More Lies from Alan Gin

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Submitted by powayseller on July 18, 2006 - 9:05am

Today's Reuters story covers the falling San Diego condo market, and quotes a bunch of lies from Alan Gin.

First, he doesn't educate anyone that the median is useless, and uses the 1% drop as evidence that things are still good, and second, he says that we need a recession to get a big drop in prices, omitting that we are seeing big drops already and not mentioning the ARM problem. The guy should be fired for lying to the public!

"I wouldn't put a lot on that 1 percent drop at this point," said Alan Gin, an economist with the Burnham-Moores Center for Real Estate at the University of San Diego. "There is no panic with people trying to sell their homes."

Meanwhile, overall home prices across San Diego will plateau, Gin predicted.

"The conditions aren't there for a big rebound in prices or for a big drop," he said. "We would need a big drop in interest rates to get any significant movement on prices on the upside. We would need to see some significant job losses, a recession at the national level, to get a big drop in prices."

Don't we have big drops in prices already? What do you call a 10% drop in listing prices?

Submitted by SD Realtor on July 18, 2006 - 10:16am.

I should pass Alan the phone numbers of my UTC condo owners whose comps are now 40k under thier purchase price. These same people who bought in 2004 are getting squeezed by thier mortgage, have already talked to the lender about a short sale, and have a complex where there are over 20 listings with thier same floorplan on the market.

Yeah nothing to worry about...

Submitted by Bugs on July 18, 2006 - 10:26am.

A lot of things you're complaining about are his stated opinions - kinda hard to know about him being dishonest with his own opinions. Of the others, I don't see any errors in his facts.

I strongly disagree with him but I wouldn't go so far as to say he's lying.

Besides, there's no getting away from the data. Alls he can do at this point is try to spin it and hope the sheeple will take him at his word. As for the rest of us, the trend will prove itself in its own good time.

BTW, $40,000 losses are bad (REALLY bad), but there are people here in SD who have already lost a lot more than that.

Submitted by powayseller on July 18, 2006 - 10:28am.

If he's not lying, he's stupid. How can he claim to be a real estate researcher, and not know that the median is a 2 year lagging indicator, and know about all the people who are upside down by up to $60K, as written on these forums? He's spinning the data, and to me, that's lying.

Submitted by an on July 18, 2006 - 10:43am.

I completely agree that he's lying. He's definitely not stupid. He has a PhD in economic and is a professor at USD. So I'm sure he knows what's going on. He has a vested interest so he keep on spinning, just like DL and LAY.

Submitted by rankandfile on July 18, 2006 - 10:51am.

We need to call these people out for what they are: liars. You can call it spin, semantics, whatever. The bottom line is that he is propogating "non-truths" aka lies about the current housing situation and we need to call him out on it. These people have had enough free passes over the past decade. It's time to make them come correct for a change.

Submitted by masayako on July 18, 2006 - 11:23am.

The problem is that the interviewer never ask the real question. And the real question is no longer "Do you think there will be a big drop in housing price?"

The real question is:

"... Sir, you're saying the price is not going to drop significantly, how do you explain the current situation in which some area have already dropped 10% while many other area have dropped as much as 15%!?

Oh, by the way, here is a multiple choice question for you:
Are you:
(A) investigated too much in flipping houses?
(B) simply a liar or
(C) ignorant? ..."

Submitted by SD Realtor on July 18, 2006 - 1:19pm.

My read is that the more educated the person is that is being interviewed, the more educated his answer should be. If he really doesn't know then he should say that. What irks me is that someone of that degree should have the insight to say that the presentation of the data is what is particularly poor. That the data needs to be organized in a manner that is germaine to real estate.

My suggestions for at least a start:

1 - Organize it by zip codes and by sizes of homes.

2 - Segregate condos and SFRs.

3 - Throw out the highs and lows of the sample sets.

4 - If possible try to identify if the sale was of an owner occupied home or not.

5 - If possible try to identify if the buyer is purchasing it as a rental or not.

6 - Report cancelled, expireds and withdrawns for each category above.

As we have all seen, the way that the statistics are presented one can argue any way they want.

Most of us who argue in favor of a declining market do so based on other stats rather then the median.

Submitted by powayseller on July 18, 2006 - 5:21pm.

Bugs, why are you defending Alan Gin?

Submitted by Bugs on July 18, 2006 - 6:30pm.

I wouldn't say I'm defending Mr. Gin or that I'm some sort of fan because I'm not. I've made comments about his comments and his connections here on this forum before.

All I was doing was pointing out the distinction between what amount to opinions and the facts he's quoting to support them. I happen to think the phrase "liar" is pretty strong for the type of advocacy he's pursuing. It's just like when we casually bandy about comments about the market having already declined 10% and 15%. A bull would have no problems finding statistics to contradict that claim - would that entitle them to call the people expressing that opinion "liars"? Of course not.

This all goes back to that civility thing I always whine about. This isn't a political campaign where the ends justify the means. We're not here to convert the world to the one true religion upon pain of death. We're here because we're trying to figure this out and we're trying to find the optimum path for ourselves. Toward that end we seek information. I'd like to think we are a question in search of an answer, not a conclusion in search of validation.

If we want to have a serious discussion and solicit information from a wide range of sources it's not helpful to get into the habit of mistaking the individual for the message. If we're bugged about the comments we should address those comments and the facts in support for or against them directly.

I don't agree with the guy, but I'm smart enough to recognize that I don't know as much as I'd like to know and there is a possibility that he has a couple pearls of information that I might be able to use to my benefit. If I keep an open mind he might accidentally drop one of those pearls in front of me. If I totally blow him off I would miss that opportunity.

I believe that it is possible to have a disagreement with someone without taking it personally or making it personal. I don't always make it but I always try.

Submitted by privatebanker on July 18, 2006 - 7:08pm.

Alan Gin = Mary Meeker? Sure one's an economist and the other an analyst but their claims are/were very similar. Pounding the table with their biased views ended up and will end up losing millions for investors willing to believe in their hot air.

One shouldn't trust the opinions of those who could be speaking with two tongues. We all know "Al" is just trying for job security at this point.

Submitted by Bugs on July 18, 2006 - 7:38pm.

Let's just say that teaching at the university isn't his only gig.

Submitted by privatebanker on July 19, 2006 - 8:07am.

C'est possible. Alan could have a second career. I'm sure he could also be a "Consultant" for real estate related services. Don't get me wrong here, I'm sure Alan is a very intellegent individual however, I think he has let $ signs or some other motivating factor get in the way of him divulging truthful information to the public.

Submitted by lindismith on July 19, 2006 - 8:19am.

He does have many careers related to RE.

I took his extension course through UCSD last year on how to convert multi-family units to condos. It was a 1-day seminar, and it cost me $100. The room had 300 people. I don't know how many times he taught that class.

He started the course talking about his background in Economics, and then his foray into RE. His first personal conversion was +- 200 units in La Mesa in the 80s. He now has a firm that does just conversions. His son came on board last year.

He is a really nice guy. He has a wealth of information, and he personally returned any emails I wrote him.

BUT, he is really savvy, and he does have a vested interest in saying the market is ok.

Lastly, I agree with Bugs. What Gin is saying is just the most positive way of putting it. Of course, we all know better, and see the data for what it really is.

Submitted by Alan Gin on July 19, 2006 - 4:37pm.

Alan Gin replies: First Roger Hedgecock blasts me for being too pessimistic, and now I'm being blasted here for being too optimistic. I'm gettng it from all sides.

It's unfortunate that I have to use this first post to clear up some misconceptions about me, but there are a lot of them that have been expressed on this site. The first I want to mention is the last post by lindismith. I've never taught the course on condo conversions that was mentioned in the post. I'm afraid lindismith has me confused with Alan Nevin of MarketPointe Realty Advisors, who is also the chief economist for the California Building Industry Association. He's a nice guy, a great speaker, and I've been on a couple of panels with him. But if you think I'm over-optimistic, you should hear him.

There seems to be a suspicion here that my connection with the Burnham-Moores Center for Real Estate at the University of San Diego has tainted my views of the current housing market. So what is that connection? I am listed as an affiliated faculty member of that center, both on the center's Website and on my bio. As an affiliated faculty member, I teach a course every two years in my specialty, Urban Economics, that undergraduate students can take if they want to have an emphasis in real estate. That is what it means to be an affiliated faculty member of the Burnham-Moores Center for Real Estate.

On top of that, because I make numerous media appearances and speaking engagements, the center pays me a stipend (less than five percent of my income) to promote the CENTER. That means that I try to drop the center's name as much as possible in interviews and presentations. I've joked that I should get a Burnham-Moores hat and patches for my suits like the NASCAR drivers. But the center and its supporters have never asked me to espouse a particular point of view. Specifically, I have never been asked to paint a positive view of the real estate market. And I personally feel under no obligation to do so. In fact, I have taken a number of positions publically that puts me at odds with both the bulding industry and the general business community. If they said that I needed to take a different position retain my stipend, I would give it up. The sum involved is less than when I take a class of undergraduates to study International Economics in Hong Kong.

What about my outside activities as a consultant to the real estate industry? There are none. Last year, the extent of my outside income was some speaking fees for a local bank that was looking to attract customers, a course on "Executive Economics" for one of UCSD's extension programs, and as a consultant to a lawyer in a wrongful termination case.

What about my personal involvement in real estate? Am I trying to protect a vast real estate empire with my positive views? Hardly. I own an older home (built in 1986) in Rancho Penasquitos that I bought in 2002. It doesn't have the bells and whistles or size of newer homes, but we like it. It's cozy and good enough for us. It's within walking distance of a pretty good elementary and middle school, so we're going to be living here probably at least 10 years more, if not retire here. Because of my wife's assets, I was able to keep the townhouse I bought in 1989 and use it as a rental. Those are the extent of my real estate holdings, and I'm unlikely to try to add any more to it. So no, masayako, I'm not flipping houses. Since I'm planning on holding on to both pieces of property for at least 10 more years, it really doesn't matter to me what happens in the short or intermediate term. In fact, I would argue that those of you who are trying to trade this market based on a bubble popping scenario have more of a vested interest in talking the market down than I do in talking the market up.

Let me conclude by discussing the issue of civility. Where has it gone in our society? I didn't know about this site until someone sent me a nasty e-mail yesterday. In searching the site, I found that there have been a number of posts attacking me. I understand that you may disagree with my view, but why the ugliness? powayseller, I'm calling you out in particular. What did I ever do to you to warrant the bitterness that I see in your posts? I would respect a reasoned arugment, but instead you use ad hominem attacks such as "lying," "stupid," and "idiot." Is there something about the anonymity of a site like this, where you can use a phony name, that makes one lose the manners and politeness that I hope you were brought up with? In other words, would you be using the same tone and calling the same names if we knew what your real name was? The same goes for you asianautica ("lying"), rankandfile ("liars"), and masayako ("liar," "ignorant"). Bugs, you've said or implied some negative things, but I do appreciate your call for civility earlier in this thread. Can there be a conversation without name calling and the impugning of the motives of the people you disagree with?

Submitted by Bugs on July 19, 2006 - 5:41pm.

Mr. Gin,

I apologize for my tone and my insinuations and my negativity. And you're right about Alan Nevin - he's very optimistic.

Now with that out of the way, perhaps you'd care to drop a couple pearls here for us. The article that started off our shootout here in the OK Corral attributed the following to you:

"Meanwhile, overall home prices across San Diego will plateau, Gin predicted."

So that we can all understand the context of your prediction, would you care to share with us what your definition of "plateau" is at is relates to pricing here? Are we talking about staying generally even with yr2005 prices, yr2004 prices or at some other level?

"The conditions aren't there for a big rebound in prices or for a big drop," he said.

When you use the term "big drop", how would you define "big"? I mean, to some people a 10% loss as has already occurred in a few neighborhoods is a pretty big drop. I'm sure there are other people who wouldn't admit to anything less than 50% as being big. Where in this scale do you define "big"?

I guess what I'm asking is exactly where would the market have to go before you would get quoted as referring to the Soft Landing or plateau scenarios as being unfounded?

Submitted by masayako on July 19, 2006 - 6:07pm.

Mr. Gin,

You still did not answer my 2 honest questions:

1. "... Sir, you're saying the price is not going to drop significantly, how do you explain the current situation in which some area have already dropped 10% while many other area have dropped as much as 15%!?

The second multiple choice question is asked:
2. Are you one of the following:
(A) investigated too much in flipping houses?
(B) simply a liar or
(C) ignorant? ..."

Mr. Gin, you cannot accuse people challenging (or questioning you being a liar) simply because you're giving the wrong impression of the market the general public. Throughout your long reply, you never ONCE defends your optimistic point of view of the housing market.

Once again, I did not call you a liar, I merely ask if you are one. Please get your fact straight and don't jump to conclusion too far (like your opinions).

Submitted by privatebanker on July 19, 2006 - 6:30pm.

Alan, with all due respect, I find it very strange that a well known economist (locally anyway) would be affected by comments in an online forum. I think you are certainly better than that. But please remember that when you are in the public eye with something that is very emotional, in this case, real estate, people are going to have different opinions about you.

Submitted by an on July 19, 2006 - 6:37pm.

Mr. Gin,
What difference does it make if you know what my real name is? Will you go hunt me down and beat me up? My whole post was basically saying that you're a smart man and simply looking at the data, I'm sure you know what's happening in San Diego RE. So yes, that's why I basically said you must be lying. If you're not lying, then, I apologize and have to assume that you're not as smart as I thought you were.

I'm pretty sure you mentioned that RE only drop during a situation where there's job loss. Well, how do you explain price dropping below the 2005 level and there's no job less yet. Also, can you explain your view on the many jobs related to RE. Will they not lose their jobs if sales # continue to decline at this pace?

Submitted by deadzone on July 19, 2006 - 6:51pm.

What annoys me about Alan Gin is he masquerades as an expert on San Diego real estate. For some reason the UT considers him the abosolute subject matter expert and quotes him for almost all stories. His commentary has consistenly demontrated that he has no clue what is happening, and more importantly what is going to happen with the bubble bursting. Alan Gin's commentaries in UT articles have added very little if any insight, UT might as well interview a random real estate agent on the street. He has no credibility as far as I'm concerned so I wish the UT would wise up and talk to someone who has at least some clue what is happening.

The only "so called" economy expert who is more clueless is that idiot George Chamberlain on KOGO. Chamberlain outright denies the existance of a real estate bubble. What cave is he pretending to live in?

Submitted by powayseller on July 19, 2006 - 8:43pm.

A quote from Jim the Realtor. Look for his take on Alan Gin.

"Last year, sales dropped 17.5% between June and July, this year it's 28%. (It was a 9% drop in 2004)

The statistics don't reflect the buyer psychology though. They are being very picky about what they buy, and very careful about the price they pay.

The buyer psychology is all that matters. I am getting so sick of guys like Alan Gin saying there won't be a problem unless we have significant job loss. He's an idiot, and obviously he has never sold houses.

I lost all respect for him a couple of years ago when I went to his annual forecast. He trots out a handful of his students at USD to report on their findings about the real estate market. These kids have never owned a house, never thought about buying a house - they are just college kids guessing at what might happen, yet his forecasts are supposed to be credible?

The North County Association of Realtors keeps reporting the same, no bubble to burst here.

Looking at these numbers, you might come to the same conclusion, that the median sales price is flat.

But the median sales price is a lousy indicator. If it would have dropped down one more sale, the median sales price would have been $573,750. That's probably a better reflection of things to come."

Alan, the reason I say you are lying is well explained in the post I made which starts this thread.

As a professor of real estate, you couldn't possibly believe this stuff. You ought to know that
* prices on many homes are back to 2004 levels,
* sellers are bringing money to closing (one $480K sale brought $60K to closing last month),
* 3 condo developers downtown are cancelling projects,
* 30% of listings are vacant,
* sales are down 30% vs. June 05,
* prices softenend in 04 for low end and in 05 for the mid and high end, while median went up because the distribution of homes sold has shifted,
* $1.7 trillion nationwide ARM resets will cause massive foreclosures in 2007-2008,
* you don't need a recession to cause high foreclosures because ARM resets cause the inability to make mortgage payments just as a job loss would,
* high use of exotic loans will cause payments to rise 30-70%, causing more foreclosures
, I could go on on and on.

Families in Poway are in foreclosure, even those who bought in the 1980s and refinanced out all their equity.

I sold my house in January 06, for 5% below last summer's price. I signed a 2 year lease.

The median is a 2 year lagging indicator. The market turned 2 years ago, and the median is not showing it yet. It is unbelievable that not ONE real estate professional has come out to educate San Diegans about the true state of this market. Instead, we are told that everything is fine, prices will plateau. Alan, what do you make of the chart on the main page of this blog, showing the ratio of per capita income to median house price? Why do you not talk about that? Is this a new idea to you, to calculate such a thing? Why don't you mention rising months supply, low HAI? Why do I seem to know more about real estate than you?

So either you are uninformed about this market, in which case I will happy to meet with you and educate you about the market, or you are lying.

Schahrzad Berkland
Poway, CA

Submitted by privatebanker on July 19, 2006 - 9:39pm.

I'm sorry but the more I think about this, I find it absolutely hilarious that Alan Gin (if that really is him) would jump on this forum and attack individual posters. How unprofessional can a guy be? Truly a great moment in the history of the real estate/credit bubble, take note of this day.

Submitted by powayseller on July 19, 2006 - 10:03pm.

Why do you think it is unprofessional to defend himself? It was definitely unprofessional to make such inaccurate statements about the real estate market. As my friend said, if he doesn't do good research, he should keep quiet.

Submitted by masayako on July 19, 2006 - 10:47pm.


You make my day. I have absolutely no doubt you have more knowledge of the current housing situation than Mr. Gin. That's for sure.

We only need facts, not lies.

By the way, Mr. Gin, in case you don't know, my true name is Masaya Ko (masayako), smart guy.

Submitted by SD Realtor on July 19, 2006 - 11:06pm.


I also responded but you did not address any of my comments. I thought many of my points were valid and I was hoping you would address them. Again, as a Realtor and an engineer my main problem is the presentation of the data. I believe there is a systemic failure in that presentation which then leads to faulty analysis. I am not insinuating that there is anything behind it, yet it is very sad because I have to spend a substantial amount of time at listing appointments educating people. When they ask me why there are not any stats about cancelled, expireds and withdrawns I don't have a good answer. When I perform my own statiscal analysis of there zip code and throw out the extreme high and low listings that is also useful. Using active to pending ratios also gives them a more realistic view. When you tell a seller hey for your home there is 1 pending and 16 actives and 5 solds but 4 cancelled, and 3 expireds in a given timeframe it really changes there outlook and is much more effective then a 1% MEDIAN sales price reduction from year over year sales.

Again this is not an attack on you. This is the way it goes at most all of my listing appointments.

Submitted by rankandfile on July 19, 2006 - 11:57pm.

Toughen up a bit, Mr. Gin. You ask where all the civility has gone in our society? Well I ask where has the toughness and accountability gone? I'd venture to say we are over-civil to the point where we can't question or call anybody out on things for fear of being sued, demanded to apologize, or whatever. So I called you a liar...BFD-prove me wrong. Yes, this is the internet and I am anonymous, but I'd call you out straight to your face if you had the gaul to feed me that bunk in person. But that's just me. You want some advice? Instead of going into damage control mode and trying to retort us on this post, just give it to us straight, baby. Otherwise, take the snowjobs elsewhere...the warm weather is about the ONLY thing keeping many of us in SoCal these days.

Submitted by rankandfile on July 19, 2006 - 11:58pm.

Toughen up a bit, Mr. Gin. You ask where all the civility has gone in our society? Well I ask where has the toughness and accountability gone? I'd venture to say we are over-civil to the point where we can't question or call anybody out on things for fear of being sued, demanded to apologize, or whatever. So I called you a liar...BFD-prove me wrong. Yes, this is the internet and I am anonymous, but I'd call you out straight to your face if you had the gaul to feed me that bunk in person. But that's just me. You want some advice? Instead of going into damage control mode and trying to retort us on this post, just give it to us straight, baby. Otherwise, take the snowjobs elsewhere...the warm weather is about the ONLY thing keeping many of us here these days.

Submitted by rankandfile on July 20, 2006 - 12:03am.

As my Dad used to say, the shoe is on the other foot.

Submitted by an on July 20, 2006 - 12:14am.

I also love the quote, "In God I trust, everyone else, bring data". So Alan, if you believe you're not lying, show us your data.

Submitted by JohnHokkanen on July 20, 2006 - 1:05am.

I am not too familiar with the lag time issue for the median, so I can't add anything meaningful in that regard. My experience (anecdotal evidence) was that the market changed in July of last year. That said, there were many, many sales in the fall that continued to set records for the various communities in which they were located. There were some sales that were lower, and some homes were just pulled from the market, but I can honestly say that the market activity that I saw was erratic. There was still considerable buyer confidence in the market, and many people still payed top dollar for homes.

In January and February, sale occurred as is the historical trend. March saw an increase of sales and into April. BUT THEN, the numbers of sales on the records clearly show that buyer confidence/willingness was lacking because sales have declined each month after that initial rally.

I've run the numbers, and the number of additional homes on the market each month was not significantly different that the historical trend. However, the drop in sales activity meant that month after month, the inventory has climbed. That had been occurring since January of 2005, but the significant drop in sales gave a hockey stick jump to the inventory this spring. This overnight jump in inventory by 50% was not missed by buyers, and the talk on the street has not stopped since.

So, here's my point (or what's my point, maybe)....For the second half of 2005, it was not possible to determine exactly what was going on in general because the data points were a scatter graph. One neighborhood was rallying while another was falling. I can think of one Carlsbad neighborhood in particular whose prices had risen too close to a nearby new construction area, and the result was that all sales stalled (because you could buy a new home for just a bit more), and once they stalled, some sellers got nervous and discounted and that started a slide in that ONE neighborhood. Meanwhile there could be a record price set just a few miles away.

There were many of us who thought the spring rally would burn off some of the excess inventory, and things would remain stable. What is interesting is that some geo/price segments HAVE remained stable and have more inventory than 2 years ago, but it's not a code red situation. I really like the Months of Inventory calculation better than Median Price because I can see what is happening in different geo/market segments at the same time and have a meaningful comparison.

For example, here's the Months of Inventory for a couple of markets which are good talking points:

<600K 8 months of inventory
600-750K 6 months of inventory
750-$1M 7 months of inventory
$1-1.25M 9 months of inventory
>$1.25M 24 months of inventory

<600K 6 months of inventory
600-750K 9 months of inventory
750-$1M 8 months of inventory
$1-1.25M 18 months of inventory
>1.25M 70 months of inventory

<600K 8 months of inventory
600-750K 9 months of inventory
750-$1M 13 months of inventory
$1-1.25M 16 months of inventory
>$1.25M 35 months of inventory

It is pretty clear to me, that of the three, Carlsbad is the healthiest, with it's high price point at 24 months of inventory. If I told you that there are 52 homes in Escondido's high price point, but it has had only 1.5 sales per month in that bracket, it becomes pretty obvious about what it takes to be the one-out-of-50 that will go into escrow this month. Meanwhile, look at Vista, with its 6 months of inventory at the low end...that's 187 homes on the market today with an average sales rate of about 29/month. I think that's pretty healthy, and I would expect that the low end segment of one of the lower-end
markets to remain healthy even while its high end goes off the charts.

Watching these numbers change over time makes it clear to me that median sales price may not be a good indicator simply because it is too coarse a measure. It doesn't allow one to see into the specific micro-markets that you need to examine for decisioning purposes. If a buyer needs to move here, you can show these numbers, and they help explain, in pretty clear terms, I think, where the short term risks lie in terms of value adjustment. I'm not saying that the low end in Vista might not adjust down a few points, but it is clear to me that the risks in buying in that market are one helluva lot less than the risks of buying in upper end Escondido. I've made the point in other posts, but the Months of Inventory indicator shows, pretty clearly, that the Inland markets are in a far more precarious position as we enter the fall than the Coastal markets. I do not believe that the correction that we are about to see will be evenly distributed because the inventory buildup is not evenly distributed.

In summary, I like the median as a way of getting a coarse idea of what's happening, but I think it should be avoided as any sort of decision-making tool. If you have a better indicator, please tell us about yours.

As a final note, I'd like to say that my median price indicators have shown that Encinitas, strangely enough, has already experienced a correction while the other communities like Escondido have not. The other side of that coin is that Encinitas has one of the healthiest inventory levels compared to its neighbors. So, while some of its neighbors have, for the short term, been able to maintain the median price for sales, they have teed up a situation where the abundance of inventory could result in a sharper correction. I think I prefer the more-stable Encinitas situation because buyer confidence isn't completley lost as it might be in other areas this fall.

John Hokkanen

Submitted by lindismith on July 20, 2006 - 8:18am.

Great thread!

But, yeah, oops, it's Alan Nevin whose class I took.
Sorry for the mix-up.

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