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January 9, 2012

    I n   t h i s   i s s u e . . .
  • Martin Luther King Day
  • Save Your SentriLock Access:
         Renew Today at
  • Certified Luxury Home Marketing Specialist®
         Training - Early Bird Rates End Sunday
  • MAR Legislative Day
  • 30 Under 30 Applications - Due Sunday
    Homeownership Matters
  • FREE Affordable Housing Programs Webinar
  • 3% Freddie Mac Incentive to Buyers
  • Amazing Homebuyer Incentives
  • Annual Market Review Press Conference
  • Required Short Sale Policy Changes
         - Now in Effect
    The Industry Insider
  • 2012 Legislative Preview
  • Market Sen$e: Favorable Mortgage Rates,
         County Home Sales Surge
  • Pending-Home Sales Hit Highest Mark Since
         Homebuyers Tax Credit
  • Consumer Tip: Know What Affects Your
         Credit Score
  • Sales Coach: Breaking Bad Habits
         = Big Results
  • DC and MD CEU
  • Inclement Weather / Snow Policy
  • Learn More, Earn More in 2012
  • IRS 2012 Standard Mileage Rates
  • 2012 Changes to the Code of Ethics
  • Free Hands-On MRIS Training at PGCAR
  • Why Join REALTORS® FCU?

    Martin Luther King Day

    PGCAR offices will be closed in observance of Martin Luther King Jr's birthday next Monday, January 16.

    What is your dream for our community? Please consider volunteering for community service to celebrate the birthday and life of MLK.

    Membership Renewals are PAST DUE!
    Non-Renewed Memberships are in Process of Being Deactivated
    (which includes loss of SentriLock access and MRIS discount)

    Non-renewed REALTOR members wishing to
    reinstate membership privileges will be charged a $25 late fee
    and a $100 reinstatement fee to cover processing expenses.

    Also, all offices that have unpaid members as of January 15, 2012,
    will be suspended from all services, including SentriLock.

    Haven't renewed? Renew today at

    1. Click here
    2. Log in
    3. Pay and receive an itemized receipt for your
      2011 - 2012 PGCAR, MAR and NAR membership renewals.

    Membership renewals were due on October 1, 2011.
    A $25 late fee was added to non-paid renewals on December 1, 2011.

    Thanks to the majority of members who renewed on time!


    Luxury Home Marketing Designation - Training That Sets the Standard


    Class Dates: March 22 - 23, 8:30 am - 5:00 pm
    Earns 2 CRS Elective Units • Lunch Provided Both Days
    Required for Certified Luxury Home Marketing Specialist (CLHMS)

    Sponsored by the Women's Council of REALTORS®

    Includes 1-year membership and a "Tool Box" of free benefits with The Institute for Luxury Home Marketing:
    • Free profile in the luxury agent directory on
    • Series of free property listings on The Wall Street Journal's website
    • Free standard account with ProxioPro, the international MLS, including unlimited property listings and syndication to dozens of top real estate websites like Trulia, Zillow, Yahoo and more.

    Attend this valuable training and discover how to:
    • Reach more affluent prospects
    • Increase your average price
    • List and sell more luxury homes
    • Deliver outstanding service to affluent buyers and sellers
    • Set yourself apart as a luxury home expert
    • Grow your business and increase your income
    This intensive two-day CLHMS training course sets the standard for luxury sales training in the industry, and is the first step in earning the coveted CLHMS designation.

    Learn what wealthy buyers and sellers say are the "real secrets" to
    capturing their business and delivering outstanding service!

    Early Bird: $499 by Sunday, January 15


    MAR LEGISLATIVE DAY - Wednesday, January 25

    Meet your state legislators at the annual MAR Legislative Day Wednesday, January 25 at the Loews Annapolis Hotel. The program begins at 3:30 p.m. with registration starting at 3 p.m. Key Legislative officials have been invited and the program will feature various guest speakers briefing REALTORS® from across the state on top issues affecting us in the upcoming 2012 General Session. A reception will follow at 6 p.m. and will conclude at 8 p.m.

    REALTORS® and their guests are welcome to attend the 3:30 Legislative Day Program FREE. All are also welcome to attend the evening reception for a modest $15 "cover" for drinks and hors d'oeuvres.

    Meet your local legislators and show our REALTOR® strength.
    We hope to see everyone there to start off the 2012 Legislative Session right!

    RSVP online for the Legislative Day Program and Reception >


    Do You Have What it Takes? Write That Killer App for 30 Under 30

    Every June, REALTOR® Magazine showcases 30 young professionals making their mark in the real estate industry. Do you or someone in your office have what it takes? Be recognized for your innovation, leadership and passion for excellence. REALTORS® under the age of 30 as of May 31, 2012 are eligible to apply.

    Applications are due Next Sunday, January 15, 2012.
    How to write that killer app that gets you noticed?

    Click here first >


    FREE Affordable Housing Programs Webinar

    REALTOR Safety Month Next Wednesday, January 18
    10 - 11:30 am

    Each year, Federal Home Loan Bank of Atlanta (FHLB Atlanta) has been offering homebuyer incentives. Learn about their new Affordable Housing Program (AHP) Set-aside products for 2012 in a free webinar on January 18.

    Webinar Registration >
    Federal Home Loan Bank of Atlanta (FHLB Atlanta) savings overview >


    3% Freddie Mac Incentive to Buyers
    Homebuyer and $1,000 Selling Agent Bonus Now Through January 31

    Freddie Mac is offering a Winter Sales Promotion on offers submitted by owner-occupant purchasers between November 15, 2011 and January 31, 2012 with escrow closed by March 15, 2012.

    See this and other incentives at >

    1. Buy Suitland Initiative - Civic Employees and Incomes up to 120% AMI are eligible. Details >

    2. Federal Home Loan Bank of Atlanta (FHLB Atlanta) - 2 new programs - The first offers up to $15,000 towards a foreclosure purchase. The second offers up to $7,500 to homebuyers earning up to 80% AMI and buying within NSP targeted areas in MD or DC. These two programs do NOT require you to be a first-time homebuyer.
      Consumer information page >   Details & webinars for REALTORS® >

    3. My HOME - provides up to 5% of the home sale price in Down Payment and Closing Cost Assistance to County Homebuyers who have not owned a home within the last 3 years. See details at or the County website. Even more details in Members Only >

    4. Centex Offers Additional Savings to My HOME Program - The My HOME program has established a relationship with Centex Homes. Your homebuyer can buy a Centex Home in the Victory Promenade development (behind FED EX Field) with My HOME funds and get seller assistance too. They have units that are standing and ready within 30 days. For more information or to schedule a time to view these homes, please call (301) 350-5875 or email Jennifer Eaddy.

    5. American Dream Downpayment Assistance (ADDI) - up to $10,000 to County Homebuyers who have not owned a home within the last 3 years. Details >

    6. The Maryland Mortgage Program (MMP) offered through the state's Community Development Administration (CDA) has announced 2 loan products for distressed properties. All MMP products have low, fixed interest rates and some offer matching funds. These 2 new products will assist in revitalizing communities burdened with foreclosed and rundown properties.

      The Acquisition / Rehabilitation Mortgage Program helps purchase a single-family home as a primary residence and obtain funds for needed repairs and renovations.

      The Homeward Bound Program offers eligible buyers of foreclosed or short sale property a lower rate mortgage.

      Program Details >

    Most of these programs can be used in combination. Information on these and other homebuyer savings are available at Sales agents - please study up and stay familiar with current homebuyer incentives, and send links to your contacts from these public information pages. For more My HOME program details, members can login to Members Only.


    2011 Market Review, 2012 Preview Press Conference

    PGCAR held its annual Regional Housing Market press conference at the National Press Club in DC. The market report shows detailed market statistics from 2006 through 2011. PGCAR highlighted the incredible buying power available in Prince George's County, especially in comparison to the rest of the Metropolitan Washington region.

    Indications are that 2012 should be a stronger year, and there is much economic development associated with BRAC and County growth incentives to reinforce that.

    Powerpoint Presentation >


    Short Sale Policy Revisions - Mandatory Changes Now Effective

    Freddie Mac has amended its short sale affidavit policy, effective as of January 1, 2012. The purpose of the affidavit is to prevent fraud by requiring the buyer, the seller, the real estate brokers, the escrow/closing agent, and any transaction facilitator to make various certifications (including that the short sale is an arm's length transaction and the buyer will not resell within 120 days unless there are substantial improvements).

    NAR advises members to make sure that any short sale affidavit they sign is an updated form. If presented with an old form, members should request that the servicer update the form before signing, to avoid potential liability issues.
    Details >


    2012 Legislative Preview

    Property Tax Reform
    The Baltimore Sun and the Washington Post have both published articles noting disparities in property tax liabilities between nearly identical properties. Much of the disparity results from the Homestead Property Tax Credit which caps the amount of new assessed value subject to property taxes. A prominent member of the House of Delegates tax writing committee has indicated he is studying the property tax system and plans to offer legislation in 2012.

    Earlier this year, Governor O'Malley convened a Foreclosure Task Force. Government, industry and non profit representatives participated in the meetings and MAR expects legislative proposals to follow. The most likely reform affecting REALTORS® could be an expansion of the safe harbor for licensed real estate agents who assist clients applying for short sale approvals. It also appears likely that the existing requirement for mediation prior to foreclosure could be expanded to provide for an earlier mediation option.

    Sustainable Growth and Septic Systems
    Last year, MAR along with other groups vigorously opposed legislation that would have prohibited septic systems in new major subdivisions. That legislation was never voted on, and instead the Governor agreed to form the "The Task Force on Sustainable Growth and Wastewater Disposal." That group met regularly during the summer and fall and finalized its recommendations in November and December. Among the many recommendations that may result are further restrictions and/or requirements for new and existing septic systems, means-testing for septic grants, and increased fees paid into the Bay Restoration Fund to help pay for wastewater treatment plant upgrades and septic grants. MAR continue to oppose the prohibition of septic systems in new subdivisions because of its harmful impact on growth and housing affordability.

    While the Task Force on Sustainable Growth will have clear growth impacts, the State of Maryland - through the Department of Planning - is pursuing development goals for counties to meet in order to receive state funding. Though PlanMaryland is intended to redirect growth rather than stop growth, MAR is concerned that it will not have that effect. MAR has submitted input advocating that local planning decisions remain with local governments rather than the state. Although many of PlanMaryland's goals do not require legislation to be enacted, several bills addressing PlanMaryland elements will be introduced this winter.

    Other Taxes
    The State of Maryland will wrestle with a nearly $1 billion deficit when drafting a new budget this session. While the federal government helped bail out the state in prior years, that well is now dry. Over the summer, legislators had briefings regarding the expansion of the state sales tax to certain services (real estate was not mentioned) as well as the issue of taxing internet sales. MAR expects a sales tax expansion bill to be introduced in the coming session. It is also clear that the Legislature will consider an increase in the gasoline tax too.

    Lead Paint
    This summer a great deal of time was spent deciding whether the State of Maryland should place new lead paint requirements on home sellers. One idea discussed included mandatory lead dust tests of all pre-1978 properties.

    In addition to the work of this group, the Maryland Court of Appeals overthrew a portion of the current Maryland lead paint program for rental properties. Although the court permitted the registration part of the law to stand, it ruled that the liability cap for property owners violated the Maryland Declaration of Rights. Now property owners and property managers who have spent hundreds of millions of dollars in the last 15 years to make properties safe, face unlimited liability if a child registers a high blood lead level in their property. MAR and a number of groups will be working with the Legislature this winter to address this unsustainable liability.

    Ground Rents
    The Court of Appeals poked the General Assembly in the eye again, ruling another one of their legislative enactments unconstitutional. This time the court found that the law abolishing a ground rent that was not registered with the state an unconstitutional taking of property. As a result, there is now no penalty for failing to register a ground rent. The Ground Rent registry was one of the most important provisions of the ground rent reform passed by the General Assembly because it gave everyone involved in real estate sales clear information regarding the ownership status of the property. Proper titling and disclosure require some kind of mandatory registration, and MAR will seeking a solution to this.

    Transfer Taxes on Foreclosed Properties
    As if real estate owned (REO) property wasn't hard enough to sell, the government sponsored entities (GSEs) have taken the position that as quasi governmental entities they cannot be taxed when selling foreclosed property they own. County governments deal with this problem in different ways. Some counties require the buyer of the GSE property to pay ALL of the transfer tax and recordation fees. Other counties require the buyer to pay only half of those charges and forgive the rest. MAR and the land title industry in Maryland will be seeking legislation to require one rule that buyers only pay half of these taxes rather than picking up the seller's half as well.


    Market Sen$e: 30-Year Fixed-rate Mortgage Matches All-time Record Low

    The new year began with the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage matching its all-time record low and all other rates near their all-time lows. This was the 5th consecutive week the 30-year FRM has averaged below 4.00 percent. Last year at this time it averaged 4.77 percent. Economists expected last week's rates to rise a small amount due to recent signs of improvement in the housing market and manufacturing industry. "Pending existing home sales in November jumped 7.3 percent, nearly five times greater than the market consensus forecast, to its strongest pace since April 2010. In addition, construction spending rose 1.2 percent in November, supported by the residential sector which exhibited its fourth consecutive monthly increase. Similarly, manufacturing expanded in December at the fastest pace in six months," noted Freddie Mac's chief economist Frank Nothaft.

    Freddie Mac reports the following averages for the week ending January 5, 2012:

    • The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 3.91 percent, down from 3.95 percent a week ago.
    • The 15-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 3.23 percent, down from 3.24 percent.
    • The 5-year Treasury-indexed hybrid ARM averaged 2.86 percent, down from 2.88 percent.
    • The 1-year Treasury-indexed ARM averaged 2.80 percent, up from 2.78 percent.

    Freddie Mac's Weekly Primary Mortgage Market Survey >>

    Prince George's Ends Year with Strong Monthly Sales Gains —
    2011 Contract and Settlement Statistics Show Gains over 2010

    The number of settlements increased from November 2011 to December 2011 in the single family market ( +13.6% ) and the condo / co-op market ( +13.8% ). Contract signings decreased slightly for single family homes, from 848 in November to 836 in December, a 1.4% decrease. Contract signings for condo / co-op homes improved from 116 in November to 131 in December, a dramatic 15.5% increase.

    Year-to-date contracts and settlements have all improved from 2010.

    Visit for detailed statistics.


    Pending Home Sales Rise Again in November
    Highest Level in 19 Months

    The Pending Home Sales Index, a forward-looking indicator based on contract signings, increased 7.3% to 100.1 in November from an upwardly revised 93.3 in October and is 5.9% above November 2010 when it stood at 94.5. The October upward revision resulted in a 10.4% monthly gain.

    The last time the index was higher was in April 2010 when it reached 111.5 as buyers rushed to beat the deadline for the home buyer tax credit.

    Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, said the gains may result partially from delayed transactions. "Housing affordability conditions are at a record high and there is a pent-up demand from buyers who've been on the sidelines, but contract failures have been running unusually high. Some of the increase in pending home sales appears to be from buyers recommitting after an initial contract ran into problems, often with the mortgage," he said. "The sustained rise in contract activity suggests that closed existing-home sales, which are the important final economic impact figures, should continue to improve in the months ahead," Yun added.

    Pending home sales are not affected by the recently published rebenchmarking of existing-home sales because the index uses a different methodology based directly on contract signings, and is adjusted for seasonality.

    More details at >


    Consumer Tip: Know What Affects Your Credit Score

    A poor credit score can make it hard to get a mortgage or a new car. It can also increase the rate you pay on a mortgage, credit card and insurance, yet a recent Visa survey revealed 42% never bother to check their score.

    Do your homework, and give your customers a friendly tip to do the same. In the last REALTOR® Connection, we learned the first step in better managing your credit history, how to check your credit record FREE every 4 months.

    Now that you know your history, how does this factor into your credit score?

    A FICO score is calculated from the following data:

    • 35%: An individual's payment history, whether or not payments are made on time.
    • 30%: Amounts owed and how much available credit is being used. (Generally, using a higher percentage of the credit available to you will lower your credit score.)
    • 15%: Length of credit history, or how long each account has been open.
    • 10%: An individual's use of new credit or recent applications that resulted in a credit score check. (Generally, a high amount of requests for credit will lower your credit score.)
    • 10%: What types of credit the individual is using — mortgages, car loans, personal loans, credit cards, etc.

    Read more >


    Sales Coach: Breaking Bad Habits = Big Results

    Home Sales Coach While some become complacent and procrastinate, others constantly seek opportunities to create more business and improve themselves. To jump-start your income, your life, and your success, think of one personal life change to focus on, then keep adding one more. For example, investigate what networking events are coming up in 2012 and plan to attend one each month. Maybe your next item to focus on could be brushing up on social media and technology-based marketing tools.

    In addition to your business life, how are you spending your personal time? Are you spending time with people you love, exercising, and eating healthy, or spending time watching reality TV? Pick one improvement (walking 20 minutes a day, reconnecting with a friend, scheduling regular trips to the gym together or date nights if married, calling a family member you haven't seen in ages) and expand from there.

    Soon, you'll be making the little, everyday decisions that take you to the life you desire. You'll experience the Compound Effect of small, positive choices creating big results.

    Learn more about the Compound Effect, and 5 key points to harnessing the Compound Effect in your life >


    Earn All MD and DC Required CEU at PGCAR

    All classes are held at PGCAR offices, just off the Route 202 / Landover Road exit of I-495. Find our NEW association office at 9200 Basil Court, Suite 400, Largo, MD 20774. There's plenty of parking.

    This Wednesday, January 11
    MD Code of Ethics
    3.0 MD Required Ethics CEU;
    3.0 DC Elective CEU
    Larry Hudson 9:30 am - 12:30 pm

    This Thursday, January 12
    Commercial SBA Loan Programs
    3.0 MD Elective CEU
    John Throne 9:30 am - 12:30 pm
    Home Inspection & Environmental Issues
    3.0 MD Elective CEU;
    3.0 DC Elective CEU
    Walter Clews 1:30 pm - 4:30 pm

    Next Thursday, January 19
    MD Legislative Update
    3.0 MD Required Legislative Update CEU;
    3.0 DC Elective CEU
    Don Martin 9:30 am - 12:30 pm
    MD Fair Housing
    1.5 MD Required Fair Housing CEU;
    1.5 DC Elective CEU
    Don Martin 1:30 pm - 3:00 pm

    Next Friday, January 20
    MREC Agency-Residential
    3.0 MD Required or elective CEU
    Fredericka Lloyd 9:30 am - 12:30 pm

    Monday, January 23
    MREC Required Supervision
    3.0 MD Required or Elective CEU
    Don Martin 9:30 am - 12:30 pm

    Wednesday, January 25
    Reverse Mortgages
    1.5 MD Elective CEU
    Eric Rittmeyer 1:30 pm - 3:00 pm

    Thursday, February 9
    3.0 MD Elective CEU;
    3.0 DC Elective CEU
    Larry Hudson 9:30 am - 12:30 pm
    Environmental Issues/Chesapeake Bay
    1.5 MD Elective CEU
    Larry Hudson 1:30 pm - 3:00 pm

    Complete CEU Schedule >>


    SNOW POLICY: PGCAR classes will be conducted as scheduled unless the Prince George's County Government offices are closed. If you are registered for a class and it is cancelled, your registration fee will be returned or transferred to a future class.

    Please be safe and use your best judgment with regards to driving. If unable to attend due to weather, please e-mail Scott Miller or call Scott at 301-306-7961 and you will not be charged. If you will not be attending class, please indicate whether you would like to reschedule or if you would like a refund.

    PGCAR committee meetings: If Prince George's County Public Schools are CLOSED, all PGCAR committee meetings will be cancelled. If Prince George's County Public Schools are on a delayed schedule, committee meetings will be held as scheduled.

    PGCAR offices will be open unless the Prince George's County Government is closed.


    Learn More, Earn More in 2012

    PGCAR is offering GRI Series 100, 200, and 300.
    Sign up now!


    IRS 2012 Standard Mileage Rates

    As of January 1, 2012, the standard mileage rate used to calculate deductible costs of operating a car (and vans, pickups or panel trucks) are:

    • 55.5 cents per mile for business miles driven
    • 23 cents per mile for medical or moving expenses
    • 14 cents per mile driven in service of charitable organizations

    The rate for business miles driven is unchanged from the mid-year adjustment that became effective on July 1, 2011. The medical and moving rate has been reduced by 0.5 cents per mile.

    Additional information on standard mileage rates is available from or your tax specialist.


    2012 Changes to the Code of Ethics

    Changes to the Code which are approved at the NAR Annual Convention become effective on January 1 of each year. For your easy reference we have posted the January 1, 2012 changes here, and online, so that you can stay up to date. Revised and added text is noted in italics. Strikeouts indicate deletions.

    New Standard of Practice 1-16
    REALTORS® shall not use, or permit or enable others to use, listed or managed property on terms or conditions other than those authorized by the owner or seller. (Adopted 1/12)

    Revised Article 15
    REALTORS® shall not knowingly or recklessly make false or misleading statements about competitors other real estate professionals, their businesses, or their business practices. (Amended 1/12)

    Revised Standard of Practice 15-2
    The obligation to refrain from making false or misleading statements about competitors other real estate professionals, competitors' their businesses and competitors' their business practices includes the duty to not knowingly or recklessly publish, repeat, retransmit, or republish false or misleading statements made by others. This duty applies whether false or misleading statements are repeated in person, in writing, by technological means (e.g., the Internet), or by any other means. (Amended 1/12)

    Revised Standard of Practice 15-3
    The obligation to refrain from making false or misleading statements about competitors other real estate professionals, competitors' their businesses and competitors' their business practices includes the duty to publish a clarification about or to remove statements made by others on electronic media the REALTOR® controls once the REALTOR® knows the statement is false or misleading. (Amended 1/12)

    Revised Article 17
    In the event of contractual disputes or specific non-contractual disputes as defined in Standard of Practice 17-4 between REALTORS® (principals) associated with different firms, arising out of their relationship as REALTORS®, the REALTORS® shall mediate the dispute if the Board requires its members to mediate. If the dispute is not resolved through mediation, or if mediation is not required, REALTORS® shall submit the dispute to arbitration in accordance with the regulations policies of their Board or Boards rather than litigate the matter.

    In the event clients of REALTORS® wish to mediate or arbitrate contractual disputes arising out of real estate transactions, REALTORS® shall mediate or arbitrate those disputes in accordance with the regulations policies of their the Board, provided the clients agree to be bound by the decision any resulting agreement or award.

    The obligation to participate in mediation or arbitration contemplated by this Article includes the obligation of REALTORS® (principals) to cause their firms to mediate or arbitrate and be bound by any resulting agreement or award. (Amended 1/12)

    Revised Standard of Practice 17-2
    Article 17 does not require REALTORS® to mediate in those circumstances when all parties to the dispute advise the Board in writing that they choose not to mediate through the Board's facilities. The fact that all parties decline to participate in mediation does not relieve REALTORS® of the duty to arbitrate.

    Article 17 does not require REALTORS® to arbitrate in those circumstances when all parties to the dispute advise the Board in writing that they choose not to arbitrate before the Board. (Amended 1/12)

    Please take the time to review the entire 2012 REALTOR® Code of Ethics >

    We'll return to our Tour of the Code of Ethics in the next REALTOR® Connection.
    Wishing you an enjoyable and ethical 2012!


    Free Hands-On MRIS Tools Training at PGCAR

    PGCAR hosts free MRIS hands-on training sessions each month. The January sessions are:

    Tuesday, January 24, 9:30 am - 12:30 pm
    Kick Off Your Career with MRIS - Get in the real estate game faster with this introduction to all the various products and topics available with your MRIS subscription.

    Tuesday, January 24, 1:30 pm - 4:30 pm
    The Need-to-Knows of Matrix - Settings, or searches, or contacts or emails... Learn the best place to start and learn about the multiple functions Matrix offers.

    Visit for details and registration. Advance registration with MRIS is required.


    REALTORS® Federal Credit Union

    Why Join REALTORS® FCU?
    It's the 24/7 credit union designed for your unique needs as a REALTOR®!

    Open 24/7!
    FREE ATMs Nationwide
    FREE Checking w/ FREE debit card
    Scan check deposits using your computer
    Transfer funds between financial institutions online
    Flexible lending that understands a REALTOR®'s income
    Earnings go back to benefit YOU and your fellow REALTORS®

    Join Online >   It only takes 15 minutes!

    Prince George's County Association of REALTORS®
    8300 Corporate Drive, Suite 100  :  Landover, MD 20785
    Phone 301-306-7900  :  Fax 301-306-8273  :  :  ©2012 PGCAR

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