August 6, 2020  //  Episode 9

Today’s Lending Environment with guest Neil Gamss (HHC Finance)

– Presented by Senwell Senior Investment Advisors

August 6, 2020  //  Episode 9

Today’s Lending Environment with guest Neil Gamss (HHC Finance)

– Presented by Senwell Senior Investment Advisors

Show Notes

Episode 09: Today’s Lending Environment with guest Neil Gamss (HHC Finance) – Presented by Senwell Senior Investment Advisors

On this episode of The Investment Opportunity Podcast, we welcome Neil Gamss with Housing and Healthcare Finance. HHC Finance is a commercial finance company and is a leading HUD lender with experience and expertise to efficiently underwrite HUD insured mortgage loans for a wide range of properties including multifamily housing, skilled nursing, assisted living, seniors housing sector, psychiatric hospitals, boarding care and acute care hospitals.

In this episode, we cover the following topics:

  1. The lending environment now vs then.
  2. What are lenders requiring when underwriting deals today that they may not have required in the past?
  3. How have rates changed?
  4. Recourse vs. Non-recourse and leverage changes.
  5. What kinds of risk adjustments are being made going forward?
  6. What does future demand look like?
  7. What is the biggest concern investors and lenders have right now?

You can learn more about HHC Finance, and contact Neil Gamss directly at:

The Investment Opportunity Podcast is presented by Senwell Senior Investment Advisors, a mergers and acquisitions advisory firm specializing in skilled nursing and seniors housing. The show is hosted by Ben Bohland and Brandon Bohland.

Want to watch the show? Visit our website:

If you have suggestions on topics or guests that to invite on the show, questions or comments, please contact us. You can get in touch with us the following ways:

Contact Senwell Senior Investment Advisors for mergers, acquisitions and dispositions. Senwell specializes in working with owners and operators of skilled nursing (short-term rehabilitation and long-term care) facilities, assisted living and memory care facilities, independent living facilities, continuing care retirement communities and owners of bed licenses in Certificate of Need (CON) states or states with a moratorium on bed licenses.

Thank you for listening to The Investment Opportunity Podcast!

Guest Bio

Neil Gamss is a Senior VP at HHC Finance. In addition to HHC’s regular HUD lending, Neil is also the co-lead of the Capital Advisory Group that specializes in placing Bridge, Mezz, Pref Equity and Working Capital loans with lenders and clients across the country.

Since co-founding the group 4 years ago they have closed over $2.5 billion in arranged loans.


Episode 09: Today’s Lending Environment with guest Neil Gamss (HHC Finance) – Presented by Senwell Senior Investment Advisors

Brnadon: [00:00:00] On this episode, we discussed today’s lending environment.

Intro/Outro: [00:00:06] Welcome to the Investment Opportunity podcast. We’ll educate you on the latest investment trends happening in one of the hottest real estate classes, skilled nursing and seniors housing.

Intro/Outro: [00:00:16] We’ll point out the risks so you can reap the rewards of investing in this growing and complex industry. And now your hosts, Ben Bohland and Brandon Bohland.

Brnadon: [00:00:30] Welcome to Episode nine of the Investment Opportunity Podcast presented by Senwell Senior Investment Advisors. We are your hosts. I am Brandon Bohland, sitting beside my twin brother and business partner, Ben Bohland. And we are again presented by Senwell, which is a skilled nursing and seniors housing mergers and acquisitions advisory firm. With us on the show today, we are very excited to have Neil Gamss with Housing and Health Care Finance. And Neil is the senior vice president at HHC. HHC She’s Finance is a leading HUD lender with experience and expertise to efficiently underwrite HUD insured mortgage loans for a wide range of properties. These include multifamily housing, skilled nursing, assisted living seniors, housing sector, psychiatric hospitals, boarding care and acute care hospitals. And in addition to all of those things, in addition to HUD lending, Neal specifically is also the co-lead of the Capital Advisory Group that specializes in placing bridge Mezz preferred equity and working capital loans with lenders and clients across the country. Since cofounding the group four years ago, they have closed over two point five billion dollars in arranged loans.

Brnadon: [00:01:50] In other words, I’m going to say a dad joke. Neal, are you ready?

Neil Gamss: [00:01:55] I’m ready.

[00:01:56] Neil’s doing deals.

Neil Gamss: [00:02:03] Better than I thought it would be.

Brnadon: [00:02:09] Neil, welcome to the show, we’re actually very excited to have you. You are our first guest to speak specifically on the debt side of things. And we’re excited to bring your valuable content to the show today.

Neil Gamss: [00:02:24] Ok. Yes. Thank you so much for having me. And that was a heck of an intro. Thank you. A lot of of information that you provided, but those are the services that we provide at HHC. And that’s what we’re involved in. I know that you mentioned multi family. I am more involved on the health care side. We have a specialized team for multifamily on the HUD side. So, if anybody wants to reach out, I can certainly connect them with the appropriate people. But I think today we’re going to be talking about healthcare.

Brnadon: [00:02:50] Yeah, absolutely. And I know that you’re also attending or you have I don’t know if we can use that as a present term these days, but you have attended a lot of the conferences we’ve been to as well. So, I’m assuming if people are attending NIC or some of the other conferences, they can see you around at those as well.

Neil Gamss: [00:03:10] Yeah, as soon as those come back, I don’t know when that’s going to be, but I was at the last NIC. I think we saw each other there. Perhaps.

Brnadon: [00:03:17] We did.

Neil Gamss: [00:03:18] And I don’t know if that’s where I got COVID, but I certainly got COVID shortly thereafter. So, I don’t know where was maybe on the plane. On the way home?

Brnadon: [00:03:26] Well, yeah, we’ve actually heard a lot of people that have come down with COVID, including myself after that trip as well. So, I don’t know if it was California or or what it was something in the air out there.

Neil Gamss: [00:03:41] Yeah, well, I’m glad it looks like it looks like you’re feeling well. I’m glad that you are.

Brnadon: [00:03:44] You too.

Ben: [00:03:45] Yeah. Neil’s also doing deals, but he’s also looking good. Hey, Neil. So, today’s lending environment is actually it’s obviously a little bit different than what it was six months ago. So, what are some of the specific things that you’re looking at now compared to then?

Neil Gamss: [00:04:04] So what’s interesting is that the lending environment is different than it was. It’s one thing over. It’s also different than it was two months ago. So, what we saw six months ago was things were going great. Lenders were lending. We were very busy both on the capital advisory side with new transactions with refinances, but also busy on the HUD side with general refinances. Then obviously, COVID happened. I think I don’t know if you guys experienced this as well on your side of things, but I think it took us two months for everyone and both on the client side and on the bank side to kind of figure out like what’s happening over here. How do we deal with that? Obviously, many of the deals that we were working on, new acquisitions, were put on hold right away, which makes sense because most of my client’s own portfolios outside of their new deals. And they needed to figure out how to manage the crisis that they were going through. And at the same time, lenders also I don’t think that lenders officially said pause because we were closing deals throughout that crisis in March and April and May. But the majority of those, the old, were well on their way before COVID happened. And obviously COVID really didn’t disrupt the operations and those particular deals. And a lot of lenders kind of said, let’s see where things fall out. Let’s see how things, let’s see what happens. But what I would say is that the government really stepped up for our operators. I don’t know if you’re seeing the same thing, but it really helped them out with very, very necessary stimulus and PPP money for those that were eligible for it. And I think that obviously they’re indispensable building stage now for the everybody had a expenses that, you know, everybody census is hurting.

Neil Gamss: [00:05:39] I would say, regardless of where you are, but people are building back. Now, I’m hearing from my clients and lenders are certainly back to where not to where they were before, but they’re back to lending money. Put it that way. They’re not paused anymore. That’s for sure. There are different things to look at, obviously, now when you’re underwriting a deal. And we help the underwriting both on the HUD side, but even on the bridge side. Obviously, we do our own underwriting before we’re going to present to a lender. And, you know, a number of COVID cases and COVID precautions and stuff like that are certainly important for lenders to look at. And we’re looking at them as well. But we’re happy to see that many lenders are sending term sheets. We’re signing up. Thank God.

Neil Gamss: [00:06:22] I would say over the past month.

Brnadon: [00:06:24] So, new originated deals you’re seeing in the past 30 days, let’s say.

Neil Gamss: [00:06:29] Definitely.

Brnadon: [00:06:29] OK. And when you’re,

Neil Gamss: [00:06:31] There are fewer. I’m sorry, yes. There are fewer.

Neil Gamss: [00:06:34] Like, you know, I think people were expecting these major distressed deals to happen and people to be selling out of desperation or bankruptcy or whatever you’re calling it. We’re not really seeing that yet. We’re seeing that obviously operators, I guess that it took a census hit. But they have enough to keep them going. And they’re seeing that improvement with which that was the intention of those programs.

Brnadon: [00:06:55] Yeah. And so, let me, I guess, drill down more into the origination side. So, as you start to look at underwriting new deals, what are some of the things that the lenders are requiring when you’re underwriting today that they may not have require? Are they looking at, for example, are they looking at a semiprivate skilled nursing facility as a higher risk asset than a private room facility, for example?

Neil Gamss: [00:07:26] That’s a very good point. So HUD. It’s funny HUD was always very sensitive about that. They don’t like facilities, skilled nursing facilities in particular, that have triple and quad war type rooms. HUD never loved that. Obviously, we do them. We do those deals. But if the wholesale facility was filled with four-bedroom HUD would pause for a second on that. And we’re seeing lenders bring it up. I wouldn’t say that lenders are saying, no, we’re not going to be doing facilities that have double occupancy or triple occupancy. I think that are going to be more concerned about what are your infectious disease control? You know what’s in place. You have somebody that’s in charge of controlling the spread of diseases rather than just saying no to those types of facilities.

Brnadon: [00:08:10] Got it.

Neil Gamss: [00:08:11] Now, the other things that lenders are more focused on now for sure is obviously they’re only going to be lending in this environment to a more experienced operator. That’s seasoned that’s been around the first-time guy that’s buying his first building will likely have to partner with somebody else who has more experience in order to get that deal done.

Ben: [00:08:33] And what about rates? So, the seasoned veteran that’s been with the same lender for years. Have the rates changed with that same person or even somebody that you said might have to partner with somebody else? Are you considering it with a higher rate?

Neil Gamss: [00:08:51] So it’s funny, HUD rates are actually at their All-Time Low right now, and bridge rates, which are very often floating off of Libor, are also Libor very, very low now. Spreads have increased a little bit. You know, spreads over Libor, but not really when you’re adding the Libor to the spread. It’s kind of where it was pre COVID at this point. We’re not seeing lenders pricing in that risk. What we’re seeing more of is if a lender deems this is a very risky deal for whatever reason, either because the building has very low occupancy or because they don’t feel the the operator is experienced enough. They won’t do the deal rather than pricing another 25 basis points?

Ben: [00:09:29] All right. Which is no change from what it was before. Right.

Neil Gamss: [00:09:32] Right.

Brnadon: [00:09:34] So you’ve mentioned HUD a lot. Let’s talk about maybe nonrecourse loans. I know that that was a big selling point, pre COVID. Are you seeing more loans come down as having some level of recourse assigned to them?

Neil Gamss: [00:09:51] Obviously, on the HUD side, that hasn’t changed, HUD loans are non-recourse and there’s still not a recourse. That hasn’t changed on the on the bridge side. We are seeing the changes that we’re seeing are not on pricing. We’re seeing certain lenders requiring more recourse because risk has gone up. They want their borrowers to be standing behind those loans. And we’re also seeing in some situations, leverage is going down a little bit. They want to see a little bit more skin in the game. But it hasn’t been so significant on the leverage side. I would say on the recourse side, I think that get a non-recourse bridge loan in this environment is possible but challenging.

Brnadon: [00:10:26] So walk us through an example. So, if I’m buying a 10 million dollar building, what did that look like three months ago and what does that look like going forward? Again, assume I’m a seasoned veteran and I have all of the same relationships. What does that look like from a leverage and recourse perspective?

Neil Gamss: [00:10:44] So the first question I would ask you, if you’re let’s say you were a client calling me. You have a ten-million-dollar deal. You’re an experienced guy. The question is, what are you more sensitive to? Are you more sensitive to pricing or you miss more sensitive to recourse? That’s the first question, because if you’re doing a bank’s deal now with the depository bank, that’s most likely, with certain exceptions, most likely going to be between 50 percent and 100 percent recourse. So, if you’re someone who doesn’t want to sign one hundred percent, recourse, or 75 percent recourse, you’re probably not going to be doing a bank deal. Now, bank deals are obviously having the cheapest pricing. So, we just we’re closing a deal. God willing, actually, today with very aggressive pricing. Regular 80 percent leverage. But if you would tell me, hey, Neil, I’m not going to sign 100 percent recourse on a deal right now in this environment. I’m too nervous. So, I like what we likely would go to a FinCo instead of instead of a bank. Now, what the irony is that FinCo’s provide more leverage than banks do. So, you know, those right now are providing leverage anywhere between 80 percent and 90, 90 percent. So for our example, let’s say 85, you’ll get 85 percent leverage and your pricing will be anywhere between, let’s say, four and a quarter overlibor two six overlibor whereas bank pricing would be anywhere between three overlibor or four overlibor. So, you’re definitely paying for that extra leverage and the reduced recourse.

Brnadon: [00:12:11] So you talked a little bit about you’re really not seeing some of the risk assigned and into some of these loans yet. Do you see that actually adjusting as we go forward? Or is this kind of a short-term benefit that some investors can take advantage in this little short window or will that be changing going forward? What are you seeing?

Neil Gamss: [00:12:36] So I don’t. Just to be clear, what we’re not seeing is pricing changing, really. We are seeing risk becoming a factor because. Yes, recourse is higher than it was before. And also, leverage might be slightly lower. The same lender that was giving you 90 percent loan to cost might now only feel comfortable giving you 85 percent loan to cost, or eighty-five to eighty that type of thing. Going forward I don’t know if I see, again, I don’t know if I see that 25 or 50 basis point spread increase so much just because maybe the spread will increase. The libor is still low that you’re all in rates are going to be the same. I think the deals that get done and the deals that lenders are interested in.

Brnadon: [00:13:18] I also think that a lot of the operators are doing a phenomenal job of mitigating a lot of the risk that they’re seeing on the front lines right now. Unfortunately, we’re seeing a lot of stories out there and it’s just constant negativity. But that’s just what you see on the 6:30 national news.

Brnadon: [00:13:35] But I think if you dig down and call up these operators and talk to the CEOs of what they’re actually doing on the front lines, and I’m sure once you dig in and start doing some of the underwriting, you’re seeing a lot of these operators really mitigate from a safety perspective their facilities.

Neil Gamss: [00:13:55] Well, I’m looking at the financial statements and I’m seeing a lot of money being spent on PPE, which is good. Yeah, a good thing, you know, and we can underwrite to that and we can add that back. And it’s a onetime expense, but I feel very comfortable that it’s there, you know, and I’m glad that you I’m glad that you brought that up as well, because. I speak to a lot of lenders and lenders would be nervous in this situation because they have a lot of money out on these portfolios, you know? And if there were some, they would sense something wrong. They’d be very, very nervous about it. And a lot of the lenders that I’ve been speaking to over the past two or three, four weeks are very, very, very complimentary of their clients and their operators that they, I mean, they were presented with a crazy problem that hasn’t come up in the past hundred years. And they felt that for the most part, they dealt with it really, really well. And, you know, similar to what you’re saying, that on the news it’s easy to sensationalize and bring things up and to point fingers.

Neil Gamss: [00:14:51] But for the most part, they were presented with the crazy issue that the vast majority of my clients dealt with really, really well.

Brnadon: [00:14:59] And I think a lot of the untold story actually comes down to the state associations, because you’ve taken essentially you and your competitor right next door used to kind of battle it out and try to fight for occupancy. We’re seeing a lot of those scenarios where the association is bringing everyone together, and that doesn’t really matter what state you’re in. I think most of the estate associations are doing a phenomenal job of bringing everyone together and saying, hey, these are best practices and we need to learn from these five operators who are doing things right. And those operators are going out and teaching all of their other competitors’ best practices and safety measures going forward. And I think that has a lot of value and it should hold a lot of value in somewhat deve risk. These lenders and these some of these loans as well.

Neil Gamss: [00:15:52] That’s interesting. I didn’t have that perspective from the association level. It’s something that I definitely will bring up with my clients. Because I’m curious to hear that. But I am seeing collaboration and people helping each other, really. Whether it was when it was difficult to get PPE. Now it’s much easier to get PPE. But in general, we saw a lot of our clients just being available for one another, even though, like you said, normally their competitors.

Brnadon: [00:16:16] Yeah. And that that does remind me of another point where we’re working with several states who have done a great job in working with their state and asking for increases in Medicaid reimbursement. And I think a lot of states are doing a great job and we’re seeing some of these stipends roll across state by state. How are you guys looking at some of these benefits are you kind of treating these as a wash in some cases, or are you looking at it, as, de risking some of the portfolio? Because I think in some cases it’s a short-term thing or it’s an unknown how long they’re going to be receiving some of these stipends, kind of like UPL in some states.

Ben: [00:16:56] Yeah, you’re not sure how long it’s going to last.

Brnadon: [00:16:57] That’s right.

Ben: [00:16:58] You take it while you can.

Neil Gamss: [00:17:00] Exactly. Yeah. So, the approach that we’re taking, literally two different approaches to take. So, let’s you’re looking at a T12. PNL, right. So, through February or March, for the most part, people were fine. And then obviously, people took a dip in April, May, June in occupancy and increased expenses. So really, there’s two ways to look at it. Either you can include those extra stimulus monies and the extra rate increase that some states gave that word, which was great and help operators tremendously. And those months then look fine. You know, the way that the case so that I would make is if you’re going to penalize somebody for their increased costs and their decreased occupancy, then you should also give them credit for the stimulus that came to mitigate those issues.

Brnadon: [00:17:46] You’re going to get a lot of phone calls, Neal, giving them credit for that.

Neil Gamss: [00:17:54] Well, the or the other thing to do is really add everything back, kind of whether it’s adding the increased costs back and adding that additional revenue back. And the other the other case to be made and this really depends on which state you’re in. But, for example, there are certain states on the East Coast and not southeast because right now southeast, unfortunately, is being hit pretty hard. But, somewhere on the east, it’s not south. We have operators that are already building their census back at this point. So, the case would be made just OK. So just don’t include April, May and June and your T12. You can have a T12 through March and then let’s much resume in July, August, assuming, though, assuming occupancy is back to a relatively normal place. That would be the other option of there.

Ben: [00:18:42] Yeah. And then on top of that, though, you have the media right now that’s not paying the best light for the industry.

Ben: [00:18:51] So what’s to say? That could cause a decrease demand even on the needs and skilled side. You know, people could be shifting more towards a home health care model. How are you looking at that moving forward in terms of future demand? And how that’s going to.

Neil Gamss: [00:19:13] So I really people haven’t really brought that up. And when I say people, I mean lenders who I’m in touch with. There were some lenders that were like, oh, hey, on the private pay outside purely private pay, high end AL. Is there going to be demand for that going forward either because if there’s an economic downturn, people can’t afford that. Or if just in general, I don’t feel comfortable putting my loved one in a facility, I’d rather just keep them at home. That’s a point to be made. Not on the skill side. People are pretty bullish on unskilled demand going forward. I think that we learned that home health care people, we’re talking about this. I remember like four years ago, people were like, oh, my God, home health care is going to kill the skilled nursing space it didn’t. And perhaps home health care could be a little bit of a replacement. In the beginning of the aging process, when there are a little bit of help, but for a real acute care facility, which is what we’re seeing our clients providing these days the level of care and a level of acuity that they’re dealing with, it’s higher than it’s ever been. We don’t see that going away. I personally.

Ben: [00:20:22] Yes. What about. I don’t know if you feel the same way about that. I agree. It’s just, you know, we hear from these operators how bad the media is painting this picture.

Ben: [00:20:32] But in all actuality, that the operators that have the right precautions in place are doing the right things. It really hasn’t affected much.

Brandon: [00:20:41] I also think some of the operators are doing some things to offset some of that risk. So, if there is mom or grandma goes in for hip surgery, the daughter is concerned about her going into a nursing home for 30 days for short term rehab. I think that some of these operators are doing a great job of just implementing technology where the least amount of touches the better. So, you have some telehealth that are coming in, some monitors that are being hooked up to some of these patients that I think will reduce the number of touches and the number of touchpoints.

Ben: [00:21:15] And even therapy within your own room so that you leave in there.

Brnadon: [00:21:18] Yes. So, there’s a lot of different factors that come into play there. Neil, what about what about your workload through all of this? Has the demand for lending increased, decreased, stayed the same? What what’s your workload like?

Neil Gamss: [00:21:35] So it’s so interesting and I would say that the first that first month and a half, whenever it was mayhem and I wasn’t calling clients to ask them, oh, hey, do you have any new deals, because they were in middle of putting out fires, literally.

Neil Gamss: [00:21:49] And everybody.

Ben: [00:21:51] But Neal does deals.

Neil Gamss: [00:21:54] Yeah.

Neil Gamss: [00:21:54] So I had to deal with that with that. But. And now thank God.

Neil Gamss: [00:22:01] I would say over the past month and a have things picked up tremendously. I mean, on the HUD side, we’ve been very, very busy throughout. Actually, because rates are at a really, really, really low. So people want to take advantage of that. But on the on the bridge side, over the past month and a half, two months thing is really, thank God. And there are there’s a number of new transactions that we’re working on. Thank God.

Neil Gamss: [00:22:21] How about you guys?

Brnadon: [00:22:22] Yeah, I think your timing is is really aligned with our timing. We saw a short-term pause, but we’ve really started to see things pick up as of late and more. You know, we expected a lot of sellers to come out of this and be ready to just kind of throw their arms up and say, OK, we’re done. We’re not really seeing too much of that. And you alluded to that earlier. We’re not seeing the fire sales like some people had predicted. We’re seeing more buy side demand than we thought we would at this point.

Ben: [00:22:51] Yeah, it’s a seller’s market before, and I think it still is.

Neil Gamss: [00:22:56] I would agree with that, and I think that’s good.

Neil Gamss: [00:22:58] I think that if there is tons of distressed facilities and bankruptcy sale that creates instability. I think that it’s definitely more stable than I thought it would be, that’s for sure.

Brnadon: [00:23:11] Well, hey, before we wrap up, I do have a question, and that’s more along the lines of I like you know, I was asked this the other day. And I think I’d like to ask you as well as what when you get calls during the day or e-mails. What’s the biggest concern that people have right now when they’re talking to you?

Ben: [00:23:30] I thought you were gonna have a joke. Yeah, I thought you were setting up.

Neil Gamss: [00:23:35] Okay, what is the biggest concern that people have execution right now? And that’s just good. That’s my perspective of it. You’re gonna want to do a deal with a lender that’s gonna execute him. Close your deal. And in these times when there is a lot going on, you want to deal with a lender that has a track record and we’ll get the deal done. Similar to what you alluded to with the press and all that. When you’re dealing with a lender. Sometimes it’s the largest decision and there can be people at that institution that aren’t as educated when it comes to healthcare. And if they’re reading some big sensational story about how the future of healthcare is horrible, then it can give them pause. So, you want to be dealing with a lender that has been around, that knows health care, knows the space well, understand that there are ups and downs. And that’s very important, in my opinion. And clients also for 10 basis points, they’re not going with the lender that’s not reliable.

Ben: [00:24:38] Right. Yeah. OK. Well, Neil, I really appreciate you coming on the show. And how do people how can people get in touch with you?

Neil Gamss: [00:24:49] So you can e-mail me at And I don’t know if you’re going to have any say sorry.

Brnadon: [00:24:58] We’ll put that in the show notes. But two S’s, right?

Neil Gamss: [00:25:02] Two S’s one N two S’s, I don’t know why that’s how we spell it, and then or they could call me at 347-525-3663 which is my cell phone and my work phone. It’s one and I’m reachable. I try to be reachable always.

Brnadon: [00:25:20] We will have that in the show notes for anyone to get in touch with you or follow up with any questions.

Ben: [00:25:27] Neil, thanks so much. Thank you so much.

Neil Gamss: [00:25:29] It’s fine and thank you for the opportunity.

Ben and Brandon: [00:25:31] Yeah. Thank you. Thank you. Take care. Bye.

Brnadon: [00:25:34] Today, I want to talk about a skilled nursing facility that’s available for sale in the Southeast. For those of you who like your sweet tea, you can head down to North Carolina. This opportunity is available in rural North Carolina. There are 60 plus beds available in this facility and it’s sitting at about a breakeven EBITDAR. If you have any interest in this skilled nursing facility, you can contact me directly at That’s

Intro/Outro: [00:26:08] Thank you for listening to the Investment Opportunity podcast. If you want to hear more about investing in the skilled nursing and seniors housing industry, head to our Web site at

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