Augusta Georgia Housing Market

After taking some time to look over the Augusta Georgia housing market statistics for the year and see if I could get a feel for what 2009 may be like I came up with the following assessment.

The 2008 residential sales figures were down 22% over 2007’s sales, but 2007 was the second best year ever in the Central Savannah River Area (CSRA). All in all, 5,011 homes sold in the Augusta area last year. Townhome sales where a bright spot in a down year. With 529 townhome sales in 2008 – it became the second best year ever for “residential attached” sales.

For comparison 2007 was the best year ever, with 532 total sales, while the third best year fell way short of both – 2006, with 393 sales. Proof positive that what we’re really going through is an affordability crisis rather than a mortgage crisis. The “sweet spot” of the housing market was between $100,000 and $179,999. That sector accounted for fully 46% of all sales. The luxury market suffered the most. Homes with a list price over $350,000 accounted for 6% of all sales.

The best news of the year comes from inventory reduction. The number of available homes dropped every month since June of 2008 at a high of 4,713. The end of December number of 3,955 represented a drop of 758 properties or 17% – the steepest drop in available inventory in MLS history. Since real estate is a supply and demand industry – this is a good sign we may be near the bottom of the trough of this Buyers Market cycle.

Despite all the gloom and doom, CSRA sellers still received – on average – 97% of the list price of their homes when they sold. This edifies recent media reports of Augusta continuing to see mild appreciation in a nationwide trend of negative appreciation. When you consider all the foreclosures that get lumped in with those statistics, it’s probably more like 98-99% on a regular Seller-Occupant to Buyer-Occupant transaction.

I’ll keep more market news coming as things evolve – please feel free to let me know what you think. I can also send you the reports that back up my data – just drop me a line and I’ll get them to you. All in all the Augusta Georgia housing numbers were down, it is getting tougher to sell your home, and you need to have aggressive pricing and excellent terms to offer buyers if you intend to sell.

Employment Agencies In Georgia – A State Filled With Prospects

Like in other states, Georgia has employment agencies that help in matching workers to companies that have manpower vacancies to fill. These employment agencies render are categorized according to employment services such as temporary staffing, student employment, executive recruitment and talent agencies. These Georgia employment agencies facilitate in executive recruitment through a third party. This may be through a recruiter or recruitment agency which liaises between the client company and jobseekers.

They also serve as experts when it comes to the relationships of clients like in sales or business development, or usually when it comes to screening and recruitment of candidates, or human sourcing, like it is also sometimes called. In certain cases, executive recruiters can also serve as an expert in terms of clients and as well as a recruiter.

On the other hand, temporary staffing firms or employment agencies in Georgia, judging from the name implies, helps large-scale companies fill up jobs for temporary employment. Usually, there is quite an overlap in the workforce that the commendable transitory employees ultimately get hired as regular employees by the company. These temporary agencies usually help applicants fill vacancies for jobs in health care, accounting, janitorial and maintenance, secretarial, light industrial and technical. These temporary agencies in Georgia are usually listed in the local phone directories (under the “employment” or “temp employment” categories) also they provided lists or websites in the internet. Only personal applications are accepted in these agencies, though.

Meanwhile, the student employment agencies is Georgia could be found located within the state’s prominent academies like that of universities. These agencies offer temporary work but also take into consideration the students’ education and schedules.

Talent agencies specialize in finding projects or employment for actors, musicians, models and other types of performers specifically in the entertainment field. There are a lot of talent agencies that could be found in the country and majority of them not to mention the talent agencies found in Georgia, are managed by artists unions and legal jurisdiction as suggested by the governing rules of the state.

However, unlike other agencies, the Georgia’s employment agencies are regulated by GAPS or the Georgia Association of Personnel Services. GAPS is a non-profit trade association which is composed of Personnel Staffing Services Firms throughout the state of Georgia, and is primarily addressing the needs of those institutions and other business entities for their demand when it comes to labor or manpower. As of 2005, there were over 150 companies as well as branches that was accredited with a seal of approval from GAPS. These accredited companies enjoy many privileges like that of extensive networking.

Even though GAPS addresses employer needs, it also functions to provide protection and advocate workers rights. GAPS’ Education Institute which offers industry-related seminars, skills training for workers, and training seminars for different level of consultants may they be highly experienced or not.

By 2006, there were a total of around these agencies in Georgia reached to 1,500. Due to the soaring needs the work force are slowly paving the way for the emergence of more agencies. Some have even evolved into skills learning centers while there are others who have focused their attention providing employment for health care workers such as hospital aids even skilled nurses.

Georgia Divorce Laws

Getting a divorce can be a complex and messy process. However, a good divorce attorney can make the whole procedure quick and less painful.

Divorce includes a number of legalities that deal with the separation between a husband and wife. All such issues would be taken care of by a family law practitioner or an exclusive divorce lawyer specializing in that field. Interests of both the parties need to be considered during a divorce proceeding. It could be a difficult time for the whole family, and compassion, understanding and sympathy need to be part of the parcel of every divorce attorney.

The state of Georgia has a no-fault divorce policy. This means that the state does not require reasons for divorce, and the courts try to make the process as painless as possible for both parties. However, the division of assets and child custody require reasons for attainment of such. As in other states, Georgia accepts a divorce filing on the grounds of irreconcilable differences or irretrievable breakdown. Also, divorce is allowed when the partners have separated for more than a year prior to filing for the divorce. In such situations that case becomes an uncontested divorce and can be granted even when either party applies for divorce without both filing for the divorce together.

The court gets to decide who gets custody of the child. However, custody-related matters need to be finalized before the divorce is granted. The court would decide child support and custody matters while looking out for the child’s best interests, in the event that the parents are unable to decide who receives the custody of the children after the divorce. Some judges would allow the child to decide which parent he stays with. But this is usually when the child reaches an age where the parents cannot bribe or entice the child to pick them, and the child is able to take independent decisions.

When granting a divorce, the court decides on property and debt assessment, tax issues, prenuptial agreements, Social Security benefits, life insurance, disability benefits, personal injury money as well as gifts that both received while together, along with the attorney fee. In the event one of the parties is unable to bear the cost of attorney fees then they can file for counsel fee pedente lite. Other than these, financial and spousal support when relating to child custody and alimony is also taken into account. In Georgia, either party can provide alimony and, depending on the lifestyle they have been used to, the court decides the amount. Any business that was started must be considered when the partners break up. As per Georgia divorce laws, all the financial assets and properties must be divided fairly and equitably, even when they cannot be distributed equally between both the parties.

Georgia Mortgages

One of the ironic elements in the recent explosive growth in mortgage fraud is that it is the lenders who are being ripped off, even more so than the consumer. The impact of mortgage fraud in Georgia has led to the formation of the Georgia Real Estate Fraud Prevention & Awareness Coalition (GREFPAC). This group is made of principally of professionals in the industry who have a compelling interest in closing the loopholes in the lending process that allow for theft.

GREFPAC has a website that provides a volume of consumer information regarding the types of mortgage fraud that exist and how to spot a scam. Mortgage fraud often involves defrauding the lending institution, but the term also includes types of scams that lead to consumers losing their homes in phony refinancing deals. This organization is also making an effort to educate the law enforcement community on the nature and sophistication of mortgage fraud in the state, particularly in the Atlanta area. Visit their site at http://www.grefpac.org/.

Georgia’s Department of Banking and Finance also has a consumer oriented resource located at [http://dbf.georgia.gov/00/channel_title/0],2094,43414745_46296143,00.html. There you can find information on the Georgia Fair Lending Act; this legislation puts teeth in the regulations regarding excessive fees and loan misrepresentation. There is also a Mortgage FAQ section that covers issues for both professional and consumer. There are sections on licensing; fees; escrow accounts; insurance and many other relevant topics. Finally, the web page has a section on financial issues for seniors that covers reverse mortgages in some detail.

The same State Department has also compiled an alphabetical list of FAQs that you can search by letter. They extend from adjustable rate mortgages to vehicle leasing; there are no w; x; y or z FAQs. There are some unexpected surprises among the information there; a random selection of ‘escrow fees’ led to a HUD web site that explained how escrow fees are limited by federal law and escrow violations detailed in the same federal act. Their section on ARMs leads to the Federal Reserve Board’s consumer basics on these loans. There is also a mortgage shopping worksheet at the Fed’s site that could prove to be useful.

Georgia’s state regulatory apparatus seems to be up to date on the problems in the present mortgage market and has a solid record of consumer advocacy. In 2002, Georgia passed one of the country’s toughest anti-predatory lending laws. Among other things, it would have made not just the originator of a loan liable for abusive practices, but any investor who purchased the loan in the secondary market. Numerous lenders threatened to stop doing business in Georgia.

Shortly afterward, the two principal federal regulators – the Office of the Controller of the Currency and the Office of Thrift Supervision – said that Georgia’s law didn’t apply to their regulated institutions. This notion of pre-emption has caused the paralysis in Washington over irresponsible banking to impact state-level legislation. Georgia later weakened the law’s most contentious provisions.

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Information on Georgia College and State University

Georgia College & State University was chartered as Georgia Normal & Industrial College in the year 1889. The emphasis, during the time, was on career education. It was tasked with setting up young women for careers in educating or manufacturing occupations. In the year 1917 Georgia Normal & Industrial School, in line with cultural and economic changes inside the state, was authorized to supply degrees. The first degree was administered in the year 1921. The following year, the name was changed to the Georgia State College for Women.

The school has been part of the University System of Georgia since its beginning in 1932. The name was modified in 1961 to Women’s College of Georgia. In 1967, the College went co-educational and became Georgia College at Milledgeville. Later on, the label was shortened to Georgia College.

In 1987 an educational exchange formulated with the People’s Republic of China. This educational exchange signaled a rebirth of international communication by way of learning overseas and student exchange programs.

By August of 1996, a change of name to Georgia College & State University was accredited by the Board of Regents. Additionally it authorized a new project as being the State’s Public Liberal Arts University. Although the official name is Georgia College & State University, the school likes to be called GC.

At GCSU, the student to faculty rate is just about 17:1 with about 34 percent of classes having less than 20 students. Among the most well-liked majors at GCSU are Health Teacher Education, Nursing and RN Training, Marketing Administration, Business Administration and Management, and Psychology.

Some of the degrees and majors that are offered at GCSU comprise Legal Enforcement Administration, Accounting, Business Administration, International Business, Marketing Management, Psychology, Journalism and many others.

The University makes available student services such as women’s center, health insurance, health and wellbeing service, and non-remedial coaching. GCSU also provides campus security and safety services that include night time transport as well as escort service, 24 hour foot as well as vehicle patrol, lighted pathways as well as walkways, 24 hour emergency telephones, managed dorm access as well as student patrols.

GCSU provides its students with housing. Students can opt to live in either a high-rise apartment at The Village located on the West Campus, or at suite-styled residence hall at the Central Campus.

There are a number of sororities as well as fraternities under numerous councils. Student life at GCSU can involve useful opportunities to work in the media. The Georgia College & State University Student media consists of the Bobcat Media Productions/GCTV News that is a TV station/news program, a publication known as Colonnade, WGUR 88.9 radio, a journal of student research known as Corinthian and a useful journal called Peacock’s Feet.

Georgia College & State University’s Student Government Association (SGA) serves students by looking at their concerns, dishing out all things that are assigned by the school President to the student body, and encouraging understanding within the University.

The surroundings of the GCSU campus is urban with a campus of about 590 acres. It uses a semester-based academic schedule. The university has handicap services as well.

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Cheap Car Insurance in Georgia

Cheap car insurance in Georgia is a realistic goal, mainly due to the fact that it is a rather cheap state in which to insure a vehicle. The average yearly premiums are nearly $200 less than the national average. If you live in Atlanta, expect to pay significantly more than the rest of the state, but otherwise, you can find really cheap coverage for your vehicle, especially if you take the time to learn a bit about car insurance in Georgia and ways in which to save money.

The Cheapest Car Insurance in Georgia

The cheapest policy you will find is one that only meets the state minimum requirements. The minimum requirement for car insurance in Georgia is liability coverage only. Limits of 25/50/25 are required to provide liability coverage of $25,000 (per person) and $50,000 (per accident) for bodily injury and $25,000 (per accident) of liability coverage for property damage. There is no requirement for uninsured motorist coverage, though you can purchase this beneficial coverage, rather cheaply, if you desire. Keep in mind that you may also have to satisfy the coverage requirements of your lender. This will usually entail insurance against collisions as well as theft, fire and vandalism.

Controlling Risk for Cheap Car Insurance in Georgia

The type of policy you purchase will have a great deal to do with how much you pay, but you must also control your risk factors to ensure that you will qualify for low rates even on a bare bones policy. Underwriters evaluate each customer to determine their risk to the company. While each company weighs risk differently, some of the most important considerations from company to company include:

Age
Driving record
Gender
Credit score
Type of vehicle insured
Age/mileage of vehicle
Miles driven per week
Type of driving
Occupation
Where vehicle is garaged

In 2010, the average yearly cost of auto insurance in Georgia was $1,361 compared to the national average of $1,538. By understanding the risk factors above and shopping around, you can push your rates even lower.

Take Advantage of Discounts for Ultra Cheap Car Insurance in Georgia

Taking care of your risk factors is a good way to reduce your auto insurance rates, but you also want to take advantage of the discounts offered by insurance providers. Here are a few of the most common discounts offered by Georgia auto insurance providers.

Purchase homeowners policy along with auto policy
Insure recreational vehicles and/or boats with auto insurer
If a student, get good grades
Take a defensive driving course

Securing your vehicle is also critically important for residents of Georgia. Georgia, along with some of its neighboring states year in and year out are tops in the nation in vehicle thefts. Georgia itself accounts for about 9 percent of all vehicle thefts in the United States. To save some money consider an anti-theft device or alarm system as well as services such as OnStar. Finally, if at all possible, park your vehicle in your garage and not on the street.

Resources to Help You Find Cheap Car Insurance in Georgia

Shopping for auto insurance becomes much easier if you have tools at your disposal. Luckily, you do have these tools to give you information about Georgia auto insurance regulations and information regarding insurance providers.

Georgia Office of Insurance and Safety Fire Commissioner
Georgia.gov
JD Power and Associates
Moody’s
Local Georgia Better Business Bureau

These are great resources to learn about Georgia auto insurance and to pick the best company and policy for you. JD Power and Associates provides ratings of insurance providers. Moody’s provides you with financial stability information of prospective insurers. The two Georgia government site provides regulation, lets you search for car insurance agents and allows you to compare rates. And, as always, before making a major purchase, you should check with your local BBB to get the low down on prospective companies. Cheap car insurance in Georgia can be high-quality insurance.

2007 Health Savings Account Enhancements

In an attempt to make health insurance and health savings accounts more attractive to consumers and businesses, Congress has revised HSA legislation for 2007. The new laws make HSA’s for individuals, families and business more beneficial which may likely increase the popularity of these plans. The intended result might be that more Americans purchase high deductible health insurance/HSA plans over traditional insurance. The affordability of these plans could decrease the number of uninsured consumers across America.

1. Account Holders Can Contribute More Funds

HSA contributions are no longer limited by the deductible of the health insurance policy. Individuals account owners can contribute up to $2,850 while families can deposit up to a maximum of $5,650. Additionally, deposits are no longer limited by the 1/12th systematic contribution rule. Account holders can deposit the maximum allowance in a lump sum no matter when they purchased their insurance plan.

2. Account Holders May Transfer Tax Deferred Funds From an IRA to HSA

Account owners can now make a lump sum distribution from a qualified plan like an IRA, (Individual Retirement Account). This would not be considered a taxable event by the Internal Revenue Service. This way funds will be available immediately for qualified medical expenses.

3. Employer/Employee Account Holders May Fund with Lump Sum Deposit

Employers and Employees may make the same type of one time contributions from a qualified account such as a FSA (Flexible Spending Account), HRA (Health Reimbursement Arrangement) or an IRA. This will be appealing to employers who are switching over from traditional plans. Again, funds will be available immediately for medical expenses

These are the main benefits of the new legislation. They should make Health Savings Accounts less complicated to purchase and maintain for individuals, families and businesses. Additionally, increased contribution limits and funding options will allow consumers to save more for qualified health expenses.

A.M. Hyers has been working in the insurance and investment industry for nearly ten years. He owns and operates Ohio Insurance Plan, an independent insurance agency doing business in Ohio, Missouri and Georgia.

His agency offers insurance products to individuals, families and any size employee group. They use the leading national insurance carriers to offer quotes, illustrations and relevant information on life insurance, health insurance and HSA accounts. They also offer disability and long term care insurance as well as annuity policies, Medicare supplement plans and Medicare Part D coverage.

Form a GA LLC – Gain Liability Protection and Other Benefits For Georgia Business Owners

The limited liability company has surpassed the corporation as the most popular business vehicle for small business. Why? Because it was created to provide all the advantage of other business entities but without their disadvantages.

The Ga LLC is such a simple entity to understand and maintain but at the same time it gives the owners many options when it comes to tax structures, how the business will be owned and how it will be operated.

LIMITED LIABILITY

The main reason to form a Ga LLC is to protect yourself and other owners from being personally liable for business debts and obligations. Without a limited liability legal entity such as a Georgia company LLC, you will be placing everything you own entirely at risk for potential loss. Given the growing litigious environment of our society and the aggressive plaintiff lawyers out there looking for small businesses to attack, every Georgia business should operate with this legal shield.

Specifically, section 14-11-303 of the Georgia LLC Act states that members (who are owners) are not liable for the business obligations, lawsuits and other liabilities of the business merely because they are owners. It does except out tax liabilities from operations and there are some conditions and exceptions. However, this protection is a tremendous advantage that only gets more significant as your business grows because successful business are targeted more for lawsuits.

RAISING MONEY FOR BUSINESS

When you form a Georgia company LLC, you gain more options for accessing capital to fund your business. Banks are often unwilling to lend money to a brand new business in whatever form it is formed. Another option is to issue ownership interests in a business in exchange for equity capital.

Issuing ownership interests is close to impossible in a sole proprietorship business. However, with a Georgia limited liability company, there is a concept of ownership interests and membership units can be issued in exchange for a percentage ownership in the business.

Having a separate structure as the business entity greatly facilitates the raising of capital and provides a well known structure to do so which in turn reduces the costs to raise money for your business needs.

PROFESSIONAL IMAGE AND TRUSTWORTHY PERCEPTION

With the many fly by night business and business scams out there today, potential customers are suspicious. A new business has quite a challenge to overcome these concerns .

By going through the process to form a Ga LLC for your business and having an official entity as your business, you automatically separate yourselves from others. You see, it only takes coming up with a name to call yourself a business.

But creating a Georgia company LLC is a clear sign of intelligent business planning which in turn creates more professionalism and trust when it comes to your business identity. This can be a great advantage when trying to get customers and build your brand presence in the marketplace.

FLEXIBLE BUSINESS STRUCTURE

The laws allow a limited liability company to be extremely simple when it comes to ownership and operational structures. There are less formalities imposed upon it. Accordingly, for the single owner business or one with a few related owners, a Georgia company LLC can be set up and structured fairly quickly and cheaply.

As a business evolves and grows over time, its ownership and operational structure may need to change to account for the growth and possible complexity. For example, the business may admit new owners or bring on a passive investor. Also, there may be a need for more official approval processes when it comes to major business decisions.

The Ga LLC allows each business and their owners to define for themselves, how the ownership will be structure and how the business will operate and run on a day to day basis. In business, there is no one size fits all solution to these matters and the Georgia company LLC thus provides ways to customize such fundamental matters for your particular business situation.

FEDERAL INCOME TAX CHOICES

A main reason the Georgia limited liability company has become the entity of choice for small business is because in 1997, the IRS passed regulations that allows for the business entity to choose the way the business will be taxed. There are no longer any additional requirements to qualify for a single layer of pass through taxation.

When you form a Ga LLC, your business will be taxed via a single layer of pass through taxation by default. This type of taxation avoids the potentially significant double taxation effect of corporate taxation.

However, in some circumstances, your accountant may advise that a corporation tax structure is more advantageous. In these cases, a Georgia company LLC may file an election with the IRS to be taxed as a C corporation or an S corporation. The S corporation qualification does require that the entity and its owners meet a set of requirements . You get more choices when it comes to how your business income will be taxed.

Affordable Health Insurance in Georgia Demanded

Affordable health insurance in Georgia seems to be the topic of most residents living in the peach filled state… Do you chat with your neighbors on a daily basis regarding the many issues based around health insurance? Do I have the right deductible? Can I afford to buy health insurance? What company do I look at? Georgia residents have had enough of recent insurance price increases and are trying to come up with a plan to reduce all insurance costs across the board. The health insurance rates have gone up considerably over the past ten years. It seems the average rate increase on a health plan in Georgia runs around 15% per year. Insurance carriers like Aetna, Blue Cross of Georgia, & United Healthcare say that ‘It’s now time to make some changes in the industry’ To find the best insurance rates be sure to use an insurance broker or consultant like [www.GeorgiaHealthInsuranceWeb.com]. They are one of the best companies in helping solve the problem with free insurance consultations.

Affordable Insurance Can Be Found?

Having trouble finding affordable health insurance? It is not ‘one size fits all.’ Now, with the increases in policy rates, hardly anyone in Georgia can ‘afford’ to stay healthy. Depending on your current state of health, budget and individual needs, the best insurance for you may be far different than the best insurance for a friend or another family member. What can you do protect your family? Contact an expert insurance consultant and talk to them about your needs. They can show all available policies, not just one policy from one carrier.

One thing you can do to find the best policy now for your health or home is to have a basic understanding of the various types of insurance that are available in Georgia, and what each does and does not cover. That can be helpful in determining which plan will work best for you. Before you buy insurance for any purpose, a talk with a ‘Georgia health insurance consultant’ can save literally thousands of dollars per year.

Picking Policies?

‘What policy do I choose?, how much deductible is right, is my prescription drugs covered’ these are the things that are on most people’s minds when they look for health insurance. In Florida there are many insurance agents, selling their special type of health insurance policy. These policies vary from agent to agent, even in the same city, so the best bet is to search all available insurance companies through a insurance ‘portal’: http://www.GeorgiaHealthInsuranceWeb.com

Traditional health insurance is called ‘fee for service’ or 80/20 coverage. This is most likely the type of insurance that you grew up with. With that type of health insurance, you are entitled to visit any doctor you choose, and the insurance company pays 80 percent of the bill.

7th Ranked Georgia Passes New Credit Freeze Law

Georgia ranks among the top ten states in identity theft crimes, and in August 2008 established a law, which allows consumers to make a credit freeze to prevent identity theft or fraud or halt identity theft or fraud crimes. Since, about 15% of identity theft cases involve new account fraud, according to the Federal Trade Commission, monitoring new accounts is essential in preventing identity theft. This law also placed a limit on the price credit reporting agencies can charge Georgia residents for this service at $3.00. The bill was first introduced by state Rep. Rob Teilhet in early 2006.

While 40 other states have some form of credit freeze laws on the books, Georgia’s new law is unique in many ways. Many states offer this service but at $10.00 a pop and some are as high as $15.00 each. “It is so low-cost,” said Georgia Watch spokeswoman Allison Lang. To request the service, Georgia residents were advised to send a letter to each of the three major credit reporting agencies, Equifax, Experian and TransUnion (their addresses are provided for your reference at the end of this article).

However, credit freezes in George are not a breeze: Consumers are asked to do the following: Send $3.00 to each credit agency; Send each letter by certified mail; Include name, address, date of birth, Social Security number; A copy of a government issued i.d. card such as a driver’s license or military i.d.; A copy of a utility bill or bank or insurance statement. This list is very specific and alternatives are not accepted. According to the new Georgia identity theft prevention law, you may obtain a credit freeze for free if you are older than are older than 65 or you are a victim of identity theft and can provide a copy of a police report.

One other unique feature of Georgia’s new law is the opportunity to obtain an online temporary “thaw” that would allow consumers to apply for credit on immediately, or a permanent thaw (credit freeze removal) should take only 15 minutes to become effective. Consumers will be given a PIN, personal identification number that can be used online or over the phone. “Georgia is the first state to roll out the 15-minute thaw,” said Lang. Several other states are following Georgia’s lead and offering a version of the thaw starting in September, 2008.

Clark Howard, radio talk show host and a board member of the consumer watchdog group Georgia Watch, has called the measure “the best credit freeze law in the United States.”

President and CEO of the Better Business Bureau of Central Georgia, Kelvin Collins, says the law provides big benefits for residents. “There really is no way to completely prevent identity theft, but being able to freeze your credit sure reduces the risk,” he said. Collins admits that the credit freeze is easier to use for some than others. It may be cumbersome for young consumers who are shopping or a home or car but he adds, “If you’re older and you’ve got a home and you’ve got a car, then it’s a huge plus.”