March 29th, 2009 Published by: mrathbun
Caroline Virginia Blog
ways you can participate in HOME’s mission…just
Thanks for reviewing my newsletter. This not so often!
is a publication of articles from my Blog at
www.CarolineVABlog.com. If you're looking for We want you to share with everyone you know that
new and more devious foreclosure scams are growing
community information, please visit our site!
in this tight economy. Help Is Free! Foreclosure
Rescue Scammers are finding all kinds of ways to
make a buck off of those that are at the brink of losing
Beware of Scammers their home due to job loss or other circumstance.
By Jennifer Rathbun on March 29th, 2009
This week I had someone call me to say, “We’re calling
to updated your warranty information. I’m pulling up your • There is never a fee to get assistance or
record and all be right back.” Yes, this was a live person! information about Making Home Affordable
Before I could say hello, they put me on hold. Once it dawned from your lender or a HUD-approved housing
on me that they did not even say what kind of warranty that counselor (like HOME).
needed updating, I just hung up the phone. But then I got
• Beware of any person or organization that
upset! Another scammer trying to use an unsecure world to fill
asks you to pay a fee in exchange for
their pockets and further harm my family.
housing counseling services or modification of
Housing Opportunities Made Equal (HOME for short) sent a delinquent loan. Do not pay – walk away!
out a great little email this week reminding us of the dangers
• Beware of anyone who says they can “save”
of scammers trying to hurt families that are already facing
your home if you sign or transfer over the deed
foreclosure. Here’s a copy of the email with appropriate links.
to your house. Do not sign over the deed to your
If you feel that someone has contacted you illegally, please
property to any organization or individual
contact HOME. And beware of scammers!
unless you are working directly with your
mortgage company to forgive your debt.
• Never submit your mortgage payments to
During the General Assembly session, we sent you
anyone other than your mortgage company
weekly updates about legislative actions affecting
without their approval
you and other Virginians. You will continue to get
regular HOME email updates on news of note and
This year the Virginia General Assembly did pass a
bill that clarified that it is ILLEGAL to charge a fee
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March 29th, 2009 Published by: mrathbun
before completing services to help prevent or avoid School Board member Wendell Sims said,
foreclosure. If the Governor signs the bill into law, it “$400,000 represents eight teaching positions. The
will go into effect on July 1, 2009. However, this will net result could be layoffs and increased class sizes.”
not stop scammers from taking advantage of people. Wayne Acors, supervisors chairman, said
You must protect yourself. There are many websites supervisors can’t give out money they don’t have.
out there that appear to be official government
“There are things that we aren’t going to be able to
assistance sites, but instead they are scammers just
fund that we have in the past,” he said. “This year is
waiting to prey on your money and your home.
an extremely trying time for us all, individually and
Please use HOME’s website (www.phonehome.org)
as a county.”
as a resource. Click on the President’s “Making Home
Affordable Initiative” on our homepage for more One question was about changes in the Career and
information and tips. Technical Education program. Supervisor Floyd
Thomas was concerned about the elimination of the
Thanks for helping to protect your friends,
automotive technology class. Superintendent Greg
neighbors, and family members as you continue to
Killough said enrollment for that class has dropped
support HOME’s mission. Please donate online now.
from 40 to 16 students.
To give those students other options, the school
Myra budgeted $114,000 in new CTE programs, which
Myra Howard include fashion design, banking and police science.
Vice President of External Affairs But Supervisor Jeff Sili wasn’t sure if this was the
time to start new programs.
Housing Opportunities Made Equal of Virginia, Inc.
(HOME) “$114,000 to stop a child from being out in the
streets? “Yes, it is worth it,” Killough said. “Every
700 E. Franklin St. Suite 3A Richmond, VA 23219
dollar we put into a child is worth it, or we may have
804-354-0641 x155 to deal with them later.”
“Ensuring Equal Access to Housing for All People” Ashcraft said the supervisors will make a decision on
the school budget by May 1.
I’m glad I’m not the one who has to answer for the decisions.
1. How Many Homes are There? From the Real Estate The Board of Supervisors and School Board are having to look
Professional, Nov/Dec 2008 Edition…. For those of... at the same unanswerable questions as many other companies
2. What one county has done to help with Foreclosures and county officials.
Foreclosures hurt neighborhoods. The vacant homes are not only
I’ve expressed before this question, and I’ll say it again. If I
were faced with these decisions, I would choose the majority of
3. Foreclosures up 300% over this time last year I read this the school body and academics and get rid of extracurricular
after school functions. Yes, I participated in sports in school,
here at CNNMoney.com today. NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com)...
but no one ever asked me how I did in football at a job
Related posts brought to you by Yet Another Related Posts interview. My vote? Keep the teachers and save money on
Plugin. sports and additional activity buses activity, until the school
can easily support all of it.
Caroline Still Struggles over I’d also be interested to see statistics showing that those who
took vocational training in high school used it in later life.
School Budget Most people I know who went on to higher education, did not
By Matthew Rathbun on March 29th, 2009 sustain a career in their Major. To allocate funds to “fashion
design” which may steal a young persons heart, but results
Portsia Smith reported this at the Free Lance Star:
in very few successful careers, seems to be a disservice to the
A $400,000 difference in what the School Board wants and student. I’m with Mr. Sili, to even breath “new programs” and
what Caroline County’s top official proposes could determine “termination of educators” in the same breath is pretty much
whether teachers lose their jobs. a no-brainer decision.
The Board of Supervisors said they wanted more Related posts:
time to review the $11.7 million school budget and
did not vote on it Tuesday night. 1. Budget Discussion Here’s the Article from the Free Lance Star
County Administrator Percy Ashcraft proposes
$11.3 million for the school system next year, which 2. Budget Shortfalls It’s been a difficult year for everyone…. Most
the School Board says will have consequences. counties in...
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March 29th, 2009 Published by: mrathbun
3. Budget Business I applaud Caroline County for working so 2. What Could the Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac Invasion
Mean to You? I’ve been trying to research this bail-out this week.
diligently on the...
Related posts brought to you by Yet Another Related Posts
3. Is it time to invest? Are you interested in investment property
or now that prices...
Interest Rates Drop Again Related posts brought to you by Yet Another Related Posts
By Jennifer Rathbun on March 27th, 2009
Interest rates are continuing to drop and sales are picking up!
Make Your Home Beautiful For
This may be a bit of good news for sellers. Over the last week,
you or for Buyers
there has been a giant leap of interest in the housing market!
Realty Times is talking about Freddy Mac’s low rates… By Jennifer Rathbun on March 26th, 2009
Realtor Magazine created a great little article on Staging your
One-year Treasury-indexed ARMs averaged 4.85
home without breaking the bank, with their permission, I’m
percent this week with an average 0.6 point, down
reposting the article here!
from last week when it averaged 4.91 percent. At
this time last year, the 1-year ARM averaged 5.24 Let us know if any of these work for you or if you have your
percent. own ideas! I like the de-cluttering ideas.
quot;The Federal Reserve’s announcement that it intends And if you did not vote in the housing poll, we’d love to have
to purchase Treasury securities over the next six your input!
months caused bond yields to drop and mortgage
rates followed,quot; said Frank Nothaft, Freddie Mac
vice president and chief economist. quot;Rates for 30-
Yr FRMs peaked last year at 6.63 percent on July
Staging on a Budget
24th. With this week’s 30-Yr FRM, the interest
rate difference is almost 2 percentage points, which What’s your best, most affordable staging idea?
amounts to a savings of about $225 in monthly Dozens of real estate pros offer their best tips.
mortgage payments for a $200,000 loan.quot;
By Melissa Dittmann Tracey | March 2009
quot;And potential homebuyers are taking notice of
REALTORÂ® Magazine asked readers of our Daily
these historically low mortgage rates. Both new and
Real Estate News e-mail to send in their best tips for
existing home sales rose 5 percent in February. First-
sprucing up listings on the cheap. Here are some of
time homebuyers accounted for half of all existing
the quick, creative ideas that poured into our inbox.
home sales, according to the National Association
of RealtorsÂ®. In addition, mortgage applications LIVING ROOMS
for home purchases consecutively rose over the first
Create a Focal Point
three weeks in March, based on figures published by
quot;Pick out the most visible corner and put a large
the Mortgage Bankers Association.quot;
plant—I’ve found that silk trees work best. Set up
For the full article click here: Another Record Low Set for a spotlight behind it so it lights up the leaves and
Long-Term Mortgage Rates This Week throws an interesting shadow on another wall. It
really makes a difference in a person’s perception of
We still have a lot of homes to sell so prices will stay low for
the space, especially if it’s a large room without too
a while, but once the number of available homes diminishes,
much natural lighting.quot;
then prices will go up. We don’t know if that will happen or if
we’re in for another round of foreclosures which will keep the —Izabela Stone, Keller Williams Realty, Apollo
prices low. Beach, Fla.
Could you get a home for a lower price if you just wait a Set Up a Chat Room
little while longer?? There’s no magic 8 Ball. You might. But
quot;Be sure that the living room furniture is positioned
the interest rates may also rise. The number in inventory will
for conversation as well as entertainment. Potential
affect the price.
buyers should be able to easily envision sitting in a
In 5 years will you say, “I wish I had bought back then?” space where they can easily talk without having to
move a chair or turn completely around.quot;
—Rana Lindhorst and Troy Schmidt, Prudential One
1. Interest Rate Fees A Good Friend of mine in Philadelphia, Realty Centre, Edwardsville, Ill.
Pennsylvania shared a...
Get Rid of Carpet Dents
quot;Furniture often leaves indentations in the carpet.
When a piece of furniture is moved, I tell my clients
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March 29th, 2009 Published by: mrathbun
to put medium-sized ice cubes in the imprints. As the stands, to appear as nightstands, entryway pieces,
ice melts, it causes the compacted carpet to expand or any other decorated ‘table.’quot;
and erase those imprints.quot; —Jannel Lee Allen, Keller Williams Realty, Livonia,
—Shawn Moss, Century 21 C.R. O’Neil & Co. Mich.
Accent Special Features Add Luxurious, Affordable Touches
quot;Place an accent by a home’s feature, such as an quot;If the master bedroom is too boring (and most
attractive plant near a fireplace to draw the eye to are), I have my sellers go out and buy a new
it or a tall palm or two in place that directs the luxury comforter set with bed skirt, throw pillows,
buyer toward another part of the home or suggests a matching valances, etc. We have a Burlington Coat
separation of areas. This also ensures that someone Factory here that sells dramatic sets with rich,
often enters the home to care for it.quot; embellished material for around $100. The right set
will totally transform a boring master bedroom into
—Susan Cramer, HomeSmart Real Estate,
a luxury hotel suite.quot;
—Karen Walton, Share Realty, Midlothian, Va.
Invoke the Outdoors
Try a Dramatic Fabric Backdrop
quot;Use a little nature in each room. I create a flow
throughout the home using cuttings, flowers, dried quot;One surefire way to dress up a plain bedroom
flowers, whatever will work. Simple things, such as is to hang sheers, fabric or draperies on the wall
twigs to spell out a word or a small cutting tied behind the bed. (I often remove window treatments
with raffia around a pillow on a bed, draw the eye from the other windows to allow more light in and
into the room but don’t overpower it. I have even then use these for the fabric backdrop.) It serves
used a branch cutting to make a ‘tree’ in an empty as a headboard, visually raising the ceilings and,
corner. I try to use one piece of nature in each room particularly in a master suite, adds a sense of
to create an ongoing theme throughout the home. It elegance and luxury. It’s inexpensive but packs a
works with any type of decor, whether it’s modern dramatic punch.quot;
or traditional. One important note: Always check for —Liz Harrison, Spruce it Up! Home Staging and
insects!quot; Room Redesign, Salem, Ore.
—Lauren Scurlock, North Star Real Estate Inc.,
Virginia Beach, Va.
Add Bathroom Elegance
quot;Get some decorative hand towels, tie a sheer ribbon
Bring Your Own Bed around them, and place them on towel racks in all
quot;I have a great way to add a bed to a vacant of the bathrooms. This does wonders to dress up the
bedroom. I arrange moving boxes into the shape of a bathrooms of your listings. I also put some dried
bed, and then I dress it up with nice bedding. It takes flowers and candles in complementary colors to add
about half an hour and it’s really inexpensive.quot; a little more pizzazz.quot;
—Haley Hwang, e-pro, Coldwell Banker, Glenview,
—Kria Lacher, Meadows Group Inc., RealtorsÂ®,
Put a Lid on It
Make a Bed
quot;The best thing you can do for your home, vacant or
Another trick to add a bed: quot;Purchase an inexpensive
not, is to close all the drains, sinks, and tubs; close
air mattress that has a folding frame off the floor.
all the lids on all the toilets; close all the closet doors;
Once the bedding is on and staged, it’s hard to tell
and let all the sun in. You’ll get amazing immediate
the air mattress from a real bed. After the home sells,
results and the cost is zero dollars.quot;
all the client has to do is deflate, fold and pack.quot;
—Judith Preston, HomeSmart International,
—Jackie Limsky, ABRÂ®, TX Cyber Homes, Hank
Make the Old New Again
Get a Fabric Donation
quot;I recently listed a big house built in 1979. In the
quot;Here is an inexpensive staging tip: Ask a local
master bathroom was a sunken cultured marble
fabric shop to donate beautiful fabrics. Use it to
bathtub and matching his and hers marble vanity
tops in swirly 1970’s brown. The shower stall tile
following: an air mattress with a not-so-great was gold and white speckled. The cost to update this
comforter (cover the comforter with an over-sized bathroom would be a lot. So we got the tub and
sheet, and then place a nice fabric in the middle or shower stall painted with epoxy paint in white and
end of the bed). Or use the fabric to cover TV dinner
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the marble tops a white with little tan specks. It was a tray (wood, silver, glass, etc.) with two coffee cups
a huge improvement for about $800.quot; and a small package of Starbucks coffee displayed
between the cups, and pretty paper or cloth napkins.
—Linda Walker, Main Street Real Estate, Garland,
Also, find a large glass—or pottery bowl—and fill
it with individual candies, pre-packaged crackers,
pretzels, etc. It looks nice and each buyer who comes
through can grab a snack from the bowl. It’ll help
COLOR AND LIGHTING
them remember your listing.quot;
—Trina Griffith, Summers Real Estate Group,
quot;The moment the potential buyer walks into the front Longview, Texas
door they should be ‘wowed’ by the rooms on either
side of the entry. Paint a nice neutral khaki color
allowing for the painted or stained wood work to quot;If your listing has some green features (EnergyStar
stand out. Make the color bold enough to make a appliances, generator, double-paned windows,
difference, not just an off white. Tans and khaki’s bamboo flooring), continue the theme with
‘warm’ the space.quot; strategically placed soy candles, homemade guest
soaps, and green cleaning products under the sink
—Julie C. Preston, GRI, REALTORÂ®/interior
area. People will notice!quot;
designer, Indianapolis, Ind.
—Peggy Edwards, green, Coldwell Banker, Tampa,
Add a Splash of Color Everywhere
quot;Currently over half the homes we list are vacant
and can look very sterile in photos. We ask sellers
to neutralize their wall colors and carpet, but then DE-CLUTTER
we discover all the photos of the interior look
Expand the Closet
similar and boring. Our best staging tip is to add
bright, bold colors to the kitchen and bathrooms quot;One of the most overlooked areas of staging is the
with accessories, towels, and plants. Red is a call- closet. Most people will unclutter and move boxes out
to-action color. A vase with red flowers can add of the closet but forget about the hanging clothes. I
interest to the photo when placed on a kitchen island tell my clients to remove the clothes they only wear
or bar. We like burgundy or black towels in a neutral once in a while. If the closet still looks stuffed, remove
bathroom and green silk plants in the living areas. more. The ideal closet will have significant space
A colorful picture over the fireplace mantle with (two hangers worth) between the next hanger.quot;
a couple of vases on each side can make a great —Joseph F. San Angelo, Coldwell Banker Real
vignette in the family room.quot; Estate, Clifton, N.J.
—Holly Janney, Realty Executives Associates, Offer Before and After Photos
quot;Have owners pack everything they don’t use daily
Light It Up and put in storage or in the garage. It neutralizes the
quot;Replace the light bulbs in the home with higher home and allows buyers to picture their family living
wattage bulbs. Buyers like ‘light and bright,’ and the there. It creates a sense of cleanliness and order by
brighter light bulbs make all the difference in the having clean countertops, sparsely decorated walls
world. Inexpensive and easy!quot; and minimal furniture. I give sellers before and after
photos of other staged homes and remind them that
—Ann Bishop, Ann & Denny Bishop Group,
this is how model homes sell.quot;
RealtorsÂ®, Wichita Falls, Texas
—Amy Herring, Keller Williams, Tallahassee, Fla.
Create a Neutral Pallet
quot;When I first meet with potential clients planning
Tease Their Noses to put their house on the market, I walk through
the home with them and make a detailed list of
quot;I believe in appealing to all five senses of a buyer,
all furniture, clothing, and miscellaneous items that
including smell. I always put something in the oven
should be packed away. Staging a home requires
like apple pie or fresh bread.quot;
that each space be defined, but that personal items
—Chad C. Caramanna, Shadetree Realty Group Inc.,
and clutter be non-existent. Potential buyers need to
see a neutral pallet: Rooms that they can envision
Accessorize themselves living. I then pay for the delivery and
removal of a Smartbox portable storage unit as part
quot;Adding decorative items in the kitchen can warm
of my marketing strategy.quot;
up the area and make it more ‘cozy’. Go to a thrift or
resale shop and get great deals on glass items. Use
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March 29th, 2009 Published by: mrathbun
—Carrie Mock, Long and Foster Real Estate, —Larry Stewart, Deborah Myers Real Estate Inc.,
Annapolis, Md. San Antonio, Texas
Nix Those Personal Photos
quot;Make sure there are no personal photos to be seen SPECIAL TOUCHES
anywhere in your listing. Pack them up or put them Create a DVD of the Home
away. Buyers tend to stop and see who lives there,
quot;Have the sellers make a short DVD of fun times that
which takes them away from seeing the home’s
they had in the home and surrounding area. Make
the DVD run on a loop on the TV and use it to show
—Kyle Davis, RE/MAX Select Properties Inc., potential buyers the area, neighborhood amenities,
Ashburn, Va. proximity to parks museums, etc. It is easy and cost
Don’t Let Furniture Get in the Way effective.quot;
quot;I think one of my top staging tips is to arrange —Scott Holland, Top100AZhomes.com, Phoenix
the furniture so that it does not block any of the Frame a Local Scene
home’s features and allows for easy traffic flow.
quot;Frame pictures from inexpensive calendars and
Sometimes that means removing some furniture—
place them throughout the home. Look for pictures
the more furniture in a room, the smaller the room
that reflect nature and themes for the local area. We
don’t want buyers to wish they were in Aruba while
—Jean Risha, Greenwood King Properties, Houston, looking at a home in snowy Michigan!quot;
—Jannel Lee Allen, Keller Williams Realty, Livonia,
EXTERIORS Showcase Designer Bags
Say ‘Welcome Home’ quot;I stagger colorful, logo, designer, retail bags in
quot;There’s nothing more pleasing than a front step or different sizes and shapes and place them on the
porch with bright and cheerful planters filled with shelves in the walk-in closets in the master bedroom,
plants and flowers. It says ‘welcome to your new linen closet as well as other closets. It creates a fun
home!’quot; visual and people think it is unique and clever. Plus,
it is basically free. You just tell the stores that you
—Carol Anderson, abrÂ®, green, Coastline Realty, are staging your seller’s home and would love to
Cape May, N.J. advertise their company with their bags. They love
the idea of getting free publicity. I put crumpled up
Create a Curb Appeal Checklist
tissue in the bag to give them body. I use bags from
quot;A top item on the staging list should be curb appeal
Neiman Marcus, Coldwater Creek, Chico’s, Crate
items (you can’t get people in if they don’t like the
& Barrel, Pier 1, St. John, Coach, Victoria Secret,
drive-by): Trim shrubs, fix peeling paint, and add
and Nordstrom. Also, since the bags can lie flat, the
greens or planters near the entrance.quot;
storage factor is very efficient.quot;
—Lori Geraci, Bannon & Hebert Properties LLC,
—Robyn Starr Dezendorf, Keller Williams Realty
Portland Premiere, Portland, Ore.
Entice Them at the Entrance
Customize the Art
quot;Tighten any loose doors or cabinets and re-stain,
quot;Buy a couple of iron easels and place them in
paint, or varnish doors. Paint the trim on floors and
different rooms. On the easel, place a mirror or
ceilings. Also, paint outside trims and nicks on the
framed art that complements the colors of the walls
house, especially where clients come into the house.quot;
or floors. Or, prepare a large poster with photos
—Rhonda Burns, Windermere Real Estate, and additional information about the house. This is
Wentachee, Wash. inexpensive, yet provides a focal point of interest in
Stage the Lawn
—Trina Griffith, Summers Real Estate Group,
quot;In San Antonio the grass is usually parched by the
end of the summer. For my fall listings, I purchase a
bag of winter rye grass seed and apply it generously Redo the Doghouse
to dried-out lawns of my listings. I advice sellers to
quot;Freshen and consolidate pet areas. Purchase new
water the grass frequently for a few weeks until it
bowls, etc., to indicate upkeep and freshness. Choose
begins to sprout. Soon the lawn is emerald green,
one place to house pet beds and litter boxes; the
and it stays that way through the end of April, at
laundry or utility rooms or garage space may be
which time the regular grass should be recovering.quot;
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Hard Change I Don’t Agree With
“The stimulus money we’ll be getting is fairly small
For Caroline compared to the $2.6 billion revenue shortfall,” he
The Caroline Progress (who I really wish would setup an RSS
This saddens me, as the Caroline roadways are in need of more
feeds, like other newspapers) reported that VDOT will be
help and not less. The dedicated folks of the local offices are
closing the local Residency.
constantly out and about working and there seems to be more
work than manpower, as it is. Yet, Northern Virginia has folks
Despite resolution, local VDOT office will close
leaning against shovels…
Ed Simmons Jr.
When we recently had our 8-9 inches of snow, there was an
Though the Bowling Green Town Council
obvious difference in the resources and manpower allocations
passed a resolution last Thursday opposing the
to snow removal and safety leaving Caroline and driving
possible closing of the Virginia Department of
through Spotsylvania and Fredericksburg.
Transportation Bowling Green Residency Office,
VDOT Administrator Charles Stunkle said Tuesday I know this was a difficult decision, but non-the-less; I don’t
it is “pretty definite” the residency will close. understand why an already underserved area has to suffer
Expressing his concern, Bowling Green Mayor more loss of service. Perhaps I’m missing something. I’m
David Storke said, “What’ll happen is they’ll lump willing to listen.
Caroline with Stafford and Spotsylvania, and
Caroline will get the least of the attention.”
1. Is VDOT Closing the Bowling Green Office? I read this
Stunkle, who is administrator at the VDOT Bowling
article this morning, from the Free Lance...
Green Residency, said that statewide 44 residencies
2. Caroline County Board of Supervisors Agenda
are being reduced to 29, and the one in Bowling
6-12-2008 One of the
Green is on the list to close. many cool things about
www.CarolineAlert.com is the...
What will happen to the 12 to 14 employees is not 3. All Real Estate is local! There are some great REALTORS out
yet certain, he said, adding, “There’s hope that many there working hard to...
of the positions will be taken care of by attrition or
retirement.” Related posts brought to you by Yet Another Related Posts
“Some of them live in Bowling Green,” said the
Affected are administrative employees only.
Maintenance employees headquartered next door at
the Farmers Area Headquarters will not be affected,
nor will those at the Ladysmith Headquarters,
though there may be a slight reduction in some
The VDOT Bowling Green Residency administers the
roads not only in Caroline but in Essex and King
William Counties. Essex and King William will now
be administered in Saluta.
VDOT announced February 19 it will lay off
450 hourly employees statewide this month to
help reduce staffing costs. The cuts are designed
to address the projected $2.6 billion shortfall in
transportation revenues during the next six years.
Stunkel said VDOT will reduce its staff of 8,330 to
7,500 by July 1, for a total cut of 830 jobs.
Stunkel said a closing date for the Bowling Green
residency has not yet been determined. He added
that he “seriously doubted” that federal stimulus
money would keep the residency open.
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