN HOUSE STRATEGY

IS FINDING A NICHE MARKET Right for You?

FEATURED AGENT

JUAN SERRANO

COVER STORY

JUDY HAYES


TEXAS EDITION

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JUDY HAYES

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JUAN SERRANO

CONTENTS 4) HOW TO RECOGNIZE TRUE LUXURY PROPERTIES 13) TOP 4 WAYS TO JUDY HAYES JUICE UP YOUR OPEN HOUSE STRATEGY

19) 6 HABITS OF HIGHLY PRODUCTIVE AGENTS 22) IS FINDING A NICHE MARKET RIGHT FOR YOU?

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How to Recognize True Luxury Properties What to Consider Other Than Location When luxury home buyers are looking for a new abode, they are often advised to pay most of their attention to location, location, location. And it’s true that good locations often have better properties, but if you’re only looking at location then you might be forgetting what it is in a luxury property that makes it luxury. You could view a property in a great location, and because you completely ignored any of the other factors that make a property high end, you might find that once you move in, you aren’t as pleased with the actual house itself as you thought you would be. Here are the other things you should look out for when purchasing a luxury home: • Architectural Uniqueness: The simple fact is that good

architecture retains its value. Do your homework on architects and find the ones that have a good track record of designing beautiful, but practical homes. Don’t simply pay attention to how the building looks today. Consider how it will look in a few decades. Keep an eye out for the “bones” of the building, and decide whether they will stand the test of time or not. Things such as a solid foundation, high-grade materials, unusual details, and artistic components are good aspects to consider. Will the structure hold up well or will it degrade and crumble without constant upkeep? That funky molding may look artistic today, but in ten years will it be considered artistic or just plain weird?

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• Practical Layout: Make sure you have enough room to live

in comfort. As a buyer of luxury property, you probably have quite a busy social schedule. You want to make sure that the layout will lend itself to helping you maintain clear separation between your social areas and private ones. You don’t want guests having to go back into your bedroom to use the bathroom. Look out for places with stairwells, awkward columns, long hallways, and other wastes of space.

• Unobstructed Views and Light: You want to live in

a home that gives you lots of natural light, such as one that is open to the outdoors. That natural light will improve your mood, as well as the resale value. The openness of a space filled with natural light will make you feel more comfortable and happy in your new home. What about the view? Do you see a Do you park, a bridge, a river, or a skyline? Is the see a park, fantastic view out your window protected? a bridge, You’ll need to understand the surrounding air a river, or a rights and zoning allowances of neighboring buildings to understand the possible risks. skyline?

• Windows: Windows are the primary source of losing heat and

cooling. Make sure they are double-paned with good insulation that will protect your home against weather and noise. Unless the windows are already like this, it is unlikely that the condo or co-op board will allow you to install your own.

• Ceiling Height: Consider the cubic footage of the property.

You want to look for high ceilings that increase the openness of a room. Of course, you don’t want to go too high. Above 14 feet will get you diminished marginal returns.

• Storage: If you’re a woman, you will understand this one. We need

lots of closets and additional storage room to fit all of our clothes, shoes, jackets, hats, purses, etc. However, lucky for you, your potential home’s existing closet square footage will not limit you from putting in more storage space. Custom closet companies can create any kind of storage

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space you desire. You will have to, however, make sure that your new home does have an area that you can turn into this storage space. • In-Unit Laundry: In-unit laundry has become necessary for

any luxury home or apartment. Do you really want to have to trek down flights of stairs to use the basement laundry? If you still consider it wasted space, you can convert it into more closet space.

• The Gym: Having a fitness area nearby is an amenity that is especially

important, particularly in winter when you don’t feel like walking to the gym a few blocks down. One thing to consider is the Do you really want of the gym in relation to have to trek down size to the size of the building in flights of stairs? light of common area fees. • Move-In Ready: I’d advise against buying time-consuming and

frustrating fixer-uppers no matter how much you want to add custom kitchens, finishes, fixtures, and other characteristics. Choose a property that already has all of these amenities taken care of. These properties have already had the same designers you would hire fashion the house at a fraction of the cost you would pay to have them do it after you move in. In this light, it is worthwhile to pay a little extra for the move-in ready home.

• Reputation: Pay attention to the reputation of the building. A

property that has a good reputation tends to retain its value. You can easily find this out online on posts, and established locals are likely to have an opinion.

If you want to buy luxury property that is really worth it’s price, then I would suggest adding these points to your list of things your new home must have. If you want to get a high quality home that is a true luxury, you’ll want to watch out for these aspects as well as the location. Some properties might claim to be luxury based on their location, but when compared against this list, they don’t make the cut. So, don’t be fooled by imposters, and make sure you find a true high-end property. 6

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JUDY HAYES Serving all of Northeast Houston, as well as Montgomery and Liberty Counties, The Hayes Team closed 173 transactions in 2017. Judy Hayes had a successful career as a paralegal, when nine years ago, she decided she wanted a change. “Throughout the years, I had bought and sold properties four or five times and made a nice profit, so I really had a love for the whole process. I also just wanted 8Copyright Top Agent Magazine

something that allowed me to work with a variety of people, a challenge and something different every day – real estate checks all of those boxes! So I got my license and contacted RE/MAX, the number one real estate brand in the country, and I haven’t looked back since.” Top Agent Magazine


She now owns three RE/MAX franchises and has really thrived in her life as a Realtor® and entrepreneur. Her personal sales business has grown tremendously since starting, in fact in 2016, she had 120 transactions alone. In 2017, she started her team, The Hayes Team, with Kourtney Scroggins, Katrina Lively and Meagan Fiorello to keep up with the growth. “They mainly focus on our buyers. They are all top producing agents in our area, successful entrepreneurs and eager to grow the team with me. I could not do this without them.” They serve all of Northeast Houston, as well as Montgomery and Liberty Counties. Top Agent Magazine

The Hayes Team closed 173 transactions in 2017 and was just ranked #13 by the Houston Business Journal for small team closed transactions in the Houston area. Judy credits her team’s experience, organization and communication skills as three of the keys to their success. “For everyone on my team, real estate is their full time career. This is what we do. We have years of experience and we really focus on providing excellent communication and educating our clients from contract to close. I really think that deep knowledge of the market and the industry is what sets us apart. We Copyright Top Agent Magazine9


have seen every situation and know how to handle anything that comes our way. That allows us to make every transaction as seamless as possible. We are extremely diversified and assist our clients with buying and selling ranch properties, custom homes on acreage, luxury homes and the traditional neighborhood home.” Another key to Judy’s longtime success is that she builds relationships with her clients which she maintains long after the active transaction. She has an extensive database that she conCopyright Top Agent Magazine Copyright 10

tacts regularly through monthly newsletters as well an annual postcards and emails on their house purchase anniversary. She and her team are always available as a resource for their clients, for any questions or recommendations they need. Judy and her team really go above and beyond with the comprehensive marketing package they give their listings. She has two professional photographers and three stagers on staff. “All of our listings get professional photography done (aerials if it is a listing with Top Agent Magazine


large land) and a staging consultation when necessary. Once we have the best images possible, we get them maximum exposure online with all the top real estate websites including RE/MAX, Zillow, HAR, as well as several others. We make individual websites for each property, as well as boosting social media posts which is a huge part of our marketing.� Top Agent Magazine

Past clients, repeat business and referral partners are also a big part of their success. Judy is a Dave Ramsey ELP as well as a preferred RealtorÂŽ for Veterans United, Homelight, Agent Pronto, Upnets and numerous others. One of the most exciting avenues The Hayes Team assists with is the purchase and/or build of a brand new home! They are the preferred agents for numerous builders in our area. Copyright Top Agent Magazine 11


Judy is actively involved in her community and is a member of five different Chamber of Commerces, one in every community that they serve. Through the Chambers, they participate in several fundraising events throughout the year. They also support Heaven’s Army, a local women’s shelter, an annual toy drive for children in need, and the Children’s Miracle Network though RE/MAX. When she isn’t working, Judy loves spending time with her husband riding their Harleys and traveling in their RV.

In the coming year, Judy wants to continue to grow her team and expand her business into new areas. “Buying or selling real estate is one of the biggest financial transactions most people go through in their lives, and we take that job very seriously. I love what I do. Every day is different, fast paced and challenging. We also get to help people achieve their dreams and that’s just so rewarding. I really have found my passion and I can’t imagine doing anything else.”

To learn more about Judy Hayes and The Hayes Team call 281-881-0840, email judy@remaxrewards.net or visit realtybyjudyhayes.com www.

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Top 4 Ways to Juice Up Your Open House Strategy by Rob Flitton

I go to open houses, but not just because of my profession or interest in architecture and interior design. I go to open houses to see how effective real estate agents are at selling. It has been rather eyeopening because there is very little selling going on—the average open house strategy needs work.

1.Build a Dynamic Open House Booklet After they leave, open house visitors will discard a one-page for-sale info sheet naming a home’s features. But they will keep, and possibly use, a 6 or 8 page booklet loaded with interesting items that directly solve problems for them.

Perhaps “selling” is considered an outdated skill, or that it feels socially awkward for agents to be regarded as a salesperson. But if you’re a real estate agent, you are a salesperson. At most of the open houses I go, I see money floating out the door every time a visitor leaves because of the agent’s inability or refusal to sell.

It will require some strategic thought to nail the content and design, but perhaps include: (i) descriptives about the benefits of buying the property you’re showing, and not just data, (ii) compelling reasons why they should consider working with you along with a web link to search for listings on your website, (iii) a web link telling them how to get a prompt, written estimate on the value of their home, or to find out what other homes in their neighborhood sold for, (iv) possible discounts on real estate related services—maybe a reduction in fees from your preferred lender, or a reduced home inspection price, (v) possible discounts on non real estate related items.

An open house is a lucrative opportunity to find buyer or seller clients –selling the listing itself may also be the goal, but an agent should not pass up this chance. There are 4 distinct strategies an agent can immediately employ to juice up their open houses and get awesome leads. Top Agent Magazine

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If you combine this dynamic booklet with properly trained closing language, as touched upon below, it is something the average person will either keep and use or pass along to someone they know. A well designed booklet can bring you a lot of business.

data—and they are void of interesting or problem-solving information.

2.Work The Neighborhood A few days prior to your open house, find the names and addresses (from tax records—or elsewhere) of, say, 20 homes in each direction from the Pre-internet, both open houses for open house. resale listings, and model homes for new construction, relied on strategic For the cost of postage and some collateral materials (handouts). Vis- sweat-equity, mail a postcard to these itors were ostensibly looking at sev- 80 homeowners inviting them to the eral competitors at the same time, so open house and offering something collateral materials had to have the unique and compelling—perhaps a power to bring them back to your drawing or giveaway for those willing site—a great call to action, eye- to provide their opinion on the asking catching color, identification of the price of the home (and the entry card, of course, will net you their email benefits of buying your product. address and phone number). People Yet at open houses today, I primarily are generally nosy and like to be see bland information sheets dis- validated, so asking for their opinion cussing features—the listing price, on something happening in their own the square footage, and the standard neighborhood is very appealing. 14

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And, it is best to mail them again right after the open house to talk about what happened. “From our Saturday open house, we discovered 3 qualified and eager buyers that are now looking for a home in this neighborhood—if you would like to know what your home is worth for these buyers to consider, please give me a call.”

dynamic booklet and say: “Please enjoy our open house, and am hoping you’ll do me a favor. This booklet is loaded with great information about, and if you become interested at some point in buying or selling, would you please call and give me the opportunity to earn your business? Or if you happen to know someone now who is looking now, would you kindly pass this booklet onto them?”

Also, adding on door-knocking or If they reply with a “don’t know” type flyer-hanging to your mailings boosts of answer this usually means they are your neighborhood equity even more. indeed looking but are just not ready yet to reveal this to you, so you will 3.Close and Qualify need to work to make a connection. Engage every single visitor in closing Good consultative sales connections dialogue, because every single visitor are made when you can make them feel you’re not pushy and are able to is there for a reason. directly resolve their problem. While smiling, with shoulders erect, and maintaining suitable distance, A “yes” type of response is great, but look them in the eye and offer your you should take the qualifying step of handshake while stating your full asking them if they’re working with another agent. If they are, the dyname and company—and then ask: namic booklet comes in handy again: “Are you out looking to buy a home “If for any reason your agent is today?” unavailable to show you homes, I can be reached at the phone number in There are 4 categories of answers, this booklet. Plus, it contains fantastic and any answer they provide is an resources for searching online and a opportunity to get to the marrow of discount on financing.” what they need. There are “nos”, “don’t knows,” “yeses,” and “other.” If you can’t get a sandwich, get a bite. If they are definitive about looking, If they reply with a “no” variety of and don’t have an agent, then they are answer, then you can hand them your available for you to work with and Top Agent Magazine

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here again you need the right type of closing and qualifying dialogue. The goal here is to evoke from them their home-buying goals so that you can match and narrow down to a single opportunity. It’s a mistake to present multiple listings to a buyer at once. Ask broad questions and then narrowing questions followed up by “if-then” questions. Example: “What types of functions do you want in your new home, or activities near your neighborhood?” Followed by something like, “is the number or size of bedrooms important to you?” Followed by, “so if I can show you the kind of home we just described, are you ready to go see it and possibly make an offer?”

4.Have Interactive Tech Tools Onsite It is the worst feeling to engage someone as a potential client at an open house and then have no tools available to solve their problem— don’t assume they aren’t going to want to do business right away. If you’re engaging a potential buyer, you better be able to instantly gratify their desire to see viable homes online so internet access and an easily view-able screen are necessary. They may ask you to go see other homes in-person, so you need to have a coagent available to either show them those homes, or spell you off as host while you do. You may be asked to write up an offer for them so you will need the tools and ability to create and e-sign documents.

Naturally, any objections or “nos” you receive in this process are just fan- When a potential listing client is in tastic opportunities to learn about their front of you, you need to be able to needs and earn a connected trust. show them recent comparable sales and may even be asked to list their The “other” thing they might tell you home and will need the tools and is that they’re not a buyer at all, but a ability to create and e-sign documents potential seller. Potential sellers often for taking that listing. go to open houses to find out how their home stacks up, but are you It happens sometimes—but it never aware what the number one reason happens if you’re not ready. they attend open houses is? Potential sellers go to open houses to Rob Flitton is a Seattle Real Estate Mardirectly or indirectly interview you, a keting specialist helping independent agents to increase their income. Email Rob potential listing agent. And they hire robflitton@gmail.com at any time or call/ confident, prepared professionals. text him at 206-612-2314. 16

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JUAN SERRANO Since he was a young paper boy growing up in El Paso, Juan Serrano had an entrepreneurial spirit that people noticed. After getting a degree in education and working as a teacher, Juan decided to he wanted to make a career change. With his background and his natural abilities, real estate seemed like the perfect fit. “It really was something that came easily to me. I’m great at talking to people and through learning about them, I’m able to help them achieve their goals. I can’t imagine doing anything else.” Juan currently leads a team of highly trained real estate professionals at NB Elite Realty, all of whom are devoted to providing an exceptional customer experience. The team serves all of El Paso, and Juan’s expertise on that market is something that he has honed since his days delivering newspapers when he was a kid. No one knows the ins and outs of the city better than Juan. Two of the keys to Juan’s success is his accessibility and his communication skills. “I can talk about real estate 24/7. One of the first thing my clients notice about working with me is that I’m always available. I’m a resource for my clients for anything real estate, and that includes after the active transaction. I think one thing that sets me apart is the service I provide and the way I’m able to provide it. From the get go, I’m working for my clients to give them the best experience and the best outcome possible. I want the process to be as stress-free as possible and accessibility is essential to that. A lot of people have had bad experiences in the past with agents. I want to turn around their opinion on what a real estate experience should be.”

Juan builds strong relationships and he maintains them long after the active transaction. He sends past clients postcard and quarterly newsletters that are full of market information and helpful tips. Because of this approach, Juan has earned an impressive rate of repeat and referral business. Another area where Juan really stands out from the rest is with his comprehensive, full service approach to marketing his listings. “Because HGTV is so popular, people have an idea of what they want, the latest and the greatest as far as upgrading and presenting their home. We work with them from beginning to end, staging, professional photography, everything we can do to present the property in the best possible light. Then we get the home maximum exposure and have had amazing results.” Juan believes strongly in giving back to his community and is particularly passionate about supporting the Salvation Army. He collect donations for the organization throughout the year, and also attends several fundraisers a year as well. He’s also involved with the Make A Wish Foundation. When he isn’t working, Juan enjoys spending time with friends and family, making memories. Juan would like to continue to grow his business and his involvement in giving back to the community that he loves and represents. “It’s a great thing to be able to wake up every day and do something that I find so fulfilling. I get to help families achieve their dreams, and there’s nothing more rewarding than that.”

To learn more about Juan Serrano call 915 - 252 - 5438, email juan0264@gmail.com or visit juanserranojr.com www.

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6 Habits of Highly Productive Agents In a business that can be constant chaos, you’re constantly on the go and dealing with things as they hit you. It can be difficult to take a second and regroup. But there is a better and smarter way to work. If you take the time to create some better habits, in the end, you may end up being more productive. If you want to make better use of your time, as well as have more focus, here’s some habits that you’re going to want to pick up - all common to top-producing agents.

1. Learn how to prioritize Although it might be your instinct to get some of the boring work out of the way first, things Top Agent Magazine

that actually generate income (or are time-sensitive!) should be the first thing you focus on when you start your day. Lists are your friend! Make a list of things you want to accomplish for the day, the week, and even the month. Always list them in the order of priority. If things get cut off when you run out of time at the end of the day, at least it’ll be the things that are not as important or time sensitive. As with anyone, your time is your most valuable commodity and should be used wisely. When you make your list, you can even schedule tasks as if they were a meeting, giving yourself a little time goal to beat, as 19


well. Treat your time with the same respect you would a colleague’s or client’s and don’t ever waste it. As with anyone, your time is your most valuable commodity and should be used wisely. When you make your list you can even schedule tasks as if they were a meeting, giving yourself a little time goal to beat, as well. Treat your time with the same respect you would a colleague’s or client’s, and don’t ever waste it.

to accomplish it? Write it out and then incorporate that into your prioritized ‘to do’ list. You’ll be amazed at how driven you become to reach that goal when you actually write it out with clarity. And, the sense of accomplishment you get upon completing it will carry over to the next day. It’s important to remember to be specific. Once you get into the habit of meeting your goals, exceeding them won’t be far behind.

2. Remove distractions

when you need to focus This is especially hard when you’re a Realtor®. Most are constantly connected to their phones. But, unnecessary distractions can get you off schedule and make you lose your focus instantly. If you can, turn your phone off for the half hour it takes to do a task. Interruptions make everything take twice as long, especially when you take that text and then decide to check Facebook for a second. We all do it! Complete your task, then take ten minutes to respond to all texts and messages before you start up the next thing on your list. You can even schedule those ‘text backs’ into your schedule. A concentrated effort is always more effective than going back and forth between things.

3. Set daily goals This is so key. What do you want to accomplish for the day and what do you need to do 20

4. Don’t make excuses There’s that old saying, “The buck stops here”. Well, take it to heart. This is your business and you are responsible for doing everything you can to make it successful. Sure, there are reasons for why you didn’t get a listing or why your business is slow, but what are you doing to change things and make them better? Successful Realtors® work harder and come up with innovaTop Agent Magazine


tive ways to stand out when times are tough. They don’t look for excuses, they look for solutions.

5. Be deliberate

about everything you do When you’re making your list, it helps to have a goal in mind for even the smallest task. If you’re calling past clients to touch base, have a specific reason why you’re calling. Are you letting them know some market news? Thanking them for a referral? When you’re meeting a referral partner for lunch, have a goal in mind for what the outcome of that meeting will be as well. Yes it’s good to socialize and build relationships, but if you have a reason, make sure it isn’t put off until the final moments, when things are wrapping up. Always having a purpose in mind will also help you prioritize your list better.

6. Always look for ways to

get out of your comfort zone Yes, you are prioritizing what is most important or urgent to your business, but it’s also important to make an effort to break out Top Agent Magazine

of your routine as much as you’re comfortable doing. Trying out new things or taking some time to learn about new and innovative real estate techniques and technology, can have an energizing effect on your business. Not only might they lead to things that make you more productive, but it keeps you sharp and engaged. And, ultimately keeping yourself at the top of your game is what it’s all about. 21


Is Finding A Niche Market Right for You?

A lot of Realtors® take the ‘jack of all trades’ approach to their businesses, and some are extremely successful with doing it all and doing it well. But taking that approach can also make it hard to stand out if there are a lot of agents in your area taking the same approach. If you’re looking for a way to stand out from the rest, finding a niche market might be the way to go. Although it might sound limiting at first, with the right branding and marketing, your specialty and expertise may help you lock up a market after you become well known for being the ‘go to’ Realtor® in a certain demographic. Having a niche helps you target your marketing, making it more effective, until eventually people are seeking you out as you build your reputation as the foremost expert in your particular niche. 22

Despite the benefits of taking on a specialty, it’s still something that only a small percentage of Realtors® do, which means you have a great opportunity to get in on the ground floor in your area by being ahead of what is sure to be a looming real estate trend. You want to claim your stake on the niche that best fits not only your passions, but something that fills a void in your market. If this all sounds good to you, the next step is finding your niche! Here are a few things you need to consider:

There are two approaches to having a specialty, one that is truly your all-consuming passion or a sort of revolving niche, one that changes with the market Top Agent Magazine


In addition to creating a thriving business, finding a niche may even unlock a hidden passion. Does your area have a large historic home inventory? Are you passionate about helping first time home buyers realize their dreams? Having a personal connection to what you specialize in is always a great way to start out. If you’re passionate about something, you’re almost guaranteed to have the work ethic it takes to have success in a niche market. Once you hone in on a niche, make sure the market data backs up your focus. Another approach is changing with the market. If you’re truly an expert in a few areas of the business, it might be good to have sort of a revolving niche. In a down market you might specialize in short sales and foreclosures. When things pick up, you may take your innovative approaches and start applying them to luxury homes. Whether you take the consistent niche approach or the flexible one, it’s really all about figuring out what best suits you and your market.

Fill a void in your market Maybe you don’t have an instant passion for one particular niche. In that case, there are several areas you can consider. A lot of it will start with really researching and analyzing your market and having a good eye for what future trends will be. Is there a certain demographic that is surging in your area? Cater your business to serve them. Maybe you are fluent in Spanish and your area is seeing a rise in a Latino population, who are emigrating from other countries. Or perhaps, you live in an area that has a larger retirement population. There Top Agent Magazine

are numerous demographics that truly need expert real estate advice. Be the one to fill it. You can also focus on a particular neighborhood or gated community. Helping people navigate the ins and outs of a particular HOA can be a lifesaver.

Are you already serving a niche? Of course, sometimes you may already have a niche and are unaware of it. Maybe you are already dealing with a lot of first-time homebuyers. Look over your sales records and see what might already be there, then make it official. Figure out why you’re drawn to that area and then nail down the reasons you’ve excelled with that niche and use it to create a marketing plan and branding.

Find ways to really sell your expertise Once you figure out your niche, get the training, designations, and certifications that will enhance your expertise. Another way to let it be known that you are the ‘go to’ Realtor® in your particular niche is to become a resource online. Create a website with informative blogs and marketing information. Make a mark on social media where you can link back to your site, so potential clients can actually interact with you. There is a lot to consider when you’re thinking of going the niche market way with your business, but if you consider everything carefully and focus in on something you can be passionate about, the rewards could be a major win for you and for your clients. 23


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