The Experts

Greville Pabst
+ About Greville Pabst
Greville Pabst is CEO and Director of WBP Property Group.

Flipping a property for profit

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Flipping a property isn’t as quick and easy as it may appear to be on popular renovation shows. There are many variables to consider before taking this big leap and embarking on a new property flipping project.

Plan a budget

First things first, budget. Before starting, you will need to set a clear budget. This doesn’t only include the cost of the initial purchase price but also materials, labour and appointing an agent to sell the property post-renovation. Mapping out a plan where funds will need to be paid is a good suggestion. Keep in mind to allow budget for potential problems that may occur, which could potentially exceed your budget. This allows you to be prepared if disaster does strike.

Find a property

When choosing a property, compare it with the price of renovated equivalents in the area to determine the potential profit. Properties scarce in kind, such as period homes or older style flats, in lifestyle locations close to employment opportunities, transportation, cafes, restaurants and recreational facilities. Areas with these lifestyle attributes make for rewarding renovation projects with interest from both tenants and buyers.

Finding the right property also depends on your skillset. If you are confident in your ability to assess a property and understand what needs to be done successfully, you may choose a property that requires a larger renovation and structural improvements in the hope to get a higher return. However, if you aren’t confident in a total house flip, and looking at a smaller return, consider a property that doesn’t require too much work.

Before buying, obtain a building inspection. This is imperative as you don't want any hidden little surprises appearing that may impact your future property.

Begin renovation

Determine how much work you are planning to do on it and whether you’re willing to tackle structural changes. Some renovators make the mistake of customising the home improvements after their own taste and style, but to get a good return you need to identify the needs of the local demographics in the area. If you’re unsure of what to do, it may save you thousands to engage some independent advice who can give you a better understanding of what future buyers or tenants are looking for in that specific area, so that when you do sell or lease it, you’ll get the maximum return on your investment.

Once you start the renovations, keep in mind that you could save costs by doing parts of the renovations yourself instead of completely relying on trades. Just remember that certain parts will require a qualified professional, like a plumber or electrician, in order to pass building approval.

The risks

Flipping property can come with its fair share of risks. Some risks to take into consideration is overcapitalizing, you don’t want to spend too much on features that might not give you any return on your investment. Keep to your budget and allow extra planning before purchasing a property to minimise the risks and potential additional expenses.

As flipping houses has become more popular along with the constant changes on the market, you may find it more difficult to sell certain properties. If this were to happen, you might consider renting it out until you can find a buyer, have this as a backup plan and take it into consideration when first buying.

Good planning and preparation is crucial to a well-executed and profitable renovation project. Before buying a property, seek a local real estate agent, town planner, a builder and a valuer in order to understand the local laws, regulations and market conditions that impact the property and your proposed renovation.

Greville Pabst is CEO of WBP Group.



The science to your address

Tuesday, August 07, 2018

Purchasing a property is one of the largest financial decisions many people will do in their lives. You would therefore think that buyers would have a rational approach when choosing a property to buy, but in some cases, pre-existing beliefs can influence consumer psychology and decision-making processes, which may not always be for the better. Particularly when it comes to superstitious beliefs and their impact on property purchases.

Superstition is something that most of us are familiar with. Whether we consciously attribute significance to it is arguable, but it’s not uncommon to “knock on wood” and avoid black cats or walking under ladders to safeguard against jinxing oneself.

In America, each time Friday 13th occurs, the US economy sustains a loss of an estimated $850 million, as people on this day avoid marrying, travelling and even working. Our superstitious belief of the number 13, among others, has historically seen many high-rise buildings skip or rename the 13th floor, or use it as a plant room. Even at some airports and hospitals there is an absence of gates and rooms with the number 13.

When it comes to buying property, many real estate agents claim that buyers from some Asian cultures, in particular, won’t even consider a home if the street number doesn’t stack up, and in some cases will pay a premium for those that do - with 4 and 14 considered among the unluckiest and 8 and 9 the luckiest.

Some buyers may be put off purchasing a property with a certain street number, but it doesn’t reflect the property’s value and potential performance and should therefore not be the main factor when choosing a property to buy. If you’re not a superstitious person, homes with certain numbers could in fact benefit you as a buyer, as the competition might be slightly lower.

A property’s value is typically impacted by location, land size, building improvements (the type, size and condition of the dwelling), orientation and aspect, with no widely evidence to support the claims that a property’s street number has a bearing on its value.




Property recap and forecast for the next 6 months

Tuesday, July 03, 2018

After a few years of strong growth in real estate, we’ve seen a considerably softer market during the first six months of 2018. The overall dwelling price growth has slowed from double figures in 2017 to single figures in first half of 2018.

Despite this, the key economic indicators are still strong:

          Interest rates remain at their lowest levels in living memory.

          The employment rates are high, and most sectors of the economy are growing.

          There is still strong interstate and overseas migration to Australia with around 100,000 new entrants each year to Victoria alone.

          We have an acute shortage of housing stock, which usually leads to a growth in capital value.

So why has the property market stalled?

Money is the oxygen that fuels the property market. But with major banks tightening their lending requirements it has become harder for investors and first home buyers to qualify for a loan, lowering the number of people able to buy property. The current negative sentiment and tightening monetary policy environment has without a doubt contributed to the slowdown of the property market.

With less room to negotiate with the banks,  consumer confidence has fallen during the past seven months (according to Westpac Melbourne consumer confidence index), which has made people more hesitant and less confident to invest in the current property market.

We must also consider the upcoming Elections. The Victorian State Election will take place in the middle of the typically booming spring property market and will be followed by a Federal Election in 2019. There is a common trend that during election years the market becomes more uncertain and generally buyers pause to assess the outcome and effect of a policy change. As we approach the Federal election the debate around negative gearing and capital gains tax will be loud.

What sectors are still performing well?

Even though we have seen signs of a cooler market, all sectors have not been affected. The residential new land and first home buyer market remains strong, in fact, residential land purchases, in some of Melbourne's outer north and western suburbs, have grown 30 per cent price over the past 12 months.

Some of Victoria’s regional towns, such as Geelong, Ballarat and Bendigo, have also experienced above long-term capital growth rates.

Good properties are still sought after and are performing very well. Older style apartments have outperformed dwellings during the last year, however, new, high density investment

grade apartments and off the plan remain sluggish. Large family sized owner occupier targeted apartments are faring better.

Properties priced in the $1million - $3million price range seem to be experiencing a slowdown in demand, with more of properties within this bracket tending to pass in at auction. Interestingly, there is evidence to show that renovations are becoming more popular, perhaps in part due to the popularity of television renovation shows such as The Block but also because it is also often cheaper to renovate and extend rather than to sell and buy something else.

My forecast for the second half of 2018

With both State and Federal Elections looming, consumers are going to become even more cautious about spending until the election results are known. The Banking Royal Commission has the eyes of the media on our major banks and we are clearly in an environment whereby there is less appetite for risk.

My role as a Property Advisor is to ensure I provide the best advice to my clients so I keep a close watch on:

          Any increase in interest rates

          A rise in unemployment

          Global economic outlook

          Credit squeeze

We’re currently in the middle of a buyer’s market where one can afford to be choosy. Good property will still sell, but we are seeing more buyers becoming auction shy and properties passing in, right now and for the remainder of the year both vendors and agents are more likely to consider genuine offers before auction.

It’s a good situation for those looking to enter the property market with improving housing affordability.

However, it’s not so good if you are planning to offer your house for sale this coming spring – the key is to engage an agent with strong credentials and seek independent property advice to ensure that your always in a position to make smart property decisions.




Renovate or move?

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Real estate prices have risen beyond the reach of many in recent years, although we are currently experiencing a softening or reprieve, which is consistent across the nation. For many, transaction costs are now prohibitive with buying and selling fees costing as much as a modest renovation in many cases. This state of limbo has caused a trend of people choosing to renovate their current homes instead of moving. 

The logic is, if you are purchasing a home for $1million, the buyer has to add a further $100,000 for stamp duty, legal costs, agents commission and other charges, if they have to sell an existing property and so on. For that amount of money, there are a many significant improvements a home owner could do to their current home instead of buying a new one. 

The cost of borrowing money to renovate is the lowest it has been for years. One can borrow money at around four per cent. Allowing home owners to accomplish a $100,000 renovation with it only costing them $4,000 a year in interest, which is what some people spend on coffee and cakes.  

Another factor is that adult children are staying in the family home for a longer time these days than ever before. Younger people are travelling more and studying longer, which makes it harder to save money and move out of the family home, without generous help from the bank of mum and dad. Many parents are therefore choosing to renovate their homes to accommodate for their adult children sticking around for longer rather than downsizing. 

At PropertyDuo we are hearing our clients say more frequently that they have a fear of missing out. Some families believe that if they sell, they might not be able to get back into the property market, due to the lack of alternate quality listings. It is quite evident today driving around the suburbs that the streets are full of tradesman and builders. Tradesman are in high demand which provides further evidence that there is a renovation boom going on! No matter whether you are searching for that dream property in a crowded market place or wondering whether a renovation will add value, obtaining independent advice from an independent property professional is paramount. The key is to know where to look, when to strike, how to negotiate before auction and to understand what a property is really worth.

The property market is always under constant change and at the moment we are seeing fewer homes on the market compared to previous years. I believe this is a trend we will continue to see, because right now, people perceive renovating more affordable than the alternative.



Here's how to prepare for a property pass-in

Tuesday, April 17, 2018


We all know that the property market has its ebbs and flows, and with February to Easter being one of the busiest auction periods of the year, we’ve seen plenty of stock on the market. This gives buyers more properties to choose from and it’s not uncommon that we see more properties being passed in and clearance rates dropping below 70%. 

Looking back at the same time last year, were we saw lots of properties sold under the hammer, we are now experiencing a softening in the market. With about two to three fewer bidders at each auction, more properties are being passed in. This is a scenario many buyers and sellers often aren’t prepared for but needs to be taken into consideration.

If you’re a buyer 

a)      Participate: If you’re at auction and a property gets passed in, you need to make sure that the property is passed in to you, and that you have the first right to negotiate with the vendor. For this to happen, you need to participate during the auction to make sure you don’t miss out.

b)      Be the last one standing: Once a property is passed in, the common scenario is that the agent will have the vendor in one room and you in another. Before this happens, often the agent will stay at the front of the house and see if there are any other people interested. Our tip is to avoid walking inside the house, and instead stay at the front and watch the competition leave. This puts you in a better negotiating position, knowing that there is no one left to compete with. 

c)      Don’t pay more: If you are the last person standing, the auctioneer will most likely ask you for more money, but think about if you would pay more for a house that passed in at $800,000? If the house did pass in, it shows the market is not willing to pay that price. Unless you are a skilled negotiator, generally people give in and pay more. 

d)      Ask for the reserve: Speak to the auctioneer and see if the vendor will reduce the reserve. This puts the vendor in a position where they have to reveal their cards. For the auctioneer, it is usually a time game as they might have to run to another auction. If the vendor is not willing to drop the price, be prepared to say that ‘this is my last offer and we can talk about it on Monday’. The deal does not need to be made on the day.

If you’re the vendor

a)      One more run: After the first run, agents can then be assertive and ask the vendor for the reserve. Don’t give out your reserve at auction and fall for the pressure of bringing it down too quickly. You can ask the auctioneer to go back out and try to bring the competition up, even if it’s just a couple thousands of dollars. Get a feel for the situation and the interest of the property, and as a vendor, don’t be afraid if a property gets passed in.

b)      Know the true value: If the property is passed in, don’t just rely on what the agent is saying. The vendor should have done their homework, and know other sales results within 2km of the area, to have a clear idea of what their property is really worth. Then you will be able to say that you’ve done your research and it’s worth more.

c)      Remove emotions: When people have lived in a house and formed an emotional connection, they form an opinion on what they think their house should be worth. Many vendors don’t think there is a need to seek independent advice as an agent is representing them, but that’s not always the case. By having a buyer’s advocate represent you, they will remove any emotions attached to the sale, and are able to negotiate with the agent on your behalf.

d)      Another time: If you don’t get what you want on auction day, don’t feel that you have to sell it, unless you really need to. If you have done your homework and know that the property still hasn’t reached the true market value, hold back, someone who walked away might come running back on Monday. 

Whether you are buying or selling a home, it’s important to have a clear strategy in place if a property was to be passed in. If you’re unsure of what to do, seek independent advice from a buyer’s agent who will help you along the way and make sure you end up with the best possible result.



How to renovate for your demographic and sell your property

Tuesday, March 06, 2018

Many renovators make the mistake of overcapitalising and spending too much money in areas that won’t necessarily add much value to their property. Before starting to make improvements on your home, it’s important to do your homework and research the location you’re in. If you’re unsure of what to do, it’s in your best interest to seek independent advice from a Property adviser or Buyer’s Agent.

Even if you’re not planning on selling your home straight away, it pays to plan for the future. This will ensure you get the most return on your investment the day you decide to put your home on the market.

Here are my four top tips when renovating for your target market:

Become a local expert

Before rushing into any renovations, take a step back and do your research on the location you’re in. Think about the demographic and your surroundings. Ask yourself “who lives here and who will most likely be attracted to your specific area - is it downsizers, families or young professionals?” It’s also important to think about who your potential buyers are, whether they’re investors or owner-occupiers. If you’re in a family area, a renovation should focus on being child-friendly and pay particular attention to areas such as the kitchen, living rooms and the backyard. These areas should be well presented and flow nicely throughout the house. If you’re on the other side of the spectrum in an area with young professionals, a proper home office trumps an extra living area any day in today’s market. Young professionals want a space where they can work in their homes.

2. Match the potential buyer’s expectation

Certain attributes are anticipated in certain areas. For example, a pool is expected in certain locations and people are willing to pay for it. However, in other suburbs, people may not expect a pool and thereby it may not add any value to your home. In some suburbs, the Victorian and Edwardian-style properties are very popular, so it would be best to retain as much of the older characteristics as you can. In these areas, many people still love the appeal that an old period home has and there are certain attributes that can't be replicated, such as skirting boards, ceiling rosettes and fireplaces. All these older features add value and uniqueness to a property. 

3. Consider your floorplan

Having a functional floorplan is likely to determine whether a home will be sold or leased. In many older houses, bathrooms and toilets tend to be out the back, which is not functional anymore. Common problems with layout include not placing the living and kitchen areas on the northern side of the building to get natural lighting, having the kitchen tucked away in a separate room or a bathroom off the kitchen, not the hallway. The majority of people today are looking for openness, flow and an abundance of natural light throughout a home that creates a welcoming feeling.

4. Spend money in the right areas

As mentioned before, consider the area you’re in to ensure you don’t overcapitalise based on the values of other properties in your area. If possible, try to retain original features of the home, for example cornices and original stained-glass windows. These original features combined with modern touches are greatly appreciated by many buyers. I always say that kitchens, bathrooms and outdoor living areas sell houses, so keep that in mind before starting your renovation. However always remember that updates can be made without blowing your budget. Sometimes a fresh coat of white paint or new tapware and fixtures makes all the difference. Other cost friendly updates include polishing timber floors, updating light fittings, replacing door and drawer handles. When it comes to the exterior, landscaping and painting the outside of your home can add value. It’s important to have the front of the home well presented as we all know that first impressions do matter.


5 tips for buying property the right way

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

What factors determine a quality real estate asset? Whether buying as an investor or an owner-occupier, buying a property is a tricky business. Here are five top tips to point you in the right direction.

1. Never speculate

When it comes to buying real estate don’t risk everything on a guess. Base your decision to buy on the available facts including comparable historical sales history. A long-term consistent performance history is the most reliable indicator of future outcome. Basing your decision to purchase on a location’s proposed future development such as improvements to local infrastructure or amenities can provide some disappointing results. Also, consider property that is in limited supply rather than those that offer a ubiquitous quantity of similar available stock. Quality scarce dwellings such as Victorian terraces offer limited opportunity to buy, and benefit from significant demand and subsequently higher levels of capital growth.

2. Value land

Land size underpins the value of a property, and in some instances accounts for 70 per cent or more of the total value of a property. Before deciding to purchase, consider how the value of the physical site compares to the value of the dwelling. If the value of the property is weighted towards the dwelling itself, such as is the case for high-rise apartments; it is unlikely to benefit from significant levels of future capital growth. When assessing a property remember one simple thing; land appreciates and improvements (buildings) depreciate.

3. Avoid main roads

While access to transport infrastructure is important, avoid buying on main access roads and near train or tramlines. Properties in these areas can suffer from traffic congestion, impeded access and significant noise disturbance – all these factors can influence the property’s growth potential. Select property located within walking distance to a bus route or train line in quiet streets or cul-de-sacs.

4. Ditch off the plan

Like any business, developers need to make a profit and a typical development is likely to have a minimum profit margin of 25 per cent. This means that every unit or apartment in the complex must sell at 25 per cent or more above cost. Off the plan buyers also absorb the cost of expensive marketing campaigns and advertising, additional costs that can take years to recoup in growth terms.

5. Buy for capital growth

The majority of property wealth is achieved through capital growth. In the long run a property with a high capital growth profile and moderate rental return will outperform those properties with seemingly high returns. It is also worth noting that rental guarantees are in fact no guarantee of long-term growth performance, so be wary.

Adhering to these simple steps will assist you in differentiating between an average property and a high performing investment-grade real estate asset that will bring you that step closer to securing your long-term financial goals.


Problematic property clichés

Tuesday, September 05, 2017

By Greville Pabst

Everyday the news is full of stories on affordability, over-supply and under-supply and the fear of never owning a property. There is desperation to find an affordable property that “gets you in the market” before it is too late.
You would think the pressure, panic and doubt would encourage people to do more research, to be cautious and seek experienced professional advice. Yet surprisingly, many Australians buy property with little or no investigation into the factors that drive individual property performance.
Instead, they base their decision on the assumption or marketeers’ assurances that once you are “in the market” (in other words have bought a property) you are safe - phew! Even second homebuyers tend to fall for the cliché.
Problematic property clichés are overused. Clichés first came to life as jargon, particularly in the property world or on the sports field – sitting on the sidelines, worst house; best street, crunch time, it’s a game of inches, blue sky scenario, etc. Jargon is just clichés in waiting – if we are smart enough not to trust someone who uses jargon then why do we believe the clichés that are all around us. Questioning the validity of property clichés and commonly held assumptions can help both buyers and sellers make better informed decisions when it comes to investing for their future.
Here’s a few clichés that are overused and incorrect:
1. Hot spots: It’s not uncommon for investors and buyers to chase the next big hot spot because they are led to believe this is how a smart buyer makes fast money.
By definition a hot spot is a suburb or area predicted to benefit from rapid short-term gains in value. However, despite an initial spike, a hot spot is usually characterised by slow or limited growth in the long-term that often eventually undermines short-term gain.
Due to the high transactional cost of property investment real estate should be viewed as a long-term proposition, which means hot spots often fail to provide the exceptional growth buyers hope for.
2. Timing is everything: Analysis of historical sales data clearly shows that it isn’t when you buy but what you buy that’s important. Purchasing a property based on price alone is no guarantee of future growth performance. Selecting the right property with the right profile for growth will ensure property owners have an asset that performs irrespective of wider market conditions.
3. Sitting on the sidelines: At auctions, it’s common for buyers to sit back and wait to scope out the competition making assumptions of other buyers’ limits. However, adopting a ‘wait and see’ strategy can be disadvantageous. The reduced competition during the beginning of an auction can appear to stop the property price from rising but really it is just stalling it. Those that have confidence and knowledge about what they are buying and its real value needn’t go to an auction and sit on the sidelines.
If you are serious, you need to bid. Placing the highest bid at auction means that if the property is passed in you will be offered the first right of refusal to negotiate the purchase price. This means that you could secure the property for less than it would ordinarily sell under Private Treaty.
4. Location, Location, Location: The most well-known property cliché, location, is quoted as the quintessential factor when it comes to property selection. But, what many buyers fail to realise is that location is far more than just the right suburb or even the right street – it is as specific as the lot number or position in a block of units.
While neighbouring properties may appear similar in many ways, factors such as aspect, orientation, floor plan and levels of natural light, not to mention security, all have an important impact on property value beyond the underlying land value.


6 property investing pitfalls

Tuesday, May 02, 2017

By Greville Pabst

The question overshadowing many Australians right now is: can I afford to buy a property, and will that property be a good investment? Many Australians have accepted they will never own the quarter-acre block, like previous generations had. The thinking is shifting to buying a property as an investment choice over a lifestyle one. 

Property has proven to be a great investment vehicle to grow wealth. When decisions are based on unbiased, data driven, and professional independent advice, property can ultimately improve one's financial position, allowing them to eventually buy that dream home that seems hard to reach. But, as many will attest, it is very easy to make a poor buying decision to set one back financially by many years. 

Here’s a list of six pitfalls to avoid: it could mean the difference between investment success and disaster. 

1. Failing to be choosey

There are many variables that affect a property’s liveability including location, size, layout, and local amenities.

Unfortunately, most buyers consider too few of these factors when buying property for investment, which impacts their marketability to tenants and future buyers, and subsequently, capital growth potential.

2. Neglecting to review historical performance

When buying shares we analyse past performance. When buying a car, we consider mileage and performance. But, when investing in property, many people fail to investigate historical capital growth performance. A property’s track record of capital growth is a good indicator of its future performance and will indicate whether it is a suitable investment. Using unbiased data to make smart choices will ensure a buyer does not risk a guess. 

3. Chasing hot spots

Many buyers make the mistake of chasing the next big hot spot, which is a suburb or area predicted to benefit from rapid short-term gains in value. However, despite an initial spike, a hot spot is usually characterised by slow or limited growth in the long-term that often undermines any short-term gain.

4. Forgetting all aspects of location

Location is integral to the performance of a property. Many investors assume that buying in a blue-chip suburb is sufficient to selecting a blue-chip asset. But location is far more than just the right suburb or even the right street – it is as specific as the lot number or position in a block of units.

5. Confusing investment and taxation strategies

Many investors confuse investment with income tax minimisation, or are distracted by tax depreciation benefits. However, an investment property needs to be viewed independently of other financial benefits and assessed on its own performance and ability to grow in value and produce income. 

 6. Leave your emotions at the door

While it’s perfectly normal to feel excited about a property, avoid mixing emotion with logic when you're negotiating. By negotiating too hard the seller might walk away, while going easy may lead to overpaying. This uncertainty, fuelled by emotion, can impact decision-making in strange ways resulting in negotiation breakdowns. If you cannot leave your emotions at the door, engage an independent property adviser to make data-based decisions on your behalf. 


Negotiating for success when buying and selling property

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

By Greville Pabst

Despite strong demand, it’s not uncommon for a portion of properties to pass in at auction. Reasons might include poor interest in a property, unrealistic price expectations, and the timing of the auction relative to other key events. Irrespective of the reason, it doesn't necessarily spell disaster.

In Melbourne, which is arguably the country’s most popular place for auctions, the share of properties passed in at auction is typically around 15 to 20% of total auction volumes each weekend. While a proportion of these properties sell soon after, some do not and are instead listed for private sale.

Whether you’re a buyer or a seller, it can be daunting to negotiate after a property has passed in.

Fortunately, if you’re the buyer to whom it’s passed in, you’re in the ideal seat to negotiate. Likewise, if you’re a seller, it means you have an interested buyer and may be close to signing a contract of sale. But, at this point, neither the seller nor the buyer has the benefit of transparency – so how much should the buyer pay and how much should the seller accept?

The simple answer is pay what the property is worth. In other words, the fair market value for the property, which is defined as the agreed price between two willing and informed parties engaging in an arm’s length transaction.

But, here’s where it gets tricky. Many psychological mechanisms come into play when buying and selling property, which can impact the ability to remain rational and negotiate strategically.

The endowment effect is one such mechanism commonly seen among sellers. It holds that sellers ascribe greater value to things they own, simply because they own them. Obviously this is problematic when attempting to negotiate a fair price with a seller.

Similarly, buyers too are subject to the psychological pressures of negotiating. By negotiating too hard the seller may walk away, while going easy may mean overpaying. This uncertainty, fuelled by emotion, can impact decision-making in strange ways resulting in negotiation breakdowns.

The simplest way to avoid these traps is research. Whether a buyer or a seller, understanding the market value of a particular property is the first step to negotiating a sale.

Consider a range of recent sales (those transacted in the last three months) of comparable properties located in immediate proximities to gauge price expectations. Armed with this information ahead of the auction or private negotiation, buyers and sellers can hold reasoned and evidenced-based justifications behind their decisions. And, don’t cherry pick sales based on the cheapest or most expensive ones – this undermines the process by creating a context of distrust. Instead, a range of sales provides room to negotiate an outcome that suits both you and the other party.

Written by Greville Pabst, Executive Chairman, WBP Property Group.

Follow Greville Pabst on Twitter @grevillep



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