Florida Real Estate News

Fort Lauderdale News

Updated: Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Summer Dcor Trends: What to Look for When Decking out Your Deck or Patio

This year, itrsquo;s all about color, texture, and a little something different. Here are the six looks we canrsquo;t live without for summer.

1. A fancy seating area

We love the intricacy of the pattern on this rattan set second chair not shown, and it was surprisingly comfortable. Beware red wine drinkers and those with kids: Those white pads may not stay white for long. Also, beware those with animals: itrsquo;s pretty delicate. Especially if you have cats that like to, you know, claw stuff. You might want to go with something more sturdy. Still, we love the idea of this for a balcony or private outdoor space that doesnrsquo;t see a ton of kid/pet traffic.

2. A fanciful umb>

Yeah, it may not hold up as well as something with Sunb>

3. Fun little pillows

If yoursquo;ve ever been to HomeGoods, you know itrsquo;s filled with aisles and aisles of pillows in every shape, size, and color. You can go the expect route with a neutral color story 100 different ways for your pillowshellip;or you can take a little leap this summer. After all, you can always go back to the store in the fall and change out this inexpensive item. Donrsquo;t you love how fun that palm tree pattern is and how the color gives you an unexpected punch?

4. A whole lotta color

Of course, why stop at just a little color? Seating in a rich huemdash;one that also happens to be inspired by nature, like this greenmdash;can give your outdoor space the jolt it needs.

5. Modern lines

The squared-off shape and gray color gives this set a modern, updated touch, while the worn, wooded touches bring that farmhouse chic vibe. This one is definitely Chip- and Joanna-approved.

6. A bushel of baskets

Woven baskets in a variety of colors and shapes are the perfect way to introduce a worldly, bohemian feel to your outdoor spacehellip;except that these arenrsquo;t woven at all. Like two of the seating areas above No. 4 and No. 5, these baskets are made of an easy-care material that only looks like fragile rattan.


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5 Questions to Ask When Choosing a Kitchen Remodel Design Team

Before putting money down for a deposit on your new kitchen remodel, you need to look at several factors including the years of experience, previous customer reviews, availability, option for cabinets, flooring, and other components, and the cost.

1. How Many Years of Experience Does Your Kitchen Contractor Have?

It doesnt matter if youre doing a small kitchen remodel project or if youre looking at completing a total overhaul; in every situation, you want to hire a kitchen contractor that has the experience to get the job done the right way the first time. While every kitchen contractor and design team has to start from somewhere, you are taking a significant risk allowing someone that hasnt been in business very long to do the work.

The ideal way to select a kitchen remodeling company that has enough knowledge and skill to assist you is by looking at those that have at least five years of work in the industry. That says that they have been able to keep their operation up and going through providing quality work to their customers. If they werent capable of doing what they say they can, then the likelihood of them still being operational after five years isnt very high.

Additionally, if you select a kitchen design team that isnt well-established yet, you could be asked to pay for some or all of the cost of your new kitchen up front. While in some instances there is no issue with getting the work done that way, its another risk youre taking. After you pay your kitchen contractor, theres no reason for them to hurry up and get the work done, or do it all, unfortunately. You could be stuck with an unfinished kitchen remodel for much longer than you expected, or they could disappear with your money.

2. Are There Enough Positive Customer Reviews On Your Kitchen Design Team?

Thanks to technology, the internet, and social media, it isnt hard to find out what other customers experienced when working with a specific kitchen remodeling company. All you really have to do is type in the name of the kitchen contractor youre considering, and within seconds youll see anything positive or negative that others have said about them. While you have to be careful if the reviews seem like they might be scripted, if there are poor ones, you can trust that they are factual.

If there arent any reviews on the kitchen contractor at all, that should also make you leery of hiring them. They might not have as many years of experience as they claim, or perhaps they had to change their name because of all the negative things people were sharing about them. Negative reviews online are nearly impossible to get rid of, so kitchen contractors that have them have been known to change the name of their business instead of trying to get rid of them.

You can always skip the internet enti>

3. Will Your Selected Kitchen Design Experts Be Available?

Some of the best kitchen contractors near you are likely going to be booked out several weeks, months, or even longer in advance. Think about when you want the project done. Also, take into consideration how long you are going to want the kitchen design team in your home. There are plenty out there that will be able to give you an accurate estimate of how long its going to take from start to completion. If they hesitate on being able to share the details with you, then you could be looking at a company that isnt dedicated to completing the job promptly.

When do your research, look for kitchen contractors that have guarantees on their time projections. Many of them will even offer a discount or money back if they go over their time terms. Those are the ones that you can bet will get the job done when they say they will.

4. Does Your Kitchen Contractor Have the Options Youre Looking For?

You might be inclined to think that every kitchen contractor in your area can complete the same tasks and offer you whatever materials and products you want. That isnt necessarily true. Some kitchen remodeling companies will only handle cabinets and flooring, for instance, while others are capable of completely changing the footprint of the room. Here in the Treasure Valley area where our company operates, North Star Kitchen and Bath Remodels pride ourselves in being a full-service remodeling company, that can handle just about any kitchen remodelnbsp;customers are looking for.

Check for kitchen contractors that will give you personal attention, and preferably your very own design team or expert to work alongside from the start to the finish of the job. That way, you can have someone that you will be able to easily describe any custom kitchen cabinets, flooring options, countertop choices, and appliances you have in mind. They should be able to quickly offer you alternatives or let you know that its not something that they are capable of doing.

Select a kitchen remodeling company near you that starts you off with a free estimate. Thats when you can go over in detail exactly what you have in mind, and youll know right away if theyre going to be able to get the job done for you or not. With a free estimate, if they cant, youre not out any money.

5. What is Your New Kitchen Design Going to Cost?

The last thing you want to think about is cost. You dont want to pay prices that are way out of the ballpark compared to the other ones, but you should never go with the cheapest one you find either. If a kitchen remodeling company can offer you a meager price in comparison to the rest youve looked at, its likely they are cutting corners on quality, labor, or the processes that they use.

It is recommended to get at least three different quotes before choosing any one company to work with. That way, you can have a clear idea of how the kitchen design and remodeling industry works, and you can get the results you deserve for your investment.


Scott Merriman is the owner of North Star Kitchen and Bath Remodels which operates in Boise and the greater treasure valley area. nbsp;He has over 18 years of experience working in the remodeling industry and knows how to bring the most value to any remodel when a realtor or homeowner is looking to buy or sell.


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What Happens When Your Sales Contract and Appraisal Dont Agree

An external influence might be someone forced to >

Most often the appraisal reflects the sales price. When an appraisal is ordered, the appraiser receives a copy of the sales contract showing the amount the buyers and sellers agree to. Before the appraiser steps one foot outside there is some initial research completed. The appraiser looks at recent home sales in the area that are similar to the subject property.

In most states, this information is readily available via entries in the public record. Some states however keep this information private. If someone has access to the Multiple Listing Service, this information is easily available. Either way, the appraiser does some initial homework before inspecting the property.

Itrsquo;s important to note there the appraiserrsquo;s job is to establish value and is not the same individual who will physically inspect the property for any seen and unseen defects that need some attention. The appraiserrsquo;s job is to establish value based upon recent sales of homes in the area. If the sales contract says the agreed to price is 250,000 then the appraiser will research other homes in the area and compare them all. Sometimes the appraised value comes in higher than the sales price.

But what some think is this extra value is immediately available to the buyers in the form of equity or even help out with the down payment. Neither applies. If the appraised value comes in higher, well, thatrsquo;s great for the buyers. Itrsquo;s when the appraisal comes in lower that can cause some problems.

The lender will always use the lower of the sales price or appraised value when evaluating a loan application. If the sales price is 250,000 and the appraisal 260,000, the lender still uses 250,000 as the value. If the price is 250,000 and the appraisal 240,000, the lender will use 240,000. This leaves the sellers with a dilemma. Either come in with the extra 10,000 or walk away from the transaction enti>

There might be another option which is to order another appraisal, but the new appraiser will be using the very same information the first one did. Or, the sellers will agree to a new, lower sales price. Most often this is the result because the sellers know theyrsquo;ll more than likely face the same issue with the next offer and understand their property might just be overpriced for the area.


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Save or Splurge? Where You Can Scrimp and Where You Should Put Your Sheckells When It Comes to Home

Furniture

This is a mixed bag. You can get away with an inexpensive coffee table, and you may be able to score a killer deal on a dining table that looks far more expensive than it is. But when it comes to upholstery, proceed with cautionmdash;especially with large pieces. Cheap textiles can pill, rip, wear out easily, and stain permanently. Plus, the material is often scratchy and uncomfortable.

ldquo;The sofanbsp;is one of the most significant items yoursquo;ll ever buy for your home. It takes up a lot of visual space, itrsquo;s important for comfort purposes, and itrsquo;s something you could have for two or even three decades,rdquo; said The Spruce. ldquo;Look for something made with high-quality materials such as kiln-dried hardwood and eight-way hand-tied spring construction, and purchase a >

Art

Many designers will tell you that money is no object when it comes to art. ldquo;Unlike a rug that may get dirty in a couple years or a glass that could end up breaking at your next dinner party, the art you invest in is likely to stay with you for many years, or maybe even a lifetime,rdquo; said Real Simple. ldquo;The key is to take your time finding art you love, that yoursquo;ll want to spend years living with, and that fits your >

We agree with all of that, except for the ldquo;need to splurgerdquo; part. Itrsquo;s gonna be awhile before wersquo;re playing with Picasso money. In the meantime, we love finding great new resources to buy inexpensive artmdash;especially those that allow us to support emerging artists instead of buying stuff thatrsquo;s mass-produced. From Society6 to Minted to to Etsy, there are a number of places you can find great stuff without a great expense.

Flooring

Skimp out on your flooring and you might find yourself having to redo it soonmdash;or living with the consequences of a poor choice. Everything from a wood product that is made too thin, and therefore is damaged easily, to poor adhesive, to carpet that doesnrsquo;t have the quality to stand up to kids, pets, or everyday use can cause problems sooner than you may expect.

Rugs

ldquo;One of the best items to buy cheap is an area rug, Gen Sohr, one half of the husband-and-wife team behindnbsp;Pencil amp; Paper Co., a Nashville-based interior design firm, said to Real Simple. ldquo;I think there are so many wonderful area rug options that are a complete steal. And really who wants to break the bank on something thats going to eventually get soiled and need to be replaced?rdquo; she says. For an option thatrsquo;s both affordable and durable, she recommends a natural sisal rug, which also hides the appearance of dirt. A flatweave wool rug is another popular option, and Sohr recommends finding deals on Overstock.com or Rugs USA.rdquo;

Mattresses

It can be tempting to go cheap on a mattress simply because it so expensive. But, if you really spend a good third of your life in bed, itrsquo;s worth it to pay for quality. If you canrsquo;t pay outright, itrsquo;s usually possible to get a zero-interest payment plan from a mattress stores if you have decent credit.


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Is It a Good Time for You to Remodel? It May Depend on Where You Live

Increased prices on many items, ldquo;from tile to counter tops, laminates to lighting,rdquo; said CNBC, are painful, thanks to the trade war with China. ldquo;Nearly three out of four remodelers this year reported higher prices for customers due to higher costs for labor, according to a new survey from the National Association of Home Builders,rdquo; they said. And that was before tariffs went from 10 to 25.

ldquo;Annual gains in improvement and repair spending on the owner-occupied housing stock are projected to continue decelerating through early next year, according to thenbsp;Leading Indicator of Remodeling Activity LIRAhellip;by the Remodeling Futures Program at the Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University,rdquo; they said. ldquo;The LIRA forecasts that year-over-year growth in homeowner remodeling expenditure will slow from about 7 percent today to 2.6 percent by the first quarter of 2020.rdquo;

Chris Herbert, Managing Director of the Joint Center for Housing Studies, stated that, ldquo;Cooling house price gains, home sales activity, and remodeling permitting are lowering our expectations for home improvement and repair spending this year and next. It should be noted that none of the major metropolitan markets are expected to decline, ldquo;However, growth in remodeling is expected to fall below the marketrsquo;s historical average of 5 percent for the first time since 2013,rdquo; he said.

Metros that are expected to experience the ldquo;most pronounced slowingrdquo; include San Antonio, Kansas City, Pittsburgh, Buffalo, and Dallas, while, ldquo;Remodeling gains should remain strong and even accelerate through year-end in some areas of the country including Orlando and Las Vegas where remodeling permitting, house prices, and homebuilding have picked up,rdquo; said Elizabeth La Jeunesse, Senior Research Analyst in the Centerrsquo;s Remodeling Futures Program. ldquo;Regionally, the strongest growth in 2019 is expected to be among metros in the West, paced by projected growth of 8 percent or more in Sacramento, Denver, Seattle, Tucson, San Jose, and Las Vegas.rdquo;

If you plan to live in your home for several years and immediate return on investment isnrsquo;t critical, proceeding with a renovation may be prudent, regardless of geography. If yoursquo;re renovating to sell, or if yoursquo;re not sure how long you plan to say, you may want to take a beat. According to Cash Money Life, these are the three reasons renovation makes sense:

1. You have a functionality problem.

ldquo;When your home disrupts your ability to sleep, eat, or get to a bathroom, it warrants a renovationmdash;if the cost fits your budget, of course. Making a few renovations can really enhance how you feel about your home and make it a place you want to stay in for the long-term.rdquo;

2. Reno will save you a few bucks.

Think energy-efficient features that will pay for themselves.

3. ldquo;Your home isnrsquo;t competitive in the marketplace.

If you do want to sell your home now, or in a few years, and know that itrsquo;s outdated compared to similar homes nearby, doing a remodel can help you get a leg up on the competition.rdquo;


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Getting a Condo Just Got Easier

Getting a Condo Just Got Easier
by Kevin Graham
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REALTORS Know What Dads Want In A House

In my experience, when couples look at a house, dads head straight to the backyard, particularly if there is any kind of water or a pool. Men also focus on the potential of the garage, which comes in at a close second.

Itrsquo;s not at all uncommon for garages to be carefully evaluated for their ability to store a specific length of boat, jet skis or other toys, upright tool chests and a workbench, or that mountain of kidsrsquo; sports stuff.

Agents are seeing an increased interest in kitchens both indoor and outdoor as the number of male celebrity chefs grow. Those same dads who hotfoot it to the yard are also scoping out shaded space for their BBQ grills or a soon-to-be brick pizza oven.

Other common home features desired by dads include a split floorplan, tech-ready man space, and a private office. Dads also like porch cabinetry to hold a small refrigerator and a tucked-away storage shed for those giant pool inflatables.

Then therersquo;s that uncommon request. Our agents have been asked to search for homes with a separate snack kitchen, cigar lounge, and even a quiet napping room just for dad. Wersquo;ve also seen an uptick in recent years of requests to consider space for a home brewery.

Proximity to their favorite activities ndash; such as golf courses or ball fields ndash; are important considerations for dads, while moms tend to weigh in on factors such as school quality and the number of like-age children in the neighborhood.

Men also closely consider the degree of maintenance required to keep a prospective homersquo;s landscaping looking good. Those who enjoy spending their free time with their hands in the dirt wonrsquo;t be put off by complex layers of ornamentals, while those who would rather not sweat in the sun every Saturday prefer a simple lawn with a few trees.

Holiday decorations are yet another surprising factor the dads bring to the home search. There have been numerous occasions where Irsquo;ve heard a man say, ldquo;Therersquo;s no way I can string lights along that pitched roofline,rdquo; or ldquo;The kidsrsquo; favorite blow-up Snoopy would look great posed next to the brick mailboxrdquo;.

Finally, every father wants to make sure their loved ones are safe and secure. Many prospective paternal homeowners carefully scrutinize properties for safety features ranging from street traffic to pool barriers to the latest in detectors and device-ready wiring. Those with family members on far ends of the age spectrum will cast an eye on potential hazards such as outdoor stone flooring that may become slippery when wet or sharp-edged stairs that pose a threat to unsteady toddlers.

But, of course, what most dads want is whatever makes their wives and families happy, within a decent commute to work and at a bargain


Jeffrey M. Fagan is the president of the Orlando Regional REALTORreg; Association and is regional vice president of Watson Realty Corp.


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What to Do with a Flooded Basement

After the power has been turned off you should try to identify and stop the source of the water.

Common Causes of Basement Floods

bull; Broken Sump Pump: A sump pump removes water from your basement and pumps it away from your home. These are installed in situations when the water table is above the foundation of the home. If this pump fails during a big rainstorm you could find yourself with a flooded basement overnight.
bull; Frozen Pipes: Every winter brings cold temperatures and possibility of a frozen pipe that can burst. Burst pipes can cause a substantial amount of damage in a short amount of time. The best ways to prevent this from happening is to insulate piping under your home and to run the water regularly during extremely cold periods.
bull; Appliance Failure: As your appliance get older, especially todayrsquo;s appliances with more complicated electronics and water connections, the risk of a failure increases. In addition, todayrsquo;s modern homes have more appliances with water connections than ever before. Unfortunately, if an appliance like a water heater goes it can >bull; Poor Drainage: Clogged gutters or drain pipes that do not funnel water away from your foundation can also lead to a flooded basement. This type of flooding is easily avoided by making sure to keep your gutters clean and that your downspouts are not dumping water at the edge of your foundation.

Check Your Insurance

While your homeowners insurance policy may seem like it covers a lot, it usually does not include water damage from floods or negligence. Most policies have wording that requires the flood to be ldquo;sudden and accidental,rdquo; which includes things like burst pipes and appliance failures. Though your insurance company may try to avoid paying for an appliance failure that it believes is due to neglect. You homeowners insurance does not cover basement flooding from regional flooding, storm surge, heavy rainfall, or water seeping in from the ground. It also likely does not cover a broken sump pump unless you paid for a extra ldquo;endorsementrdquo; on your policy.

Call a Water Restoration Professional

If you have a flooded basement itrsquo;s best to call in professional help. Water restoration professionals utilize heavy duty drying equipment and have years of experience dealing with water damage repair. Time is of the essence when it comes to water mitigation in order to prevent mold and other structural damage. Water restoration companies also have experience dealing with insurance companies. This experience can come in handy youre dealing with an insurance company that doesnrsquo;t want to pay for a full and complete repair.

Most individuals simply do not have the training, experience, or equipment to properly dry out and repair a flooded basement. Unlike professionals, homeowners do not usually have the high-tech equipment, including infrared cameras, to measure moisture levels behind walls or under carpet. This causes many do-it-yourself repairs to miss these hidden areas, which can lead to more damage down the road. Hiring a reputable restoration company will provide peace of mind that you wonrsquo;t have a nasty mold issue down the road.


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Buying a For Sale By Owner Home

Nowadays, everyone is trying to save money and sell their house on their own. You can save money buying a for sale by owner home. You can also get yourself into a lot of trouble if you are not sure what to look for.

Pricing

The first thing to check into if you are buying a for sale by owner home is the price. Many people will price their house based on how they think their house compares to their neighbors house that may be for sale.nbsp; Sellers often get emotional over what they perceive is the value of their house.

Sellers always think that their house is way better than any other house in the neighborhood. They have all of the great memories there. The kids first steps, Christmas mornings, kids graduations, etc.

Appraisal

Even though you may think the house is perfect for you, do some research on the price. Unless you are paying cash for the house, an appraiser from the bank is going to come out. You may think "no big deal". The problem is that the bank will be charging you for the appraisal. These appraisals can cost from 600-1000. Nobody wants to spend 1000 on a house that they are not going to buy

If the appraiser says that the value is lower than what you have agreed to pay, you now have a situation with the seller. They can either agree to now sell you the house at the price that the appraiser came up with, or the bank will make you come up with the difference before they will give you a loan. For example, the bank will not lend you 250K on a house that appraised for 230K even if you qualify for that amount. Basically, the bank is buying the house, so they want to make sure they can get rid of it if you quit making your payments.

Negotiate

This is something that you can negotiate. When you write up the purchase agreement or buy-sell, you can ask for the owner to pay for the appraisal if it comes in low. If he is so confident of his price, he should be willing to pay for the appraisal if it comes in low.

This brings me to another point. Always remember that EVERYTHING is negotiable. You should hammer out every detail before you get too far down the line with the sale. The last thing that you want to have happen is that you are a couple of weeks away from closing and something comes up that will cost money to fix. This is where many deals fall apart. Emotions can run high if the seller is half moved out of the house and you start asking for repairs or discounts on the sale price.

Disclosures

Another huge thing to keep in mind, is that if the owners are not using a realtor, they probably have not filled out a property disclosure form. When a house is listed by a real estate company, the company will require the seller to fill out and sign a document that discloses every issue with the house that they are aware of.

The document covers everything about the house and property. For example, if they put on a new roof 3 years ago, if they remodeled the kitchen, etc.. The document also has them disclose if there ever was a water leak or any other kind of damage to the house. They must disclose if they ever had to treat the house for mold, or radon.

I am not accusing anyone who is trying to sell their house on their own of lying, but if they dont have to fill out one of these forms, they may forget to tell you about something that could cause problems in the future for you.

Inspections

This is where the home inspection becomes so very important when buying a for sale by owner home. You may hit it off with the seller, you may totally trust the seller, but you must do an inspection The seller may not be aware that his attic is full of mold. The seller may not be aware that the foundation of the house has issues. There are so many things that may be wrong with the house that will turn into your problem if you dont do an inspection.

Depending on the size of the house, an inspection will probably cost around 400. This is the best money you can ever spend. That 400 could save you thousands in future repairs.

Ask Questions

One thing that I would ask the seller right out of the gate is why are they selling? What is their motivation? Are they having financial troubles, or do they just need to move. Think about it, if someone is in desperate need to sell due to financial problems, they may be more likely to forget to tell you something that may be wrong with the house. Again, I am not saying that all FSBOs are dishonest or that they are all trying to screw you. It would be in your best interest to find out as much as you can about the seller. If they have nothing to hide, they should be very open about their past and the homes past.

Water Rights

Another thing to research if needed, is the water situation. In Montana, water rights are a huge deal. If you are buying a place on a larger piece of land, look into the water rights. The last thing that you want is to find out that you dont have access to much water or you have to pay someone for more water.

You can call the local DNRC office and find out if there are any water rights that go with the land. If the land that you are buying is on a lake or a stream, you cant just pump water out of it without the proper water rights.

Septic Systems

If there is a septic system, this should also be addressed. When buying a for sale by owner home, you should go down to the sanitation department and get the septic permit for the house. With an older house, there may not be a permit at all. If this is the case, some banks or loan programs will not work. If you can find all of this out in the beginning, you wont be out all of the money for the inspection and appraisal just to find out that you cant buy the house.

Another thing to look for on the septic report is the size of the system. The systems are approved for the amount of bedrooms in the house. If someone has added on to the house, the permit might be wrong. The septic permit might be for a 3 bedroom house, but the house now has 4 bedrooms. This can also be an issue with some of the loans that you may be using for the purchase. It can also be an issue if you have problems with the system in the future. If you have to do repairs you will need a permit from the sanitation department. They may require you to put in a whole new system that can handle the extra bedroom. This is not a cheap project.

Summary

Obviously, every house is different. There are many, many things that you need to check into. When buying a for sale by owner home, the main thing that you need to keep in mind is to do your homework on these things up front. All of these things can be negotiated before you get too far into the deal. The key is to do your homework Find out about all of these things before you spend a bunch of money on inspections and appraisals.

When you are doing the negotiations, you will also learn a lot about the seller. You will be able to figure out what type of person he or she is and how much you should trust them going forward with the deal. This is all up to you, the more work you do up front, the more you will benefit.

If you are thinking of buying a for sale by owner home or if you are in the middle of one of these deals, feel free to contact us with any questions.


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Preparing your Home for Pets

House training

Possibly the single most important element in protecting your house is investing in training your pet well. It can be a serious time commitment, but it is essential to keeping a happy balance in your house. If you donrsquo;t have the time to train your pet, it is likely worth investing in hiring a professional. Housetrain your pets as soon as possible to avoid stains on your carpet. Some accidents will be unavoidable. Fortunately, there are a wide range of products and pet carpet cleaners designed to quickly remove stains and dissipate odors.

Happy pets are also less likely to >

Cat scratch fever

If yoursquo;re considering a cat, you should go in knowing that cats have an innate need to maintain their claws, and they do this by scratching. Some cats are declawed to avoid scratching damage, but several animal organizations consider this inhumane. The simplest way to protect your furniture from cat claws and simultaneously keep your catrsquo;s paws healthy and intact is to invest in a scratching post. Depending on your catrsquo;s personality, they might prefer a scratching mat or another surface. Experiment to find what your cat likes best

Reward your cat for scratching where you want him/her to, and gently discourage scratching furniture. Scolding a pet retroactively is not effective, so itrsquo;s best to keep a close eye on your pet until yoursquo;re confident that they will only scratch where you want them to. Also, keep in mind that most cats will want a tough surface to scratch, not something soft or too easy to destroy. Cats love a challenge, and a rough surface to scratch does their claws the most good.

Dog destruction

Just as cats have a need to scratch, many dogs have a deep urge to chew, dig, or otherwise do some destruction. Keep your dog happy and healthy and your home and shoes intact by keeping a steady supply of dog toys on hand. Many dog toys are designed to endure a serious chewing, and will last for a good amount of time. Make sure to replace them as they are destroyed, though, or your dog might resort to chewing other things.

Another very effective way to protect your home is to keep your dog well-exercised. Depending on the breed, some dogs, particularly those with high energy levels or who are very intelligent, need to be kept busy or they will often resort to destruction. Exercise your dog thoroughly as often as you can, and with some luck they will be tired and content afterwards, and will have less of a desire to take out their energy on your house. On this note, it is important to do your research before adopting a dog. If you donrsquo;t have a lot of time to devote to exercising your dog, this is a crucial aspect of dog ownership to keep in mind. Some dogs just wonrsquo;t be happy with little exercise or a small yard, and will likely act out because of it. Make sure you know your dogrsquo;s breed before you bring it homenbsp;nbsp;


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How to Make Time for Remodeling

1. Cut the Shopping Time

For those of you who like to have a week of dinners planned out ahead of time, you know how much time grocery shopping for those items takes. You walk into the store with a list of groceries and you wander around the store from one aisle to the next picking up things here and there. It can take an hour or two just finding the ingredients. By looking into a food delivery to do the shopping for you, yoursquo;ll be able to have an extra couples hours every week that you could use to rearrange your home.

2. Assign Chores to the Kids

How many hours a week do you spend cleaning? A study done by the Australian Institute of Family Studies showed that women spend anywhere from 16 hours a week to 25 hours a week doing household chores. That means that every week, women are spending up to an entire day cleaning the house and cooking the food. You can assign your kids chores to alleviate some of the time that you spend on chores. Everyday assign each kid a set of easy chores and assign one of them to help with dinner for that night. Chores will get done faster and you gain an extra 5-6 hours every week. While yoursquo;re at it, you could even enlist your children to help you with the remodeling since yoursquo;ve saved enough time to start.

3. Itrsquo;s Okay to Say ldquo;Nordquo;

You might be overly busy because when someone asks you to do something, you canrsquo;t say no. You spend hours every week going out and having lunches and dinners with friends or helping people move but you need to remember that itrsquo;s okay to have some ldquo;you-timerdquo;. Next time you feel overwhelmed by your plans, know that itrsquo;s okay to say to the next person who asks you to do something. Itrsquo;s important to take advantage of your time and use it in the way that you want to.

4. Donrsquo;t Set Unattainable Goals

Itrsquo;s tempting to set goals that seem easy but are actually completely unattainable. Then you spend hours and hours trying to reach it only to come out frustrated that yoursquo;ll never be able to finish it. Instead, set small goals that you can easily reach one at a time. Yoursquo;ll be able to save time because you wonrsquo;t be frustrated as often and you wonrsquo;t be spending time on things that you wonrsquo;t be able to accomplish.

5. Spend Less Time on Social Media

Social Media is where you get ideas for creative DIYs and cute remodeling ideas. It also can take up hours and hours on end. Try taking a ldquo;social media fastrdquo; for a few days every week where you donrsquo;t allow yourself to go on Facebook or Instagram. Be strict with yourself and tell yourself that no matter what, you are not allowed to open up the app on your phone. Instead, focus on other aspects of things that you need to do. If yoursquo;re feeling bored and yoursquo;re tempted to go on social media then focus your attention instead on the projects that yoursquo;ve been meaning to do around the house. There isnrsquo;t a reason why you should be bored.

By cutting time from other less-important aspects of life, yoursquo;ll find that you have a plethora amount of time available for you. Yoursquo;ll be able to put that time into the other things that you have been hoping to accomplish. So, take a break and allow yourself the time that you need to make your home into the home that you want.


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VA Loans and Closing Costs

Today, for those who are eligible, the VA loan is the best option for those seeking to buy a home with as little cash as possible. The VA loan does not need a down payment but at the same time limits the types of closing costs the veteran is allowed to pay. No down payment and reduced closing costs make for a powerful combination.

Your loan officer will provide a list of expected closing costs yoursquo;ll see at the settlement table. These costs are close estimates with little to no variance allowed. For services which the borrower can choose the provider independently there are no restrictions on how much the initial estimate varies from the final settlement statement. Which closing costs the veteran canrsquo;t pay for?

There can be many but itrsquo;s probably easier to identify the ones the borrower is allowed to pay. Any other charge must be paid for by someone else such as the sellers in the form of a seller contribution or even the mortgage company by issuing a lender credit.

The veteran can pay for an appraisal, credit, title insurance and title->

Sometimes there can be an issue where the lender wants another appraisal completed beyond the initial one. The veteran is allowed to pay for the extra appraisal as well. Common fees the veteran canrsquo;t pay for might be an escrow fee or an attorney charge or document preparation. Again, your loan officer will provide this list.

Still, that leaves the third party fees the veteran isnrsquo;t allowed to pay for. Who pays those? The seller can contribute as much as 4.0 percent of the sales price to go toward buyer closing costs, which should more than cover whatrsquo;s left over. The lender can also contribute by adjusting the interest rate on the loan slightly higher and then provide a credit at the closing table. Or, a combination of both. The better option is to have the seller pay the necessary charges in lieu of taking a higher rate. But thatrsquo;s completely between you, your agent and the sellerrsquo;s agent.

All mortgage loans, VA included, come with needed closing costs. There are multiple third party services and documents needed to close a mortgage. The difference is whorsquo;s going to pay for them. Veterans are restricted from paying certain types of closing costs, but without the additional third party services needed, the loan wonrsquo;t be able to be approved.


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What Do You Need to Know about Congestion Pricing?

Soon, if you dare get behind the wheel of a car in a city like Manhattan, congestion is about to get a little worse. Not necessarily because of more cars, mind you, but more expense.

Let us explain.

New York City is on its way to imposing congestion pricing, which will make it more expensive to drive within the designated hot zonemdash;Manhattan south of Central Park.

ldquo;New York will likely become the first major city in the U.S. to implement a charge for motorists entering its most traffic-clogged streets,rdquo; said National Public Radio NPR. The plan? To reduce gridlock while generating revenue for the citys stressed transit system.rdquo;

The deal has been approved by lawmakers in New York, however, the exact cost to motorists has not been finalized. What has been announced is that ldquo;new tolls are slated to go into effect in 2021,rdquo; said NPR. The tolling is expected to generate 15 billion, dedicated to funding the MTA, New Yorks transit authority.rdquo;

Around the world

Notice that NPR said New York is the first major ldquo;Americanrdquo; city. Thatrsquo;s because congestion pricing has proven successful in other key cities around the world. ldquo;New York City is set to become the first American metropolis that seeks to ease traffic congestion, cut pollution and boost mass transit by charging motorists a hefty toll for the privilege of driving into its most crammed areas,rdquo; said USA Today. ldquo;So can it work? If the experience of other cities around the world that have tried it is any indication, the answer appears to be yes. London, Singapore and Stockholm have all reported that lsquo;congestion pricingrsquo; systems similar to the one now being planned for Manhattan led to initial reductions in traffic and improvements in air quality, while creating a steady stream of revenue to support public transit and other infrastructure.rdquo;

Back on U.S. shores, New York may be first, but the city is not the only spot considering this type of toll.

Los Angeles is weighing its own similar plan. ldquo;A new study looked at a so-called congestion pricing proposal to charge a 4 fee during rush hour for drivers who enter one of the regionrsquo;s most gridlocked corners: the space between two intersecting freeways in western Los Angeles and eastern Santa Monica,rdquo; said Governing. ldquo;The money raised from the fee would be used to improve transit options and to subsidize access to the area for low-income drivers.rdquo;

A study conducted by the Southern California Association of Governments SCAG ldquo;estimates that incoming traffic to the tolled area would drop by 19 percent during rush hour periods. Transit trips would increase by 9 percent during peak hours, while the number of people biking and walking would increase by 7 percent. Travel times and greenhouse gas emissions would both drop by about 20 percent.rdquo;

San Francisco has been looking into congestion pricing for about a decade, with no formal plans in place but a serious eye on whats happening in NYC, and heavily-congested Seattle also recently announced plans to explore its options when it comes to reducing traffic in the city.

ldquo;Last year, Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan directed the Seattle Department of Transportation SDOT to study congestion pricingmdash;most simply, targeted tolls to reduce car traffic on city streets,rdquo; said Curbed. ldquo;Last week, SDOT >
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How to Make Sure Your Home Closes EscrowSellers Version

1. Carefully consider your sales price

If yoursquo;re working with an experienced real estate agent, he or she should have a recommended pricing strategy based on area comparables. Pressuring your agent for a higher sales price could cause the home to sit on the market and, if you do get an offer, the appraisal may not match the sales price. ldquo;If the appraisal comes in too low, the seller will have to lower the selling price or the buyer will have to pay cash for the difference,rdquo; said Investopedia.

2. Look for liens

Overall title issues account for 11 of closing delays and may come to you as a surprise,rdquo; said Homelight. ldquo;Sometimes clearing up title is as simple as verifying that a debt has been paid and recorded correctly, the same way you would clear up errors in a credit report. Other times, addressing outstanding debts can take months to settle. Before you put your house on the market, be sure to pay off any debts, loans, and taxes that may show up as a title defect against your property.rdquo;

3. Disclose, disclose, disclose

Sellers are legally required to disclose all material defects in the home, so trying to hide issues can backfire. ldquo;Any problem with the property will be uncovered during the buyers inspection, so theres no use hiding it,rdquo; said Investopedia. ldquo;Either fix the problem ahead of time, price the property below market value to account for the problem, or list the property at a normal price but offer the buyer a credit to fix the problem.rdquo;

4. Be reasonable and willing to negotiate

Itrsquo;s easy to get stuck on your list price and not want to come down even one dollar. But if things show up in the aforementioned inspection reportmdash;things the buyer has a legitimate reason to request fixesmdash;sticking firm to that price could cost you this the deal.

5. Limit contingencies

If yoursquo;re having trouble selling your home and the only buyer whorsquo;s come along in three months has two dozen contingencies, thatrsquo;s one thing. If you have a couple of offers, with one who doesnrsquo;t need to sell their other home before securing financing on yours, itrsquo;s an easy call, right? Obviously the offer price and other factors like the overall financial strength of the buyer are important, but the great thing about having limited contingencies is that you have a clearer path to closing.

6. Stay friendly with neighbors

The last thing you need is for the grumpy guy across the street to make a fuss because of increased traffic on the street during showings, inspections, appraisals, etc. and scare off a timid buyer. Maybe the situation warrants a knock on the door of neighbors who have a rep for being testy. Bring a plate of cookie or a gift card to Target for their troubles and you may be able to pacify them.


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What You Can Expect When Renting Your First Apartment

Credit and background check

As much as you may want to, you canrsquo;t run and you canrsquo;t hide from a background check. Theyrsquo;re just part of the normal routine landlords and property management companies undergo when deciding if someone is an eligible candidate.

Of course, from a renterrsquo;s perspective, this can be a vulnerable situation when it comes to handing over private information, such as social security numbers or account information to a stranger, and sometimes, certain credit check systems can even negatively impact a renterrsquo;s credit.

However, reputable credit check screening companies protect prospective tenants through a secure, online process, which generates screening reports delivered to the landlord, keeping personal information private and having no impact whatsoever on credit score - a major win for all parties

Free listing sites for landlordsnbsp;nbsp;are a great way to find local listings in your area. Therersquo;s always Craigslist as well ndash; a >

Expect inspection

Both pre move-in and move-out you should expect your landlord or property management company to conduct an inspection on the property. Your landlord will likely take note of any existing deterioration, such as water damage, chipped paint or worn appliances, and itrsquo;s in yournbsp;best interestnbsp;nbsp;to do so as well. Why? The last thing you want is to be held responsible for any damage thatrsquo;s pre-existing.

The good news is therersquo;s lots of amazing services out there that can help.nbsp;Happyco, for example, is an app which uses data-capture technology so you can take itemized pictures with both a time-stamp and automatic caption. So if therersquo;s ever any question surrounding damage you have a record to back you up

The cost of rent can be deceptive

Because finding a place that checks all the right boxes can be so difficult, itrsquo;s tempting to just skip all the fine print and jump right to the ldquo;where do I sign?rdquo; Before making any final decisions itrsquo;s critical to understand whatrsquo;s realistic for your budget. The advertised price often doesnrsquo;t reflect the security deposit thatrsquo;s required, utilities not covered by the landlord, or any additional pet or service fees. Some landlords even require tenants to pay first and last monthsrsquo; rent in addition to a security deposit. Bottom line is, it can add up fast. Make sure you know what yoursquo;re willing to spend

Neighborhood matters

You may love your new space, but your dream home can quickly turn into a nightmare if itrsquo;s located in a shady area. Do your research before making any final decisions. Visit your prospective neighborhood more than once and make sure to do so during different times of the day and night, and during both the week and weekend.

You may find that while the area seems sleepy during the week, it can be a party scene by the time the weekend rolls around. And donrsquo;t just settle for asking the property management company about your new hood. For one especially when it comes to property management versus private ownership the primary interest is getting vacancies filled, so they may be a little less than transparent when it comes to the less-than-rosy details of a neighborhood. Two, therersquo;s certain quirks you canrsquo;t really know about a place unless you actually live there.

Introduce yourself to a few neighbors and get the local scoop, or consider visiting a few nearby coffee shop and retailers to get a feel for community. Ask questions Itrsquo;s better to know more than you need rather than be faced with unhappy surprises after move-in.

You need renterrsquo;s insurance

One great thing about renting is that when it comes to maintenance and upkeep yoursquo;re off the hook. However, itrsquo;s on you to protect your personal property. Your landlordrsquo;s insurance covers damage due to accidents, theft or inclement weather, but their property insurance doesnrsquo;t extend to your personal belongings.

Make sure you have protection in place as soon as you move in, or if possible, a few days before your move-in date - especially, since thefts often take place during a move when tenants are distracted with the chaos of transition. Most insurance companies also offer bundling options with other types of insurance, such a car and even life insurance so you can get all bases covered in one swoop.

nbsp;


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Weather Is No Longer a Safe Topic

For real estate professionals, talking about the weather may carry an extra layer of complication: legal liability.

In the rush to nail down all the details of offer generation or offer presentation, could casual ldquo;ice breakerrdquo; assurances like ldquo;this sure is not our normal weatherrdquo; come back to haunt the professional?

Many buyers and sellersndash;and others for that matterndash;mistakenly believe that real estate professionals know more about the ups and downs of interest rates than banks. Consequently, real estate professionals must be on the alert to head off misunderstandings. They must be equally careful wording answers and opinions on many topics, so as not to mislead the public, inadvertently or through lack of care.

Is it time for weather and >

bull; ldquo;This weather is not normalrdquo; could lead an out-of-town buyer to believe this weather either very bad or very hot will not be part of their lives in this location. However, ldquo;not normalrdquo; has increasingly, become the pattern, occurring repeatedly and annually.

bull; Could this leave a buyer feeling misled when they move and weather
reality sets in?

bull; 50-, 100-, and 500-year storms are coming more frequently than those historic time points. In 2017, north New York State experienced record-breaking severe flooding along Lake Ontario. Now, two years later, flooding and property damage appear ready to exceed 2017 levels. How do emerging patterns like this affect the value and practical use of waterfront properties?

bull; Disaster clean-ups and property reconstruction are ba>

bull; Annual short-term weather events like Mississippi River flooding have extended to immobilize vast areas for many weeks.
bull; Historically-isolated events like tornadoes are combining into serial threats.
bull; The California Department of Insurance reported that, as of April 2019, insurance claims from Californiarsquo;s Camp, Hill, and Woolsey wildfires in November 2018 already exceeded 12 billion.

How are changing weather patterns going to affect ldquo;best places to liverdquo; choices and >

bull; An October 2018 study of the exposure of real estate investment trustsrsquo; REITs to climate risk evaluated 73,500 properties owned by 321 listed REITs. Results revealed that, globally, 35 of REITs are exposed to climate hazards including inland flooding 17, hurricanes or typhoons 12, and sea level rise and coastal flooding 6. These hazards can translate into millions in damage. ldquo;Hot spotsrdquo; for damaging weather hazards like New York, Miami, Boston, and San Francisco are also ldquo;hot spotsrdquo; for real estate investment. Real estate professionals will be among those evaluating how this overlap will affect real estate values. Will this pattern reduce tourism and buyer interest in these currently-favored vacation and life>

Real estate professionals are not meteorologists, but they arenrsquo;t lawyers, contractors, and a host of other professionals either; however, they are responsible for understanding all that impacts real estate value. Real estate professionals work to be clear and accurate about real estate issues they are responsible for.

Their professional intent is directed at not giving opinions or advice outside their responsibilities or control which might unduly or unfavorably influence buyers or sellers:

bull; Buyers moving into an area unfamiliar to them, willnbsp;increasingly want details on weather patterns and areas vulnerable tonbsp;weather hazards like flooding. Where should they get that accuratenbsp;information?

bull; Sellers of waterfront property want to understand how their land values may be affected by changing high-water patterns. Who knows the real answers?

bull; In both cases, property insurancendash;availability and affordabilityndash;is an expensive element which impacts on what buyers can afford, what sellers net from a sale, and what lenders will lend. How much of this knowledge is essential to gaining listings, generating transactions, and to enabling real estate professionals to fulfill their obligations?

bull; Professionals must know what happens to a real estate transaction if bad weather damages a sellerrsquo;s listed property or destroys the house after the buyerrsquo;s offer is accepted and before closing. Once ldquo;long shotrdquo; events, the escalation of bad weather makes ldquo;donrsquo;t spend your commission until itrsquo;s in your accountrdquo; advice worth heeding.

Hurricane Season: Predicting the Unpredictable

June 1 marks the start of hurricane season for the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico coasts. According to Co>

ldquo;Early predictions from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration NOAA indicate a near-normal year for the 2019 Atlantic hurricane season,rdquo; reports Co>

HEADS UP: NOAArsquo;s Weather-Ready Nation initiative includes public education services like hurricane preparedness and the Storm Prediction Center.

ldquo;It is essential to understand and evaluate the total hazard exposure of properties at risk of storm surge prior to a hurricane event, so insurers can better protect and restore property owners from financial catastrophe,rdquo; said Dr. Tom Jeffery, Co>

ldquo;Damage from storm surge and inland flooding has proven to be far more destructive than wind in recent years, so we cannot >

In view of shifting weather patterns, if you canrsquo;t think of something useful to say, skip the weather and, instead, listen attentively.

For more on effective communication, visit PJrsquo;s Whatrsquo;s Your Point?nbsp;Blog.


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How to Make Sure You Dont Fall out of EscrowBuyers Version

So how do you protect your purchase and make sure you get to the finish line? These four tips will help.

1. Prepare yourself for the inspection

Especially if yoursquo;re buying an older home, there are bound to be some surprises in the inspection report. The sale fail trend is particularly pronounced for older homes. ldquo;Homes built from 1959 through 1969 had the highest sale fail rate at 5.2, compared to homes built in 2016, with a dropout rate of only 2.6, which is among the lowest proportion of failed sale bands,rdquo; said The Truth About Mortgage.

While you canrsquo;t be prepared for everything, you can go into the process with a realistic understanding that the condition of the home may reflect its age. Expecting everything to be in tip-top shape will probably leave you disappointed.

2. Buthellip;dont be afraid to negotiate

That being said, the defects and recommended repairs that end up on inspection reports can be a lot to digest, and you have every right to expect a renegotiation for anything major. Your real estate agent should be able to provide guidance on how much seller cooperation is reasonable so it doesnt put your home purchase at risk.

3. Donrsquo;t be cavalier with your credit

Yoursquo;ve been pre-approved for a loan. Yay Maybe you should celebrate by buying a new car or a house full of new furniture. No Your preapproval is based on a number of factors, but credit score and debt-to-loan ratio are two of the big ones. Any change to those figures during escrow and you could find yourself with no financing.

ldquo;The underwritermdash;employed by your mortgage lendermdash;will check your credit score, review your home appraisal, and ensure your financial portfolio has remained the same since you were pre-approved for the loan,rdquo; said Realtor.com. Since underwriting typically happens shortly before closing, you donrsquo;t want to do anything while yoursquo;re in contract thatrsquo;s going to hurt your credit score. That includes buying a car, boat, or any other large purchase that has to be financed.rdquo;

You may think itrsquo;s rare that a financing issue hampers a closing, but, ldquo;In fact, 32 of settlement delays come from buyer financing issues which can crop up at the very last minute,rdquo; said Homelight.

4. Make sure you have all the required documents when you go to close

The last thing you want is to get to your closing and realize you forgot one of the documents you need. Donrsquo;t leave the house without:

bull; A driverrsquo;s license, passport, or some other government-issued photo ID
bull; Proof of your homeownerrsquo;s insurance
bull; A copy of your sales contract
bull; Any and all home inspection reports
bull; Any other paperwork the bank used for loan approval double-check with your lender in plenty of time
bull; A notarized document giving you power of attorney if your spouse wonrsquo;t be present at closing
bull; A bank check or wire transfer for the full amount of your closing costs check with your lender on the means of payment and final amount


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How to Help Your Family Members Buy a Home Without Co-Signing

Sometimes first time buyers donrsquo;t yet have enough income to qualify for a mortgage. This is common when someone first gets out of school and has yet to find a permanent job or the entry-level job doesnrsquo;t pay enough. When that happens, the would-be buyers would either have to wait, save up more money or get someone to co-sign the note.

When co-signing, it needs to be clear to those helping out that the payment history on the new mortgage will be reflected on their own credit report along with the buyers. If payments are made on time, or at minimum no more than 30 days past the due date, a positive entry on both credit reports will be logged. This will raise credit scores for all involved. Conversely, should there be a late payment made more than 30 days past the due date, that negative mark will show up on both credit reports and drive down scores. This can happen without the knowledge of the co-signers until its too late.

Co-signing also hits both parties with the same debt. If the total monthly mortgage payment is 2,000, then both the primary borrowers and the co-signers can expect the monthly debt to appear on a credit report. This could potentially affect the ability of the co-signer to take on new debt such as qualifying for a new mortgage to buy a home or even when refinancing. Deciding to co-sign demands some serious consideration.

As it >

Funds can also be provided to pay off outstanding debt of the primary borrowers. Perhaps paying off an automobile loan or student loan. In doing so, monthly debt ratios will be reduced enabling the buyers to qualify for the mortgage they want. A family member might also agree to provide a second mortgage on a property. Borrowing from a family member means making sure the note is valid in the state its executed and properly spells out the terms of the note. The first lien lender will also want to take a look at the new second lien note to make sure it complies with state law and indeed subordinates to the new first lien.

Co-signing is one of the more common ways family members can help first timers buy a home but they can also help in other ways that doesnrsquo;t obligate the parents to be a responsible backup to more debt.


Full Story >




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Updated: Wednesday, June 19, 2019

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