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RE/MAX Realty Group

Even if you are not selling…Take pictures now
 
 
 
Friday, May 25, 2012, 11:00 AM
 

When a buyer takes a look at your home they see it like a snapshot…just a few moments in time. And most often, your agent will take photos just before you’re ready to put your house on the market to use in marketing on the web.

 

Consequently buyers, and other agents, only see your home (primarily the exterior) in just one season.

 

With it easier than ever to connect your computer to your TV, you now are able to display a slideshow of pictures. This brings the opportunity to show house pictures playing on your TV while your house in being shown of moments that are just right. Why not help potential buyers see what they can look forward to?

 

So, what to photograph? Spring flowers in your garden, the soft light of winter as it shines through the windows into a favorite room, the deck or patio set up for summer enjoyment, the sparkling pool in bright sunlight or with floating candles at night, fall trees that have leaves ablaze with color.

 

Be sure to include close-ups of potted plants on the front stoop or a flowerbed in full bloom. You can even take before and after shots of a significant renovation project (not too many pictures of these), but they can be good to show what efforts (and expense) you went through in improving the property.

 

While you may already have some great family pictures that show the house in the background, it is recommended that you devote pictures to just the house and grounds. This approach makes it easier for a buyer to visualize themselves in the pictures, enjoying all times of year in the house you’ve showcased for them.

 

Contributed by: Tom Schnorr, Managing Broker RE/MAX Realty Group


 
Home Assessment
 
 
 
Wednesday, May 16, 2012, 9:40 AM
 

If you have been looking to buy a house and there have been a couple homes that have really piqued you interest, but the asking price is over the assessed value, you may be wondering if that means they are over priced. How does one correlate to the other?

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This process can be very confusing for a first time buyer, and comes up quite often. The assessed value of a home is established by what the town or municipality feels its worth. It can be right on, a little high or a little low. They do the best they can with the information that they are provided. However, you could imagine that on occasion there may be one or two homeowners that make improvements to the home and may forget to call the town and let them know. It would almost be like them calling and saying ” Hi, my house is worth more now, can you please give me more taxes?”

My advice would be to trust your Realtor. You have hired them for their expertise and the their market knowledge. They can pull current comparables in the area and tell what they feel its worth. They might even have shown some of the comparable properties and can tell you if you are comparing apples to apples or if some adjustments need to be made. I know that almost everyone likes to get a “good deal,” but if you’re like the home and are comfortable with the payment, then make it yours and write the offer.

The Town of Greece Homeowner Services website offers a great explanation of what the Office of The Assessor does, which may help to understand the process. The process will vary town-by-town and county-to-county. Nevertheless, your buyer’s agent will be looking out for your best interests and will recommend the “right” price. Keep in mind that the right price may be full price.

Contributed by: Jeremias “JMan” Maneiro, RE/MAX Realty Group, Realtor®


 
The Short Sale
 
 
 
Thursday, March 15, 2012, 11:20 AM
 

During these times of economic upheaval, government bailouts, high fuel prices, challenged real estate markets, nationwide foreclosures and the like – you may have heard and/or seen the term, “Short Sale”.  What is the Short Sale and what role does it play in our lives or those of our family, friends and neighbors?

Let’s use this scenario:  You and your spouse have owned a home for the past 11 years, and you have usually paid your monthly mortgage payment by the first of the month, certainly never later than the 5th.  The company you work for cut your overtime hours a little over a year ago, and it doesn’t look as though you’ll be getting any overtime hours again anytime soon.  Despite the fact that you both work, money has gotten very tight recently because of some unexpected medical expenses that weren’t covered by insurance and your reduced income.  For the first time since you’ve owned your home, you have missed a mortgage payment.  This month doesn’t look promising either.  Not only are you likely to be behind on your mortgage payment for 2 months in a row – you also believe that you are “upside down” on your mortgage – that your 1st and 2nd  mortgages combined may total slightly more than your home is worth.

Where can you get some help?  You need to contact your lender(s) immediately and discuss your situation with them.  If they call you first – talk with them.  Respond to their letters immediately.  Don’t ignore them because the problem won’t go away on its own.  Your lenders may be able to offer some options for you to consider: a change in payment schedule or a Loan Modification.  Their response to you depends upon the reasons for your financial hardship.  They will consider situations such as unemployment or reduced income; divorce; medical emergencies; job transfers; bankruptcy or death. 

Depending on the type of mortgage financing that you have (Conventional, FHA, VA) there are Loan Modification programs such as HAMP, Home Affordable Modification Program, that may be available to you, with certain guidelines and restrictions.  But, if all else fails and Loan Modification, Deed-In-Lieu of Foreclosure and other options are unavailable for your situation- you may need to consider selling your home.  Be sure to consider all options before considering the sale of your home.

A Short Sale is a sale of real estate in which the sale proceeds will be insufficient to pay the outstanding mortgage liens against the property, and the homeowner does not have sufficient other funds to make up the shortfall.  The shortage is known as a deficiency, and an approved and closed short sale may not relieve the homeowner of the responsibility to pay the lender for the deficiency.  A short sale is an alternative to foreclosure – a huge one.  It is also known as pre-foreclosure.  Typically, compared to foreclosure, the Short Sale will have a less adverse effect on your credit rating, and will likely require a shorter waiting period for you to obtain mortgage financing in the future.  Remember, lenders will only consider you as material for a short sale based upon the reasons behind your financial hardship, and you will be required to provide the lender(s) with a Hardship Letter, financial statements, tax returns, payroll stubs, bank statements and more to be considered.  Simply being “upside down” on your mortgage is not typically considered adequate reason for a short sale – if your payments remain current.

There is much greater ground to cover on the topic of Short Sales, so look in the future for more on this subject.  Suffice to say, a Short Sale is a powerful alternative to Foreclosure, and the bank really doesn’t want your house back.  But, you have to prove to them, beyond a doubt, that you have a legitimate reason or reasons for breaking your legal (mortgage) contract with them.  If you must consider a short sale, contact a real estate agent with experience in the handling of short sales and who has received additional training and certification as a Short Sale and Foreclosure Resource (SFR) and/or Certified Distressed Property Expert (CDPE).

Contributed by: Bill Parkhurst, RE/MAX Realty Group Realtor, Associate Broker

Bill Parkhurst is a Realtor, Associate Broker and designated Short Sale and Foreclosure Resource (SFR) with 22 years of full-time residential sales experience.  He specializes in Rochester and western Monroe County, and appreciates the opportunity to assist you with all of your selling and buying needs.


 
Should You Use a Buyer’s Agent?
 
 
 
Monday, March 05, 2012, 2:26 PM
 

Many first time homebuyers wonder what the benefits might be to working with an exclusive Buyer’s Agent.   Often when going to an open house, Agents will ask if you are currently working with another real estate professional.  With the ability to find properties yourself on the internet or even using many of the smart phone apps available today, it seems uncertain what the benefits are in actually working with a Realtor®.

Years ago, Realtors® had the information and the control of all of the properties that were for sale.  You had to go to them to find out what was for sale. Today, a buyer may know about a property hours after it is listed. They can even drive around in cars and use GPS based home search apps. It is truly amazing what is possible today. That being said, you still need to use a Buyer’s Agent.  Finding the property for you is only one small part of what an Agent does.  Here are some of the top reasons you should use a Buyer’s Agent:
1.) IT’S FREE – you don’t have to pay them directly. The Buyer’s Agent fee for service is paid by the seller and the Seller’s Agent. It is one of the only industries where you can effectively hire an expert for free. So, why wouldn’t you?
2.) It’s Convenient – let the expert handle the details- A Buyer’s Agent knows the neighborhood, the Agents and the different showing methods. Trying to schedule a handful of showings, even if they are in the same town, can be a challenge. You can tell your Agent when you’re available and what houses and he can handle the rest.
3.) Market Knowledge – this is where the real expertise comes in. You don’t gain market knowledge overnight. It takes time and experience. Many Agents live and grew up in the neighborhoods they currently specialize in and can tell you what you need to know to establish what values might be in one area to another. Positive or negative, you need to know.
4.) Professional Negotiation – the art of negotiation is truly a specialized skill that your Agent does every day.  Price and terms are only the first part of what you negotiate as there is usually an inspection right after that also has to be negotiated. There is a delicate balance of being fair and reasonable and a take or leave it attitude. Your Agent knows that push/pull so that he looks out for your best interests and still gets you the home of your dreams.
5.) Professional Connections – your Buyer’s Agent has invaluable industry connections that he can recommend you to.  He can give you names of mortgage professionals, inspectors, insurance agents, attorneys and even home repair professionals. These are people that he knows and trusts. It is much better than doing a blind search on the internet or the phone book.
6.) Insider Knowledge – Agents network with one another within the office and even with other companies. There may be time when they hear about a property that is coming on the market and can let you know about it ahead of time.
7.) Access to Sales Info- A Buyer’s Agent does have access to recent sales which is absolutely necessary to establish an accurate market value. You can’t just say,” this house isn’t worth that price” just because that’s your opinion. Your Agent will give you a number based on acts and statistics.
8.) Knowledge of Industry Standards & Contracts – a Buyer’s Agent is familiar with what is standard in a transaction.  They know what to ask for or what disclosures should be provided. They also know how to write the contract and the contingencies to put in there to protect you from a potential lawsuit down the road or buying a property that could have some issues.

Buying a home will be one of the single most important and largest purchases of your lifetime. Don’t try to do it alone.  A Buyer’s Agent is on your side and is exclusively looking out for your best interests.

Let a Buyer’s Agent guide you through the process. You will be glad you did!

Contributed by: Jeremias “JMan” Maneiro, RE/MAX Realty Group, Realtor®


 
Building Permits, Inspections and Certification Guidelines
 
 
 
Friday, February 24, 2012, 8:00 AM
 

As a buyer or seller of residential real estate, you will encounter a variety of questions regarding changes and modifications made to a residence after construction.

Most towns, municipalities and building departments have established procedures that must be followed when designated modifications fall within categories requiring permits and inspections.  Some typical activities requiring permits, inspections and certification by town authorities could be the following:

  • Structural additions/alterations
  • Deck construction/replacement
  • Addition of shed or outbuilding
  • Building or enclosing a porch
  • Fence installation
  • Conversion of attic or basement space to living space
  • Installation of wood burning fireplace
  • Installation and/or replacement of gas fixtures, including furnace and hot water tank
  • Demolition of part of interior/exterior or structure
  • Filling, excavating or changing drainage

Typical examples of work not requiring permits in many towns are:

  • Roof, siding & gutter replacement
  • Driveways in original form
  • Replacement windows/doors in existing openings
  • Plumbing replacement and repairs
  • Installation/replacement sidewalks and patios

Permits are used to ensure that proposed construction, modifications, and/or replacements conform to local zoning laws and building codes.  The permit review and inspection process insures public protection from safety hazards and inadequate building construction.

The permits required are issued by the towns within whose jurisdictions the changes are requested.  The person(s) performing the work or the homeowner may apply for the needed permit.  Upon application, the town will provide a detailed and specific list of inspections to be made and when, in the process, they are to be performed.

 In summary, changes to residential property by an owner will require a permit, possible inspections at various stages of work and, finally, a certification of compliance and/or occupancy.  It is the obligation of the owner to notify a buyer of these modifications, it then becomes incumbent on one of these parties to assume responsibility for compliance.  To be clear, compliance is required to ensure these modifications adhere to applicable federal, state and local codes, rules and regulations and with the plans proposed.

Contributed by: Dan Bernardo – Associate Broker at Re/Max Realty Group


 
The Benefits of Owner Occupied Home Ownership
 
 
 
Sunday, February 19, 2012, 7:00 AM
 

Thinking of purchasing a 2-family or multi-family home and living in one unit?  This arrangement, known as “owner occupied” housing, seems to be catching on a bit more these days.  As an example, a homeowner purchases a duplex, lives on one side and rents out the other to a tenant.  Thanks to low interest rates and the willingness of lenders to apply a sizable portion of that tenant’s rental amount towards the buyer’s income, this can result in getting a whole lot of house for a great price and the ability to use the rent to pay the mortgage!

Living in your own rental property carries other advantages. Some two-unit buildings sell for the same price as a single-family home, but will be less expensive to carry because the mortgage will be offset by the rent you receive from your tenants. The savings you reap can be invested in more property, or saved for a down payment on your dream house.

Depreciation is another advantage of owning rental property. It allows you to deduct a portion of the building’s cost, plus the cost of capital improvements, annually from the building’s income, even if you live in the home.  The amount is prorated to the portion of the property actually used for rental purposes, but can add up nicely.  In some instances, depreciation can completely shield rental income from taxation. That means the mortgage is being paid with “other people’s money.”

The mortgage interest deduction, another tax advantage of home ownership, also applies to the ownership of rental property. It allows you to deduct the interest part of your mortgage payment from your income. When you live in your own rental property, you are able to enjoy both the mortgage interest and depreciation tax deductions, each prorated to reflect the proportion of the building devoted to rental and personal use.

When you sell the property, you either pay capital gains tax on the profits, which are usually less than the tax rate you pay on ordinary income, or you can defer taxes altogether and do a 1031 exchange, also called a tax-deferred exchange, into another rental property. When you sell your principal residence, you are entitled to up to $250,000 if you are single, or $500,000 if you are married, in tax-free profits. When you own rental property in which you also reside, you can combine both tax advantages, also prorated to reflect the proportion of profits associated with the rental and with your residence. It would be possible, for instance, to take the profit and buy a single-family residence for yourself and roll the profit from the rental portion of the building into another rental property.

Finally, owner occupied properties are exempt from certificate of occupancy and most rent control programs, therefore, the owner is not required to make certain repairs and improvements that these programs require of property that is used strictly for income producing purposes.

Of course, there can be downsides to electing this type of home ownership.  First, you must remember that you are sharing your home with tenants, some of whom will require management.  Tenants have rights even though they are renting from you, so if you have difficulty living in close proximity to your neighbors or dealing with noise, visitors and the like, this may not be the best arrangement.  When the tenant moves out, and they often will, a new one has to be placed and this may require major or minor repairs and improvements to the rental unit so the best tenant and rent amount can be achieved.  If you are not inclined to clean, paint or repair leaky faucets or clogged toilets, you will have to hire the work out, which will cut into your savings from the rental unit.  Probably the most alarming aspect of rental property ownership is that when you are left with a vacancy, you aren’t receiving any income from the property and you have to carry the mortgage by yourself until the rent begins flowing again.  The bank doesn’t care about the lost income from the tenant.

All things considered, the decision to buy a 2-family or multi-family property and live in one unit can add up to great financial reward over the years.  Balancing the added income against the ability to handle property management responsibilities is important and should be considered carefully before attempting this form of home ownership.

Contributed by: Mark J. Warth & Colleen Bracci – Associate Brokers Re/Max Realty Group, Bracci Investment Team


 
When Buying a Home, What is Etiquette in Today’s Real Estate Market?
 
 
 
Thursday, February 09, 2012, 7:00 PM
 

Buying a home is a very exciting process, but can often get confusing, especially for first time buyers. While your buyer’s agent will help you through the process, it is helpful to know the proper procedure for calling to view a property.

As a buyer’s agent, I encourage that my buyers call me for each property showing.  There are two major reasons for this.  The first being, every time I view a house with my buyers I get to see what is important to them.  What they like and don’t like.  This educates me to their needs and wants because every buyer is different. This in turn allows me to customize my search for a home that best suits their needs.

The second reason is pricing. Seeing more properties together not only educates the buyer, but also allows the agent to explain more about the properties, the area, and pricing all as one.

On listings I have heard people say that they do not want to bother their agent. But, why not? This is why you have developed a relationship with your agent.  Agents are there to help you through the process and may pick up on potential problems you may miss. They have experience in communicating with sellers, negotiating and preparing offers.

Before you decide on a real estate agent, be sure to meet with them and go over your expectations.  This will help in making sure you are both on the same page and will also aid in developing a strong relationship where you feel comfortable enough to call them with questions.

Always remember to call your agent first, for they know the course of action for obtaining any information you’re looking for. In the end, the transaction will be go more smoothly and most likely much faster. If you are still unsure, just ask—your agent is always there to help!

Contributed by: Cindy B Rosato, RE/MAX Realty Group, Associate Broker/Realtor

Cindy has been in the business 25+ years, and has been through down markets three times now. She has been working at RE/MAX Realty Group since 1992. Clients come first. Attitude and protecting their investment is what she is all about.

 
Choosing the Perfect House
 
 
 
Friday, February 03, 2012, 7:00 AM
 

Last year a young couple that I had been working with for several months found a beautiful home in their price range. The kitchen was simply stunning with Shaker style cabinets and a beautiful tile backsplash and floor. Both bathrooms were updated and the hardwoods were in great condition. It was so beautiful that it was easy to overlook that Rt. 490 was in its back yard. The highway was so noisy that we found ourselves yelling at each other in the driveway.

My advice to my clients was to forget the house. Granted, it is unlikely that we will find another house this attractive in their price range but if they buy a house in good condition, they will be able to do the cosmetic improvement and upgrades as their economic situation improves. On the other hand, if they purchase this house, they will never be able to do anything about the highway regardless of how much money they make. From the sullen looks on their faces, I don’t think they liked my advice.

There are almost always compromises involved in buying a house and so I offer the following general guidance for consideration in choosing a property.

Location – While it is possible to pick up a house and move it, it is not very practical. Therefore, I encourage clients not to compromise on location. If you’re not wild about having a gas station next door, chances are good that neither will future home buyers when you go to sell the house.

Layout – It is possible to tear out walls or build on an addition, but it’s not cheap. When you are shopping for a house, take time to assess the layout. Are there enough bedrooms and baths? How’s the traffic flow? Does the kitchen have a good design and room for storage?

Mechanicals - When I bought my first home, the first major improvement was to install a liner in the chimney. It was expensive and I couldn’t even see it. There just was no inviting people over to see my new chimney liner! Eventually, everything in a house wears out. Roofs, furnaces, windows all have to be replaced from time to time. When home shopping, assess the mechanicals and be very conscious of their lifespan and cost to replace.

Cosmetics – Everyone falls in love with a beautiful home, myself included, and so it is difficult to convince buyers that this should be their last consideration and first item to compromise on. Think about it. If you had $10,000 to spend on your home would it be more fun to pick out roof shingles or kitchen fixtures? Almost every house can be made attractive, especially if you paid attention to layout. And if you don’t feel that you have the talent or vision to make your home beautiful, there is an abundance of good designers in the Rochester area.

Again, I point out that these considerations are very general and there are special circumstances. Buying a house is a big decision.  Hopefully, you can find a house that is perfect in every way.  But if not, be very aware of what your compromises are.

Contributed by: Mary Shelsby, RE/MAX First Sales Associate

Mary Shelsby is an award winning residential Realtor® with RE/MAX Realty Group of Rochester, NY. She lives with her husband, Jim Ryan, on Highland Avenue, just a few doors down from Highland Park. When she’s not listing and showing property, she is busy photographing the sights around Rochester and the Finger Lakes.


 
Seller Concessions
 
 
 
Friday, January 27, 2012, 8:11 AM
 

As real estate agents we are often asked about the term, seller concessions, and the role it plays in the home-purchasing process.  It’s a great question because seller concessions have a marked impact on both the buyer and seller, and can make a significant difference on whether a prospective buyer purchases and a homeowner sells a particular home.

Seller concessions are a rather recent practice in New York State given how long residential homes have been bought and sold.  These seller-paid credits came into play in NYS in the early 90’s.  If you were purchasing a home prior to that period and were to suggest the possibility that the seller financially assist you with the purchase of their home you would likely be met with utter disbelief and promptly shown the door.

Seller concessions are a dollar amount credit provided by the seller to the buyer towards the buyer’s mortgage closing costs.  This is a request from the buyer to the seller within the context of the written purchase offer, and is based upon either a specified percentage of the purchase price or a flat dollar amount.  The maximum amount that can be provided by the seller is dictated both by the type of mortgage program being used to purchase the home, and by the willingness of the seller to provide said credit.  The maximum allowable is typically six percent (6%) of the purchase price, and the credit is provided to the buyer at the “closing” and transfer of title.

Seller concessions are a great alternative to a seller’s price reduction or a buyer’s lower purchase offer.  For example, a $5,000 price reduction/lower-price-paid will certainly benefit the buyer over the amortized course of the mortgage loan – say 30 years.  However, a $5,000 Seller concession will provide a cash-strapped buyer funds that are immediately available to pay toward their closing costs.  Buyers may pay closer to the asking price, but benefit from significant closing cost assistance, and sellers may benefit from a reasonable price and a faster sale in a challenging market.  Seller concessions can make for a win-win situation for both parties, and it’s important for a buyer to both recognize and fully appreciate the help they are receiving from the seller.

Contributed by: Bill Parkhurst, RE/MAX Realty Group Realtor, Associate Broker

Bill Parkhurst is a Realtor, Associate Broker and designated Short Sale and Foreclosure Resource (SFR) with 22 years of full-time residential sales experience.  He specializes in Rochester and western Monroe County, and appreciates the opportunity to assist you with all of your selling and buying needs.


 
Understanding Home Insurance
 
 
 
Monday, January 16, 2012, 1:44 PM
 

If you are in contract for the purchase of your first home, you will need to purchase insurance for the home prior to closing. Here is what you need to know about buying insurance and how to keep costs down without sacrificing coverage.

It is very important that when comparing insurance that it is not always apples to apples. Don’t just shop by what the cost is. You must also look at the coverage. You would never want to be in a situation where you need to use your insurance and then you find out that you don’t have enough coverage. Will you be able to rebuild your house exactly as it is right now? Is it owner occupied or is it an investment property? Are there high priced items that may NOT be covered if you don’t have a separate rider for them? Is there a finished basement in the home? And would it be covered in case of water damage due to a sump pump or pipe breaking? Is it waterfront property? Contrary to popular demand not all waterfront homes require flood insurance.

There are many questions that your insurance provider should be asking in order to be sure that you are protected. You may think you are saving hundreds by going with one provider, but if the coverage isn’t right or sufficient then it could cost you thousands! I always suggest that you talk to at least three different insurance providers and be sure that the coverage that your asking for is right for YOU. I have enclosed two reports. The first is 5 things to understand about insurance and the second is 10 ways to lower your insurance costs. Good luck to you in your new home.

5 Things to Understand About Homeowners Insurance

  • Look for exclusions to coverage. For example, most insurance policies do not cover flood or earthquake damage as a standard item. This coverage must be bought separately.
  • Look for dollar limitations on claims. Even if you are covered for a risk, there may a limit on how much the insurer will pay. For example, many policies limit the amount paid for stolen jewelry unless items are insured separately.
  • Understand replacement cost. If your home is destroyed you’ll receive money to replace it only to the maximum of your coverage, so be sure your insurance is sufficient. This means that if your home is insured for $150,000 and it costs $180,000 to replace it, you’ll only receive $150,000.
  • Understand actual cash value. If you choose not to replace your home when it’s destroyed, you’ll receive replacement cost, less depreciation. This is called actual cash value.
  • Understand liability. Generally your homeowners insurance covers you for accidents that happen to other people on your property, including medical care, court costs, and awards by the court. However, there is usually an upper limit to the amount of coverage provided. Be sure that it’s sufficient if you have significant assets.

10 Ways to Lower Your Homeowners Insurance Costs

  • Raise your deductible. If you can afford to pay more toward a loss that occurs, your premiums will be lower.
  • Buy your homeowners and auto policies from the same company. You’ll usually qualify for a discount. But make sure that the savings really yields the lowest price.
  • Make your home less susceptible to damage. Keep roofs and drains in good repair. Retrofit your house to protect against natural disasters common to your area.
  • Keep your home safer. Install smoke detectors, burglar alarms, and dead-bolt locks. All of these will usually qualify for a discount.
  • Be sure you insure your house for the correct amount. Remember, you’re covering replacement cost, not market value.
  • Ask about other discounts. For example, retirees who are home more than working people may qualify for a discount on theft insurance.
  • Stay with the same insurer. Especially in today’s tight insurance market, your current vendor is more likely to give you a good price.
  • See if you belong to any groups—associations, alumni groups—that offer lower insurance rates.
  • Review your policy limits and the value of your home and possessions annually. Some items depreciate and may not need as much coverage.
  • See if there’s a government-backed insurance plan. In some high-risk areas, such as the coasts, federal or state governments may back plans to lower rates. Ask your agent.

Contributed by: Jeremias Maneiro, RE/MAX Realty Group, Realtor


Cindy "B" Rosato | Direct: 585-455-5961 | Mobile Phone: 585-455-5961
RE/MAX Realty Group | 40 Grove St - Pittsford, NY 14534 | Office: 585-248-0250
Cindy Rosato | NYS Licensed Real Estate Salesperson

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