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Home Tips for Reducing and Re-using

Home Tips for Reducing and Re-using

Increasing numbers of households are practicing recycling, but fewer of those households are practicing the other tenets of the environmentalist “Reduce, Re-Use, and Recycle” mantra. Given that the recycling process has its own environmental costs, the “reduce and re-use” aspects actually have the greater environmental impact. From the point of view of an individual household, reducing and re-using items will have its economic benefits as well as environmental.
Here are a few tips to try.
Re-Using Cleaning Items
Here’s a statistic for you: a microfiber cleaning cloth can do the work of sixty rolls of paper towels before it needs to be replaced. Microfiber is gentle enough that it can be used on nearly everything, even including eyeglasses. It’s absorbent for wet spills, adheres to dust for effective dusting, doesn’t streak glass, and costs less than a dollar. A household can invest upfront in a good number of microfiber cloths, and save money for years on the paper towels they’ve been regularly buying.
When it comes to household cleaning products, buy the bulk-size large jugs or concentrated mixtures to dilute with water, and keep refilling the set of spray bottles you use while cleaning. A large container of cleaning concentrate can refill an existing bottle dozens of times; that’s dozens of spray bottles you would have bought and discarded if you kept buying them individually.
Switching from Disposable to Reusable
A fairly visible example of this practice is the idea of bringing re-usable cloth bags on grocery-shopping trips, rather than taking the paper or plastic bags given out by the store. Some stores have started adding a bonus kick-back to grocery bills for those who bring their own bags, but even if it doesn’t save money, it saves tons (literally) of plastic or paper over the course of a few years. You have the added benefit of finding some bags you really like, which can make your groceries easier to carry.
If you use a dry-cleaner for some of your clothes, you can do the same sort of switch. Make a one-time purchase of a re-usable dry-cleaning bag, and you have a tote to deliver your clothes as well as a far nicer cover (compared to the pesky plastic covers) when you pick them up.
Bulk Buying and Repackaging
Invest in some useful sizes of Gladware or other re-usable food storage containers, and start buying foods in bulk sized containers. If you buy the little individual yogurt cups, you’ll be throwing away the small cartons all week long.

Buying a bulk size carton of yogurt is not only considerably cheaper, but you’re not disposing of all that plastic of individual wrapping. It won’t even take long for your grocery savings (from buying the cheaper bulk items) will make up for the initial investment in re-usable containers. The larger cartons can serve as food-storage containers themselves, perfect for stowing left-overs in the refrigerator once they’ve been cleaned out.


Things that you must know about mortgage insurance

Things that you must know about mortgage insurance

There are different types of mortgage insurance available in the market and private mortgage insurance (PMI) is one of the most common types of mortgage insurance that people often complain about. Private mortgage insurance often requires the homeowners pay a heavy premium, but even then it doesn’t provide required coverage that most homeowners look for. In fact, it provides almost no protection to the borrowers.

There is another type of mortgage insurance that pays off only in the event the borrower dies. For this type of mortgage insurance, a borrower usually needs to pay less. Homeowners generally avoid this type of insurance as they can get same sort of and sometimes even better death benefits through a life insurance policy.

Why should you buy mortgage insurance?

A private mortgage insurance (PMI) policy protects the lender instead of the borrower. Still homeowners often need to buy such insurance as the lenders require them to buy. The lenders generally require the borrowers, who make less than 20% of the appraised value of the property as down payment. The less the borrowers put down, the more risks to the lenders. This is the reason why the lenders need the borrowers to buy mortgage insurance and protect them against a mortgage default.

Being a borrower, you don’t get any scope to choose any mortgage insurance provider and also negotiate on the rate of premium. The lender is likely to do this on behalf of you. If you take out a home loan, which surpasses 80 percent loan-to-value, you’re much likely to buy mortgage insurance. The mortgage insurance will pay your lender, should you fail to pay the premiums and your house needs to be foreclosed.

Federal Housing Administration or FHA requires the homebuyers to pay additional charges apart from the upfront premium. The additional fees charged by FHA may include monthly premiums comprising principals, interests and also taxes.

Can you cancel mortgage insurance?

If the value of your home equity increases by at least 20 percent, either by paying off your loan or by appreciation, you can cancel your mortgage insurance. However, you can’t do this unless the lender gets the proof that the position of your home equity is secured and value has been appraised by at least 20 percent. The lender may also require you to pay for independent appraisal. You may not get a voice in selecting the appraiser or the money that the appraisal may cost you.

In case of an FHA mortgage, you need to pay off 78% of the actual sales price of the property, toward the mortgage. Even if the equity value is appraised, then also you need to lessen the actual principal due.

How can you stop paying for PMI?

There are some effective ways through which you may avoid paying for your PMI.

  • Being a veteran, you can opt for taking out a VA home loan that doesn’t require you to buy PMI.
  • Pay at least 20% of the value of the property as down payment.
  • Pay higher rate of interest.
  • Take out a combination home loan of 80 / 10 / 10. It combines 10 percent down payment, 80 percent first home loan and 10 percent second home loan or mortgage.
  • Apply for HomePath home loan provided by Fannie Mae. However, you need to meet some criteria to qualify for such type of mortgage.

When it comes to mortgage insurance, there is no guarantee that you can take for granted. Your mortgage may or may not contain mortgage insurance, should the equity is less than 20 percent as your lender can pay for mortgage insurance even without a verbal or written consent from you.

Author’s bio: Tim Scott is a senior insurance advisor at BestInsLeads.com. He writes for different online insurance journals and portals.


5 Things to Consider When Buying Your First Home

5 Things to Consider When Buying Your First Home

Buying your first house is a step that many of us look forward to for years. That moment when you have the keys in your hand to your own home is considered as one of the best moments in life.

It’s important however that when you are looking for your dream home, and when you’ve found it, you take into account certain factors to ensure your step onto the property ladder is a smooth and successful one.

Location

The first step to finding your new home is to consider the location that you would like to live in; take into account the needs of you and your family and look at the local facilities. One handy tip is to take a trip to the area and have a walk around as this way you will get a feel for the community and what it has to offer; meaning you will really be able to immerse yourself in the life there.

Price

Unless you’re going on a big shopping trip, most of us will decide upon a budget prior to buying anything, and this is vital when looking for a home. Have a look at your finances and work out what you will be able to comfortably afford as by doing this before looking at properties, you won’t get disappointed when you find that 6 bedroom mansion that you adore but just can’t stretch too.

Requirements

List writing might seem like a chore but it will help you immensely in this part of your search as you need to think about the requirements in a home that are most important to you. Don’t limit yourself to things like how many bedrooms you need, instead expand your needs to every possible requirement you can think of. What about the space outdoors? Do you need a garden for the children to play in? Would you prefer something that requires little maintenance?

Look Past the D’cor

When the time comes for you to begin to view possible properties, you should go with an open mind and try to see the potential that is there. This can be difficult if a house is messy and unloved but remember when it’s empty, you can make it your own. You wouldn’t want to say no to your dream home just because the walls in the lounge are striking pink; after all they’ll only need a lick of paint!

Home Insurance

Once you’ve found your dream property and you are on the way to getting the keys, you need to ensure you find comprehensive home insurance. It may seem like just another bill that will go out of your bank account at the end of the month but it could prove invaluable if you ever need to claim on it. To save you time and hassle of searching for the best policy, you could consider going online as there are companies that will do the hard work for you and simply deliver a choice of the best home insurance quotes that meet your needs; so you can just sit back and relax!

In the excitement of buying your first home, you need to try, as best you can, to keep grounded and consider these tips during your search. By taking into account these factors now, you will ensure that you’ll have a long and happy life in your new property.

This post was written by Sally Powell on behalf of Home Insurance Direct; a leading price comparison website providing a range of the most comprehensive home insurance quotes available.


What`s Next For The Housing Market?

What`s Next For The Housing Market?

Experts tend to agree that 2012 will see home prices rising slightly.

Coming from Fiserv, a firm that accurately predicted that 2011 home values would drop, there’s a good chance that this prediction isn’t too far off the mark.

On the other hand, some predictions slate 2012 to be just like this past year, with home prices declining by as much as 7%. This is most likely due to the staggering six million homes in delinquency stages, which could mean massive foreclosures in the New Year.

Even though mortgage rates will continue to be low, there simply won’t be enough qualified buyers in 2012 to make much of a dent in the excess inventory.

Mortgage rates themselves will stay low at around 4%. The Federal Reserve will even continue purchasing securities in order to keep these mortgage rates low, so it is the perfect time to buy for those that qualify.

The problem is that countless people who have lost their homes to foreclosure or who have taken hits to their credit will not qualify for mortgages. This means that renting will be the major option.

Although banks once dragged their feet with foreclosing on homes due to the staggering amounts of homes going into delinquency, the rate at which they foreclose is likely to increase in 2012. This is good news for the rental market, but will do nothing for the housing market.

Still, 2012 should finally bring about a slowdown in an economy that has been spiraling out of control. There are high hopes that this will finally be the year that everything will begin to stabilize.

But this does mean that excessive housing inventories and low levels of sales will stay the same. In fact, some experts predict that the mortgage originations in 2012 will drop to the lowest levels the nation has seen since 1997.

According to Freddie Mac, around 4.8 million homes are expected to be purchased in the year 2012, which may sound like a big number but is actually much less than normal.

A healthy housing market is considered such when only six months’ worth of housing inventory is on the market. As of right now, there exists more than an entire year’s worth of homes on the market and those houses aren’t selling fast enough.

The one thing that may help the market in 2012 is, of course, the continually low mortgage rates. We may not see 2011’s low rate of 4.2% carry on throughout 2012, but there’s little chance that those rates will exceed 5%.

Potential homebuyers could enjoy vast opportunities in 2012. With so little competition, cheap home prices and rock-bottom mortgage rates, this will be the time to act.

Those that have endured financial devastation, job loss, foreclosures, bankruptcies and the like will just have to sit tight.

Obtaining a mortgage in 2012 will mean having better credit and meeting stricter qualifications. This will be the year to get those credit scores polished and build up those savings accounts.


Different Methods of Property Investing

Different Methods of Property Investing

Today’s economic conditions have created challenges as well as opportunities with the different methods of property investing. There are basically two methods of property investing; direct and indirect. Direct property investment is when a buyer purchases the title or interests in the property. The buyer or interest holder is responsible for all costs related to the property. The benefit of direct purchasing is that all profits, tax and business deductions attached to the property belong to the direct buyer or interest holder. Indirect property investing is similar to purchasing shares where, a portion of the investment is owned in the form of an investor’s interest.

Typically, financial returns for the investment are paid back over a specified period of time. The indirect method of property investing allows the investor to eliminate the large out of pocket capital, compared to direct investing. In most cases it also allows the investor a quick method to liquidate the investment without a great deal of difficulty.

Whether an investor is looking for a property investment or income generating potential, the value of the property in most cases will affect the investment agreement. There are several methods of valuing properties, and as an investor, you need to understand how these methods work and more important how they affect your property investment. The most common method is the market value determination, using sales data or statistics for similar property in the area. This method actually defines what a buyer is willing to pay for the property.

For an income producing property the value method uses the incoming cash or rent against the cost of the property to determine its value. Income generating properties are typically calculated for commercial use, and can be applied to residential income properties as well. The property’s income stream is an added business value to the overall property value at the time of sale or leveraging capital financing.

Property investing is similar to purchasing stock, the goal is to buy low and sell high. Finding a property with little or no renovation requirements may be ideal for an investor looking to turn the property quickly. Depending on the property, renovations that enhance the property’s value may increase the amount of profits at the time of sale. Long term property investors build equity slowly overtime increasing the potential payouts at the time of sale. Selecting the right property investment comes down to your preference and comfort and your short or long term goals for profit.

Property Investments:

Project property investing is a method of property investing when a management group actually maintains a single or group of real estate properties. This type of property investment allows the investor the financial benefit in the form of rental income without direct landlord or ownership burdens. Benefits for the investor are the management company handles all transactions, ensuring the rental units are filled to capacity.

Commercial:

Commercial property investing is one of the most preferred types of property investments due to the types of businesses, which operate continually throughout the year earning profits. They include medical centers, travel destination hotels, shopping malls, and office buildings located in areas specifically zoned for commercial business only. Financial returns on this type of property investing are normally high even during low economic conditions, making it an ideal property investment.

Residential:

Residential property investing is for some investors a lucrative form of rental income. Private owners leverage their primary residential equity investing in a second property to generate a supplemental cash flow, while continuing to build equity in both properties. Incentives for the second residential property investing are the tax deductions for maintaining the rental property.

Land:

Land property investing can be for either residential or commercial properties. The type of building depends on the location and zoning of the area. There are several options with land property investing; from earning equity on the improved land, selling the land for profit or investing in a real estate venture for financial gains in the forms of business income or a return of investment such as dividends.

For those who are looking to invest in property, there are plenty of options that allow you to choose what works for you. Whether you want to be a direct or indirect investor and whether you want to invest in residential or commercial properties. Before deciding to put your money into your property investment, weigh your options and develop a plan that works for you.


Top Tips for Buying a Home During a Recession

Top Tips for Buying a Home During a Recession

home buyingDon’t buy unless you’re financially stable doing so if you’re not is incredibly risky. Are your job, your salary and your working hours secure? If not, you might want to hold back on buying until you can be sure they are – being unemployed with a mortgage to pay is not a position you want to be in.

What’s more, do you have a good credit rating? In order to get the best mortgage rates, you need to have a great credit rating. Again, if this isn’t the case it might be an idea to hold back for a while. Take out a credit card, use it for small payments and ensure to pay it off every month to help build up a positive credit rating.

Consider if you really need to move or is there an alternative? This is a risky time to be buying would your current home suffice with a new loft conversion or a kitchen extension? If so, you might be better off staying put for now.

Buy a home not just a house buying as an investment is especially risky. Despite all the hear-say, nobody actually knows where the property market is heading.

Unless you’re planning to live in the property for at least five years, and would be happy to stay longer than that if necessary don’t bother.

Buy properties with room for improvement following on from above, the housing market might see you stuck in the same property for much longer than you’re expecting. Because of this you should ideally buy a home that has room to grow.

If at any point you welcome new additions to the family, you might find yourself in need of a loft conversion or an extra bathroom. Ideally you don’t want to find yourself in negative equity, without the scope to extend your home to the size you need.

Haggle there are so many properties and so few buyers right now that if you’re looking to buy, you’re very lucky.

Start with a really low offer. While it may well get laughed off the table, it also might not, and if you’ve offered much less than you’re actually willing to pay you’re still in a great position to bargain.

Don’t buy what you can’t afford it might be tempting to buy your dream home but if that dream home will leave you struggling to make ends meet each month, your dream could easily turn into a nightmare.

Ideally you want no more than a quarter of your monthly income to be spent on your mortgage. A third of your income is the absolute maximum threshold you should consider.

Remember that as well as paying for the mortgage itself, buying a home involves paying for repairs and maintenance. Ideally you should place some money into a savings account specifically to cover such occurrences.

It’s also advisable to keep a substantial pot of money aside just in case you should lose your job or find yourself in some other unforeseen and dire financial circumstances.


13 Scary Reasons To Hire A Home Inspector

13 Scary Reasons To Hire A Home Inspector

inspectionIn honor of Halloween, here are 13 reasons that anyone who is considering the purchase of a home (new or previously owned) should hire a home inspector:Potential Structural Issues

A trained professional such as a home engineer can look at areas where structural problems normally originate and see if there are any surprises waiting. There are many things about the foundation and structure of a home that the untrained eye would miss. A trained home inspector – preferably a home inspector with an engineering degree – can identify structural issues and advise accordingly.

Hidden Fire Damage

Wood damaged by fire is weakened and can become structurally unsafe, but it can also be hidden be an unscrupulous contractor. A home inspector knows where to look to find old fire damage, which isn’t always easy to see.

Mold Detection and Proper Prevention

If mold is left untreated and undetected, it can spread throughout the entire house. Since mold is sometimes toxic (potentially deadly in some cases), you need a professional to look for it before you buy.

Dangerous Wiring

Bad wiring can become a fire hazard and cause serious damage. A professional home inspector can spot trouble and help you determine if you need a more complete inspection from a certified electrician.

Hail Damage

When hail starts falling, the first place people run to is their homes. As you sit in your home and hear the hail pelting your roof, you are thankful at the protection your home offers. But that hail is doing damage to your roof and siding. A home inspector can spot hail damage that’s often invisible to the untrained eye.

Tree Growth

Trees can be dangerous to a home above and below the ground. Large branches that hang out over structures could fall off and cause damage, while a tree’s root system can destroy the home’s foundation.

Holes In The Roof

The untrained eye can scan a roof and not see a single hole. But when it rains, the ceiling stain gets larger and larger – or worse, the ceiling collapses. The professional eye of a home inspector will find the hard to see holes in a roof and let you know exactly how much roof repair needs to be done to stop the leaking.

Exposed Wiring

Wiring junction boxes without covers and wires that have no insulation on them are fire hazards waiting to happen. A wiring system that may look just fine to the average homeowner may have several spots where exposed wires make things very dangerous.

Water Damage in the Basement

People who don’t spend time in their basement can often be unaware of (or simply ignore) basement water seepage, but that’s unwise. Seepage, especially over a few years, can destroy the integrity of a home’s foundation.

Sawdust Insulation

It is hard to believe, but some homes still have sawdust in the attic as insulation. Not only is sawdust an ineffective form of insulation, it is a significant fire hazard.

Uneven Ground and Ground Movement

Many places in the world have problems with soil movement. If the home you’re considering sits above ground that has the potential to shift, you can have sever structural problems that can cause tens of thousands of dollars to repair. Denver structural home inspectors, for example, need an engineering degree to deliver structural assessments.

Dangerous Electrical Distribution Panels

Specific models of electrical distribution panels and fuse boxes pose a fire hazard at all times and need to be replaced. Many of them were recalled, but most homeowners don’t find out about recalls and so many of the panels with defects have never been replaced.

Asbestos

Older homes have asbestos insulation, siding and floor tiles. This asbestos needs to be removed to make the home safe and brought up to local building codes, the last thing you want to do is buy a home that contains asbestos.


Tips on your household finance

Tips on your household finance

Like most large companies, a house is run like a business and so should be dealt with in a similar manner. The way people deal with their personal finances can often be lacklustre, though keeping track of it is of optimum importance.Unlike many businesses, which can account for their spending down to nearly he last penny, many households don’t know how much they spend on many of the things that come in and out, with many not keeping books at all.

So, what is the best way to keep a track on the finances for a home and what way should you best go about doing it?

A small investment in a notebook or cashbook can be a good start. Being able to keep a record of your outgoings and your incoming at all times makes keeping a record of house finances a lot easier. If you don’t have the discipline to remember, bring it around with you and write down the figures after shopping. If there are more than a couple of you in the house, ensure everyone has their own separate book to put money down in and budget with.

Transfer these figures into a ledger to get a better view of the whole households spending. This gives you an overall view of the household’s incomings and the household’s outgoings over a monthly basis. Include all the other things outside of the notebook in this such as bills, mortgages and other large and regular costs this allows you to project for the future.

If you are a little bit more up with computers and know how to create spreadsheet, then it is easy to keep a track of expenses through one of these. Spread sheets are faster, offer less work to do as they do the calculations for you and are also clearer than ledgers. Use a spread sheet in the same fashion as a ledger to record household spending.

Business software can also be used for household purposes and offers an even clearer view of expenditure and incomes again. This software is fit for the task and so offers an even wider range of functions than a spreadsheet. Business budgeting software can be gotten for a low price and is ideal for complete clarity.

When you do your monthly calculations it can then be very easy to see where the household is spending unnecessarily and so you can then easily make the cuts you need from this expenditure.

Keeping a clear and concise budget also means that you can set money aside for saving as well as for other things and allows you project for the future and anything nice that you wish for you and your family to have. It is simple, takes only a little time and is a good habit to get into.

Simon Grant is a writer and blogger who contributes to Fiscal Muses and has written this on behalf of Ulster Bank, a bank where you can apply for a bank account online.


Why didn’t you get that home loan?

Why didn’t you get that home loan?


Rejection is rarely welcome, especially when credit applications are involved. During the past few years, numerous applicants have been declined credit for secured loans and mortgages.The question many people are asking is why. Provided below is a summary of some of the reasons why applicants are being refused credit for loans and mortgages. People who have been turned down for mortgages should also read more here for a guide on how much they will realistically be able to afford.

As suggested above, rejection is usually as unwelcome as it is unpleasant. So far as credit applications are concerned, however, rejection ought not to be taken personally.

Rejection in the context of financial lending is simply a consequence of the applicant failing to meet all the criteria of the lender.

Credit scoring is used to assess the risk or creditworthiness of an applicant and it is usually this rating that causes applications to be rejected. In a nutshell, a poor credit score means a poor chance of being approved for credit.

The situation is slightly different in the context of secured lending. A secured loan uses the borrower’s property as security for the amount owed. The borrower risks losing their home if they default on repayments.

An unsecured loan does not attach itself directly to the property. However, a home may still be at risk if a homeowner defaults on repayments. Generally speaking, secured loans are approved more readily than unsecured loans.

There are several reasons why an application for a secured home loan is rejected, the most obvious of which is poor credit. Although an applicant may be able to offer their home as security, a poor credit rating could still ruin their chances of being accepted.

Unsecured loans can be rejected on the same basis. Equally, many mortgage applications are being turned down because the applicant cannot prove that they are creditworthy.

The solution is not to panic. If poor credit is ruining a person’s chances of securing a mortgage or loan, the situation cannot be remedied by applying to other lenders ad infinitum.

Multiple rejections in a relatively short period of time (i.e. six months) merely worsen the problem. Credit ratings take several months to recover from failed applications, so prospective homeowners ought to use this time wisely to rebuild their credit profiles.

Another reason why a mortgage application might be rejected is that banks are no longer keen to practice sub-prime lending. If an applicant’s credentials (e.g. income and employment history) do not meet strict criteria, the mortgage will not be granted.

It could be that a mortgage application is declined on the basis that the borrower does not meet the criteria set for a particular level of lending.

If a person is rejected for a 5 per cent mortgage, for example, it is not necessarily the case that they will be denied a mortgage at 6 per cent.

As noted above, lenders have become more circumspect of sub-prime borrowers, which is why the levels of risk most banks and mortgage providers are willing to accept are subject to stricter controls.

Finally, the extent to which an applicant is able to provide a deposit toward a property can greatly affect their chances of being approved for a mortgage.

Following the financial collapse of several years ago, 100 per cent mortgages are no longer favored by lenders, many of whom expect applicants to have saved a sizeable deposit.


Beware the flopping real estate scam

Throughout history, there have been scams that have been designed to make a quick buck for their unscrupulous perpetrators. Currently on the rise is the ‘flopping’ real estate scam.

The scam is perfect for these depressed housing market conditions whereby everyday Americans are struggling to pay their mortgages. The scam takes advantage of the practice of short selling.

Short selling occurs when homeowners cannot meet their mortgages repayments and agree with the mortgages company to sell the property for a reduced amount.

Flopping can involve either real estate agents or individuals working in partnerships who split the profits. There are various ways it is undertaken depending on the people involved.

Simply put, one party purchases the property from the seller at the reduced short sale amount and then sells it on quickly for its true worth. This can result in a quick and easy profit.

Real estate agents may be involved by undervaluing the property in the first instance so that the banks agree to a much reduced price based on the agent’s professional valuation.

The real estate agent may have buyers lined up for the property who are willing to pay a higher price but this is not disclosed to the mortgages company.

Instead, after the house has been sold for the reduced amount, it is then offered to these genuine buyers for the higher price. In the past, these two transactions have been known to occur on the same day.

This has resulted in both Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac issuing notices that short sale houses cannot be resold within 30 days. This may be a deterrent for some but not all those involved.

The cost of flopping, according to market research company, CoreLogic, is expected to be around $375 million in 2011. This is a rise of 20 percent from 2010.

The FBI is taking flopping seriously because of its economic and, some would argue, moral implications. It classifies as fraud and two Connecticut real estate agents were the first to be prosecuted for flopping in August 2011.

Flopping creates problems for sellers who are unaware that they are being targeted by unscrupulous real estate agents. Always ensure you get a variety of agents to value your house. Flopping real estate agents often provide price comparisons based solely on other short sales, which can create an inaccurate portrayal of the genuine market price.

Sellers may then be targeted by their mortgage company for higher deficiency judgments as the company tries to recoup the difference in outstanding mortgage fees.

If you wish to sell your house, use a reputable firm and question them about any involvement in flopping. Get multiple valuations from numerous agents so that you can work out the true value of your property.

As with any aspect of house selling, mortgages and moving, do your research to protect your own interests. If an agent offers to include you in something that sounds like flopping, do not work with them. Retain your integrity and sleep well at night by doing the right thing.


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