Tag Archives: foreclosure

US Foreclosures Rise For First Time In 36 Months

One month ago we discussed why according to the recent data, the “Housing Market Headed For “Broadest Slowdown In Years.” Fast forward to today, when we received the latest confirmation that the US housing market appears to have recently hit a downward inflection point: according to the just released July 2018 U.S. Foreclosure Market Report released by ATTOM Data Solutions, foreclosure starts in July increased by 1% from a year ago — the first year-over-year increase following 36 consecutive months of decreases.

Foreclosures rose from a year ago in 96 of the 219 metropolitan statistical areas, or 44% of the markets analyzed in the report; 33 of those areas posted their third straight monthly increase. A total of 30,187 U.S. properties started the foreclosure process for the first time in July, up 1 percent from the previous month and while the increase was less than 1% from a year ago, it marked the first annual increase in exactly 3 years.

21 states posted a year-over-year increase in foreclosure starts in July, including Florida (up 35 percent); California (up 3 percent); Texas (up 7 percent); Illinois (up 7 percent); and Ohio (up 2 percent).

Metro areas posting year-over-year increases in foreclosure starts in July included Los Angeles, California (up 20 percent); Houston, Texas (up 76 percent); Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (up 10 percent); Miami, Florida (up 29 percent); and San Francisco, California (up 10 percent).

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“The increase in foreclosure starts is not just a one-month anomaly in many local markets given that July represented the third consecutive month with a year-over-year increase in 33 metro areas, including Los Angeles, Miami, Houston, Detroit, San Diego and Austin,” said Daren Blomquist, senior vice president with ATTOM Data Solutions.

“Gradually loosening lending standards over the past few years have introduced a modicum of risk back into the housing market, and that additional risk is resulting in rising foreclosure starts in a diverse set of markets across the country. Most susceptible to rising foreclosure starts are affordability-challenged markets where home buyers are more financially stretched and markets with some type of trigger event such as a natural disaster or large-scale layoffs.”

The data comes shortly after a separate report found that there has been a plunge of sales in ultra-luxury real estate in New York City, where apartments that cost $5 million or more have seen their sale plunge more than 31% in the first 6 months of the year.

The surprising reversal in the US housing sector comes at a time when the US economy is reportedly firing on all four cylinders, with the stock market at all time highs and not long after the Department of Commerce revised income and spending data to “discover” that US households had actually saved twice as much as previously expected. Which begs the question: is the rise in interest rates a sufficiently adverse development to offset all the other favorable trends in the economy, or is something more sinister – and unknown – taking place in the US economy.

As a reminder it is housing – and not financial markets or stocks – that has traditionally been the most relevant, and aspirational, asset for the US middle class and as such is the best indicator of economic prosperity (or lack thereof) for a majority of the US population. And recent trends are anything but optimistic.

Source: ZeroHedge

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Foreclosure Starts Rise in 43% of US Markets

Counter to the national trend, several housing markets saw foreclosure starts rise year over year last month, according to a new report from ATTOM Data Solutions, a real estate data firm.

Forty-three percent of local markets saw an annual increase in May in foreclosure starts. Foreclosure starts were most on the rise in Houston, which saw a 153 percent jump from a year ago. Hurricane Harvey struck the Houston metro area in August 2017, tying with Hurricane Katrina as the costliest tropical cyclone on record, and has contributed to many recent foreclosures in the area. Other areas that are seeing foreclosure starts rise: Dallas-Fort Worth (up 46% year over year); Los Angeles (up 14 percent); Atlanta (up 7 percent); and Miami (up 4 percent).

A total of 33,623 U.S. properties started the foreclosure process in May, which is down 6 percent from a year ago. But a number of states—23 states and the District of Columbia—posted a year-over-year increase in foreclosure starts in May.

Overall, the metro areas with the highest foreclosure rates in May were: Flint, Mich.; Atlantic City, N.J.; Trenton, N.J.; Philadelphia; and Columbia, S.C.

View the chart below to see foreclosure starts by metro area.

May 2018 Foreclosure Starts by Metro

Source: Realtor Magazine

 

Home Ownership at 48-year low

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Home ownership is at a 48-year low, driven in part by a shocking pattern of foreclosure that put 9.4 million out of their homes during the recent recession, according to a Harvard survey.

In its “State of the Nation’s Housing 2016,” Harvard said that “the U.S. homeownership rate has tumbled to its lowest level in nearly a half-century.”

Figures from the St. Louis Fed showed a home ownership rate of 63.5 percent. The last time it was lower was in 1967.

The Harvard Joint Center on Housing Studies report put a focus on foreclosures.

“A critical but often overlooked factor is the role of foreclosures in depleting the ranks of homeowners. Indeed, CoreLogic estimates that more than 9.4 million homes (the majority owner-occupied) were forfeited through foreclosures, short sales, and deeds-in-lieu of foreclosure from the start of the housing crash in 2007 through 2015,” said the report.

The report also noted that the number of people using at least 30 percent of their income for housing rose, as our Joseph Lawler reported this week. It said, “40.9 million Americans, both homeowners and renters, spend more than 30 percent of their income on housing, including 19.8 million who spend over half of their income for housing.”

At the same time, said Harvard, the drive for the American Dream has been braked by low incomes, higher prices and bad credit.

Harvard:

“Just as exits from homeownership have been high, transitions to owning have been low. Tight mortgage credit is one explanation, with essentially no home purchase loans made to applicants with subprime credit scores (below 620) since 2010 and a sharp retreat in lending to applicants with scores of 620–660 compared with the early 2000s. And given that the homeownership rate tends to move in tandem with incomes, the 18 percent drop in real incomes among 25–34 year olds and the 9 percent decline among 35–44 year olds between 2000 and 2014 no doubt played a part as well.”

by Paul Bedard | Washington Examiner

 

 

Forget Houses — These Retail Investors Are Flipping Mortgages

It’s 9:30 a.m. on a recent sunny Friday, and 60 people have crammed into an airport hotel conference room in Northern Virginia to hear Kevin Shortle, a veteran real estate professional with a million-watt smile, talk about “architecting a deal.”

Some have worked in real estate before, flipping houses or managing rentals. But the deals Shortle, lead national instructor for a company called Note School, is describing are different: He teaches people how to buy home notes, the building blocks of housing finance.

While titles and deeds establish property ownership, notes — the financial agreements between lenders and home buyers — set the terms by which a borrower will pay for the home. Financial institutions have long passed them back and forth as they re-balance their portfolios.

But the trade in delinquent notes has exploded in the post-financial-crisis world. As government entities like Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have struggled with the legacies of the housing bust, they’ve sold billions of dollars’ of delinquent notes to big institutional investors, who resell them in turn.

A sign outside a foreclosed home for sale in Princeton, Ill, in January 2014.

And people like the ones in the Sheraton now pay good money to learn how to pursue what Note School calls “rich rewards.” The result: a marketplace where thousands of notes are bought and sold for a fraction of the value of the homes they secure.

A buyer can renegotiate with the homeowner, collecting steady cash. Or she might offer a “cash for keys” payout and seek a tenant or new owner. If all else fails, she can foreclose.

For some housing market observers, the churn in notes is a sign that the financial crisis hasn’t fully healed — and a fresh source of potential abuses. But the people listening to Shortle saw opportunity as he explained how they can “be the bank” for people with mortgage-payment problems.

“You can make a lot of money in the problem-solving business,” Shortle said.

How home notes move through a healing housing market

Since most people buy homes using mortgage financing, notes can be thought of as another name for mortgage agreements. After the home purchase closes, banks and other lenders usually sell them to government entities like Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and the Federal Housing Administration.

The housing market has improved since the bust, but hasn’t healed fully. There were 1.4 million foreclosures in 2015, according to real estate data firm RealtyTrac, and more than 17% of all transactions last year were deemed “distressed” — more than double pre-bust levels — in some way.

As the dust has settled, government agencies have begun selling delinquent notes to big institutional investors like Lone Star Funds, Goldman Sachs GS, +2.76% and Fortress Investments FIG, +3.96% as well as some community nonprofits, in bulk. The agencies have sold more than $28 billion in distressed loans since 2012, according to government data.

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The big investors then sell some to buyers such as Colonial Capital Management, which is run by the same people who run Note School. Colonial, which buys about 2,000 notes a year, sells most of them one by one to people like the ones who gathered in the Virginia Sheraton.

It’s difficult to know how much this happens and what it has meant for homeowners.

Anyone who buys notes from the government must follow reporting requirements that include information on how the loans perform. Those requirements stay with the notes if they’re resold; they expire four years after the government’s initial sale. But nobody tracks note sales that weren’t made by the government, and even the government’s records don’t link outcomes and note owners.

March data from the Federal Housing Administration only hint at a broad view of how post-sale loans perform. The FHA has sold roughly 89,000 loans since 2012; less than 11% of those homeowners now pay their mortgages on time. Many are simply classified as “unresolved.” More than 34% had been foreclosed upon.

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which began selling notes in 2014, were supposed to report similar data by the end of March. A spokeswoman for the agencies’ regulator said she did not know when that report, still incomplete, would be submitted.

And not all notes are initially sold by the government, making comprehensive oversight of the marketplace even harder. Banks and other lenders often sell notes directly; Colonial doesn’t buy notes from the government, according to Eddie Speed, founder of both Note School and Colonial.

For investors, a cleaner deal than the world of ‘tenants and toilets’

Note buying has attractions for both investors and the communities where the homeowners live.

Delinquent notes can be bought cheaply, often for about a third of a home’s market value. Note buyers get an investment that’s more like a financial asset — and less dirty than the landlord’s world of “tenants and toilets.”

Meanwhile, investors can often afford to cut homeowners a significant break, avoiding foreclosure while still making a profit.

And there’s government money for the taking in the name of helping homeowners. Since the housing crisis, the federal government has allocated nearly $10 billion to states deemed hardest-hit by the bust. Those states funnel the money to borrowers, often to help them reach new agreements with their lenders.

That can help municipalities that lose out on property taxes when homeowners don’t make payments, and which benefit from having more involved owners, Speed says.

Eddie Speed

When Tj Osterman, 38, and Rick Allen, 36, who have worked together as real-estate investors for about 10 years in the Orlando area, first explored note buying, they thought it little different than flipping abandoned houses.

But when they realized homeowners were often still in the picture, they changed their approach to try to work with them. Some of their motivation came from personal experience: Allen went through foreclosure in 2007. “It was a tough time,” he said. “I wish there was someone like me who said, let’s help you keep your house.”

They can buy notes cheaply enough that they can reduce the principal owed by homeowners “as much as 50%, and still turn a nice profit, pay back taxes, [and] get these people feeling good about themselves again,” said Osterman.

They now have a goal of helping save 10,000 homeowners from foreclosure. “I’m so addicted to the socially responsible side of stuff,” Osterman said. “We talk with borrowers like human beings and underwrite to real-world standards.”

‘There’s a system out there that’s broken’

Some housing observers have concerns about drawing nonprofessionals into an often-opaque market. A recent example Shortle used as a case study during the Virginia seminar helps explain why.

A note on an Atlanta-area home was being sold for $24,360; according to estimates from Zillow and local agents, its market value was between $50,000 and $70,000.

Some back taxes were owed, and a payment history showed that while the homeowner was making erratic or partial payments on her $500 monthly mortgage, she hadn’t quit. She had some equity built up in the house, another sign of commitment.

Real-estate investment firm Stonecrest sold her the home in 2012; she had used Stonecrest’s own financing at 9%. Her payment record was spotless until 2014. Stonecrest sold the note to Colonial in 2015 and Colonial offered it for resale in early 2016.

Most notes underpin mortgages. But this one was linked to a land contract, a financial agreement more typical when the seller is offering financing. Land contracts are sometimes criticized for being almost predatory: If a buyer skips a payment, the house and all the money he’s put toward it can be taken away.

And buyers don’t hold the deeds to the home, so the homes can be taken more quickly if they’re delinquent. Note School often steers students to scenarios where government programs like Hardest Hit can be tapped, but those programs don’t apply to land contracts.

Shortle walked his class through different strategies. The new note owner could foreclose; they could also induce the home buyer to walk. “It may be time to give this person a little cash for keys to move on,” he told the class. “They can’t afford it.”

Other data indicated that the house would rent for roughly $750. It might make sense, Shortle suggested, to remove the homeowner, fix up the house, rent it out, then sell the entire arrangement to a cash investor.

If a new note owner took that tack, the note would change hands four times in about as many years—even as the homeowner changed just once. The homeowner might never notice.

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Some analysts see evidence of a still-hurting housing market behind all that activity.

By diffusing distressed loans out into a broader marketplace, lenders avoid the negative publicity that comes with foreclosing on delinquent homeowners. That masks “a layer of distress in the housing market that’s being overlooked,” said Daren Blomquist, vice president at RealtyTrac.

“This has been a way to push aside the crisis and sweep it under the rug,” Blomquist told MarketWatch.

Some analysts see evidence of a still-hurting housing market behind all that activity.

By diffusing distressed loans out into a broader marketplace, lenders avoid the negative publicity that comes with foreclosing on delinquent homeowners. That masks “a layer of distress in the housing market that’s being overlooked,” said Daren Blomquist, vice president at RealtyTrac.

“This has been a way to push aside the crisis and sweep it under the rug,” Blomquist told MarketWatch.

Osterman, left, and Allen

Note investors say they can offer a service others can’t or won’t. “There’s a real issue with how we’re treating hardships,” said Osterman. “There’s a system out there that’s broken and needs to be disrupted in a good way.”

Note School’s founder says the goal is a ‘win-win’

While newer investors like Osterman and Allen have a sense of mission forged during the recent housing crisis, Speed has been in the note business for more than 30 years. He is adamant that it’s in Note School’s best interest to teach students to observe regulation and treat homeowners respectfully. There’s no reason it can’t be a “win-win,” he said.

‘”We’re not teaching people to go and do ‘Wild West investing.’

Eddie Speed”

Colonial Funding doesn’t make buyers of its notes go through Note School, but it does require them to work with licensed mortgage servicers. Note School offers connections to armies of vendors offering services for every step of the process: people who will assess the property’s real market value, “door-knockers” who will hand-deliver letters to homeowners, title research companies, insurers, and more.

“We’ve been in the note buying business for 30 years,” said Speed. “We’re not teaching people to go and do ‘Wild West investing.’”

Speed believes buying distressed notes is a process tailor-made for people with an entrepreneurial approach to doing well by solving problems — and maintains that he is mindful of the postcrisis environment in which they work.

“I’m walking into where the disaster has already happened,” he said. “If I walk into a loan where the customer has vacated, they probably want out. Common sense tells us if the borrower can deed it over to the lender and walk away with dignity, that seems like a good deal for him. We’re trying to do everything we can to reach resolution.”

by Andrea Riquier | Marketwatch

Short Sellers Can’t Be Sued for Balance of Debt, Court Rules

Distressed homeowners who, with their lender’s approval, arrange a short sale of their property — for less than they owe — can’t be sued for the balance of their debt, the state Supreme Court ruled Thursday.

The unanimous decision protects borrowers who increasingly resorted to short sales as property values fell at the end of the last decade. The Legislature amended state law in 2012 to provide them explicit protection against deficiency judgments, but a lawyer for the borrower in Thursday’s case said that about 200,000 Californians had conducted short sales in the previous five years and were potentially affected by the ruling.

“The little guy won today,” said the attorney, Andrew Stilwell.

His client, Carol Coker, borrowed $452,000 in 2004 to buy a condominium in San Diego County. She fell behind on her payments, and in March 2010 JPMorgan Chase Bank, which then held the loan, sent her a default notice and began foreclosure proceedings.

The bank then agreed to allow Coker to sell the condo to another buyer for $400,000, collect the proceedings and release its lien on the property. But after the sale, the bank billed her for the $116,000 balance due on her loan.

The state law at the time, originally enacted in 1933 and amended in 1989, prohibited a bank from seeking a deficiency judgment, for the balance due on its loan, after the bank itself foreclosed on a home. But the law did not address short sales, which were rare until the late 2000s, and JPMorgan Chase argued that the anti-deficiency rule did not apply to those cases.

But the court said the rationale of the law applied equally to short sales.

“For more than half a century, this court has understood the statute to limit a lender’s recovery on a standard purchase-money loan to the value of the security,” Justice Goodwin Liu said in the 7-0 decision.

Liu said the law was intended to maintain economic stability and protect property buyers from severe losses during periods of economic decline.

Coker’s short sale of the condo — which she bought as a residence, rather than an investment — “did not change the standard purchase-money character of her loan,” Liu said. He said the short sale, “like a foreclosure sale, allowed Chase to realize and exhaust its security” in the property.

Stilwell said the ruling would also affect cases in federal Bankruptcy Courts in California, which rely on state laws affecting creditors and debtors.

“The Supreme Court shut the door on banks trying to go too far to take advantage of the poor, the middle class, people who couldn’t afford what they got into in this real estate debacle,” he said.

The bank’s lawyers referred inquiries to bank headquarters in New York, which could not be reached for comment late Thursday.

By | Source: National Mortgage News

25 Percent of all U.S. Foreclosures Are Zombie Homes

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RealtyTrac’s Q1 2015 Zombie Foreclosure Report, found that as of the end of January 2015, 142,462 homes actively in the foreclosure process had been vacated by the homeowners prior to the bank repossessing the property, representing 25 percent of all active foreclosures.

The total number of zombie foreclosures was down 6 percent from a year ago, but the 25 percent share of total foreclosures represented by zombies was up from 21 percent a year ago.

“While the number of vacated zombie foreclosures is down from a year ago, they represent an increasing share of all foreclosures because they tend to be the problem cases still stuck in the pipeline,” said Daren Blomquist vice president at RealtyTrac. “Additionally, the states where overall foreclosure activity has been increasing over the past year — counter to the national trend — tend to be states with a longer foreclosure process more susceptible to the zombie problem.”

“In states with a bloated foreclosure process, the increase in zombie foreclosures is actually a good sign that banks and courts are finally moving forward with a resolution on these properties that may have been sitting in foreclosure limbo for years,” Blomquist continued. “In many markets there is plenty of demand from buyers and investors to snatch up these distressed properties as soon as they become available to purchase.”

Florida, New Jersey, New York have most zombie foreclosures

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Despite a 35 percent decrease in zombie foreclosures compared to a year ago, Florida had the highest number of any state with 35,903 — down from 54,908 in the first quarter of 2014. Zombie foreclosures accounted for 26 percent of all foreclosures in Florida.

Zombie foreclosures increased 109 percent from a year ago in New Jersey, and the state posted the second highest total of any state with 17,983 — 23 percent of all properties in foreclosure.

New York zombie foreclosures increased 54 percent from a year ago to 16,777, the third highest state total and representing 19 percent of all residential properties in foreclosure.

Illinois had 9,358 zombie foreclosures at the end of January, down 40 percent from a year ago but still the fourth highest state total, while California had 7,370 zombie foreclosures at the end of January, up 24 percent from a year ago and the fifth highest state total. 

“We are now in the final cycle of the foreclosure crisis cleanup, in which we are witnessing a large final wave of walkaways,” said Mark Hughes, Chief Operating Officer at First Team Real Estate, covering the Southern California market. “This has created an uptick in vacated or ‘zombie’ foreclosures and the intrinsic neighborhood issues most of them create.

“A much longer recovery, a largely veiled underemployment issue, and growing examples of faster bad debt forgiveness have most likely fueled this last wave of owners who have finally just walked away from their American dream,” Hughes added.

Other states among the top 10 for most zombie foreclosures were Ohio (7,360), Indiana (5,217), Pennsylvania (4,937), Maryland (3,363) and North Carolina (3,177).

“Rising home prices in Ohio are motivating lending servicers to commence foreclosure actions more quickly and with fewer workout options offered to delinquent homeowners, creating immediate vacancies earlier in the foreclosure process,” said Michael Mahon, executive vice president at HER Realtors, covering the Ohio housing markets of Cincinnati, Dayton and Columbus. “Delinquent homeowners need to understand how prices have increased in recent months, and how this increase in equity may provide positive options for them to avoid foreclosure.”

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Metros with most zombie foreclosures: New York, Miami, Chicago, Tampa and Philadelphia. The greater New York metro area had by far the highest number of zombie foreclosures of any metropolitan statistical area nationwide, with 19,177 — 17 percent of all properties in foreclosure and up 73 percent from a year ago.

Zombie foreclosures decreased from a year ago in Miami, Chicago and Tampa, but the three metros still posted the second, third and fourth highest number of zombie foreclosures among metro areas nationwide: Miami had 9,580 zombie foreclosures,19 percent of all foreclosures but down 34 percent from a year ago; Chicago had 8,384 zombie foreclosures, 21 percent of all foreclosures but down 35 percent from a year ago; and Tampa had 7,838 zombie foreclosures, 34 percent of all foreclosures but down 25 percent from a year ago.

Zombie foreclosures increased 53 percent from a year ago in the Philadelphia metro area, giving it the fifth highest number of any metro nationwide in the first quarter of 2015. There were 7,554 zombie foreclosures in the Philadelphia metro area as of the end of January, 27 percent of all foreclosures.

Other metro areas among the top 10 for most zombie foreclosures were Orlando (3,718), Jacksonville, Florida (2,368), Los Angeles (2,074), Las Vegas (1,832), and Baltimore, Maryland (1,722).

Metros with highest share of zombie foreclosures: St. Louis, Portland, Las Vegas

Among metro areas with a population of 200,000 or more and at least 500 zombie foreclosures as of the end of January, those with the highest share of zombie foreclosures as a percentage of all foreclosures were St. Louis (51 percent), Portland (40 percent) and Las Vegas (36 percent).

Metros with biggest increase in zombie foreclosures: Atlantic City, Trenton, New York

Among metro areas with a population of 200,000 or more and at least 500 zombie foreclosures as of the end of January, those with the biggest year-over-year increase in zombie foreclosures were Atlantic City, New Jersey (up 133 percent), Trenton-Ewing, New Jersey (up 110 percent), and New York (up 73 percent).

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Millions of Boomerang Buyers Poised to Re-Enter Housing Market

Millions of Boomerang Buyers Poised to Re-Enter Housing Marketby WPJ

According to RealtyTrac, the first wave of 7.3 million homeowners who lost their home to foreclosure or short sale during the foreclosure crisis are now past the seven-year window they conservatively need to repair their credit and qualify to buy a home as we begin 2015.

In addition, more waves of these potential boomerang buyers will be moving past that seven-year window over the next eight years corresponding to the eight years of above-normal foreclosure activity from 2007 to 2014.

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“The housing crisis certainly hit home the fact that home ownership is not for everyone, but those burned during the crisis should not immediately throw the baby out with the bathwater when it comes to their second chance at home ownership,” said Chris Pollinger, senior vice president of sales at First Team Real Estate, covering the Southern California market which has more than 260,000 potential boomerang buyers. “Home ownership done responsibly is still one of the best disciplined wealth-building strategies, and there is much more data available for home buyers than there was five years ago to help them make an informed decision about a home purchase.”

  • Nearly 7.3 million potential boomerang buyers nationwide will be in a position to buy again from a credit repair perspective over the next eight years.
  • Markets with the most potential boomerang buyers over the next eight years among metropolitan statistical areas with a population of at least 250,000.
  • Markets with the highest rate of potential boomerang buyers as a percentage of total housing units over the next eight years among metro areas with at least 250,000 people.
  • Markets most likely to see the boomerang buyers materialize are those where there are a high percentage of housing units lost to foreclosure but where current home prices are still affordable for median income earners and where the population of Gen Xers and Baby Boomers — the two generations most likely to be boomerang buyers — have held steady or increased during the Great Recession.
  • There were 22 metros among those with at least 250,000 people where this trifecta of market conditions is in place, making these metros the most likely nationwide to see a large number of boomerang buyers materialize in 2015 and beyond.

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