Americans Expect Home Prices and Mortgage Rates to Increase

This is a reprint of a News Release from Fannie Mae. Click here to read the full release on the Fannie Mae website.

A house on moneyConsumer attitudes toward the economy and housing continue to diverge this winter, according to Fannie Mae’s February 2013 National Housing Survey results. On the one hand, consumers continue to express strong positive attitudes toward housing. On the other hand, sentiment about the economy and household finances is stalled. Average 12-month home price expectations and the share of consumers who believe home prices will go up over the next year both rose to record highs, and the percentage of Americans who say mortgage rates will rise reached its highest level since August 2011. At same time, Americans’ views on their personal financial situation, household income, and the direction of the economy fell or remained flat.

“Despite fiscal headwinds and political uncertainty, consumer sentiment toward housing is robust and continues to gather strength,” says Doug Duncan, senior vice president and chief economist at Fannie Mae. “We expect home prices to firm further amid a durable housing recovery, gradually reducing the population of underwater borrowers and helping to boost the share of consumers who say that now is a good time to sell.”

“Since reaching its trough last September, the share of consumers expecting mortgage rates to rise has trended up,” continues Duncan. “However, despite historically low mortgage rates, nearly half of borrowers have never refinanced their mortgage. Combined with the scheduled year-end HARP deadline, rising rate expectations should prompt some borrowers to refinance soon to take advantage of more favorable mortgage terms and add to their disposable income, helping to offset ongoing fiscal drag.”

Survey Highlights

Homeownership and Renting

  • The average 12-month home price change expectation increased 0.5 percent over last month to 2.9 percent, the highest level since the survey’s inception.
  • At 48 percent, the share who believe home prices will go up in the next 12 months also reached a survey high, while the share who believe home prices will go down held steady at the survey low of 10 percent.
  • The percentage who think mortgage rates will go up increased by 4 percentage points to 45 percent, the highest level since August 2011, while those who think they will go down held steady at 7 percent.
  • Twenty-five percent of respondents say it is a good time to sell a house, the highest level since the survey’s inception in June 2010.
  • At 3.9 percent, the average 12-month rental price change expectation increased 0.2 percent over January.
  • Fifty percent of those surveyed say home prices will go up in the next 12 months, holding steady from January at the highest level since the survey’s inception.
  • The share of respondents who said they would buy if they were going to move increased by 2 percentage points to 67 percent.

The Economy and Household Finances

  • At 38 percent, the share of respondents who say the economy is on the right track has held steady over the past three months.
  • The percentage who expect their personal financial situation to get better over the next 12 months fell by 2 percentage points to 41 percent.
  • Twenty-one percent of respondents say their household income is significantly higher than it was 12 months ago, a 2 percentage point decrease from last month.
  • Thirty-one percent report significantly higher household expenses compared to 12 months ago, a 7 percentage point decrease and the lowest level since June 2010.
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Pocket Listings Heat Up: Good or Bad?

Pocket listings — off-market listings that are marketed directly by the seller’s real estate agent or broker — are growing in number, according to news reports.

Sellers must agree to “pocket listings”; otherwise they aren’t permitted. Some sellers agree to such arrangements to “test the waters” first with selling or to avoid a large number of people from entering their home, or they may seek privacy, like in cases of celebrities or public figures.

Some real estate professionals argue the rise in pocket listings is hurting the housing market because these homes are given limited exposure and are making it more difficult to compare homes and prices.

Usually with pocket listings, brokerages complete the entire transaction in-house, thus collecting both the seller and buyer commission.

“Pocket listings are a good segment of our business,” writes one real estate professional on the RISMedia Facebook page. “Regarding cons with agents taking in full commissions … we charge a flat rate for our pocket sales, much less than a full-percent commission.”

But many agents note that the majority of pocket listings are eventually entered into the MLS.

Source: “Pocket Listings: Helpful or Harmful?” RISMedia (March 14, 2013)

“Using a real estate agent is a very good idea,” says the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). “All the details involved in home buying [and selling], particularly the financial ones, can be mind-boggling. A good professional can guide you through the entire process and make the experience much easier.”

Selecting the right professional is the key to a successful real estate transaction. Better than working with a simple real estate agent, you’ll want the services of a Realtor®.

What’s the Difference Between a Real Estate Agent and a Realtor?

More than two million people have earned real estate licenses but only a small percentage of these are Realtors. Realtors are members in good standing of the National Association of Realtors, their state association of Realtors and a local real estate board. Realtors are held to high standards of ethical behavior and must undergo continuing education annually to remain accredited.

All agents of Nesbitt Realty are Realtors!

Team Nesbitt, Will Nesbitt, Nora Yelland, Julie Nesbitt, Alain Clerinx, Andrew Patton, Ronald Ginyard Sr., Stuart Nesbitt
Team Nesbitt is here when you need us.


HUD Plans 7-Day Shutdown Amid Sequester Cuts

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development announced this week that it plans to shut down for seven days sometime between May and September due to the forced government budget cuts to reduce spending known as sequestration.  HUD logo

During that seven-day shutdown, HUD says it will furlough more than 9,000 of its employees.  It will spread out the shutdown days to limit the impact. It has not yet determined when those days will be.

HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan told a Senate panel last month that government spending cuts would have harsh consequences for housing programs. “The ripple effects are enormous because of how central housing is to our economy,” Donovan told the Senate panel.

Source: “Housing Department plans 7-day shut down due to sequester cuts,” Reuters (March 11, 2013)

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  • Who is today’s homebuyer and why are they buying?

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Foreclosure Filings Fall 25% in February

RealtyTrac counted a total of 154,281 U.S. properties with foreclosure filings — default notices, scheduled auctions, or bank repossessions — last month. The number is up 2 percent from January, but is down a full 25 percent from February 2012.

The number of American homes entering the foreclosure pipeline also declined 25 percent from a year earlier, and bank repossessions tumbled 29 percent year-over-year to land at their lowest volume since September 2007.

“At a high level the U.S. foreclosure inferno has been effectively contained and should be reduced to a slow burn in the next two years,” RealtyTrac Vice President Daren Blomquist says. “But dangerous foreclosure flare-ups are still popping up in states where foreclosures have been delayed by a lengthy court process or by new legislation making it more difficult to foreclose outside of the court system.”

The highest rates of foreclosure were documented in Florida, Nevada, and Illinois.

Source: “U.S. Foreclosure Filings Fall 25 Percent in February,” Fox Business (March 14, 2013)

Economists Revise Housing Figures Amid Optimism

Several economists have recently revised their predictions on housing values to reflect a stronger-than-expected real estate rebound, and some have even doubled their original forecasts over the rise in home prices. For example, economists at Bank of America revised their home price forecast from 4.7 percent this year to 8 percent.

Capital Economics’ Economist Paul Diggle upwardly revised his home price forecast too, from a 5 percent projection to an 8 percent rise in home prices this year.

“Prices of both new and existing homes are picking up, the latter by over 10 percent year-on- year,” Diggle notes. “Indeed, after a couple of years during which new house prices outperformed, primarily owing to builders constructing more homes for the higher-end market, we now expect existing house prices to close the gap. As more consumers are able to access mortgage credit, home builders should widen their offering, while continued investment demand will bid up existing house prices.”

Consumers are growing more optimistic about home prices too. A recent report of consumers from mortgage giant Fannie Mae showed that 48 percent believe home prices will rise over the next year.

Ivy Zelman, an independent real estate analyst, told CNBC last week that “we’re in a nirvana for housing. I’m the most bullish I’ve ever been.” Zelman said that home prices could rise for another four to six years.

Source: “Why A Bunch Of Economists Expect The US Housing Market To Go On A Huge Tear,” Business Insider (March 8, 2013)

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Pepaw and the $3.50 mortgage

Frank Nesbitt
Will Nesbitt’s grandfather

Our small town of Front Royal was dominated by a rayon plant that was one of the world’s largest producers of Rayon. Pepaw, known to his contemporaries and colleagues as Frank Nesbitt, was a hard-working Irish Catholic who spent forty years at that viscose factory making rayon. Pepaw was my grandfather. Legend tells me that I named my grandfather Pepaw and my grandmother Memaw. Because I was the oldest grandchild, most of my cousins and all of my sisters and brother called him Pepaw as well.

Pepaw was well known in our small community and well respected for a number or reasons I won’t go into here. But I will say that he had the booming voice of a born-leader and I’m very fortunate to have known him.  The funny thing about kids is that you never know what they are listening to or how much they understand.  I always remembered him talking about the following conversation he had with his bank, though I didn’t much understand the subject until I became an adult.

Pepaw got a call from the bank one day. The bank said, “Frank, you’ve only got $500 on your mortgage.”

Pepaw said, “Yes. What’s your point?”

These were the days when the banker who loaned you your mortgage knew you personally. My grandfather probably coached the banker’s kid in Little League Baseball.  The banker said, “We know what’s in your accounts Frank. Why don’t you just pay this thing off?”

Pepaw growled a little as he recalled struggle. “There was a time when my wife had to cut hair in the basement and the family had to cut corners. There was a time when I had to work extra shifts to make sure that we made that $3.50 payment on time. When I asked about paying off that loan I learned that most of that payment was interest—very little was principal. Some times I had to turn in pop bottles just to get the extra money I needed to make my payment on time.

“But now, now the payment is mostly principal with very little interest and you want me to pay it off.” He paused and said with a bit more calm, “No, I’ll pay my $3.50 each month and I’ll pay it until the mortgage is done. But I won’t pay any extra and I won’t pay early. I stuck by the deal then, and you’ll stick to it now.”

That’s my story of Pepaw and the $3.50 mortgage.

For more information or to set up an appointment call Nesbitt Realty at (703)765-0300.

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Top-10 Wealthiest Counties in the U.S.

3 of Top 10 Wealthiest Counties Are In Northern VA

Will and Julie

The nation’s wealthiest counties are all suburban retreats outside of large cities, according to an analysis by Forbes magazine.

The data comes from the U.S. Census Bureau, which examines the average incomes in 1,889 counties.

Of the top 25, 19 of these counties are on the East Coast – just outside of New York City, Washington, D.C., and Baltimore. Williamson County, outside of Nashville, Tenn., and Forsyth County, outside of Atlanta, are the only Southern counties on the top-25 wealthiest list. California has only two of the wealthiest counties, Marin and Santa Clara.

Here are the top-10 wealthiest counties on the list:

Loudoun County, Va.
Fairfax County, Va.
Howard County, Md.
Hunterdon County, N.J.
Somerset County, N.J.
Fairfax (city), Va.
Morris County, N.J.
Douglas County, Colo.
Arlington County, Va.
Montgomery County, Md.

Source: Forbes, Francesca Levy (03/04/2010)

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Take the Stress Out of Homebuying

Buying a home should be fun, not stressful. As you look for your dream home, keep in mind these tips for making the process as peaceful as possible.

Julie Nesbitt
Julie Nesbitt

1. Find a real estate agent who you connect with. Home buying is not only a big financial commitment, but also an emotional one. It’s critical that the REALTOR® you chose is both highly skilled and a good fit with your personality.

2. Remember, there’s no “right” time to buy, just as there’s no perfect time to sell. If you find a home now, don’t try to second-guess interest rates or the housing market by waiting longer — you risk losing out on the home of your dreams. The housing market usually doesn’t change fast enough to make that much difference in price, and a good home won’t stay on the market long.

3. Don’t ask for too many opinions. It’s natural to want reassurance for such a big decision, but too many ideas from too many people will make it much harder to make a decision. Focus on the wants and needs of your immediate family — the people who will be living in the home.

4. Accept that no house is ever perfect. If it’s in the right location, the yard may be a bit smaller than you had hoped. The kitchen may be perfect, but the roof needs repair. Make a list of your top priorities and focus in on things that are most important to you. Let the minor ones go.


5. Don’t try to be a killer negotiator. Negotiation is definitely a part of the real estate process, but trying to “win” by getting an extra-low price or by refusing to budge on your offer may cost you the home you love. Negotiation is give and take.

6. Remember your home doesn’t exist in a vacuum. Don’t get so caught up in the physical aspects of the house itself — room size, kitchen, etc. — that you forget about important issues as noise level, location to amenities, and other aspects that also have a big impact on your quality of life.

7. Plan ahead. Don’t wait until you’ve found a home and made an offer to get approved for a mortgage, investigate home insurance, and consider a schedule for moving. Presenting an offer contingent on a lot of unresolved issues will make your bid much less attractive to sellers.

8. Factor in maintenance and repair costs in your post-home buying budget. Even if you buy a new home, there will be costs. Don’t leave yourself short and let your home deteriorate.

9. Accept that a little buyer’s remorse is inevitable and will probably pass. Buying a home, especially for the first time, is a big financial commitment. But it also yields big benefits. Don’t lose sight of why you wanted to buy a home and what made you fall in love with the property you purchased.

10. Choose a home first because you love it; then think about appreciation. While U.S. homes have appreciated an average of 5.4 percent annually over from 1998 to 2002, a home’s most important role is to serve as a comfortable, safe place to live.

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About Ral Partha

This is pulled from a letter from me to Bob Olley, a sculptor in England:
Since you never visited Partha, let me paint a quick picture. Let’s start with the fact that Cincinnati is not the most beautiful city in America. It’s not Detroit, but it is a failing/failed industrial town. This city was a river port back in the days when the Ohio River was an economically viable route to the Mississippi and beyond.

I've always felt the face of this miniature looked like Jack Hesselbrock.
I’ve always felt the face of this miniature looked like Jack Hesselbrock.

In the worst section of the worst part of this town there was a battery factory. When the battery factory failed or moved away, Ral Partha moved in. The facility looked like it was built upon oil-stained lead shavings mixed with gravel. The warehouse/factory was a cinder-block hovel with a wood-frame ceiling. The executive offices and sculpting studio was a cramped house filled with the dreams, fantasy posters, miniatures and collectible oddities. A thin layer of industrial dust covered everything in the cramped messy house. Taken together, it was a vertigo inducing mixture that made the minds of game junkies and fantasy dreamers swoon.

The “house” had sculptors on the second floor. That’s where I met Jim Johnson (he mainly sculpts for Reaper now) and Jeff Wilhelm. The first floor of the house had Jack Hesselbrock.

Jack was a natural salesman, a down to earth guy and the type who would play a fighter in the RPG. You know the guy who just wants to roll dice and kill things. He “quit” smoking years ago, but he always reaked of nicotine and had yellow stained fingers. About once an hour he would steal away to the bathroom, which oddly enough, always smelled like tobacco. Along the same lines, he had one of the thickest manes of hair I’ve ever seen on a man over forty. The Cleric Brown (TM by Ral Partha Paints) hair on the top of his head seemed a shade lighter than the hair at his collar at the rear of his head. Jack had an infectuous smile and easy demeanor that quickly won him friends. Jack always bragged about how he was good with the money and how he was the only “business man” at Partha. Jack didn’t have much interest in games anymore and he didn’t really care about the product other than he wanted it to sell.

Chuck was brooding, critical and acerbic. At conventions he liked to dress like Henry VIII and he gave a pretty good likeness—except for the fact that I never pictured Henry VIII as so likable and easy-going as Chuck. (He was always in a better mood at conventions.) Chuck loved miniatures and games and game conventions. He came to life when discussing the difference between a stone troll and a river troll. Chuck’s office was in the factory and it was his job to oversee production and keep everything running smoothly. But Chuck didn’t do that. Chuck didn’t do much of anything. He didn’t like work and he hated Jack. He felt like Jack didn’t know the business because Jack not only didn’t know the difference between a river troll and a stone troll, Jack didn’t frankly give a shit what the difference was between a river troll and a stone troll.

Because Chuck never really lifted a finger to do anywork, someone had to manage production. That person was Mike Noe. Mike looked like Jesus with tatoos wearing a chain on his wallet and low-cut jeans over biker’s boots. I never had the balls to tell him to his face, but I always saw Mike Noe as a bit of a Wormtongue. He had started off pouring lead into spincasters and by kissing Chuck’s rear he had worked his way into a(n albiet filthy) office. He had lifted all of Chuck’s duties from Chuck, except he let Chuck name the figures. That was the one thing which was sacred to Chuck. He picked the name that went on every package.
As a side note, I remember arguing with Chuck about the “Barbarian Empire”. I said they can’t be barbarians and an empire. By definition barbarians are … BARBARIC. Savages don’t build roads, collect taxes and raise legions. Barbarians muster hordes. Chuck won.
Back to the point, Mike Noe was smart enough to let Chuck think and do as he pleased. All the while he would tell Chuck, “If only you were running the company, everything would be better.”
This fiction pleased Chuck greatly and blinded Chuck to Mike’s other flaws. Meanwhile Mike would wink and nod to Jack and say, “Yeah, we all know Chuck doesn’t do anything.”

This strategy meant that Mike was indispensable in Jack’s eyes, because Chuck was worthless. By the same token, Mike was always undermining Jack. Mike wanted nothing more than to depose Jack and set up Chuck as “king” because then Mike would really be running the show. Meanwhile, Mike was a hero of sorts to the marijuana-infested bikers who worked hot pewters in a cancer-causing carcass of industry.

To those bikers who made little more than minimum wage, he made himself out like he was their hero—a man of the people who wanted nothing more than to give them all raises (were it not for that damn Chuck and Jack holding him back). They loved Mike because he was the defender of the afternoon pot-break.

Now onto this heaping pile of dung throw this tidbit: Jack was married to Chuck’s ex-wife. That’s right. You don’t have to reread that sentence. I’ll type it again. Jack started banging Chuck’s wife before Chuck divorced her. I spent the night at Jack’s house and met his wife. Nice lady. Nice house. She said Jack was so good with money, and Jack was so industrious. Jack’s house had nothing in it which might indicate that he had anything to do with Partha. He had a nice billiard table in the basement, but our game was the first time he had played in years.
Chuck’s house, as Jack and his wife liked to point out, was inherited. Chuck’s parents left it to him and though it was in good condition when they passed away, it was not much improved since then. Chuck’s wife was a little younger and a real fan of Xena the Warrior Princess. Chuck met her at a convention and she jumped his bones when she found out he was the “rich and famous” owner of Partha. She later learned what others knew. Being “famous” wasn’t all it was cracked up to be, and Chuck had pissed away any opportunities at riches long ago. Chuck and I played a game about the Battle of Britain the night I stayed with him. He was like a kid. It was a load of fun as my Luftwaffe took his Limey bastards out of the air. He gave me the game afterwords. He gave me lots of other cool Partha momentos.
Chuck and Jack had a cordial but cold business relationship. They both talked about the nut in the other building and how Partha would be better off without the other one. But to my mind, Partha needed them both. Jack was the mind and Chuck was the soul. The worst part was, rather than working together, they worked to sabotage each other. For example,Chuck would only listen to Jack when he knew an idea would fail. This was so he could prove to Jack what an idiot Jack was. Jack was not to bright when it came to the games, but he knew enough to know that Chuck was just about worthless. He treated Chuck like he was worthless so that he became more worthless. Quite sad.

There were three other partners: a lawyer (who didn’t much care about the thing—I never met him), Tom Mieir, and Rich Smethurst (a postman who loved games nearly as much as Chuck). Three out of five of these partners put Jack in charge. Tom Mieir was bitter because in his opinion he had been screwed out of royalties by Partha.

Rich just wanted free lead. (He was the nicest guy and the best person I ever met who had anything to do with Partha.) I think Rich had it all figured out. He would deliver mail and occaisionally come to the factory to cast his own figures. If Partha made money that was just a bonus.

I don’t know the last pieces of this puzzle, but I think I know the characters well enough to guess how it played out. Mixing fact with conjecture, I’ll tell you how Mike Noe orchestrated the sale to FASA. TSR had recently been acquired by WotC and WotC was planning on pulling the licensing from Partha. This would take away at least 40% of Partha’s business. FASA counted for another 30% of Partha’s business and they knew they had Ral Partha over a barrel. If they took away the license, Partha wouldn’t be finished but they would be in deep trouble. So FASA both threatened to take the license away but also offered to buy the company.

Tom M. and the lawyer wanted out. They always voted to sell. Chuck and Jack were like some sort of brothers from literature—bound for life to the beast called Partha and a shared union with a woman. They would never vote to sell. Rich didn’t care if it made money or not. Why sell? He just wanted more figures.

But Mike Noe wanted to be the king beneath the king. So on one of the Wiesmans’ (FASA owners) many visits to Partha Mike laid out the plan to take the company. The Wiesmans cut a secret deal to promise to put Chuck in charge after the sale. Chuck voted to sell and thus stabbed his baby, his one true love, Ral Partha in the heart. True to their word, the dudes from Chicago fired Jack and put Chuck in charge … for a time.
Chuck couldn’t manage a damn thing. So, in the end Chuck got the axe and Mike got what he wanted. Mike was lord of Partha.
But then in a generous twist of Fate, the Wiesman’s dicked over Mike Noe. They orchestrated the bankruptcy of Partha, looting all that they could before leaving the whole thing in a twisted and failed mess. Of course, afterwards Mike Noe took over Iron Wind Metals and he at last had his kingdom, but to my mind he was better off as a lieutenant in the best and brightest miniature company on the planet than a king of a cancer-ridden pile of shit.

This probably would make an interesting novel and this is only the half of it.

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About the AuthorWill Nesbitt is the principal broker of Condo Alexandria / Nesbitt Realty. Will is a realtor who specializes in condos, townhouses and single family real estate in Alexandria, Arlington, Fairfax County, Crystal City, and Kingstowne. Will resides in Belle Haven Estates just outside Alexandria VA in Fairfax County.

9 Tips to Guide for Your Home Search

1. Research before you look. Decide what features you most want to have in a home, what neighborhoods you prefer, and how much you’d be willing to spend each month for housing.

Midtown Alexandria Station
entrance to Midtown Alexandria Station condos

2. Be realistic. It’s OK to be picky, but don’t be unrealistic with your expectations. There’s no such thing as a perfect home. Use your list of priorities as a guide to evaluate each property.

3. Get your finances in order. Review your credit report and be sure you have enough money to cover your down payment and closing costs. Then, talk to a lender and get prequalified for a mortgage. This will save you the heartache later of falling in love with a house you can’t afford.

4. Don’t ask too many people for opinions. It will drive you crazy. Select one or two people to turn to if you feel you need a second opinion, but be ready to make the final decision on your own.

5. Decide your moving timeline. When is your lease up? Are you allowed to sublet? How tight is the rental market in your area? All of these factors will help you determine when you should move.

6. Think long term. Are you looking for a starter house with plans to move up in a few years, or do you hope to stay in this home for a longer period? This decision may dictate what type of home you’ll buy as well as the type of mortgage terms that will best suit you.

7. Insist on a home inspection. If possible, get a warranty from the seller to cover defects for one year.

Julie Nesbitt
Julie Nesbitt

8. Get help from a REALTOR®. Hire a real estate professional who specializes in buyer representation. Unlike a listing agent, whose first duty is to the seller, a buyer’s representative is working only for you. Buyer’s reps are usually paid out of the seller’s commission payment.

9. Check out Nesbitt Realty. Our search tools and tips are among the best you’ll find in Northern Virginia.

Are you ready to buy a home?

All across Northern Virginia, people are looking to a buy home – either now or in the future. Over the last few years, lower interest rates have come along, making it more affordable than ever to buy a home. In order to buy a house, you’ll need to start saving your money and have enough for the closing costs and a down payment. Check out our Closing Cost Estimator and talk to an agent to get an idea of what you need to have on hand to make your home purchase.

In most cases, the closing costs will run you around 5% of the property price. Before you purchase the home, you should always get an estimate. An estimate won’t be the exact price, although it will be really close. You should always plan to save up a bit more money than you need, just to be on the safe side. It’s always best to have more than enough than not enough.

You’ll know your ready to buy a home when you know exactly how much you can afford, and you’re willing to stick with your plan. When you buy a home and get your monthly mortgage payment, it shouldn’t be any more than 25% of your total monthly income. Although there are lenders out there who will say that you can afford to pay more, you should never let them talk you into doing so – but stick to your budget instead.

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