Tag Archives: Real Estate Agents

Title Insurance And Flying: It’s Not All Burritos And Love

Title Insurance & Flying: It’s Not All Burritos And Love

Walking From Money Requires a Walk!

Walking From Money Requires a Walk!

Walking from a multi million dollar deal isn’t easy when you’re paid on commission. But I did it today.

I’ll tell you why, then you tell me if you would’ve done the same.

Flying

Years ago I gave a few flying lessons to a student who seemed heavy on the confidence side. Unusually confident. Most students walking into a flight school for the first time are demure. This guy was cocky and demanding. Loudly he announced that he pretty much knew how to fly an airplane; he just needed a good instructor. By “good” he meant an instructor good enough to recognize his extraordinary talents and after maybe one or two flights would sign him off for a final FAA checkride.

When we got in the airplane I realized Mr. Confident had a perspective rich with fantasy. Someone had given him a few lessons but he had a long way to go before becoming a pilot.

When Mr. Confident  asked if he could buzz the school where his sister worked as a teacher, I became suspicious. Before 9-11 I would’ve been concerned about his judgment but post 9-11, as this was, I had several concerns. Is he just an idiot or could he be dangerous?

No Shoes No Service

You’ve seen the sign, No Shoes No Service? There should be a sign at flight schools, no common sense, no flying lessons!

I wasn’t making much in those days and I hated the idea of losing a student/client. On the other hand, I didn’t want to wake up to find CNN on my front lawn!

I talked with Mr. Confident over a delicious burrito lunch. Sometimes it’s best to interview students on the ground in a common environment.  They’ll open up and give you insight.  About half way through my burrito I determined he was surely an  idiot but not intentionally dangerous. In fact in my estimation I deemed him too stupid to be dangerous.

About a year later I got a call from the FBI. But first…

Title Insurance And $xMM

There’s a lot of energy around any high value Real Estate transaction. Emotions and ego’s can ratchet up as the stakes get higher. A multi million dollar deal can sometimes get exciting.

In this case the listing agent was yelling at me.

Not always but often I’ve noticed when voices get loud facts get soft.

Mr. Loud was trying to bully his way through the transaction, a common old-school tactic. But in today’s world there are checks and balances in place to protect the consumer. There’s no room for old school tactics.

I held my ground

Stepping back and assessing the situation, here’s what troubled me:

The seller was well past 80 years old and a much younger relative stepped in to handle his affairs.

Red flag #1.

Anytime a party to a transaction is elderly there is concern about potential elder abuse. There are laws to protect the elderly because, believe it or not, there are bad people who prey on them!

Next: The buying agent stopped communicating.

Red flag #2.

Why would an agent stop communicating days before closing? Why wouldn’t the selling agent issue a notice to perform?

Next: The selling agent said it was an all cash deal. Escrow said there was a lender.

Red flag #3.

Why is there a breakdown on the most basic components of a transaction days before closing?

Next: The Title Unit asked for a copy of the appraisal. Common on high value deals because a property value has to be established in order for Title to issue a policy. Simply put, the insurer needs to know for certain how much risk they are incurring.

The buyer had an appraisal done but in this transaction no one except the lender is talking to the buyer, not even the buyers agent!

Of course the lender has a copy of the appraisal but the lender can’t provide it to anyone without the buyers permission. But remember the buyers agent is MIA!

So: The request for the appraisal somehow goes to the sellers younger relative who refuses to provide it because, well, without having a Real Estate License, unilaterally decides providing a copy of the appraisal just isn’t necessary.

Red flag #4.

Who’s controlling this transaction anyway? And why can’t we see the appraisal?

Three Strikes Your Out. Four Strikes I’m Out

I decided there was too much rick in this transaction and when I stood firm with my request for the appraisal the seller’s agent threatened to pull the deal and take it to another Title company. I surprised him by agreeing.  I suggested he do just that.

Most Title Reps would sell-out before walking from a deal this big. In my less experienced days I would’ve done anything to keep this deal alive. But as you mature, you begin to see that shortcuts don’t necessarily bring  you to success. Doing the right thing – counts.

In a previous post, Seduce Your Wicked Imagination / Reduce The Risk I wrote: Insurance company’s are in the business of managing risk, not taking on risk.

The selling agent continued to yell. He told me he’d have the deal closed in two days with another Title company. I told him to do it.

Flying And Mr. Confident

A year after asking Mr. Confident to find another flight school,  I got a call from the FBI.  Mr. Confident was being investigated for suspicious activity consistent with possible terrorist planning. I’m not at liberty to give up the details but I can tell you this much. My statement to the FBI suggested that if Mr. Confident were doing the things they were investigating him for in order to impress girls in a bar I’d say they were on right on track. But knowing how utterly incompetent he is I figured he’s not much of a threat to anyone other than himself. I never heard from the FBI again so I’ll pretend they came to the same conclusion.

What Would You Have Done?

Pick your area of interest:

Real Estate or Flying

Tell me below in the comments section what you would have done. Would you have closed the Real Estate transaction in-spite of the red flags? Would you have continued to give Mr. Confident flying lessons?

 

Epilogue

Mr. Loud came back a few days later and asked to keep the deal open. He would provide the appraisal. After three weeks he did provide the appraisal and we closed the deal successfully with all boxes properly checked. I can only presume the other Title company asked for the same documentation.

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Two Sure Times To Round-Up

Enjoy Peace of Mind

Enjoy Peace of Mind

There are two sure times to round-up. When calculating takeoff and landing distances and when deciding on insurance coverage.

Things are happening quickly. It’s nearly midnight. A medical team is climbing onboard and we need to get them 300 miles away-fast. Someone’s life depends on it. The fuel truck pulls away from the Citation 560 and the ground crew pulls the chocks. The cabin door is closed and a little light automatically goes off in the cockpit indicating the door is properly sealed. I’m working up the take-off numbers, setting radio frequencies on the six different radios, setting the altitude alerter, programming our route in the FMS (Flight Management System) and bugging our airspeed indicators.

Our takeoff distance, the amount of runway we’ll need to get in the air and clear all obstacles on the ground, is determined by a number of variables. Primarily by the weight of the airplane, a given power setting, and outside air temperature. Airplanes perform better in colder air. As pilots we use charts to help us calculate the proper engine power setting for our weight and outside air temperature. Of course the exact weight and temperature never seem to match what the chart gives us. The chart might have a column for 20 degrees celsius and 30 degrees but the outside air temperature might be 27 degrees. The weight column might offer us 14,500 pounds and 15,500 pounds when the actual wight is 14,735 lbs. So we extrapolate. And if there’s a remainder? I always Round Up! Why? Because I like having the peace of mind knowing there’s a little margin of safety.

INSURANCE OFFERS PEACE OF MIND

I like having the same margin of safety when buying insurance. From my perspective, it’s always better to have and not need, then to need and not have.  My car is insured by a large, reputable insurance company. So is my home. I always buy the best medical insurance I can afford. I skimp on things that aren’t necessary but I never skimp when it comes to feeling assured the necessities in life are secured.

TITLE INSURANCE

Recently I was asked about the difference between an ALTA/Home Owners Policy and a CLTA policy. These policies are referring to Title Insurance.  It’s a common question and I’ve written about it before. Read: Realtor’s And Pilot’s It’s Your Teacher Not You  For a printed table of differences click here:  Homeowners Policy/ALTA vs. CLTA

Lets keep things simple. Realtors: Your Title Insurance company will always default to the ALTA Homeowners Policy. Because in California the C.A.R. contract calls for the best coverage. Easy. You don’t really need to do anything!

Having said this; be wise and always check. Why? Because unless your client is only buying land the Title Insurance Company offers a CLTA policy when a residence doesn’t qualify for an ALTA HOP.  As the Realtor you’d probably have some questions. So check. What the Title Insurance Company is offering, either an ALTA HOP or a CLTA policy is usually on the second page of the prelim.

QUESTION

Does the ALTA HOP cost more than the CLTA policy?

Yes it does. About 10% more.  Think of it this way. For ten percent more you’re buying about 50% more peace of mind.

READY FOR TAKEOFF

“Medivac Charlie Victor Romeo cleared for takeoff runway two five right.” We taxi onto the runway and the engines start to scream. I know we’re going to takeoff safely because we’ve run the numbers and left a margin of safety.  Likewise, you know your clients are going to have the proper coverage they need on what’s undoubtedly their largest personal investment. The ALTA HOP offers a little margin of safety.

Please feel free to leave comments. And Remember, Sharing is Caring. Thank you.

Note:  Besides being a Title Company Account Executive I’m also a Charter Pilot.  Comments made here are my own and do not necessarily belong to my employer; Chicago Title & Escrow or Chrysler Aviation.

Chicago Title has been in business for more than 160 years. It’s a company you can trust.

For more information about Title Insurance contact me directly at:
Ric Lippincott or leave a comment below

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Stats Be Damned. The Fear of Flying & Real Estate

Adored When Needed For Immediate Rescue

I’m standing within arms reach of a fully equipped, reasonably self-sufficient, mostly educated, all faculties operable, grown man with a full-time job and a car, who is telling me he’s afraid of flying. I’m a Certified Flight Instructor. I get this a lot.  And I understand.

“You’ve got a better chance of being struck by lightning than of crashing in a jet. In fact, you’ve got a better chance of being struck twice by lightning than of going down with one of the big commercial operators.”  The Unfriendly Skies by Willie Stern, The Weekly Standard.

The stats be damned. Math isn’t a subject most of us grasped in school. How can we be expected to embrace it later in life?  Few of us have any trouble driving our cars yet nearly 33,000 people were killed in 2010, one of the best years on our nations roads according to the NHTSA, (National Highway Transportation and Safety Administration). There were no, none, zero airline fatalities in 2010. None. See USA Today Travel. Does knowing this chase away the fear of flying? Hell no.

Real Estate is scary too, until you’ve traversed it a few times and start to understand what makes it fly. I remember buying my first condo. I knew nothing. Didn’t understand a single thing. I was told to sign here, and here, and here… and the next thing I knew I was a homeowner. I blindly bought a home.

Most of the non-pilot population will do the same thing with flying. You’re told to get onboard, fasten your seatbelt, put your stuff under the seat or in the overhead bin and turn off your phone. The next thing you know you’re in Kansas!

In Real Estate transactions I try to explain what’s going on in the simplest terms. But sometimes what I have to say isn’t what the person wants to hear. That’s when ego’s step up and logic runs for cover. Besides flight Instructing, I’m in Title, so I get to work with all sides of a Real Estate transaction. Not just the buyers and sellers, but mostly the Realtors and Lenders.

Title guys like me are similar to lifeguards on the beach. We’re hated when we’re telling people they can’t swim because the water is too rough but adored when someone is drowning and needs immediate rescue.  An astute Realtor once told me, “I don’t even think about Title unless the $*** hits the fan. Then Title suddenly becomes the most important aspect of the Real Estate transaction.” Well said.

When teaching people to overcome their fear of flying I start by showing how and why airplanes fly. And, once we get in the air, I let students take the controls and actually fly the airplane themselves. We conclude with looking out the window and enjoying the perspective few people have the privilege of experiencing. If you’ve ever flown an airplane, even if for a few short minutes, you are one of the elite. Most people in the world will never have that story to share.

There hasn’t been a nicer time to buy Real Estate than right now. Home prices are low and money is cheap. If you need someone to walk  you through it, contact me. If I can’t walk you through to your goals, I have many experts in every area of Real Estate I can refer to you. See, “Does Your Realtor / Lender Know What You Drive“.  Once you’ve signed here, here and here, look out of the window in your new home and enjoy the view. You’re now part of the American Dream.

Flying airplanes, buying a home; scary at first. But once you understand the basics it’ll become second nature. It might even become enjoyable.

Please feel free to leave comments.  And Remember, Sharing is Caring.  Thank you.

Note: Besides being a CFII, MEI, Pilot, I’m a Title Rep.  In other words, I sell Title Insurance. Comments made here are my own and do not necessarily belong to my employer; Chicago Title & Escrow.

Chicago Title has been in business for more than 160 years. It’s a company you can trust.

For more information about Title Insurance or flying airplanes, contact me directly at ric.Lippincott@ctt.com.

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When The Secret Fails, Call In The Marines

Now Is the Time to be Grateful

I never was a Marine but I’ve seen Full Metal Jacket six times, about as many times as my friend has been to Afghanistan as a Marine. Frankly his enthralling stories scare the hell out of me. I’m both glad and ashamed I’ve never faced combat.

When The Secret came out I read it like everyone else. And I’m a Disciple. It’s irrefutable. Having a positive attitude has been repeatedly proven to improve performance in nearly all situations. If you want to be truly successful I vehemently encourage having a positive, grateful attitude with a splash of detachment. That way even if you fail, holding on to that strong positive attitude will cloak the failures from your friends. Totally cool, right?

But lately I’ve had misgivings about the message of positive thinking.  I’ve noticed a few of my colleagues have been spending more time thinking positive thoughts and being grateful for what little they have left – and less time rolling up their sleeves and getting to work.  So I started wondering.. what would the US Marines do?

If you need to lose weight: What would the Marines do? Would they join a Pilates class and hire a nutritionist?  Or would they do push-ups and run?

If you need to get a job: What would the Marines do? Would they go on-line and search Craig’s List?  Or would they hit the streets and storm a high-rise?

Recently a friend sent me a link to a video on YouTube that I hadn’t seen before. I’m speaking in the video along with a co-worker, Danielle Goldie, about Real Estate and the need for getting out and working. And a year after this interview with Richard Ramos I’m still saying the same thing. Get to work America!  (Watch the video.)

The best path to success is a healthy day of honest hard work. Then, when you’re about to fall asleep, think positive thoughts and be grateful you have a bed to sleep in. Some people are reading The Secret from the back seat of their car.

Please feel free to leave comments. Thank you.

Note: Besides being a CFII, MEI, Pilot, I’m a Title Rep.  In other words, I sell Title Insurance. Comments made here are my own and do not necessarily belong to my employer; Chicago Title & Escrow.

Chicago Title has been in business for more than 160 years. It’s a company you can trust.

For more information about Title Insurance or flying airplanes, contact me directly at ric.Lippincott@ctt.com.

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The Reincarnation of Bonnie and Clyde (The Modern Day Bank Robber)

A Bank Robbers Hide-A-Way

In many ways The Reincarnation of Bonnie & Clyde is a tale of bank robbery.  Instead of walking into a bank wielding a gun, the modern day bank robber uses Real Estate.

Much like the romanticized movie version of Bonnie & Clyde’s true life crime spree, I’m leaving out details because this case is presently under investigation by the FBI. What’s more I simply don’t think like a larcenist; a prerequisite for understanding the nuances of the crime I’m about to share with you.

The somewhat slow and murky work day, now commuted to early evening, hadn’t done much to help me toward my personal goals. Business was dragging as it frequently does near holidays. Tired and just hungry enough to be skeptical, iPhone alerted me to an e-mail with the familiar ‘ding’.

The e-mail, from a Real Estate Agent, simply read, “I need a Prelim on these two properties.”

A Prelim, short for Preliminary Title Report, is an extensive search on a subject property, sometimes going back 30 or more years, to determine the rightful owner without so much as a drop of ambiguity. There can’t be any unexplained breaks in the Chain of Title, liens, judgments, etc. As long as there’s no discourse a Prelim is an offer from the Title Company to insure the property. The Prelim is often the most time-consuming and expensive cost to the Title Company which, if a policy is purchased, is rolled into the cost of that policy.  But if a policy isn’t purchased the now lame-duck Prelim is nothing short of a non recoupable elephant expense.

A request for two Prelims coming from one agent can be cause for joy but in this case (I know this particular agent doesn’t normally do that kind of business) it was cause for question. I asked Siri to call the agent and like a faithful secretary she dialed the number for me. After a few simple and friendly questions I took a deep breath and ordered the Prelims. Maybe the day had been worthwhile after all.

Not so fast there sizzle britches.

Within a few days the Real Estate Agent was asking me odd questions. And I had a few questions of my own. For one thing, why was there an opened order from another Title Company on one of the two properties I was asked to search?

It took awhile to understand what was going on.  In a nutshell one of the two properties had just sold but was up for sale again. The other property was up for sale too but not having been flipped.  Another odd occurence, why was the lender on the first property calling the original owners demanding payment?  None of this made sense.

The Real Estate Agent who ordered the Prelims kept telling me the bank who loaned money on the first property was calling the original owners, demanding payment, or the bank would foreclose. But wait. Everyone knows when you sell property all liens, loans, judgments, etc., must be paid off or cleared before the property can transfer to new ownership. So why would the “old” bank be asking for payment after the closing?

I asked the Real Estate Agent why they used a smaller off-beat Title company on the first sale.  Why didn’t they just call me in the first place? This agent always uses me and I was a little surprised to see I’d been left out of the first transaction. The Agent explained the Escrow company had demanded they use the smaller Title company. Red flag. Escrow can recommend but not demand the use of a specific Title Insurance company.

Exasperated I suggested the Realtor drive to Escrow and find out what was going on.

The next phone call I got from the Real Estate Agent was sobering. The Escrow Office was shut down. Closed. Gone. Packed up and moved out. History. See ya!

Here’s what happened.

Fake Escrow gets a license for two months, opens an office, takes in as many orders as possible, directs payoff funds from legitimate banks (the new lender) to a fake lien holders (the supposed old lender), grabs the money and books out-of-town.

The perfect bank job?

There are probably others involved in this scam. Like I said, I don’t think like a larcenist so I don’t know for sure. But here’s what I do know. This type of crime is ramping up. This isn’t the first case we as Title Company’s have seen like this. As the economy languishes, people grow desperate. And when people get desperate they are more willing to believe what sounds too good to be true.

Here’s my advice.

If you’re getting involved in a Real Estate transaction today make sure the people you’re working with have the expertise necessary to watch for traps. I’m not suggesting you can’t trust someone just getting into the business, we all had to start somewhere, but if they are new in the business make sure they have a reputable, well established company behind them. The Title Insurance company you choose is probably the most important decision you’ll make during a Real Estate transaction. (See, “Does Your Realtor or Lender Know What You Drive?”)

In a perfect world the original owners of the first property would get their home back, the old lien holder will get paid from the owners on the normal payment plan, the buyers will be reimbursed by the Title Company (That’s one of the 21 reasons for having Title Insurance), the Title Company has to pay another claim and the FBI gets the bad guys.  In a perfect world.

Beware of the modern day bank robber.  They aren’t in the bank with a gun anymore!

Please feel free to leave comments. Thank you.

Note: Besides being a CFII, MEI, Pilot, I’m a Title Rep.  In other words, I sell Title Insurance. Comments made here are my own and do not necessarily belong to my employer; Chicago Title & Escrow.

Chicago Title has been in business for more than 150 years. It’s a company you can trust.

For more information about Title Insurance or flying airplanes, contact me directly at ric.Lippincott@ctt.com.

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Poor Communication Can Crash An Airplane Or A Real Estate Deal

Am I Communicating Effectively Now?

Poor Communication can crash an airplane. In fact poor communication has been cited as a contributing factor in too many airplane crashes. Similarly poor communication has brought down more than a few business deals.

Think about those times you were desperately trying to convey your message only to walk away thinking the other person must be an idiot.

“I might as well have been talking to a rock!”

Or maybe – you didn’t effectively communicate!

Here are a few examples of how poor communication can crash an airplane.

Read the following transcript from a cockpit voice recorder. But first, put yourself in the front seat of a B737. You’re rolling down a cold snow-covered runway with seconds to make numerous instrument interpretations, each interpretation requiring what pilots call a go/no-go decision.  The jet is quickly building speed. Check engine power; set for take off. No master warnings.  Airspeed?  Call out V1. You’re about to pass the accelerate-stop distance meaning you are going flying, problem or not, because at that speed and distance you’ll no longer have enough runway ahead of you to stop the inertia of this heavy aircraft.

Notice the poor communication between a confident, perhaps overbearing, Captain and a First Officer who is apprehensive about asserting his knowledge even when it could have saved his own life:

First Officer: Ah, that’s not right.

Captain: Yes, it is, there’s 80 [referring to speed].

First Officer: Nah, I don’t think it’s right. Ah, maybe it is.

Captain: Hundred and twenty.

First Officer: I don’t know.

The First Officer was in fact correct in his interpretations but lacked the assertiveness and the ability to effectively communicate his knowledge to the Captain.  Moments later Air Florida Flight 90, carrying 79 people, crashed into the Potomac River killing all but 5.

Flight 90 crashed on 13 January 1982 but still serves as one of the best examples of how critical it is to be able to effectively communicate with the person who needs to receive the message.  Tragically Air Florida Flight 90 isn’t the only airliner destroyed  by ineffective communication. There are dozens of examples of air crashes that could have been avoided if only communication between crew members and, or, communication between ATC (Air Traffic Control) and cockpit crews had been more effective.

Another well-studied crash happened on 27 March, 1977.  Ineffective communication: 583 killed in Tenerife, Canary Islands when ATC used non standard phraseology with a Dutch KLM crew and an American Pan Am crew struggling to interpret instructions through a thick Spanish accent. The KLM flight was cleared for take off while the Pan Am aircraft was still on the runway. The two planes collided creating the worst aviation disaster in history.

Three years later another Tenerife controller wanted a Dan Air flight to enter a hold and make left turns once in the hold. The proper internationally accepted phraseology for this request is, “Make left tuns.”  Instead the controller told a Dan Air flight to, “Turn left.” The pilots, not understanding the non standard instruction, did turn left.  But instead of entering an oval-shaped holding pattern in the sky they “turned left”,  kept going, and crashed into a mountain killing 146.

Recently I assisted in the recovery of a Real Estate transaction on a trajectory headed toward crashing into litigation. Both the seller and the buyer appeared angry and hostile toward the other. The agents had completely lost control and failed in every effort to communicate. Glancing in the rear view mirror the obvious appeared. If only the Real Estate agents had been able to effectively communicate from the beginning, two weeks of agony could have been avoided.  Two weeks of agony is far less harsh than a crash into a mountain but it could have been avoided just the same. By asserting myself, only in the communication aspect of the transaction, we turned a positive corner and both sides felt they were the winners in the end. No dollars spent on lawyers.

Effective communication between controllers and pilots have improved substantially since the Air Florida crash in 1982 because the NTSB, FAA and airlines recognized the problem and coordinated efforts giving pilots extensive training in what is called CRM. (Read: “Making Air Travel Safer Through Crew Resource Management (CRM)”   by the: American Psychological Association.)

CRM primarily strives to improve communication in the cockpit, including the difficulty some First Officers have in telling Captain’s they are wrong, and encompasses teaching flight crews to utilize every available resource when faced with critical situations.

Psychologists, doctors, researchers and business coaches have spent countless hours studying ways to improve communication in nearly all human interaction scenarios. From flying airplanes to Real Estate, with business negotiations and marriage communication in-between, you can get what you want faster and more efficiently through better communication.

How?

First, acknowledge that the spoken word is powerful. People have gone to war because General’s have told them to. In the Bible it says, “And God said”. God didn’t wave his hand or a magic wand, he said. So be cognizant of your words, what you say, and particularly what you ask for.

Second, realize effective communication skills aren’t limited to vocabulary. Body language, for example, is also important. Not convinced? Tell your spouse you appreciate them while crossing your arms and rolling your eyes. Style, timing, intensity of your voice, all contributing factors toward effective communication.

Finally, before you can really communicate with someone you need to understand who they are.  Will you be negotiating with a man or woman? If you’re a woman communicating in business, what point are you really getting across?

(Read: “Ten Ways Women Sabotage Communication In The Workplace” by: Diane DiResta.)

What is the background of your audience?

(Read: “How Can Cultural Differences Affect Business Communication?”  by: J Mariah Brown.

You don’t have to be a psychologist to communicate well. If you’re willing to take a few moments to consider your receiver, understand their background, and make an effort to communicate in a way they can clearly comprehend your intended message, then I can guarantee you a much better result.

Note: Besides being a CFII, MEI, Pilot, I’m a Title Rep.  (Tie-tél Rep; a person or reptile that scurries through Real Estate Offices and Lending institutions in search of food, stopping at nothing, including stepping on other Title Reps in its pursuit.)  In other words, I sell Title Insurance. I am not a financial advisor so do your own research before investing. Comments made here are my own and do not necessarily belong to my employer; Chicago Title & Escrow.

For more information about Title Insurance or flying airplanes, contact me directly at ric.Lippincott@ctt.com.

 

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