WHAT IS “SELLING”?
SET YOUR EXPECTATIONS
Property Pricing Mistakes
Property Pricing Done Right
MARKETING & ACCESS
Do What Works
Summary / Conclusion
Most have not studied the sales process with regards to real estate and therefore do not understand what it actually takes to properly and safely sell their home, vacant land, apartment building or commercial building.
Owners trying to sell on their own think an ad in the paper or a submission in the MLS, a flyer, along with some finger sandwiches for the open house will do the trick. In a hot market that may get some offers but statistics show “by owner” sellers in reality sell for much less than if listed and sold with a real estate professional (Realtor, Broker/Agent, etc.).
Brokers and Real estate agents / Realtors do what they are taught… open houses, flyers, mailer, etc. but most miss the important parts which are proper exposure, proper access and THE MOST IMPORTANT PART… being honest with the owners (and themselves) about price.
What your real estate professional knows and the procedures they follow will determine the Maximum Sale and Profit for your property. Working with lesser choices will likely leave you with lesser results.
The whole process as described up to this point (Get Facts, Get Value, Prepare) is part of “selling” the property. Missing any of the outlined steps can cause loss of equity and liability issues that can affect your profit.
“The Alignment” requires the critical items required in the purchase of any good or service to be present for the buyer and seller to come to agreement on the price, terms and sale process:
- Appealing Product
- Market Priced
- Reasonable Sales Process
- Safe Sales Process
“Selling is The Alignment of the Needs of the Seller to the Wants of the market.”
The word “wants” was not used for the Seller because the market drives the actions of the Seller… not the other way around.
Occasionally, a Buyer will motivated by personal circumstances so they forgo their wants to their needs… so the Seller benefits then, but that cannot be counted on.
SET YOUR EXPECTATIONS OF VALUE...
Be reasonable about Value Estimate…
Q: Want to be happier in life?
A: Then set your expectations to match your capability and willingness to change.
Just like if you are not over 6’ tall you will probably never play in the NBA… you cannot expect a 3BR, 2BA house in Fresno to sell for 1.5 M dollars (unless it has a viable oil well with mineral rights)!
And even if you are over 6’ tall, but you have no basketball talent, or you DO have the talent, but are not willing to do the work required to make the team, then you must adjust your expectations or you will be wasting your time planning for something that is not going to happen.
The same goes for preparing to sell a property…
If your house, vacant lot or commercial building does not fit the category of properties that are selling for over 1M, then you need to consider remodeling or upgrading the property to match the 1M properties or adjust your expectations and plans for selling the property.
If the goal is to maximize the net profit on the sale of a property then pricing the property must be done correctly, the first time. Setting too high a price on a property will usually result in netting less money than pricing correctly to begin with.
The “Get Value” section discussed determination of value based on property condition and how much work you want to do to property. Perform a quick review of the terms and methods of property value estimates:
AVM – Automatic Valuation Model (or Method)
Fair Market Value
CMA – Comparative Market Analysis
Actual Market Value
FMV Definition - Source: IRS.gov
“Fair market value (FMV) is the price that property would sell for on the open market. It is the price that would be agreed on between a willing buyer and a willing seller, with neither being required to act, and both having reasonable knowledge of the relevant facts.”
AMV = Actual Market Value = The price that a willing, knowledgeable and able buyer and a seller agree to transfer ownership at.
AMV can be higher than appraisal price or FMV because the buyer is willing to pay cash or contribute more cash to make up the difference if using a loan. The buyer can also be more motivated than the seller (which is a normal occurrence… and a good thing for the seller) and thus the price can go higher than either an appraisal price or normal FMV definition would allow for.
Ultimately though, in the absence of distress and with proper exposure and access, the market will determine the final sale price of a property.
List price is determined by the comparable sale “Valuation Method” outlined in the “Get Value” section and adjusted for market trends, buyer incentives common in the market and your motivation to sell.
See the “Pricing Summary” section for a break down and summary of how to set the price on the property that will provide the best chance to achieve the Max Sale Price and Max Profit.
Property Pricing Mistakes
# 1 Mistake: No Market Research
Commonly, the “Seller Mindset” is… “Lets ask more, then we can reduce the price later”.
That seems logical, and does have a chance of working, but experience and statistics show it has a greater chance of increased market time, buyer avoidance and your property becoming a ‘stale listing’ that creates doubt about the property because it appears ‘no one wants it’.
What is a “Stale Listing”…
It is when your property sits on the market for longer than the average market time (couple weeks or couple months) and then seller finally decides to lower the price…
“And even if a buyer takes a look after the price reduction they remember how it was overpriced and now ‘smell the blood’ of desperation since they know the seller must actually need to sell it since they have FINALLY priced it right.”
This “Over Pricing” scenario is very common occurrence with sellers trying to sell on their own and with weak “Rookie Agents” that are willing to overprice properties to “get the listing” knowing they can beat the seller up later after it does not sell.
In an appreciating market bumbling around with price can result in a higher sale price because of appreciation caused from sellers that did price their homes correctly. But knowing the market trends (see the “Get Facts” section on timing), why would you put your property on the market if you did not want to sell it? The disruption to your family or tenants in occupied homes and ‘opportunity costs’ of vacant properties are usually not worth the hassle.
Most property insurance (unless it has specific endorsements) does not cover ‘vacant’ or ‘under construction’ properties. Check with your insurance company!
Vacant properties, even in good neighborhoods, do get broken into and vandalized which can be very costly and must be disclosed to future buyers.
Vacant, Staged properties do show and sell better though… so get a binder that covers vacant property. And consider installing a temporary alarm or surveillance system to proactively avoid and monitor for unwanted visitors.
# 2 Mistake: Not adjusting for ‘peak’ or ‘hot times’ of the year…
In Wisconsin, a house on a frozen lake in December will sell for less than in the summer when the lake is full of fun, warm weather and festivity. Just like a property that is in an area known for good schools will see more activity in the early summer and late fall that allows buyers to close in time to register their children with that school district.
So if you take comparable sales from summertime ‘peak’ times and try that price in the slower wintertime scenario you will likely sit, not sell and get ‘stale’.
# 3 Mistake: Emotional Pricing…
This generally falls under “over pricing” but deserves special mention because it is very common (and understandable) for an owner to feel their property is worth more than the market is willing to pay for it because they are emotional about it.
Top 5 Reasons Owners and Agents Over Price a Home
1. Not doing basic market / pricing research
2. Not adjusting for ‘hot’ time of year
3. Emotional Pricing – What they ‘want’ or the ‘know it all’ neighbor thinks it is worth
4. Using an “appraisal price” or what “tax records” say it is worth
5. Using a “Zillow” or other AVM Automatic Valuation Method
Now… let’s focus on the positive… how to Price the Property to SELL.
Property Pricing Done Right
Besides Market Timing and Preparing Property the “Price It” is the next most important step to get correct in order to Max Sale and Max Profit your property.
It is important to do the market research, but more important, know what to research and how to interpret the results.
- Determine the Values
- Determine the Trends
- Make the Decision
This is a case where you really must KNOW THE NUMBERS in your particular area so you have the information required to Max Sale the property. National statistics can be found at a number of major real estate websites and good California stats broken down in regional, county and large city level are found at http://www.car.org/marketdata/
Market Statistics and “Trends” to Monitor
Market Time = Days on Market or DOM
Homes for Sale = Inventory (usually called “Months of Inventory”)
“Strength” of Market = Days on Market, Deals Fall Through (Cancellation Rate),Hot Market: Flat or Decreasing Inventory, Increasing Prices, Flat or Decreasing Market Times.
The Three Most Important Statistics:
1. Days on Market
2. Inventory Trends
3. List to Sell Ratio
Knowing the statistics and market trends will determine how aggressive you can price the property or what type of favorable terms you may need to offer (closing costs credits, ‘seller carry’, increased commission or incentives to buyer agents, etc.)
Actual Market Value – AMV Can Be Higher or Lower Than Appraisal Value - AV
Or Fair Market Value – FMV Because The Buyer And Seller
Are Not Always Equally Motivated.
The “List Price” is determined by the methods outlined in the “Get Facts” and “Get Value”, made possible by the work done in the “Prepare It” section with the sale and profit realized by the techniques in the “Sell It” and “Profit” section.
So the proper List Price is a value determined after a great deal of research, analysis, decision making, physical preparation and adjusting to market trends.
It also requires removing the ego from the equation (both seller and agent/broker) and choosing the price that will sell the property within the goals of the seller and the realities of the market.
List Price vs. Sold Price and Days On Market
Sales price to List price or commonly called “Listing to Sales Ratio” really gives a good sense of how ‘hot’ or ‘cold’ a market is. The higher the number means the closer to asking price (or over asking price) the buyers were willing to pay for the property. Any number over 100% means the buyers are paying OVER asking price.
Median Market Time or commonly called “Days on Market” (DOM) is the median number of days a property is on the market before placed into “Pending” or “Contingent” status. These numbers can be skewed when there is low sales volume or in areas affected by large ‘seasonal changes’ but when adjusted for those and other factors are highly valuable.
HOT & NOT HOT
Look at the difference between San Francisco and Siskiyou County.
|Temperature||Area||Listing To Sales Ratio %||DOM (Market Time)|
|April ’14||April ’15||April ’14||April ’15|
Once the property is on the market, based on buyer interest and feedback, you will know how the market thinks of your pricing.
|Over Priced||Few Showings and No Offers|
|Slightly Over Priced||Moderate Showings, some offers (maybe), escrows fall through|
|Priced Right *||Multiple Showings, Multiple Offers, Solid Escrow That Closes|
|Under Priced **||Large Interest, Multiple Showings, Multiple Offers|
* Priced Right… Depending on local market habits, time of year, etc, it can take a week or two for majority of buyers to become aware of the listing but there are usually a group of Platinum and Gold buyers ready to quickly jump on a property. It will be a disciplined decision to go to escrow ‘early’ in the sale but sometimes the first offers will be the best offers and best buyers.
** Under Priced… under pricing property is a technique some use to create buyer activity and ‘buyer buzz’ on a property, then raise the price range to meet offer price activity, counter offers with “highest and best” and see where the price settles at. Auction companies list properties for about 20% below market value when they advertise them for sale to create that ‘buyer buzz’ they need to attract the an auction pool of buyers to bid on the properties they are tasked to sell.
Over or Under?
Setting too high a price on a property will usually result in netting less money than pricing correctly to begin with.
If you are going to make a pricing mistake… decide which mistake direction is best to make:
Pricing Mistakes – Which is Better / Worse?
Too Low or Too High?
Price “Too High”:
Results: Fewer showings, less interest, increased market time,
Consequences: Few or No offers to create ‘multiple offer’ scenario,
Extras: Increased market time says multiple things to buyers (unmotivated seller, something wrong with house, etc.)
Price “Too Low”:
Results: More showings, more interest, more offers, reduced market time
Consequences: Multiple offers that create ‘multiple offer scenario’,
Extras: Have a list of interested buyers in case escrow cancels,
DO NOT OVERPRICE! DO NOT OVERPRICE! DO NOT OVERPRICE! DO NOT OVERPRICE!
Repeat it three times… I will not overprice, I will not overprice, I will not overprice. J
1. Do basic market / pricing research
2. Adjusting for ‘hot’ / ‘cold’ sales activity time of year
3. No “Emotional Pricing” – What they ‘want’ or the ‘know it all’ neighbor thinks value is
4. Do not use “appraisal price” or what “tax records” without adjusting to reality
5. Use ALL the methods laid out in this website and as directed by an experienced professional
6. Do Not Overprice
7. Do Not Overprice
Adjust pricing as needed and use techniques such as sending multiple counter offers asking interested buyers to come back with their “highest and best” offer price and see where the price settles at. If the property is not selling within about half the median “Days On Market” then property is overpriced.
Bottom line is that if the “Get Facts” “Get Value”, “Prepare It” and “Sell It” steps were followed then property will be priced correctly and will sell.
MARKETING & ACCESS
Most “marketing” done by real estate brokers / agents to sell a client’s property is done to hype their “brand” and expose their “name” to get more new business. The ‘wrong exposure’ can be worse than ‘some exposure’ so Max Sale uses statistics and experience to show what activities and exposure ACTUALLY leads to the successful SALE of property.
Quick access to property information and showing access is especially important these days in the fast paced, rapid fire, impulsive world we live in.
Goal of Marketing to benefit the Seller:
Attract the top tier of buyers, the “Golden and Platinum Buyers” that are ready, able and motivated to purchase your property.
Activities that lead to those goals being accomplished:
1. Quality Property Photos
2. Appealing Description of Property
3. Wide Scale Distribution of Photos & Description
4. Property Access and a Clear Path to Closing
You will quickly note there are many more “Ineffective Strategies” than there are “Effective Strategies” and the reality is there are many more ways to negatively impact a sale than there are ways to do it correctly.
Books and blogs have been written about some of the things NOT TO DO when selling a home and please do look over the relatively short list of “Do What Works” items and explanation of why the “Do What Works” list is so relatively short. Max Sale and Max Profit use a proven process that avoids the mistakes and does what works by using “Success Strategies” backed up by peer review, common sense and checklists to assure a Maximum Sale / Profit of our clients properties.
Below are a few of the commonly attempted and easily understood “Ineffective Strategies”.
Guided Tours and Owner Showings
With few exceptions (commercial buildings and some ‘high end’ properties) owner showings or the Owners being present during showings is not recommended. There may be a time where the seller and potential buyer go over the details of the home in person, get to know each other, tell about the neighbors, etc. and ‘hand off’ the house to the new owner but unless this is specifically asked for by the buyer it is not recommended to do this. If a meeting between seller and buyer is going to happen the time for that is not on the first visits to the property… let the buyers see the property without distractions and guided tours. Most people visiting a ‘stranger’s’ home are a little nervous already and adding to that the ‘social niceties’ required if the owners are there it takes away from the ability for the buyer to ‘connect’ with the property.
Realtors hold open houses as a way to meet the neighbors, find buyers and try to score some new clients. Statistics show the buyers that come through an open house purchase the house less than 2% of the time nationally and much less so where buyers have a strong online presence. Open houses can be a turn off to the “Golden Buyers” visiting property with their agent because they do not get to ‘settle into the house’ because the listing agent is following them around or other ‘buyers’ are disturbing their experience.
The Limited “Good” and “Potential Negatives” That Can Come From Open Houses…
1. Ease of showings that benefit the seller.
If it is expected there will be a large number of showings for a property and the buyers would be showing up at the same time anyway… then as a convenience to the seller and ease of access to the buyer agents an open house the first few weekends of a new listing can make sense but that must be weighed against the ‘potential negatives’ and ‘unintended consequences.’
2. Shows Activity and Buyer Competition but can “back fire”.
The case can be made that is a good thing as potential buyers see there are other buyers interested in the property and acts sort of like an Auction does creating buyer ‘competition’ and the “I want what they want” mentality. It is true auctions, especially “absolute auctions”, do attract a strong group of buyers but those usually focus on ‘distressed’ sales, foreclosure and bank owned sales where they buy, repair / remodel and re-sell.
Open Houses can ‘back fire’ though if there is little or no open house ‘activity’, an empty guest log and buyers come by and see that (everyone looks to see how many other people have come). If there is no open house… Then there is no ‘empty guest log’ so buyers seeing the property do not know how many other buyers have seen the property or how many people they will be competing with.
3. Less than 2% Chance…
There is the slight chance a buyer happens by that is qualified, falls in love and wants to buy the house. But what are the chances of that? Statistics show it is very low and why would a qualified buyer be looking around himself or herself when they could have an agent do it at no cost or obligation to them? A sign and a flyer box would yield about the same results without causing the possible unintended consequences of an open house.
4. Welcome All Criminals…
Criminals and thieves are known to visit open houses to look for stuff to quickly pick up while the agent is distracted or to see what security / video systems are present to gain access at a later time.
5. The Competition is Scouting and Taking Your Buyers
20 to 30% of ‘showings’ and most ALL ‘previews’ are agents that have listings nearby or will be taking a listing nearby doing research on their competition (YOU). Other agents and sellers compare your property to theirs and will adjust their price according to how your property looks thus underpricing you and taking away potential buyers for your house. Having open houses removes any barrier to that happening.
The Unintended Consequences
The right type and amount of information…
Marketing is walking a fine line between giving too much information so that the potential buyer finds something they do no like, thus, prematurely crosses your property off their list and between not providing enough information or photos to get them interested. The goal is to get them “in the door” with the right price, the right photos, the right description and easy access.
You have only “one chance to make a first impression” goes the saying. Holding open houses can negatively affect that first impression if the buyer is distracted by other people wandering about or if there are few other visitors they may get the impression no one else wants this property either.
Using too many photos or photos that reveal too much information (or too ‘high quality’ high resolution so any defects detract from the overall appeal) so that a buyer gets turned off or places property ‘lower on their list’ or chooses not see it at all.
Say it correctly…
Using written descriptions that overstate or inflate it beyond the demonstrated capability of the property is a big turn off either immediately or later when buyer is making the ‘go’ / ‘no go’ decision to purchase.
There is long list of things not to do that have both immediate and later unintended consequences so it is better to focus on the things to do work… the things that work and are effective.
The reason professional consulting for those established as experts in their field is such a highly paid profession is because knowing WHAT NOT TO DO is MORE IMPORTANT than knowing WHAT TO DO. These days, Professor Google, Dr. Bing and Cousin Yahoo allow anyone to become a ‘quasi expert’ on the basics of any subject at the speed of their brain and a click of the mouse.
Malcolm Gladwell wrote of the “10,000 hour rule” that proposed it takes many years in a particular field to become an “expert” in it. We believe this “Expert Knowledge”, when properly translated, can be learned in a shorter period of time and when business models are established upon the experience of that “expert” those methods can be applied by those with lesser experience as long as they follow the guidelines of that EXPERT.
That EXPERT KNOWLEDGE can be translated to actionable EXPERT ADVICE to be easily applied to the circumstances. The proof of this is in how short the list of “Effective Strategies” is…
To Do List Of
- Properly Price Property
- No Barriers to Entry
Properly Price Property
Properly pricing the property will be one of the most effective marketing tools because of how properties are distributed throughout the global internet from the local MLS. It takes about 1-2 days for information and photos to ‘migrate’ from Multiple Listing Service websites to websites like Realtor.com, Zillow, Redfin, etc. where properties will end up in buyers search results based on the prices of homes they set up in their search criteria.
Modern day buyers have access to lots of price and sales information so they know the values in neighborhoods they have interest so will either ignore or never even see an overpriced listing.
No Barriers to Entry
The first is obvious… keep showing restrictions to as little as possible. Best showing scenario is called “Call First, Lock Box” which means the Buyer’s Agent calls the seller to notify them they will be showing the property at a particular time and the Buyer Party sees the property preferably without the seller or listing agent there. There are exceptions to this in super “high end” neighborhoods but even then listing agents being present can affect the buyer’s ‘initial impression’ of the property.
Commission to Buyer Agent is usually 2.5 to 3% of the final sales price and additional bonuses are sometimes provided for short escrows or closing by a certain date, etc.
According to most real estate agents ‘code of ethics’ an agent shall show all properties that fit the criteria of the buyer and that includes the dreaded FSBOs and properties where seller is offering less than the ‘normal compensation’ to the Buyer Agent. Agents have access to MLS search criteria that reveal the CBB (commission to buyer broker) and if the property is a FSBO so the REALITY IS that most agents will avoid FSBO properties and ‘low compensation’ listings in the MLS.
Why is this done? The average buyer’s agent sells 3-4 properties a year so when they are planning properties to show their buyers and they come across properties that will take additional time to deal with or will pay them less (which represents about 25% of their annual income) they usually skip that one. An experienced buyer’s agent would have a broker compensation agreement with the Buyer that requires a certain % income or could ask the seller during the negotiation to pay the ‘normal compensation’ but that is less than likely.
Do What Works
As demonstrated by comparison of the “Ineffective Strategies” vs “Effective Strategies” there are simple guidelines to follow to maximize the effectiveness of marketing efforts and attract the most and best buyers to the sale.
Properly pricing the property will attract strong buyer interest and hopefully result in multiple offers to work with. All it takes is the “Buyer A” knowing they are competing against another buyer “Buyer B” or “Buyer B – D” (must be done tactfully as may turn some buyers off) and that compels ALL THE BUYERS to put their BEST OFFER forward.
Unless a property is vacant, it is a hassle to sell a property. It takes time and effort to allow for buyer showings because of phone calls, leaving the property, additional cleaning, dealing with pets, etc. but it is important to permit as unimpeded access as possible for the buyers.
See Get Facts section about “Listings Only” Agents and research to be done to find an agent that knows what they are doing and can either help you or do all the work for you. It is so VERY important to get the pricing, showing and negotiation done right!
In “Prepare It” section explanations of Maximizing Sale Price regarding “Category Jumps” were discussed and that required close inspection, targeted repairs and enhancements to the property. This is when that work pays off by allowing all focus and the majority of negotiations and discussions to focus around how great the property is for the buyer instead of on repairs and property condition.
Quotes On Negotiation
“When the final result is expected to be a compromise, it is often prudent to start from an extreme position.” John Maynard Keynes
“Anger can be an effective negotiating tool, but only as a calculated act, never as a reaction.” – Mark McCormack
“In life you don't get what you deserve, you get what you negotiate.” - Krishna Sagar
“During a negotiation, it would be wise not to take anything personally. If you leave personalities out of it, you will be able to see opportunities more objectively.” – Brian Koslow
“You must never try to make all the money that’s in a deal. Let the other fellow make some money too, because if you have a reputation for always making all the money, you won’t have many deals.” – J. Paul Getty
“This is a classic negotiation technique. It’s a gentle, soft indication of your disapproval and a great way to keep negotiating. Count to 10. By then, the other person usually will start talking and may very well make a higher offer.” – Bill Coleman“Diplomacy is the art of letting someone else have your way.” – Sir David Frost
It is good that buyers want to do lots of inspections… it adds to their mental “Buy In” to the property and the process so when they bump up against the “buyer’s remorse” most ALL BUYERS experience in some way they are steeled from the process and the money they are committing to the inspection process.
It is best for neither the Seller nor Listing Agent to be present for inspections. Unless there are specific reasons for otherwise it is best to let Buyers have time at the property for themselves to ‘bond’ with the property and to not feel they are being steered in any regarding the inspection or purchase of the property.
As discussed in “Prepare It” there are merits to the Seller having a Pre-Listing Home Inspection done for reasons discussed there. It also helps during this negotiation / inspection phase because buyer may elect not to pay for his or her own home inspection if they feel the inspection is comprehensive and fair (you will want them to sign inspection waiver).
Home inspectors are notorious for crating havoc by calling out “EVERY SINGLE ITEM” on a house that can sometimes make it seem the house will collapse on itself before the inspection is even complete! Unless the inspector is ‘making things up’ in a ruse to help Buyer with value negotiations then they are just doing their job and their detailed report will benefit both parties in the end.
A good Buyer’s Agent prepares their buyers for this “Inspection Shock” eventuality and this is mitigated before hand by the Seller by proactively repairing the “Deal Killer” types of items noted in previous sections. And this is where “Proactive Disclosures” help soften reactions because the buyer party already knows those items.
There will almost ALWAYS be items that come up during inspections the Seller knew nothing about and create buyer concern so having as much information to the buyer ahead of their inspection findings helps frame the overall picture as a positive.
Sending a complete copy of seller’s disclosures (TDS, SPQ, etc.) forms the message that although seller will be open to repair requests for items that come up… it puts a ‘mental restriction’ on the amount of items a buyer can reasonably ask for.
Both Buyer and Seller have duties to meet timelines throughout the sales process and there is liability and potential consequences to both for not being “timely”.
“Timely” Definition = Within the time required by statute, court rules, or contract.
Buyers often have ‘rate locks’ for their loan and must pay an extension fee for more time if close of escrow is delayed. Financial damage can be caused to either or both Buyer and Seller so both parties should act with care and earnest in their attempts to meet all timelines.
It is therefore important to create a “Transaction Timeline” estimate that starts with the proposed “Close of Escrow” at the bottom and ‘works backwards’ the events and dates of items required in order to close on time. Provide this timeline by traceable delivery to the Buyer party so if needed later it can be shown the Selling Party was diligent in their attempts to be timely.
Summary / Conclusion
Selling or the “Sell It” phase is the culmination of the whole process as described up to this point (Get Facts, Get Value, PrepareIt) so following the Max Sale Method will lay the foundation to achieve the Maximum Sale price and Maximum Profit for your property.
Missing any of the steps outlined in Get Facts, Get Value, PrepareIt and SellIt can cause loss of equity and liability issues that can affect your profit so please diligently follow the process and additional advice provided at your Free Evaluation.
This information provided is an accumulation of years of experience on how to successfully accomplish the sale of a property so educate yourself on how to do this or find a professional that understands all described on this website. Fill out the contact form to ask us for a referral.
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