Tag Archives: single buyers

Down Payment Assistance Programs Across Canada

Canadian down payment assistance programs help first-time home buyersSo many young people want to build home equity and get out from under their landlord’s thumb.

But they can’t. They don’t have the down payment to qualify for a mortgage.

For many modest-income Canadians, saving up the 5 percent minimum down payment (or 20 percent if you want to avoid CMHC insurance) can take years—many, many years.

While some are able to rely on gifts from parents/family (39% of first-time buyers according to a 2018 Mortgage Professionals Canada study) or loans from family (25%), or RRSP withdrawals (38%) to make their down payment, those options aren’t available to everyone.

That’s where government down payment programs come in. Scattered across Canada, these little-publicized municipal and provincial programs are helping first-time home buyers fund their down payments and make the transition from renter to owner.

Since most people don’t know about them, their uptake is typically low. When the B.C. government launched its program in 2017, for example, it thought 42,000 residents would participate in the first three years. After nine months, only 1,400 had done so.

To some onlookers, giving buyers government money to buy a house may seem a bit too socialist, but municipalities have an interest in transitioning financially stable renters from apartments to houses. Among other reasons, it frees up rental units and grows their property tax base.

To help homebuyers find such assistance, the Spy has rounded up some of the more popular programs. What follows are grant or loan programs that provide a portion of the down payment to qualified borrowers. Note that this list isn’t exhaustive and that the status of these programs change regularly. Moreover, once quotas are reached many such programs end, so contact the source for the latest info.

 

Alberta

Program: PEAK Housing Initiatives (formerly PEAK Program)
Provider: Joint initiative between Trico Residential, the Government of Alberta Municipal Affairs, CMHC and Habitat for Humanity
Details: PEAK housing units are priced at market value and recipients must be able to qualify for and hold a mortgage. Once approved for the program, PEAK provides a second mortgage for either a partial or full down payment up to a maximum of 5 percent of the purchase price. PEAK has so far helped 111 individuals and families purchase a home of their own.
How to apply: http://www.peakinitiative.ca/

Program: Attainable Homes (specific to Calgary only)
Provider: The City of Calgary
Details: This program has been in place since 2009 and is geared towards moderate-income Calgarians. Successful applicants must be able to contribute $2,000 towards the downpayment of their home, and the Attainable Homes program contributes the rest.  If and when the homeowner sells the home, the growth in the home’s value is split between the homeowner and the program, with that money reinvested to assist other homebuyers. The longer the homeowner remains in the house, the more their share of the appreciation increases.
How to apply: https://attainyourhome.com/

 

British Columbia

The province of B.C. ended its Home Owner Mortgage and Equity Partnership on March 31, 2018. It has no widely available down payment assistance programs at this time.

 

Manitoba

Program: Rural Homeownership Program
Provider: Manitoba Housing
Details: This program is limited to those renting a home owned by Manitoba Housing in selected rural communities or those who would like to purchase a vacant home owned by Manitoba Housing. Applicants must have a maximum household income of $53,441 if they don’t have children, and $71,255 if there are children or dependents. The program has two components, a loan worth 10 percent of the purchase price, which is forgivable on a pro-rata basis over five years. Another 15 percent loan is forgivable after 15 years of continuous ownership and occupancy of the property.
How to apply: http://www.gov.mb.ca/housing/progs/homeownership.html

 

Saskatchewan

Program: 3% Down Payment Assistance Program
Provider: National Affordable Housing Corporation
Details: Provides Saskatchewan homebuyers with a 3 percent non-repayable down payment assistance grant towards the purchase of a home from one of the NAHC’s partner housing providers. Saskatchewan households with incomes less than $90,000 per year are eligible for financial support under this program.
How to apply: http://nahcorp.ca/assistance/nahc-3-down-payment-assistance-program/

Program: Mortgage Flexibilities Support Program
Provider: City of Saskatoon, CMHC and the Saskatchewan Housing Corporation
Details: This program is for designated projects in the city of Saskatoon and provides qualifying homebuyers with a 5 percent down payment grant for the purchase of a home. The household income limit must be less than $69,975 for one person and $74,640 for two people. Their maximum net worth must also be less than $25,000.
How to apply: https://www.saskatoon.ca/services-residents/housing-property/incentives-homebuyers

 

New Brunswick

Program: Home Ownership Program
Provider: Government of New Brunswick
Details: This program offers assistance in the form of a repayable loan worth up to 40 percent of the purchase price of an existing home, or a maximum of $75,000 for new builds. It’s available to those with household incomes below $40,000. Applicants must be first-time homebuyers or be living in a sub-standard housing unit; have been living in New Brunswick for at least one year prior to application; and have a good credit rating and meet all financial institution lending requirements for obtaining a first mortgage.
How to apply:http://www2.gnb.ca/content/gnb/en/services/services_renderer.8315.Home_Ownership_Program.html

 

Newfoundland & Labrador

Program: Home Purchase Program (HPP)
Provider: Government of Newfoundland and Labrador
Details: This program will remain open over 2018/19 until funding has been fully committed to up to 330 homebuyers. Grants of $3,000 are available to qualifying individuals and families to assist with the down payment of a new home valued up to $400,000 (including HST).
How to apply: http://www.nlhc.nf.ca/programs/programsHpp.html

 

Nova Scotia

Program: Down Payment Assistance Program
Provider:
 Housing Nova Scotia (Government of Nova Scotia)
Details: This is a pilot program to assist Nova Scotians with a household income of $75k or less. The program offers an interest-free loan of up to 5 percent, to a maximum purchase price of $280,000 in the Halifax Regional Municipality and $150,000 elsewhere in the province. The loans will range from $7,500-$14,000 and must be repaid in 10 years. More than 150 first-time buyers benefitted from the program in its first year, and it will remain open until March 31, 2019.
How to apply: https://housing.novascotia.ca/downpayment

 

Ontario

Housing programs in Ontario are administered by municipalities based on the premise that they know their community’s needs best. Below is a selection of just several first-time homeowner assistance programs from some key municipalities.

Barrie (Simcoe County)

Program: Homeownership Program
Details: This program offers 10 percent down payment assistance in the form of a forgivable loan.
There is presently a waiting list, but applicants are still encouraged to apply. A percentage of available funding is designated for applicants currently living in Social Housing or those who self-identify as Aboriginal households.
More details: http://www.simcoe.ca/dpt/sh/apply-for-the-homeownership-program

Hamilton

Program: Homeownership Down Payment Assistance Program
Details: This program provides support to low- and moderate-income residents who qualify for a mortgage with a maximum home price of $375,000. To qualify, applicants must have a maximum household income of $80,000,
More details: https://www.hamilton.ca/social-services/housing/homeownership-down-payment-assistance-program

Kitchener (Region of Waterloo)

Program: Affordable Home Ownership program
Details: This program provides individuals and families with a loan of up to five percent of the purchase price of a home (up to a value of $386,000). Applicants must currently renting in the Region of Waterloo, be able to qualify for a mortgage, and have a maximum household income of $90,500.
More details: https://www.regionofwaterloo.ca/en/living-here/funding-to-help-buy-a-home.aspx

 

Prince Edward Island

Program: Down Payment Assistance Program
Provider: Government of Prince Edward Island
Details: This program assists Prince Edward Islander’s with modest incomes by providing a repayable loan of up to five percent of the purchase price of a new or existing home to a maximum price of $11,250. The loan amount must go towards the down payment and not towards financing or other closing costs. The loan bears a fixed interest rate of 5% per annum. The purchase price of the home must be no more than $225,000.
How to apply: https://www.princeedwardisland.ca/en/information/finance-pei/down-payment-assistance-program

 

Quebec

Program: Accès Condos
Provider:
 Société d’habitation et de développement de Montréal (SHDM)
Details: Launched in 2005 by the SHDM, Accès Condos has provided more than 3,600 affordable units that promote home ownership throughout Montreal. Qualifying buyers must make a minimum $1,000 deposit and receive a 10% purchase credit, which is used for the down payment on the house in an approved development.
How to apply: https://accescondos.org/en/

 

financial support

National Non-Loan Programs

First-Time Home Buyers’ (FTHB) Tax Credit

Provider: Government of Canada
Details: The FTHB Tax Credit offers a $5,000 non-refundable income tax credit amount on a qualifying home acquired after January 27, 2009. For an eligible individual, the credit will provide up to $750 in federal tax relief.
Link: http://www.cra-arc.gc.ca/gncy/bdgt/2009/fqhbtc-eng.html

 

Home Buyers’ Plan (HBP)

Provider: Government of Canada
Details: The Home Buyers’ Plan (HBP) is a program that allows you to withdraw up to $25,000 in a calendar year from your registered retirement savings plans (RRSPs) to buy or build a qualifying home for yourself or for a related person with a disability.
Link: http://www.cra-arc.gc.ca/hbp/

 

GST/HST New Housing Rebate

Provider: Government of Canada
Details: You may qualify for a rebate of part of the GST or HST that you paid on the purchase price or cost of building your new house, on the cost of substantially renovating or building a major addition onto your existing house, or on converting a non-residential property into a house.
Link: http://www.cra-arc.gc.ca/E/pub/gp/rc4028/rc4028-e.html

Source: RateSpy.com – By  on November 26, 2018

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Mortgage stress test vs. high interest rates: which has impacted the Canadian housing market more?

Photo: James Bombales

When the Bank of Canada decides to hike interest rates, the impact of the move tends to peak six quarters after the fact. But, according to one economist, the effect of the current rising-rates environment is already making itself felt, at least when it comes to the Canadian housing market.

“Even though the first rate hike of this cycle, let alone the subsequent moves, was administered less than six quarters ago, there’s already pain being felt,” writes CIBC economist Royce Mendes, in his latest note.

The BoC hiked the overnight rate to 1.75 percent in October, and is widely expected to do so again in the new year. And while there’s been some debate among industry experts about whether higher interest rates or the stricter mortgage rules introduced in January are to blame for a slowdown in Canadian housing activity, Mendes says it’s the former that is dealing the biggest blow.

“It’s difficult to identify how much of the recent slowdown in housing activity has been due to tighter mortgage rules versus higher interest rates,” he writes. “But, based on prior estimates of the effects of the rule changes alone, the slowdown in lending has been more precipitous.”

That’s because, while the market has largely adjusted to the effects of stricter mortgage rules over the course of the year, it’s only now starting to contend with the impact that higher interest rates will have on would-be homebuyers.
“It’s hardly a stretch then to say that the housing market is already feeling some pressure from rate hikes, particularly since many mortgages are now rolling over at higher rates for the first time in a quarter-century,” writes Mendes.

That could mean that, heading into 2019, housing activity will cool even further, as the effects of the rising interest rate environment make themselves known.

“Given the lags in monetary policy, even as the effects of the mortgage rule changes wane on a year-over-year basis in the months to come, the impacts of rate hikes will actually become more apparent.”

Source: Livabl.com- 

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Homeowners’ typical mortgage payments are rising much faster than home prices

Homeowners’ typical mortgage payment is rising much faster than home prices, according to new data from CoreLogic.

The US median sale price has risen by just under 6% over the past year, according to CoreLogic. However, the principal-and-interest mortgage payment on a median-priced home has spiked by nearly 15 percent. And the trend looks set to continue – CoreLogic’s Home Price Index Forecast predicts that home prices will rise 4.7% year over year in August 2019. Mortgage payments, meanwhile, are forecast to have risen more than 11% in the same time period.

One way to measure the impact of inflation, mortgage rates and home prices on affordability is to use the so-called “typical mortgage rate,” CoreLogic said. That’s a mortgage-rate-adjusted monthly payment based on each month’s median US home sale price, calculated using Freddie Mac’s average rate on a 30-year mortgage with a 20% down payment.

“The typical mortgage payment is a good proxy for affordability because it shows the monthly amount that a borrower would have to qualify for to get a mortgage to buy the median-priced US home,” said CoreLogic analyst Andrew LePage.

While the US median sale price in August was up about 5.7% year over year, the typical mortgage payment was up 14.5% because of a neatly 0.7-percentage-point hike in mortgage rates over the time period, LePage said.

Source: Mortgage Professionals America – by Ryan Smith18 Nov 2018

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The fast track to your first home

Thinking about buying your first home? Saving for a down payment sooner rather than later is easier than you think. Here are nine strategies to boost your financial fitness and fast-track your way to homeownership.

  1. GAUGE YOUR FINANCIAL FITNESS

You need an honest assessment to know which areas of your financial house are on track and which areas need improvement. Get your Financial Fitness Score by taking the Genworth Canada/Canadian Association of Credit Counselling Services Financial Fitness survey at caccs.ca.

  1. CHECK YOUR CREDIT

Order a copy of your credit report from TransUnion or Equifax so you can check your credit score and history, as well as ensure there are no errors. Contact the credit report-ing agency if you identify any mistakes.

  1. BUMP UP YOUR CREDIT SCORE

The higher your credit score, the better the lending terms you’ll receive, whether for a mortgage, car or consumer credit loan. The most effective ways of improving your credit score are paying your bills on time, dramatically paying down – or, better yet, clearing – your credit card balance each month and repaying any loans.

  1. CREATE A MONTHLY BUDGET – AND TRIM THE FAT

Find a template online or download a household budgeting app to your smartphone. How much do you spend each month on rent, utilities, transportation, groceries, child-care, insurance, gym memberships and clothing? You need accurate info about your income and expenditure to evaluate how much house you can afford. At the end of the month, you’ll be able to spot patterns and identify the most effective places to save money, whether your spending vice is a two-lattes-per-day habit or too many taxi rides each month.

 

  1. DETERMINE HOW MUCH HOUSE YOU CAN AFFORD

Use your budget to evaluate how much of a mortgage you can afford. A bank may approve you for monthly mortgage payments of up to 32 per cent of your gross monthly household income, but can you afford it? Work out what your future expenses will look like each month (mortgage + insurance + utilities + taxes + other expenses). Do you make enough to cover this – with enough left over to save? If not, maintain breathing room by opting for a more affordable first home.

  1. START “PAYING” YOUR MORTGAGE

If your future mortgage payments will cost approximately $1,800 per month and you currently pay $1,300 in rent, now’s the time to start setting aside an extra $500 per month, so you can get into the habit of budgeting $1,800 per month for shelter. That will grow your savings faster.

  1. BULK UP YOUR INCOME

Another way to hold on to your money is to make more of it! Consider a second job, extra hours or selling those collectibles on eBay. (Bonus: Fewer boxes on moving day!)

  1. PAY YOURSELF FIRST

Get serious about paying yourself first by setting up bi-weekly automatic transfers from your chequing account to your savings account. Beyond the down payment and closing costs associated with a new home, homeownership might come with surprise expenses like a leaky roof and a broken washing machine. A healthy savings account will make you less stressed about those possibilities.

  1. CONSIDER PROFESSIONAL ADVICE

Once you’re on track, see a financial advisor to work out short- and long-term strategies for your ongoing financial goals, from homeownership to retirement savings. You’ll get more from the meeting if you have already determined your goals and actions.

Source: HomeOwnership.ca

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Buyers of new condos get twice the space in Waterloo as in Toronto

Cities west of GTA gain ‘notable traction’ in sales in first six months

New condominium buyers deterred by soaring Toronto prices are apparently venturing further afield to Hamilton, Kitchener and Waterloo, which offer more bang for their buck and the promise of new transit links that will improve accessibility.

Sales of new condominiums in these areas gained “notable traction” in the first six months of the year as regional economic activity picked up and Metrolinx moved forward with its $43-billion expansion plans, according to Altus Group, a market intelligence firm.

In Kitchener, sales between January and June rose to 806 units, up 93 per cent from the same period a year earlier, while 262 units were sold in Waterloo, a 51-per-cent jump. Though sales fell more than 20 per cent in Hamilton to 360 units, the city’s condominium market remains one of the most active outside Toronto, suggesting a continued flight to affordability, said Ray Wong, vice-president of data operations at Altus.

 

“The amount of demand in downtown Toronto, especially in the office market, has been well known for the last number of years and with that, demand for housing has steadily ratcheted up,” he said. “As these outlying areas are developed with more infrastructure in terms of restaurants and retail, it’s made them a lot more attractive.”

Those areas offer another powerful draw: the chance to secure a much larger space with a limited budget.

A buyer in Toronto with $500,000 to spend would likely have to settle for a one-bedroom unit of about 521 square feet, said Kruti Desai, manager of national research insights at Altus. But the same budget in Waterloo would secure a two-bedroom unit of 967 square feet.

Those in search of even more space could consider Barrie, Brantford, Cambridge, Guelph, Kitchener and St. Catharines, where $500,000 will buy a two- or three-bedroom unit with more than 1,000 square feet of space, she said.

“Individuals can get more bang for their buck when looking outside the Toronto market,” Desai said, adding that Hamilton, Kitchener and Waterloo are seeing the greatest amount of activity.

Momentum in Kitchener-Waterloo was linked both to affordability and to the economic growth kickstarted by Kitchener’s innovation hub and Waterloo’s Idea Quarter, a growing cluster of startup and technology companies operating in former BlackBerry Ltd. buildings.

Located close to the University of Waterloo campus and a future light-rail station, the Idea Quarter has attracted a range of firms — including OpenText Corp. and Auvik Networks Inc. — that “are now successfully competing for talent against Greater Toronto Area companies, helping stimulate condominium development,” Altus said in its report.

Hamilton, meanwhile, is expected to remain an attractive place to live for professionals working in Toronto, especially those who can take advantage of flexible working arrangements, Altus said.

A spike in new condominium sales in the city during the first three months of the year was credited to Television City Phase I, a 30-storey tower released in May 2017 that has since sold 80 per cent of the units on offer. Phase Two of the project, released in March, had sold 50 per cent of its units by the end of the second quarter.

Source: Financial Post – Naomi Powell August 8, 2018

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Countdown to homeownership

Two years is an important time frame when it comes to buying your first home. According to Genworth Canada’s 2018 Financial Fitness & Homeownership Study, nearly one-fifth of aspiring first-time homebuyers expect to buy their home within the next two years. This preparation period provides a healthy amount of time to get your finances in order. Strengthening your financial position should be a priority given the mortgage stress test criteria to qualify and rising interest rates. Set yourself up for homeownership success with the following tips.

Determine how much home you can afford

Affordability is the cornerstone of responsible homeownership. Buying a home you can comfortably afford will ensure satisfaction and security. Mortgage changes introduced by the federal government over the past two years have helped to reduce the likelihood of buyers taking on more debt than they can reasonably afford. Want an estimate of how much home you can afford? Visit Homeownership.ca and use the What Can I Afford Calculator to find out what mortgage amount a bank or other conventional lender would likely qualify you for.

Build a monthly budget

Once you have an estimate of how much of a mortgage you’d be working with, use Homeownership.ca’s Mortgage Payment Calculator to determine your regular mortgage payments. Build a monthly budget around this amount, plus your other expenses. Live on this new-homeowner budget as early as possible so you get into the habit of spending within your means. Put any savings into your down payment savings account.

Save, save and save even more

Save aggressively so you can build that nest egg; in other words, it would be smart to save for your down payment, closing and moving costs in advance. Think about new ways to save more money every day. For example, even if you prefer to buy your latte at your local coffee shop, switching to the free coffee at your office will allow you to save an average of $3 daily, which you can put into your savings account. In two years’ time, that $1,400-plus will make a nice addition to your down payment.

Improve your credit score

Order your credit report from Equifax or TransUnion and check it thoroughly, contacting the credit reporting agencies if there are any errors. Between now and two years from now, work on improving your credit as much as you can.

Key steps you should take include the following:

  • Always make payments on time.
  • Pay down your consumer debt. (Avoid using more than 35 per cent of your available credit from credit cards and lines of credit.)
  • Don’t apply for more credit. (One exception to this rule is if you have no existing credit card. In that case, apply for a no-fee credit card, use it on a few small purchases and pay it off monthly. This will help you build your credit history.)

Stay the course

Job changes, car financing and applying for more credit can all affect your credit report or mortgage application, or both. Limit any major lifestyle changes or purchases to the start of your two-year homeownership countdown. As you move toward the mortgage pre-approval stage and house-hunting stages, avoid lifestyle or financial changes that could have a negative impact on your credit score or raise questions about your employment history.

Start dreaming and researching!

Use your free time to explore neighbourhoods and research the local real estate market. Go for a long walk and visit some open houses. These obligation free walk-throughs can help you refine your new-home wish list, clarifying priorities versus nice-to-have features. Even if you don’t have children right now, consider park and school proximity because your family situation may change one day in the future.

 

Source: Genworth.ca

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Benefits of Homeownership Reaffirmed in New Study

Despite deteriorating housing affordability across the country, buying a home is still the more affordable option when compared to renting.

A new report from Mortgage Professionals Canada has determined that, despite the rapid rise in home price, those who are able to invest in a home would end up “significantly better off” in the long term compared to renting.

The report, authored by the mortgage broker association’s chief economist Will Dunning, found that while upfront monthly costs are in fact cheaper in most locations, the “net” cost of ownership is less than the equivalent cost of renting in a majority of cases, and becomes even more cost effective over time.

“The costs of owning and renting continue to rise across Canada,” Dunning noted. “However, rents continue to rise over time whereas the largest cost of homeownership–the mortgage payment–typically maintains a fixed amount over a set period of time – usually for the first five years. The result is that the cost of renting will increase more rapidly than the cost of homeownership.”

Additionally, the costs of ownership include considerable amounts of repayment of the mortgage principal. “When this saving is considered, the ‘net’ or ‘effective’ cost of homeownership is correspondingly reduced,” Dunning added.

On average, the monthly cost of owning exceeds the cost of renting by $541 per month. But when principal repayment is considered, the net cost of owning falls to $449 less than renting.

Interest Rate Scenarios

The analysis compared the cost of renting vs. owning both five and 10 years into the future, with higher interest rates factored into the equation. In all cases, owning comes out ahead:

Scenario #1: If interest rates remain the same (using an average of 3.25%), after 10 years the average net cost of owning is $1,014 less than the monthly cost of renting.

Scenario #2: If interest rates rise to 4.25% after five years, the average net cost of owning falls to $1,295 less than the monthly cost of renting.

Scenario #3: If interest rates rise to 5.25% after five years, the average net cost of owning is still $726 less than the monthly cost of renting.

“By the time the mortgage is fully repaid in 25 years (or less) the cost of owning will be vastly lower than the cost of renting,” the report adds, noting that the cost of owning, on average, would be $1,549 per month vs. $4,655 for an equivalent dwelling.

Canada Still a Country of Homeowners

Despite rising home prices and deteriorating affordability, Canada remains a nation of aspiring homeowners.

The study pointed to the continued strong resale activity as one indicator of this.

Resale activity in 2017 was still the third-highest year on record, at 516,500 sales, just off the peak of 541,2220 sales in 2016.

But other polls have also found a strong desire among younger generations that still dream of owning.

RBC’s Homeownership Poll found a seven-percentage-point increase in the percentage of overall Canadians who planned to buy a home within the next two years (32%), and a full 50% of millennials.

Similarly, a RE/MAX poll found more than half of “Generation Z” (those aged 18-24) also hope to own a home within the next few years.

Perhaps the biggest question is whether those aspiring homeowners will have the means to surpass the barriers to homeownership, namely larger down payments and the government’s new stress test.

“While recent changes to mortgage qualifying have made the barrier to entry higher, those who can qualify will be much better off in the long term,” Paul Taylor, President and CEO of Mortgage Professionals Canada said in a statement. “Given the economic advantages of homeownership, Mortgage Professionals Canada would recommend the government consider ways to enable more middle-class Canadians to achieve homeownership.”

Despite its affordability benefit over renting, Dunning addresses some of the impediments of homeownership, namely the longer timeframe needed to save for the down payment. Despite higher home prices and larger down payments required, first-time buyers still made an average 20% down payment.

Additional Tidbits from the Report

Some additional data included in Dunning’s report include:

  • Average house price rose 6.2% per year from $154,563 in 1997 to $510,090 in 2017
  • Average weekly wage growth was up just 2.6% per year from 1997 to 2017
  • The average minimum interest rate for the stress test during the study period: 5.26%
  • The average annual rates of increase for the following housing costs:
    • Property taxes: 2.8%
    • Repairs: 1.9%
    • Home insurance: 5.4%
    • Utilities: 1.6%
    • Rents: 2.4%

Source: Canadian Mortgage Trends – STEVE HUEBL

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