Frequently Asked Georgia Home Mortgage Questions
- Should I refinance my Georgia home mortgage?
- What is a FICO score?
- What is Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI)? Can I get rid of the PMI on my loan?
- What is a DTI ratio?
- What is an Escrow Account?
Common Mistakes When Purchasing or Refinancing a Georgia Home
Purchasing a new home is the largest financial investment most people ever make. If you're considering buying a new Georgia home with Peachtree Mortgage Services, Inc., you're probably already aware that purchasing a home is a complex financial transaction. Therefore, it's important to be as prepared as possible! Our experienced Atlanta mortgage brokers will be with you every step of the way!
Your Georgia home mortgage payment could cost you up to 40% of your monthly income, so it's important to do research throughout the entire home mortgage process. Ask your Peachtree Mortgage Services mortgage loan officer questions! Read the helpful articles on our home mortgage blog, and use one of our Georgia home mortgage payment calculators to see how much you can afford to spend on a new Georgia home!
You will no doubt have a successful and enjoyable Atlanta homebuying experience with Peachtree Mortgage Services, Inc. However, keeping the common Georgia home buying principles below in mind will ensure a smooth and stress-free homebuying experience!
Common Mistakes Georgia Homebuyers Make:
Not getting pre-approved for a Georgia home mortgage!
As a buyer who may be competing with other potential homebuyers for a specific home, being prepared will give you a better chance of having your offer accepted. The seller of a home would much prefer to deal with a pre-approved buyer. A pre-approved buyer is one who has completed a Georgia home loan application with Peachtree Mortgage Services, Inc. and had his or her income, expenses, assets, credit, ability to pay, etc. verfied.
As a result, the borrower is already approved for a mortgage and, therefore, can close a home mortgage much more quickly than other borrowers. The seller can accept an offer to purchase from a pre-approved home buyer with confidence.
For detailed information on getting pre-qualified for a Georgia home mortgage, call an experienced Atlanta mortage broker with Peachtree Mortgage Services, Inc. today at 770.481.0052 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Making Verbal agreements.
Do not sign documents containing instructions that contradict any verbal agreements that you've made with the seller of the Georgia home you're purchasing. For example, if the seller verbally agrees to include the refrigerator in the home sale, but the written purchase contract does not include it, the written contract will override the verbal contract. Do not expect oral agreements to be enforceable. Get it in writing!
Choosing an Atlanta or Georgia home lender because they have the lowest rate.
Although the home mortgage rate on your Georgia home mortgage is extremely important, it's not the only factor to consider! Buying a new home can be an involved process, so make sure you find a Georgia home mortgage broker who is responsive to your needs and with whom you enjoy working. Does your mortgage broker have a local location so you can meet with him or her in person to discuss your specific mortgage needs, or will you be dealing with someone across the country? Is your Atlanta home mortgage broker licensed? How long has the mortgage broker been in business?
Neglecting to get a rate lock in writing.
When a Georgia home mortgage company tells you that your home mortgage rate has been locked, make sure to get a statement in writing detailing the locked home mortgage interest rate, the length of the rate lock, and the Georgia home mortgage program details. Getting this information in writing protects both the borrower and the lender.
Using dual agency, or a Georgia real estate agent who represents both the seller and the buyer in the same transaction.
In a standard Georgia real estate transaction, the seller of the home generally pays the real estate commission. Since buyers and sellers have opposing interests--i.e. sellers want to get the highest sales price from their home and buyers want to get the best deal on their new Georgia home by paying the lowest price--- you are usually better off having a qualified Georgia realtor represent you exclusively. If a Georgia real estate agent represents both the homebuyer and seller of the home, the agent may tend to negotiate more vigorously on behalf of the seller. Although there are undoubtedly many fine Georgia real estate agents who successfully represent both buyer and seller in a given home sales transaction, as a buyer you should do your homework and proceed with caution in this situation.
Buying a Georgia home without getting professional inspections.
Strongly consider getting property, structural, roof, and pest control inspections before buying your new Georgia home. Many expensive home repairs aren't obvious, so it's best to know what you're buying before your closing! Otherwise, you could be in for some unpleasant surprises!
When a qualified Georgia home inspector makes recommendations that certain repairs be done, the seller is more likely to agree to them. Georgia home inspection reports are great negotiating tools!
However, have your inspector confirm that all repairs were done as promised before your home mortgage closing. Don't just asume that everything was repaired properly or as promised.
Waiting until the last minute to shop for Georgia homeowner's insurance.
You must purchase home insurance on your new Georgia home, so don't wait until the last minute to start shopping! As soon as your offer to purchase a new Atanta area home is accepted, start comparing rates for home insurance by contacting a qualified Georgia insurance agent.
Not allowing for delays in your Georgia real estate tranactions.
Although all Georgia real estate transactions would ideally close on time, delays happen! Don't put yourself in a bind by asking your landlord to terminate your home or apartment lease the day your home purchase is scheduled to close. Schedule your lease termination a least a week after your scheduled closing. Although your Georgia real estate transaction will most likley close on time as scheduled, you'll have some leeway just in case of unavoidable delays.
Common Mistakes Georgia Homeowners Make When Refinancing a Home Mortgage
Refinancing a home mortgage with the existing home lender without shopping around.
Although many homeowners believe that it's easier to work with their existing home mortgage lender, this is a general misconception. Your existing home mortgage lender may not have the best Georgia mortgage rates and loan programs. In most cases, your current mortgage lender will require the same loan documentation as other home mortgage companies due to the fact that most Georgia home mortgage loans are sold on the secondary market and have to be approved independently. Even if you've made all your home mortgage payments on time, your existing lender will still have to qualify you by verifying your assets, credit scores, liablilities, etc. all over again.
Neglecting to do a break-even analysis.
How can you determine if refinancing your home mortgage is really worth it? First, determine the total cost of your Georgia home mortgage refinance transaction using your Georgia Costs Breakdown or Loan Estimate.
Next, calculate your proposed monthly savings by subtracting your new monthly home mortgage payment from your current home mortgage payment.
Then, divide the total cost of your Georgia home mortgage refinance transaction by the amount of money you'll save on your Georgia home mortgage payment each month. This calculation gives you the total number of months you'll have to remain in the property in order to break even.
For example, if your Georgia home mortgage transaction costs $2000 with a proposed savings of $125 per month, you will break even in ($2000/$125) in sixteen months. In this example, as long as you're planning to stay in your Georgia home mortgage for at least 16 months, then it makes sense to refinance your home mortgage.
Please note that this is a simplified break-even mortgage refinance analysis. If you are switching from an adjustable rate home mortgage to a Georgia fixed-rate home mortgage, or from a 30-year home loan to a 15-year home loan, the analysis becomes more complex.
Not providing documents to your Georgia home mortgage company in a timely manner.
When the Georgia mortgage broker you're working with asks for additional loan documentation, provide it as soon as possible. Missing loan documentation can lead to costly delays in getting your Georgia home mortgage approved by an underwriter.
Not getting a rate lock in writing. When a mortgage company tells you they have locked your rate, get a written statement which includes the mortgage interest rate, the length of the rate lock, and details about the loan program.
Getting a new second home mortgage before refinancing the first mortgage
Georgia home mortgage companies consider the combined loan amount of the first and second home mortgages when a borrower refinances a home mortgage. Before getting a new 2nd home mortgage check with your Georgia mortgage broker to make sure it won't cause the refinance of your 1st mortgage to be turned down.
Getting too large a credit line
Georgia home mortgage lenders consider the total credit line of your 2nd home mortgage---not just the amount you actually owe---when determining whether or not you qualify for a new Georgia home mortgage.
If your unused credit line is too large, it can affect your ablility to qualify for a new first mortgage. A large Georgia home equity line--even if it has a zero (0) balance--represents a large potential monthly payment.
Not understanding the difference between a Georgia home equity loan and a Georgia home equity line.
A Georgia home equity loan is closed, meaning that you get all your cash up front and make fixed monthly mortgage payments until it's paid if full.
A Georgia home equity line, on the other hand, is open, which means that you can get credit advances for various amounts as needed. Most Georgia equity lines are accessed either through a checkbook or a credit card. For both Georgia equity loans and Georgia equity lines, you can only be charged interest on the outstanding principal balance.
When you need cash up front for an immediate need such as debt consolidation, home improvements, etc., a Georgia equity loan may be the best mortgage choice for you.
If you have a periodic need for the cash, such as ongoing home improvements on your Georgia home, college tuition, etc., an equity line may be a better choice.
Not checking the life-cap on your equity line.
Many Georgia credit lines have life-caps of up to 18 percent! Prepare for the worst and make sure that you can afford the payments at the highest potential rate.
Getting a home equity loan from your local bank without shopping around.
Shop around before getting a Georgia home equity line! Your local bank will probably be able to help you get a Georgia home equity line, but will it have the best fees and interest rates?
Assuming that your home equity loan is fully tax-deductible.
Check with a CPA, accountant, or Georgia tax professional to see if your Georgia home equity line is tax deductible. In some instances, your home equity loan is NOT tax deductible.
Obtaining a new Georgia home equity line when planning a refinance of your first Georgia home mortgage in the near future.
Your Georgia home mortgage company will look at the combined loan amounts on your first and second mortgages when considering whether or not you qualify for a new Georgia home mortgage refinance. Call the best Atlanta mortgage brokers at Peachtree Mortgage Services, Inc. to discuss if getting a second home equity line could cause your home mortgage refinance to be denied.
Should I refinance my Georgia Home Mortgage?
Although Georgia homeowners refinance their home mortgages with Peachtree Mortgage Services, Inc. for a variety of reasons--divorce, taking cash out for eduational expenses, etc-- the most common objective when refinancing a Georgia home mortgage is saving money! So how does refinancing with Peachtree Mortgage Services save money?
1. Refinancing to a lower Georgia home mortgage interest rate leads to monthly savings in your home mortgage payment. Click here to view our current Georgia home mortgage interest rates.
2. Reducing the term of your Georgia home mortgage can lead to mortgage interest savings. For example, although refinancing a home mortgage from a 30 year term to a 15 year term may result in a higher monthly Georgia home mortgage payment, the total interest paid during the life of the home mortgage could be reduced significantly.
3. Refinancing an adjustable home mortgage to a fixed loan can result in savings. The main reason for refinancing an ARM is to gain the stability and the security of a fixed rate mortgage. Locking a Georgia home mortgage rate for a fixed 10, 20, or 30 year period can save money by avoiding future rate increases---giving you the peace of mind that comes with knowing your home mortgage payment won't be going up! How much can you save? Click to visit our refinancing page.
4. Consolidating high interest rate credit cards and other debts---such as 2nd mortgages, student loans, credit lines, etc.---into a Georgia home mortgage with a lower, fixed interest rate can result in tremendous monthly savings. In addition, a Georgia home mortgage loan is usually tax deductible, while consumer loans are not, resulting in tax savings as well.
What is a FICO score
Credit scoring is a method of predicting the whether or not an individual Georgia consumer will pay his bills. Developed by Fair Isaac & Co., a FICO score is a credit score.
Fair Isaac began its work with credit scoring in the late 1950s. Since then, credit scoring has become widely accepted by home mortgage lenders as a reliable means of credit evaluation. A credit score attempts to condense a borrower's credit history into a single number. Atlhough Fair, Isaac & Co. and the credit bureaus will not reveal exactly how these scores are computed, the Federal Trade Commission has ruled this to be acceptable.
Credit scores are calculated by using scoring models and mathematical tables that assign points for different pieces of information that help predict future credit performance.
Developing these models involves studying how thousands, even millions, of people have used credit in the past. Score-model developers find predictive factors in the data that have proven to indicate future credit performance. Models can be developed from different sources of data. Credit-bureau models are developed from information in consumer credit bureau reports.
Credit scores analyze a borrower's credit history considering numerous factors such as:
- The number and frequency of late payments
- The amount of time credit has been established
- The amount of credit used versus the amount of credit available, i.e. the amount of available credit that a borrower is using.
- The length of time borrower has been at present residence
- The borrower's employment history
- The borrower's negative credit information such as bankruptcies, charge-offs, collections, etc.
Each consumer really has three credit scores based on data provided by the three credit bureaus--Experian, Trans Union and Equifax. Some lenders use only one of these three scores while evaluating the credit profile of a Georgia consumer applying for a home mortgage, while other lenders may use the middle score.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
How can I increase my credit score?
While its difficult for a Georgia consumer to increase his or her credit score over the short run, the following tips can be used to increase your credit score over a period of time:
- Pay your bills on time. Late payments and collections can have a serious impact on your score.
- Do not apply for credit frequently. Having a large number of inquiries on your credit report can worsen your score.
- Reduce your credit-card balances. If you are "maxed" out on your credit cards, this will affect your credit score negatively.
- If you have limited credit, obtain additional credit. Not having sufficient credit can negatively impact your score.
- Review your credit reports! By law, each Georgia consumer is entitled to receive two free credit reports from each of the three (3) credit bureaus annually. Visit our credit report page for detailed instructions on how to receive your free credit reports.
What if there is an error on my credit report?
If you find an error on your report, report it to the credit bureaus. The three major credit bureaus in the U.S. (Equifax , Trans Union, and Experian) all have procedures for correcting information promptly. Visit our credit reports page for more information.
Why do interest rates change?
To understand why Georgia home mortgage rates change we must first ask the more general question, "Why do interest rates change?" It's important to realize that there is not one interest rate, but many interest rates.
- Prime rate: The rate offered to a bank's best customers.
- Treasury bill rates: Treasury bills are short-term debt instruments used by the U.S. Government to finance their debt. Commonly called T-bills they come in denominations of 3 months, 6 months and 1 year. Each treasury bill has a corresponding interest rate (i.e. 3-month T-bill rate, 1-year T-bill rate).
- Treasury Notes: Intermediate-term debt instruments used by the U.S. Government to finance their debt. They come in denominations of 2 years, 5 years and 10 years.
- Treasury Bonds: Long-debt instruments used by the U.S. Government to finance its debt. Treasury bonds come in 30-year denominations.
- Federal Funds Rate: Rates banks charge each other for overnight loans.
- Federal Discount Rate: Rate New York Fed charges to member banks.
- Libor: : London Interbank Offered Rates. Average London Eurodollar rates.
- 6 month CD rate: The average rate that you get when you invest in a 6-month CD.
- 11th District Cost of Funds: Rate determined by averaging a composite of other rates.
- Fannie Mae-Backed Security rates: Fannie Mae pools large quantities of mortgages, creates securities with them, and sells them as Fannie Mae-backed securities. The rates on these securities influence mortgage rates very strongly.
- Ginnie Mae-Backed Security rates: Ginnie Mae pools large quantities of mortgages, secures them and sells them as Ginnie Mae-backed securities. The rates on these securities influence mortgage rates on FHA and VA loans.
Interest rate movements are based on the simple concept of supply and demand. If the demand for credit increases, then so do interest rates. Because there are more buyers (consumers) in this scenario than sellers (creditors), then creditors can command a better price, which means higher rates for consumers.
If the demand for credit is lowered, then interest rates generally go lower as well. Because there are more sellers than buyers in this scenario, buyers (consumers) can command a better price, which means lower rates.
So, when the economy is expanding, there is generally a higher demand for credit, so rates move higher. When the economy is slowing, the demand for credit decreases and home mortgage interest rates generally decrease as well.
This leads to a fundamental concept:
- Bad news (i.e. a slowing economy) is sometimes good news for Georgia homebuyers or Georgia homeowners planning to refinance because it can lead to lower home mortgage rates.
- Good news (i.e. a growing economy) is often bad news for Georgia homebuyers or Georgia homeowners planning to refinance their home mortgage because it can lead to higher interest rates.
Please keep in mind, however, that this is a general concept. There are many, many economic factors that can impact Georgia home mortgage rates.
A major factor driving home mortgage rates is inflation. Higher inflation is associated with a growing economy. When the economy grows too strongly, the Federal Reserve increases interest rates to slow the economy down and reduce inflation. Inflation results from prices of goods and services increasing. When the economy is strong, there is more demand for goods and services, so the producers of those goods and services can increase prices. A strong economy therefore results in higher goods and services prices, higher real-estate prices, higher rents on apartments, and higher Georgia home mortgage rates.
Home mortgage rates tend to move in the same direction as interest rates. However, actual mortgage rates are also based on supply and demand for home mortgages. The supply/demand equation for mortgage rates may be different from the supply/demand equation for interest rates. This might sometimes result in mortgage rates moving differently from other rates. For example, one lender may be forced to close additional home mortgages to meet a commitment they have made. This results in them offering lower home mortgage rates even though interest rates may have increased.
There is an inverse relationship between bond prices and bond rates. This can be confusing. When bond prices move up, interest rates move down and vice versa. This is because bonds tend to have a fixed price at maturity--typically $1000. If the price of the bond is currently at $900 and there are 10 years left on the bond and if interest rates start moving higher, the price of the bond starts dropping. The higher interest rates will cause increased accumulation of interest over the next 5 years, such that a lower price (e.g. $880) will result in the same maturity price, i.e. $1000.
Effect of economic data on Georgia home mortgage rates:
Number of arrows indicates potential effect on interest rates. 1 arrow=least effect, 5 arrows=max. effect
|Economic Event||Effect on
|Significance of event|
|Consumer Price Index (CPI) Rises||Indicates rising inflation.|
|Dollar Rises||Imports cost less; indicates falling inflation.|
|Durable Goods Orders Increase||Indicates expanding economy|
|Gross National Product Increases||Indicates strong economy|
|Home Sales Increase||Indicates strong economy|
|Housing Starts Rise||Indicates strong economy|
|Industrial Production Rises||Indicates strong economy|
|Business Inventories Rise||Indicates weak economy|
|Leading Indicators (LEI) Increase||Indicates strong economy|
|Personal Income Rises||Indicates rising inflation|
|Personal Spending Rises||Indicates rising inflation|
|Producer Price Index Rises||Indicates rising inflation|
|Retail Sales Increase||Indicates strong economy|
|Treasury Auction Has High Demand||High demand leads to lower rates|
|Unemployment Rises||Indicates weak economy|
What is the difference between being pre-qualifed and pre-approved?
Pre-qualification for a Georgia home mortgage loan is normally determined by a loan officer. After gathering information from you about your income, debts, etc. the loan officer determines the potential loan amount for which you may be approved. Because the loan officer does not issue loan approval, however, pre-qualification is not a commitment to lend.
After the loan officer determines that you pre-qualify, he or she then issues a Pre-qualification Letter. You provide the pre-qualification letter to the seller of the home you're interested in purchasing. It assures the seller that your financial situation has been reviewed by a professional, and that you will likely be approved for a loan to purchase the home.
Pre-approval is more complicated than pre-qualification. Pre-approval involves verifying your credit history, the source of your down payment, your employment history, etc. Peachtree Mortgage Services, Inc. submits your loan application to a Georgia lender's underwriter, and a decision is made regarding your home loan application. Getting your loan pre-approved allows you to close very quickly when you find a home. It can also help you negotiate a better price with the seller.
Can my home loan be sold? What happens if my lender goes out of business?
The secondary mortgage market in which lenders frequently buy and sell pools of home mortgages results in lower rates for home mortgage consumers. After closing, your loan can be sold at any time. However, any mortgage lender who buys your loan must assume all the terms and conditions of the original loan. Therefore, nothing can change except the address where you mail your payment. Your home mortgage interest rate, the amount of your monthly mortgage payment, etc. cannot be changed in this situation. In the event your loan is sold you will be notified about your new mortgage lender and where you should send your home mortgage payments.
Even if your mortgage lender goes out of business, you are still obligated to make you home mortgage payments. Typically, home mortgage loans owned by a mortgage lender going out of business are sold to another mortgage lender. The lender purchasing your loan is obligated to honor the terms and conditions of the original loan. Therefore, if your lender goes out of business, it will make little difference with regards to your home loan payments. There may be a gap between the date of your lender's going out of business and the date that a new lender purchases your loan. In such a situation, you would continue making payments to your old lender as you normally have until you are notified to send payments to your new home mortgage lender.
What is Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI)? Can I get rid of the PMI on my Georgia home mortgage loan?
Private mortgage insurance (PMI) is typically required when you buy a home and put less than 20 percent down. Mortgage insurance is a type of guarantee that helps protect lenders against the costs of foreclosure.
This insurance protection is provided by private mortgage insurance companies. In Although it's designed to protect the lender, you (the borrower) are the party responsible for paying for it, unfortunately! Remember, however, that there's a benefit to you as well-- private mortgage insurance enables lenders to offer loans with lower down payments. Without it, you would have to make a down payment of at least 20% in order to purchase a new Georgia home!
The cost of PMI increases as your down payment decreases. For example, if you put down 10% of the purchase price of your new Georgia home, your private mortgage insurance will be less than if you put down only 5%. Private mortgage insurance is usually added to your monthly home mortgage payment.
Canceling private mortgage insurance:
Federal law requires PMI to be cancelled under certain circumstances. In addition, Fannie Mae guidelines provide for cancellation of PMI in additional situations, if the loan is owned by Fannie Mae.
In general, private mortgage insurance for a loan originated on or after July 29, 1999---which is secured by the borrower's one-family principal residence or second home---will be cancelled when the loan-to-value ratio (LTV) reaches 80 percent based on the value of the home at loan origination. In order to cancel PMI under the rules of July 29, 1999, the borrower must have a good payment history and the property value must not have declined. Cancellation of private mortgage insurance does not normally happen automatically, however-- it must be requested by the borrower.
Private mortgage insurance on home mortgages owned by Fannie Mae can also be cancelled at the borrower's request when the loan to value (LTV) reaches 75 percent based on the current value of the home as established by a new appraisal. However, the borrower must have a good payment history, and the loan must be at least two years old.
If the borrower does not request PMI cancellation, the PMI servicer must automatically cancel PMI on these loans when the LTV is scheduled to reach 78 percent, based on the value of the home at loan origination. However, the loan must be current at that time. For loans originated before July 29, 1999--that are secured by the borrower's principal residence or second home and are owned by Fannie Mae--- PMI will generally be cancelled at the midpoint of the loan term, provided that payments are current at that time.
What is an Annual Percentage Rate (APR)?
Many borrowers who are buying or refinancing a Georgia home are confused by the APR. The annual percentage rate (APR) is an interest rate that is different from the note rate, and it is commonly used to compare loan programs from different lenders. The Federal Truth in Lending law requires mortgage companies to disclose the APR when they advertise a rate. Typically the APR is found next to the rate.
30-year fixed 8 percent 1 point
The monthly mortgage payment is a function of the interest rate and the length of the loan. Therefore, the APR does NOT affect the monthly mortgage payment.
The APR is a very confusing number--even mortgage bankers and brokers admit it's confusing.
The APR is designed to measure the "true cost of a loan." It creates a level playing field for lenders by preventing lenders from advertising low rates but hiding their fees!
Ideally, one should be able to compare APRs from various lenders, then select the loan with the lowest APR.
Unfortunately it's not that simple. Various lenders calculate APRs differently! A loan with a lower APR may not be the best choice. A good way to compare different lenders is to ask them to provide a Good Faith Estimate of closing costs. Be sure you compare the same loan program (e.g., 30-year fixed), interest rate and rate lock period. You may ignore fees that are independent of the loan, such as homeowners insurance, title fees, escrow fees, attorney fees, etc.
The reason APRs are confusing is because the rules to compute APR are not clearly defined.
What fees are included in the APR?
The following fees ARE generally included when calculating the APR:
- Points - both discount points and origination points
- Pre-paid interest. The interest paid from the date the loan closes to the end of the month. Most mortgage companies assume 15 days of interest in their calculations. However, companies may use any number between 1 and 30!
- Loan-processing fees
- Underwriting fees
- Document prep fees
- Private mortgage-insurance
The following fees are SOMETIMES included in the APR:
- Loan-application fees
- Credit life insurance (insurance that pays off the mortgage in the event of a borrowers death)
The following fees are normally NOT included in the APR:
- Title or abstract fee
- Attorney fees
- Document preparation fees (charged by the closing agent)
- Home-inspection fees
- Recording fees
- Transfer taxes
- Credit report fee
- Appraisal fee
Calculating APRs on adjustable rate and balloon loans is even more complex because future rates are unknown. The result is even more confusion about how lenders calculate APRs.
Do not attempt to compare a 30-year loan with a 15-year loan using their respective APRs. Although a 15-year loan may have a lower interest rate, it could have a higher APR since the loan fees are amortized over a shorter period of time.
Finally, many lenders do not even know what they include in their APR because they use software programs to compute their APRs. It is quite possible that the same lender with the same fees using two different software programs may arrive at two different APRs!
Use the APR only as a starting point to compare loans. The APR is a result of a complex calculations and is not clearly defined. There is no substitute to getting a loan estimate from each lender to compare costs. However, remember to exclude those costs that are independent of the loan.
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