Thinking about replacing your floors? Especially if you have carpet, the choice seems clear: Hardwood floors are preferred by home buyers and renters across the country. But consider carefully whether hardwood floors are the right choice for every room in your home—and what type you might want to install for the best resale value.


As you weigh investing in your floors, you’ll need to evaluate your budget, the preferences and traditions in your community and your own personal taste. Some people only want to step on soft carpet, while others prefer hard surfaces. In some warm climates, ceramic tile flooring rivals hardwood in popularity. In more traditional markets, tastes still lean toward oak floors, but some owners of more contemporary homes are choosing to stain their wood floors in different colors. Other trends in hardwood include wider planks, the use of reclaimed wood or hand-scraped wood that looks antique and exotic species of wood such as hickory or walnut.


Homeowners on a tight budget also may want to look into laminate flooring, which offers the look of wood at a lower price point. Keep in mind that people with allergies typically want a hard surface that won’t hold dust. You should also think about the care and maintenance required for your floor surface since you’ll need to take care of it for years. Hardwood flooring lasts longer than carpet, can be easier to keep clean and can be refinished. In the end, though, the decision about whether to install hardwood or carpeting in a bedroom should be based on your personal preference, at least if you intend to stay in the home for years.

Hardwood Flooring: It's What Buyers Want

According to HGTV, the top request of home buyers and renters when looking for a home is hardwood flooring. In fact, a study of homebuyer preferences using data from the National Association of REALTORS® found that 54% of home buyers were willing to pay more for a home with hardwood flooring.


Installing hardwood flooring can cost between $9 and $12 per square foot, compared with about $3 to $5 per square foot for carpet—so some homeowners opt to install hardwood only in some rooms rather than throughout their home. However, carpet typically needs to be replaced if it becomes stained or worn out. Good quality carpet can last about 10 to 15 years, while hardwood can last forever. The return on investment for installing hardwood will vary according to your market and other factors, but hardwood flooring can often help your home sell faster.

Reasons to Install Carpet

While many buyers and homeowners prefer hardwood flooring throughout their home, some people prefer carpet in the bedrooms—because they like a softer surface. When you live in a two or three-story home, carpet also helps reduce noise. If you would still prefer hardwood floors throughout your home, you could use put area rugs in your bedroom. 


Many rentals are basement or other suites in your own home. Helpful ground rules to help you harmoniously share space:

Ambiguous Boundaries

If you're sharing common areas with your tenant, or tenants are sharing common areas with each other, it's important to clarify use of these areas and their boundaries in the rental agreement.

  • Tenants renting a secondary suite might be uncertain as to whether or not they’re entitled to exclusive use of any part of the yard. In a home with upper and lower suites, the tenant in the lower suite might assume that the backyard is for his or her own use, while the upper occupants may only use the balcony. Sometimes, tenants may consider the backyard to be their own personal storage area, or a place where they can leave debris. Yard disputes are foreseeable and preventable, if your rental agreement is clear about the use of the yard and all common areas.
  • Physical barriers such as fences or hedges could be installed to create exclusive-use areas. If it is impractical to install physical barriers, then boundaries must be created through terms in the rental agreement. For example, you could have a clause in the agreement specifying that while the interior of the secondary suite is for the tenant’s exclusive use, all other parts of the property are considered common-use areas. Your agreement would prohibit the tenant from leaving items on common property without the landlord’s permission.
  • Parking problems are also foreseeable and preventable. Do you want your tenant to park on a certain part of the driveway and not elsewhere or restrict the number of vehicles? Decide what you want ahead of time and specify the parking rules in the rental agreement.
  • If the electrical panel, hot water tank or furnace are located within the secondary suite, know that you cannot access them without receiving the tenant’s consent to enter the home, or by serving written notice beforehand as required by provincial tenancy law. You could enter the suite if it’s an emergency, but the law has a narrow definition of “emergency.” Generally, it’s only an emergency if property or people are at immediate risk of harm. You and your tenants should agree beforehand to a contingency plan.

Shared Laundry and Utility Bills

If you share laundry facilities with your tenant, are there certain days of the week that you want the machines reserved for yourself? This must be outlined in the rental agreement. Don’t restrict your tenant’s use of laundry facilities too much. Try for a schedule with some flexibility.


Secondary suites typically share electric or gas meters. Landlords usually expect secondary suite tenants to pay a percentage of the total monthly utility bill. Though reasonable in theory, this procedure has some foreseeable drawbacks.

  • The tenant might dispute the percentage of the bill assigned and complain about perceived excessive usage by his or her neighbour or landlord.
  • You might want your secondary suite tenant to pay 50 per cent of the utilities, but some prospective tenants might try to negotiate a lower amount. They might say that they don’t plan to use utilities extensively and that it is unfair to be charged 50 per cent of the bill. You could remain firm, but the prospective tenants might decide to look elsewhere for a rental. Or, they might accept the arrangement, complain frequently, and otherwise take up your time and energy every time they receive the utility bill. Or they might move out soon afterwards, leaving you with a premature vacancy.
  • The tenant might periodically fail to remit payment in a timely manner, thereby doubling your bill-collecting responsibilities.

How could you avoid all these problems? Calculate an estimate of utility usage by the secondary suite for the year and roll the average monthly cost into the rent. In other words, if you plan to rent the suite for $700 and estimate that your tenant will pay $75 per month for utilities on average, offer the suite at $775 with heat and electricity included. This way your prospective tenants will know up front where they stand with utilities.

This method is not without disadvantages. Because the tenant will not see the utility bill each month, there is a risk he or she will use utilities excessively or carelessly. Try reducing this risk by taking pre-emptive measures, such as serving a notice reminding the tenant that the rent includes a reasonable use of utilities, but that substantial overuse could result in a rent increase. Also, your lease agreement should have a clause prohibiting the tenant from installing any other major appliances or “energy eaters” such as second fridges without the express permission of the landlord.

Sound and Smell Transfer

In a legal multi-family apartment complex, the building code requires significant soundproofing between units. But the soundproofing found between the floors of a single-family home that contains a secondary suite is often inadequate. Even the best of tenants run the risk of being labeled noisy when there are inadequate sound barriers.

  • If it’s impractical and costly to retrofit walls with soundproofing insulation, identify where the potential for sound transfer is greatest, and “spot fix” the problem. For instance, if the home consists of upper- and lower-level units, the upper unit should have wall-to-wall carpeting with thick underlay to minimize sound transfer. It would be problematic for the upper suite to have laminate or hardwood flooring. If this type of flooring is already in the upper suite and cannot be replaced, then make extensive use of area rugs at the very least. If you have a tenant above you, or one tenant above another, ask the upper-level tenant to use area rugs as a term of the rental agreement, but recognize that you may be expected to subsidize some or all of the cost.
  • Sometimes only a door serves as separation between the primary living area and the secondary suite. Interior doors are ineffective at reducing sound transfer. If you replace the door with an insulated wall, you might contravene fire safety bylaws in your area. Consider replacing the door with an exterior grade, solid-core door instead.
  • Include noise reduction practices in your rental agreement. For instance, the rentalagreement should have a clause restricting the operation of stereo equipment and major appliances such as the washer, dryer, and dishwasher to daylight hours only.
  • Keep in mind that if you want such clauses to be effective, the tenant will expect you to adhere to the same rules. Owning a secondary suite means a restriction on the freedoms you normally enjoy as a homeowner – this is part of the price that secondary suite owners pay for the benefit of the extra rental income.
  • Another transfer issue relates to not just sound, but also cooking odours. Ensure that your tenants have access to a high-quality range hood and insist they use it while cooking. Also, if only a door serves as separation between the tenant’s suite and your own, then apply weatherstripping to the door to make it as airtight as possible.

Even if these measures are implemented, the barriers between one living area and the other will never be up to the standard found in a multi-family building. If you want to earn extra income from secondary suites, be prepared to tolerate occasional noise or cooking smells.


A foreclosure property may present a great deal, but there are also a number of inherent risks. Richard Bell of law firm Bell Alliance offers advice and a five-step process

Purchasing a foreclosure property can sometimes be a great bargain. However, many potential buyers and real estate agents are unaware of the process and risks of buying such a property. This article outlines the five steps of purchasing a foreclosure property and describes the two biggest risks of purchasing these properties.

Five Steps of Purchasing a Foreclosure

Step 1: View the Property

Depending on the situation, it can sometimes be a challenge to view the property, particularly in circumstances where the owner refuses to cooperate with the viewing, listing and showing of the property. But it is essential that you see what you’re buying, so ensure that you do view it.

Step 2: Do Your Due Diligence

Make sure you are happy with the property since it is purchased “as is, where is”. Unlike a standard property purchase, with a foreclosed property at the time of completion or possession, the property may not be in the exact condition it was in when you had viewed it. Investigate the zoning and any applicable bylaws. Ensure you have financing in place, or are pre-approved for a mortgage.

Step 3: Submit an Offer

Make an offer to the listing real estate agent. All offers must be free of any buyer’s subjects, and only “subject to court approval”. It is very important to note once your offer is accepted by the lender you are contractually bound to purchase the property if the court approves your offer. Be sure to include your full legal name on the offer, as this is what will be listed on the court order if you are successful in purchasing the property. Additionally, if there are two people purchasing the property, such as spouses, you will want to clearly indicate whether the property is being purchased as joint tenants, or tenants in common. Once an offer has been accepted by the lender, the lender’s lawyer will schedule a court date to present the offer to the court for approval. Ensure the offer is the highest price you are comfortable with, because you may only have one chance for the court to review your offer.

Step 4: Competing Offers and Contesting the Sale

A few days prior to the court hearing, the offer price will become public, and other potential buyers will have the opportunity to outbid the original offer on the court date. Additionally, other creditors and even the current owner(s) may attempt to contest the sale price if they believe the property has a higher value.

Step 5: Court Date

All offers must be presented in a sealed envelope containing a bank draft for the deposit. The court will usually award the purchase of the property to the highest offer. The original buyer should be present in court to submit a higher sealed bid if there are other potential buyers in attendance presenting offers. Once the court accepts an offer and approves of the sale, a court order is granted in the name of the successful bidder. The completion and possession date for the purchase is usually set for 14 days following the date of the court order.

Risks of Purchasing a Foreclosure Property

The main risk of purchasing a foreclosure property, is that it is purchased on an “as is, where is” basis. Sometimes fixtures such as lights, faucets and cabinets may have been removed from the property or are damaged. The property is often left unclean with unwanted trash and items left behind.

An additional risk to consider when purchasing a foreclosed property is the former owner or occupants may not vacate the property in accordance with the court order. In this situation, the vendor is legally required to make an application to the court for a “writ of possession” and receive assistance from a court bailiff to evict and remove the occupants. This could lead to a delay in taking possession of the property.

Bearing all of this in mind, don’t shy away from considering foreclosed properties, because at the end of the day you can be purchasing a property you love at a discounted price. It is rare that an owner occupier will hinder the sale process since it is not in their best interest to do so. Understanding the process and potential risks of purchasing a foreclosed property will allow you to navigate purchase with greater knowledge and confidence.


Do you have noisy neighbours disturbing your peace? Or perhaps you want to play music but are getting complaints?


Of all the compromises that come with condo ownership, living with noise might be the biggest. Although most strata corporations have bylaws restricting noise and other forms of nuisance, it can be difficult for owners and strata councils to figure out when the noises of everyday life cross the line and become legitimate complaints.


From a legal perspective, making a noise that impacts another person’s quiet enjoyment of their property can be considered nuisance. The challenging comes down to figuring out what level or noise or interference is reasonable. We all experience life subjectively and what bothers one person may be entirely acceptable to another.


If you believe that a neighbour’s noise is affecting your ability to enjoy your home, look for ways to create evidence in support of your noise complaint. Take recordings of the noise if you can. Keep a journal of the timing, frequency and nature of the disturbances.


The simplest and most cost-effective way to resolve noise disputes is to work with neighbours and strata council to determine whether the noise is normal and to look for ways to minimize the disturbance. If extending an olive branch doesn’t work, you may have legal remedies. Most of the time, owners have a right to the quiet enjoyment of their property. If you believe that your neighbour or your strata corporation are failing to respect your rights, or are unfairly targeting you, speak with a strata lawyer to review your matter and provide you with qualified legal advice.



Unique commission strategy can net more for sellers! 

Could a discounted selling broker, or buyer agent’s commission hurt the enthusiasm of the buyer’s agent and impact the seller’s bottom line in a negative fashion? You bet it could.


The truth is, a discounted commission can be detrimental to the seller’s bottom line and the reverse can also be true. Using a unique or above-market commission could be the marketing tool that helps sell the listing and puts more money in the seller’s pocket, after all is said and done.


How many listing agents would recommend a discounted commission as a sales and marketing strategy to the seller of a new listing or a re-list of a property that is not getting enough attention? I’m guessing not all that many.


For many years now, decades actually, sellers have been falsely led to believe that a lower total commission equates to a higher seller’s net. This myth can be easily disproved.


It is important to bring attention to how a unique 'bonus' commission structure helps to make the subject property stand out to the agents picking the properties to show, in contrast to other listings on the MLS, which almost certainly do not employ this listing marketing strategy. 


In summary:

  • Discount commissions can hurt the saleability of the listing, the enthusiasm of the co-op broker and the seller’s net.
  • Most agents would not recommend a discounted commission as a marketing strategy.
  • A unique 'above-market' commission could gain the “loyalty” of the buyer’s agent.
  • Commissions are negotiable.
  • A unique 'above-market' commission creates the possibility of a higher net for the seller.
  • Creative buyer's agent commissions stand out to showing agents from all other listings!

  • Gutters and downspouts: Pull leaves and debris from gutters and downspouts. Reattach gutters that have pulled away from the house. Run a hose on the roof and check for proper drainage. If leaks exist, dry the area and use caulking or epoxy to seal the leak.
  • Siding: Clean siding with a pressure washer to keep mold from growing. Check all wood surfaces for weathering and paint failure. If wood is showing through, sand the immediate area and apply a primer coat before painting. If paint is peeling, scrape loose paint and sand smooth before painting.
  • Exterior caulking: Inspect caulking and replace if deteriorating. Scrape out all of the eroding caulk and recaulk needed area.
  • Window sills, door sills, and thresholds: Fill cracks, caulk edges, repaint or replace if necessary.
  • Window and door screens: Clean screening and check for holes. If holes are bigger than a quarter, that is plenty of room for bugs to climb in. Patch holes or replace the screen. Save bad screen to patch holes next year. Tighten or repair any loose or damaged frames and repaint. Replace broken, worn, or missing hardware. Wind can ruin screens and frames if they are allowed flap and move so make sure they are securely fastened. Tighten and lubricate door hinges and closers.
  • Drain waste and vent system: Flush out system.
  • Hot water heater: Lubricate circulating pump and motor.
  • Evaporative air conditioner: Clean unit, check belt tension and adjust if needed. Replace cracked or worn belt.
  • Heat pump: Lubricate blower motor.
  • Foundation: Check foundation walls, floors, concrete, and masonry for cracking, heaving, or deterioration. If a significant number of bricks are losing their mortar, call a foundation professional. If you can slide a nickle into a crack in your concrete floor, slab or foundation call a professional immediately.
  • Roof: Inspect roof surface flashing, eaves, and soffits. Perform a thorough cleaning. Check flashings around all surface projections and sidewalls.
  • Deck and porches: Check all decks, patios, porches, stairs, and railings for loose members and deterioration. Open decks and wood fences need to be treated every 4-6 years, depending on how much exposure they get to sun and rain. If the stain doesn’t look like it should or water has turned some of the wood a dark grey, hire a deck professional to treat your deck and fence.
  • Landscape: This is a natural for spring home maintenance. Cut back and trim all vegetation and overgrown bushes from structures. Limbs and leaves can cut into your home’s paint and force you to have that side of the house repainted. A little trimming can save a lot of money and time.
  • Sprinklers: Check lawn sprinkler system for leaky valves, exposed lines, and improperly working sprinkler heads. If there is an area of your yard that collects too much water or doesn’t get enough, run the sprinklers to figure out the problem. If it’s not something you can fix yourself, call a professional before your lawn needs the water.

About 91% of homes will be under the new threshold for the basic grant

The government of B.C. has increased its homeowner grant threshold from $1.2 million to $1.6 million - a 33 per cent increase. The province says the increase will ensure that most homeowners who received the grant in 2016 will qualify for it again in 2017. The government expects to spend $821 million on homeowner grants in 2017-18, compared to $809 million in 2016-17, according to a release from the province. 91 per cent of B.C. homes will remain below the new threshold despite recent steep increases in values from B.C. Assessment. The province says 83 per cent of Metro Vancouver homes are below the new threshold. 

The homeowner grant reduces property taxes on the owner's principal residence. The basic grant is worth up to $570, or up to $770 if the home is in a northern or rural area. Additional grants are available for seniors, people with disabilities, spouses of veterans and those who qualify as low income.


A healthy plumbing system can help lessen the chance of leaks, ruptures, clogs and other not-so-nice events. Homeowners who take some basic precautions and implement a few simple steps can be more confident in the state of their home's plumbing, and can save on costly repairs as well.

  • Know where the main water shutoff valve is. This is normally very accessible so that the water to the whole house can be turned off in an emergency.
  • Check the household water pressure with an inexpensive gauge from the hardware store. Excessive water pressure can damage pipes, faucets and washing machine valves, which can lead to leaks and dramatically shortened lifespans for these items. In general, water pressure should be between 40-80 psi. A plumber can install a pressure reducing valve near the main shutoff to correct this condition.
  • Protect pipes from freezing by using pipe insulation where pipes are exposed to the cold. This includes outdoor faucets, garages, crawlspaces, and unfinished/unheated basements. Frozen pipes can burst and result in serious water damage to the home and belongings.
  • Avoid using chemical drain cleaners. Though often effective, they can damage cast iron drainpipes and cause bigger problems. Snaking the drain is a better solution - keep a plumbing snake on hand or have a plumber do this.
  • Do not put any kind of grease or cooking oils down the drain. These will just solidify as they travel through the pipes and can cause serious clogs further down the line. Instead, pour the grease into a paper cup or other disposable container and throw it away.

When it comes to plumbing, an ounce of prevention truly is worth a pound of cure!


Before the weather grows colder it’s important to prepare for the winter months to prevent costly damage. Below are the fall preventative home maintenance steps that every homeowner should follow.

Gutters and Downspouts

 Clean gutters and downspouts frequently throughout fall to prevent build up of leaves and other debris. Neglected gutters can lead to wood rot problems and pest infestations, not to mention ruined gutters.

 Be sure water is not coming down behind gutters and that all support brackets are securely in place.

 Ensure that water drains properly and doesn’t pool. Pooling can cause damage to foundations, driveways, and walkways.

Windows and Doors

Change summer screens to cool weather storm windows and doors.

Inspect and repair any loose or damaged window or door frames.

Install weather stripping or caulking around windows and doors to prevent drafts and to lower heating bills.

Heating Systems

Replace the filter in your furnace.

Consider having a heating professional check your heating system to ensure optimal performance and discover minor problems before they turn into costly major repairs.

Clean your ducts to better your heating system’s efficiency as well as to reduce household dust and to provide relief to those with respiratory problems.


To prevent pipes freezing and bursting, ensure that the pipes are well insulated.

Know how to locate and turn off the water shut-off valve in case pipes do freeze.

Chimney and Fireplace

Call a professional in to inspect and clean your chimney. Fireplaces that are regularly used during the season should have an annual cleaning to prevent dangerous chimney fires.

Test your fireplace flue for a tight seal when closed.

Attic ventilation

Be sure attic insulation doesn’t cover vents in the eaves to prevent winter ice dams on the roof.

Be sure ridge vents and vents at eaves are free of plants and debris.

Check bird and rodent screens for attic vents to prevent any unwanted guests.

Landscape and Yardwork

Although grass appears to stop growing in the fall, the roots are actually growing deeper to prepare for winter. Now is the best time to fertilize and reseed your lawn.

Prune your trees and shrubs after the leaves turn to encourage healthy growth.

Trim any tree limbs that are dangerously close to power lines or the roof of your house. Heavy snow and ice can cause damage in the winter.



Lower your monthly energy bill and reduce your impact on the environment by unplugging electronics, turning up the refrigerator, and being mindful of your dish cleaning habits in the kitchen.


  1. Unplug your vampire electronics. Some electronics never fully turn off, they just go into a hibernation mode. To know if your appliance goes into hibernation mode, read the owner’s manual. Coffee makers and toasters are common kitchen vampires, so be sure to unplug these appliances when you’re not using them.
  2. Don’t use the oven as a heater. Only open and close the oven when it’s necessary for your meal. It just makes the oven work harder and wastes energy. When you run a self-clean cycle, only run it after you’ve cooked in the oven. That way, the oven is already hot and you won’t waste energy.
  3. Turn up the refrigerator temperature. There’s no reason to have ice pellets in your milk, so raise the temperature so your refrigerator isn’t overworking. Experts say that between 38 and 42 degrees is an optimal setting to keep your items fresh and save energy in the meantime.
  4. Skip the pre-rinse and dry cycle on your dishwasher. It takes very little time to dry the dishes by hand, and the pre-rinse cycle is doing more harm than good. If your dishes are especially grimy, rinse them in the sink before placing them in the dishwasher. Only run the dishwasher when it’s full to save energy.
  5. When you clean your kitchen, try products you already have in your cabinet! An equal mixture of baking soda and water works well on countertops. To learn more about green cleaning products, read about making Green Cleaning Products in the Blog category "IT IS EASY BEING GREEN"..

When would you talk to a car salesperson? Probably only once you’re ready to buy a new car. You would do some initial research (perhaps on the internet), get an idea of what you want, and then go to the dealership to meet a salesperson, test drive the car and make the purchase.


Although that approach may work when you’re buying a car, it’s not the best approach when it comes to real estate.


You see, successfully buying or selling a home requires a lot of planning and legwork. You want the process to go smoothly, the right decisions to be made, and the best possible deal to be negotiated.


After all, this is the purchase and/or sale of your home!


So, the best time to talk to a REALTOR® is as early in the process as possible.


In fact, even if you’re just thinking of buying or selling — and simply want to explore the possibility of making a move sometime this year — you should have a conversation with a good REALTOR®.


A REALTOR® will answer your questions, provide you with the information and insights you need, help you avoid costly mistakes, and make sure you’re heading in the right direction.


When you are ready to buy or sell, having worked with a REALTOR® early in the process will help ensure you get what you want.


So talk to a good REALTOR® when:


• You have a question about the local market.

• You want to know what your home might sell for today.

• You’re interested in checking out homes currently available on the market.

• You’re in the midst of deciding whether or not to make a move.

• You’ve decided to buy or sell.


As a prospective home buyer you have responsibility during the viewing of homes. You need to be sensitive and respectful when touring properties with your agent. Here are a few simple guidelines to follow during your home hunting days:  


Dress appropriately
Aim to look innocuous and don't let your clothes give anything away. You don’t want to look scruffy, but equally, if you look too smart the vendor might assume you've got loads of money and won’t negotiate.

Leave young children and babies at home
It is advisable not to take kids on a first viewing as they can be too distracting. If the vendor has children, then it is typically okay to bring them on a second viewing. However, if the vendor is childless, they may find it a bit of an imposition.

Arrive on time for the viewing
You should always make the effort to arrive on time. Also if you are coming with others, make sure you arrive together. Showings are usually set for a certain time and it is not only an inconvenience to your agent if you are late but the seller may be on a schedule. Often owners will leave just in time for a showing and may be waiting to return after its completion.

Take off your shoes
Even if you are not accustomed to taking off your shoes before entering someone else's home, it is best to do so when viewing a home so that you do not track mud and dirt into the home. People from various cultures and religions who do not wear shoes in home may be offended if you enter their house with your shoes on, so it is best to leave your shoes at the front door.

Respect the seller's personal property
While it is expected to open kitchen cabinets, pantries and closets, try to keep the investigation down to a minimum. Avoid opening dresser drawers, looking at personal items and using the master bathroom.

Don’t criticize things you don’t like in front of the homeowner
If the owners happen to be at home, keep conversation with them to a minimum. Most sellers try to be out when a showing takes place but sometimes it is just not possible. It is best not to "grill" them about why they are selling or where they are going. These questions are better filtered through your agent. The very worst thing you can do is say things like 'well we'd have to knock that wall down' and 'if we filled the pond in the garden it would look much better'. The vendor is probably very proud of their property the way it is. Although, some aspects of the house may not suit you and while you may not wish to purchase the home, it is best to have those discussions with your spouse out of earshot.

When leaving the home, it is nice to say things like, "Thank you for showing me around, it's kind of you to take the time" or "You have a lovely home". Vendors usually remember nice and polite people and favour them in any competition for the house. Most people have enough common sense to be courteous and careful when entering a stranger's home for viewing. When in doubt about protocol, just ask your agent. One of the standing rules about viewing a home is - leave it exactly the way you found it. 


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