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GTA housing market poised for spring thaw

Posted on 18 April 2018 by admin

Downtown Toronto properties are attracting multiple offers, while realtors in the wider GTA see signs of the market heating up.

 “Sizzling” might be overstating the warming property market. But the real estate industry is finally predicting a return to a traditionally brisk spring — the kind of season that was virtually lost last year when, after months of bully bids and frenzied buying, sales soared in March and then stopped almost overnight.

Oakville broker Tracy Nursall says it’s been longer than a single aberrant year since the Toronto Region experienced a typical spring market. This year is more similar to 2013 or 2014 than any season since, she said. There was a long run-up to last March’s historical peak of a 34 per cent year-over-year price increase. The exceptional activity dates back to 2015, she said.

“Everybody’s taking 2017 out of the numbers, they should take 2016 out of the picture as well,” said Nursall of Sage Real Estate, who says the market west of the City of Toronto is still coming out of hibernation. But she expects sales to heat up with the later spring weather.

Downtown agents tell a different story. They say that the right properties in desirable neighbourhoods are attracting multiple offers, while still allowing room for negotiation.

Even in Durham Region — traditionally an island of affordability in the Toronto area — prices are rising and properties are moving faster than they were at the beginning of the year, said Dennis Roberts, president of the Durham Region Association of Realtors.

“There’s a lot of demand for homes even if people’s capacity (to buy) has been diminished,” said Phil Soper, CEO of Royal LePage.

He acknowledges the cumulative effects of the mortgage stress tests enforced by Canada’s bank regulator in January, rising interest rates and the market deflation that followed Ontario’s foreign buyers’ tax last April. But he says would-be buyers are still optimistic they will be able to afford a home even if they have to wait a while, he said.

“This spring people want to talk and they want to understand. Some of them can’t afford what they feel they need or they can’t pass the test to get financing but they still want to talk,” he said. That’s a different scenario than Vancouver in 2016, when people wouldn’t even speak to agents.Even if the volume of transactions remains relatively low in the Toronto area, demand is building, said Soper.

Young people who haven’t been able to move out of their parents’ house are reaching the stage of life where they are going to buy houses and Canadians from outside Ontario are still flocking to the Toronto area’s job opportunities, he said.

“There were 25,000 new Ontarians, and most of them in the Greater Toronto Area last year based on people moving from other parts of the country. That is sharply up from what it was two years ago,” said Soper.

But macroeconomic factors will weigh heavily on the Canadian housing industry, he warns.

“What looks to be a very bright future could dim rapidly if a few things go wrong in trade, in mega-projects, even a sharp turn to protectionism or anti-immigration sentiment in Canada at the provincial level,” said Soper.

John Pasalis, president of Toronto real estate brokerage Realosophy, says he’s not expecting “crazy gains” this spring. But if prices stay where they are, by July or August, prices could hold steady or even rise slightly year over year by the end of 2018.

“The market’s going to do a little bit better than most people are expecting,” said Pasalis.

There is still only about two months’ housing inventory in the region, he said. That level would be rising to four or five months if sales and prices were going to slow further. That’s what happened last spring.

“While it’s slow in Richmond Hill, that means it’s really competitive in other parts. As a whole it’s pretty balanced right now,” said Pasalis.

Even the 905 communities that were hardest hit when the market deflated last April and May, are starting to improve, he said.

“Downtown is still insane. There’s no slowdown,” said Pasalis and that extends to central neighbourhoods such as Leslieville, Wallace Emerson and Dufferin Grove where buyers are competing for property.

Pasalis’s comments come a week after the Toronto Real Estate Board (TREB) reported a 14 per cent year-over-year drop in the average home price in March and a 40 per cent plunge in home sales. But month-to-month figures showed some warming, with last month’s prices 2 per cent higher than February’s and the third month-to-month rise.

“First-time home buyers — with the new rules — are really challenged to get into the market,” said Chris Alexander, regional director at Re/Max Integra.

Re/Max 2018 Spring Market Trends report predicts prices will fall around the GTA in comparison to last year. It predicts year-over-year declines between April and June from -2.5 per cent in Mississauga; -4 per cent in Brampton and -5 per cent in Toronto, to -15 per cent in Durham Region and -10 per cent in Oakville.

But the 2017 comparator is especially suspect given the unique circumstances of last spring and Alexander is predicting that by year’s end, average home prices for 2018 will end up around where they began this year.

“(Buyers) will show up for the good properties,” he said.

“Sellers are going to have to come down to reality and understand this isn’t 2016 or the first part of 2017,” said Alexander.

“There are certain neighbourhoods in Toronto that have performed very well despite government intervention and the cooling markets around them,” he said, mentioning Etobicoke, Rosedale and Yorkville.

But Markham and Richmond Hill will still see softening, he predicted.

Breaking down the market

How much heat buyers and sellers experience this spring will depend on the kind of property and the area in which they are trading.

Downtown

If there’s a heat island in the GTA, it’s downtown where properties are routinely getting snapped up, says Desmond Brown of Royal LePage.

Brown reports that the take-no-prisoners atmosphere of 2016 and early 2017 has mellowed. Even in competing bid situations, the selling price for houses tends not to be a crazy amount over asking and there’s frequently room to negotiate.

A buyer on one property that had multiple bids had a successful offer that included a home inspection, he says. Financing conditions can also be written into offers.

Still, he advises, if you’re buying, “You’ve got to do your best to have the cleanest offer possible.” That can mean arranging a home inspection before the offer date or asking for one the seller has done in advance. Buyers should also make sure their financing is pre-approved, he says.

It’s a real estate cliche, but it really is all about location and that’s truer than it was during the peak, says Brown.

“Last year, where we were seeing things selling in just about any location, this year buyers are a lot more discerning,” he says. They will pay attention to the condition of neighbouring homes, and properties on main streets will take longer to move.

“A lot of young people in financial services and the tech industry have the money to spend. They want to be within walking distance for work or a short transit ride and they’re still paying top bucks,” says Brown.

The $1-million price that would be a psychological barrier doesn’t apply to the hot downtown market, says John Pasalis, president of Leslieville brokerage Realosophy.

“Prices of $1.3 million, $1.5 million — those are still competitive down here — if you’re on the subway line,” he says. “It’s when you get north of $2 million that it starts getting slower.”

The 905

The pain of the real estate bubble lingers in the communities outside Toronto, particularly in areas like York Region where speculation played a big role in driving up the market before last April, says Realosophy’s Pasalis. Overall, he’s expecting a balanced market, but the farther from the core you are, the more inventory there is, he says.

In Durham Region, one of the most affordable areas of the GTA, the average price rose to $598,000 from $578,000 between January and March, says Dennis Roberts, president of the local real estate association. The average number of days on the market has dropped from about 30 to 18 during the same period. The extension of Highway 407 and expanded GO train service are raising Durham’s value because commuters to Toronto have alternatives to sitting in congestion on Highway 401.

Lower-priced properties are moving more quickly than bigger houses, but the empty nesters living in those have fewer options in Durham where condo development has lagged other areas of the GTA, he says.

“They really don’t have many options of where to go. So we need to get a bigger choice for them. We need more supply for that bungalow-condo market, larger condos. They don’t want to go down to 800 sq. ft.,” says Roberts.

Mississauga and Oakville are starting to climb back out of the January doldrums, but the heat generated in downtown always takes a while to work its way west in the Toronto region, says Tracy Nursall of Sage Real Estate.

“We’re just heading into spring now where Toronto’s already in spring market,” she says. “April is coming out of the gate a little faster, but it’s not bolting out of the gate.”

Increasingly, buyers in 905 communities are looking for the same kind of destination neighbourhoods that make downtown Toronto attractive, says Nursall. They will be quick to pounce on the new neighbourhoods being built around Port Credit in Mississauga, she says.

“Hamilton’s taking a lot of eyeballs because they’ve got a great culture and foodie scene,” says Nursall.

Condos

Condos are the housing market that uniformly evoke superlatives and challenge buyers. It’s not unusual for a downtown condo to draw 10 to 15 offers, says Christopher Alexander of Re/Max.

“The condo market just continues to defy expectations,” says Andrew Harrild of Condos.ca

Multiple offers and over-asking prices are the norm. But, he says, supply is an issue as condo owners struggle to make their next move.

“It’s very difficult for buyers to afford a house in the city,” he says.

Downtown condos also offer a lifestyle their owners value, says Harrild. He says he recently met with a couple who were considering listing their downtown loft, but they were struggling with whether they could stand to live farther than a two-minute walk to the stores and restaurants they enjoy.

“If you want that patch of grass are you willing to sacrifice on location to get it,” he says.

Royal LePage’s Brown calls the condo market “completely nutty on everything under the $700,000 range.”

Once the price approaches about $800,000, condos start to look expensive. Add in maintenance fees and the cost resembles a $1.1 million house, he says.

Brown cites a condo in Regent Park that was listed for $455,000. He figured it might be worth up to $550,000. It sold for about $600,000 after atttracting 13 offers.

Home buyer behaviours

56%

Ontarians who feel they can afford to buy a home that suits their family’s needs.

53%

Ontarians who put access to parks and green spaces as their top home-buying consideration, compared to 50%, who put proximity to work as their chief concern, followed by access to stores (45%) and nearby public transit (36%)

29%

Ontarians who had to compromise on the size of home and their budget because of government regulations.

Source: Leger survey for Re/MAX Spring Market Trends report

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An emotional Boney Kapoor reacts to Sridevi winning the National Award

Posted on 18 April 2018 by admin

The two legends of Indian cinema, Vinod Khanna and Sridevi were honored at the 65th National Awards by rewarding them with the Dadasaheb Phalke and Best Actress Awards respectively.

Shekhar Kapur, who was the feature film jury head, announced Sridevi’s name saying that she was the most deserving candidate for the award. Sridevi received the award for the Best Actress for her brilliant performance in the movie Mom (2017). While announcing the award, Shekhar Kapur mentioned why he felt that Sridevi rightfully deserved the honour, “It [the title] was not because of the relationship we shared, but because she was the most deserving candidate for her portrayal in Mom,” Kapur said. Sridevi portrayed the role of a mother who is trying to seek justice for her daughter in a rape revenge drama.

Husband of late Sridevi, Boney Kapoor spoke to the media after the actress was honoured in such a prestigious manner. He said, “Today, we, as a family, do not know whether we should celebrate or not. We don’t know if we should feel elated, laugh with joy, or cry while remembering her. The National Award has come posthumously, but it’s something we cherish while remembering her for the artiste that she was. She was a perfectionist, and that was evident in all the 300-plus films she did. It’s time to celebrate her achievements. Her legacy will always live on.”

The jury recognised the diversity in Indian Cinema by honouring films belonging to different langauges and regions. Rima Das’ Assamese film, Village Rockstars, about the music aspirations of a village girl, was named the Best Feature Film, besides scoring awards for the Best Location Sound Recordist, Editing and Best Child Artiste (Bhanita Das).

The 10 member jury which was headed by Shekhar Kapur consisted of  Kannada director P Sheshadri, screenwriter Imtiaz Hussain, actor Gautami Tadimalla and lyricist Mehboob, among others. The Awards are administered by the government’s Directorate of Film Festivals.

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Deepika Padukone and Ranveer Singh signed for a YRF film

Posted on 18 April 2018 by admin

Deepika Padukone and Ranveer Singh are undoubtedly the favourite couple of Sanjay Leela Bhansali. And the reason couldn’t be more obvious than him directing them in three films. We are talking about Goliyon Ki Raasleela – Ram Leela, Bajirao Mastani and Padmaavat. But now, yet another production house has expressed keenness in casting them in their next. And it is none other than Aditya Chopra’s Yash Raj Films.

Ranveer Singh and Deepika Padukone are of late in news, courtesy speculations on their marriage. While Ranveer has finally hinted about being in a relationship [speculations are doing the rounds since 2013], he has denied all the reports about their impending marriage in December. But Ranveer and Dippy fans who are disappointed about this denial may rejoice the news that the couple will be cast together for a YRF movie! It will be directed by Maneesh Sharma.

The production house is known for some popular romantic films. But it needs to be seen whether they will be going for a full-fledged romantic drama or a rom-com for this popular couple. While Aditya Chopra was always keen on producing a film with Ranveer, we hear that they decided to rope in Deepika Padukone after one of her recent films was put on hold.

We are talking about her Vishal Bhardwaj film. The female-centric drama featuring Deepika as a gangster, is inspired from the real life story of the famous gangster Sapna Didi. However, the film was also supposed to feature Irrfan Khan and the actor, as we know, is taking treatment for his illness. So the film has been put on hold. And it is yet to be known as to when the actors will resume the schedule.

Hence, considering that Deepika Padukone has some time to spare in her otherwise choc-o-block schedule, the makers decided to approach her. So it is now being said that both the actors are thrilled about collaborating for the fourth time. However an official announcement is awaited on the same.

The said Ranveer Singh and Deepika Padukone starrer with YRF is expected to go on floor next year. Singh is expected to wrap up even 1983 before he kicks off this film.

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Khushi Kapoor slays in Falguni and Shane Peacock gown

Posted on 18 April 2018 by admin

Sridevi and Boney Kapoor’s 17-year-old daughter Khushi Kapoor dressed up for her prom last night ie on April 13 in gorgeous Falguni and Shane Peacock gown.

The 17-year-old star kids was styled by Tanya Ghavri. She was decked in an embellished gown, covered with feathers and silver linings. The pictures of Khushi Kapoor styled up beautifully went viral on social media. Netizens go gaga over Khushi’s look from the prom night.

In the pictures, Khushi Kapoor smiled to the camera and posed in different style. In one of the photos, she is seen looking at herself in the mirror and applying the red lipstick.

Her elder sister Janhvi already set for Bollywood debut and now looking at the pictures, we can say Khushi might soon follow the footsteps of her late mom Sridevi and elder sister.

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Oakville homebuyers purchased at their own risk, housing minister says

Posted on 11 April 2018 by admin

A group of buyers in Mattamy Homes’ Preserve development say provincial measures to cool the Toronto-area housing market have placed them in financial peril. But Queen’s Park offered no assistance on Thursday.

Ontario Housing Minister Peter Milczyn says he doesn’t know how many homebuyers have been financially imperilled by the plunge in the Toronto real estate market following the introduction of the foreign buyers tax last April.

“I’m not aware this is a massive problem,” he said on Thursday.

Milczyn, who wasn’t in the housing portfolio at the time, said Queen’s Park would have done a broad analysis of the potential fallout from the tax, part of its Fair Housing Plan, which succeeded in cooling the region’s white-hot housing market.

“But as far as I know, (the government) didn’t drill down into calculating a number of individuals who might be impacted,” he said.

Milczyn was among those who expressed sympathy but offered no assistance Thursday to a group of Oakville homebuyers who say they are part of a much larger cohort of purchasers, caught during an extraordinary real estate cycle. They say they are on the brink of not being able to close on their pre-construction home purchases and fear they will be forced to forfeit hundreds of thousands of dollars in deposits.

They also worry that if they don’t close, they will be sued by the builder.

The buyers say the drop in the region’s real estate sales devalued their existing homes far below what they expected when they bought in Mattamy Homes’ Preserve development in February 2017. There are at least 100 other buyers suffering similar distress, said three couples who were interviewed by the Star.

In addition to declining property values, their dilemma has been compounded by new mortgage stress tests that took effect nationally in January, qualifying them for smaller loans than they would have been able to access a year ago.

“We’re looking for some sort of solution to help us out, however creative that can be … We’re open to anything that can really help us in our situation. We’re not looking for a handout,” said buyer Claudia Evans.

Some houses in Mattamy’s Preserve sold for more than $2 million. The buyers who spoke to the Star paid between $1.2 million and $1.6 million, sums that were about the same as the prices they expected to get for the homes they already owned. The three couples all said they planned to live in their new homes with their young children.

The average price of a new-construction Toronto-area detached home in February 2018 was $1.22 million. A year earlier it was about $1.5 million.

On Thursday, politicians and builders said that the buyers should have known they were at risk when they signed contracts with a builder.

“The government is not here as a backstop for real estate transactions gone bad,” said Milczyn.

The foreign buyers tax was introduced because there was a sense that people from outside Ontario and Canada were bidding up the price of homes, shutting Toronto-area buyers out of the market, he said. The 15 per cent non-resident speculation tax has reduced the number of offshore transactions in the province.

“To me that means the policy was successful in giving more Ontarians a fair shot at buying a home,” said Milczyn.

In the month after the tax was introduced, government data showed less than 5 per cent of real estate deals in the Toronto and Golden Horseshoe area involved foreign buyers. That’s about the same number the Toronto Real Estate Board reported prior to the tax’s introduction.

Building Industry and Land Development Association president Dave Wilkes, who represents homebuilders, said developers are also subject to economic forces, government regulation and demand, but the businesses have to meet their commitments.

“The industry is sympathetic to the hardships changing conditions will place some new homebuyers in,” he said. “The housing industry is a cyclical one. When you buy a new home that is going to be completed several months down the road, unfortunately situations can change, whether that’s the value of the current house that you have, if you are indeed looking to sell, employment conditions — there’s all those types of things that can happen.”

Oakville Mayor Rob Burton has written to Mattamy on behalf of the buyers, asking if the company can offer some concessions that it has allowed in other developments.

“What (the buyers) are saying is they’re looking at all of their hopes and dreams being dashed and it’s got to be a very tough place to be for people,” he said.

But it’s not the government’s problem. “This is a private matter,” Burton told the Star.

In Mattamy’s Queen’s Common community in Whitby, where the builder dropped its prices following the decline in real estate sales, buyers were allowed to increase their deposits to reduce the price of the house by an equal amount.

Asked if that was a possibility for Oakville, Mattamy said the company deals with individual communities differently.

“We’ve decided going forward that the best approach continues to be dealing with customers on a one-to-one basis, which is the same way that they bought from us,” said Brent Carey, vice-president of communications for Mattamy.

“If we can assist our buyers within the contractual boundaries that we both signed on for, we explore that with them individually. We have been and will continue to be willing to meet and work with our customers one on one, within the boundaries of the agreement, in an effort to where possible provide individual solutions.”

RBC reported on Thursday that Canada’s overall housing affordability improved in the fourth quarter of 2017 for the first time in more than two years, mostly as a result of the slow Toronto market. But it cautioned against popping champagne corks, “unless you think allocating 75.1 per cent of a household’s income to cover ownership costs is acceptable.”

“That’s what a typical Toronto-area household would need to allocate if it were to buy an average home at today’s prices and interest rates,” said the bank report.

The reprieve is likely to be short-lived because the Bank of Canada will hike its rate again before the first half of 2019, said RBC.

 

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Sonam Kapoor-Anand Ahuja to wed in Switzerland, May 9-12

Posted on 11 April 2018 by admin

Lovebirds Sonam Kapoor and Anand Ahuja are going to enter wedlock in Switzerland. It will be a five-day wedding affair starting from pre-wedding, haldi to wedding reception bash. The family members of both the parties will fly to Switzerland. Sonam will marry Anand Ahuja in the second week of May in Switzerland and the tentative dates are May 9-12.

A friend of the actress told, “Most of us are flying out of Mumbai. Anand’s family and some of Sonam’s relatives will probably fly from Delhi. The marriage and other ceremonies are being planned as a two-day affair. But, we have to leave room for some impromptu events. I’m planning to keep myself free for at least four days, not to forget the to and fro travel.”

The shopping for the wedding has been done and the families will be flying in the first week of May.

The wedding planners already started preparation for the big day. The hotel rooms have been booked.

Earlier, it was said that the wedding will be held in Jodhpur.

“The date and venue for the wedding have been locked and mass bookings for flights are presently underway. Her dad Anil Kapoor is personally making phone calls to invite guests. There will be sangeet and mehendi ceremonies, followed by a traditional Hindu wedding,” a source informed.

“I think I’ll have a wedding with only my family and close friends in attendance. I would also prefer to get married in India because it’s my favourite place in the world,” Sonam had told Brides.

Sonam and Anand are now planning about their honeymoon venue.

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Aishwarya Rai Bachchan honoured with the title of Woman of Substance in Pune

Posted on 11 April 2018 by admin

Aishwarya Rai Bachchan has been the epitome of grace and elegance for quite a long time now. The global icon has impressed one and all with the way she has carried herself throughout these years giving a lot of great performances. Aishwarya is not just a superb actress but a hands-on mother as well. The actress takes pride in saying that she loves spending time with her daughter, Aaradhya Bachchan and bringing her up as a normal child, protecting her from all the media glare. Aishwarya is also known for being a philanthropist and she has been involved with various causes to spread awareness and help the ones in need.

This time around, The Bunt community that the actress is a part of decided to honour Aishwarya with a prestigious title. Aishwarya was given the title of Woman of Substance by the Bunt’s Sangha in Pune, while she also inaugurated the Buntera Bhavana. The actress looked radiant in a stunning fuchsia and mauve ethnic ensemble as she attended the event.

 

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Television actress Radhika Madan bags a Vishal Bhardwaj film

Posted on 11 April 2018 by admin

 While many newcomers often would have to wait for years before bagging prestigious projects with the likes of National Award-Winning filmmakers like Vishal Bhardwaj, the beautiful new girl in B-Town, Radhika Madan, has bagged the lead role in Bhardwaj’s forthcoming comedy-drama Chhuriyaan.

Radhika Madan comes from a non-filmy background but the actress definitely has some spark. Ever since she made her entry into the glam world, she has made an impression on everyone and now the young and talented actress has impressed none other than the maverick filmmaker and director, Vishal Bhardwaj.

Over 60 girls were auditioned for the film, which revolves around two sisters who are at loggerheads, but Radhika managed to leave a mark with her acting skills and fresh look and bagged the role of one of the leads alongside Sanya Malhotra. Vishal Bhardwaj was quoted saying in an interview with a leading daily that Radhika is fantastic.

Radhika, who is new to the world of films, has already started prepping for her role in the quaint village of Ronsi, which is a three-hour-drive away from Jaipur and will begin shooting for the film end of this month.

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Abhishek Kapoor to complete Sushant Singh Rajput and Sara Ali Khan’s Kedarnath under his banner

Posted on 11 April 2018 by admin

After a month-long tussle between KriArj Entertainment and Abhishek Kapoor, the director of Kedarnath, due to non-payment of dues, it is now being said that the film will be made under Abhishek Kapoor’s home banner. Kedarnath stars Sushant Singh Raput and Sara Ali Khan in the lead. The film revolves around the backdrop of the Kedarnath floods. The love story has already made the audience curious about watching a new pair on-screen. After long-drawn discussions about how the film will get back on track and resume its last shooting schedule, seems like director Abhishek Kapoor has decided to take charge.

A source told a leading daily that, “Abhishek and Prernaa talked across the table. Now, it has been decided that Gattu will reportedly give the latter Rs 15 crore that she paid him for the initial shooting. Once this money is settled, Abhishek will wrap up the movie under his banner.” Abhishek’s home banner Guy in the Sky Pictures will now be seen as the sole producer of Kedarnath according to the latest reports.

Kedarnath was expected to hit the theatres in December this year, but, it will now release in 2019.

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Hindi Medium beats opening weekend collections of Bajrangi Bhaijaan and Dangal in China

Posted on 11 April 2018 by admin

Irrfan Khan’s Hindi Medium was touted as one of the best films of 2017 and he won the Filmfare Award for Best Actor (Male) – Popular as well for his amazing act. Little did the makers know that this already loved film would receive such an overwhelming response from the Chinese audience. On April 4, 2018, the film had an extraordinary opening with $3.42 Million and now has garnered a whopping Rs.102.29cr ($15.75 million) in just 3 days.

Emerging as the second biggest Bollywood opener of all time (after Secret Superstar), this Dinesh Vijan and Bhushan Kumar release has impressively beaten the opening weekend collections of Dangal and Bajrangi Bhaijaan in China.

Directed by Saket Chaudhary, the Irrfan Khan and Saba Qamar starrer has received several awards and is renowned for its content, making Hindi Medium the prize-pick for Chinese exhibitors.

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